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!

Glasgow Gallivanting: September 2019

25th August 2019 was the two hundredth anniversary of the death of Scottish engineer James Watt. Watt’s interest in the technology of steam engines began while he was employed as an instrument maker at the University of Glasgow, and his work became fundamental to the Industrial Revolution. There have been commemorations in Scotland all year, and this month it was John’s turn to take part by giving a lecture on Watt at a conference organised by some of his colleagues. I went along and enjoyed it very much (even though I had heard some of it before!)

You can find representations of Watt in several places in Glasgow – left to right below: on Glasgow Green outside the People’s Palace, in Anderston, in the Hunterian Museum and in George Square.

John’s not the only one to have been talking. I gave my talk on the Suffragette Jessie Stephen for the third time – it’s getting quite polished now – and a few days later I led two women’s history walks for Doors Open Day. I’m not quite sure why I agreed to three events in one week – note to self for next year: don’t do it! However, a bonus to one of the walks is that I got to see inside Glasgow’s Mercat Cross which is usually firmly locked. Market crosses like this are found all over Scotland to mark the places where markets were legally held – Glasgow’s original cross was removed in 1659 and this symbolic replacement was erected in 1929/30 to the design of Scotland’s first practicing female architect, Edith Burnett Hughes. The unicorn and interior animal figures were modelled by  Margaret Cross Primrose. I’ve said that last sentence every time I’ve been a guide on this walk, but only now know what these animals look like.

A couple of family visits (one to us, one involving travelling) also contributed to a busy month, but we still got time to get out and about to see new places. Autumn is upon us and short, dark days lie ahead so we decided to make the most of the last of summer.

Penicuik House

Penicuik House in Midlothian looks impressive from a distance, but as you get closer you can see that it is merely a shell. Erected by Sir James Clerk of Penicuik between 1761 and 1778, it was extended in 1857 and destroyed by fire in 1899. A Preservation Trust was set up in 1987 and, over a century after the fire, the ruin was stabilised and partially restored (2007-14) and is now open to the public. Inside, you can see doors that open into thin air and the remains of spiral staircases. The exterior is still ornamented by some fine statues (and on this day, John.)

After exploring the ruin, and having lunch in the café which, thankfully, has a roof, we walked round the estate. The building with the spire is the old stables where, I believe, the family still lives. The 18th century tower, which the Trust aims to renovate and reopen, was designed as both a belvedere (viewpoint) and doocot (dovecot). The view is of the Pentland Hills from Cauldshoulders Ridge which we had climbed in the hope of reaching the monument you can just glimpse in the distance over the white gate. We failed to find it!

On our way home we dropped into a place I would never have known about had I not read a post on Things Helen Loves just a few days before. The Secret Herb Garden was a short detour on our route from Penicuik House back to the Edinburgh by-pass. A herb nursery, garden, café and gin distillery – it’s all those things. We indulged in coffee and cake and left with a bottle of gin.

The Clyde at Crossford

We did a lovely circular walk out along the Clyde from the village of Crossford in South Lanarkshire, returning on minor roads and farm tracks via the memorial at General Roy’s birthplace. William Roy produced a map of Scotland after the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, and from this grow the Ordnance Survey which produces the maps we use today. Appropriately, the memorial is in the form of a trig point pillar.

Dumfries House

Dumfries House which, confusingly, is not in Dumfries but near Cumnock in Ayrshire, was built in the 1750s for the 5th Earl of Dumfries. The architects were the Adam brothers, and much of the furnishing was specially commissioned from Thomas Chippendale. When it became too expensive for the family to run in 2007, the owner, by then the 7th Marquess of Bute, sold it for £45m to the nation in the form of a Foundation headed by Prince Charles. The house (no photography inside) and estate have been restored to their former glory and opened to the public..

I have ambivalent feelings about touring these great houses – to me, they represent the pinnacle of a rotten social system – and I am no big fan of royalty, quite the reverse. However, I think a good thing has been done here. The Estate is now the second biggest employer in the area, after the local council, and the jobs provided are not just casual, dead-end ones. Young people are learning new skills via apprenticeships in hospitality and traditional crafts such as stonemasonry – the estate is dotted with quirky little shelters and summer houses as a result.

Mugdock Country Park

Mugdock is close to home and we’ve visited often, but we’ve never been lucky enough to be there when the only intact tower of the castle was open. Great views from the top!

The middle floor of the castle is furnished like a dining room, with posters detailing old remedies around the walls. I rather liked this one:

To cure a great flux or looseness of the belly take a hard egg and peel off the shell and put the smaller end of it to the fundament and when it is cold take another such hot, fresh, hard and peeled egg and apply it as aforesaid.

Readers, do not try this at home!

The last bit

The Oor Wullie trail which graced Scotland’s cities this summer finished at the end of August, and during September each city auctioned off its statues. In total, they have raised an amazing £1.3m for children’s hospital charities. Metal Oor Wullie, designed by Jason Patterson and exhibited in Glasgow’s George Square, was the biggest fundraiser at £25,000.

Every autumn, I find a new mural by street artist Pink Rebel Bear. This year, s/he takes aim at Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un, and Boris Johnson, depicting them all as big babies. It was really hard to photograph because there was scaffolding in front of it, hence the angle. It’s on Woodlands Terrace Lane near the junction with Woodlands Road should any Glaswegian readers be interested.

The other piece of graffiti art above was snapped on the Kelvin Walkway near Inn Deep, but I’ve seen the same head in different colours all around the city over the last couple of months. I’ve only just discovered the story behind it though. The “Big Heids” are by Oh Pandah, a Glasgow based graffiti artist who is using them to celebrate two years of sobriety. Apparently, the reason the faces all look as they do reflects the previous lifestyle followed by the artist and the toll taken by years of partying. Crikey!

Finally, to my Scottish word of the month. You might have noticed the UK is still in political turmoil, with the government recently being taken to court. Twice. If you live here, you will know the sordid details. If you don’t, I won’t bore you with them. One of the Scottish judges used the word stymied meaning obstructed – I think that’s a fairly common word these days and would be understandable to non-Scots, but did you know that it originated as a golfing term from the Scots stimie? Well now you do! It describes a situation where one player’s ball lies between another ball and the hole on the putting green, thereby blocking the line of play.

In another Scottish turn of phrase, the nights are fair drawing in. Will that curtail our October gallivanting? Time will tell – have a great month.

 

Glasgow Gallivanting: October 2018

Autumn is well and truly here – above is my favourite splash of colour in the Botanic Gardens, as it changed from September to October.

More autumn colour: on a dry, crisp Sunday we took a walk to the nearby town of Milngavie (pronounced Mulguy). The drive there would be completely urban – no gaps at all – but we can walk all the way from our house along the River Kelvin and Allander Water. This also doubles the distance from 4 miles to about 8! We got public transport back, needless to say.

Re the last two pictures above – what on earth is wrong with people, stealing memorial plaques? I despair.

October also means the end of the guided walk season, with my last one being in Garnethill, the first time the Women’s Library has run that walk since the Art School fire earlier in the year. We got as close as we could to the School, but had to change our route because there is still a cordon around it.

As one walker observed, even the scaffolding looks like a work of art, and the stop sign definitely is one.

The cultural highlight of the month was 306: Dusk, the final part in the National Theatre of Scotland’s trilogy of plays about the First World War. The title comes from the 306 soldiers who were shot for “cowardice”, or what would now be diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder. Even at the time, officers such as the war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen were diagnosed with shell shock and treated (though both later went back to the front line where Owen died in November 1918). The class system was rigidly in place.

In 2016 part 1, 306: Dawn, told the stories of some of the condemned men. Last year part 2, 306: Day, gave voice to the women and families at home, many of whom were shamed into changing their names and leaving their communities. This year’s play tells three stories in a series of overlapping monologues: a school teacher of the present day, a veteran of the Iraq War and a soldier who turns out to be the last of the 306 to be shot, just days before the armistice. Only in the final scene do the characters interact and the connections between them become explicit. The name and date of death of each man is projected onto the backdrop, accompanied by a choir singing out the names.

As we reach the centenary of the end of the Great War, it’s important to remember all its aspects, including these men who have been more or less erased from history. In 2006, then defence secretary Des Browne, announced pardons for the 306, for what that’s worth. The presence of the Iraq War veteran, clearly suffering from PTSD, questions how much better society has become at dealing with traumatised soldiers. He wasn’t shot, but his life fell apart and in some ways his was the saddest story. Overall, the trilogy was thought-provoking and intensely moving.

The last bit

Exactly a year ago I found a new piece of street art by Pink Bear Rebel (Free WiFi, above). That wall has since been scrubbed clean, but this month I found a new one – a blind-folded Theresa May being led by a blind-folded British bulldog. A neat piece of political commentary, and top marks for the facial expression which is spot-on. The body looks all wrong to me though, too short and stout. I can’t remember who said that Mrs May always looks as if she has been illustrated by Quentin Blake but I heartily agree. His characters tend to be long and gangly: she might be in this picture, for example.

Time for Scottish word of the month! Over coffee with a couple of friends I observed of an organisation with which we are all involved that they “couldn’t run a minodge”. Blank looks – well they are both from Edinburgh, and I admit the phrase puzzled me when I first came to Glasgow. The word is derived from ménage, French for household, but has acquired various spellings according to local pronunciation. In the days before widespread credit, minodge took on the meaning of a self-help savings scheme whereby everyone made regular payments and took turns at getting the whole amount. So if you say someone “couldnae run a minodge” you are calling into account their competence. I put my alternative, couldn’t run a piss-up in a brewery, to my friends but they considered that vulgar. I did say they were from Edinburgh …

So November has arrived and we are hurtling towards the end of the year. The next Gallivant will probably be quite wintry. Have a great month.

Glasgow Gallivanting: October 2017

Canal House, Speirs Wharf

It’s been a quiet month for travel, for me at least – John spent a chunk of it working in China, so I don’t suppose he feels the same. Foul weather has meant I haven’t been very far afield, but I have tramped about Glasgow in between rain storms and have a few local buildings to show you.

Speirs Wharf

A Sunday afternoon stroll with John took us down the Glasgow spur of the Forth and Clyde Canal to Port Dundas. Here, Speirs Wharf has been a residential area since the late 1980s but originated in the 19th century as the canal’s headquarters and the City of Glasgow Grain Mills and Stores. As well as Canal House (above) we found other attractive reflections on our walk.

Temple

Forth and Clyde Canal at Temple

On a gloomy Sunday while John was away, the sun suddenly broke through about 3.30pm. I set off along the canal again, but in the opposite direction. I could almost have been in the countryside until Temple Gasometers came into view.

Temple Gasworks were built in 1871 and closed in 1968, but the two large gas holders, dating from 1893 and 1900, were still being used until a few years ago.

Historic Environment Scotland recently sought views on plans to schedule the structures as Category B Listed buildings. I don’t know the result, but the local paper reported divided opinion between those who wanted them conserved and those who would flatten them. I’d be in the former camp these days, though we used to live very close to the gasometers and I hated them then. Now, I can see their beauty as part of our industrial heritage (and I don’t have to pass them every day which helps).

Also at Temple are Locks 26 and 27. The pub Lock 27, which you can see in the background of the portrait image, used to be our local. It’s still handy for a post-stroll pint but wasn’t open on this day.

Jordanhill

At Lock 27, I left the canal and headed for Jordanhill. Some of you might remember this is the University Campus I used to work at. I swore I would never go there again after my last visit a couple of years ago when it was so sad to see the semi-derelict state of it (the campus closed in 2012 and has now been sold for housing), but that’s where my footsteps took me. Nothing has changed – there is some controversy with the development and local people are protesting about the number of homes to be built with little or no improvements in infrastructure. The handsome red sandstone David Stow Building is one of three that will be kept. The other picture is not pretty, I know, but that’s the entrance I used for work every day.

I found it funny to see the bright blue library book drop still there: locked – I checked. I probably locked it myself five years ago. On the door is a notice informing users that the library closed on 1st June 2012, telling them where to take their books in future, and thanking them for their custom over the years. I know I wrote that and put it up and I’m amazed no-one has ever taken it down. I’m just glad I can laugh, it’s all bygones now. I have no regrets.

Down by the Riverside

Another reason that October has been constrained is that I have been fighting with a broken-down boiler which took 6 visits from 4 different workmen to fix, so I have spent a lot of time hanging round the house. One visit was supposed to be on the Sunday afternoon in the middle of the saga, but the engineer phoned to say that he was still waiting for parts and would come on Monday instead. So we set off down the River Kelvin Walkway and then along the Clyde.

The last time we visited this former pumping station it still showed signs of having been a restaurant (first picture below). Eighteen months later, the restaurant’s conservatory has been replaced with a glass still-house for a new whisky distillery. Exciting!

On the other side of the river, we spotted the Waverley (the last ocean-going paddle steamer in the world – red funnels) and Queen Mary (the only remaining Clyde-built turbine steamer which is now being preserved as a museum ship – yellow funnels). We crossed over to have a look.

Both ships are berthed by the Glasgow Tower, a rotating structure which you are supposed to be able to ascend but which spends more time inactive than not. From its podium, we got a good view of the Glasgow Science Centre and some of the other weird buildings by this part of the river.

The last bit

I came across this piece of street art near Glasgow University. It’s by an artist new to me, Pink Bear Rebel, who focuses, I’ve read, on anti-Trump protests and rebelling against the ‘meaningless of life’. I’ll be on the look-out for more.

And the boiler? Well, as of last Tuesday we have heat – just as well, because overnight frosts have returned. It also gives me this month’s Scottish words lesson because it’s been a sair fecht to deal with (sore/hard fight; something problematic).

I hope your October has NOT been a sair fecht!

Glasgow Gallivanting: June 2017

Another fabulously busy month! My summer programme of guided walks continues (I’ve led, or co-led, four in June) with a couple of twists. The Women’s Library is reprinting its walk leaflets, so John and I went on a reconnaissance mission to the Necropolis to check the route directions and take some new photographs. Not relevant to a women’s history walk, but something we hadn’t noticed before, was this monument to William Wallace (of Braveheart fame). And I couldn’t resist including my favourite angel as the post header.

 

I also went on someone else’s walk! The Royal College of Nursing guided a walk from the medieval cathedral to the Clyde looking at public health through the ages. I learned, amongst other things, that some of the tenements I pass often were built by Glasgow’s City Improvement Trust in the late 19th century – an early form of social housing to replace squalid slums. From now on I’ll be looking upwards even more than I do normally to spot their banner.

 

Happy 75th Billy Connolly

Glaswegian comedian Billy Connolly (or Sir William Connolly, CBE, to give him his full title) turns 75 this year. To celebrate, his home city has commissioned a set of three murals by Rachel Maclean, Jack Vettriano and John Byrne. As a result of my guided walks in the city I’ve now spotted all three.

 

As well as the murals and his knighthood, Billy recently received an honorary degree from Strathclyde University. I watched a clip of him in his robes, and he asked “I wonder if they know something I don’t? When you start getting the lifetime achievement awards……”, and his voice tailed off. I know his health isn’t good, but I hope he has many more years to come.

The Great Get Together

On 16th June 2016, during the EU Referendum campaign, Jo Cox MP was murdered by a fanatical white supremacist. One year later, thousands of events up and down the country took place under the banner of The Great Get Together to commemorate Jo and celebrate the phrase she used in her maiden speech to Parliament “We have more in common than that which divides us”. I attended an event at Glasgow Women’s Library at which the guest of honour was Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. I expected to encounter some extra security given recent terrorist attacks – but no. I walked into the library as usual, Nicola arrived, gave a moving speech, then moved round each table talking to everyone and posing for selfies as requested. Spot the fan girl!

 

I’m proud to live in a country where politicians can still do this, where we don’t react to terrorism by shutting them away from the people they were elected to represent, and I’m proud to have a First Minister who can speak so well on the platform and also come across as friendly and approachable in person.

South Rotunda

South Rotunda

Rotundas on either side of the River Clyde mark each end of the Harbour Tunnel, built in the 1890s and long since fallen into disuse. A year ago, I wrote a post about an urban walk along the river in which I lamented that, although the North Rotunda had been a restaurant for as long as I can remember, the South Rotunda was boarded up. I didn’t know that renovation was well under way and it is now home to the Malin Group which offers services to the marine industry. Recently, they held open days in aid of the Ethiopia Medical Project, a charity run by two Glasgow women to assist the Buccama Clinic in its work healing thousands of mothers suffering from uterine prolapse.

I was expecting a simple tour of the building. However, we were entertained by actors playing “Willie”, one of the workmen who built the tunnels, and the shell-suited “Steph” who worked at the South Rotunda during the 1988 Garden Festival when it served as Nardini’s Ice Cream Parlour. Great fun, tea and cakes at the end, and all in a very worthy cause.

 

Paisley buddies

 

Pride of Paisley was a public art trail of lion sculptures last year – one of them, “Superbia”, has now returned permanently. Wasn’t my mum clever to wear such a perfectly matching cardigan?

The last bit

I could tell you about theatres, art exhibitions and gardens visited, but this post is getting too long so let’s skip to the last bit in which I teach you a new Scottish word. Some politicians have told us that we are scunnered (annoyed) with voting. True, since 2014 in Scotland we have had two referendums, two general elections and elections for local councils – but am I scunnered? I am not. People fought and died for my right to vote and I always do so with a lump in my throat, especially at the latest election which was held on the anniversary of the death of Emily Wilding Davison (the suffragette who threw herself in front of the King’s horse at Epsom). But as for the result and events since – now that’s what I call a scunner!

And finally, a bit of nostalgia. Who could this romantic young couple be? No prizes! I’ve been scanning old (and sadly faded) pictures again. This is us on holiday in Germany in 1985.

 

So that was my June. How was yours?