Saturday Saunter: 9th February 2019

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Inverness

Today’s Saturday Saunter is being written on Friday night live from a Citylink bus just leaving Inverness on the long road home to Glasgow. My earphones are in and I am ready to read and write my way down the road. It’s been a good day. I managed to get the Intercity walk for Inverness done and also do a bit of walking, book buying (more on that story later) and museum visiting. These kinds of day trips happen less and less these days now I work full time and spend so much time watching the still-managerless Hibees. I must manage ten or twelve a year and that’s okay. Most adventures are on a smaller scale now. I left for Perth at lunchtime a couple of weeks ago so I could fit in some life stuff and a lie-in. Today I left the house around 8am and will get in around 9.15 tonight, traffic and weather permitting.

When you read this I will be on the move again, this time to the capital to see the Hibs. For the second week on the bounce, there is also rugby on at Murrayfield so I’ll be heading through early to avoid the hordes. Scotland are playing Ireland so things could be fun. I have to get back quick from Edinburgh because I have a work night out at the theatre. We’re going to see something called Abigail’s Party, about which I know next to nothing except that Alison Steadman was in the original. Then I fully intend doing as little as humanly possible on Sunday.

Today’s travelling book is one from the pile I bought from Leakey’s bookshop in Inverness, Night Falls On Ardnamurchan by Alasdair Maclean. It’s about his family’s history on a croft in Ardnamurchan, according to the blurb, which tempted me to buy the thing in the first place. I’ll see how it goes.

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Leakey’s Bookshop, Inverness

I’ve managed to finish two books this week, Di Stefano by Ian Hawkey, about the Real Madrid talisman of the 1950s, and Moonwalker by Alan Rowan, tales of climbing Munros at night time. That last one I finished on the way up to Inverness hence I justified the book purchases at Leakey’s. It is a glorious shop, incidentally, built inside an old church and containing a real fire as well as books kept at a safe distance away from the flames. I’m going to write about it for Loose Ends because it’s an interesting place. It will appear in a few weeks time, after I write the thing and after the next three instalments after Greyfriars Burial Ground appear.

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Celtic Park

I know this blog is a football-free zone but I wanted to write a little bit about my trip to see Hibs get beat by Celtic the other night. For those unfamiliar with the game in Scotland, Celtic Park is the largest football stadium in Scotland, holding just over 60,000 people. Celtic take the matchday experience seriously and over the summer they spent £2 million sorting their ground including installing a brand new PA system and spotlights. The spotlights have been widely derided but they were used on Wednesday night. MC Parkheid played the usual nauseating Celtic tunes pre-match then announced that there was to be a light show. The tannoy got cranked up to 11, the lights swirled around and AC/DC’s Thunderstruck played with bass level visuals on the advertising boards. This tableau was completed by Celtic’s mascot, Hoopy The Huddle Hound, dancing around in the centre circle. It was awful on many levels, so cringey that I laughed in disbelief. Then I realised how much of an overload it was, the whole combination of music, vibration and lights just far too much. I could thole them, just, but for many people, autistic or not, they would have been a major problem. It was only the surreal spectacle of some poor soul dancing about in a foam costume that kept me going.

There’s just one more city left in the Intercity series, Aberdeen. I hope to get there in a couple of weeks’ time. After a break I might expand it to include places with cathedrals. It’s an interesting series and I like doing it. I’ve enjoyed the last two – Perth and Inverness – particularly and those places are very similar, both by rivers and yet in the heart of the city. The Perth one appears here tomorrow.

Well, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a very nice weekend.

Before I go, a wee bit of blog admin. I’ve added a page where all the Saturday Saunter posts can be found in one place. It should be in the menu at the top of the screen.

Loose Ends: Greyfriars Burial Ground

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After crossing Perth Bridge, I didn’t feel quite ready to nip into a gallery just yet so I had a wee derive around Perth city centre. I was heading back towards the river and the Fergusson Gallery when I noticed a graveyard and a suitably fortified structure at the gate. Naturally I had to go in. I found myself in Greyfriars Burial Ground, apparently once the site of a friary demolished in a riot after a sermon in St. John’s Kirk by John Knox on 11th May 1559. This probably connected better with the Martyrs’ Monument over in St. Andrews but it came after Perth Bridge, purely because of geography. I’m glad I stopped by. The graveyard was a place of the dead but also one of wildlife, a biodiversity area, no less, with plenty of trees, including a particularly fine willow. I wandered for a while, looking idly at the stones, focusing on the occupations represented, tobacconists, printers, soldiers and many others. There was traffic noise but it felt completely removed from the city. Indeed I almost got a fright as I was roused from my note writing by the council caretakers, wanting to lock the gate for the night.

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Greyfriars could connect to quite a lot, through John Knox to John Witherspoon, another Presbyterian luminary, or to Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh. That was all secondary, though. As I wandered, I was just glad to have stumbled over the place. I doubt I could find it again without recourse to a map. That’s not always a bad thing. I imagine Murdo, of From Hill To Sea, could do it better justice than me, even if it is outside Fife, capturing its essence with a few, well chosen words rather than my many, gallumphing ones.

Thanks for reading.

Digest: January 2019

January Digest time and it’s been a busy month. I’m not a fan of New Year and I was impatient, after not feeling right over the festives, to get out and about as early as I could relying on public transport. On Wednesday 2nd January, I got a train into town and then a bus to St. Andrews, the day cold but bright, enjoying a walk around by the Castle and Cathedral before going home as the sun came down.

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The following day I went to Edinburgh. I only have two photos, featuring the Portrait Gallery, which has the BP Portrait Award on just now. As ever, the ones I liked the most didn’t win.

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Saturday 5th January saw me in Dundee, with a wee interlude in Cellardyke. It was cool and cloudy but I had a good day, managing a whole host of adventures which have featured on the blog by now. The walk by the Forth in Cellardyke was just ideal, the grey light pensive but open to the East Lothian coast beyond. It was good to explore Dundee a bit more, with Dundee Law a particular highlight.

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After work on Friday 18th January, I went into town to do a wee bit of shopping. Before doing that, I managed a Streets of Glasgow walk for the first time in ages, along West George Street. I also took a turn along the Clyde in the half-light, which was incredibly worth it.

That Saturday the Hibs were playing Elgin City. It was baltic. The trains weren’t right so I didn’t get as much of an Edinburgh wander as I hoped.

The following Wednesday Hibs played Motherwell at Fir Park. The game was awful, the pies weren’t. I hadn’t realised how high up Fir Park was with many distant streetlights twinkling in the distance.

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On Friday 25th January I went to Perth, really to do Intercity but I ended up having a great wander, particularly loving Greyfriars Burial Ground, which I stumbled over on a bit of a derive.

That Sunday the still-mighty Hibees went to Paisley and won. After the game I took my auntie on a tour of the street art and architecture of Paisley. It was absolutely baltic but nice in the pale, wintry sunshine.

Well, that’s the January digest. Loose Ends features here again on Wednesday, staying in Perth. There will be a wee bit of a shuffle after that, with Streets of Glasgow returning too. Saturday Saunter continues, purely because I like writing them. Thanks as ever to all readers and followers. There’s been a few new ones in January, which is nice. Anyway, have a good February.

Posts this month –

Digest: December 2018

Saturday Saunter: 5th January 2019

Intercity: Glasgow

Loose Ends: Calton Hill, again

Saturday Saunter: 12th January 2019

Intercity: Stirling

Loose Ends: Dundee Law

Saturday Saunter: 19th January 2019

Intercity: Edinburgh

Loose Ends: Martyrs’ Monument

Saturday Saunter: 26th January 2019

Intercity: Dundee

Loose Ends: Perth Bridge

Saturday Saunter: 2nd February 2019

It’s Saturday Saunter time again and once more I’m writing this in advance. Away to the football this Saturday morning, leaving early since there is also rugby on in the capital and a train full of rugby people is more than I can possibly stand. I hope to use this extra time in Edinburgh to maybe do a Loose Ends adventure, possibly just wander aimlessly before going to watch the first game of the post Neil Lennon-era.

A little earlier I finally managed to finish the book that’s been in my backpack for over a week and which I took to Motherwell last week, Dark Suits and Sad Songs by Denzil Meyrick. It is a bit more fantastical than a normal police procedural novel but it was all right. I have the next volume downloaded through the library eBook app, ready to go for whenever I feel like reading it. In physical book form, I also have the new Hania Allen crime novel, Clearing the Dark, the follow-up to The Polish Detective, and some of the books I picked out before Christmas. Unfortunately, though, those are all fiction and I feel like reading something with a Dewey Decimal number. I was going to take Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie. Apparently Surfacing will be out in 2019 and I am looking forward to it already. We need more of Kathleen Jamie’s words in our world. I might sit down and read it tomorrow. Instead today I’m going to read a biography of legendary Real Madrid player Alfredo di Stefano, which I came across yesterday. I need something different in my head.

 

A CalMac ferry at Brodick

The other night I saw a Tweet from CalMac Ferries, suggesting that instead of chocolates and cliches, loved-up folk should celebrate Valentine’s Day by going to a west coast island somewhere. The Tweet was illustrated by a well wrapped-up couple snogging with a snow-capped mountain in the background. It’s bad enough that Valentine’s Day has conquered whole supermarket aisles and a load of library displays, it has to take over day trip planning too. Don’t get me wrong, love is fine. I would rather people be happy and in love than the opposite. It is just this nauseating shite promoting the mushy, romantic ideal which rarely exists in actuality. It is also rude to those of us who don’t have a significant other for a myriad of different reasons, by choice, circumstance or some other factor. I suppose the Tweet I just saw from Sesame Street‘s Oscar the Grouch makes it feel a bit better. It states: ‘“What are you getting for Valentine’s Day?” Me: Trash.’ I suspect a lot of people would share that sentiment. Anyway, if any Valentines go on a CalMac ferry on 14th February, all power to them. Our islands are very fine indeed. Thankfully they are often best experienced alone too.

In other thoughts, the Oxford comma is a wonderful piece of punctuation, often maligned but sometimes necessary. I didn’t use it in a Tweet promoting a post here a couple of weeks ago and I noticed and it bothered me. Some people don’t like the Oxford comma. I aim for clarity and don’t often succeed so I use whatever tool I have to hand. Except the ampersand, of course.

I was very sad to hear yesterday that the comedian Jeremy Hardy died, of cancer at the age of 57. At one time I listened to a lot of Radio 4 and he spoke softly but with passion, verve and no little political conviction. His ‘singing’ on I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue was truly woeful but unforgettable.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. Thanks for reading this muddle of thoughts. Tomorrow the January digest will appear here. Wednesday will see the latest instalment of Loose Ends, staying in Perth. As ever, cheers indeed to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a very nice weekend.