Mackintosh and Kingsley


This particular day I felt like sharing some photographs of some of the very fine buildings designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Just because I can, I’ve also included a picture of the new CRM statue in Anderston and also another Glaswegian design classic created by David Shrigley. Enjoy.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh statue in Anderston, designed by Andy Scott
The Hill House, Helensburgh, which is currently under a big box for conservation reasons. This picture was taken about 45 minutes after the one above.
Scotland Street School Museum
The House for an Art Lover, based on a Mackintosh design
Kingsley, the Partick Thistle mascot, who is nearby as I write this.

Streets of Glasgow: Great Western Road

I wasn’t sure if I would finish this one. It was a hot May afternoon and I was overdressed. Plus I don’t do well with the heat. I gave myself until Queen Margaret Drive and persevered even after checking Google Maps and thinking lots of swearies about how much further I would have to walk. Great Western Road is a street I’ve wanted to write about in this series for a long time. It is a major thoroughfare in the city, the A82 trunk road leading to Clydebank, Dumbarton, Loch Lomond, Glencoe and ultimately Inverness. I wasn’t walking that far. This series only covers streets in the city of Glasgow local authority area and that ends by a retail park about 5 miles from the city centre.

I started right after West Graham Street, walking under an underpass with the rather cheery legend ‘Life Is Life’, which reminded me of an 1980s disco song. I reached Great Western Road proper and until Byres Road it was a blur of churches, cracking shop names and the odd colourful pillar. Schoolkids were heading home, some running. I would have been doing the same. The Kelvin was fairly low and calm as I crossed it, the surroundings far busier than the flow of the river. The city there was busy and vibrant, establishments with names like Serenity Now (vegan cafe), Bake ‘n’ Flake (selling cakes, though it could have been a tanning salon), the Hug and Pint (pub though I wouldn’t particularly like either one), Valhalla’s Goat (posh booze shop) and Machair (pub/restaurant). That’s just the ones I noted down or got photos of. There were a few churches along the way, though some of them were no longer churches, like Webster’s and Oran Mor. Webster’s had the rather pleasing picnic tables with flowers in vases below a rather nice church exterior.

Past the Botanic Gardens it got quite leafy with trees hanging over me for much of the walk. On a sunny, warm day that was particularly welcome. I realised I was running out of water and I had to pause at Anniesland to refuel. The Botanics and the other gardens were particularly glorious in the sunshine. Nearer Anniesland there were a few quite handsome blocks of flats, some art deco and others 1950s-style. Trains passed over and I nipped into the supermarket to procure some water. The junction at Anniesland was busy, a red corner with a cupola and the 1960s tower block with offices underneath, a vision of utopia. A tree stump stood outside some houses nearby. Not quite sure how that got there, especially on its side.

The rest of the walk began to get more residential, some bungalows and flats a bit later. An old school had been turned into a care home but the gates remained, one for boys, the other for girls. A more modern school stood nearby, new and shiny, not looking so utilitarian with kids playing even later in the afternoon after school had finished. The frequent signs for the Forth and Clyde Canal I had been seeing for a while finally yielded a glimpse in Knightswood. Some day I will have to walk some of its route through the north of the city.

An overpass and I realised I was nearing the end of my walk, some five miles after it had started. Green signs stood at the other side of the road informing drivers that they were leaving Glasgow and bidding them a good journey. The retail park rose to my right as I saw signs welcoming me to West Dunbartonshire where my walk would finish or it would when I figured out how to get back into the city. Drumry railway station was just along a path and I was soon on a train, covering the route I had just walked in nearly two hours in a matter of minutes.

I was glad it was done. Several times I had thought about giving up. But the walk was interesting. I put names to places. I crossed a river and a canal. I saw great names and walked in the shadows of many trees. The longer streets in this series tend to be the most diverse and this one certainly was. Glasgow in one street, really – urban, suburban, posh and not-so-much. It felt important to write about this one. For many people, this would be their first sight of the city or maybe the last they saw of it if they were bound for mountains and lochs. For a couple of hours I walked, thought, looked and listened as I walked the length of Great Western Road.

Thanks for reading. This is the sixty seventh Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets featured in this series so far include West Graham Street, Buccleuch Street, Woodlands Road, Otago Street, Glasgow Street, Byres Road and Queen Margaret Drive. Additionally, part of Great Western Road featured as part of the Subway Surface walk between Hillhead and St. George’s Cross.

This post is part of a series. Links to every part of the Streets of Glasgow series appear on the Streets of Glasgow page.

Loose Ends: Queen’s Park

I didn’t expect to get to Queen’s Park so soon. I had various ideas, different routes, some even sketched out on paper, but I wanted to pause looking out on a synoptic view, like at Calton Hill last year. From the flagpole at Queen’s Park it is possible to see far across Glasgow, including to the University of Glasgow, which holds a collection about the Antonine Wall. At one time it would have been possible to see the wall stretch across Scotland from the Clyde to the Forth. I walked up from Victoria Road and the park was busy with people in the warm sunshine, playing, sunbathing, whatever. Glasgow was in holiday mode and it was great to see. As I sat under the flagpole I heard many voices and many conversations.  My focus was just to observe and to write. I felt relief. Loose Ends is great to write but it gets exhausting after a while. This iteration started at Calton Hill and went up and down the country from Inverness to Berwickshire and quite a few other places in between. I knew I wanted to pause here; it was just making it happen.

It was quieter on the motorway, only a few cars coursing along the horizon. Everybody and their granny seemed to be in the park, probably far better for the planet in the long run. I could still hear cars but birdsong too. I was glad to be able to look at the best view in Glasgow in a sweep from the Campsies to the Cathkin Braes, Ben Lomond and so many prominent landmarks. Cranes showed renewal. The old and new Glasgow could be seen, the names often the only link. I’ve been there in heat and hellish cold, on the 21st of May 2016 after the Hibs went up to lift the Scottish Cup, and on many other days. Every time the view’s always a bit different. I like that.

As for the next connection, that will be a few months away, once I’ve caught my breath, but it will start from Queen’s Park, high above the city before going down amongst it. In the sunshine it just felt right to be there, gathering up loose ends then scattering them and onto the next.

Thanks for reading. Loose Ends does indeed pause now but there will be something different here next week. In the meantime, there are a grand total of 42 other posts in this series, accessible through the Loose Ends page.

Saturday Saunter: Studying, writing and reading

Good morning,

Saturday again. Today I’m in Edinburgh. Not for football, unusually, but on academic business. Some readers may know that I’m slowly but surely working through an history degree with the Open University. This year I’m on hiatus but will be getting back to it in October. The OU history faculty are having a day of lectures and talks in Edinburgh so I’m probably listening to one of those just now. The programme looks interesting. There are two lectures, one on the Scottish Enlightenment and the Napoleonic Wars, the other on Islam in Britain in the time of Empire. Both of these should be good, with the last one particularly relevant for the module I plan to study next.

It is Tuesday night as I start this and on in the background is The West Wing, one of the finest programmes ever committed to film. The episode is ‘Bartlet for America’, where Leo McGarry is testifying to Congress. Leo is a particularly great character, someone who radiates stability and depth, and this episode is one of the finest of the entire run.

My life is generally pretty busy. I’m lucky though that I have a few things going on, rather than just work and nothing else. This week I’ve been able to write something for a writing competition and think thoughts towards a book of my own. The writing competition is one I’ve entered before, the Scottish Book Trust’s annual writing campaign, and I had a piece published in it two years ago, which was about getting a steak bridie nicked out of my hand by a seagull. This year’s theme was ‘Blether’, which is particularly effusive talking for those outside Scotland, and I wrote a piece about bus journeys I used to take each morning to Govan on the way to work. Glasgow buses are usually quite loud with people talking and that was the case even around 8am as I journeyed to work. It was one of these things that was an idea the other lunchtime and I just wrote it down, making minimal revisions as I typed it up later.

Astonishingly, with pre-season friendlies, the League Cup, work and a wedding, the spare Saturdays I thought I would get this summer won’t be happening. I know I don’t have to go to Dunfermline for a pre-season or to Easter Road for the League Cup match with Alloa but it’s very likely I will. I may need to be creative about how I use the Fridays I have off, or the Sundays, to cover as much of the country as I would like.

Right now the episode of The West Wing is pretty much done and President Bartlet has just given Leo the handkerchief with ‘Bartlet for America’ written on it, the way Leo floated the idea of Bartlet running in the first place. Wonderful moment. Good telly for a wet, miserable night. It’s raining pretty heavily out my window just now.

I’ve not been reading that much recently. I’m about 90 pages into Underland by Robert Macfarlane and I’ve started a book of short crime stories by Denzil Meyrick on my iPad. I’ve also been re-reading issues of Nutmeg, the Scottish football periodical, which has been about my level reading-wise. Nutmeg is great and it has good quality articles about all aspects of Scottish football, which has suited my attention span. With reading, though, I go through fits and starts. Mostly it’s been magazines, online articles and blogs. Three posts I’ve enjoyed have been Alex Cochrane’s words and photos of Kolkata, Alison’s review of Calgary Bay beach and Alli Templeton’s Berkhamsted Castle visit.

That’s the Saturday Saunter post done for today, Saturday 8th June 2019. Tomorrow is the final instalment of Loose Ends, for now at least. Wednesday is back to Streets of Glasgow and it’s the big one, GWR. Not sure if there will be a Thursday post yet. Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a nice weekend. Tatty bye.



Glasgow amidst the art

All too often recently I’ve had a purpose when going about Glasgow. I’ve had streets to walk or hills to climb. I’ve been crossing town to go somewhere else rather than stopping. Even my recent trip to make sure the Gorbals Vampire was still in situ (it is) was on the way to Haddington, which is at the other side of the country. Last Friday I decided to change that and to spend the afternoon just dotting around Glasgow. I got a bus to streets that I could walk down, to quote the Proclaimers, and ended up at the Mitchell Library. Given my line of work, spending my day off in a library seems a bit like a busman’s holiday. The Mitchell, however, is one of the finest buildings on the planet and I never fail to feel inspired there. I did a little research and just wandered for a bit. Whenever I’m there, I tend to have big thoughts and I came away with one or two creative ideas.

I walked in the rain to Kelvingrove, spending some time around its very fine art collections, particularly in the French room. Each room I visited had a favourite for the day, colourful sails in Venice from the Scottish Colourists, a portrait from Bessie MacNicol – a Glasgow girl – and the pointillist painting by Paul Signac in the French. I forgot to go into the Glasgow Boys collection, which is another favourite. The anthropology gallery is another highlight and I took my usual keek at the displays about St. Kilda, also reminding myself of past OU studies as I looked at the Benin bronzes on show. I made sure I got a look at the early Scottish history gallery too, which is probably the best displayed selection of such artefacts in the land. Even though it’s about ten years old (the gallery, not the stuff in it), it is still fresh and current in style.

My next journey was up the hill to the Hunterian Art Gallery. I hadn’t been to the Hunterian Art Gallery in ages, making vague notions to go on various Sunday afternoons but never getting round to it. It was getting refurbed with staff working even late on a Friday and the displays were thematic, portraits joined by Scottish Colourists and Glasgow Boys, which was quite a beguiling mix. The German Expressionist exhibition, featuring work from between the First and Second World Wars, was dark in almost every sense, interesting, though, and I would recommend it. Sometimes we need darkness to make sense of the light.

I stopped off across the road at the University. The University is known for looking quite like Hogwarts and it’s a fine place, sitting atop Gilmorehill. I stood in the cloisters for a few minutes, thinking and soaking up the architecture, before I headed down to Dumbarton Road for a bus home. One soon came and as it headed under the Clyde, I thought about the afternoon just gone, feeling happier and not a little inspired by where I had been, familiar places all. Glasgow is my adopted home but an afternoon is never wasted here, between the shelves and amidst the art.

Streets of Glasgow: West Graham Street

This one wasn’t planned. I was walking between Cowcaddens Road and Great Western Road and realised that West Graham Street – which links them – would be a decent street to write about too. The walk began looking to my left with several posters on the wall, part of a photography project called A Sideways Glance featuring various people hugging or looking at each other. That description does it absolutely no justice. The pictures were nice, intriguing.

Right next to these was a building now part of the Glasgow School of Art but previously the Children’s Hospital Dispensary, featuring a rather fine carving of a child being nursed at the top of the gable. This street ran at the bottom of Garnethill and that was clear by the many stairs leading up and the steep incline on the left. The art deco flats on the right were pleasant, with high windows, while to the left were traditional golden Glasgow tenements.

Soon I came to the junction that led over the motorway onto Great Western Road and West Graham Street came to an end. I enjoyed this one more than Cowcaddens Road for a lot of reasons, in terms of architecture, interest and everything else. Maybe it was quieter, even with the roadworks, but it was a nice street to cover on the way elsewhere.

Thanks for reading. This is the sixty sixth Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets featured in this series include Buccleuch Street, Cowcaddens Road and Great Western Road.

This post is part of a series. Links to every part of the Streets of Glasgow series appear on the Streets of Glasgow page.

Loose Ends: Bearsden Bathhouse

Bearsden Bathhouse linked quite neatly with Craigmaddie Gauge Basin through water but also they’re nearby. I got the train the couple of miles to Bearsden and I managed to go the wrong way twice trying to find my destination. I came to Roman Road and soon reached a very loud gate. A brown tourist sign pointed over the wall to the remains of a Roman bathhouse, part of the fort on the Antonine Wall built and ultimately abandoned in the second century AD. The walls and traces of the structure sat between different strands of a c.1960s housing development, the Historic Scotlandness of the place with its plaques and interpretation boards so incongruous in a modern setting. I wandered about imagining the life of the soldiers and then sat down under a tree to scribble. I had been meaning to come to this place for years, since I was at school, and it didn’t disappoint, conveying a lot with not a lot.

I knew what the next connection should be. I just had to find a link first. Anywhere on the Antonine Wall would do or even a museum with a Roman collection. The best I could manage is that I could see one of those museums from the next destination, which I was just about to head for.

Thanks for reading. The last of the current iteration of Loose Ends 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.

Digest: May 2019

Digest time again. May 2019 is over and done with and it’s been a wee bit busy with life. Wednesday 1st May saw me journeying from work across Glasgow to the Forge on a shopping mission. The only picture from this was the Hovis factory which I took as a joke.

Friday 3rd May saw me in Edinburgh on that mission, this time successful. I walked along Montgomery Street towards Easter Road, which was a new one for me. A long, diverse street.

Monday 6th May was a public holiday. I had considered quite a few options but ended up going for a decent walk through the north of Edinburgh, from the New Town to Newhaven via Warriston. It was a nice walk, an old railway with a fair bit of history. I published a post about it the other Thursday. On the way back, I went to the supermarket and came home via Craigton Cemetery, which was a wee bit beautiful.

Saturday 11th May saw Hibs play Kilmarnock. The day was bright and sunny but the game I won’t allay, as the Proclaimers sang.

On Sunday 12th May my dad and I walked around Cumbrae. It was beautiful. Great views, sunshine and interesting.

Friday 17th May was a day off and I bopped around Renfrewshire and Glasgow. From the express bus into town, I undertook no fewer than six Streets of Glasgow walks, including the longest one in that series so far. It was sunny, warm and varied, to say the least.

The following week I worked a lot. Coming home from work one night I got the train from Paisley and the train that pulled up was a class 385, one of the new Scotrail trains that mainly run to Edinburgh but are going across the country now. Being a little bit of a train nerd and despite having been on these trains a fair bit, I quite liked getting a snazzy new train the couple of miles home.

Monday 27th May was a bank holiday. After a quick bit of blog business in Glasgow, I journeyed across to East Lothian and Haddington. In Haddington I had a walk in the sunshine by the river Tyne before popping into the John Gray Centre (pictured above), which had an exhibition featuring parts of the Traprain Treasure, Roman loot found on Traprain Law in 1919. It also had a rather decent photography exhibition by the Haddington Camera Club. The Traprain Treasure exhibition was great and it’s on there for the summer. It was weird to be back at JGC, a building I used to work in, but a nice weird.

On Friday 31st May, yesterday, I had a Glasgow afternoon despite the rain. I went to the mighty Mitchell Library and spent a wee while doing a bit of research. I also seem to have good thoughts in the Mitchell Library – I decided to go back to studying through the Open University after one visit, for example – and I had an interesting writing idea I might explore. After the Mitchell, I walked along to Kelvingrove and wandered around some of my favourite galleries there, with the French art gallery my particular highlight as ever. I walked up to the Hunterian Art Gallery, which is in a state of flux at the moment. I can recommend the German Expressionist exhibition which is dark but interesting. I also stood for a few moments in the cloisters of the University, which was rather fine.

So, that’s the May digest. For the blog it’s been a busy month. Both of the main series, Loose Ends and Streets of Glasgow, are winding down for the summer. I did the last Streets walks of the current run in one epic day and it felt fine. I often pack a lot of blog stuff into one day but six walks was a bit knackering, particularly Great Western Road. In June I’m hoping to get some new adventures, maybe not so far but to places I’ve never been before.

Also in the book for June is a friend’s wedding and at least one football-free Saturday.

Anabel at The Glasgow Gallivanter usually brings a Scots word into her monthly digests. Since I nicked the digest idea from her, I might as well bring a little Scots into things too. A word I didn’t used to like but use fairly often is ‘shan’, an east coast word to describe things being particularly bad or unfair. Another is, of course, ‘ken’. One of my colleagues said that I never say that particular all-purpose word but I don’t go as east coast at work as I might at home.

I was just looking through my likes for the month and a post I particularly liked is Yenn Purkis’s insightful post about giving and receiving gifts, an issue I often struggle with. Yenn Purkis is an intelligent writer about autism and life in general but this post really struck home.

Anyway, enough of my pish. Loose Ends returns tomorrow and it is a Roman one. Streets of Glasgow is back on Wednesday and it is on the edge of the city centre. A proper Saturday Saunter will appear here next weekend. Anyway, thanks for reading, commenting and following. Have a lovely month. Peace.

Posts this month –

Digest: April 2019

Saturday Saunter: Book talk

Loose Ends: Marjorie Bruce cairn

Streets of Glasgow: Argyle Street

Saturday Saunter: Writing, walking and special interests

Loose Ends: Democracy cairn

Streets of Glasgow: Sinclair Drive

The end of the football season

Saturday Saunter: Cumbrae, ferries and hay fever

Loose Ends: John Frederic Bateman monument

Streets of Glasgow: Victoria Road

Street art of Glasgow

Saturday Saunter: Haircuts, day trips and Underland

Loose Ends: Craigmaddie Gauge Basin

Streets of Glasgow: Cowcaddens Road

Railwalk: New Town to Newhaven