Saturday Saunter: Durham, Christmas trees and women’s football

Good Saturday to you,

Unusually for me, this is being written on Thursday morning and so there is actually sunlight coursing in my window. Streaming would be too strong a description for the light this morning. This post appears on St. Andrew’s Day so happy St. Andrew’s Day for those who care about such things. Kilts! Haggis! Teacakes! That’s the Scottish cliches out the road. When you read this, I will actually be in the east already. Hibs are playing Kilmarnock later as part of the Jack Ross revolution but I am around early to meet friends for breakfast, which should be cool.

Every so often, I have strong urges to visit a favourite place I haven’t been to in a while. Dunbar does that to me sometimes – the new bear sculpture I wrote about last week deserves a visit – and occasionally others can have that appeal. Linlithgow Palace is one, the Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh is another. Durham came to mind the other day and I can’t remember quite why. I follow the Cathedral on the blog Twitter account so it could have been a mention of Evensong there. Durham Cathedral is one of the finest buildings on the planet. I say that being an undiluted heathen. Every nook and niche is to be savoured there and I feel at peace each and every time I walk in the door. It was easier to get to Durham from Dunbar, being just down the East Coast Main Line, but one day soon I will get back there.

My trips to Edinburgh in the coming weeks will very much avoid the city centre, which is in the midst of the Christmas madness. The Christmas markets have expanded into East Princes Street Gardens and have done so amid some controversy. I find it an overload so will give it a berth. I may make an exception to go to Jenners, the department store, which may be closing in its current location next year as part of a plan to put in a luxury hotel and similarly swish shops. I’m not really a department store person nor indeed a Christmas person either but I usually make a special effort to go into Jenners to see its Christmas tree, which they have to put in through a side door before putting together to typically magnificent effect.

I will also try, if not today then in the next couple of weeks, to get to the Portrait Gallery. The National Galleries have decided to ditch the BP Portrait Award because of its sponsor. That’s a particularly commendable move in this age of climate crisis and also for a public agency turning down money in these financially tight times. They have also just unveiled a new portrait of Scott Hutchison, the singer from Frightened Rabbit who died last year. The Portrait Gallery does a great job in keeping its collection up-to-date and I particularly approve of this one in light of Scott Hutchison’s noted battles with mental illness.

Scott Hutchison was a Hearts fan and I was at Tynecastle on Sunday for the Women’s Scottish Cup Final between Hibs Ladies and Glasgow City. It was a good game with Hibs losing in dramatic fashion after Glasgow City scored a 90th minute goal to end the game 4-3. I had braced myself for extra time but Claire Shine scored and so it went. The atmosphere was good, friendly with only a couple of swearies to be heard. What I like about women’s games is that they are generally much more benign places to be, with less histrionics and diving, more comraderie and folk just being happy to be there, with the possible exception of Glasgow City head coach Scott Booth who was going tonto on the touchline. There was a record attendance for a women’s cup game in Scotland, 3,123, a good mix of Hibs and Glasgow City fans though I am surprised the Jambos didn’t announce it as another full house at Tynecastle. That’s the women’s season over with since they sensibly take a winter break but I have been thinking about going to some of the league games when Hibs are in Glasgow next year.

Our travelling book today would have been the excellent Sissy: A Coming-Of-Gender Story by Jacob Tobia but I finished it the other night. Jacob Tobia is a writer and generally creative person who also happens to be non-binary so it’s their book about that and their life. I learned recently that they are also a creative consultant to the Netflix and DreamWorks series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, actually playing a non-binary character, which is very cool. Last week I finally started Cameroon With Egbert by Dervla Murphy, which is already full of Dervla Murphy goodness. It’s with me today.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 30th November 2019. Thanks for reading. Thanks also for all the kind comments about Wednesday’s post, The things I love are not at home, all of which were appreciated. Tomorrow’s post is the November digest and Wednesday is back to Loose Ends in Paisley. Have a very nice weekend, whatever you end up doing. Peace.

11 thoughts on “Saturday Saunter: Durham, Christmas trees and women’s football

  1. I know from past posts we are in total agreement about Durham Cathedral, magnificent place. Also about avoiding Edinburgh at the moment. I always enjoyed the portrait award exhibition so will miss it while understanding why it had to go. I must get through to Edinburgh before February though to see that new photography collection (MacKinnon Collection? Something like that).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed the Portrait Award exhibition too. I always find January a good month to go to Edinburgh since all the Christmas stuff is over so will try to combine the MacKinnon collection with the annual display of the Turner watercolours at the National Gallery.


  2. Pingback: Digest: November 2019 – Walking Talking

  3. Alli Templeton

    Thanks for reminding me about Durham Cathedral, Kev. We’re going back to Northumberland next year, so that would be a great thing to do on the way up. I’ve heard so many good things about it, and I know that’s where St Cuthbert ended up, so it’s such a significant site. I tend to avoid town centres in December too – like the plague – they’re a nightmare. Christmas is way over commercialised these days, and for me it’s complete overkill. Hope all’s well with you and your studies.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Alli Templeton

        Like that – ‘pondering life’s imponderables’. I’ll definitely get there next summer then. Well done on being ahead. I wish I could say the same.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. If we’re talking Scottish cliches, I have to say that I associate empire biscuits with Scotland more than Tunnock’s teacakes, maybe because you can get teacakes down south, but not empire biscuits! Or those elusive caramel logs, for that matter, which are my favourite! We only get plain old caramel wafers in London for some reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the Scottish diaspora have made sure some of our finest creations can be found beyond our shores. But to completely misquote Braveheart, they can take our lives but they can never take our caramel logs!

      Liked by 1 person

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