Saturday Saunter: Fieres, books and flowers

Good Saturday to you,

Most likely it will be absolutely roasting outside when this is posted. This is being written on Thursday night and it is very, very warm now too. I was out for a walk a little while ago and it was 27.8 degrees centigrade, according to a temperature gauge passed en route. Far too warm for me. I know some people love the heat but I can only deal with it in very small dozes. Plus the hay fever. Hence I’ll probably spend much of this weekend inside with a book.

I’ve written here before about the Scottish Makar, Jackie Kay. Today I came across a poem of hers I hadn’t seen before, Fiere, and it is excellent, about friendship, love and the adventures those things bring. Plus it’s in Scots, which is always a good thing. The Dictionary of the Scots Language cites its use by Burns and Allan Ramsay, amongst others. Fiere, or fere, is a wonderful word, archaic perhaps, but beautiful, a more vivid word than friend or spouse, which it can mean. Read it if you can.

A lot of us will have spent a lot of time lately with books, print, digital or whatever. Last week I was sent an article from no less than the Times Educational Supplement. I know, oooh, ladidah. Anyway, the TES published a list of 100 books which teachers say all bairns should have read by the time they leave school. I skimmed the list then read it later, making a rough note of what I had read from the list. I came up with 17, which is decent though clearly my education must have been deficient in some way not to have read them all. These lists are subjective so another list would have been come up with by a different group of people. My list, for what it’s worth, is:

  • 1984 (Orwell)
  • To Kill A Mockingbird (Lee)
  • The Harry Potter series (Rowling)
  • The Catcher in the Rye (Salinger)
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Haddon)
  • The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
  • Holes (Sachar)
  • Catch-22 (Heller)
  • Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Stevenson)
  • The Hunger Games trilogy (Collins)
  • The His Dark Materials trilogy (Pullman)
  • Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury)
  • Around The World In Eighty Days (Verne)
  • The Fault In Our Stars (Green)
  • Treasure Island (Stevenson)
  • The Bell Jar (Plath)
  • On The Road (Kerouac)

I should point out that I read most of these in my teens, though the most recent of these I read was The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, which I read a year or two ago, and before that The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, which was a bit less recently than that. What one person considers a classic, the next could consider it utter pish. Whatever works.

At the moment I am still re-reading Harry Potter, now on Deathly Hallows. In other JK Rowling news, I have been reading her new children’s story online, The Ickabog, which is decent, and also listening to the new audio version of Philosopher’s Stone, finishing the Sorting Hat chapter read by Olivia Colman, Jonathan Van Ness and Kate McKinnon earlier this afternoon. I did ditch a book earlier this week, which I don’t do often, though won’t name it. It was a comedian’s autobiography, incidentally. Olivia Colman is excellent and her imitation of Maggie Smith playing Professor McGonagall was absolutely class. Simon Callow, Olivia Colman and Numa Dumezweni are my favourite readers so far.

Rosshall Gardens: a woodland glade with low hanging trees and white flowers below.

I usually pick the picture which accompanies the post based on the contents but there’s not much I can work with so far! On Sunday afternoon, I walked to Rosshall Gardens, which is not so far from here, and had a wee turn around the gardens avoiding the rain and other people. My favourite part was walking under the trees amidst the flowers. My hay fever had a party afterwards, mind.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 30th May 2020. Thanks for reading. Wednesday will see the return of Loose Ends Redux, which will be right across Scotland. Until then, cheers just now.


Loose Ends Redux: Dundee Law-Perth Bridge

Hello again,

Welcome to another instalment of Loose Ends Redux, this time mainly on Tayside. Two of these were on the same day, the other a week or so later, all in January 2019.

Today’s three contenders are:

Dundee Law

Martyrs’ Monument

Perth Bridge

View from Dundee Law, looking across Dundee: looking down from a hill over trees and a cityscape with a river, two bridges and hills behind.
Dundee Law: monument with cityscape, River Tay and Fife behind.
Dundee Law: looking from a trig point to two benches then down to a cityscape including two football grounds in close proximity.

I was in Dundee for quite a few reasons that early January day. I had just started doing Intercity so had walked along Tannadice Street and part of Sandeman Street as a street I associated with Dundee. I realised that Dundee Law also connected with Calton Hill, the last link in Loose Ends, as both are hills that stand in cities though it is also possible to see football grounds from both of them, Easter Road (and Meadowbank) from Calton Hill and Tannadice and Dens from Dundee Law. I remember this one quite clearly. It was the first time I had been up the hill and I tried to do it carefully up the steps. I sat for a while and looked out over the vista. I’m also reminded, by reading the post back, that I had passed a guy drinking from a bottle of wine on the way up the Law. I think it was actual wine as opposed to Buckfast, if I remember rightly. It was a grey and cloudy day, quite mild for January. At some point I’ll need to go back on a summer’s day to see the difference.

Martyr’s Monument: looking along a path to an obelisk monument. Cars are parked to the left with buildings behind the cars and the monument.

The Martyrs’ Monument is in St. Andrews and I went there that day on the way back to Dundee from Cellardyke. I never pass up an opportunity to go to Cellardyke. St. Andrews is rather fine too. The connection was being able to see St. Andrews from Dundee Law, if I remember rightly. The Martyrs’ Monument exists to commemorate those Protestants who lost their lives for spreading their version of the Word prior to the Reformation.

Perth Bridge: plaque declares that the bridge was built in 1766 with WIlliam Stewart as Lord Provost and John Smeaton as engineer. It was widened in 1869 with John Pullar as Lord Provost and A.D. Stewart as Engineer.
Perth Bridge: looking upriver from a bridge with trees and some houses to the right. A lamppost is in the middle of the image, on the bridge. A bird, possibly a pigeon, sits atop the lamppost.

I was in Perth as it was a nice day and I fancied a jaunt, plus I could do several blog things all in the one trip. I had just done Intercity: Perth, walking by the Tay, and realised Perth Bridge connected just braw with the Martyr’s Monument. Christianity was the link. Perth is St. John’s town. I remember walking across Perth Bridge on a bright, cool January afternoon though have checked that the bridge was built between 1766 and 1771 by engineer John Smeaton. I walked from one end to another, carefully reading the information boards and looking up and down river. I’ve always liked the Tay in Perth. Despite flowing through a city, and by a busy road, it is still a proper river with wildlife and everything.

Loose Ends Redux returns next week with three more adventures from the second round of Loose Ends, first staying in Perth then going to Paisley and finally, on another perishingly cold day, in Edinburgh. Another Saturday Saunter will be here on Saturday. Until then, keep well. Cheers just now.

Saturday Saunter: Telly, books and knackering walks

Good morning,

This Saturday Saunter is actually being written live on Saturday morning. It’s horrible, wet and windy outside my window here in Glasgow. There’s been some rain in the last few days interspersed with the sunshine. I hope everyone reading this is okay.

Pollok House: looking over a wall to a three-storey country house with lower wings at either side.
Bridge over the White Cart Water, looking across grass to a stone bridge. Under the arch of the bridge a waterfall can be seen.

The other day I walked to Pollok House. Pollok House is a couple of miles from here, right at the heart of Pollok Country Park. I hadn’t been in a while – usually I like an autumnal walk there, my feet crunching in the leaves – though I was prompted listening to the Scotland Outdoors podcast, where one of the contributors chronicled her daily walks in the park. It was the longest walk I’ve had in ages and I was absolutely knackered when I got home but it was excellent. The park was fairly busy with walkers, runners and cyclists every few yards though social distancing was generally in effect throughout. I walked as far as Pollok House, looked down the White Cart Water to the waterfall, then headed home. I hadn’t walked to the park before and the walk from Dumbreck Road was particularly fine, past an empty golf course and surrounded by trees and flowers. I love being in the woods and much like when I’m by the sea, I tend to think clearer there. It was an excellent walk and I got a lot out of it.

I’m not sure if I will manage a decent walk today, though. It’s still wet and windy out there. There hasn’t been a magical change of weather in the last twenty minutes or so. This might be a day to catch up with telly. I’ve not long watched Brooklyn Nine Nine and then it’s First Dates Hotel and later over to the iPlayer for Landward and the latest episode of Hidden Lives, which has been profiling different parts of Scottish life, with the most recent episode called The Blackening. I also have a programme about railway architecture to watch, which is on UKTV Play.

I’ve managed a bit of reading this week. After a few days away from my Harry Potter re-read, I am now back in the midst of the Deathly Hallows, and Harry, Ron and Hermione are in London after the Ministry has fallen. I’ve also managed to read The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett and Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama. Former President Obama has been in the news lately – apparently he has instigated something called Obamagate though actually he has implied some pretty strong criticism of his successor. Mild and nuanced perhaps compared to a lot of what can be levelled, to be fair. Anyway, Dreams from my Father is unlike any politician’s memoir I’ve ever read, going into his family background, his father from Kenya, mother from Kansas via Hawaii, his siblings and visit to Kenya as well as community organising in Chicago, some of which didn’t go smoothly. At some points it was hard squaring this story with the guy who was President of the United States for eight years but I could also see how much of his upbringing fed into his politics. The Lady in the Van I read in one gulp. It was a long piece by Alan Bennett about Miss Shepherd, a lady who parked her van in his driveway and didn’t leave for nearly two decades. It has been made into a film more recently starring Maggie Smith. Alan Bennett is an excellent writer and chronicled Miss Shepherd’s life and times with style and compassion, always an important quality.

So, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 23rd May 2020. Thanks for reading. Loose Ends Redux will be here on Wednesday and it will be on Tayside. There might be something else here too but we’ll see. Until then, keep safe. Cheers just now.

Loose Ends Redux: Makar’s Court-Calton Hill

Good afternoon,

Welcome to another Loose Ends Redux, this time entirely in Edinburgh. Loose Ends invariably involves finding connections based around where I happen to be. These three are from a day I was bookhunting in Edinburgh so I remember them well. I decided that 21 would be the pause in Loose Ends as it was a bit exhausting and if I remember rightly Calton Hill had been earmarked as the pause place because it connects with a lot of other places.

Today’s places are:

Makar’s Court

Wild West

Calton Hill

Calton Hill, again

Makar’s Court: a pavement with quotations from various writers. In the foreground is John Muir: ‘I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature’s loveliness’.

I had to check how I connected Makar’s Court to the Ramshorn Cemetery in Glasgow. It was through John Muir, whose words written in the Bonaventure cemetery in Georgia I often think about in graveyards. Makar’s Court is in Lady Stair’s Close in Edinburgh outside the Writer’s Museum. On the pavement are quotations from eminent Scottish writers. I like to walk there every so often and see if there are any new ones. John Muir has a stone in Makar’s Court though I have other favourites, including Nan Shepherd and Muriel Spark.

Wild West: looking up a street with wooden buildings and signs advertising saloons and showrooms

The next one was the Wild West. The image still adorns the top of the Loose Ends page to this day. In the mid-1990s, a furniture showroom decorated a back street in Morningside in Wild West style. Even though the furniture shop isn’t there any more, the Wild West backdrop remains. I remember this well. It is wonderfully surreal. There’s a garage there and pop music blared from within, as did very Edinburgh voices. Go when you can. I connected it with John Muir.

Calton Hill: the Nelson Monument, a tower with a circular building below. There are a lot of white clouds across a blue sky.
Calton Hill: looking from the hill over a residential area with a football ground in the centre. Beyond is the Firth of Forth.
Calton Hill: looking across a cityscape with the Firth of Forth behind. This image shows Leith, Restalrig and Lochend.
Calton Hill: looking across a cityscape towards the Firth of Forth and Fife. This image shows the New Town. The building with a glass roof and a dome is the Lothian Buses garage.

Calton Hill soon came and my feet were tired from a long day wandering. Calton Hill and the Wild West are both in Edinburgh and that was the connection. It was sunny and bright and I was relieved that the first Loose Ends round was finished. At this point, in September, I stopped doing Loose Ends things for about three months though I did do Streets of Glasgow and Intercity.

The series resumed back on Calton Hill and I can’t remember it at all so here’s what I posted for the second visit:

‘Calton Hill was the place where Loose Ends left off, back in September, a fitting culmination of a few months of connected adventures including old football grounds, the Wild West, castles, bridges and fever hospitals. I was in Edinburgh just before Christmas and decided to start it all off again, beginning once more on Calton Hill, walking up on a suitably bracing December Saturday. It was bright as I headed up from Waterloo Place, as ever moving around the crowds who generally took the stairs rather than the winding way up the hill. There was a gorgeous light cast across the city, the buildings a golden brown hue, particularly across the New Town. From the prow of the hill a shadow was cast across the nearest streets, particularly London Road, a Lothian bus one of the few spots to escape the darkness.’

The series would return to Calton Hill later, though the next instalment was on the shores of the silvery Tay. We’ll continue with that next week.

Saturday Saunter: Podcasts, telly and walks

Good Saturday to you,

Hope everyone reading this is keeping okay. This missive is being written later on Friday. It’s a bit windy out and it was raining when I was out earlier. Given the warm sunshine a lot of us have had lately, some rain is a decent change of pace. I can also confirm that I smelled petrichors so all good there.

This week I’ve been listening to a few podcasts. I have quite a few built up and despite having a lot of time to listen to them, the backlog only keeps growing. I’ve been listening to the Terrace Scottish Football Podcast and the British Museum podcast, very, very different, obviously, but no less interesting. The Terrace is continuing despite these football-less times – the Bundesliga resumes today, of course – and they have been discussing the life and times of the Scottish game as well as what to watch and play in the midst of lockdown. Hopefully that will continue amidst the dissection of the latest, interminable statement from Ann Budge or whoever. The British Museum is one of my favourite places on the planet and its work continues even while its doors are currently shut. The podcast features discussions about museum accessibility and volunteering – both areas close to my heart – as well as Venetian maps. Accessibility is particularly important to the BM, I’m glad to say, and it was good to hear about their work in that area.

Most of my telly watching has been through the BBC iPlayer, including A View From The Terrace‘s clip show of their films (which is on in the background now), Landward, about Scotland’s great outdoors, Inside Central Station and Hidden LivesHidden Lives is a series of documentaries about Scottish life, so far taking in the burning of the Clavie (a tar barrel) in Burghead and the Bo’ness Fair, presented by journalist Peter Ross. Peter Ross is great so go watch that if you can. Inside Central Station is about the mighty Glasgow Central Station, normally the busiest railway station in Scotland, in its glass-roofed finery. It is weird seeing Central so busy in light of current events. I’m advised that I appeared in the background of the Christmas Special last year, striding across the street. Central has an incredible history and it is amply covered in this new series.

Bellahouston Park: looking across a park. A white wall is to the left, trees in the centre. A tower block stands to the left; more trees stand to the right.
Crookston Castle: looking up to a ruined tower house. A fence is at the top of the tower. Trees stand to the left and right of the castle.

I’ve been out for a few walks over the last week including to Bellahouston Park and Crookston Castle. I hadn’t been over to Bellahouston for ages and since it’s quite near here, I thought I would remedy that, even if the grass and dandelions didn’t play nicely with my hay fever. I walked nearly to the top of the hill, looked across to the Cathkin and Gleniffer Braes, then came back home through the Craigton Cemetery, which as usual tree-lined and flower-filled. Like Central Station, Crookston Castle has featured in my Loose Ends series and I hadn’t been there since. The castle itself is closed at the moment so I walked around the perimeter, checking it was still there and enjoying the sunshine.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 16th May 2020. Thanks for reading. Loose Ends Redux resumes on Wednesday and it’s back in Edinburgh this week. There might be something else out too. Until then, keep well. Cheers just now.

Odds and ends

Hello there,

Another selection of random stuff from my inbox since I didn’t get it cleared properly last week.

Lyceum – the edifice of an old cinema with a billboard on the right and a covering over the curved frontage.

For the last few years, I’ve been writing a series here called Streets of Glasgow. It involves walking along a Glasgow street and writing about what I encounter there. So far I’ve done seventy of them. The last one was Buccleuch Street, over in Garnethill, which I did around a year ago. Some of the streets have changed significantly since I wrote about them. Sauchiehall Street has been ravaged by fire twice. Cathedral Street has buildings where cranes stood. University Avenue is still a construction site. Anyway, planning permission has been granted for the old Lyceum cinema on Govan Road (Streets post here) for a cinema and conference facilities. Glasgow once had more cinemas per head of population than anywhere else though like everywhere else, it has its share of multiplexes, even if we can’t visit any picture house at the moment. Cinema in the community is definitely a good thing, particularly in that part of Govan and hopefully, once all this is finished, the Lyceum will be open again.

There have been quite a few exhibitions moving online, including the Hunterian Art Gallery’s fine exhibition about Edwin Morgan and Joan Eardley, the Museum of London’s Clash display and the BP Portrait Award from the National Portrait Gallery. I spent a wee while looking around the BP Portrait Award exhibition the other day and can confirm that some of the artworks looked better in context, looking generally rather than zooming in, which is often the case in physical spaces, to be fair. I would also urge looking on a bigger screen rather than a phone, just for the best effect.

I’ve written here before about my love of maps. Thankfully there are a whole lot of maps online, as well as physical maps we can devour and savour. I have seen a few virtual adventures happening, including in this excellent Guardian article about travelling by map through Wales. I have the OS Maps app on my iPad and spent a nice morning a couple of weeks ago traversing my part of the world. I used to have the OS Landranger map for Duns, Dunbar and Eyemouth on my bedroom wall and lost quite a lot of time looking across its folds.

Anyway, that’s my inbox a bit emptier now. I should be back on Saturday with another Saturday Saunter and Loose Ends Redux on Wednesday, which is in Edinburgh. Hope everyone is okay. Cheers just now.



Loose Ends Redux: Cathkin Park-Ramshorn

Good afternoon,

Welcome to another instalment of Loose Ends Redux, this time entirely in Glasgow. Our last adventure was in the Meadows in Edinburgh on a hot July day and a few weeks passed before the next one.

Today’s places are:

Cathkin Park

The Necropolis


Cathkin Park: looking from a football terrace towards a pitch with the markings made out. Around the side of the pitch are trees.

Cathkin Park is a public park in Glasgow’s south side. It used to be a football ground, first the second Hampden then as the home of Third Lanark until their demise in 1967. The terracing is largely overgrown though some football still happens there. This visit happened on a cooler, cloudier day than the trip to the Meadows, if I remember rightly. It connected through football – the Meadows being used by both Hearts and Hibs at one point – though I never need an excuse to go to Cathkin.

Necropolis: looking up at three layers of graves and obelisks. At the top is a column with a statue at the top. A tree is at the right of the top layer.

The next connection was the Necropolis, Glasgow’s city of the dead, connected by the fact both are maintained by Glasgow City Council. I’ve only visited the Necropolis over the last couple of years though I’ve come to quite like it for its views across the city and the diversity of monuments there. I can’t remember this specific trip though I think it was another warm sunny day.

Ramshorn: a cemetery with a fenced-off area at the left. There are two trees in the centre of the image and a path to the right.

One evening after work I ended up in Glasgow and walked along Ingram Street to the Ramshorn Cemetery, an older cemetery housing the remains of many Glasgow merchants. It is a very peaceful place, hemmed in by tall city buildings. Ramshorn connected to the Necropolis by both being cemeteries in Glasgow.

That’s another Loose Ends Redux. Next week will feature the last three in the first round of Loose Ends, all from a day in Edinburgh. Until then, keep safe, keep well.

Saturday Saunter: Light Towers, Berwickshire and books

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, being written on another sunny Friday afternoon. I hope everyone has been doing okay.

View from the Forth Road Bridge towards the Forth Bridge and North Queensferry: a view looking over a bridge’s railing to the sea, a town and a cantilevered railway bridge.

Many bloggers will know that a lot of online traffic comes from search engines. Two posts which have had a fair bit of readership recently posts from a couple of years ago about walking across the Forth Road Bridge, and the Restalrig Railway Path in Edinburgh. The Restalrig Railway Path walk was in September 2018 and I’ve managed exactly one more Railwalk since, from the New Town to Newhaven in Edinburgh. The Forth Road Bridge walk was on a sunny, spring day though I can only remember it nicely as time has passed. The height over the Forth didn’t help. We walked down into North Queensferry and stopped by the Light Tower at the harbour. I’ve written here before about my love for lighthouses and the Light Tower was built by Robert Stevenson, of the Lighthouse Stevensons, in 1817. It was restored fairly recently and it is very fine. The Tower sits in the shadow of the Forth Bridge, the real one, the rail one, indeed, and was probably more useful before the Bridge was built.

Lochranza Castle: looking across a burn to a ruined castle with a hill behind. A person in a kayak is on the water to the left.

I was thinking about where I want to visit once the lockdown is finished – after I see some loved ones, obviously – and I’m settled on Arran. Rightly, visiting Arran isn’t possible right now but on a sunny day like this, I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be. Sitting on a ferry, the blue Clyde below, Goatfell on the right. A spin around the island towards Lochranza would be excellent. Hopefully soon.

In reading news, I am into Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, book six of the series, though I think I’m going to take a break for a bit so I can read something different. On the library eBook app are The Way Of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry, I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman and Keeping On Keeping On by Alan Bennett, though I’m not sure what one to read first. This week I have been working through Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix and the memoir of Tam Dalyell, who was a particularly unique Labour MP for West Lothian then Linlithgow from 1962 to 2005. Both are re-reads but both interesting in their way.

Eyemouth sculpture: a block with sculpted figures all along its length. Behind is a harbour wall and the sea.

This week Anabel Marsh has been writing about the East Coast fishing disaster in 1881. It had a horrific effect on Berwickshire, particularly Eyemouth, and having grown up in Dunbar, a few miles up the coast, I was aware of it too. It made me think about the history of that coast, fishing, smuggling and geology. Siccar Point is one of Hutton’s Uncomformities. There’s another one on Arran, I think. Fast Castle, high on a cliff, is the subject of one of my favourite paintings in the National Gallery of Scotland. Coldingham and St Abbs are both gorgeous places and I like to go to St Abbs once a year. St Abbs features one of the sculptures which commemorates the fishing disaster, showing people looking out to sea for the men who never came back. Eyemouth has more, on the front between the arcade and the harbour. History is all around us.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 9th May 2020. Thanks for reading. Loose Ends Redux returns on Wednesday and it’s entirely in Glasgow this time. There’s another odds and ends post of stuff from my inbox on Thursday. Until then, keep safe. Bye just now.


A gallimaufry

Why, hello,

Despite everything that’s happening, it’s possible to find some light and interest out there. It can be as little as a glance at a webcam or an online exhibition or some words to turn your world around, even temporarily. As ever, my inbox is rammed full of ideas I want to write about but haven’t got round to yet so here’s a selection of some of them.

As I write this, it is cloudy but not at all cold. Yesterday, Wednesday, was roasting hot and sunny and we haven’t managed a lot of rain recently. Ironic considering Glasgow’s reputation. Sean Batty, who presents the weather forecast on STV, Tweeted something which put a name to a mystery that I’ve pondered for years. I call it smelly rain, the rain hitting the pavements and the seeds, pollen and whatever that has accumulated there. This smell is actually called petrichor, which sounds like the name of some ghastly medicine or oil company. I can confirm that the day it rained for the first time in over a fortnight, there was indeed smelly rain. I’ve always liked smelly rain. It’s a valuable reminder of nature even deep into the city.

A leafy graveyard with a grey sky and a rainbow above.

Talking of nature, I saw an article which said that deer had been spotted on the Kings Buildings campus of Edinburgh University due to the lack of people going around. Kings Buildings is also near Blackford Hill and the Hermitage of Braid so the deer will probably have come from there. It’s in a growing trend of wildlife reclaiming our urban area, like goats in Wales as happened the other week. Strangely I haven’t seen the foxes which roam my local area lately.

Times like these are tough for everyone. The daily announcements of death can desensitise us to the broader crisis. There was an excellent article in The Guardian about how reading obituaries can help overcome that. Obituaries are an interesting form of writing. Sometimes I read them and wish I had heard about the subject when they were alive. I’m an humanist and I believe in very little except how we have to celebrate people, whether they’re here or not. No one is perfect but there are people doing incredible work and have fascinating stories out there. Each number in the stats is a person and their stories are worth knowing.

On a lighter note, I don’t think I’m alone in having eaten more snacks than normal lately. My current choice has been bacon rings. I think I’ve written here before about my great love of crisps. For various birthdays and Christmases, I’ve been given boxes of crisps, including the truly epic Tayto Beef and Onion, pretty much only available in Northern Ireland. Wonderfully, the erudite Prospect Magazine featured an article about the mighty Taytos recently, in the context of the UK’s exit from the European Union. (We don’t use the ‘B’ word.) There are two distinct brands of crisp called Tayto. One is from Northern Ireland, the other from the Republic. Both have their merits. The article goes from crisps into national identity and is well worth a read. 

Astonishingly, that’s only some of my inbox cleared so I think another one of these will appear next week. The Saturday Saunter will be back here on Saturday, of course, and Loose Ends Redux next Wednesday. Loose Ends stays in Glasgow next week. Until then, stay safe. Cheers just now.


Loose Ends Redux: Bachelors’ Club-The Meadows

Loose Ends Redux is back again. Our last instalment stopped in Bridgeton at the Glasgow Women’s Library. Today’s three adventures went forth from there, to Ayrshire, the bottom of Scotland and then back to the capital. Two were prompted by football.

Today’s places are:

Bachelors’ Club


The Meadows

Bachelors’ Club: a two-storey building, cream with dark red doors on the ground floor. An A-frame board advertises that this is the Bachelor’s Club.

The Bachelors’ Club is in Tarbolton, Ayrshire. I had never been there before and I hoped to get somewhere linked to Robert Burns. Jean Armour was referenced in the Glasgow Women’s Library, which led to Burns. I also liked the juxtaposition leading from the GWL to the Bachelors’ Club. The Bachelors’ Club was a social club of which Burns was a member. Their rooms, now managed by the National Trust for Scotland, have Burns artefacts and interesting interpretation.

Coldstream: looking down from a viewpoint to a winding river with trees on either side. A bridge with four arches is in the centre at the back of the image.

Burns also linked to Coldstream. He crossed the Tweed there to visit England for the first time and recited some words. I saw these on a board and knew I had a link. I was in Coldstream anyway for a pre-season friendly involving a Hibs XI and the link was just a bonus. Coldstream is a pleasant market town and I liked being there.

The Meadows: a path running through a park with trees on either side of the path. A tree’s shadow is across the image as it is a very sunny day.

If I remember rightly, the connection from Coldstream to the Meadows, a park in Edinburgh, came through football. Hibs played their first game there, on Christmas Day 1875 against Heart of Midlothian. I was there on a gorgeous July afternoon, in bright sunshine, and thought of links as I took the scenic route to watch Hibs play an European fixture. I had a McDonalds sitting in Lochend Park before going to the ground, if memory serves. I like the Meadows and have walked there many, many times, thinking, plotting, just looking. I have been there in the last couple of years, possibly the day I went to the Hermitage of Braid and around Blackford Hill last September.

Anyway, that’s another Loose Ends Redux. We will resume next week back in Glasgow. 19 of 63 Loose Ends links have happened in Glasgow so far. 14 in Edinburgh, 8 in East Lothian, 4 in Dundee, 4 in Fife, 3 in Paisley and 3 in East Dunbartonshire, all on the same day in that case. 4 castles, 2 palaces. Next week features two of the three cemeteries. Until then, keep well, keep safe. Cheers just now.