Saturday Saunter: Books, quines and bookshops

Good Saturday,

I wasn’t going to bother with a Saunter today. I’m away later to Edinburgh then camping up north for a few days but I realised that I would miss writing this post, even if replying to comments might not happen for a few days. As I write this, it’s Monday night and Skipinnish is in my ears at the moment. I sometimes go through phases when I have to listen to songs constantly on a loop and for the last few days it’s been a live version of ‘Loch Lomond’ by Runrig from their finale concert in Stirling last year. It’s on this playlist so I’ll probably be hearing it in a few minutes.

Scots is a language all of its own. There are many variants and dialects, even in different parts of cities, let alone different parts of the country. Many words are onomatopoeic, others are just better than anything in standard English, not that there’s any such thing as standard English either. My favourite Scots word changes regularly. I’ve written here about the east coast word ‘shan’, which I used to hate and now like. (It means thoroughly unfair or rubbish, incidentally.) Yesterday I was writing a story and somehow brought in a Doric word, ‘quine’, which means girl or young woman. The male equivalent, quite seriously, is ‘loon’. Being from the south east of Scotland, a quine would be a lassie, loon a laddie. Doric, spoken in and around Aberdeen, is beautiful if sometimes incomprehensible to a southerner like me. There are a few good books which bring the Doric, including Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, set in the Mearns, The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd and a lot of Stuart MacBride’s crime novels, to name a few of my favourites.

Autumn is often a good time to catch up with good books as the nights draw in and the temperatures cool. I’ve already read my favourite book at least once this year, the aforementioned Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, though I am overdue a re-read of A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Notes From Walnut Tree Farm by Roger Deakin, some of my other favourites. As ever I have a considerable to-read pile, added to the other day with a couple of zines bought in Good Press Gallery, a cool independent shop off St. Andrew’s Square here in Glasgow. I think I’ll be taking Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie with me this weekend. That might be the right book to read on a West Highland night.

The other day VisitScotland were promoting Inverness’s own Leakey’s Bookshop on their social media. I was in Leakey’s in February – I wrote about it as part of the Loose Ends series, which continues a week on Wednesday incidentally – and it is a special place, powered by a warm fire and organised into something resembling, but not quite realising, order. It is in an old church, a Gaelic Church, to be precise, and I think there’s something to be said about bookshops in buildings which weren’t intended for the purpose, like Barter Books in an old train shed in Alnwick or the various rambling bookshops in old houses in Wigtown.

A quick Friday interjection. I would like to share another favourite Scots word, ‘telt’. It’s like the English word ‘told’ but more forceful. As in, Boris Johnson was telt by the Supreme Court.

Also, the blog has surpassed its numbers for 2018 already, which is nice so a big thanks to everyone for that.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 28th September 2019. October sees a change to two posts a week, Wednesday and Saturday, so I’ll be back on Wednesday with the September digest. Until then, have a very nice weekend. Peace.

Lanes of Glasgow

Glasgow city centre always rewards those who look around them. It is a place of considerable variety, with all life there. Some of it you might not want to see but anyway. Usually more interesting is the architecture. Lately I’ve seen some parts of the city centre which aren’t so familiar to me, heading to Central Station from the Glasgow Film Theatre, usually along a part of Sauchiehall Street then down Hope Street. A couple of weeks ago I was heading down to Central when I looked down a lane and saw fairy lights, a pub and a bit of street art. More recently I was making the same journey, this time in heavy rain, and the thought came back about how I’ll need to explore some of the lanes of Glasgow. This is the first of an occasional series which will do just that.

It was a sunny, unseasonably warm September Friday and I was in the West End. Ashton Lane and Cresswell Lane are particularly well known for their food, nightlife and shopping so I decided to write about them. Not my best move. The sunshine brought people out and it was hoachin’. Taking photographs, even moving along some parts of Ashton Lane was tricky. I felt powerfully out of place – walking, looking and taking photos – and around me folk were very often younger, smilier and carefree, enjoying their sunny afternoon rather than me trying to capture my surroundings. Ashton Lane had fairy lights between the buildings and it was nice in the sunshine, folk sitting drinking, talking, laughing. Vodka Wodka seemed superfluously-named: the second word was surely redundant in selling its specialism in potato-based booze. An Innis and Gunn microbrewery was also there though I couldn’t help noting that Innis and Gunn is an Edinburgh concern, maybe an Edinburgh takeover of Glasgow by stealth? The corner towards the back of the University was quieter and I could have been in Cambridge or somewhere, just in a back street for a moment.

As I walked towards Cresswell Lane a bit of street art was on the side of one of the buildings. It looked like a bug or animal had smashed against the building or a smudged superhero. Cresswell Lane had a wonderful mural on the side of De Courcey’s Arcade, boasting that it only had one tin of tartan paint left. I should explain for non-Scottish readers that asking for a tin of tartan paint seems to have been a joke to test the gullible in shipyards or other Scottish industrial premises. There were a few folk dining up here. The low buildings provided good shade, always desirable on a hot day for me, anyway.

Lanes of Glasgow will hopefully return from time to time. This was a good first one in the sunshine though maybe it might work better with the little lanes of the south side or the back lanes of the city centre, quieter but no less interesting.

Thank you for reading. Our next post will come a week today and it will be the September digest. Links to my Streets of Glasgow series, including the Sauchiehall Street and Hope Street posts, can be found on the Streets of Glasgow page.

Loose Ends: Caledonia Road Church

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Via Govanhill, I headed from Queen’s Park to Caledonia Road Church, which I could see from the flagpole. It was only a slight diversion on my way back into town plus it is a structure I like a lot, being a sucker for decent architecture and a good ruin. The Caledonia Road United Presbyterian Church was burned out in 1965, serving its original purpose for over a century, designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson and completed in 1856. It has lots of stylistic touches, pillars and smart etchings around the doorframes. Railings kept casual onlookers out though a legal notice stood on the gate absolving its owners of any legal responsibility if folk took a closer look. I refrained. The church building was overgrown, weeds and shrubs were up and down the building. As I walked around the exterior, I thought about how different the cityscape would have been even in 1965 let alone 1856. I never tire of looking at the building’s fine details.

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Any number of connections could result. Anywhere ruined, any church. I could see down the road all the way to George Square. I could even link to somewhere near a bus garage, the First depot being across the road. My notes for this post were written in the next destination, not too far away across the Clyde.

Thanks for reading. Another Loose Ends post follows two weeks on Wednesday. Links to other parts of the Loose Ends series can be found on the Loose Ends page.

I have written about the Caledonia Road Church before, in a post about the church and also in the Streets of Glasgow walk on Cathcart Road.

Saturday Saunter: Eight things you might not know about me

Happy Saturday,

As this is posted, I will be walking to work. Yep, it’s one of those Saturdays. I’m writing this on Monday night, around 9pm, and it’s been a busy day. I seem to have spent a lot of my day talking, which is a key part of my job, to be fair. Now I am really content not to talk but to write instead.

I’ve been thinking a fair bit today about Dunbar, where I grew up. Usually that’s a good indicator that I may soon be paying a visit. This weekend’s out – I’m even missing the football tomorrow for a prior engagement in Glasgow – and next weekend I’m away up north. Following weekend might work. I was last in Dunbar just before my birthday and had a good walk along the Prom and out to John Muir. It was quite cool despite being late July but I liked the walk. After I turned past the skittery burn and headed back towards Dunbar, I looked back and saw East Lothian unfold over the fields, to Pencraig, Tyninghame and Traprain. Usually when I’m in Dunbar I focus my energies on one place in the area. Maybe this time might be out towards the East Links, a walk I last did last summer when I went out as far as Barns Ness Lighthouse then up Doon Hill. That was a gorgeous day.

Why Dunbar came to mind was an article I read on the BBC News website about how the people of Rutland, England’s smallest county, have resisted McDonald’s opening a restaurant in their part of the world. Until recently East Lothian must have been the only part of Scotland that didn’t have a McDonald’s. There’s one now in Dunbar, right by the A1 and next to Asda. It makes me giggle every time I see it because I grew up in Dunbar where trips to Asda, cinemas, big clothes shops or any sort of fast food that wasn’t a chippy, Italian or Chinese required a trip to Edinburgh, not to mention hospitals and most other public services. We would sometimes bring popcorn chicken or McDonald’s the 20 minutes on the train or slightly longer in the car from Edinburgh. Where I live in Glasgow, I can get these delivered to my door through a touch of an app on my phone. I can reach cinemas and big clothes shops within half an hour. I still find that a bit space age.

The other week I was nominated for one of those blogging award things where you have to answer a whole bunch of questions than ask a lot of other bloggers some more questions. That’s nice but I don’t have time for that. I’m about to study again and I work full-time. I write in bursts around what adventures I can fit into my life. Plus I regularly mention and celebrate other bloggers. What I can offer instead is a list of eight things you might not know about me.

  • I don’t drink tea or coffee – tea is okay but it’s a sensory thing. I like the smell of coffee but it is rank. If I have a hot drink, which I do maybe once a year, it’s hot chocolate, preferably with whipped cream which cools it down. I drink diluting juice or water, sometimes fizzy juice. I despair of the many events I go to which don’t cater for non-tea and coffee people.
  • One of my prized childhood toys was Buzz Lightyear – that probably ages me a bit. I still have my Buzz somewhere.
  • I carry two pens in my pocket almost everywhere I go – partly in case of stress so I can twiddle them or click their tops, partly because I’m a writer. Usually it’s one stylish in blue, the other more functional black. Today’s came from Paperchase and Zebra (bought in Morrison’s).
  • I once wanted to design football stadiums and drew them a lot – this brought about my continuing interest in architecture.
  • I’ve never finished a Lord of the Rings book – they go on for about a fortnight.
  • I don’t like sudden movement around me – that includes, but is not limited to, people, animals, bangs, lights.
  • I have voted for three of the four major political parties in Scotland – the other I would never, ever, ever vote for in any circumstances. Luckily that particular shower don’t do so well around my part of Glasgow.
  • My favourite number is 7. It’s a Hibs thing, it’s also a Harry Potter thing.

One last thing I’ve been thinking of is a quote from Peter McDougall, ‘Glasgow is not a geographical site, it’s a state of mind’. I just Googled it and amusingly one of the top results was my own Streets of Glasgow post about Virginia Street. A post from the Cheers, Govanhill blog made me think of it, about the various villages and districts that form Glasgow. It’s one of the many things I love about this city. In a few minutes you can be in another area. Each has its own character, its own architecture, words, feeling. Those who haven’t spent time here don’t get it.

Anyway, that’s us for today. Tomorrow is Loose Ends and it’s still in Glasgow at one of my favourite ruined places south of the river. Wednesday is about some Glaswegian lanes. Next Sunday will see a pause as I’m away for the weekend. Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a lovely weekend, whatever you end up doing. Cheers.

 

Castles in the community

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The other day I was sent a link to a video on Facebook. That in itself isn’t unusual. The video came from BBC Scotland’s The Social, who have quite a few decent videos in their back catalogue including some about wild swimming, autism, fast fashion, LGBTQIA+ issues and body positivity. It featured Claypotts Castle, a castle on the outskirts of Dundee, and it was a bit of an improvised musing about the castle with some shots looking at its exterior, which is the only part of it you can see if you go there. I thought back to when I did indeed go there, about two years ago. The video described it as looking like some houses had been put on top of each other and looking back at my photos, that’s probably about right. If memory serves, it’s a fairly late example of a tower house, possibly late 16th, and was a house rather than a place of battle. I sometimes take pictures of interpretation boards to aid memory when writing blog posts but I didn’t this time. (The Historic Environment Scotland website says Claypotts Castle was built in the reign of James VI, with the dates 1569 and 1588 inscribed on the building’s ‘distinctive crow-topped gables’. Seemingly for most of its history it was inhabited by farmworkers.) What was unusual was that it was right in the middle of a housing scheme, incredibly incongruous amidst the prim and proper gardens.

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There are a few Scottish castles which sit in the heart of communities, not immediately obvious to passers-by. Off the top of my head, I can think of Crookston Castle, not far from here, or Newark Castle, down the coast at Port Glasgow and which sits right next to a shipyard. Edinburgh’s Craigentinny Castle, another fortified house, is now a community centre. Towers and castles dot the landscape and many have been repurposed or upcycled, others abandoned or left to nature. I like them better that way, much more than the big hooses the National Trust looks after in Aberdeenshire and Ayrshire. Fine places though they are, you can’t beat the real thing, usually on a stormy day right by the sea. Claypotts is a few miles from the sea and quite complete but well worth the few minutes it takes to wander around its perimeter, a fine castle in the community.

 

Loose Ends: Queen’s Park, again

Loose Ends paused on Good Friday in the warm sunshine in Queen’s Park. Under the flagpole I stopped, a little relieved and tired after a long day gallivanting. I returned one August Sunday afternoon, the day cloudy with a hint of blue sky, and it was much quieter, some couples and families about but mostly I had the flagpole to myself, with space to properly survey the city before me. That suited my reflective mood that particular day. I was content to think but more just to look. The hills in the distance were a summery pale green, thistles and nettles swayed in the breeze while rainclouds gathered over the East End. Behind me bairns asked their dad, ‘What’s that for?’, while he asked them ‘how many of these can you spot?’ A board stood pointing out the various landmarks, hills and church spires that could be seen from this place. I was often alone while I was there and there was little noise beyond the swaying wind, mostly cars, a few knocks and bangs in the distance.

With the start of a new series comes new connections and I had a few thoughts, mostly based on what I could see. Queen’s Park is also a local football team and they play, for the moment at least, at Hampden. I could have gone to the Mackintosh Church at Queen’s Cross in Maryhill, keeping up the Queen theme, or Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, beside one of the monarch’s hooses. A few churches dotted the horizon, the nearest with a weathervane on the top that I had never noticed before. A little beyond stood the ruined Caledonia Road Church, a building I like and designed by another eminent Glaswegian architect, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. Where I went was decided by the time I left the hill but I stood a few minutes longer, just looking and thinking, at the top of Glasgow before going down into the city once more.

Thank you for reading. The previous Loose Ends Queen’s Park post can be found here. Links to the other parts of the Loose Ends series can be found on the Loose Ends page.

In case you missed it, last week’s Intercity post in Aberdeen is worth a read. It has sunshine, street art and social commentary and everything.

Saturday Saunter: The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues

Good Saturday to you,

This Saturday Saunter is being written on Monday night, which seems to have become a habit. Unusually it isn’t Skipinnish playing in the background. I seem to have a random shuffle happening and it’s Vampire Weekend in my lugs at the moment. Mansard Roof. Proper late-2000s arthouse indie. This will be posted on Saturday morning when I will be having a lie-in before going to Kilmarnock to watch Hibs. I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to this trip to Rugby Park. Hibs haven’t been great recently plus the last trip down there wasn’t great. We got beat and someone spewed over my trainers. Plus drunk folk on the train. Joy.

Ayrshire’s finest, Biffy Clyro, are playing now. Many of Horror. Not the sanitised X Factor version. Incidentally, one of the finest epithets I have ever seen in print was Marina Hyde’s description of Simon Cowell as the Karaoke Sauron. Repellent individual. Anyway, an absolute tune has come on while I’ve been writing and culling a political rant: May You Never by John Martyn.

In book news, I’ve managed to read a few books in the last week or so, including a couple of Quintin Jardine re-reads, the new Stuart MacBride (decent but I think his editor might have been on holiday) and the first of the Marsali Taylor Shetland sailing mysteries, which was all right. I think I might read more of that series. My current book is Out of the Woods by Luke Turner, which I’ve had on my pile for ages and I need to get back to its library home at some point. My travelling book for Kilmarnock today, since it’s compact and the journey isn’t far, is a selection of Greta Thunberg’s speeches published in a handy pocket-sized volume by Penguin.

For the last few minutes I’ve been trying to remember something I was going to write here this week. I had a mental image of where I thought it as well, when I was on the bus earlier tonight, where the 9A turns past Decathlon at Braehead towards Hillington. If you are unfamiliar with this place, imagine rolling hills, countryside, haggis running around freely. No, of course not, Decathlon’s a big sports warehouse and across from it is a huge shopping centre and generic glass-fronted offices. Between these is a busy road. I remembered where I had the idea before the idea itself. Go figure. Anyway, the idea was about autism positivity. Last week I watched Amy Schumer’s latest stand-up special on Netflix. I’m not a huge fan but I watched it because I had seen a piece which mentioned that she has an autistic husband. The standout quote was simply that his autisticness, all those things that society often views negatively like bluntness and attention-to-detail, was why she loved him. It gave me hope.

I’m back on my modern trad rock playlist now, Runrig, Tide Lines and Skipinnish. On Saturday, I will just have my iPod (yes, they still exist) so my music will be more limited. Usually when travelling to the game, I listen to Hibs tunes, normally the Proclaimers. On the way back it depends on the outcome. If Hibs win, it’s usually the Proclaimers. If they draw or get beat, which can often feel like the same thing, it’s Kacey Musgraves or Johnny Cash. There’s actually a song for this away day, though, indeed my favourite Proclaimers song which isn’t ‘Sunshine on Leith’: ‘The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues’. I don’t sing to myself a lot but when I do, it’s usually ‘The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues’, the closing number from the Proclaimers’ first album, ‘This Is The Story’. The last visit to Killie was just like the song, ‘the day was bright and sunny but the game I won’t allay’. I also agree with its sentiment that ‘the best view of all is where the land meets the sky’. There’s not a lot of water or wildness on the way from Glasgow to deepest, darkest Ayrshire but I can imagine it over the horizon.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 14th September 2019. Thanks for reading. Tomorrow’s post sees the welcome return of Loose Ends and it’s back to Queen’s Park. I am about eight Loose Ends posts ahead at the moment with enough written until December, which is a nice position to be in. Wednesday is as yet unwritten. Whatever you do, have a good weekend. Peace. And GGTTH.

Book memories

I was rummaging through some boxes the other day, trying to find something, and came across some books. I have a lot of books, less than I used to due to various house moves, but enough to be going with. No fewer than three saw the light, Lost East Lothian by Craig Statham, Secret Edinburgh: An Unusual Guide by Hannah Robinson and The Bonniest Companie by Kathleen Jamie. One poetry, two more historical, the two east coast ones fairly close by in the Dewey Decimal System. I have a fairly good book memory and I remember looking for Lost East Lothian about a year ago when we were in our old house without success. Secret Edinburgh was a social media recommendation and I remember thumbing through it at the time going ‘been there, been there, not been there’, as I do with a lot of similar titles. The Bonniest Companie I had with me the first time I was in Cambridge and its bookmark is the receipt for its purchase in Heffers in Trinity Street, Cambridge. I was there on holiday about four years ago and I remember reading it sat in cafes and by the river Cam.

Book memories are often the best ones. Where we’ve read, who’s given books to us. The one that came to mind there was quite recently, sitting on a train somewhere in south west Glasgow heading through to Edinburgh to watch Hibs and deciding to ditch the book I had picked for the journey. The first time I read Thousand Mile Walk To The Gulf by John Muir was one sunny Saturday morning when I was a teenager. Around that time I read Small Island by Andrea Levy on a wintry Sunday as the light rapidly dimmed out the window. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark was gulped down right after an History prelim sat in my sixth year common room. The first time I read The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, now my favourite book, my copy bought at one of the National Trust castles in Aberdeenshire, came sat in my auntie’s conservatory in Aberdeen. So often now I read on buses and trains. I often read on my iPad, which detracts from the experience of closing a book with satisfaction but so often is a matter of necessity. I don’t often have good book memories now. I still do, though. I read a brilliant zine recently called Love Tove about Tove Jansson and was struck by a particularly poignant paragraph. Re-reading The Living Mountain on another train was glorious, as was starting Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie on a very busy train not heading out of Edinburgh very fast.

I just had another memory, of finishing The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane sat on Calton Hill one summer night about a decade ago. I was in my late teens, early twenties, and reading was just what I did. Books were a welcome companion, as they still are, but even more now they are an escape, solace and inspiration in darker times for the world. The memories I’ve had with a book in my hand. Even opening a box doesn’t stop them.

Intercity: Aberdeen II (Esplanade)

Aberdeen II. The last Aberdeen Intercity walk was on Union Street, back in February. My only memories, aside from writing it up on the train home to have it ready for the next day, are of finishing it as a parade of folk on Harley Davidsons harrumphed past. The second Aberdeen walk had a sense of obligation about it since I was in Aberdeen anyway on other business so I might as well do an Intercity walk. I didn’t think it would be probably the best single walk I’ve done for this blog and pretty much capture my view of what psychogeography means.

I interpret the French Situationist concept of psychogeography as looking beyond the surface of a city, to walk in it and try and slow down to see what other folk might miss. I’ve done it for years, in Edinburgh, Glasgow, each of Scotland’s seven cities and even London too. More often I’ve gone on derives or aimless drifts, particularly in Edinburgh, but lately it’s been for this blog’s benefit, choosing a single street as a prism to appreciate the bigger place. This time I chose the Beach Boulevard or Esplanade in Aberdeen, covering nearly three miles between the city’s two rivers, the Don and the Dee.

I got off the bus on Ellon Road and crossed the Don, looking upriver then down, noticing wind turbines high and close at sea. I discovered I was in the Donmouth Nature Reserve and found a birders’ hide and a football on the grass. I kicked it with the outside of my right foot then tried to guide it round my left, my lack of skill one of many reasons why I’ve never played the game. I could see Aberdeen’s ground, Pittodrie, across the golf course (some might say they lack skill too) and the towers of the Town House and Marischal College in the city centre. They were in the distance, between a series of high-rises, all carefully laid out. I could sense the architect’s pencil working that out.

Around the corner came one of the Oor Wullie figures that have been scattered across Scotland this summer to raise money for charity. Next to it were some fairly unremarkable stone sculptures, put there by an oil company in the 1980s. At this point I had a choice. I could either walk by the road or on a prom closer to the beach. Obviously I chose the latter. Sunshine and waves. Who can ask for more? As I walked up I heard in my head an old Billy Connolly routine about being pale blue and swimming in the North Sea. It was warm with a pleasant sea breeze. There were even folk in the water. I walked and I was beginning to doubt how much I could write about this walk. Then came the shelters, a lot bedecked in words, colourful patterns and graffiti, some positive and life-affirming, others more sobering, including a graphical depiction of the very high percentage of deaths caused by drugs in Scotland. In an underpass were numerous scrawled messages amongst the graffiti, including ‘nature kens ah-hin’ (nature knows everything) and a short, colourfully depicted defence of hash. In another shelter nearby was a pitched tent, possibly occupied. Cities are often held up as places of plenty, of civilisation. In such a wealthy society homelessness is a disgrace. How we deal with drugs should change. It has to. We need to have compassion and humanity at the heart of our public discourse, not dismissing folk and their problems, looking the other way. In those hidden places lie what matters. It’s very far away from the news of the day, 10 Downing Street and even Holyrood.

By the drugs statistics was a list folk had added to of what they liked to do on a rainy day. Some included ‘do science’, ‘see the stormy sea’, ‘fuck the system the sound system way’ and ‘cuddle with Sarah’. Beside were stylistic drawings of a wolf, plant stalks and rain clouds.

I was coming past the shows, restaurants and the Beach Ballroom. None of that interested me, save a chance glance to see an institution called the Inversnecky Cafe, a slang name for Inverness in Aberdeen. Strange. A rollercoaster clattered and fell overhead, carrying screams and shouts over the wind.

The place was busy, making taking photographs harder since I try very hard not to get people in. Folk were swimming, sunbathing, walking or just sat on benches, some in considerable undress, others dressed for winter with good Scottish pragmatism. I looked along the benches since they always yield a good story or two. Some of the names reflected the new Scotland, Russian and Indian, some people having lived long lives, others far too short.

The walk came to an end as I clambered over a wall onto the path into Footdee, otherwise known as Fittie to the locals. Fittie, a traditional fishing village in the heart of the city, is neatly old-fashioned and I had a turn around before taking the high road back. Along the way I scribbled notes and thought. In life I don’t like surprises yet my writing and my walking leads me very deep into the unexpected, a strange contradiction in a world that’s full of them.

Thanks for reading. This is the last of the current Intercity series. Links to other instalments, including the first Aberdeen walk, appear on the Intercity page. Something different appears here next week.

Saturday Saunter: Podcasts, fashion and women’s football

Good morning,

As this is posted, I will be on the way to work hence it’s coming a bit early. It is of course being written in advance, this time on Monday night as Skipinnish is on in the background. Last Monday night was beautiful, warm and sunny. Tonight is dark, windy and rainy, quite a contrast.

Unusually I’ve had a few thoughts about what I want to write about today. Topics include autumn, podcasts and the Body Beautiful exhibition I went to in Edinburgh on Sunday. Whether I’ll get round to them or not, I’m not sure.

Earlier tonight I read an article from the FIFA website about Kylie Cockburn, who is an assistant referee working within Scottish football. She regularly runs the line at men’s games and I often see her name amongst the officials at Hibs’ games. What I didn’t know about her was that she’s also employed as a police officer and got unpaid leave from the Polis to go officiate at the recent Women’s World Cup in France. It was an interesting article particularly because she went into how her day job means she isn’t fazed by some of the abuse coming her way at the weekend. To be fair, she is one of the better officials in the men’s game in Scotland. She was also involved in VAR decisions during the World Cup, which is interesting to hear about from the other end.

I’m now listening to Lower League Ramblings, a football podcast featuring Danny Denholm of East Fife. This episode features Joelle Murray, the captain of Hibs, right now talking about the difficulties of keeping girls interested in football beyond the teenage years. Easter Road hosted an international qualifier last weekend, seeing Scotland win 8-0 against Cyprus and there’s a Champions League game there next Wednesday, 11th September, between Hibs and SK Slavia Praha. I’m toying with going to the game next Wednesday. It’s not every day a Hibs team plays in the Champions League after all. Wonderfully the attendance at the Scotland-Cyprus game, 6,206, was higher than two of the Hibs’ men’s team’s attendances in the League Cup this season.

Anyway, this blog isn’t supposed to be about football. Talking about podcasts, I’m listening to a lot of The West Wing Weekly, which is going into the seventh and final season of The West Wing. The discussions about the seventh season and how it seemed to go wrong are making it more interesting. Joshua Malina’s perspective and that of Richard Schiff, who played Will Bailey and Toby Ziegler respectively, are particularly pertinent. I’ve also been listening to Longbangers, a new Hibs podcast, and the older Hibs Talk, which has been more interesting as the team has been pish. I listened to the new episode of Longbangers yesterday and it summed up a lot of my thoughts about Hibs at the moment. Some of their jokes are chronic, though.

I was in Edinburgh on Sunday. It was good to be back in the capital and not being there amidst the Festival. I walked down to the Hermitage of Braid, one of my favourite green places, and sat and read a book for an hour. Those who follow me on social media will have gathered that I wasn’t too happy last weekend after Hibs were thoroughly gubbed by Motherwell. I went home on the Saturday night and read a book, namely a re-read of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Then I started reading a compilation of posts by The Fitba Nomad, a groundhopping blogger, including visits to some of the bigger and smaller grounds in Scottish football. It was an unusual read in such a scenic place but it worked for me. Then I walked along by the burn until I turned up by the rocks and back into town. Some of that walk will appear in Loose Ends in the next few weeks.

I got to the National Museum of Scotland and headed first to the Body Beautiful exhibition currently in the Temporary Exhibition Gallery on Level 3. Body Beautiful featured examples of modern fashion and its growing diversity, designs by Vivienne Westwood, Max Mara and Jean Paul Gaultier. Clothing for various groups were spread across the gallery, including for disabled, LGBTQIA+ and older people as well as those of colour. All this was interesting to read about. Fashion doesn’t represent many folk, to be frank, and any moves to be more inclusive and body positive can only be welcomed.

It is now September and autumn is upon us. The weather today felt almost wintry but let’s just call it autumn for now. I’m looking forward to walks in the Botanics in both Edinburgh and Glasgow amidst the leaves. A trip to Pollok Park, a place I haven’t been to in too long despite being very close to here, is an absolute autumnal must. I love the colours, the sharpening light and the leaves falling, but not the getting dark earlier and earlier. It being dark at 8pm is bad enough now, let alone the being dark by 5pm which will be upon us soon enough.

Anyway, I’m well into the 800 word territory and I’m not slowing down soon. Joelle Murray on Lower League Ramblings is winding down and I’m going back to Skipinnish, I think. It’s just after half nine and I might write up some of the Loose Ends posts before bed. There’s a Roger Deakin quote going through my mind ‘At night you write out of guilt but in the morning you write out of hope’. This is my writing time, since I find it hard enough to get out of bed let alone getting up early to scribble. There’s not much guilt for me tonight. I’m just liking the words streaming across my screen.

That’s us for today, though. Tomorrow is the final instalment for now of Intercity and it’s Aberdeen. Wednesday is about book memories. Whatever you do this weekend, have a good one. Cheers.