I left work yesterday afternoon not quite knowing how I would spend the afternoon. By the time I reached the city centre, I had a plan. If I had enough time I would go for the 13:41 train to Perth, if not the 13:45 to Edinburgh. I ran to Sainsbury’s, grabbed some lunch then got to platform 7 and jumped on the train, which was about to leave for Aberdeen by way of Perth. It was mobbed, only three carriages, so I sat at the door until the conductor came up and said there were some empty seats. I sat with my music on (Runrig, incidentally) and did some OU reading then some writing as the train coasted north through Perthshire. When the train left Stirling and the Castle and Stirling Bridge came into view, I sat back and felt more at ease, feeling some of the stresses just blow off me as the train went even further from Glasgow.
The last time I was there, I went for a quick walk before heading for Dundee. It used to be an once or twice a year kind of place but I went about three years without being there. The time before was in the summer one year when I went to Stanley Mills, a textiles mill right by the Tay, then to Branklyn Garden. I have nothing against Perth but other places kept going higher up on the list.
This time I walked along by the South Inch, a pleasant park quite like the Meadows in Edinburgh, with some fine spring flowers coming to bloom, towards the river Tay. The Tay is a strong, running river as it passes through Perth and walking by it is pleasant. There are poetic quotes and sculptures along the riverside, including these cute creatures along a railing entitled ‘Soutar’s Menagerie’ inspired by a poem by William Soutar called ‘Bairn Rhymes’.
I walked along to Perth Museum and Art Gallery, which I hadn’t been to for a few years. Much of it has been refurbished since my last visit though the natural history gallery, which is about as old as I am, hasn’t. That’s a good thing as it is well done and engaging on wildlife and geology. There was an exhibition about Forteviot, a fascinating site in Perthshire that was occupied from the times of the Celts right on through the visit of the Romans and held by the Picts into the 10th century AD. It had been produced jointly with the Hunterian Museum and was a fine example of the content not being too dry while not talking up or down to anyone. I also liked a model of a Chinese pagoda as shown below.
Not so far away was the Fergusson Gallery, showing off Perth and Kinross Council’s collection of paintings by Scottish Colourist artist JD Fergusson. The building used to be a waterworks, opened in 1832. Outside the building is one of Fergusson’s sculptures called ‘Torse de Femme’, showing a female torso in Fergusson’s slightly cubist style. This was particularly appropriate given that the Gallery was hosting an exhibition euphemistically entitled ‘Fergusson and the Female Form’, featuring some of Fergusson’s paintings of women not wearing many, or often any, clothes. Interestingly, though, the work I liked the most wasn’t by Fergusson at all, rather ‘Romance’, painted in 1927 by David Prophet Ramsay, which depicted a young woman lying naked on a sheet. Her arms were behind her back and she looked thoughtful, smiling gently but contentedly. It was subtle, an intimate moment rather than just being voyeuristic and painting a naked woman for the sake of it. I also liked a photograph from 1959, showing a model called Magnolia, standing outside in the sunshine wearing a white swimsuit. It inspired one of Fergusson’s last works, entitled ‘Two Nudes’. I like Fergusson’s work but subtle it certainly is not, with its bright colours and sharp tones.
I walked through the town centre before heading for the train, noticing the great number of mountaineering and outdoors shops as well as a cafe attached to the Salvation Army shop entitled ‘3:16 Cafe’. I knew 3:16 referred to a Biblical verse from the Book of John though not what it referred to, only that it was a key passage from the Bible. (A quick Google search, to satisfy my curiosity, reveals the following: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’)
Perth is an old town, a city of course now, and it has a great history. There is evidence around, including St. John’s Kirk (pictured below), dating from the 15th century, as well as a monument marking the site of a Carthusian monastery founded by James I in 1428. What I like about Perth is that the history is all around and the old buildings are lived and worked in rather than being mere monuments to another time. I enjoyed being there, being able to look at some art and archaeology plus seeing different street signs and hearing different accents, one of the main benefits of going anywhere. It was spur-of-the-moment, the best kind of adventure, and hopefully I will be there again soon.
As I said yesterday, this seems to be a whole week of adventures. I will post again soon with the story of today’s trip to Clydebank then about where I end up on Thursday morning and Friday. Stay tuned.