The where and the how

Today is something called Autistic Pride Day. There is a marketing campaign just now by the National Trust for Scotland asking what folk would do on their longest day. I was hoping I could write a little something combining both of these strands but I can’t be bothered. The longest day this year will see me working until 8pm. Instead I want to write and see what happens, beginning with Saturday. With it being the close season, I actually have a clear Saturday and I am not quite sure how to spend it. Do I want to go to Oban on the bus? I like Argyll and the run by Loch Lomond, the Rest and Be Thankful and Loch Awe. It’s a maybe as other places also appeal. Anstruther and Cellardyke are perennial favourites, the sea and the East Neuk usually just what I need but I never get out of bed early enough. Dundee’s McManus Museum is a place I like but the Beano exhibition may be too close to work just now. Dawyck Botanic Garden could be a good walk or maybe Dryburgh Abbey near St. Boswells where I seem to be once a year and always like a seat by the Tweed. Some places I still haven’t seen in East Lothian might be worth a look, Hopetoun Monument and the Chesters Hill Fort. It’s a whole blend of ideas that will maybe shape into something more definite nearer the time.

I did a Streets of Glasgow walk yesterday. I haven’t done one in a couple of months though I have been psychogeographical a lot lately, particularly the Subway walk. In the last year or more, Glasgow has crept under my skin. I always liked the city but with all the walks, all the words, I have come to love it deeply. I still turn corners and see new things. Drury Street, the walk I did yesterday and which appears here sometime in July, was very brief but still interesting. Last weekend I went to the Fossil Grove just over the river in Victoria Park and while the geology went over my head, I still got a sense of deep age in a city that gets newer every day. On my walk through Partick, I also got a good look at the very fine Partick Burgh Halls and took a turn around the perimeter of the West of Scotland Cricket Club, the scene of the very first international football match. Glasgow never ceases to surprise me. Even in this dark time, with fire still engulfing the city centre, this is home, even if I’m still realising just how I feel about it.

Yesterday I went to Edinburgh for the Hibs Historical Trust Open Day. There’s a post about it on Easter Road West tonight. The next few Sundays see engineering work on the train line between Edinburgh and Glasgow so the slow train via Airdrie and Bathgate is the way to get between the capital and Weegieland. I didn’t realise this before I got to Queen Street. I hate the slow train. I’ve done it a few times, a few times by choice, others by necessity owing to engineering works, and I hate it particularly because there are few seats that don’t face other seats. I like to read and write on trains. Facing other people makes me uncomfortable and my forehead hits the floor on those trains. On the way back, though, I was a little heartened because the three people in my immediate eyeline had books. The guy across from me had the Robert Webb book I abandoned because it annoyed me, How Not To Be A Boy, while the woman next to me had the latest Paula Hawkins thriller. The woman who had been standing with her luggage in the doorway since Edinburgh despite there being spare seats had a book too but I couldn’t see what. I’ve noticed this on buses too. People stand in the aisle when they don’t have to. I spend my life navigating gaps between people. This makes it harder. Anyway, positivity. In this age where folk spend hours gazing into their phones and scrolling, actual real life books in folk’s hands are great to see. For what it’s worth, I read on my tablet and wrote in my notebook for a bit. I might take a book off my to-read pile just now when I finish this. Wherever I go on Saturday, a good book will come with me.

On my longest day, if I wasn’t working, I would go for a long bus ride and sit with a good book, maybe Muriel Spark. I would walk somewhere by the sea and eat fish and chips with a good view. The fish and chips would be served with salt and sauce and a can of Irn Bru. Original 38% sugar, naturally. It would be on the east coast or maybe Culzean. I would come back to Glasgow and the big city would be a culture shock after wherever I had been but it was still home. I would get the train home and I would fall asleep wondering just where I had found myself that day. Had I really gone that far? Luckily I’ve got Saturday for a day like that. I just need to figure out the wheres and the hows.

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Loose Ends: Culross

The last instalment of the Loose Ends series saw me at Tranter’s Bridge at Aberlady Bay in East Lothian. I fancied going to Culross anyway but decided to tie it into Loose Ends, linking Nigel Tranter to Glasgow where he was born. Glasgow’s patron saint is St. Mungo who was born in…Culross. Thenew, his mother, was expelled by her father, King Loth, in disgrace back in the 6th century. She was cast out in an open boat and came aground up the Forth at Culross, where she was rescued by monks and gave birth to Mungo. Thenew was put out to sea in Aberlady so another definitive link there, though one I didn’t realise until I read the NTS guidebook sitting on a bench in Culross.

I got there about 3pm and I decided to go get a ticket to get into the Palace though I swiftly learned that last admission was 3.20pm. I am not a big fan of National Trust houses anyway and so I quite cheerfully didn’t bother, saving a few quid by just picking up the aforementioned guidebook. As I walked along, I looked across the Forth towards Grangemouth and Longannet, their silhouettes appearing through the haze. The old pier seems to be in the midst of restoration though I walked over to the other side where there were a few fine quotes and sayings on posts. Interestingly by the pier was a Chilean flag and it was only when I read the guidebook and looked at the statue of Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, that I realised that Cochrane was involved in getting various countries independent, including a fair few in South America as well as Greece. Hence the little bit of Chile in Fife.

I sat for a while in the Hanging Garden with a splendid view over the burgh and Palace. I read the guidebook then howled at Leathered, the latest novella by Chris McQueer which had come through the post the day before. I thought about some links to other places, obviously with Glasgow Cathedral where St. Mungo’s remains are, but also through mining to Prestongrange, Newtongrange and numerous other places. The name Dundonald could also take me to Dundonald Castle down in Ayrshire. A house once home to Bishop Leighton would also lead to his library which still exists in Dunblane.

I did a wee bit of psychogeography after that, following closes and streets and admiring the 16th and 17th century buildings all around me. I ended up going up a hill to the ruins of Culross Abbey and instantly regretted only having a few minutes as the Abbey was in a stunning setting. There wasn’t terribly much in the ruins bar an interesting ceiling and some pillars but that did me fine. If I had longer, I would have sat under a tree and pondered some more. A particular highlight was the information board which mentioned James Inglis, Abbot of Culross, who was murdered in 1530. He was a poet before going into the God business and Sir David Lindsay, prominent playwright of the time, said ‘Culros has his pen maid impotent’. It certainly would have if he ended up ambushed and deid.

All too soon and I was back on the bus to Dunfermline, feeling very much better for my two hours in Culross amidst the history and sunshine, another connection done.

Worse

Looking at the news just makes it worse. The machinations over devolution and Brexit this week have made me want to howl with rage. More than once I’ve wanted to draw my pen from its quiver and write out my anger to those who have prompted it. Yesterday when I saw flames engulf the Glasgow School of Art again, the rage turned to sadness. Thoughts turned to those affected, residents, students, staff and the workers who sought to rebuild the Mackintosh Building in the last years, as well as all those who have enjoyed the 02 ABC. Thankfully there don’t seem to have been any fatalities or injuries as a result of the fire which spread to neighbouring buildings on Sauchiehall Street, another place blighted in recent months. The emergency services have done a magnificent job as ever in ensuring everyone’s safety in containing the fire in the last hours.

The Mackintosh building was a place I made a point of seeing every time I visited Glasgow. I was in the early throes of an interest in psychogeography as well as a burgeoning advance in my love of architecture. I had postcards of the Mack in my room, the finials and touches atop and around the building, and tried to get to every exhibition held there. I liked that the building was beautiful but functional, a working place rather than a mere museum piece.

The first fire happened in 2014 and the city of Glasgow and Scotland felt much the same sick horror as right now. I remember going to work the next day and the fire was all we could talk about. It was very sad then though the talk was of rebuilding and renewal. Many treasures were lost forever, other replaced and drawn anew. It was nearly done. Then this.

I was last up that way just over a week ago. I had just finished an exam and rather than get a bus straight home I walked into town. I chose to cross the overpass onto Renfrew Street, a street I liked and hoped to write about soon. I passed ghost signs, art pieces and snatches of city skyline before coming up to the GSA itself. I looked at the ongoing work on the Mackintosh building and thought about how soon it would be back to rights. Indeed it was looking good from the outside. It was a pleasant night and folk were milling around the Reid building where the degree show was in progress. I declined as my brain was melted and walked on. I wish I had stayed, in hindsight.

Looking at the news really does make it worse. Already this year there have been a few big fires in Glasgow, not least the big one that still sees Sauchiehall Street closed off. Now this. Our city’s motto is Let Glasgow Flourish. It is sometimes hard to feel affection for cities amidst the hustle and bustle. There is real love, though, for Glasgow and its finest buildings, whatever your definition of finest. It is a sad day for Glasgow but there will be better ones ahead, sunnier days when the Glasgow School of Art will be back intact and ready to teach and inspire the city and world beyond. As an UNESCO City of Music, hopefully all the shows booked to play the O2 ABC will still happen.

I contend that this city is the greatest in the world. Sometimes I say it in fun but it is never more true than on days like this. I believe it in my very being and hold it close. A great many others do too. There will be a School of Art here again. Whether it is quite in the same building, we can’t yet say. But art endures and Glasgow endures, flourishes in fact, today as always.

Subway Surface: Govan-Hillhead

The walk started on a bright May morning and it was absolutely roasting. As I got off the bus at Govan, I wasn’t sure how far I would get. I hoped I would get the whole way but with the heat, I wasn’t so sure. I stopped by the Mary Barbour statue, admiring it with less folk around it now it’s less of a novelty. Govan Cross was still busy with folk heading between the Shopping Centre, buses and the Subway. I turned right past the Subway and onto Govan Road, ready for the long detour to Partick avoiding the Tunnel. The very first notable spot was a flattened McDonalds Happy Meal box on the pavement. I made sure I got a photo in case I had to pad anything out here later. I hadn’t noticed on my last walk along Govan Road that outside a block of flats was a sculpture of crafted tree stumps. That’s what they looked like anyway, the plaque covered by grass shavings. The community garden up the road has planters shaped to look like an ocean liner and I’ve always rather liked it. This at least was familiar territory, the great views to Pacific Quay, the University and Park Circus a fine start to my walk as was passing the municipal grandeur of Govan Town Hall.

Soon I came to Pacific Quay and crossed the river beside the BBC and the Science Centre. The river walkway was busy with families and runners that bright Monday. I stopped on the bridge to take photos and just look up and down river. I would be crossing it again in a couple of hours between St. Enoch and Bridge Street. I was still feeling fresh, feeling fine, even if still I was doubting the wisdom of walking 10 miles around the city in the searing heat. I soon came nearer to the Riverside Museum, a stray high heel tied to the fence, the big seats in storage at the back. At the museum were stages being dismantled after a music festival over the weekend. I checked the bill and couldn’t place any of the lineup, a sure sign of advancing age.

Partick is a building site right now. The bus station is getting redeveloped and hence it is a bourach of JCBs and hard hats. Still, one station down, another 14 to go. I took a break there to buy provisions. When I came out I made sure I admired the murals on the gable ends of some of the buildings there, put up to mark the Commonwealth Games in 2014, now a reminder of those times, of civic pride. Dumbarton Road soon came and while it was also not new to me, looking up and admiring the rooftops and gaps between the buildings was. I particularly liked the angles between Partick Library and an adjoining tenement. The nearby church advertised ‘Scones on the Lawn’ in a few Saturdays time, ticketed so I wasn’t sure if it was generally an afternoon tea ootside or a performance piece. Nearer Kelvinhall I came across two pieces of scrawled graffiti, one the words ‘I want to learn Gaelic’, appropriate for the part of Glasgow with the most Gaelic speakers, and the other a drawing of a face with possibly Arabic script above.

Kelvinhall came and went. I made sure I got my photo though, despite how crowded the Dumbarton Road pavement was. Byres Road was also pretty busy though I made sure I dawdled a bit to look in windows and ponder. In one of those many quirky shops that line Byres Road I spied a beany hat in the window bearing the legend ‘Shawlands’. Coupled with the map of Pollokshields on the wall of a shop near Kelvinbridge I saw a bit later, the south side is taking over. It’s not before time. Other Byres Road highlights included bollards with ships on them and the Oxfam music shop with the stellar legend in the window ‘Let’s Get The Band Back Together’. Hillhead was station number four and it’s where this tale pauses, to resume next week.


Thanks for reading. This is the second instalment of the Subway Surface series about my walk around the route of the Glasgow Subway. Hillhead to St. George’s Cross appears next week.

Different routes

I live in suburban Glasgow. I can go many different ways into the city from here including at least three by bus or I could go by train since I live between two stations on the Inverclyde line. If I walked a mile or so, I could choose the Paisley Canal line too. Plus if I really felt like it, I could just walk, as I did one day in February, doing the Streets of Glasgow walk along Govan Road along the way. Just over the railway from here is the mighty M8, Scotland’s busiest motorway running from Greenock all the way to Edinburgh. As I’m not a motorist, I’m seldom on it. In fact one of the last times was a late night taxi ride from the town after I missed the last train. The curves, dips and rises of the motorway are familiar to many folk but feel strangely exotic to me.

The other day I was heading from Renfrew into town. From there I could have gone into Paisley then got on the train or a bus via Govan or Partick. Instead I decided to change at Braehead where most buses seem to go at some point. I could get either an express or one of those lovely stoppers. Just as I rocked up at Braehead, a Stagecoach express from Ayrshire pulled up and I got on, happy to see it was a double decker. As is mandatory on such vehicles, as written about here, I headed for the top deck. The bus was soon on the motorway, making good progress through the evening traffic. What I hadn’t expected was the different perspective on the passing surroundings, places I see every day, the top deck putting places to names on a map and generally providing a great vista across the city. I could see to its high buildings poking holes in the sky or just to the bridges along the Clyde as the bus crossed the Kingston Bridge and curved along at middle floor level onto Bothwell Street, suddenly on a city street and soon time to get off.

Whenever possible it is worth taking a different route. I’m lucky that to get many places from here, I can choose almost as many ways to do it. That’s also true between Edinburgh and Glasgow where there are no fewer than four different train routes plus the 900 bus along the motorway. Last weekend I was on my way back from the football in Edinburgh when I reached Waverley and discovered that the trains to Queen Street via Falkirk were disrupted. I looked along the departure board and saw that there was soon to be a train for Ayr via Glasgow Central and I headed for that. Instead of Linlithgow Palace, Falkirk and the Campsies, I got Carstairs, Motherwell and Lanarkshire. That isn’t a bad thing. The line via Carstairs is beguiling, brooding and interesting: a wide open landscape often closed off by low cloud. Every time I’m in the French art room at Kelvingrove, there’s a painting of a house set on a moor that reminds me of that train journey. Never knock a diversion.

Most of the time I’m in a travelling routine, spending a lot of life on McGills buses or ScotRail trains. Even picking a First bus or a different train can make the difference and guard against complacency. There’s always something new to see, even if it’s just a different glaze on the old and familiar.

Loose Ends: Tranter’s Bridge

After the last game of the season at Easter Road, I had no set plans of what to do after. It was a beautiful sunny day in the capital and as I walked with the crowd down Hawkhill Avenue, I decided on a trip to the seaside. Further on, I decided that while I would ultimately end up in North Berwick for fish and chips, I would head first to Aberlady Bay with its secluded beach just perfect on this warm May Sunday. I realised, though, that the place I had in mind, Tranter’s Bridge, wasn’t on Google Maps. I could picture it, the wooden bridge curving over a burn, though Google wasn’t playing. Eventually I realised it was between Aberlady and Gullane so headed to buy some provisions then for the bus to Aberlady, soon entering my home county and following through Musselburgh, Prestonpans and Longniddry before hitting the coast road, probably the finest road in Scotland with its views to Edinburgh, the Pentlands and Fife.

I alighted in Aberlady, a pleasant village with an old kirk, and followed the road to Tranter’s Bridge, where a newlywed couple were getting their photos taken on the bridge. I waited by looking at a nearby plaque which affirmed that was indeed Tranter’s Bridge, named for the late historian and author Nigel Tranter who lived nearby and was often inspired by his walks in the East Lothian countryside. There was a quote etched on it which talked Tranter never failing to relish the ‘unending sigh of the waves…the calling of the sea-birds, the quacking of mallard and the honking of the wavering wild geese’. I stood a moment and as I sometimes do read the words aloud, savouring the cadences and imagining this figure wandering through the nearby nature reserve. I could see hints of Arthur’s Seat back in Edinburgh, more of Fife with tankers sitting tight in the Forth, while I could hear seabirds right enough with some geese in a pond nearby that I saw a few minutes later.

Eventually I crossed and took my time, looking left towards the Forth and right up the burn as it curved towards Gullane. As I walked I realised that it could be another Loose End since it connects with Lamer Island in Dunbar in at least two ways. The bridge is on the John Muir Way, the long distance footpath that leads from Dunbar through Aberlady eventually to Helensburgh on the Clyde. Also, I grew up in Dunbar and I did a Nigel Tranter book, The Story of Scotland, for a school essay once. If you want to go more substantial, I not only grew up in Dunbar but there’s a clearer link between me, John Muir’s Birthplace and one of its volunteers who was a big Tranter fan and often talked about him to me.

Towards the dunes I thought more about how no two walks in this place would ever be the same. I’m sure Tranter would have found that too and it would have coloured his writing as this beautiful day stilled me in ways I cannot begin to put into words. There it was possible to experience Scotland’s past, present and future in one sweeping vista, the Edinburgh skyline steeped in history and raising it skywards, Fife and the wind turbines at Burntisland as well as the moment I was currently living, seeing it all but just being there, setting one foot before another, thoughts slow as my steps up the dune to the beach.

Subway Surface: It starts

A few months ago, I had a notion. I had been reading one of Iain Sinclair’s books about walking the route of the London Overground and it got me to thinking about walking the route of the Glasgow Subway. It’s been percolating for months, even going through a practice run back in the spring from Buchanan Street to Bridge Street. It also made my 30 things I would like to do before I’m 30 list. I thought about making it the main part of a book then I decided just to make it a multiple-part series here. It might be a book one day, you never know.

The Glasgow Subway is an underground rail system that runs on a closed loop around the city. It has fifteen stations on two lines, the Inner and Outer circle. It opened in the late 19th century and is well-beloved in Glasgow, even spawning the concept of a Subcrawl whereby folks go around the system getting a drink at the nearest pub to each station or more recently the Subrun which involves protein shakes rather than pints or shots.

My very first visit to Glasgow involved a trip on the Subway, a straight loop from Kelvinhall right around and back. When I visited afterwards, very often I got to my destination on the Subway. It became part of my commute for a while after I moved here. Strangely, though, I still check the map each time to make sure I haven’t missed my stop and the whirring and grinding isn’t ideal for my particular blend of sensory sensitivities. But it’s the Subway and it’s convenient.

The Subway Surface adventure came about as part of my continuing quest to understand my adopted home better. Last year I started a project called Streets of Glasgow which involved walking down streets, looking up and down, writing about what I experienced and gained in the process. I’ve long been fascinated with psychogeography, the French Situationist concept which sought to help people become less alienated in urban settings, and Streets was my way to do that but in Glasgow. Subway Surface tried to replicate that but on a linear route, a longer walk but one in a very varied landscape.

The walk eventually happened on a Bank Holiday Monday and it was also absolutely roasting to boot. The night before I was coming home from the east and I thought about just doing it. I bought an A-Z sheet map of the city and marked down my route. The first thoughts were where to start and how to navigate the Clyde. Since Govan is my nearest station, I started there. In the summer there is a ferry which runs from Govan to the Riverside Museum, which would make the route from Govan to Partick more straight forward. The alternatives are either to detour through the Clyde Tunnel or to go up river to Pacific Quay and cross there. I chose the latter option, not least because the Tunnel slightly creeps me out.

Over the next few weeks the results of the walk will appear here on Fridays. I finished, in four hours and eight minutes, with three breaks for buying provisions, lunch and to rest my feet near the end. I hope you enjoy following along on this walk on the surface of the Glasgow Subway.

Thanks for reading. Loose Ends returns tomorrow with Tranter’s Bridge. My other blog, Easter Road West, returns today with a post about Alan Stubbs and why the Scottish Cup Final should always be on a Saturday at 3pm.

Loose Ends: Lamer Island

The last Loose Ends post took me to Crookston Castle, not far from where I live in Glasgow. This time I ended up in Dunbar, where I grew up. I was going there anyway when I realised that Lamer Island, what I know as the Battery, would work as another strand of the Loose Ends series. Crookston Castle was used a lookout during the Second World War while Lamer Island was used as a war hospital during the First World War. Plus with Dunbar Castle being across the harbour it is possible to get another link with Mary, Queen of Scots, this time through her husbands, Crookston being held by the Darnley Stewarts, the Earl of Bothwell once the Captain of Dunbar Castle.

The Battery was originally built in the late 18th century to defend against a potential French invasion. It now forms part of the Victoria Harbour, built in 1842 to support a growing fishing fleet. Lamer Island was a sea defence then a hospital before eventually becoming derelict, which is as it was when I was a kid growing up nearby. The Dunbar Shore Neighbourhood Group have done a good job revitalising the Battery, putting up some interesting interpretation boards and art installations. When I got there on a hot Bank Holiday Monday afternoon, the place was busy with families. There was a wee bit of haar out to sea, the Isle of May not visible while the sea was a wee bit choppy. I was happy just to wander and look out for a while, the Battery’s raised position affording incredible views across the new and old harbours towards Barns Ness, St. Abbs Head, North Berwick Law, the Bass Rock and Fife. There were boards with apposite quotes about North Berwick Law, the Bass, May and St. Abbs Head, including my personal favourite about the old proverb of boys coming from the Bass Rock and girls from the Isle of May. I also liked the Marion Corbett quote:

‘When haddocks leave the Firth o’ Forth,

An’ mussels leave the shore,

When oysters climb up Berwick Law,

We’ll go to sea no more’

In short, persevere, as they say in Leith.

There were a lot of birds on the surrounding rocks, I’ve never been sure of the names but maybe a puffin or two to go with the usual kittiwakes and gannets nesting on the Castle rock.

Another link came to me as I looked at another of the boards, which noted that cannons had been plonked on the Battery during the Napoleonic Wars, soon returned to Edinburgh Castle. As I took the train back towards Edinburgh I thought about others, the fact that girls come from the Isle of May might not take me to the May, as delightful as it is, but to the wonderful Glasgow Women’s Library. That I could see two lighthouses might send me to George Street in Edinburgh, the headquarters of the Northern Lighthouse Board, or across town to the National Museum of Scotland, maybe even the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses up the coast in Fraserburgh. A couple of streets away from the Battery is Writer’s Court, perhaps a prompt to go to the Writer’s Museum in the capital. As ever, I will wait and see where the mood takes me, from a castle high over a city suburb to another bedecked in birds’ nests to somewhere as yet unknown.

This is the fifth post in the Loose Ends series here on Walking Talking. The last instalment, last week, was Crookston Castle.

Lamer Island has appeared on the blog before, in DefencesDown the harbour  and The Battery.

Streets of Glasgow: Addison Road

Way back in March last year, I picked Buchanan Street for the very first walk in this Streets of Glasgow series. I did it at lunchtime one day I was in town for a course. Buchanan Street is one of the busiest streets in Glasgow though it struck me later that there was another reason why Buchanan Street was appropriate, given that some of my ancestors were Buchanans, even if the street wasn’t named after them. It felt appropriate for the last of the current series that the street I chose had a personal resonance. For those unfamiliar with Addison Road, it is in Kelvinside, near the Botanic Gardens. In fact it leads from one part of the Botanics, the bit nearest the Kibble Palace, to the arboretum.

I had the taste of crisps on my tongue and in my teeth. Good crisps too, Mackies Aberdeen Angus Steak, purchased as I walked from Firhill Road via the West End. It was starting to rain, only getting heavier as I walked the few hundred yards towards Kirklee Road. I could hear birdsong with only a wee bit of road noise, that and the flats to my left the only obvious sign I was in the biggest city in Scotland and not in the countryside. Despite how short the road was, I still had to check Google Maps as the road split to make sure I was still going the right way. That seemed appropriate.

To my right was the Botanic Gardens and a couple of bridges across the Kelvin. The rain didn’t quite spoil the fleeting contented feeling I had as I looked towards the river nor that when I reached Kirklee Road and the end of this walk. It was the end of the current series but not of the adventures I could have in this city on foot or by motive power. I walked back to the Botanics and sat out the rain in the Kibble Palace, scribbling notes and making plans.

This is the thirty fifth Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets covered in this series include Byres Road and Queen Margaret Drive.

Digest: May 2018

That’s the end of May then. Another busy month and a whole lot of adventures. In May I’ve been to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, East Lothian twice and all the way to Crookston. A lot of travels have been football-related though some haven’t, not least the first adventure I had in May neatly packed into a lunchtime. I was in Glenburn, a suburb of Paisley, and over lunch I ended up going for a walk a little way into the Gleniffer Braes, sitting down on a bench with a considerable view across Paisley to the hills beyond. It was a new perspective on a place I am becoming increasingly familiar with.

On Saturday 5th May I went to Aberdeen to watch Hibs. I left fairly early in the day and read and listened to music on the way up. I went to the football then took myself out to dinner before going home. I was thinking about the Bank Holiday Monday which was coming and ended up buying Ordnance Survey maps for two very disparate bits of Scotland, the area around Hawick in the Borders and Elgin in Moray, before I boarded that bus to civilisation. As it turns out I didn’t get to either one.

The following day was lovely and warm and I had a lie in. After all I had been all the way to Aberdeen the previous day. Mid-afternoon I went out to Crookston Castle, intending on writing about it for Loose Ends, a series featured on this blog on Sundays at the moment. The place was fairly busy with people though that didn’t stop me enjoying the views across this bit of the world. Crookston Castle is within half an hour’s walk so I did just that. On the way back I finally made it to Rosshall Gardens where I wrote up notes and pondered a ruined boiler house in the grounds. I still need to write that bit of the adventure up.

The next day was Bank Holiday Monday and after much deliberation I ended up on the way to Edinburgh. I wanted to do a dry run for visiting Tynecastle that Wednesday so I proceeded in lovely sunshine into deepest darkest Gorgie, found where the away end is then swiftly came away again with no fixed agenda. I found myself at the bus station thinking about where to go and I just missed a bus to St. Andrews. There was a bus sitting bound for East Lothian and I thought briefly about Hailes Castle before eventually concluding I quite fancied a trip to Dunbar. On the way down I felt like going to Lamer Island, the Battery, which has featured here before and that was where I ended up after a turn around the harbour. I managed to find a connection to Crookston Castle and thus my visit also became part of the Loose Ends series. Alas time and train timetables meant I didn’t have long before I needed to head back to Glasgow.

No wonder I’m tired. The following night I went out for dinner. On the way we looked at some of the very fine street art which is scattered around the Merchant City.

Next night was the derby at Tynecastle, another item off my 30 Before 30 list.

That Sunday was the last game of the season and it was at Easter Road. I don’t have any end of the season traditions and when I left the ground, leaving through exit number 7 as always, I decided to go get fish and chips by the sea. That became North Berwick and after walking to a shop to get provisions, it became a walk around Aberlady Bay first. Aberlady Bay, for those who don’t know it, is a nature reserve with a long, deserted beach at the end of it. But first I had to cross Tranter’s Bridge, a wooden bridge across a burn named after the author Nigel Tranter who often walked there trying to think up ideas. The bridge, which I knew about but Google Maps didnae, features in Loose Ends soon too. The walk was beautiful but very warm. I ended up on the beach and to my slight surprise I ended up sunbathing for a bit. I don’t sunbathe. I think the sand that was still stuck to my body hours later when I got home is probably why. After that interlude I walked to Gullane then got myself to North Berwick for fish and chips, which were no’ bad, eaten by the harbour.

That Tuesday I was doing a work thing in Renfrew Town Hall, recently refurbished, and it is a fabulous building.

The next Friday I ended up in Edinburgh and went for a long walk along the Water of Leith from Leith to Murrayfield, ending up there on the bus home. Particular highlights of this walk were St. Bernard’s Well which was gorgeous in that light and the grounds of the two Modern Art Galleries in the Dean Village.

That Sunday I went to watch Partick Thistle play Livingston. Thistle got relegated.

I walked home from work the next Friday and walking over by Arkleston, there was a brief moment by the motorway when I could be fooled into thinking I was in the proper countryside.

The next day was Saturday and I was off. I went to Culross, via Dunfermline where I partook in some steak bridies for lunch. I was a bit too late for the Palace but I wasn’t heartbroken since I was able to wander in the sunshine, sitting and reading for a bit and looking at the many fine buildings. I went to Culross Abbey all too briefly and the Abbey ruins were great to explore on that beautiful day.

The next day I spent the day with my dad, bopping around central Scotland, starting in Linlithgow with a turn around the loch. We then drove the few miles to Cairnpapple Hill. From the cool but pleasant weather in Linlithgow, Cairnpapple was shrouded in haar. This made the experience all the more beguiling, other-worldly as we made our way round the henge with visibility only a few feet in front of our faces. Barely five minutes away in Torphichen, it was much clearer and sunny. We had lunch in Callander Park in Falkirk, looking over a duck pond. It was good to see the museum and park busy with people. Thereafter we drove across the Forth to Castle Campbell, one of the more atmospheric Scottish castles, with a walk through Dollar Glen an added bonus. Dollar Glen feels like something out of a fairy tale, or where trolls, goblins and nymphs should live. Castle Campbell is great, a blend of ruins and a fairly intact though restored tower house. Before dining in Linlithgow, we headed back to Cairnpapple Hill where it was now sunny and decent views could be had despite the haze. We first had to contend with some cows. A family were already there, reluctant to venture across the field. To slightly misquote We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, we couldn’t go over them, we couldn’t go under them: we had to go through them. We succeeded and the perspective was well worth the close encounters of the bovine kind.

Monday was a bank holiday and I decided to satisfy an ambition and another thing on my 30 Before 30 list to boot. I decided to walk the route of the Glasgow Subway. On the hottest day of the year. I succeeded in 4 hours and 8 minutes from leaving Govan to getting back there. Tales of that adventure will appear here shortly. Afterwards I had a fleeting visit to Glasgow Cathedral, which will be part of the Loose Ends series after Culross.

That’s us for May then. On Friday it is Streets of Glasgow time and it is the final post of that series before hiatus, Addison Road. Loose Ends returns on Sunday and it is Lamer Island this time.

Before I forget, the Wednesday’s Child blog featured an interesting post recently about what constitutes being well-read. I said I would share a list of some books that have been important to me and these appear below. At some point I will go into greater depth as to why I like these particular books:

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark

The collected works of Roald Dahl

The collected works of Douglas Adams

The Harry Potter series

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg

Candide by Voltaire

The collected works of Kurt Vonnegut

The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins

Nasty Women, the feminist anthology compiled by 404 Ink

Godless Morality and Looking in the Distance by Richard Holloway

Findings by Kathleen Jamie

The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd

Waterlog by Roger Deakin

Neurotribes by Steve Silberman

Tony Benn’s diaries

My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Walking Talking takes a week off next week. That’s for practical reasons. As some of you might know, I’m doing an Open University degree and the exam for my current module is next week. I’ll have to revise. Exams aren’t good. I don’t see the point in them but that’s easy to say when I’m staring down the face of one.

The Easter Road West blog, my football outpost, goes to one post a week over the summer. The football’s finished! I know there’s the World Cup but I couldn’t care less about that. Anyway, May posts might have a limited shelf-life as I was writing about then-current events. The best post over there was the season review.

Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. It is one of the nicest bits of blogging that sometimes lengthy digressions can occur because of comments or seeing just which random has liked a post today. Cheers, folks.

Posts in May –

Digest: April 2018

Causeway cliffs

Loose Ends: Linlithgow Palace

Sunshine

Walking talking

Streets of Glasgow: Waterloo Street

The beginning

Flotsam and jetsam

Streets of Glasgow: Cadogan Street

Loose Ends: Stirling Castle

Shoelaces

Streets of Glasgow: Firhill Road

Loose Ends: Crookston Castle