Signposts

I grew up not far from the A1. For those unfamiliar with that particular highway, it goes from Edinburgh to London with a few points in between when it becomes a motorway. At Dunbar, north was signposted as Edinburgh, south Berwick, both about 30 miles away. South of Berwick was Alnwick then Newcastle then Durham, if memory serves. Journeys were always bigger when the signs changed and far-off places not only appeared on signs and mile markers but were reached and passed by en route. To this day, I still get excited by the inklings of long journeys on road signs and train departure boards. They are a tantalising glimpse of what lies over the next horizon, even if the reality is much more prosaic than first imagined.

I am writing this on the way back from watching Hibs play Ross County in Dingwall. I’ve been to Inverness before but great swathes of the country north and west of Inverness are unknown territory. My sole trip north of the Kessock Bridge before today was about five or six years ago, a bus trip to Orkney (post here and Islands) which left Inverness at an agriculturally early hour and returned well after dark. The bus hugged the coast road until John o’Groats where we got the ferry to Orkney. Apart from that, it’s unknown, which was why I was childishly excited that my train to Dingwall was going on to Kyle of Lochalsh, a line which becomes a lot more rugged with lots of little stations with long, complex Gaelic names. Recently I’ve been into a YouTube series called All The Stations, where a London couple, Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe, filmed their endeavours to reach all 2,563 stations on the rail network. Some of their videos took in the Far North Line I found myself on earlier, including one filmed at Beauly, which has one of the shortest platforms in Britain. Watch it, if you can. There’s a fair few adventures percolating around my head as a result. The football was worth not going further to Kyle and Skye, even while I was tempted.


On the bus back, the road from Dingwall soon reached the A9. There was a road sign pointing left to Thurso and Wick, a good 100 miles up the road. Serious temptation and I may need to yield to it sometime. Even better was a sign I spied in Inverness city centre pointing towards Ullapool, Wick, Aberdeen and Perth, much of the country encapsulated and dismissed by a single road sign pointing left. Such a sign suggests possibilities. I know Aberdeen and Perth well enough that I’ve never been to Ullapool and there can be found ferries to the islands and palm trees. Wick I’ve been through so I can comfortably say I’m not overly fussed about returning. It’s still a possibility. It’s like the sign on the front in Oban pointing towards Campbeltown, which is about 80 miles away but still in Argyll and Bute. A trip to Campbeltown isn’t something I would actively encourage, incidentally, but there are beautiful places on the way, like Tarbert and Machrihanish.


There’s something exciting about just picking up and going as far as you can go. I live in Glasgow so the furthest I can go in a single journey by train varies from Mallaig, Oban and Inverness to the north and London, Bristol and Penzance to the south. I’ve done Oban, Inverness and London so far, though the others elude me as yet. The problem is getting to these places and realising they have untold possibilities of their own, just waiting to be explored. Thankfully for my energy levels not to mention my bank balance, there are only so many hours in the day. There’s always another horizon, though, and a way to cross it, even if it might take longer to come back, even if I might never actually reach it. Very often wonder is good enough.

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Make it rain

The island of Iona has always felt very far away, especially as I write this with the sound of passing cars and air conditioning prominent in the background. Iona is a little island to the west of Mull, not quite as far as you can go in Scotland but far enough to be going with. I’ve been twice, both very briefly but long enough to have a deep and lasting affection for the place. Before I ever went there, I saw it through paintings and read of it in the history books, of monks and sacred books once made there as well as golden beaches and clear waters crashing on them. The first time I was there it was grey, cloudy and not massively warm despite it being high summer. What I remember, though, was sitting on the end of the pier, or on the dock of the bay to quote Otis Redding, and looking down into the water lapping against the harbour. It was beautiful and clear, a phosphorescent light upon the sea there with only a wee bit of seaweed, kelp mostly, to reduce the view to the seabed.

My second visit was more memorable. I had moved to Glasgow by that point and I had learned of the connection between Govan, not too far from where I live now, to the formation of the Iona Community in 1938. It was also the day when we got absolutely soaked walking from one end of the island to another, with no protection or shelter from the elements. All we could do was trudge on and get wetter. Nearly four years on, I still don’t think I’m fully dry. I had never encountered rain like that. In towns and cities, you are never far from some form of shelter. Iona is an island with nothing between it and the Atlantic. It, therefore, doesn’t have a lot of trees. Neither does it have bus shelters since it isn’t on a bus route. It was raining incredibly heavily for about 15 minutes as we looked for a path and gaps in fences to get towards the Abbey, our clothes heavier by the minute and yet our spirits not dimmed. I certainly remember feeling more alive, in the best traditions of mindfulness deeply, powerfully and inextricably linked to where I was at that particular moment of time. I couldn’t have cared just then. It was a sensation of ‘this is happening. You are here. Deal with it’, and a reminder of the transience of our lives, that nothing, no weather or anything else, is permanent, even if it sometimes seems so.

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By the time we reached the Abbey, dripping, sodden, waterlogged, the sun had come out. I remember making a beeline for the cloisters, which had been sculpted in the restoration of the Abbey with swans and birds on each of the pillars. I also recall walking around the quiet, monumental kirkyard, where numerous Kings of Scots are buried as well as the late Labour leader John Smith. The Abbey itself is a grey church inside, more interesting for where it is than what’s inside. Iona is one of those places where being outside is best, though, even when it rains, especially when it rains, really. Sitting on the dock of the bay is a good, vivid memory and even while I’m far from it, to slightly misquote W.B. Yeats, I feel it in the deep heart’s core.

Glasgow vs. Edinburgh


I had a discussion recently at work about whether Edinburgh or Glasgow should be the capital of Scotland. Being born and bred in the east but now dwelling in the west means I have split loyalties. I argued that both cities have their merits but Edinburgh is geographically more central and it houses the Scottish Parliament, the courts and the national institutions. Therefore it should remain our capital. Glasgow is a brilliant city and I am proud to live there. It is home to most of this country’s media and much of our economy depends on the greater Glasgow conurbation. Glasgow is the third city of the Empire so why should it need to be the capital city too? Edinburgh just looks the part. It has the sea and seven hills like Rome, to quote the Proclaimers. Glasgow is a place of infinite variety, not quite a ‘mad god’s dream’ as Hugh MacDiarmid said of Edinburgh, but is more like New York than a Washington, a Liverpool than a London. It’s a centre in of itself and that’s just fine.

I know lots of people who have strong views on which they prefer of Edinburgh and Glasgow, not which one should be the capital but of their merits as places. I often describe Glasgow as the greatest city in the world and it’s because after four years of living there, I am still excited by what I find there. Edinburgh is a stunning city but I know it too well to be excited by it any more. Just this morning I went to a new Sainsbury’s across the way from Central Station and as I headed away from the checkout I turned my head and saw the beautiful frontage of the station, the glass canopy with the Grand Central Hotel above. I was awestruck, despite the countless times I’ve bustled along Gordon Street into Central and home. I go about Glasgow and I’m curious. I like where I am. Working in Renfrew now means I see less of the city than I used to so what opportunities I have can’t be missed.

That’s not to say Edinburgh doesn’t have its charms. It doesn’t have the bigotry and sectarianism, or as much of it as Glasgow. Our capital houses the National Library and the National Museum, respectively home to our nation’s only legal deposit library (they can request a copy of any book published in the UK and Ireland) and the Millennium Clock that graces NMS with its beguiling, downright weirdness. Edinburgh also has the Scottish Poetry Library, which sadly I haven’t been to in ages, and the various National Galleries, including my personal favourite, the Portrait Gallery in all its red sandstone finery. There is the matter of such fine words as ‘shan’, ‘barry’, ‘braw’ and of course ‘ken’, which are far superior to the equivalents along the M8. And that’s before we mention salt and sauce.

In a fine fudge, I won’t say which one I prefer. I like them both too much to choose. I’m of the east but I live in the west. For anyone who hasn’t been to either one, go to both and choose. Those convinced should spend time in the other and I bet you’ll be less certain. One’s barry, the other pure dead brilliant. Both are braw.

Brougham Castle

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I spend an inordinate amount of time using Wikipedia, reading almost entirely true articles about whatever I feel like, really. The longer I spend on it, the more obscure I go. Anyway, one morning recently I clicked onto Wikipedia and the featured article was a place I have actually been to, Brougham Castle near Penrith in Cumbria.

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Wikipedia front page from 19th February 2017
Penrith is a pleasant market town in Cumbria, not so far from Carlisle. The train journey down there is nice, rolling through glens at a decent lick. Right across from the train station is Penrith Castle, a ruined castle in red sandstone. When I was in Penrith, about five years ago, I was there mainly for curiosity at the next stop up the line but also because I had done some research and Brougham Castle was an interesting looking castle nearby. Before I went, I did some research and contacted the local tourist information centre who replied with very detailed instructions on how to get to Brougham. When I got there I walked around the town and stopped in at the tourist information centre where the world’s most helpful man was behind the counter. I then walked out to Brougham through suburban streets and country lanes. It is a stunning castle, a big place where I spent a while soaking in the atmosphere and looking down to the river.

My main memory is the walk back into Penrith. The day brightened up as I walked along country lanes towards Brougham Hall, a country house in the midst of restoration. As I recall, there were small craft stalls and shops in the courtyard. Further on I had to dodge sheep and their droppings to be in the midst of Mayburgh Henge, a high banked area with a standing stone in the centre. I imagined this being the centre of the community in Neolithic times, the scene of festivities and religious rites. Mainly I was trying to find somewhere to sit without landing in sheep shit but it was very fine indeed.

Before I left Penrith, I hoped to be back at some point soon to finally get to the Cumberland Pencil Museum in nearby Keswick. Five years or more later, I still haven’t been back and sadly the Pencil Museum is shut for refurbishment right now so it is still fairly down the list. Thankfully the Lake District is nearby and I’ve always wanted to go so you never know I finally could get there some point soon. We’ll see.

Reading more often

When I go to the football, I tend to travel light, usually preferring to carry a book or a notebook along with my iPod. My normal mode is to pick a book off my considerable to-read pile, though I don’t always get it read. I’ve been trying to finish a book review for months but I have carried the book to at least three games and it’s still not done. Sometimes, though, I have managed to read a book in its entirety on the journey to and from Edinburgh or wherever the game is. It helps that I am a quick reader, even if I don’t read enough.

I suspect I am not the only one. I spend too much time looking at my phone. Twitter musings and Facebook updates aren’t conducive to good concentration, sadly. Just being able to read and not bother to scroll every few minutes would improve my life considerably. I probably still read more than most – I give out books for a living, after all – but most of my reading happens on a screen rather than in print. I don’t think I read the same on a tablet. I flick between pages faster and my eyes dance over the screen rather than lingering on each printed word. The other day I re-read the latest Quintin Jardine novel because the first time I didn’t get a whole lot out of the experience. It’s still reading and still a better way to spend my time than spear fishing or watching Hearts or whatever but it is still a lesser pleasure than actually sitting somewhere nice reading a book.

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Leith Links
Recently I took a book with me and read it in full well before I headed home. I read most of it on the train – it was called #girlboss by Sophia Amoruso, incidentally – and was going to go up to Calton Hill to finish it until I remembered that I was in Edinburgh and sitting on a hill to read wasn’t happening with the wind. I still went up to Calton Hill, though, but sat for half an hour in Leith Links instead to finish reading it. I think the best reading moments happen when outside and I don’t do it often enough. I of course live in Scotland, though, so the climate doesn’t always suit al fresco reading even at the height of summer. A few years ago, I went on a day trip to Dumbarton Castle and sat at the bottom of the Rock finishing reading what is now one of my favourite books, Findings by Kathleen Jamie. It felt appropriate to have a sweeping vista of the Clyde before me as I read such a far-reaching book.

So far this current season, I’ve read three books travelling to and from the football. The trip to Alloa saw me reading the wonderfully warped Hings by Chris McQueer, or at least for part of the journey as I was laughing too hard to read any more of the book on the train. Game one of the season, against Partick Thistle at Easter Road, was a re-read of My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir, a reminder of past work and hopefully a prompt to future travels too. The League Cup game the following Tuesday saw me take the memoir of the music journalist Sylvia Patterson, I’m Not With The Band: A Writer’s Life Lost In Music. I even sat and read some of it while sitting on the veranda of a pasta restaurant in Leith, perhaps looking a tiny bit cosmopolitan along the way. Probably not, though.

I’ve read various stories lately about the sales of eBooks going down and conversely people reading less generally due to how busy life is. Planning just how to take time out takes up more time than the time out itself. Reading is a powerful insight into someone else’s world, whether it be biography or a novel. It is in essence a conversation between writer and reader and there are times, like in real life, when the conversation is loaded on one side or another. From the writer’s side, it can be because it isn’t sufficiently clear to make sense to someone else. The reader might be hindered by whatever they are feeling or thinking at the time, as much as how they read it especially if they are like me and in front of a tablet computer screen.

Having time to read is precious. I spend a lot of my life in transit and my life is enriched by being able to read even for a little part of it. Reading makes me a better person and certainly a better writer. Carrying a book is a natural part of my life though mainly they are books to put on a shelf. Being able to get a book for me and really sit down and read it is an ever rarer treat these days. Then again I also have a deep urge to write so a balance might have to come down somewhere in the middle. I might just have to wait for every second Saturday and use the travelling as my weekly or fortnightly reading time, hopefully not during the game itself.

My favourite beach: Belhaven

Recently, the Guardian published an article featuring various writers spouting off on their favourite beach, including Irvine Welsh who wrote about Silverknowes beach in the north of Edinburgh. Irvine lives in Miami so perhaps might be writing with a wee tinge of nostalgia and relief that he doesn’t have to be there in November. I was there recently – read the Edinburgh’s promenade post for more on that walk – and it is fine, I have to say. The comments section of the article surprisingly didn’t descend into a whole lot of abuse as these things tend to do with readers instead talking about their favourite beaches, including a few I know well, Yellowcraig in East Lothian, Bamburgh in Northumberland and Prestwick down the watter in Ayrshire.

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My favourite beach is Belhaven, not far from Dunbar where I grew up. I haven’t been for a wee while but it is a place where I feel most myself, letting the winds wash my spirit clean, as John Muir might have put it. Belhaven is to the west of Dunbar and when approaching from the town, the bay just opens up with views to Fife, the Bass Rock, North Berwick Law and the Isle of May, not to mention further inland to Traprain Law and the Hopetoun Monument near Haddington. The bridge to the beach is cut off twice a day by the tide and it is popularly known as the ‘bridge to nowhere’. Indeed I remember when shelving CDs when I worked at Langside Library in Glasgow discovering a CD, possibly by the Battlefield Band, with said bridge on the front. It is a popular place for photographers and those of us who are merely tickled by a bridge being rendered irrelevant twice a day.

I don’t get there so often any more, living at the other side of the country. Usually when I write about Dunbar, I tend to be there the next week so I’m sure that will be the case this time. I used to walk there fairly often, with family or a succession of dogs, or otherwise alone coming up with ideas for writing. One Saturday morning, I ended up on the beach and saw a seagull lying on the sand with its ribs exposed, sticking up like city cranes. The image stuck with me and I even saw something similar in a Salvador Dali painting in the Modern Art Gallery in Edinburgh.

Why do I love it? It is a place where I feel close to nature, close to home and to lost loved ones. It is a place of comfort, of stability and it has stayed consistent ever since I’ve known it. The view of the Bass Rock and the May is never the same twice, however. I’ve been there in all weathers, even in the fog where the Bass Rock was the only thing visible for miles. The waves make it all the more special, a calming, rhythmic spectacle, every few seconds a new one. Stormy days, or wintry ones, are the best, the gnarling cold compensated for by those waves and the ruffled sky above.

There are those places which are special to us and feel unique to us, even while many others may feel exactly the same about them. I am lucky enough to have quite a few special places, some urban, others much more wild. Belhaven falls into the latter category, though close to the town too. Even while I love Glasgow, it is to Belhaven that I go to take stock and catch up with myself. There are few places better on earth and if you haven’t been, I heartily encourage you to go.

 

Names

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I like well chosen names, those folk have laboured long and hard over to get right. Unlike this blog with a name that took a minute and a half’s thought and takes the piss out of my East Lothian accent missing out the ‘g’s. Two of my current favourites are two Chinese restaurants in the Ibrox area of Glasgow, Wok This Way and One 2 Wan. Another good one is the barber’s I used to use in Dunbar, The Cutting Room, which is also the title of a Louise Welsh novel.

Anyway, the best place I’ve seen for names is Buckhaven in Fife. It isn’t the finest place I’ve ever been, indeed the neighbouring Leven and Methil never fail to lower my spirits, but some of the shop names are absolute crackers. Wax ‘n’ Relax is one; nearby is Mr Mechanic (Motor Factors), the brackets very important there, with the sign showing what looks like a villain from the Beano. I was on the bus or else a photo would swiftly have been snapped. A street name in the vicinity was Rising Sun Road. Undoubtedly top of the league is another hairdressers, Curl Up And Dye, which nearly made me collapse the first time I saw it.

Sometimes it is the little things that put a wee bit of sunshine in our day. They may be unique to us or universal but whatever works. At times the world can be a dark place. Life is too short to spend hypnotised by its complexity. There are times when, to quote Malcolm Middleton, we just have to laugh into the dark. That is at least until we curl up and dye.

When you’ve written better before

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Embleton Bay
After 330 or so posts, sometimes you begin to repeat yourself. Ideas recur and there is a moment of doubt when you think ‘have I not written this before?’ Even worse is the realisation that you’ve written it before but better than what you can come up with now. A case in point is an idea I had earlier to write a post about talking. I write better than I talk, well, most of the time. Sometimes I get tongue-tied and finding a way into a conversation can be difficult. I am quite good at talking too but to be honest I prefer writing. What appears below is from post 101 from 22nd May 2016, which says it better:

‘I like to talk. I don’t always do it very well. I sometimes talk too much and I often get tongue-tied, saying the wrong things or not enough at the crucial moment. What I say, and how I say it, depends on my audience. With my family, I am much less formal, speaking much more colloquially with far more swearing and liberal use of the word ‘ken’. At work, I am a bit more formal, speaking a bit slower and using a few more big words than I might do at home. My sense of humour is broadly the same, though I keep the darker stuff away from work, well, most of the time.

My accent also shifts a bit. I am far more Dunbar when I am at home though I have noticed my voice is slightly different when I am out and about. To my ear, I still sound quite east coast though I have noticed Glaswegian words and inflections in some of what I say. In my defence, I do my best to make sure I am understood. I have tried to slow down a bit in what I say and naturally in being around people from the west of Scotland all day, some of what they say seeps into my speech. There was someone at work last week who asked if I was English, which I really am not, and there have been people who have thought I am from Fife or worse still Aberdeen. My voice is a little higher when I am out in the world and it is there that it seems to be more Glaswegian while when it is deeper, it is more Dunbar. At least that’s what I think.

I wanted to share a story. Recently I made a colleague laugh by how I naturally rolled my r’s in talking about the title of the HG Wells book War of the Worlds. From me, ‘worlds’ has a whirl attached, which I suppose is appropriate given that the world is constantly rotating anyway. It makes me think of my favourite Proclaimers song, ‘Throw The R Away’:

‘But I wouldn’t know a single word to say

If I flattened all the vowels

And threw the ‘R’ away’.

Talking isn’t all I do with my voice these days. For work, I have been leading Bookbug sessions, which involve singing songs and nursery rhymes to an audience of little people and their parents. Thankfully they join in. That has turned out to be far less terrifying than first thought, as  I just focus on doing it and doing it well, less on the act of singing itself. Before I consigned my singing only to my bedroom or being in a football crowd, which is probably better for humanity.

How I speak invariably goes into my writing. I tend to write as I speak, particularly here, with some Scots expressions and syntax invariably coming in along the way. In the stories I write mainly as a release, I tend to write in standard English though there are some characters I write mainly in Scots, reflecting a broad accent perhaps or simply the mot juste. One character I love to write but hasn’t appeared for a while is written in very broad East Lothian Scots with phonetic spellings and lots of swearing. It makes me laugh, writing that way is a real pleasure and feels right for the situation. I couldn’t write here in broad Scots for the simple reason that I have been conditioned to express myself in standard English in a way that most folk would understand. So I add wee touches here and there instead.’

Elsewhere in that post, I mentioned that I had been thinking about doing a podcast version of the blog. I’m not sure what time I’ve got to do a podcast any time soon but we’ll see. The writing is what counts and I enjoy most, to be honest. Anything else is a bonus.

Membership

Like most of the population, I carry several cards in my wallet for a panoply of purposes. Some financial, others retail. Two are there just in case I happen to be in a place to use them: membership cards for Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland. I have just renewed my membership for Historic Scotland for the eighth time – it is probably the easiest money I spend all year. The NTS card hasn’t been renewed as often, partly for financial reasons, also because I prefer ruined castles to the kind the NTS tends to manage. I bought an NTS membership again last year after a few years’ absence. I had recently visited the Hill House, the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed hoose high up in Helensburgh, and I decided to take the plunge and buy an NTS card, even if I might not use it that often. I have used it a few times over the piece, most recently at Alloa Tower in July. I also used it to get back into Brodick Country Park after popping into the gift shop.

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Hill House
My nearest NTS property is Pollok House, sat in the very fine Pollok Country Park. I can be there in half an hour. I haven’t been in for a few years – country houses really don’t float my boat though Pollok does have a very fine collection of Spanish art, as well as its magnificent grounds. Glasgow also has the Tenement House, a strange wee time capsule in Garnethill, a flat once belonging to a Miss Agnes Toward who kept the flat just as it was in the early part of the 20th century, and Holmwood House, which I went to last year some time. Holmwood is a pleasant house, in its own grounds in the south side not far from Cathcart Station. It was owned by the Couper brothers, local mill owners who donated the funds to build the Couper Institute, still the public library and community hub for the area, and designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson with all the characteristic stylistic touches that are his hallmark.

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Holmwood
Many of the NTS properties are in Ayrshire or Aberdeenshire. Ayrshire is fairly close to me though a fair few of the NTS properties there are only open seasonally. Even those tend to be Robert Burns-themed. I like our national poet, don’t get me wrong, I just need to be in the right mood for the Burns overkill that can sometimes ensue. My favourite NTS property in Ayrshire is Culzean Castle. I visited the castle about three years ago, getting the train down from Glasgow and then a bus from Ayr. The castle is in a stunning setting and as much as it is a fine house, the views are really more up my street. I walked in the country park one baltic day in February this year, thankfully sheltered a bit by the trees until we got back to Maidens and the wind hit.

Culzean Castle
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Barry Mill
My membership is up in October. I’m not sure to renew it yet. One reason that might sway me is that it might subsidise some of the smaller NTS properties, such as Preston Mill in East Linton and the wonderful Barry Mill in Angus. I am known to Tweet in praise of places I visit and in special circumstances to write to the organisation concerned to pass on my complements more directly. I went to Barry Mill about two years ago and the miller was doing an amazing job of showing folk around and passing on the skills and history of the place. It is in a very nice setting, between Carnoustie and Dundee, with trees and a burn passing nearby. The afternoon we had there stayed with me for a while. I wrote to the NTS in praise of Barry Mill, because if the management in Edinburgh don’t know the value of their outlying places then they might be lost. It’s why I will probably renew my membership, even while I might not necessarily get to all the places I want to see. It’s an investment to ensure other people can do so and enjoy them just as much if not more so than I ever would.

 

Cardonald

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Cardonald’s in the distance. Taken from Crookston Castle
I live in a part of Glasgow called Cardonald. If you don’t know it, you’ve probably passed by on the M8. It’s a suburb and it’s fine, I like living here. I’ve lived here four years now, which is amazing to me given I never thought I would leave Dunbar. Despite being here for four years, there are still places in the locality I have never been to. Just across the railway and the M8 from here is Cardonald Park. It is what was left after they built the motorway across the Fifty Pitches where once there were fifty football pitches. I pass Cardonald Park every day on the way to work but until the other day I had never been in it. It’s fine. I was walking across it on the way for a bus at the hospital. It seems pleasant enough to be in, with dog walkers and folks just passing by.

Five minutes walk away is Craigton Cemetery. I don’t really do cemeteries normally; not because they creep me out but because they generally have little interest to me. The social historian in me tends to come out, though, as with my visit to the Grange Cemetery in Edinburgh (as written about in Hibstory) or when I’ve been in the Necropolis just behind Glasgow Cathedral. Despite being in both of these places in the last few months, I still haven’t been to my local cemetery. Since at some point I will probably be a customer of the crematorium on site, I maybe should go while I’m alive. Like an increasing number of cemeteries, Craigton has a Heritage Trail, produced by Glasgow City Council. One of the more prominent people buried there is Bill Struth, one of the more successful managers of Rangers, who play just over the hill at Ibrox. Apparently it is possible to see the ground from Struth’s grave, which has an agreeable sort of symmetry, I suppose.

Not so far away is Crookston Castle, which I have been to, as written about here, but in that post I wrote about Rosshall Gardens, which I still haven’t been to.

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In writing this post I feel embarrassed that I have seen many fine places all across this land but places minutes away are still to be seen. To be fair, when I worked in museums, one of the things I heard most of all was ‘I’ve walked by for years and never been in’. You visit those places far away because of the journey. Even the streets I have written about so far in the city centre and the West End are far enough away to feel exotic. Even turning a different way, as I did in the park the other day, yields some insight, a sense of belonging, of being on my own turf even when where I step is unfamiliar. It might wait until the winter to do some more exploring of my area, perhaps when light is short and I just feel like going a short way rather than further afield. It will wait, though, since it’s all around me and I can just set out whenever it appeals.

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Rather lovely mural on Paisley Road West