I live in a suburb of Glasgow called Cardonald. I don’t always spend a lot of time here. That’s not a reflection on where I live. I like it here. It is easy to get to other places from here. 10 minutes is all it takes on the train into Glasgow city centre, the same to Paisley. I can get a bus across the city from around the corner. It isn’t the most scenic of places, there are no sea views or anything, but I like being here.
I moved here three years ago and there are still times when I feel it is entirely fresh to me. A few weeks ago, I went for a walk one morning to Crookston Castle, about a mile away (I wrote about it here) and part of that walk took me down streets that I had never seen before, buildings with names like Cardonald Bowling Club that were entirely unfamiliar. I grew up in a town which had one of everything, like a bowling club and a doctor’s and all that stuff. I knew where it was. Finding all this stuff out here is still happening and it is still interesting. The other day I was speaking to some library colleagues about covering at Cardonald Library. Near to Cardonald is a deli that they were raving about. I haven’t been but I at least know where it is. Maybe my next day off, I will wander in.
Commuting to work means that I spend a lot of time in transit. I pass through places rather than spending much time in them. The other day I was at the football at Hampden and walked the four miles back. Being in the world on your own two feet might still mean you miss stuff. But there are three dimensions to being in the world and while out walking you feel the place under your feet, smell the smells and hear the sounds. There is less of a risk of missing things out, though. Every time I have gone for a walk in my bit of the world recently, I have encountered something special. When I walked to Crookston, I walked across the White Cart Water where I stood for a few minutes in the midst of a housing scheme and heard the water lap quietly past. The walk back from Hampden took me past Bellahouston Park. When I visited recently, again for the first time, I found an interesting art installation that told the story of Glasgow’s history and as I walked through the woods, I found a sculpture of an ear.
With the nicer weather, I am walking a bit more. My dentist is in Govan and rather than getting the bus home last week, I walked. It isn’t a conventionally pretty walk. The scene was improved significantly by sunshine, I have to say, but I enjoyed the walk. It was a diversion from life and I think that is possible to achieve almost anywhere. Walking a different way, breaking routine, is vital to keeping a sense of perspective, to seeing the world with a little bit of curiosity. Walking home from the dentist distracted me from just having had a filling but it also inspired a blog post (about the M8, which I passed over on the way home) and made me want to walk more. It took half an hour out of my day, only fifteen minutes more than the bus.
I write a lot about other places. That’s why the theme of the blog this month is the nearby. We think a lot about going elsewhere, for holidays, professionally, personally. I like where I am in most respects. I am lucky that I get to travel a lot in my life but I also enjoy just coming home. Home is often the place we know least about. That should probably change; for me it is, with every passing day.