Saturday Saunter: Railways and trees

Good morning,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, being written a week in advance. Great Continental Railway Journeys is on in the background, Michael Portillo in his bright breeks being shown round the post office in Palermo as I type these words.

Bridge of Weir railway path: a model train with red wheels high on a plinth on a cycle path with trees in the background.

I’m a firm believer that connections can be found anywhere between just about anything, even if they are not initially obvious. In the last couple of weeks, different places I’ve visited have been connected by old railways or more precisely old railway paths. I like that old railways have been repurposed into paths and cycleways even though trains running on them might be better. I was in Bridge of Weir the other week and to kill time I walked along part of the path which links it to Paisley and Greenock. A train adorns the sign which can be seen from the road, the path winding through the trees in a fairly straight line towards a bridge where the river Gryffe can be seen, running strong due to recent rain when I was there. I also walked on part of a railway path in Aberfoyle more recently. Aberfoyle is a pleasant place in the Trossachs and I hadn’t been there before, more than likely because there isn’t a rail link. An old signal stood at the start of the path, like another seen earlier in the day in Callander.

A railway which has become ever more popular recently is the Borders Railway, which runs from Edinburgh to Tweedbank. It reopened just over five years ago, though only part of the Waverley line which ran as far as Carlisle. I’ve been on it a couple of times and the run to Tweedbank can be quite beautiful as the train leaves Edinburgh, all trees and rolling hillside.

We are now well into September and our weather has been rather autumnal recently. The colours of the trees are changing and the sun is setting earlier. I like the trees, not so much the nights drawing in. The trees by the road which I mentioned a few weeks ago have been turning yellow and soon they will be orange and then bare once more.

Our different perspective is from the BBC News website and it is about Maja Antoine-Onikoyi who has been donating books to people who cannot afford books about black history and racism. Reading combats ignorance and projects like this are excellent.

Finally, I’m bursting in quickly this Saturday morning to talk briefly about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the United States Supreme Court justice who died yesterday. She did incredible work to uphold justice and work for equality. Even on this side of the Atlantic, we can do worse than learn from her example and what she achieved over a long career.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 19th September 2020. Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow returns on Wednesday. There won’t be a Saturday Saunter next Saturday as I will be away. Until then, keep safe, keep well. A very good morning to you all.

Streets of Glasgow: Hutcheson Street

Hutcheson Street: a golden building on the corner of a street with Hutcheson Street on a sign. Trades sculpture: a sculpture of a bucket with tools sticking out of it. It is between two tall city buildings.

This post could be subtitled ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’, the title of the recent album by Bombay Bicycle Club. A poster peeled off a hoarding on Hutcheson Street and it just seemed apposite for the times, prescient maybe. Posters advertised events whose dates had passed but nothing would have transpired due to the pandemic. I’ve noticed that in recent weeks. Advertising won’t have been changed on buses, bus stops or city streets so everything has stood still, films advertised as coming out at the cinema in March. The world had changed. There was hand sanitiser outside Brewdog to prove it, a graffiti argument on a wall, other words against the police. A development towards the Trongate looked like it had resumed after a long pause, diggers silent since it was Sunday rather than for any other reason. A plane flew overhead, shimmering in the bright August sunshine. A man and boy sat on a bench, others parked their car prepared for an afternoon in the big city. A sculpture, a circular blob with two holes, sat in a window near Ingram Street; a bigger piece, a pot of craft tools, promoted the history of tradespeople in the city. The old blended with the modern, the buttresses jutting above the modern glass roof leading to the Scottish Youth Theatre and a bar with its red T lit.

I couldn’t remember who the street had been named after. I sensed there might be a slavery link, like much of the Merchant City, and wondered if one day soon it might have a new name. I had been wandering looking in a different way, not just through the prism of the pandemic. As far as I can make out, Hutcheson Street is named after the founders of the hospital, who don’t seem to have been involved in the slave trade. I did wonder if it had been named after Francis Hutcheson, philosopher during the Scottish Enlightenment, who argued against slavery, but the hospital founders would be more likely. Their old hospital, now a restaurant, stands at the top of a very varied city street.

Thanks for reading. This is the seventy second Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets that have featured here previously include Ingram Street, Trongate, Argyle Street, Wilson Street, Virginia Street and Glassford Street. Other posts in the series can be found on the Streets of Glasgow page.

Saturday Saunter: Maps and psychogeography

Hello,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, again being written in advance. Football highlights again grace my screen as I start this week’s post.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally finished Alphabetical by Michael Rosen. It’s a very fine book, an history of the alphabet and much else besides. A couple of passages in the final pages particularly interested me, including discussions of the derive and the conception of the London A-Z. The derive, a psychogeographical walk seeing the urban in a different way, is a particular favourite pursuit of mine and Rosen talks about walking around parts of London where during the English Civil War (or War of the Three Kingdoms, depending on your philosophical hue) defences were laid out in a semicircular formation to combat the Royalist forces. A derive is possible just about anywhere and, as Rosen says, with guidelines for the walk entirely personal to those doing it.

Recently I bought a road atlas. I like maps anyway and this one was bought to aid future day trip planning. It now lives in the back seat of a car. It is an A-Z atlas, the descendant of the original London A-Z, considered the ultimate street atlas of London and surrounding areas. I have one beside me now and it sat in my backpack throughout my trip to London in February. It was the work of Phyllis Pearsall, who set about walking thousands of miles across the metropolis to create the map. As much as Google Maps is useful, nothing beats a paper reference and particularly one as detailed. A fact that I’ve always liked is that it is common for map manufacturers to include fake streets (or trap streets) in order to beat copyright infringement.

Today’s interesting perspective is from Patrice Evra, a footballer who experienced more than his fair share of racial abuse. This interview from the Guardian is an interesting account of his career and its highs and lows.

I like to illustrate these posts whenever possible though in the last weeks, that has been harder. Like today. I’ve decided to delve into the blog photo archive and pick a vaguely interesting and apposite image. It’s the featured image at the top of the post if on the website or what accompanies the post on the WordPress Reader. It helps to make the post more interesting, especially when shared on social media. That isn’t without its problems either, especially when the accompanying picture ends up being different from the one I’ve described. It’s been sorted for the posts I’ve got lined up. Anyway, today’s is definitely from a deserted country road, taken when walking between Dryburgh Abbey and Melrose a few years ago.

Well, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 12th September 2020. Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow returns on Wednesday. A Saturday Saunter will appear here next Saturday at 8.30. Until then, keep safe. A very good morning to you all.

Streets of Glasgow: Hanover Street

Hanover Street: looking up at an ornate building with pillars and an arched window with a street sign in the centre of the building.
Hanover Street: looking up at an ornate building with pillars and an arched window with a street sign in the centre of the building.
Hanover Street: looking down a street with tall, city buildings on either side. Older buildings on the left, newer, glass-fronted buildings on the right.
Hanover Street: looking down a street with tall, city buildings on either side. Older buildings on the left, newer, glass-fronted buildings on the right.

It’s fair to say that Glasgow’s streets have changed quite a bit since my last Streets of Glasgow post, back in May last year. The history hasn’t, only the context. I wouldn’t have imagined, for instance, hand sanitising stations or carrying a face mask in my hoodie pocket. How history is seen has changed too, with Glasgow’s links to slavery considered like never before. In the coming weeks, I will be chronicling some more walks down Glasgow’s streets, considering what I encounter in more dimensions than before, hopefully.

The first four of this new tranche of Streets of Glasgow was undertaken on a warm August Sunday, beginning on Hanover Street.

Hanover Street is one of the shorter streets in Glasgow city centre, leading off George Square to Ingram Street and onto Miller Street. It reminded me of its namesake in Edinburgh, both named for the ruling dynasty of Britain in the 18th century at the peak of the city’s powers. I had time to kill one sunny Sunday morning and decided to do a bit of psychogeography for the first time in a while, certainly the first for a while on a city street, and set off from George Square, finishing a few minutes later on Ingram Street. It was a blend of the old and modern, cash machines set into an old bank building, a pigeon walking on the road, flowers in an office window. In these socially distanced times, I wondered if the offices were occupied once more. The talk on the cash machine screen of remortgaging was a reminder of how the world had changed since I had spent much time in the city centre. A hair salon promised a fresh take on blonde and through the window folk were in, everyone in sight done up in PPE. Emporio Armani stood behind scaffolding with bars on the window surrounding the posh clothes. I cheerfully passed on, wondering merely where to next?

Thanks for reading. This is the seventy first Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets that have featured here previously include George Square, Ingram Street, Miller Street and Queen Street. Other posts in the series can be found on the Streets of Glasgow page.

Saturday Saunter: Books, poetry and lighthouses

Good morning,

This Saturday Saunter comes early because of work and being written a couple of weeks in advance for much the same reason. I am writing this on a Sunday afternoon with highlights of the weekend’s football on in the background. It’s a cloudy and wet afternoon here in south west Glasgow and it’s just as well I didn’t plan to go far today anyway.

The other day I was reading Bookworm by Lucy Mangan, a memoir of how reading had shaped her life. I was struck by how she would read everywhere and anywhere, which I did, up to and including cereal boxes, though I had only read a few of the books important to her growing up. I was trying to think of those books I cared about as a kid, including Roald Dahl’s oeuvre. I did read CS Lewis, as she did, though not many impressions linger. Harry Potter, of course. I read a fair bit of non-fiction, as I still do, mainly about football and history, indeed as I still do. Horrible Histories and encyclopaedias. I remember getting a book out of the library about London and being particularly fascinated by Cleopatra’s Needle on the Embankment, which had a time capsule buried underneath it. Strange the random things that stick in your mind.

I’ve been reading about the US Presidential election. I’m writing after the Democratic National Convention has finished but before the Republicans do their stuff. Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, quoted Seamus Heaney in his speech the other night, a passage from The Cure at Troy about hope and history rhyming. Heaney is also a favourite of Bill Clinton, who quotes it occasionally in his speeches, as he did most notably, as the Guardian writes, in the wake of the Good Friday agreement. RF Foster is quoted in the Guardian article and says that Biden read Yeats and Heaney to overcome a speech impediment, which is interesting. Poetry is often used to underline political points, to make the prosaic seem beautiful, and sometimes it feels like an add-on rather than benefiting the speech being made. Judging by Biden’s history with Heaney, I would like to think this quote comes from him and his wider reading.

Lighthouses conjure up images of far-off, lonely places, tall towers spreading light in a storm. There was an interesting article in the Herald about the relevance of lighthouses in the modern world and undoubtedly they are relevant, aiding safe navigation even in these technological times. Some time I will need to go lighthouse bagging – I don’t think I’ve been to very many. One I have been to is Kinnaird Head, part of the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, which recently reopened. For its reopening, the Museum published autism friendly visiting guidance, which is deeply commendable.

I’ve read quite a bit in recent weeks, including Miracle Workers by Simon Rich, an increasingly rare foray into fiction, which was hilarious. As I mentioned last week, I’ve also read the memoir of Clyde Best, The Acid Test, about his footballing career at a time when there weren’t a lot of other black footballers in England. I also finally finished Alphabetical by Michael Rosen, which I will write about in next week’s Saunter.

That is the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 5th September 2020. Thanks for reading, commenting and following. Wednesday will see the return of Streets of Glasgow, my psychogeographical series wandering around Glasgow’s streets. Another Saunter will be back here next week. Until then, keep safe. A very good morning.

Virtual Loose Ends IX: Statues, graffiti and Victoria

Welcome to this final instalment of Virtual Loose Ends, a connections adventure around Scotland but done on a screen. By the time this is posted (I am writing this in late June 2020), it might be possible to visit some or more of these places once more.

Oscar Marzaroli statue: statues of three boys on a city street, one stood upright in the centre, two on either side, all three wearing high heels.
Oscar Marzaroli statue: statues of three boys on a city street, one stood upright in the centre, two on either side, all three wearing high heels.

We left off last time at the Girl With A Backpack statue on Cumberland Street in the Gorbals in Glasgow. Along the street is a set of sculptures by Liz Peden of three boys wearing high heel shoes out in the street, based on a famous Oscar Marzaroli photograph taken nearby. I rather like the photograph and have a postcard of it beside me as I write.

Gorbals Vampire mural: a mural on an arch depicting a vampire stood in a graveyard with red eyes and hand outstretched. Above are the words 'The Gorbals Vampire' and below some historical details.
Gorbals Vampire mural: a mural on an arch depicting a vampire stood in a graveyard with red eyes and hand outstretched. Above are the words ‘The Gorbals Vampire’ and below some historical details.

Also close by is a mural of the Gorbals Vampire. The Gorbals Vampire was an urban legend of a creature who would come from the Southern Necropolis and come after children. The mural is of a more recent vintage and adorns an arch under a railway.

Dundee Pasteurised Milk Park: a park with a wall in the middle with elaborate graffiti, mostly in red and black.
Dundee Pasteurised Milk Park: a park with a wall in the middle with elaborate graffiti, mostly in red and black.

The DPM park is in Dundee, near the Hilltown and the football grounds. It is a legal graffiti spot, adorned with some amazing and creative art. I believe art can be found everywhere and can be created by virtually any means, be it a paintbrush or a spray can. DPM stands for Dundee Pasteurised Milk, which used to be made on the site. Nearby, incidentally, is a great mural of Oor Wullie talking about mental health, which is well worth a visit too.

Firhill Stadium is the home of Partick Thistle FC, the only team in Glasgow as they often proclaim. The only one in League 1 at the time of writing, certainly. They have a cool mural on the wall which leads up to the Jackie Husband Stand at Firhill, which features fans, a ball and general football scenes. It links with the DPM Park not only because of the art but also because the DPM is near Tannadice and Dens Park.

St Mirren Scottish Cup mural: a mural featuring a trophy in the centre with 19 and 87 and either side of the base. Around either side are male figures, one with arms outstretched.
St Mirren Scottish Cup mural: a mural featuring a trophy in the centre with 19 and 87 and either side of the base. Around either side are male figures, one with arms outstretched.

Brown’s Lane in Paisley also features street art and indeed art relating to football. St Mirren won the Scottish Cup in 1987 and this feat is depicted on the wall in Brown’s Lane as well as musicians, since the Bungalow music venue is nearby, and much else besides. It’s worth exploring the street art in Paisley but particularly the lane.

Famous Five Stand, Easter Road Stadium: looking across a football pitch towards a two-tiered stand curving to the centre at the left. The stand, as do the two stands to its left and right, has mostly green seats.
Famous Five Stand, Easter Road Stadium: looking across a football pitch towards a two-tiered stand curving to the centre at the left. The stand, as do the two stands to its left and right, has mostly green seats.

Another place which depicts the Scottish Cup is the Famous Five Stand at Easter Road Stadium, home of Hibernian Football Club who won the 2016 Scottish Cup. I don’t think I mention that here enough. A panel featuring club captain Sir David Gray and Lewis Stevenson lifting the cup hangs on the side of the stand. The Famous Five Stand is at the northern end of the stadium, built in 1995. The Famous Five were a notably successful forward line for Hibs during the 1940s and 1950s, comprising Gordon Smith, Eddie Turnbull, Willie Ormond, Lawrie Reilly and Bobby Johnstone. The Hibernian Historical Trust has done a lot of work showcasing the history of the club around the ground and the lower concourse of the Famous Five has a plaque about James Main, a Hibs player in the 1900s who died of a ruptured bowel the day after being kicked in the stomach during a game.

Queen Victoria statue, Leith Walk: near the bottom of the image is a statue of a regal woman on a plinth on a city street. Around are a shopping precinct, lampposts and traffic lights.
Queen Victoria statue, Leith Walk: near the bottom of the image is a statue of a regal woman on a plinth on a city street. Around are a shopping precinct, lampposts and traffic lights.

On the open-top bus route when Hibs win a trophy is the statue of Queen Victoria, which stands at the bottom of Leith Walk outside what used to be Woolworths. The statue is one of very few of women in the capital. Indeed there are more statues of dogs than women in Edinburgh, which surely, surely should be remedied.

V and A Dundee: a museum on the left, smart with grey panels, shaped like a ship. To the left a ship. The sky is mostly grey, dramatic with a hint of orange on the horizon.
V and A Dundee: a museum on the left, smart with grey panels, shaped like a ship. To the left a ship. The sky is mostly grey, dramatic with a hint of orange on the horizon.

Victoria and her husband Albert gave their name to a museum in Kensington in London, which in 2018 opened a branch dedicated to design…in Dundee.

That’s Virtual Loose Ends. Thanks so much for reading. I’m not sure what will be here next week but something there will hopefully be. Until then, keep safe. A very good afternoon.

Saturday Saunter: Dunure, trees and local places

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, again being written quite a while in advance. This is probably how I will do this for a while and that’s fine. When I’m off, I’m quite busy so I’ll write when I can. I’m writing mid-evening and there was a golden sunset out there, the kind that shines through gaps in the clouds, usually on days when there’s been rain. There has today. I was down in Ayrshire, having lunch then going for a wander at Dunure. Dunure is a village at the bottom of a cliff, a little way south of Ayr, with a ruined castle and a harbour. We wandered around the castle, getting a great view over to the Ailsa Craig, then down to the harbour, the waves lapping up as we walked. The sun came out as we left and showers followed us up the road, not giving much of a view of Arran as we stopped at Seamill, hills and coastline peeking through clouds and rain. It was an excellent day nonetheless.

Dunure Castle: a ruined castle on a headland with rocks on a grey sea and grey clouds covering most of the sky.​
Dunure Castle: a ruined castle on a headland with rocks on a grey sea and grey clouds covering most of the sky.

I’m a firm believer that beauty can be found almost everywhere, in the most urban places as much as those which are a bit more remote. On my commute I pass a back road. It leads to a cemetery. It is also right by the motorway. The road is lined by trees, their tops overhanging. Right now it’s August and the leaves are green. Fairly soon, though hopefully not too soon, the leaves will turn. It’s only been recently that I’ve realised just how gorgeous it is, how it reminds me of a David Hockney painting. A few years ago I went to the York Art Gallery where Hockney’s massive Bigger Trees Near Warter where on display. Frighteningly, that was nearly a decade ago, in 2011, I’ve just discovered from Google. The scene on my commute makes me think of it, a little reminder every day to look the right way.

At a time when our movements may be less restricted than they have been this year, it is worth remembering that those local places which we roamed are still there and still worth going to even while we can go further. When I was off a couple of weeks ago, I walked to Pollok Country Park, about 45 minutes away. I’ve been a few times in recent months and seen parts of it I had never explored before. I sat and ate my lunch by Pollok House and it was busy with folk enjoying the day – it was the week before the schools returned – and then I plonked myself on a quieter bench and read my book. I walked there and back through my local cemetery while the journey to Pollok took me past Bellahouston Park, another place I really enjoyed being in recently.

I’ve been re-reading Tony Benn’s diaries in the last couple of days and I can’t help thinking how much we need someone like him now.

Unusually I don’t have a story about a different perspective to hand but I was reading a little while ago about threats made to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf. He’s my local MSP. The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has rightly condemned these threats and the abuse he and another of our city’s MSPs, Anas Sarwar, regularly receive. Whatever our politics, and whatever our disagreements with those who practice it, this is not acceptable and neither should it ever be.

This week I read The Acid Test, the memoir of Clyde Best, who played for West Ham in the 1970s when there weren’t a lot of other BAME footballers around. His thoughts on racism in the game, then as now, are definitely worth reading, as is his compelling story of growing up in Bermuda and playing alongside many of the finest footballers of his day.

I also wanted to say thank you for kind words following this blog’s fifth anniversary, which fell on Thursday. I entirely forgot about it, which is about right. Inevitably a lot of what I’m posting here now is being written in advance – the next two Saturday Saunters are already written, for example – though it continues to be a nice diversion from an ever busy existence.

Well, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 29th August 2020. Thanks very much for reading, commenting and following. The very last Virtual Loose Ends will appear here on Wednesday. Another Saunter will be here next week. Until then, keep safe. A very good morning.

Virtual Loose Ends VIII: Statues and castles

Virtual Loose Ends time again and we paused last time at the Irish and Highland Famine memorial in Glasgow Green. We continue not so far away at the Hielanman’s Umbrella, which is under Glasgow Central Station on Argyle Street. Central featured in Loose Ends, though the Hielanman’s Umbrella has not. Traditionally it was where Highland people who had come to Glasgow for work and a better life often gathered to meet friends and family. Today it is a thoroughfare with shops, entrances to the station and a nightclub.

Argyle Street and Argyll are pronounced the same, even if they aren’t spelled the same. In Argyll is Kilchurn Castle, one of the most scenic and thus most photographed castles in Scotland, positioned at the head of Loch Awe. It is a fine ruin and is well worth a detour on the road to Inveraray. Kilchurn was the home of the Campbells of Glenorchy and also served as a garrison prior to being abandoned in the 18th century.

Another castle in Argyll, and also managed by Historic Environment Scotland, is Rothesay Castle. It is a motte and bailey castle, quite a rarity in Scotland with only one other example off the top of my head. Rothesay features an exhibition about the 1263 Battle of Largs with Norway, fought just across the Clyde.

The Rothesay ferry comes into Wemyss Bay. Wemyss Bay has a combined railway station and ferry terminal. That underplays it. Wemyss Bay Station is glorious, an elegantly curved station designed in 1903 by James Miller. The curve was designed to assist passenger flow through the station, avoiding bottlenecks as people came from the train to the ferry or indeed vice versa. Rather cool retro railway posters have been put in the entrance to the station, which I rather like.

James Miller also designed extensions to Glasgow Central Station. Outside Central is a statue of the Citizen Firefighter, a figure of a firefighter placed there in tribute to the fire and rescue services who keep us safe. It is the work of sculptor Kenny Hunter and it is one of the best statues in Glasgow.

Cumberland Street in the Gorbals has quite a few examples of public art. A particular favourite is a statue of a girl with a backpack, signifying that the Gorbals, like Glasgow, like Scotland, is a place built on immigration and the contributions that those who weren’t born here have made. Another statue on the very same street will feature here next week.

I forgot until earlier that tomorrow is this blog’s fifth anniversary. Thanks to all readers, commenters and followers for your support over that time. I intend to be here for a wee bit longer yet!

Next week will be the very last of Virtual Loose Ends. It will have a couple of links here in the west before concluding at the V and A in Dundee. Until then, keep safe. Bye just now.

Saturday Saunter: History and comedy snobbery

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written almost a full week in advance. In my ears as I scribble this into my notebook is ’99 Red Balloons’ by Nena.

I only wrote the last Saunter two days ago but plenty of ideas are in my inbox that I could write about. The most recent was about the links the National Trust have found connecting many of their properties and the slave trade. I don’t doubt there will be quite a few with the National Trust for Scotland’s properties too – I seem to remember the NTS doing some research into that in recent weeks. It’s well worth remembering that communities up and down the land benefited from slavery with few not affected in some way.

Joe Hullait, the creator of Scot Squad, wrote an excellent article in the Radio Times talking about snobbery in television comedy, saying that he had been encouraged to downplay parts of work that had only been seen by viewers in Scotland. He replied that this work was what put him in that particular television commissioner’s office. As a Scot, and a person with a sense of humour, I am disgusted that such attitudes persist. My attitude is that if something makes me laugh then great and I could not care less where it has come from, whether northern England, France, Hollywood or even the hallowed halls of Oxbridge. Thankfully Scot Squad is hilarious, shown most recently by Chief Miekelson’s guide to the new normal, where he discourages Scots from shaking hands and encourages supporters of Scottish Championship outfit Heart of Midlothian to send postcards from Alloa when football with an audience eventually resumes.

As this is posted, I will be travelling to work. I hope to have had a few adventures in between times and may well write about some of them in the coming weeks.

There’s not much been read in recent days. I’ve been reading a fair bit about railways but that’s nothing new. The next book I hope to start is an history of Italian football I bought a couple of weeks ago. I think that will happen in the coming days. I’m in a non-fiction mode right now.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 22nd August 2020. Thanks as ever for commenting, reading and following. Virtual Loose Ends returns on Wednesday for its penultimate outing. Until then, keep safe. A very good morning to you all.

Virtual Loose Ends VII: Bridges and memorials

Welcome to another instalment of Virtual Loose Ends. This whistle-stop tour is a virtual connections adventure around Scotland. We left off last time at Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow. We will continue, by dint of geography, at the Hunterian Museum, part of the University of Glasgow. The nearby cloisters featured in the post last week but I was clever enough to be specific about the place. The Hunterian Museum is one of the oldest museums in Scotland, the collection of William Hunter featuring art, anatomy and geology amongst other things. The Hunterian is particularly old-fashioned in its design with a balcony and I’m fond of its old-school anatomy charts. There is also the Art Gallery across the road, which has an excellent collection of Scottish Colourists.

Cramond Island is an island in the Firth of Forth, accessible depending on the tide over a causeway. It has some World War II-vintage defences including triangular defences across the causeway. I’ve been there a couple of times though always make sure I look up the tide times lest I be cut off. It happens a lot.

Considerable views can be had from Cramond Island towards the north of Edinburgh, Fife and along the Firth of Forth, including to the Forth Bridge. There are three bridges at Queensferry, the new Queensferry Crossing, the Forth Road Bridge and the real thing, the Forth Bridge. It is one of my favourite structures in the entire world, metal and overdesigned but gorgeous. Sadly I don’t cross it very often any more but I always feel my spirits rise when I see it or indeed cross it.

On the same railway line is the Tay Bridge, opened in 1887. It was the second railway bridge to cross the Tay, of course, with the first washed away in a storm in 1879, which, as William McGonagall noted, ‘will be remembered for a very long time’. From the Dundee end it is possible to see stumps from the old bridge, running almost parallel to the 1887 bridge. It winds across the Tay from Wormit right to the centre of Dundee. On a particularly long train it is possible to see the other end of the train out the window as the train turns into Dundee.

The Clyde Arc is rarely called that in Glasgow, instead being called ‘the squinty bridge’ because it looks like an eye. It passes from Cessnock to Finnieston, near the BBC and STV on the southern side, the SEC on the north. It was built in 2006 as part of a continuing redevelopment of the riverside area in the city. The Arc is a handsome structure and adds considerably to the cityscape.

Along the Clyde is the People’s Palace, the museum of the people of Glasgow. Its displays about how people lived and thought are excellent and the video of Glaswegian comedy is always worth a look, particularly for Parliamo Glasgow.

Outside the People’s Palace is a more recent addition to Glasgow Green. Our city and country was changed utterly by migration, particularly because of famine in Ireland and the Highlands. An upturned boat and plants stand amidst some interpretation boards and the names of families and places on the path.

That’s another instalment of Virtual Loose Ends done. Next week we will continue a little way away and continue towards some castles. Until then, keep safe. Bye just now.