Saturday Saunter: Trains, Burns and by the silvery Tay

Good morning,

This is an early Saturday Saunter today as I’m working this Saturday. It’s a Monday night start this week and I’ve got Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys on in the background. He’s in Cornwall at the moment. He’s wearing a suitably garish blue jaiket this time. He might be a Tory but he’s tolerable.

Not a clue what I’m going to write here this time. Sometimes I do that and go by the Norman MacCaig principle. Often when he sat down to write a poem, he had no idea and just waited for something to come to him. Norman MacCaig is one of my favourite poets and I think of his words every so often. He referred to himself as a Zen Calvinist and I subscribe wholeheartedly to that. Those are two almost entirely contradictory outlooks on life but I suppose they would bring a good balance!

Last weekend I was in Dundee for the football. Less said about that the better. We go again on Tuesday. Before the game I decided to do the last two instalments of the current Loose Ends round. I’m quite a few weeks ahead of what’s appearing on the blog. The La Pasionaria statue was on the blog on Wednesday and six connections separate it and the last two I did over the weekend. I ended looking over the silvery Tay. I usually try to conclude with a synoptic view and the perspective down to the sea and up towards hills gives plenty of scope for when I decide to resume, probably later in the year.

Michael Portillo is still in Cornwall, now in a red jaiket and purple breeks. He’s in a beautiful village that had a harbour that looked like something in the East Neuk of Fife. Probably warmer there than it would be on the Fife Riviera right enough.

Tuesday night now. Hit a bit of a brick wall last night so starting again. On in the background is a Geoff Marshall video from YouTube going around all the stations of the Docklands Light Railway in London. I have been on the DLR a couple of times heading out to Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum. The National Maritime Museum is excellent. The first time I went there was a very fine exhibition of photographs by Ansel Adams of Californian redwood trees. Most recently I remember liking a display about lighthouses. Greenwich is handsome, home to the Cutty Sark built not so far from here in Dumbarton. The Prime Meridian passes through Greenwich and I particularly like to go up the hill to the Royal Observatory. Outside the Observatory is an excellent view back into London, particularly to the Thames, Canary Wharf and the O2 Arena. When I’m in London in February, I might need to take a wee trip out.

V and A Dundee: Image description: a view through a triangular arch towards a bridge and a town at the other side of the river.

Thinking back to Sunday in Dundee, I really like the view from the V and A. There are two balconies at either side of the museum and due to the angles of the building it is possible to see from one to the other, the hills visible through the glass. Broughty Castle could be seen downriver and eventually the North Sea. The other way there were hills and generally with one sweep of the head I could see so much of what makes Scotland interesting. The V and A is a very fine museum but as a building it is incredibly cleverly designed. It is designed to look like the prow of a ship and there are porthole windows at foyer level and up the stairs. Plus the walkway between the two parts of the building, which gives a great view to the Tay Road Bridge.

It is of course Robert Burns’s birthday today. My week at work has had a bit of Burns going on though today I won’t be dining on haggis, neeps and tatties, especially because I don’t like two of those three. Our national poet is lauded for his fine words though of course his story is far more complicated than the ‘heaven-taught ploughman’ stuff he is famous for. The writer Sara Sheridan, who wrote the excellent Where Are The Women?, Tweeted a thread the other day about the many women around him or who have written about him. What I didn’t know was that Catherine Carswell, herself an eminent writer who wrote Open The Doors, got death threats for writing a particularly honest biography of Burns published in 1930.

Where Are The Women? is excellent, incidentally. I read it over Christmas. It’s hard to describe. It is a semi-fictional travel guide to Scotland, if it recognised more women in its museums and public spaces.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 25th January 2020. Thanks for reading. Loose Ends returns on Wednesday and it is still in Glasgow, with some street art. Have a very nice weekend, whatever you end up doing. Cheers for now.

5 thoughts on “Saturday Saunter: Trains, Burns and by the silvery Tay

  1. I feel the same about Portillo as you do – he’s tolerable, for a Tory. I think his willingness to make an ass of himself makes him likeable, though I suppose that’s not dissimilar to the veneer of buffoonery Boris uses to hide how dangerous he really is. At least Portillo is out of politics these days!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s very true! For years our current Prime Minister has cultivated this persona and played to the gallery, all bluff and bonhomie when he’s worse than any of the rest of the coterie he’s gathered around him.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Digest: January 2020 – Walking Talking

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