Paisley patterns

Anchor Mill, Paisley

During the current restrictions, one of the few reasons we are allowed to cross the city boundary is to visit Mum who lives in Paisley on Glasgow’s eastern border. It’s a historic town, and aspects of it have featured in posts before, but it’s never had a whole post to itself. Now, when I have no new travels to write about, is the time to pull together some of the photos we have taken there over the last few years.

Paisley became prominent in the 19th century as a centre of the weaving industry. By 1993 all the mills had closed, including the Anchor Mill, shown above, which is now housing.  However, the legacy lives on in street names such as Mill Street, Cotton Street, Thread Street, Shuttle Street, Lawn Street, Silk Street, and Gauze Street, and in the fact that the town gave its name to the Paisley shawl and the Paisley pattern from which I take my title. That’s the last you’ll hear from me about weaving though – I’m going to show you some patterns or themes that I found in the town.

The Abbey and around

Long before its weaving heyday, Paisley became prominent in the 12th century with the establishment of Paisley Abbey, an important religious hub. The smaller adjoining building is known as the Place of Paisley and is the sole remaining part of the extensive monastery associated with the Abbey.

Nearby is the Town Hall, seen here reflected in the White Cart Water, a tributary of the River Clyde. Still in the historic part of town, at the top of Church Hill is Oakshaw Trinity which, as a result of mergers, is part of both the Church of Scotland and the United Reformed Church.

Overall, Paisley town centre has the highest concentration of listed buildings of anywhere in Scotland outside of Edinburgh – these have been just a few.

Memorials

I have driven past the first three memorials in this section hundreds, if not thousands, of times but have only recently investigated on foot. As I drive into Paisley, the first memorial I see is this cairn to Marjorie Bruce, eldest daughter of King Robert I, otherwise known as Robert the Bruce.

The caption tells that she was fatally injured by falling from her horse near this spot in 1316. Her son, born posthumously, became Robert II, first of the Stewart Kings of Scotland. Why was he a Stewart, not a Bruce? Paisley Abbey was founded by Walter FitzAlan, the first High Steward of Scotland (the officer who controlled the domestic affairs of the royal household). His descendants adopted the surname Steward, which became Stewart, and later still was changed to Stuart. Marjorie Bruce married the sixth High Steward, thus her son was the first king of the Stewart dynasty. All six High Stewards are buried in the Abbey, as is Marjorie herself. The title of High Steward was merged into the crown with Robert II and is still held by the current Prince of Wales.

Further towards town is this statue of St Mirin, next to St Mirin’s Roman Catholic Cathedral. St Mirin (c563-600) is the patron saint of Paisley, and his monument was erected in 2003. He also gave his name to the local football team, St Mirren.

Having driven past the town centre, I take a right turn to head up to Mum’s house. At the corner is this Hygienic Fountain with its inscription from the Gospel of St John “whosoever drinketh of this water” … etc.

In the centre of town is Dunn Square, an open space presented to Paisley in 1894 by Sir William Dunn, MP for the Burgh from 1891 to 1906. His monument is this scantily clad woman with her back to the ubiquitous Queen Victoria.

On the railings nearby is a memorial I find far more interesting and poignant. A tree was planted in 2010 by the Renfrewshire Women’s Association and dedicated to the memory of all Renfrewshire women who “live in fear of violence and abuse, or have been murdered by their violent partner”. Next to the tree and plaque hangs a garland and it is always updated. In the gallery below, the trailing white ribbons are from 2012 and the other two are from February and Christmas 2020. It’s nice to know that the memorial is so carefully tended.

Street art

The Paisley First Murals Project has been created to help breathe new life into the town centre and uses only local artists. The most concentrated area is Browns Lane where street artists Mark Worst and Danny McDermott created a tribute to some well-known Buddies (the name for people coming from Paisley) including Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan of Stealers Wheel, the Cup-winning St Mirren Team of 1987, singer Paolo Nutini and local historian Ellen Farmer. John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix are definitely NOT Paisley buddies, but appear on the side of nearby music venue, The Bungalow.

The Kingfisher, also by Mark Worst, is on Johnston Street. It highlights one of the town’s relatively unknown sons, Alexander Wilson, who is credited with establishing ornithology as a science.

And Breathe by Duncan Wilson and Reborn by Kevin Cantwell are on Lawn Street and Lady Lane respectively.

The trail has inspired some of the businesses around town to create their own art, such as these murals on Japan Street Food on Renfrew Road.

Pub signs and ghost signs

I do love a good sign! The Tea Gardens Tavern sounds a lot more genteel to me than it actually looks.

The Belhaven Brewery is particularly good at designing attractive signs – The Tea Gardens and all but one of the signs below are by Belhaven.

And finally to ghost signs. I can’t remember exactly where these are from, but I think they are all around the Espedair Street / Neilston Road area. Wm Semple Son & Co. Ltd, Engineers and Smiths, is a definite ghost sign. I’m not sure if Alison Stuart, Florist, counts as she still seems to be in business, but it’s certainly a very old sign. I’m also not sure what the initials and date on a gable signify, but they look attractive.

And that’s the end of my whistle stop tour of Paisley, which is by no means definitive. Other posts which have featured Paisley include:

The Great Tapestry of Scotland and the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, both of which took place in Anchor Mill, as shown in this post’s header, and have interior shots of its central atrium.

Glasgow Gallivanting March 2019 features Thomas Coats Memorial Church with one of the most fabulous loos ever, February 2020 includes another stroll round the town centre with a different selection of historic buildings, and June 2020 has the tale of Mrs Donoghue and the snail in the ginger beer.

Now to see what else I can recycle a post from …

Glasgow Gallivanting: January 2021

View from Gleniffer Braes, New Year’s Day 2021

The weather on New Year’s Day was fairly typical of January: cold and icy.  A steep path opposite the end of Mum’s street in Paisley leads up to the Gleniffer Braes from where we got the best view of the month. The Campsie Fells are to the right in the picture above, and the beginning of the Highlands, including Ben Lomond, can be seen to the left. A couple of zoomed shots show more detail.

We are still in a fairly strict lockdown, so otherwise have been confined to Glasgow. We have hardly any new photos because we are doing all the same routes that we did in the Spring, often in the dark after John finishes work. Thank goodness for weekends and the canal and river paths. Here’s a great view down the Clyde towards the Riverside Museum, including the tall ship Glenlee, and a swan admiring its reflection on the frozen canal.

In January I would normally be reporting excitedly about all the Celtic Connections concerts we had been to. Not this year! The entire programme has been moved online. Nothing can replace live performances, but the upside is that we can watch everything: over 100 musicians and 19 days with at least one, sometimes two or three, concerts each evening. At only £30 for a Festival Pass, that’s an absolute steal. I suppose it is better for my waistline too, because we are also not going for all those pre-theatre dinners. Nor could we go out for Burns’ Night this year, but we improvised with John making a very good Address to a (veggie) Haggis.

The virus continues to rage (though vaccines are on their way – Mum has had her first one) and Brexit continues to have “teething problems”, but at least Trump has finally gone. I often include a Scottish Word of the Month in my gallivanting posts, but this month a Scottish video seems more appropriate. Here’s Iona Fyfe with a ditty called Donald whit a loser to the tune of  Donald where’s your troosers?

You’ll be sad to know that Iona is sometimes the target of vile abuse for daring to sing in Scots, as is Miss PunnyPennie who offers a Scots word of the day on Twitter. Here’s another phrase for you: the Scottish cringe – a feeling that anything Scottish is bound to be inferior. Do any other countries have a similar phenomenon? Or people who are so threatened by their own culture that they have to go on the attack to decry it? It’s bizarre and sad.

Anyway, let’s not end on a negative note. How about some graffiti ceramics? We first noticed these in the summer around Sydenham Lane in Hyndland, an area we often walk through. Lately, we’ve spotted some new ones even closer to home and I recently read an article (click the link for more examples) identifying the artist as Louise McVey. She says: “When lockdown initially hit … it became clear to me that this was what I could offer – to add something to the streets that may make a difference for people on their daily walks.” It has certainly made a difference to us – we love spotting them, and it’s very different from the usual type of street art.

So we’ve made it through January healthy and safe – I hope you all have too. There is no chance of our current restrictions lifting before mid-February at the earliest, but I’ll do my best to have at least a little bit of gallivanting to report on at the end of the month.

Glasgow Gallivanting: October 2020

Cellardyke, Fife

October was another month of increasing restrictions as the number of virus cases continued to rise again. Because we had a short break coming up we had a moment of panic when those of us living in Scotland’s Central Belt were advised not to travel out of our local areas, but relief set in when it was clarified that pre-booked breaks could go ahead. We therefore had a lovely week of coastal walking with a cosy apartment in Cellardyke, Fife, to return to in the evening. More to follow soon.

Other than that, our walks have continued to be fairly local. One of our favourites is the Forth and Clyde Canal where big changes are taking place on the sections near us. One part opened in October: the new bridge and boardwalk at Claypits. In August it looked like this:

In October, we were able to cross the bridge and walk along the previously inaccessible side of the canal. This boardwalk took us towards Firhill, home of Partick Thistle Football Club. Matches are being played without spectators these days, but an intrepid few had gathered on the towpath where they could get a reasonable view. The unkind might say that it wasn’t a bad crowd for the team often known as Partick Thistle Nil, but I wouldn’t be so cruel …

Another section of canal is about to be closed off to us. At Stockingfield Junction, a spur breaks off the main canal and continues to Glasgow city centre. At present, the only way to cross between routes is to take this horrible tunnel under the canal. It’s narrow, so not good for a mix of vehicles and pedestrians, and often floods.

We’ve been watching construction here since August: unfortunately, the towpath is now closing for a considerable time, but the end result will be a fabulous new bridge and park!

Another favourite is the River Kelvin. I took my car for repairs to a garage near Cluny Park in Bearsden, and walked back home along the river.

The v-shaped weir is quite close to home. On this walk, I could see the pipes the water was coming through – compare to the photographs below which were taken in September when the river was much fuller. I don’t remember it being that wet!

Once again, we did a few short walks from the start of the West Highland Way in Milngavie: round the reservoirs and Kilmardinny Loch and up to the doocot (dovecot).

It’s been a good month for spotting new street art, or at least, decoration, some of it pandemic related. At the start of term, many students were quarantined in their halls – “Save us! Send beer” was the message from the residence nearest us. The other sign is from the Ubiquitous Chip – many other bars and restaurants had similar pleas to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon after she imposed stricter regulations on hospitality venues.

Round the corner from the Chip in Ashton Lane, this splendid orangutan has appeared. It’s one of two in the city (the other is at Park Lane Market off Pollokshaws Road in Shawlands) by London-based artist Louis Masai. They are part of a project to highlight the plight of orangutans in the wild, which also includes murals in Birmingham and Manchester. Here, a baby orangutan clutches a pencil alongside “Stop eating palm oil” written in Gaelic.

About 15 years ago we visited an orangutan reserve at Sepilok in Borneo which rescued animals whose homes had been devastated by deforestation for palm plantations. Since then, I have always had an “adopted” orangutan baby, most of whom have been successfully returned to the wild. Of course, that “wild” continues to decrease as palm plantations encroach on the rainforest, so I have also learned to read the labels carefully before I buy anything which might contain palm oil, and to put it back unless I also see the word “sustainable”.

On a walk through Woodlands we spotted these flags with hopeful messages and a colourful sunset scene.

October has been Black History Month. As part of this, four Royal Mail post-boxes – in London, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast – have been painted to honour black Britons. Footballer Walter Tull, who became the first black player to sign for Glasgow Rangers (before he was killed in 1918), appears on the Glasgow post-box in Byres Road. He was the first black Army officer to command troops in a regular unit, and featured in a set of stamps released in 2018 to mark the centenary of the end of World War One.

And, of course, October ends with Halloween, which was very different for most children this year with none of the usual guising round houses. Instead, many houses, gardens, and windows were decorated. Some areas had official window trails to follow, but it was such a wet weekend that I’m not sure how many people would have braved the elements to do so. We certainly didn’t, but here are a few decorations that I happened to pass and which caught my eye.

And that’s a wrap for October! More restrictions, poorer weather, darker evenings – and more of the same to look forward to in November. At least nature can still put on a show.

Happy November!

Glasgow Gallivanting: September 2020

Craigmaddie Muir, Auld Wives’ Lifts and the Campsies

We’ve had some lovely, bright weekends in September which have been great for getting out and about. The walk to the Auld Wives’ Lifts on Craigmaddie Muir was one we’d wanted to do for a while – the Lifts being the rocks you can see middle right in the image above, with the Campsie fells and the prominent knob of Dumgoyne visible in the background.

The Lifts consist of three extremely large pieces of grey sandstone, one propped on top of the other two with a space between them. Couples who were considering marriage used to try to squeeze through the gap in an anticlockwise direction; if they weren’t successful, the marriage was doomed! The stones might be connected with worship of some sort and have been a place of pilgrimage for centuries.

Legend has it that three witches from Baldernock, Strathblane and Campsie carried the stones to prove their strength. They are covered in Victorian graffiti as well as about eight carved heads or faces, which look ancient but seem not to have been noticed, or at least written about, until the 1970s.

The walk itself was not particularly pleasant, being over muddy, rutted fields and boggy ground, but the views, one way back towards Glasgow and the other to the Campsies and Ben Lomond, were beautiful.

A walk above the Ayrshire coastal town of Largs to Greeto Bridge also afforded good views and a welcome glimpse of the sea. The islands of Great Cumbrae and Arran can be seen beyond the town.

Milngavie, just north of Glasgow, is the start of the West Highland Way. We used the beginning of the trail to branch off onto a couple of other walks.

We saw more pretty countryside.

We came across several more sets of Scholars Rocks by Rachel Mimiec, previously encountered elsewhere in East Dunbartonshire in July, and parts of a new (to us) artwork, Home by Alex Allan, naming women workers in industries previously located in Milngavie.

And we skirted the edge of Mugdock and Craigmaddie Reservoirs. It’s a long time since we’ve walked all the way round these two – maybe next month!

September has also been a month for women’s history. Students returned to university and the usual Fresher’s Fairs were all conducted online. As part of this, Glasgow Women’s Library was invited to set out its wares in a programme for Subcity Radio and I did a slot on a couple of the women from our heritage tours. If you wish, you can listen here – I am on second, just after the two minute mark, and I speak for about six minutes.

I have also done another of my Twitter Walks, this time on the East End, which you can follow below.

While taking the photographs for the above walk we spotted a new mural in process on Abercromby Street. The third photograph shows the completed mural a few days later.

St Thenue (also known as St Enoch) is pictured wearing a shawl featuring 29 motifs in honour of the victims of the 1889 Templeton’s carpet factory disaster when 29 women were killed by a collapsing wall. Legend has it that Thenue’s father, a pagan king, ordered her to be hurled from a hill in East Lothian when she became pregnant out of wedlock. When she miraculously survived she was put into a small boat and cast adrift in the Firth of Forth to perish. She was guided to shore by a shoal of fish and given shelter at the community of St Serf in Culross where she gave birth to her son, St Mungo, the Patron Saint of Glasgow.

Annie Lennox, Calvin Harris, Emili Sandé and Lewis Capaldi on the wall of Embargo

Another new mural this month is on the side wall of Embargo, a pub on Byres Road in the West End, and portrays Scottish music stars Annie Lennox, Calvin Harris, Emili Sandé and Lewis Capaldi. The mural is the work of local artist Rogue-One and is intended, according to the bar’s manager, as “a visual celebration of Scottish musical talent during a difficult time for the creative and hospitality industries alike.”

Finally, we encountered the highland cattle of Dawsholm Park again this month, so here are two of the most photogenic especially for Jessica!

So that’s it for September and what turns out to be my 700th post.  Restrictions are closing in again, but let’s not focus on the bad stuff. Wishing you all a happy October.

A Glasgow perspective: picture this

Johnnie Walker’s Striding Man logo adorns a pub wall in Finnieston. I have a folder full of street art images: this is one which definitely benefits from Becky’s Square Perspectives challenge. Originally there were three men, but the third had an ugly red barrier in front of him. Chopping him off has made his companions much more dynamic so that I almost believe they are about to stride out from the wall.

Here are a few (a lot?) more which work as squares, starting with a couple from the City Centre. Glasgow has its very own panda (by Klingatron) in Gordon Lane, and what looks like the world’s most economical taxi (by Rogue-One) is in nearby Mitchell Street.

The mural of St Mungo and his robin, by Smug, is on High Street and has featured before, but this is a new perspective. It’s hard to get a good photograph from the road – there are often cars parked in front, and you can’t stand back far enough without being mown down by traffic. I like this image of him taken from the grassy area behind. This was in February – there would be too many leaves on the trees for it to work now.

Details now from two contrasting mosaics in stations. On the left, in Central Station, is part of a mural by professional artist Jude Burkhauser. It dates from 1989 and was commissioned for Glasgow’s reign as European Capital of Culture in 1990. The other tiled mural is from my local station, Hyndland, and runs the full length of the pedestrian tunnel under the platforms. It was designed by local schoolchildren and dates from roughly the same time.

Two perspectives on this colourful work on the Forth and Clyde canal at Ruchill which I watched being created last year. In the first, I captured the artist, Sharon Scotland, at work, and in the second John got a nice reflection in the water below.

Of course, not all murals are commissioned and sanitised. Another pedestrian tunnel, this time under the Expressway at the Riverside Museum, has a changing roster of graffiti art. I like the little chap doing the painting: not so sure about the one at the end.

Negative Destination’s little figures and the Big Heids pop up everywhere, and often disappear very quickly. Here are example from the Kelvin Walkway at Inn Deep and behind Ruchill Church.

Time offers a different perspective on Mustio by the River Kelvin. The first image is from April 2019, the other is from June this year when both vegetation and supplementary graffiti had increased.

Finally, this was an official mural, named Betty Brown’s Eyes after a local activist in Garnethill who died in 2006. It was vandalised soon after it appeared and has since been painted over. Interestingly, the vandals have left a comment on their own artistic perspective. (Note to self, I might be overusing that word!)

This is my last contribution to Becky’s Square Perspectives challenge. I’ve really enjoyed this way of collating some of the many unused pictures of Glasgow still lurking in my files, and may well continue with it at a later date – though without the necessity to make everything square. I might not continue with the musical accompaniment, but today I offer you – what else? – Blondie and Picture This. If you don’t love the luminous Miss Debbie Harry I’m afraid I just don’t know what’s wrong with you.

A daunder round Dundee

Dundee Law

In November last year, when the world was a different place, John had a Friday meeting at the University of Dundee. I decided to go with him and stay for the weekend. We set off early in the morning and arrived with time for a quick coffee before the meeting began. From the window I could see Dundee Law, which I have never climbed, and decided that would be the first thing I would do once John started work.

The 572-foot peak is the city’s most distinctive landmark. It’s a volcanic sill: an underground sideways flow of lava, forced through weaker rock 400 million years ago, which remained under layers of other rock for millions of years before wind, rain and glaciers cleared the softer rock away. At the top is a War Memorial with inscriptions to the memory of Dundee men who fell in the two World Wars, and a bronze brazier as a beacon which is lit on 5 days during the Autumn, marking important dates in the history of the wars. Normally, there are great views over the city but, as you can see, I was there on a rather wet day.

Oh well, never mind. I made my way back down to the university where there was an exhibition on housing I wanted to visit. While there I met these two characters. Oor Wullie is part of a 2016 public art trail. This model, When Wullie met Dr Manhattan by Sarah Coonan, was given to the university by an honorary graduate. The dog, Hope, is part of the mental health charity SANE’s Black Dog campaign to raise funds and awareness.

I visited several other exhibitions that day and, on the Saturday, we both visited Hello Robot at the V&A. Of course, all the exhibitions are now over and all the galleries are closed anyway, so instead of telling you about them I’ll show you some of the other characters I met around the city. These two were instantly recognisable as by street artists whose work I see round Glasgow a lot. Oh Pandah’s “big heids” pop up all over the city and, it seems, other cities too.

I loved these two elegant women at Spex Pistols, possibly the most interesting-looking opticians ever.

On a previous weekend in Dundee we visited Royal Research Ship Discovery which was built in the city, and in which the British National Antarctic Expedition set sail in 1901. Because of this Antarctic connection, Dundee seems to have an affinity with penguins. I came across a couple of remnants from another public art trail, and this little row, by Angela Hunter, running along the parish church wall. Apparently, they are often dressed up to suit local events, but were stark naked on this occasion.

Not so Oor Wullie, who was already decked out in his Christmas jumper. He comes from a comic strip produced by Dundee publisher D.C. Thomson, and is joined on street by some of their other characters: Desperate Dan and his dog, Dawg, and Minnie the Minx. The dragon is not a Thomson character, but is based on a local legend.

When it comes to statues of real people the choice, as usual, is dominated by men (other than the ubiquitous Queen Victoria). Below are Robert Burns and Adam Duncan (1731-1804), a Dundee born admiral who defeated the Dutch fleet off Camperdown (north of Haarlem) on 11 October 1797. However, I did find this monument to missionary Mary Slessor (1848-1915) who is also commemorated in a stained glass window in the McManus Galleries.

The Slessor window is in the gallery café so is hard to photograph without annoying people: however, on the stairs I managed to snap John’s hero, James Watt. And, always one to sniff out a bit of women’s history, I loved this portrait of Agnes Husband (1852-1929) by Alec Grieve. Agnes, a dressmaker by trade, campaigned for women’s suffrage and was active in the Labour Pary, becoming one of Dundee’s first women councillors.

By this time it was 3pm, I’d climbed the Law, visited three exhibitions in three different galleries, had lunch and a good old daunder round Dundee, getting wet and cold in the process. Hotel check-in would be open and it was time to retreat from the rain to wait in comfort for John to finish work.

Port Glasgow Heritage Walk

Newark Castle and Ferguson Marine

The name Port Glasgow means exactly what you might expect. It was originally a fishing hamlet called Newark which expanded because large ships were unable to navigate the River Clyde, then shallow and meandering, to the centre of Glasgow. Newark became the port for Glasgow in 1668 and was known as New Port Glasgow until this was shortened in 1775. By the 19th century Port Glasgow had become a centre for shipbuilding, but today only Ferguson Marine remains and in its shadow lies a lingering vestige of the old name, Newark Castle (c1484). It was once home to the Maxwell family, hence the initials PM on some of the windows.

This visit took place in November after the castle had closed for the winter (and the foreseeable future, as it turns out), but we had a look round the outside before setting off on our walk.

The Port Glasgow Heritage Walk has been created by the blogger The Greenockian and can be downloaded from the link. Before setting off west on her route, we walked east for a mile or so along the riverside walkway. The posts you can just see sticking out of the water, in the first picture below, are the remains of old timber ponds. At the beginning of the 18th century vast amounts of timber were imported into Port Glasgow and stored in the ponds, being seasoned by the salt water, until needed by local shipwrights or sawmills.

Once back at the castle, we started the walk proper by walking west past the gates of Ferguson Marine. Across the road is the Ropeworks Building where ropes and sails used to be made, but which was converted into housing in 2007/8.

The route then took us through Coronation Park. Points of interest included an old steam hammer, manufactured by Glen & Ross of Glasgow, and a memorial cairn to the Clyde Boating Tragedy of 1947 when 20 people died in an accident while on a pleasure cruise.

On the back wall of Fergus Monk’s garage at the West Quay are these two colourful murals by Jim Strachan. One shows fishing boats and the catch being processed on the quay, while the other shows people enjoying themselves in a non-socially-distanced way that seems but a dream now..

Looking out to the Clyde, there are two lighthouses here, Perch Lighthouse (1862) on the treacherous Perch Rock, and the taller West Quay Lighthouse built in the 1870s to guide ships using the docks.

Across a busy road from here is a large retail park (a good stop for lunch, if anything is open, I think we went to Marks and Spencer). Set into the pathway are slabs with the names of local shipyards, such as the Inch Yard. On the way out of the retail park going towards the town centre is a replica of the Comet, the first commercial steam-powered vessel in European waters (1812).

We passed two churches – St John the Baptist (left below) was built in 1854 for the growing number of Roman Catholics, many from Ireland, who came to work in the area. The current St Andrew’s Church dates from 1823, but there has been a church on the same site since 1719. You can see St Andrew’s again peeking out from behind the Old Bank Building.

Port Glasgow has had a railway since 1841. The current station building has 14 murals made by local people, each celebrating part of the town’s history. I had a hard time choosing favourites, so here’s a large selection, starting with the remembrance panel because our visit was very near Remembrance Sunday.

Opposite the station is the Star Hotel with a couple of interesting ghost signs – or are they really ghost signs if the original business is still there? Old signs anyway!

A stroll down King Street took us past the Salvation Army, then we turned down Customhouse Lane heading for the town buildings.

These date from 1816 and once included a court, a council chamber, prison and police department. Port Glasgow is now part of Inverclyde and no longer needs these things, so the building houses the public library. There are references to the town’s past with sailing ships everywhere, including the weather vane atop the 150ft steeple and on the coat of arms seen on the lamp.

Across from the town buildings are two monuments, the War Memorial and the Endeavour sculpture. The latter was created by Malcolm Robertson in 2012 and is another celebration of the town’s shipbuilding heritage.

From here, we crossed the main road again to return to our car. Port Glasgow is somewhere I drive through regularly without stopping, so I’m grateful to The Greenockian for opening my eyes to its interesting history. Linked to Jo’s Monday Walks.

Glasgow Gallivanting: May 2020

Glasgow University from Ruchill Park

And another month in lockdown has passed. We are still tramping the streets round home on our daily walk, in between John finishing work and dinner time, but at the weekends we go a bit further. This is Ruchill Park. It’s less fashionable, and therefore quieter, than the Botanic Gardens, our closest park, but it’s very rewarding, especially if you climb the little mound with the flagpole. Glasgow is spread out before you.

Victoria Park

This is another park slightly further away, though it’s also very busy so I’m not sure I would go back here despite its pretty pond with ducks and swans.

Western Necropolis and Lambhill Cemetery

Possil Loch

We walked out to the Western Necropolis via Maryhill, and back via Possil Loch and the canal. I always find graveyards interesting in a sad sort of way. Here, we found lots of Commonwealth War Graves, including soldiers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The only famous person I spotted was Will Fyffe (1885-1947), a music hall star from well before my time, but whom my mum remembers fondly. His grave is marked “I belong to Glasgow”, the title of a song he wrote.

The Necropolis runs seamlessly into two other cemeteries, St Kentigern’s, which we didn’t visit on this occasion, and Lambhill. Here, I was looking for the monument to the architect, James Sellars (1843-1888), seen in the gallery below.

Many of Sellars’ buildings still exist in Glasgow including one which, coincidentally, we photographed earlier in the month – Anderson’s College Medical School on Dumbarton Road. Sellars died during its construction and the building was completed by his head draughtsman, John Keppie who, as part of Honeyman and Keppie, went on to employ Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

After this visit, we found cemetery maps online and printed them out (might have been an idea to do that first) and noticed all the things we’d missed. More about a subsequent visit next month!

Floral attraction

Our more local routes have provided some stunning colour, especially the Botanic Gardens and Glasgow University’s grounds:

Rainbows and teddies

Every time I go out I declare that I’m not going to photograph any more windows with rainbows and teddies. Then this happens:

Maybe in June I’ll give up!

Street art

In April, I shared a coronavirus mural by street artist Rebel Bear. A new one, depicting a health worker, has appeared on the wall of the Ubiquitous Chip bar and restaurant in Ashton Lane off Byres Road. There is another in the series, depicting a man with a coronavirus round his ankle like a ball and chain, but it’s in the city centre where I no longer go. You can, however, see all three in this BBC article.

The same wall used to be decorated with the advert for Auchentoshan whisky shown above. This is one of nearly 200 photos in a file on my phone marked Street Art, so I thought the current circumstances would be a good excuse to get rid of a few. Those below, a mix of official and unofficial decoration, were all taken in and around Byres Road, though some no longer exist.

Tartan paint is on the wall of De Courcy’s Arcade in Cresswell Lane. The two pieces of graffiti art on crumbling old buildings were added to the Western Infirmary as it was being demolished last year and have long since gone. Embargo (the wings) on Byres Road and Bar Gallus both still have their murals, but the final two images of the building opposite Gallus on Church Street have been painted over. No great loss!

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Normally when we visit Kelvingrove we’re there for an exhibition. Now that we can’t go inside we pay far more attention to the outside of the building. The rather grand entrance above presided over by St Mungo, Glasgow’s patron saint, is just the back door! The front entrance is shown in the gallery below, along with various exterior adornments including the four elements of Glasgow’s coat of arms: the tree, the bird, the fish, and the bell.

The last bit

As we head into our third full month of lockdown, things have eased a little here in Scotland. We’re allowed to meet members of another household in an outdoor space, so we celebrated this on Saturday by visiting friends who have a very large garden. We took our own bottle and glasses, keeping the required 2m / 6ft apart at all times, and had a lovely time. The length of such visits is determined by the strength of one’s bladder as going indoors is still not allowed!

Another concession is that we can drive somewhere to exercise, roughly within five miles. This doesn’t really help much in our urban situation, and given reports over the weekend from beauty spots a little further afield, I think I’ll stick to what I can do from my front door at the moment. Even those routes make me nervous because of the increase in crowds. I don’t think our infection rate is anywhere near low enough to take risks.

And finally to my Scottish word of the month. Sleekit can just mean sleek, as in smooth and shiny, but to describe a person as sleekit is usually pejorative, meaning sly, crafty, or sneaky. I have seen this word used more than a few times recently in relation to a certain government advisor. My choice of words for him was a little stronger!

I hope you are all keeping safe, well and happy. Enjoy June as best you can!

Glasgow Gallivanting: January 2020

Celtic Connections, 2020

Music lovers don’t get long to recover from the festive season in Glasgow: Celtic Connections, Glasgow’s annual folk, roots and world music festival, arrives in the last two weeks of January. This year there were over 300 events, 2,100 musicians performing, and 130,000 attendees. As usual we had a ball, attending six concerts at four different venues. We ended the month exhausted, in a happy sort of way, and considerably heavier given that before every concert we had a pre-theatre meal and sometimes a pint of Festival Ale.

Out and about

The weather has been dreadful – rain, rain, rain. Our only day out away from Glasgow was an exception – a bright, cold Sunday in Stirling. Some aspects of that day have already featured as part of Becky’s January Squares Challenge, and there are so many other photographs that I feel it merits a post of its own. However, we did quite a lot of wandering around Glasgow, always searching for interesting details. For example, I didn’t know before that the CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) on Sauchiehall Street is housed in a ‘Greek’ Thomson building (Alexander Thomson, 1817-1875, so-called because of the many Grecian features of his architecture). It’s obvious when you look up!

Further along Sauchiehall Street, we came across ghost signs, angels, torch bearers and regimental flags.

Round the corner at Charing Cross are the magnificent Charing Cross Mansions and the drunken-looking Cameron Memorial Fountain. No longer in use, it was built as a tribute to Sir Charles Cameron (1843 – 1913), a much respected newspaper editor and Liberal MP. Some say its tipsy lean is due to subsidence from the building of the nearby M8 motorway in the 1960s, but apparently photographs from the 1950s show that it was already listing then.

Moving down to Argyle Street, I have long been fascinated by the Buck’s Head Buildings – also by Alexander Thomson (1863). I was glad John had his camera with him to get a close up of the buck itself, now sadly eroded.

We were on our way to Street Level Photoworks at Trongate 103 to see their Oscar Marzaroli exhibition (on till 15th March). Italian-Scot Marzaroli (1933-1988) photographed Glasgow from the 1950s to the 1980s, often concentrating on the poorer areas. Many of his images are very well known – I particularly wanted to capture Gorbals Boys, three young lads playing in high-heeled shoes, but it was in the corner by the window and the reflections were terrible. For comparison, see the sculpture by Liz Peden which reproduces the scene in today’s more modern Gorbals.

Marzaroli was a friend of artist Joan Eardly, and I loved the portrait shown below of some of the Samson children whom she often used as models. Another comparison – check this link for an example of Eardley’s painting and a picture of two of the Samson children as they were in 2016. Bonus image – a smiling John in the gallery complex at Trongate 103.

Street art

At the beginning of January, I noticed that many of the Big Heids seen around town had been upgraded to Christmas versions, and some of them had acquired wee pals.

Where’s a bench challenge when you need it?

Can it really be 5 years since Jude was looking for our benches? My eye was caught by this one in George Square, set up in memory of a long running equal pay dispute with Glasgow City Council. 163 women died while they were waiting for their claims to be settled, a disgraceful statistic.

 

Burns Night

We were out at a concert on Burns Night this year. However, John was invited to a Chinese Burns Supper (not painful!) a few nights before which looks to have been a glorious cultural mix. On the same night, I was out at a party at the Women’s Library to celebrate the installation of their new boiler. I don’t have a boiler suit so couldn’t dress the part, but several people did, including my friend Anna. I’m happy to self-identify as an Old Boiler without labelling myself as such!

The last bit

So after many false starts, the UK finally Brexited at 11pm on 31st January – sort of. There’s a transition period till the end of the year so not much will change till then. There were some celebrations in Scotland, but mostly sorrowful vigils – this country voted to remain by 62%. In Glasgow that figure was almost 67%, and in typical Glaswegian fashion Wellington’s traffic cone was updated to suit the occasion.

So those are my January highlights – better late than never! Happy what’s-left-of-February to you all.

Glasgow Gallivanting: October 2019

Rainbow over Nethy Bridge

Strictly speaking, the rainbow above should have been in last month’s Gallivanting post. It was taken on a visit to my cousin on the last weekend of September, by which time the post was written and scheduled. However, it’s too good to waste! That’s it again below, along with a much feebler effort from Argyle Street in Glasgow. We had a lot of rainbows in the early part of the month, but every time I whipped out my phone they instantly faded. I liked this shot though, becuase it shows I wasn’t the only one making the attempt.

Riverside Museum / Street art

Riverside Museum, home of Glasgow’s transport collection. The Rest and be Thankful is a pass at the top of a steep climb on the A83 through the Arrochar Alps

The Riverside Museum down by the Clyde is somewhere we pop into often, but our latest visit was briefer than normal. We were on a hunt for street art! The railway arches opposite the museum have recently been given a makeover with 27 graffiti artists contributing. The murals are quite hard to photograph because it’s difficult to get far enough back without throwing yourself into the traffic on the Clydeside Expressway, but John did his best. NB a wean is a child – short for wee one and pronounced wane.

Walk round the other side of the arches and there is more to see. The project is led by the SWG3 arts venue which is also covered in murals. (SW stands for Studio Warehouse and G3 is the location’s postal code.) The area has so far kept its post-industrial look, which makes a change from similar sites nearby which have been covered with more and more student housing.

Edinburgh – Cut and Paste at Modern 2

Now that the Festivals are over, and there are fewer tourists around, it feels safe to visit Edinburgh again! We were meeting our friend Jim there for dinner one Saturday and went over early to see a couple of exhibitions. The best of these was Cut and Paste, 400 Years of Collage at the National Galleries’ Modern 2. Previously known as the Dean Gallery, Modern 2 was built as an orphanage in the 1830s and converted to a gallery in 1999. It makes good use of its grand staircases and high ceilings. The large sculpture shown below begins in the café on the ground floor and rises almost the full height of the building. The coloured tiles are in the Ladies – even the lavatories are artistic!

Cut and Paste was interesting and ended with two fun exhibits. Edinburgh resident Craig W. Lowe (b. 1982) covered his childhood wardrobe with stickers. The door was on show and we were encouraged to emulate Craig by sticking our own stickers to the museum’s entrance gate.

These days, of course, collages can be digital. Cold War Steve is a project by Christopher Spencer which started as a series of photographs of the Cold War era with Eastenders actor Steve McFadden (in character as Phil Mitchell) inserted into each one. Brexit has led Spencer into even more surreal territory with a series of dystopian photomontages peopled by politicians and celebrities, always with Steve looking utterly disgusted and bemused. Confused? There are some good examples on the Twitter feed @Coldwar_Steve which might help.

Harold, the ghost of lost futures

The collage above was created specifically for this exhibition and I can’t even begin to explain the significance of most of the characters – though the more I look at it, the more I recognise. Can you see Stephen Fry, Tom Jones, Kathy Burke, Alan Bennett, Slade, or Phoebe Waller-Bridge for example?

The tuba-playing Harold is a character from Neighbours. The ghastly yellow figure is Kingsley, surely the scariest football mascot ever. He belongs to Partick Thistle and I’ve even had my photograph taken with him after one of my guided walks. Eek! Everything is going to be alright is from an artwork by Martin Creed which is on display at Modern 1. It’s quite good fun looking for points of reference once you start. I should add that I have downloaded the montage legitimately – it is available on the Cold War Steve website in return for a donation to mental health charities.

Scotland puts on a show for family visitors

My sister and her husband were up from London visiting my mum this month, and were lucky to get amazing weather when we went to Irvine, Troon and Lomond Shores.

John’s Aunt Anne, along with two of his cousins and their spouses, also visited Scotland from the south of England, staying at Loch Monzievaird in Perthshire. (Don’t pronounce the Z!) We went to meet them for lunch in Crieff and enjoyed a walk round the loch later. Once again, it was a lovely day with Scotland looking its best.

Both Mum and John’s Aunt Ann turned 93 in October. Happy birthday to two fabulous ladies!

GlasGLOW

For the second year, Glasgow Botanic Gardens is hosting GlasGLOW, a Halloween sound and light show (on till 10th November). We went on the second night – there are a few highlights below. I particularly liked the pumpkin patch with lanterns carved by local schoolchildren, the three scarecrows, and the Pumpkin God. There were a lot of Brexit jokes – spot the pumpkin with the European stars!

The last bit

I like to have something quirky for The Last Bit! One Sunday, we had a beautiful autumnal walk in part of the Carrick Forest. That deserves a post of its own – coming soon – but for the meantime I’ll share the quirky towel dispenser I found in the Ladies of the café at Loch Doon. I assure you, I still have my hopes and dreams intact.

I’m not exactly an award-free blog, but I’m usually so far behind with the posts I want to write that I don’t have time to take part in awards and challenges, as is the case here. I’d like to thank Flavia Vinci for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award. Flavia is Italian, but works in tourism so travels the world taking stunning photographs. I definitely recommend you take a look at her blog – try one of my favourite recent posts, Iguazú Falls.

Finally, to my Scottish Word of the Month. The clocks went back at the end of October, it’s dark by 17:30, and temperatures have started dropping below zero overnight. It’s time to coorie in or snuggle up. October has been a colourful, outdoor month for the Gallivanter – I’m not sure November will be the same. Have a good one!