Australia 2004, part 4: Cooktown

Endeavour River from Grassy Hill, Cooktown

Cooktown marks the point where Captain Cook beached his ship, the Endeavour, in June 1770, thus becoming Australia’s first non-indigenous, though temporary, settlement. The town itself was founded in 1873 as a supply port for the goldfields along the Palmer River, and at its peak it had a population of over 30,000. The guidebook we used in 2004 gave the population as 1410: interestingly, according to Wikipedia, the 2016 census puts it at 2631. It’s not very big anyway!

After our drive along the Bloomfield Track, we arrived in Cooktown for a three night stay in Milkwood Lodge Cabins. This was one of the places John had phoned in advance to check accessibility for a person in plaster to the knee, and the owners had kindly moved our booking to a cabin with no steps to the entrance. They couldn’t have been more helpful, and I see they are still in business getting good reviews on Trip Advisor, so I feel confident recommending them. The only downside is that a bushturkey seemed to think he had visiting rights, and when not pushing his way inside could be heard scrabbling about on the roof! But we were quite fond of him.

On our first day we explored the town, first of all driving to the lookout on Grassy Hill, with its 19th century iron lighthouse, from where we got a good overview.

Cooktown’s main street is Charlotte Street which has many historic buildings along it. We drove up and down so that I could look at it, then John returned on foot to take photographs while I sat on this bench resting my leg. I look quite happy, but I do remember shedding a small tear at this point because wandering round historic buildings is what I love doing.

There is, of course, a statue to the eponymous Captain Cook, and a graveyard where the most interesting memorial was to Mrs Watson “heroine of Lizard Island tragedy of 1881” and her infant son, Ferrier.

Mrs Watson also has a memorial in town, on which she is given a name – Mary. For some reason, we don’t have a photograph of it, so here is the Wikimedia image. We do have a picture of one of the plaques, which you can see below the Wiki photo – “last entry” refers to a journal she kept of her ordeal.

Mary Watson's Monument (2010)
Heritage branch staff / CC BY https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

It’s a tragic story: the monument was erected in 1886 to honour this young woman, who died, along with her infant son and her Chinese employee Ah Sam, from thirst and exposure after a conflict with a group of indigenous people in October 1881. I can’t do the story justice in this short post: it’s well worth reading the Wikipedia entry if you are interested. Important points I took away from the article are that this is the only known public monument to an individual woman (other than a head of state) in Queensland; and the way it illustrates the injustices which accompanied early European settlement, and the lack of communication and understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. That the memorial does not mention Ah Sam is another illustration of the racist attitudes of the time.

On our second day we explored the area around the town, visiting Isabella Falls, Endeavour River Falls, Barretts Lagoon, and Archer Point.

I wasn’t able to do very much at any of these places except look, but at least we weren’t inhibited from enjoying nice cafes during our stay – often with a view and a good beer.

It was now a week since my accident and I hadn’t yet told anyone at home, so on our last night in Cooktown I made the dreaded phone calls to my parents and my closest colleague. All were sympathetic, of course, so having got that out of the way, we packed up to head back to Cairns and (hopefully) to enjoy the last few days of our Australian adventure.

Glasgow Gallivanting: July 2020

Strathkelvin Railway Path and Billy the Train

In early July, John took a week off work. This coincided with the time when restrictions on how far you could travel for leisure in Scotland eased slightly, and we ventured into the countryside for the first time since lockdown. Not too far, just over the city boundary to East Dunbartonshire where we discovered a network of trails on and around the old Strathkelvin railway path, several of which we followed. I’ve written a post about that week which will follow shortly, but since then we’ve covered another couple of the trails. The first started in Milton of Campsie where we came across this cute display in the old station.

The second took us to Lennox Castle. I always thought this had originated as a Victorian “lunatic asylum” but, although the house was built between 1837 and 1841, it didn’t become a hospital until 1936 as a “mental deficiency institution” – such terrible terms to modern ears. The castle itself became the nurses’ home, and patients’ accommodation was built in the grounds: this was demolished after the last parts of the hospital finally closed in 2002, but the castle itself remains as a sad ruin and a reminder of all the suffering souls who lived there.

I did another Twitter walk for the Women’s Library this month, this time in Garnethill, and my fellow volunteer Melody has made a trailer for the same walk. Both are below for anyone interested. On the trailer, my voice is the one that starts by telling you the walk is available to download. It has been great fun doing these, and we hope to do more.

Garnethill Women’s Heritage Walk Trailer from Glasgow Women’s Library on Vimeo.

As lockdown eases, the growth of my collection of photographs of rainbows and teddy bears is diminishing. Indeed, many of the old displays have been taken down. We’ve seen more painted stones this month though, mostly in the small towns in East Dunbartonshire that we visited. People have been very artistic in lockdown!

So it’s been a month of easing restrictions with two major events: I’ve had a haircut and a birthday! Unfortunately not in that order. My birthday was the day after restaurants were allowed to re-open, so we had dinner out for the first time in four months. It felt strange and rather lacking in atmosphere, but it’s progress. What will next month bring?

A Glasgow perspective: three times a lady

A trio of trios for you today. In the first set we are back at Partick Burgh Hall, the roof of which featured in my first SquarePerspectives post. On the face of the building are these three lovely ladies representing Justice, Mercy and Truth.

Several libraries in Glasgow have female figures with books and children on their roofs. These three are at Maryhill, Woodlands and Govanhill.

The last trio is just outside Glasgow, spotted after the distance we could go to exercise was relaxed a bit. We discovered Jessie by accident when walking a trail near Lennoxtown. Later investigation showed that this was one of three sculptures by Jaqueline Donachie commemorating women in health and medicine who have associations with East Dunbartonshire – through education, working life or residence. We decided to seek out the other two: Elsie in Westerton and Irene in Kirkintilloch. The names don’t refer to any specific individual but represent first names that appeared frequently in Jacqueline’s research, and are a nod to just how many uncommemorated women there are. Obviously my inner women’s history nerd was very excited by this!

I’m linking to Becky’s SquarePerspectives challenge with occasional posts on the new perspectives on Glasgow that our lockdown walks have given us. We have been looking at everything in so much more detail and are often amazed at what we spot!

Today’s title is from the Commodores’ 1978 hit. Don’t be alarmed, there’s no sound till the singing starts. Take it away, Lionel!

#WomenMakeHistory

As many of you know, I’m a big enthusiast for women’s history and at this time of year I would normally be leading groups on heritage walks for both Glasgow Women’s Library and Maryhill Halls. At GWL we’ve been trying to think of ways to take the walks online, and this week I led our first ever Twitter “walk”! Even if you’re not on Twitter, you can follow it by clicking on the tweet below.

We’re also inviting everyone to look out for representations of women in their own areas all over the world. Can you think of any statues, buildings, plaques, murals, paintings, graffiti, or street names in your area? My fellow guide, Joy Charnley, has written a blog post with some ideas which you can access from the first tweet below.

If you’re on Twitter and / or Instagram, post your findings and tag them with @womenslibrary and #WomenMakeHistory. I’ll be adding contributions to my Twitter feed daily, or as often as I can think of something – it could be as prosaic as a gatepost, as you can see in the second tweet above. It would be great if some of you could join me!

Glasgow Gallivanting: December 2019

Watt Institution

The Watt Institution in James Watt’s hometown of Greenock houses the McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Watt Library and Watt Hall. Recently closed for several years, it re-opened in November after a £2.1 million refurbishment programme funded by Inverclyde Council and Historic Environment Scotland. Watt (1736-1819) being an engineering hero of John’s, we went along to have a look in early December. It was a very miserable day outside, as you can tell from the photo above, but plenty to do inside.

The museum is called after its founder, James McLean, and first opened in 1876. I don’t know what it was like pre-refurbishment, but now it is light and airy (above) with various local history displays. I found the quilt embroidered with the names of the children of Greenock, Gourock and Port Glasgow who died in the Blitz of 6/7 May 1941 particularly poignant – especially when I found four members of the same family.

The Watt Lecture Hall opened at the same time as the museum. Today it holds a new exhibition celebrating Watt’s life and works.

Upstairs is the Art Gallery with its small, but interesting, collection of local views as well as more famous works by the likes of the Scottish Colourists, Boudin, Courbet, and Corot. Again, my eye was drawn to a poignant memorial, this time at the bottom of the gallery stairs. Too many names (Pat Leiper, 2014) lists the 1500 local men who died in the Great War.

Of course, I have left the best (from my point of view) till last. The Watt Library houses local history reference books and archives, and is dominated by a large sculpture of James Watt himself.

I just loved looking at all the old books, many of which were on open shelves. Greenock Infirmary’s Fever Journal from the 1860s must be unique, so it was a surprise to be able to pick it up and handle it.

I took many more photos of old labels which would only be of interest to library geeks, so I have spared you most of those!

Feminism and the servant problem: book launch

From one of John’s heroes, to one of mine. “My” suffragette, Jessie Stephen, was a woman of many talents. By the time she was twenty, in addition to her suffrage activities, she had been the Vice-Chair of her local Independent Labour Party (at 16, the youngest you could be a full member) and organised her fellow domestic servants into the Scottish Federation of Domestic Workers. When writing the first version of my talk on Jessie last year, I read a couple of articles by Dr Laura Schwartz of Warwick University, so I was delighted when she got in touch to tell me that she had written a book in which Jessie had a large role. Even better, I was asked to give a shorter version of my talk at an event in the Mitchell Library to launch the book in Scotland. Below, you can see Laura and me with the third speaker, Paula Larkin (in grey) and a member of library staff.

The publisher very kindly donated a copy of the book to Glasgow Women’s Library, which I’ve read and will be reviewing for their website. And if you’re having an allergic reaction to the Mitchell’s carpet, see my story from an A to Z Challenge a few years ago:

Gallus Glasgow M: The Mitchell

Glasgow Coat of Arms

In that same A to Z Challenge, I also wrote about Glasgow’s motto and Coat of Arms:

Gallus Glasgow L: Let Glasgow Flourish

More recently, my friend Becky wrote about them after I gave her a whistle stop tour of Glasgow:

Let Glasgow Flourish

I’ve recently been following a Twitter account, @GlasgowCoA, run by Caroline Scott who aims to collect as many examples of the Coat of Arms as possible. Glasgow City Heritage Trust (the organisation which put on the Ghost Signs talk we went to in November) was running an exhibition of some of the photographs she has amassed and we went along to the opening.

If you are wandering round Glasgow, be sure to tweet @GlasgowCoA any examples you find. It doesn’t matter if they’re already on the map – as Caroline points out, everyone’s take is different. These doorplates from the Mitchell featured twice, for example, and I was tickled to notice my friend Lynn was one of the contributors.

Books are your ticket to the whole world

Just in case you thought there weren’t enough libraries in this post, here’s another one which has just reopened after refurbishment. Partick is not my local library, but it’s not far away. I love that they have decorated the walls with quotations from local hero, comedian Billy Connolly. Books are your ticket to the whole world is possibly too small to read in the picture below. Another wall has: There’s no right way to read. You are not studying for an exam. The important thing is that books do you good. They improve your life, and the lives of the people around you. They improve you. Wise man!

Out and about

So far, all the activities I have mentioned have been indoor – par for the course in December. However, we did get out for a few walks. We did the Drumchapel Way, which might sound a bit odd to those who know Glasgow, Drumchapel being a housing estate in the north-west of the city. However, it’s possible to walk a 4.5 mile circuit around it almost entirely in parks and woodland. We found pigeons, a deer (a bit blurry, but it ran past very quickly), a very kitsch memorial garden and, yes, another library. This one looks as though it needs refurbishment.

Another wintry walk was in Palacerigg Country Park – some nice reflections.

Between Christmas and New Year we had a few days in Galloway – there will be posts about that later. In the meantime, here are some shots of Arran taken from Girvan on our journey home. It looked so stunning, we just had to stop.

The last bit

A few odds and ends to finish with. We found a new ghost sign on Whittinghame Drive! Thanks to Jayne for the tip.

The hothouses at the Botanic Gardens are always good for a stroll when it’s cold outside. Shades of pinks and red cheer me up.

And finally, with the holiday season well and truly over, we are back tae auld claes and parritch (old clothes and porridge, i.e. back to normal). But of course, some of us have Becky’s #JanuaryLight Square Challenge to distract us (click on the logo for info if you don’t know about it). I’ve taken today off to Gallivant but will be back to the Squares tomorrow.

 

Glasgow Gallivanting: November 2019

Glasgow from Cathkin Braes. The Gothic tower, centre right, is the main building of the University of Glasgow. The mountain in the background is Ben Lomond.

I can hardly believe we are now hurtling towards Christmas! November turned out much busier than expected, and December is much the same, hence the lateness of this post.

Out and about

The introductory image is taken from Cathkin Braes on the southern edge of Glasgow, and shows how close we are to the Highlands. This was Remembrance Sunday, and our walk that day took us through the village of Carmunnock at the foot of the Braes. We admired the War Memorial with its hand-crafted poppies from the service earlier in the day.

We managed to get a few more walks in November, despite the wintry weather. The late afternoon light on the Carron Valley Reservoir provided some beautiful reflections.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve at Loch Ardinning has featured before, so just merits a couple of shots this time.

I’ve featured many Scottish castles in beautiful locations – Newark Castle is rather different: it stands next to a shipyard. From here, we followed the Port Glasgow Heritage Walk, which might sound unlikely to those who know the area, but which was interesting enough to merit its own post at some (much) later date.

We gallivanted up to Dundee! I had a day on my own while John was at a meeting, then we stayed on for a couple of nights. Again, a full post will follow, but here’s a couple of tasters. I climbed Dundee Law where, as you can see, the weather was dreich. Outside the McManus Art Gallery, Oor Wullie was keeping warm in his Christmas jumper / sweater – but I bet he got wet!

Happy talk

The guided walk season ended in October, and what was supposed to be my last talk of the year, What about the women?, took place in Maryhill in November, billed as follows:

When Maryhill Burgh Halls opened in 1878, stained glass artist Stephen Adam was commissioned to produce twenty windows representing local trades of which eighteen showed men and only two showed women. Adam was representing what he saw at the time, but what about the women of Maryhill? What are their stories? This talk seeks to redress the balance of history by looking at how we commemorate women in Glasgow generally before telling some historic tales about Maryhill’s women – from factory worker to heiress, and everything in between.

Well – I thought that was going to be my last talk, until I was invited to do another one in December! And, gulp, it’s tonight! More about that next time.

Ghost Signs

We went to a really interesting talk at Glasgow City Heritage Trust on their current project to document as many of the city’s ghost signs as possible. What is a ghost sign? Well, my definition would be a faded old sign from times gone by, which has never been completely obliterated or which reappears when newer signs are removed. I was surprised to find how many Glasgow examples I had in my files.

This project’s remit is wider than that, and includes signs which are integral to the building. Some examples from my collection include the former Sorn Dairy, now a block of flats in Maryhill, with its name picked out in brickwork on the front (though still quite ghostly).

The former Tobacco Warehouse and the Children’s Hospital Dispensary (now part of the Art School) have solidly carved signs which I would probably not count as ghost signs at all, but they feature in the project because they advertise businesses or institutions which are no longer there.

Former tobacco warehouse, James Watt Street
Children’s Hospital Dispensary, West Graham Street

I definitely wouldn’t count the Jacobite Corsetry sign which could easily be removed, and remains by choice of the current owners. Not ghostly at all in my book! But definition disagreements apart, it was a fascinating talk and I now have something else to look out for on my walks around Glasgow.

Jacobite Corsetry, Virginia Street

The last bit

So many other things! Of course, there’s been a bit of political stuff going on – as if you hadn’t noticed. By Friday we should know the worst. In better news, we’ve had lots of family and friends stuff happening.

The main family news is the first baby of a new generation. Tommy was born in October, and Mum and I met him for the first time in November. He’s my cousin’s daughter’s son, which I think makes him my first cousin twice removed, but I’m prepared to be corrected. Here he is being held by his Great-Great Aunt (my mum) with his proud Great-Granny (my aunt) alongside.

As for friends, one of the most notable events was the visit to Glasgow of the lovely Becky of  The life of B. It was our second “real-life” meeting, the first being on her home turf of Winchester last year. She hadn’t been to Glasgow before, so I took her on a tour of the city centre.

Left to right above, a unicorn in the Cathedral, the dome of the Gallery of Modern Art which started life as an 18th century mansion house, and the Argyll Arcade, one of Europe’s oldest covered shopping arcades (1827) and Scotland’s first ever indoor shopping mall. We got wet, because it was – guess what? – dreich.

That’s twice I’ve mentioned dreich in connection with the weather! We had Book Week Scotland in November, which this year included a vote for the most iconic Scots word, and dreich was the winner. Originally meaning enduring or slow, tedious, over time these definitions gave way to dreary, hard to bear and from there to dull, gloomy. Dreich has been one of my Scottish words of the month before, as have many of the rest of the top ten: glaikit, scunnered, shoogle, wheesht, fankle, outwith, braw, beastie and bumfle. Maybe I’ll feature some in later months – in the meantime, if any intrigue you, you can ask me about them in the comments.

Finally, I’m never one to turn down a chance to rootle around in someone else’s library. Three of us from the Women’s Library visited the Goethe Institut and Alliance Française which share a 19th century terraced house in the Park District of Glasgow. Library staff were very welcoming (and served lovely cake and biscuits / cookies) and we came away with several ideas for future collaborations.

So that’s it for my November roundup, and I’m not anticipating posting again until December’s Glasgow Gallivanting. I hope we will meet elsewhere in the blogosphere before then, but if we don’t I wish you all the very best for the festive season. See you in the New Year!

Dundee: the road home

Seabraes Park, Dundee

Our plan was to leave Dundee after breakfast on Monday morning and stop at Bannockburn on the way home. We’d parked the car on Friday afternoon and, although we’d walked past it several times on our way in and out of the hotel, we hadn’t paid it close attention since. We were dismayed to discover that one of the front tyres was completely flat. John pumped it up, but we didn’t want to drive home without getting it checked out, so I Googled the nearest branch of Kwik Fit which turned out to be just beyond the University of Dundee’s campus.

The place was busy so we were sent off for a coffee until the mechanic could look at the car. Bad news came back: there was a small bolt embedded in the tyre which would therefore need to be replaced. A big marquee had been erected in part of the hotel car park for all their Christmas functions, so presumably we had driven over a discarded bolt when we arrived. The result was that we had an unscheduled hour for a final walk in Dundee. And what a lot of interesting history and culture we found!

First we passed this pretty little park, Seabraes, with a mini bandstand and three strange critters climbing a stone pillar. I had no idea what they were till I looked them up at home – they represent the video game Lemmings which was produced in a nearby studio in 1991 and was apparently a runaway hit. The bronze version was created by local artist Alyson Conway in 2013.

I visited Dundee with some friends one day last summer to walk part of the Women’s History Trail, and we came across a few of the plaques again. Miss Mary Ann Baxter (1801-1884) used her wealth to support missionary work abroad and good works in Dundee. At the age of 80 she founded University College, now the University of Dundee, to promote the education of both sexes. Frances (Fanny) Wright (1795-1852) was well ahead of her time. Daughter of an ardent republican,  she went to the USA where she became famous as a writer and lecturer. Controversially, she scorned religion and campaigned for women’s rights, free love and the emancipation of slaves.

Mary Lily Walker (1863-1913) was born in the house below and was one of the first female entrants to University College. As a young woman she became conscious of the appalling living conditions of the poor and went on to transform Dundee with baby clinics, health visitors, school dinners, children’s convalescent holidays and more.

Something I didn’t know about was the Tree of Liberty. After the French Revolution, civil unrest spread across Scotland, often symbolised by the planting of a Tree of Liberty. The original Dundee tree was planted in 1792 but was chopped down in 1930 as part of a road-widening scheme. The current Tree of Liberty resides in a rather sad-looking corner of the university. The plaque beside it relates to the original tree and dates from 1912.

Finally, on the way to collect the car, I admired the extremely distressed looking George Orwell pub with its pseudo-Penguin Books signage.

So – back on the road! And back to our original plan of visiting Bannockburn, site of a famous battle in 1314 when King of Scots Robert the Bruce was victorious against the army of King Edward II of England. It’s years, maybe decades, since I’ve been there, certainly long before the current visitor centre was built. Sadly, this proved to be our second set back of the day.

First stop was what the website described as the ‘award winning’ café. We were latish for lunch because of the holdup with the car, but it was still only 1.30pm. Nevertheless, it was quicker to list what was left on the menu (not much) than what was not available, but we managed to find something to eat. I won’t be giving it any awards though.

Next stop the Visitor Experience. I have checked the website again before writing this and it is now made quite clear several times that entry is by pre-booked time-slots. The day we visited it merely stated ‘During our busy holiday periods, entry is by pre-booked time slots’ – I know that’s an exact quote because John put it in his (rather scathing) Trip Advisor review. We didn’t think a cold Monday in mid-November was a busy holiday period, so were dismayed to find we’d have over an hour to wait. We passed, and went to look at the outdoor site.

This has an impressive bronze statue of Robert the Bruce on horseback, and a rather less inspiring concrete rotunda. Both of these date from the 1960s and both have been restored relatively recently. They would be much more interesting if there were more information boards to tell you about the battle and how it related to the landscape in front of you. Still, we enjoyed a quick, cold walk round before heading for the car and then home for a warm-up.

Our Bannockburn experience was decidedly underwhelming, although I give the visitor centre one star for updating their website to make it much clearer what to expect. Perhaps they read John’s review – and several other similar ones. I’m glad we didn’t make it the main focus of our day: the unplanned walk in Dundee was much more interesting, so the flat tyre did us a favour, albeit an expensive one. Overall, Dundee was a great place for a long weekend and not somewhere I would have thought about a few years ago. I’m so glad we went.

Glasgow Gallivanting: September 2018

The Book Besoms

The photograph above was actually taken on 31st August and so, strictly speaking, should have been in August’s Gallivanting post. However I’d already published it by then so – my blog, my rules – here it is in September’s. Glasgow Women’s Library held a quiz night (dress code green, white and purple) with all the questions based on women’s achievements. Our team of library volunteers, The Book Besoms, didn’t win, but we weren’t last either. The librarian’s secret is not that she knows lots of stuff, but that she knows how to look it up – which, unaccountably, wasn’t allowed. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

An East End walk

St Mary’s, Calton

I had already been to a meeting in GWL that day and didn’t have time to go home and back so, given that the sun was shining, I decided to go for a walk and return for the quiz later. From the library’s home in Bridgeton, I headed along Abercrombie Street, passing the church above, before turning west along Gallowgate towards the city centre. In Graham Square are the remnants of the old Meat Market which I thought were an interesting example of façadery. Usually modern flats are built directly onto an old façade. This one sits out in front attached by struts. Bizarre!

I continued to High Street and its junction with my end destination: George Street, and the latest gable-end mural by Smug depicting an infant St Mungo (Glasgow’s patron saint) with his mother St Enoch. Opposite is a nice garden area with benches bearing the city’s motto, Let Glasgow Flourish.

Opposite that is another garden, Greyfriars, built on the site of a 15th century friary. It wasn’t open, but I could peer through the fence and admire the poetry and other plaques adorning it. The one in the gallery below is Glasgow’s coat of arms.

Walking back down High Street to Glasgow Cross, I then headed east again along London Road passing the corner of Charlotte Street, where number 52 is the last remaining of eight late-18th century villas, and another colourful gable-end.

From there, I cut through Glasgow Green, admiring my old friends the People’s Palace and the Doulton Fountain.

Almost back at the library – the two buildings below on Greenhead Street were both once schools. The white building was built as a private residence in 1846 before becoming a school for destitute boys, the Buchanan Institute, in 1859. The extension on the left with the scholarly boy was added in 1873. The red sandstone building educated girls between 1893 and 1936 as the Logan & Johnson School of Domestic Economy. If you zoom in on the sculpture underneath the middle chimney you will see that it is a beehive representing the industry of the girls within. Both buildings are now converted to flats.

Doors Open Day

Glasgow’s Doors Open Days go on for a whole week, but I only managed to take part on the Saturday – and that was mostly as a provider. I led a canal walk and a building tour at Maryhill Burgh Halls, then just had time to dash across the road to The Engine Works. As Clarkson’s, and later Craig and Buchanan, this was an engineering workshop right into the 21st century. It figures in one of the Halls’ stained glass windows showing the trades of Maryhill – you can see what is probably Mr Clarkson in the green coat bottom left in our sale of postcards and in a poster on the Engine Works’ walls.

As I’ve led people on walks along the canal, which runs behind the Works, I’ve watched restoration taking place and assumed it was to be more flats. But no, a young couple has bought it to turn into a combined office / events space. I was delighted to get a chance to see what progress they have made, and to find out that they are keeping the electrically powered crane designed by Sir Henry Royce of Rolls-Royce fame. It’s going to be an amazing space when it’s finished.

The nights are fair drawing in

We’ve passed the autumn equinox and the nights are fair drawing in, as we say in these parts. Time to think of booking tickets for indoor events! This month’s highlights were Garbage at the iconic Barrowland and a one-man play about Charles Rennie Mackintosh at the equally iconic Panopticon.

Women’s history

You might remember Jessie Stephen, the Suffragette I am promoting this year. Two developments this month: I discovered you could buy a Jessie mug as part of a set produced in Bristol, the city where she spent the latter part of her life.

Even more exciting – I knew that Jessie took part in the post-box protests in Glasgow in 1913 (Suffragettes dropped ink or acid into post-boxes to destroy the mail). I’d read that this was in Kirklee, near where I live, but hadn’t given it much thought until I was asked if I knew which post-box it might have been. I now have access to a copy of Jessie’s unpublished autobiography in which she details some of the houses she worked in as a domestic servant, and one of them is just across the road from the current Kirklee post-box. When I looked at this box more closely, I found the insignia was ERVII – Edward the Seventh who died in 1910. This is probably the very box that Jessie used!

I also attended a really interesting exhibition at my local library on women of the West End (of Glasgow) in the First World War. Institutions that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to shed light on this did so. For example, application forms from women to join the Arlington Baths Club showed they had moved into male occupations when the men were away fighting. The red costume is what they would have swum in – ugh! I’m surprised they managed to stay afloat.

The last bit

Back to St Mungo, aka St Kentigern, Glasgow’s patron saint. I’d read that a new statue of him was in place at City of Glasgow College’s City campus, and made a short detour to inspect it the other day. The campus has recently been rebuilt and its location, Cathedral Street, makes the addition particularly apt. It’s a very traditional statue, created by former stonemasonry student, Roddy McDowall.

Nearby on campus is another sculpture, Spirit of St Kentigern, which is very different in style. It represents the bird in one of Mungo’s four miracles (I think). Commissioned from Dundee art student Neil Livingstone as part of the pedestrianisation of much of the city centre, this stood on Buchanan Street from 1977 until 2000 when it was deemed no longer in keeping with the city’s image. It’s now been hauled out of storage and loaned to the College. It’s definitely dated, it says “1970s” very strongly to me, but I also think the new statue is rather too traditional to be entirely successful. What do others think?

Finally, to Scottish word of the month: remember The Book Besoms? A besom is a broom made of twigs tied round a stick, but in Scotland the word often refers to a woman with attitude – one might be called a cheeky wee besom, for example. That’s what we chose for our GWL quiz team name, but having checked the definition just now I see it originally referred to a woman of “loose character”. With the other connotations of broomsticks, and therefore witches, maybe I’ll make a different choice next time!

I hope you had a good September. Enjoy October!

Glasgow Gallivanting: June 2018

Miners’ Cottages, Wanlockhead

Wanlockhead is the highest village in Scotland. We took a detour to visit its Lead Mining Museum on our way back from our Lake District holiday at the beginning of June. It’s a lovely place! We started in the café (of course), then toured the mine and the row of cottages above. Each one was furnished in a different period – 1750, 1850 and 1910 (shown below).

Best of all – it has a library! Wanlockhead Miners’ Library was established in 1756 and is the second-oldest subscription library in Europe. And where is the oldest? Leadhills Miners’ Library, just a few miles up the road, which dates from 1741. We had hoped to visit it too, but spent so long at Wanlockhead that we didn’t have time.

Joining the Library was a privilege, and potential new members were subjected to a rigorous interrogation by the Librarian before being admitted – you can see this happening in one of the pictures above. Unusually for the time, women were allowed to subscribe: in 1784 it is recorded that there were 32 male members and 1 female, Isabella Rutherford. However, according to our guide, only one membership per household was allowed so Isabella lost hers when her nephew came of age. Boo!

The other model represents the book checker (there might have been a more technical term, I can’t remember). Each returned book was checked page by page for damage – and the checker also had the power to visit a member’s home to search for missing books. Hmm – I could have done with that power in my working days 😉

Jessie Stephen

If you’ve been following for a while, you might remember that I’m part of a group promoting a Scottish Suffragette, Jessie Stephen, in this centenary year for women’s suffrage. June was a good month – three events!

On Sunday 10th of June, thousands of women in the four capitals of the UK (Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London) took part in Processions 2018. Although we walked about two miles, this was not a march or demonstration – it was an artwork. Women were issued with scarves in one of the suffragette colours (green for hope, white for purity and purple for loyalty and dignity) so from above we looked like one long suffragette ribbon. In theory, anyway! We took our Jessie Stephen banner, made by her great-niece Sheana (in the large black hat), who was interviewed live by the BBC.  Ours was the only double-sided banner I saw: it said Votes for Women on the back. Sheana is a stickler for detail!

I thought I had broken my jinx on walks – last year, I seemed to get soaked every time I acted as a tour guide. This year, I’ve done two walks for the Women’s Library, both in bright sunshine, and Processions was also a lovely day. My luck ran out the following weekend when my Maryhill Women’s History walk attracted the rain back. Despite that, all 15 participants turned up and stayed to the end. Jessie features in it too – here, I’m passing her picture around. (Though since I drafted this, I’ve done another Women’s Library Walk – yesterday, 1st July, which was scorching.)

The final event was part of another strand in the suffrage celebrations, EqualiTeas. A tea party was held in the Bowling Club near Sheana’s home and, once again, Jessie was celebrated – this time, with suitably decorated cake. Yum!

Museum of the Moon and other gallivants

It’s been a sad month for Charles Rennie Mackintosh fans, so here’s some more cheerful stuff. During the recent West End Festival, the Mackintosh Church at Queen’s Cross (the only one he designed which was actually built, and now home of the CRM Society) hosted an installation called Museum of the Moon. Created by artist Luke Jerram, this 1:500,000 scale model features detailed NASA imagery of the moon’s surface. You could walk under it through the body of the church, and view it from different angles from two balconies. It was also a good chance to get close to some of the Mackintosh details in the church and see an exhibition of his chairs.

As I walked into town afterwards, I noted that the local housing reflected the Mackintosh Style with its squares and angles.

And this was my next destination, the new Mackintosh mural on a gable end above the Clutha Bar. Created by street artist Rogue One, it was given to the city by a local Radisson Hotel to mark CRM’s 150th birthday – and unveiled hours before the fire at his masterpiece, Glasgow School of Art.

Reluctant to end my gallivanting just yet, I hopped on the Subway to Govan because I still hadn’t viewed the Mary Barbour statue without the hundreds of people surrounding it at its opening (as described in March’s Gallivanting post). On my way to the café across the road, I stopped to admire the cast iron Aitken Memorial Fountain and spotted a sign for the Govan Ferry so, on the spur of the moment, I crossed the river and had my coffee in the Riverside Museum instead.

After that, I caught the Subway from Partick Station, home of the GI Bride. Not very bonny, is she?

And because the information board mentions Lobey Dosser, and my dedication to your education about Glasgow knows no bounds, a few days later I trekked down to Woodlands to capture him for you. He is even less bonny. Spot the inadvertent selfie in the plaque here!

The last bit

Just because it made me smile!

My Scottish word of the month is not one I have ever used, but it illustrates a strange coincidence. My mum asked me one day if I knew the word skail. I didn’t, but the very next day it turned up on Anu Garg’s Word A Day site! It means to scatter or disperse, is of Scottish or Scandinavian origin, and dates from 1300. So that’s a new one for me to learn too.

Finally, I’m still working my way through Kim’s questions for the Sunshine Blogger Award. The next two are “What’s your favorite book?” and “What skill have you always wanted to master, but haven’t yet started on?”

Favourite book? Oh dear, where to start? I suppose the books I have read and reread more than any others are those by Jane Austen. I love her feisty heroines and acerbic style. Forced to choose just one, I would go for Emma with Pride and Prejudice a close second. Emma is just so spectacularly wrong about everything, and Mr Knightly waits so patiently for her to come to her senses. To me, he seems far better husband material than P&P’s Mr Darcy who, despite being softened by Lizzie, will, I suspect, always be rather haughty. I also suspect there is more than a hint of truth in Lizzie’s joke that she fell in love with him when she saw his large estate at Pemberley! Despite all that, I have never been swept away by any of the men playing Mr Knightly, but I certainly succumbed, with half the women in the country, to Darcymania during the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of P&P. The words “Colin Firth” and “wet shirt” can still induce a swoon.

As for skills, well the only way I can see myself mastering any new ones now is by the magic wand method – and that won’t happen any time soon!

Happy July everyone.

Glasgow Gallivanting: March 2018

In like a lion, out like a lamb? March certainly lived up to the first part of that proverb: in fact snow has been a feature of most of it. There were plenty of snowmen/women about, but this year igloos seemed to be in fashion too. This one is in the Botanic Gardens.

Neptune’s Steps

When it wasn’t snowing, it was often raining. Neptune’s Steps is an annual swimming and climbing event which takes place on the flight of locks on the Forth and Clyde Canal at Maryhill. This year, I was determined to see some of it despite the cold, wet weather. The races went on all day but we only caught two, the last women’s heat and the first men’s semi-final, before retreating somewhere that served hot coffee.

I was quite pleased to capture the belly flop above on my phone – I didn’t realise till I looked at my photos later that I had pictured the same woman attempting the climbing wall towards the end. For her, it was the end: a few seconds later she dropped back into the water and admitted defeat.

The gallery below includes some of John’s pictures. When I looked at the results later, I realised he had a portrait of the eventual men’s winner. I bet that hot tub at the end was welcome!

Women’s history

Two follow ups to things I have written about before. Glasgow’s fourth statue to a named woman was unveiled on International Women’s Day (8th March). Mary Barbour organised rent strikes in World War One when rapacious landlords thought they could charge anything they liked while the men were away fighting. Her campaign resulted in a law being passed fixing rents at pre-war levels. My pals Beverly, Mary Alice and Louisina were well prepared for the event!

(I haven’t yet been back to take pictures of the statue without hundreds of people thronging around, but Kev over at Walking Talking has a few good ones.)

Last month, I mentioned Jessie Stephen, the Scottish Suffragette whose life and work I am celebrating throughout this anniversary year of the first women in the UK getting the vote. This month, I travelled to Edinburgh to meet Ann Henderson, who had also nominated Jessie for the Suffrage Pioneers project, and she introduced me to Sheana and Kirsteen, great-nieces of Jessie. Over lunch at Sheana’s house plans started to be made – watch this space, you have not heard the last of Jessie.

For US friends, here’s a great list I found in Forbes: A state-by-state guide to the top women’s history landmarks in America. Anyone been to any?

A wedding!

After 23 years together, our friends Jayne and Mark decided to get married. We were very honoured to be asked to be their witnesses and enjoyed the intimate ceremony at the City Chambers with just the four of us.

Afterwards, we all went to Port Appin for the weekend. Although familiar to Jayne and Mark, John and I had never been before. What a treat! Airds Hotel was perfect and the walks straight from the door were beautiful, particularly the one to Castle Stalker. We were blessed with beautiful blue skies, but don’t let that fool you – it was freezing, and it did snow the day we drove home.

Although I joked that this was the first time I’d ever been invited to the honeymoon as well as the wedding, in reality the happy couple flew off to Athens for the real honeymoon a few days later! What a great way to get married.

Aye Write!

Glasgow’s book festival, Aye, Write!, has been running this month. I went to four sessions and, well, I might have bought a few books. Oops!

Sunshine Blogger

Do you know Kim from Glover Gardens (“A multifaceted blog for multifaceted people”)? If not, pop over and have a look at her mixture of food, gardens and travel. Kim has nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award, for bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community. Many thanks, Kim! I don’t advertise myself as an award-free blog, but I don’t always have time to follow awards and challenges up and when I do I usually break the rules. This time, I hit upon the wheeze of answering Kim’s 11 questions one or two at a time over several monthly gallivants. Here’s the first two!

What advice would you give to your younger self? Assuming I could talk to the angst-ridden teenager (that’s everyone, right, not just me?) I would simply say “Don’t worry! Everything’s going to be great!”

What’s your favourite food memory, a meaningful meal that you will never forget, and why? What was so special about it? Well, at the moment Airds Hotel, mentioned above, is uppermost in my memory. Unlike many fancy hotels and restaurants, which usually only offer one vegetarian choice, often bland, I had a whole menu to choose from and everything I ate was delicious. In fact, everything everybody ate was declared  delicious and dinner was a real event on both nights. As you can see, Mark and John were most definitely relaxed afterwards.

The last bit

So if March came in like a lion, did it go out like a lamb? Well, not exactly. There was no snow, but it was certainly blowing a hoolie. On Good Friday (30th) we went for one of our favourite canal walks before climbing to a viewpoint above the old claypits at Hamiltonhill which now form a nature reserve. The whole West End was spread out before us. As we shivered, we agreed it was beautiful, and that we were thankful to be dry at least.

Easter Saturday was a little better – we took a ferry to the island of Great Cumbrae and had a lovely walk there, but that merits its own post later on.

Finally, for my Scottish Word of the Month I’ve chosen one I used in the comments on a previous post – remember the story of Miss Inglis and the dog? I suggested that Miss Inglis was a bit crabbit, i.e. grumpy or bad-tempered. I’ve been feeling a bit crabbit myself at all this March weather! Let’s hope April does better. Snow is forecast but has not yet appeared …