Loose Ends: Dirleton Castle

Another Loose Ends adventure and back to East Lothian. The last connection was the bridge at Belhaven and I had considered going to Dumbarton Castle through quite possibly my favourite possible link ever: the bridge to nowhere could link to ‘Road to Nowhere’, a song by Talking Heads, whose lead singer, David Byrne, was born in Dumbarton. Sadly, that bit of inspired thinking, which occurred to me rounding the corner at Albion Road on the way to the football, didn’t come to fruition. I still ended up at a castle but one not connected to Talking Heads, I don’t think.

Dirleton is a village not far from North Berwick in East Lothian. It is a handsome place, certainly, with a kirk and a village green. And a castle, which is what I like about it. I’ve been there a few times, once notably in snow. The east coast of Scotland isn’t really known for snow and it being the east coast, the snow swirled around in the wind, which made it even colder. Luckily this trip wasn’t snowy though there was a bit of haar (sea mist) rolling off the Forth, which meant it was a bit cooler and there wasn’t much of a view. I thought about linking Dirleton to Belhaven because it is (usually) possible to see Traprain Law from both, though I could still see North Berwick Law even with the haar, which is also visible from Belhaven.

It is probably one of my favourite castles, with bits added by each of the three families who held it, the De Vauxs, Halliburtons and Ruthvens. Dirleton is a ruin, which is the way I like my castles, but it is fairly intact with a few cracking rooms. I particularly like the cellars, topped with a rounded roof, and one of the chambers which had window seats on a few of its many sides. Despite the lousy weather, there were a right few other people there, including some with dogs (permitted in most Historic Environment Scotland properties), and some families, one doing a treasure hunt. I spent around an hour wandering from room to room, looking over the gardens and what I could see of the surrounding countryside. I didn’t imagine myself King of the Castle, though: I’m too much of a republican for that.

Loose Ends is about the connections and Dirleton can link to quite a few. It could link to the original Loose End, Aberdour Castle, because it also has a bowling green, or to Craigmillar Castle – the best castle in Edinburgh – because of its many nooks and niches, which Dirleton reminded me of. I could, just, see the Forth and along the Forth a bit is Inchcolm Abbey. Since Dirleton is managed by Historic Environment Scotland, it could link to any other property managed by that agency. I’ve never actually been up North Berwick Law, which I could see from the castle, so that might be an idea for next time.

Either way, I left Dirleton enriched and inspired, suitably in love with my nation’s history and my home county once more.

Thanks for reading. Another Loose Ends adventure follows next week.

This post is part of a series. Links to all of the Loose Ends adventures can be found on the Loose Ends page.

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Saturday Saunter: 27th April 2019

The view from Queen’s Park, last Friday

Good Saturday,

Not sure what I’ll be doing when this is posted but it’s Saturday so I’ll be somewhere. Tomorrow I’m off to Easter Road to see the Hibees play Hearts which will be another early rise. Afterwards I’m going to find somewhere nice to walk. Hopefully it won’t be as warm as last Sunday when Portobello was absolutely hoaching with people.

This week I’ve been thinking about nuance. This was after last week’s Saturday Saunter post in which I mentioned reading a book about transgender issues. We live in a world of instant reactions where perspective and taking a broader view just seems to have gone. Social media isn’t wholly the cause of the problem. Naturally enough it is broader than that. While I read a lot online, I think that it is worth taking the time to read more widely around things. I don’t pretend to know much about anything. It’s why I prefer to count to 100 before venturing an opinion on a lot of things in society. There is usually an explanation behind the headlines. Maybe social media needs a ‘count to 100’ button. Certainly a story needs more than 140 characters to be told.

Anyway, rant over. This week I’ve been reading State of Play: Under the Skin of the Modern Game by Michael Calvin, an excellent book about the people in football. I was reading the chapter about Jeff Astle and the many footballers who have ended up with dementia the night before it was announced that former Celtic player and manager Billy McNeill had died at the age of 79. Billy MacNeill was an important figure in the Scottish game and it was touching to read the tribute from John Greig, for a long time captain and then manager of Rangers, which was filled with genuine warmth and affection. they could be opponents but friends too. In these times, we could do a lot worse than respect the rivalry, beginning tomorrow at Easter Road and in a couple of weeks when the Gruesome Twosome play again.

I’m getting on my high horse a bit today.

Sometimes I get songs in my head which I have to listen to. A few days of one and onto the next. Last week it was ‘Miracle’ by Chvrches, a Scottish electronic band, and today it’s been that and the completely different ‘It’s Not Unusual’ by Tom Jones. ‘Miracle’ was probably a bit appropriate as personally last week was busy (but successful) while Tom Jones is generally more jaunty. There’s quite a good version of ‘Miracle’ on YouTube, incidentally, featuring Chvrches and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, produced to hansel the new BBC Scotland TV channel.

Right, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. Loose Ends returns tomorrow (it’s a castle) and the April digest is on Wednesday. Have a nice weekend. Cheers the now.

Postscript: After typing up this post, I watched back the funeral service of journalist Lyra McKee, killed in Derry last week. The coverage of the service tended to mention the prominent politicians present rather than the awesome person Lyra McKee clearly was and the difference she made in an all too brief time. Watch it if you can. And her TED talk too.

 

Streets of Glasgow: St. Vincent Street

A long-awaited choice for this instalment of Streets of Glasgow, chosen because it led somewhere I wanted to go anyway. St. Vincent Street is one of the main streets of Glasgow, leading from Anderston right into the heart of the city centre. I began where St. Vincent Street met Buchanan Street and crossed the road, making sure I snapped the obligatory street sign shot right beside the Apple shop. I turned and saw a big Scottish royal coat of arms on the old Post Office across the street. These things have to be done in style. This section of St. Vincent Street was stylish with quite a few bank blocks and sleek office blocks adorned with heads, finials, railings and all that great stuff. One building featured the crests of Glasgow and Edinburgh side by side with a castle in between. The Bank of Scotland was my undoubted favourite, all pillars and glass, while its rival, RBS, shimmered as the light shone the right way upon it. Older offices, with railings, ferns and pillars, sat below a shiny glass monstrosity.

The walk up to Blythswood was relatively gentle, probably helped by stopping every few moments to look back downhill, with a clear line of sight past George Square into the Merchant City. I could also look down Wellington Street towards the river if I really wanted to. The ‘Greek’ Thomson church, the twin of the Caledonia Road ruin, was a particular joy to look at for a few minutes. I was glad to see it up close, only seeing the top on a previous walk in this series on Bothwell Street. Also nearby was the music venue King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, which I didn’t know was that far uptown. The Gaelic church nearby brought ‘Tillidh Mi’ to mind, not at all a bad thing and much less trendy than King Tut’s. The reflections of buildings on other buildings as I came to the motorway was cool, though.

I crossed the motorway and passed various blocks of flats, some 1960s, others of a decidedly more recent vintage. I could also see the Anderston pyramid to my left, a beguiling structure and legacy of the 1960s Second Life of Glasgow. I liked this part of the walk – it became more naturally Glasgow after the glass offices with proper food smells and folk walking about living their lives rather than cocooned in cars. Soon I came to the new statue of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, on the corner of St. Vincent Street and Argyle Street, where this walk came to an end.


Thank you for reading. This is the sixty first Streets of Glasgow walk here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets featured in this series include Buchanan Street, West Nile Street, Renfield Street, Hope Street and Argyle Street, which features here in two weeks time.

Loose Ends: Bridge to Nowhere

The previous link in Loose Ends featured Bilsdean, a beach featured in art. It occurred to me walking around the Prom in Dunbar that the bridge at Belhaven, popularly known as the Bridge to Nowhere since it is cut off at high tide, would be a great connection, considering its appearance in many artworks, including a Battlefield Band album cover. It also links rather neatly through me to this blog. The first post here was about Belhaven, more specifically the dump road which leads from it to John Muir Country Park. Either way, Belhaven worked.

As I stepped up to the bridge, a guy was nearby with a camera on a tripod. A couple were on the bridge taking a selfie or six, eliciting a few frustrated mutters from the blogger standing nearby trying to get this done. Luckily Belhaven is also my favourite place on the planet so it wasn’t a chore to wait. Eventually I walked across the bridge, looking down through the grille, and across towards the beach and the waves, the Bass Rock in front of me. The curve of the bay never fails to boost my spirits and one of the best places to see it is from the bridge. A bit of me is always there, the birds, waves and sounds just part of me. My heart beat slower there as I stepped off the bridge, not thinking much of connections or anything at all as I was just there in the moment, in the right place.

Walking across the beach my thoughts turned to possible future connections. I didn’t have to think too hard. Around me I could see a few places, Doon Hill, North Berwick Law, the Bass, May and Traprain Law too, even the Fife coast. On the way back it occurred to me that the Bass lighthouse could lead me to another lighthouse, even to the Lighthouse back in Glasgow. Those could wait for another day, as I walked back across the bridge to nowhere.

Thanks for reading. Another Loose Ends adventure follows next week.

This post is part of a series. Links to all of the Loose Ends adventures can be found on the Loose Ends page.

Saturday Saunter: 20th April 2019

Happy Saturday,

Kelvingrove

As ever, this Saturday Saunter is being written ahead of time. When this is posted, I should be having a family day around Glasgow. It is of course the Easter weekend so I’m off until Tuesday, which is quite lovely. Tomorrow I’m off to Edinburgh for the football, which has been thoughtlessly scheduled for a Sunday lunchtime, necessitating an early rise for the trip to the capital. Still, it’s Hibs and I’ve had two weeks without football, a dire situation indeed.

I actually managed to read a book the other day. It was a bit of a diversion from what I normally read, Trans Like Me by CN Lester, a series of essays about the transgender experience. I picked it up off a new books display in the library and read it very quickly, pretty much over a lunch break. As a person who doesn’t know a whole lot about trans issues, it was a great introduction, insightful and thoughtful, tinged with sadness, anger and hope to varying degrees. There were quite a few moving passages and one sentence really got me, in a discussion about feminism. ‘This labelling of the world into things for men, and things for women – good things, bad things – twists what is designated ‘womanly’, ‘feminine’, and uses it to punish nearly all of us’. And another: ‘We do not need to pursue only one goal at a time, help only one type of person’. I think we have a danger of thinking in a silo, to use a horrific management term, keeping in our lane without trying to actively explore and comprehend the world around us. This book broadened my perspective a little, which is always a good thing.

Easter Road

I’ve also been reading the latest issue of Nutmeg, a Scottish football periodical. I’ve actually contributed to Nutmeg (issue 7, if you’re interested) and even if I hadn’t, I would be reading it. I also listen to the podcast and particularly enjoyed the recent interview with Leeann Dempster, the Chief Executive of Hibs, who comes across as knowledgeable and passionate. Any time I hear Leeann Dempster speak, I feel confident about how my club is run. Her focus on community is impressive and even though she didn’t grow up as a Hibee, it is clear that she is emotionally invested in the club and its ups and downs. Nutmeg‘s podcast is excellent and has previously featured various football writers and personalities, including Ron Ferguson, who wrote one of my favourite books, Black Diamonds and the Blue Brazil, about Cowdenbeath FC. Issue 11 of the magazine is great and I’m 68% of the way through my digital copy. I enjoyed the articles about Stirling Albion, women’s football and stadium architecture, though I particularly liked the articles at the start about youth football and the Performance Schools run by the Scottish FA, giving a good insight into the future of our game. Reading about football is no substitute to going to the game but Nutmeg is a good way to keep thinking about football in the long week between games. It’s good to have thoughtful comment about the Scottish game, beyond the instant, social media and tabloid headlines.

John Muir Country Park, last Easter Monday

This is of course the Easter weekend. Like Christmas, Easter is very far removed from its original meaning, lost in a whirl of bunny ears and chocolate. I am a convinced heathen and for me this weekend is all about the time off, first and foremost. The last two Easter Mondays have seen me in Dunbar, last year in snow and general gloom, 2017 a bit sunnier and warmer, and this year I’m not sure where I’m going to end up. Maybe on a bus. With being out today and Sunday, I may just spend Monday in bed. We’ll see.

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Craigmaddie Reservoir

The above was written on Tuesday. It is now Friday night and I’ve had a very full day out and about. I had never been to Milngavie and set off for there. It has been very warm and sunny today, almost summer, and I had a good walk around the reservoirs at Milngavie, which were beautiful and historically interesting. I then stopped off at the Bearsden Bathhouse, ruined and very well interpreted, built by the Romans nearly two millennia ago as part of the Antonine Wall. Later I headed across town to Queen’s Park to look over the city from the flagpole, then I did a bit of wandering in that rather fine bit of the city. Some of this will appear on the blog in various forms in the coming weeks.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. Loose Ends is back tomorrow and Streets of Glasgow on Wednesday. It’s a street most Glaswegian readers will know. Have a lovely weekend.

 

End of the line: Gourock

Glasgow has a considerable railway system, probably the best outside London. Every so often I walk through Central Station and I think about how many of the stations on the big departure board I’ve actually been to. It’s quite few. I’ve been to London Euston and Manchester Airport, Edinburgh, Stranraer, Ayr, Largs and Lanark, amongst others, but not Neilston, Newton, Larkhall or Milngavie. I took a picture once of the board, intending to go to every destination on it, but I just haven’t got round to it yet. I seem to remember Birmingham New Street was on the board as a terminating station and I’ve still not been to Birmingham, despite being told it has great museums.

Most embarrassingly up until recently I had never been to Gourock by train. Gourock is a town by the Clyde and it is where the trains that go my way end up. All I knew about it was that it had an open air swimming pool, a prom and ferries to Dunoon. One beautiful Saturday afternoon, I decided to go there, just to scratch that itch. I rocked up to my local station and a Class 314 train rolled up. I call them ‘rollerskates’. They don’t tend to have much elegance and I seem to have been on more of them since Scotrail announced they were taking them off. Anyway, class 314 away and absolutely everywhere is improved by sunshine. The train crossed rolling fields at Arkleston and into Paisley where the roof crosses and trusses were reflected on the buildings and the floor with the bright sun. The train was fairly busy, mostly with families, and later as we neared Greenock some kid was singing about someone called Sally and their various stages of life, which steadily got more tragic. She might have ended up a zombie, as I recall.

It being Saturday, there was quite a bit going on outside the window, including football at St. Mirren and Morton, which was strange being by a football ground when the game was on and not being there. There was also rugby later nearer Langbank. I am on this route fairly often and going past Paisley Gilmour Street felt strange. Going past Bishopton was downright revolutionary. The M8 was to the right and the airport soon came into view. Later the urban gave way to a great view over the Clyde to Dumbarton and Bowling, Ben Lomond and the Argyll hills, crannog posts sticking out the riverbed at low tide. It is one of my favourite stretches of railway in Scotland and it was familiar up to Greenock, where the line divides with one branch off to Wemyss Bay, the other unfamiliar towards Gourock. Old stone walls rose high at Greenock Central and the wonderfully named Fort Matilda had suitably old-fashioned railway buildings.

Then came Gourock. The station was all glass, giving great views to the Clyde that sat behind it. The route to the Dunoon and Kilcreggan ferries led along the platform under a glass canopy, not as nice as Wemyss Bay but still all right in the sunshine. Gourock sits on a point sticking out into the Clyde where it turns down south. I left the station and walked along the front. It was rather lovely, sunny but cooler than Glasgow being that bit closer to the sea. There were quite a few others walking along and I walked most of the way to McInroy’s Point, stopping at regular intervals to stand, stare and take photos. The views were great towards Cowal, Kilcreggan and Helensburgh. I always say that north of Dumbarton is where Scotland really begins and that was really evident looking north over the Clyde from Gourock. The bit I was in was quite fine, though, with flowers, yachts in the water and on the lampposts. The open-air swimming pool wasn’t open yet but I saw where it was and I could see ferries going back and forth to Dunoon. The high street was all right, a few local traders mixed in with the usual supermarkets, charity shops and off licences.

I was back on the train home about an hour later, just in time to get Partick Thistle fans heading back from Cappielow and guys from Greenock heading out on the piss in Glasgow. My earphones were in but the Partick Thistle fans were actually all right, quite civilised as you would expect from the mob who gave us Kingsley, the only football mascot designed by a Turner Prize winner. The train, unsurprisingly, was a class 314. Scotrail did promise they were taking them off, honest. They even mention on social media when they do their last run. Anyway, the views were still beautiful in the sunshine in reverse, my book was even better and I ended up back home, glad to have finally reached the end of the line.

Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow returns next week.

Loose Ends: Bilsdean

The previous link in Loose Ends was my favourite painting, ‘Paps of Jura’ by William McTaggart, which hangs in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. Many, many connections can be derived from that beautiful painting and I considered a great many of them, including the very long howk to Kintyre where this particular artwork came into being. Time and logistics made that one impractical. I actually had a suggestion which worked incredibly well so I made it happen. Kelvingrove has some very fine paintings, including a fair few by the Glasgow Boys, a group of Scottish artists who worked in the latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th. Several places in Scotland featured as settings in the Glasgow Boys’ work, including Moniaive in Dumfries and Galloway, Brig o’Turk in the Trossachs and Cockburnspath in Berwickshire, the last of which became an artists’ colony.

I got up fairly early one Sunday morning, an act made worse by the clocks going forward that day too. It was sunny and pleasantly spring-like as I took the train across the country, changing in Edinburgh for the journey down to Dunbar. I grew up there so know exactly how to kill about 45 minutes before the bus, by walking down to the East Links to sit and look out at the waves for a few minutes. On a Sunday, there were just two buses to my eventual destination so I had to be sure to catch it.

Today Cockburnspath is probably best known as the eastern terminus of the Southern Upland Way, the long-distance path which stretches 214 miles to Portpatrick in Galloway. It is about eight miles south of Dunbar and the bus ride took me via Innerwick and down the A1 into the village. I went down to the beach via Dunglass Collegiate Church, a pleasant ruin that once served as the burial chapel for the Home family. Rather surreally there was smooth jazz emanating from the tent next door. From there I escaped the jazz and crossed the A1 towards Bilsdean, stopping by the waterfall that still fell but as a trickle. I walked down onto the beach, a rather pebbly beach with the tide quite far out. There was some nice spring sunshine and it was nice sitting even in the shade, my hoodie open and my jacket cast aside as I sat, scribbled and thought. I wasn’t alone as there were a few folk about walking their dogs.

I hadn’t thought to bring a picture of ‘Hard At It’ by James Guthrie, my favourite Glasgow Boys painting painted possibly on that very beach. That pretty much sums up my haphazard approach to blogging and after 600 posts it certainly isnae changing now. The view will have changed only a bit, only to the left where the hulking grey lump of Torness Power Station dominates. To the right, though, was St. Abbs Head, Pease Bay and Siccar Point a bit closer. As I sat, waves roared and crashed – the best sound on earth, closely followed by birdsong, some chirps and a bit of singing. I thought about next connections and about the history of the coastline, including smuggling, which happened a lot in hidden corners in that particular part of the world. Before I left, I kneeled down on the sand and drew ‘600’ with my finger, getting a photo before I smashed it out with my foot. Celebrate, commemorate and onto the next.

To the connections and I did the next one a couple of hours after this. If I hadn’t, Cumbrae would have been a decent contender, since parts of it are also in sight of a nuclear power station. The National Gallery of Scotland had a painting of nearby Fast Castle, last time I looked, and I’m due a trip there too. I also thought about Cove Harbour, which is also nearby, and East Linton owing to the connection with Arthur Melville, one of the Glasgow Boys.

Each connection in Loose Ends is special. Even if it’s a visit to a graveyard on the way somewhere else, or a bridge, or a castle, there has to be a significance to the place, a bit of thought or impulse to make it work. This series was named after a line in ‘Scotland’, a poem by Hugh MacDiarmid, and I can certainly say that I have, as MacDiarmid wrote, ‘a great love’ of Scotland, ‘deeply to read / The configuration of a land’. Whether I read it right is quite another matter entirely. After 600 posts, hopefully I’ve improved in that regard. Thankfully there are many more adventures to be had, gathering up all those loose ends.

Thanks for reading. The next Loose Ends adventure follows next week.

This post is part of a series. Links to all of the Loose Ends adventures can be found on the Loose Ends page.

Saturday Saunter: 13th April 2019

Good morning,

I’m starting this on Tuesday night, which seems to have become my night for writing. I’ve already written up a couple of Loose Ends posts which will be appearing here in the coming weeks. It is fairly late and I hope to write this then do a quick bit of yoga before bed. In my ears right now is the Lower League Ramblings podcast, presented by Arbroath player Danny Denholm. His guest this episode is Keaghan Jacobs, who plays for Livingston, talking about only playing for that club. That they are friends and have a shared background is an advantage and it’s a good series.

This Saturday is another one without football. At time of writing, I’m thinking about a wee trip on the bus to St. Andrews. I’ve done that journey quite a few times and while it is a fairly long bus ride, around two hours and forty minutes from Glasgow, I like it for its variety, from the very urban to rolling fields and countryside. It features some beautiful places and two, TWO, New Towns, Cumbernauld and Glenrothes. Plus the bus has spacious leather seats and plugs for phone chargers. What more could anyone possibly want? I may stop at Dunfermline en route but will see. When I write things like this, I often end up doing something differently so don’t be surprised if I do something entirely different.

Now listening to David Tennant interview Ian McKellen. Two very fine actors and Ian McKellen’s voice is wonderful, without even focusing on the words.

I’ve finally finished my Harry Potter re-read and I’m still working on Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie, which I’ve had in my bag for the last couple of weeks. The book currently gracing my iPad is What Kept You, Hibs? by James Stephen, a thoughtful account of Hibs going up to lift the Scottish Cup in 2016. No sarcasm in that epithet. To be more serious, I also have a few crime novels which I could be reading. The Hibs book is getting me over a reading slump. When that happens, it just needs to be the right thing to get back in the way of it.

Dirleton Castle

Last Sunday I ended up going to Dirleton Castle. I’ve been to Dirleton many times and I seem to go once every couple of years, even living on the other side of the country. From Edinburgh I could have taken a train to North Berwick and walked or bussed the couple of miles from there but I ended up taking the bus there and back. I am a very regular bus passenger and in my time I have been on some very rickety buses. The East Coast Buses 124 I got to Dirleton was immaculate with comfortable seats and USB charge points, as well as an immensely irritating automated announcement of the next stop. A lot of the buses here in Glasgow are being replaced right now, pretty much because of the Low Emission Zone the city council is gradually introducing in the city centre, so many buses operated by First and McGills are all shiny and new, which is weird and makes me self-conscious as I don’t want to dribble, spill crumbs or break anything. It feels a little space-age though thankfully the bus I got home tonight was older with the lining of the seat cover coming away.

Ian McKellen has given way to Jodie Whittaker being interviewed. I’m not a Doctor Who fan but luckily the discussion is going far beyond the Tardis.

Dirleton Castle is a fine place and I was glad to wander around it for a while. It’s going to be part of the Loose Ends series in the coming weeks so I won’t write too much about it now. What I will mention briefly is killing time walking around the village, around the kirkyard. Dirleton Kirk is a lovely church and the graveyard was quiet, unspoiled and full of old gravestones. Some of the graves were modest, others more elaborate for landed gentry. I did think about walking down to Yellowcraigs but time was against me and it was a bit cool with haar (sea mist) rolling off the Forth. Another time maybe.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. Tomorrow’s post is the 600th post, part of the Loose Ends series. On Wednesday will be a post about the end of the line. Loose Ends returns next Sunday and Streets of Glasgow is back a week on Wednesday. Have a lovely weekend, wherever you end up.

 

Streets of Glasgow: Fifty Pitches Road

Fifty Pitches Road is probably one of the lesser known streets I’ve featured in this series. I know it but I live nearby. Indeed I can actually see it from my bedroom window or I could if it wasn’t dark as I write this. The walk was on my way home, a slightly scenic route less direct than my normal traipse across an overpass. It was a bright March afternoon as I got off the bus and crossed the busy Shieldhall Road onto Fifty Pitches Road to start. I stopped to get the obligatory street sign photo then paused to look at the remains of a brick structure. It looked fairly modern so was probably quite functional. As I walked all the rubbish seemed to be squashed, car wheels doing their worst to juice bottles and fast food wrappers.

Fifty Pitches Road is named after a vast array of playing fields that once stood on the site. Fifty football pitches or more. Today it is mainly industrial with some offices, most notably for NHS 24 (the out-of-hours health service), Southside Housing Association and the print works for the Daily Record. McKenna Park, home of St. Anthony’s FC, is nearby, as is a red blaes park that I pass as I walk each day to the bus. Fifty Pitches is also intersected by the M8, Scotland’s busiest motorway which stretches from the outskirts of Edinburgh to Greenock in the Clyde riviera. The motorway was busy that Friday afternoon with commuters. A few cars and vans passed me as I headed under the M8. The graffiti tag of ‘Spar’ made me wonder if I would soon see one for the Co-op or Nisa. Volvo vans were to my left and I could soon see the Daily Record printing works and the high-rise flats of Cardonald, Moss Heights. The roundabouts featured grey standing stones, small and fairly thin of much more recent vintage than Callanais or the Ring of Brodgar. I soon came to a gap through which I could see the outline of some houses at the other side of the railway, one of them where I live. But for a bridge I could be home in barely five minutes rather than the fifteen by the convoluted loop I was obliged to take. Anyway, I passed the premises of the Sparta Trampoline Club. I didn’t know Sparta had trampolines, let alone that they had an outpost in south west Glasgow.

Past the Daily Record printing works and the hulking modern lump of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital rose in the distance. Workers stood outside the printing works and the NHS having a smoke, others pouring out bound for home. The roundabout ahead was the end of Fifty Pitches Road and another Streets of Glasgow walk as I turned for home myself, just another commuter again.

Thanks for reading. This is the sixtieth Streets of Glasgow walk here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets featured in this series include Paisley Road West, Govan Road and Edmiston Drive.

Streets of Glasgow: Wilson Street

This walk continued right after a fortnight ago’s Bell Street instalment of Streets of Glasgow. I was in the Merchant City killing time and plucking up the courage to go to an event in the area. I stood in the shadow of the badminton mural and decided to head along Wilson Street. The badminton mural – put up for the 2014 Commonwealth Games –  sat before an empty plot, encased by a fence with letters spelling out Candleriggs Square. On the right were modern housing developments. I passed a lamppost with stickers advertising Country Boy Brewing, with a pick-up truck in the centre, and the Hanseatic Football Tradition with floodlights. These stickers appear all over the place, often near football grounds, and I like spotting them. I stood under the badminton mural a moment, five years’ Glasgow weather having weathered it nicely.

A pub called the Citation stood in an old court building, Greco-Roman with pillars, flourishes and scenes along the bottom. Strings of clear lights lined the pillars, spotlights getting more effective as the light slowly drained from the sky.

I came further along and realised that I was coming towards Virginia Street, which I have covered in this series before, and also the Polo Lounge, which I was in a few weeks ago in a taste from someone else’s life. The Polo Lounge was in a very handsome red building with columns and arches outside and topped by a grey cupola. A rainbow flag flew outside the door. A blue Police box stood nearby, selling coffee into the evening. For no reason I could fathom a bell or a metal buoy sat on the corner of Wilson Street and Virginia Street, a fitting end for a walk that grew more interesting and beguiling by the end.

Thank you for reading. This is the fifty ninth Streets of Glasgow walk from Walking Talking. Quite a few nearby streets have featured in this series, including Bell Street, Glassford Street, Virginia Street, Ingram Street, Trongate and Miller Street.