I haven’t written a post out of the usual Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday run for ages but I was spurred into action by reading a post on another blog that struck home. It’s a post from the Books and Guts blog with a love letter to a museum and as a former museum assistant and current customer-facing gadge, I agree with every word. I heartily loathe Valentine’s Day. I believe love should be celebrated every day of the year and that a Hallmark holiday shouldn’t be rammed down the throats of those of us who find the whole process of human interaction hard enough without having to try and find love too. Hence this particular day tends to make me angry, ranty and a little sad.
Rather than dwelling on this, I wanted to write something a bit more positive this Valentine’s night. It was either do this or yoga and I’m in a writing mood. Here’s a rundown of some of my favourite places.
My favourite place on this earth is Belhaven beach, near where I grew up. It has all sorts of personal resonances with me, lonely school lunchtimes, walks with family and dogs lolling about in the surf. It is a place I associate with good times and with people I dearly miss. I go there to think, celebrate and sometimes shed a tear. Belhaven is like a reset switch to me. Even though I now live in a city, I am by nature quite a solitary person and I like nothing better than walking along a beach, the winds and the waves doing their stuff to wash my spirit clean.
I’ve lived in the city for just about six years and I love it dearly. Every time I come home from a trip away, I feel I am coming home. Dunbar was home and I’ll always be attached to it but I am a Glaswegian now and that’s fine. Stepping off the bus or the train, I know I’m in the right place. I cannot claim to have scratched the surface of this city yet. That’s why I do all these walks around the city, Streets of Glasgow and the rest, and why I have a list as long as my arm of places still to see. Glasgow fascinates me. It has an incredible history and architecture like you wouldn’t believe. It is the hidden corners that get me, those little nooks and niches that yield such power and beauty.
In the last few years I have come to quite like Dundee. It is on the up-and-up, of course, with lots of fine street art as well as the new V and A and much else besides. I’m there next week, mostly for football, but I hope to get a wander plus a wee turn around the Scottish Design Gallery at the V and A, which is fabulous and deserves a second look. It’s quite like Glasgow in a lot of different respects, including its rich and diverse history, some of it hidden in plain sight.
In the comments the other day, we were talking about Northumberland and York. Northumberland is quite near Dunbar so I know that stunning part of the world well. One of my most treasured memories was driving late at night to stay at a cottage in Embleton for the weekend. We left Edinburgh in busy traffic and arrived in Northumberland with clear roads and the starriest sky I had ever seen. I wish I had taken some photos but it was freezing and I was knackered after a very long day. Northumberland is gorgeous. Thankfully also nearby is Durham with its mighty Cathedral, the very finest building on this planet. Durham Cathedral is beautiful and endlessly fascinating with details for days. I never fail to feel peace there, even as a committed heathen. York is also very fine, an historical Disneyland, plus it has the National Railway Museum. The last time I was there I went to the Minster and enjoyed just walking around, the splendour just about worth the lavish admission fee.
Iona is another place I truly love. I’ve been there a couple of times and it is gorgeous. Being far away also helps and there is a true feeling of distance from the world’s cares.
That’s just a few places off the top of my head. On this as every day we should celebrate the people we love but also the things we love, which hold us and sustain us on darker days when we have to trudge on. Anyway, enough from me for tonight. Whatever you’re doing tonight, or whoever you are with, I hope all is well. Night night.