Welcome to another instalment of Loose Ends Redux. This will be slightly different. I’ve decided to make a change and so over the next two weeks I’m going to post two quite long posts of recollections from the rest of the Loose Ends series before embarking on a new virtual adventure.
Today’s post will therefore include:
The Desperate Dan statue stands in the centre of Dundee. Desperate Dan was a cowboy who appeared in the Dandy comic produced by DC Thomson. He liked cow pies and had a dog called Dawg, who also appears behind him in this statue. I’ve always liked Desperate Dan and his statue, claiming him to be a style icon since I always seem to have stubble of some kind and am partial to a pie or two or a peh or twa, as they would say in Dundee. I consider comics to be literature and I think that was the connection with Leakey’s Bookshop in Inverness. This one was a wee sneaky Loose Ends. I had stayed over in Dundee on the Friday night after football and was heading on the Saturday morning for a quick trip up to Aberdeen.
The Charles Rennie Mackintosh statue stands on the corner of St. Vincent Street and Argyle Street in a fairly new housing development. I quite like it though personally feel that Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh should have appeared with him. It’s a statue, so is the one of Desperate Dan. I often combine a few blog things in one and did this the same day as I did the following connection and the Streets of Glasgow posts on St. Vincent Street and Argyle Street.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh has a whole section of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to himself so he connected quite dandily with my favourite painting, which also hangs in Kelvingrove. Hopefully soon I will get a few minutes in front of it. ‘Paps of Jura’ is by William McTaggart and hangs in a stairwell at Kelvingrove. It was painted in Kintyre, looking towards Jura and its distinctive hills, called ‘paps’ because they resemble breasts. There are quite a few so-called hills in Scotland. It is a gorgeous seascape and I make a point of getting a few minutes to look at the waves every time I’m at Kelvingrove.
Loose Ends: Bilsdean was a hard one to come up with. I also wanted to do something to mark the blog’s 600th post (we are on 760 as I write this). I had tried to make Kintyre happen, the subject of ‘Paps of Jura’ by William McTaggart, my favourite painting in Kelvingrove, but it wasn’t to be. In the end I kept an art connection and went to Bilsdean Beach, subject of a particularly lovely Glasgow Boys painting by Arthur Melville. Due to the vagaries of Sunday buses, I had to be very careful how I made this one happen. I got the bus to Cockburnspath then walked up to Dunglass Collegiate Church, a rather fine ruined church, then down by the waterfall to the beach. There were one or two walkers floating about. The view was particularly fine, looking right to St. Abbs Head, left less scenic to Torness Power Station. I sat for a while, scribbled some notes, etched 600 in the sand then left.
The Bridge to Nowhere is a place I know very well. It is in Belhaven Bay, near Dunbar, and is cut off at high tide, leading from a car park to the beach. It’s appeared in lots of paintings, photographs and even album covers and music posters. This trip was quite sunny, if memory serves. I walked over the bridge, took some photographs, sauntered for a bit on the beach then headed back.
Dirleton Castle connected because it’s in East Lothian too. Dirleton is a particularly fine medieval castle near North Berwick, home to three families over the years. It has its own bowling green and there is a village green in Dirleton too, an unusual touch in Scotland. It was quite cloudy that day, a few weeks after the Bilsdean and Belhaven adventures, though the views over the East Lothian countryside were quite unimpeded.
The Marjorie Bruce cairn, which commemorates where Robert the Bruce’s sister fell off her horse and died, is in Gallowhill in Paisley. I did this one walking from my work into Paisley. It sits in a housing estate and usually you can smell fried chicken from the KFC across the way. It connected with Dirleton because both are of interest to medievalists, I think. This post actually gets quite a few views through search engines, interestingly. Reading it back just now, it’s actually one of the best in this series, particularly as it is notably anti-monarchy. I had my tongue firmly in my cheek writing that one.
The democracy cairn sits on Calton Hill, which has of course appeared in Loose Ends before. The series doesn’t have many rules but repeating a place automatically ends the series, as does going back to its first connecting place, Aberdour Castle. The reason why I make the connection quite specific is because I can use multiple things in the same general area. I learned that for the later Loose Ends connections. Dunfermline and Coldstream are gubbed, for example, because those posts were about the towns and not just one place in them. Anyway, the cairn was put on the southern end of Calton Hill to mark the campaign for home rule in Scotland. From there can be seen the Scottish Parliament, the ultimate result of that campaign. The cairn contains quite a few stones from different places or commemorating different people, including Jane Haining, the only Scot known to have died in the Holocaust.
John Frederic Bateman was an engineer who worked to get clean water for Glasgow in the 19th century. His work led to the Mugdock Reservoir and 26 miles of tunnels between there and Loch Katrine, quite an endeavour. A monument to him, a plaque on a slab, really, sits by Mugdock Reservoir and I saw it while walking up there last Easter. It was a gorgeous sunny day and I was enjoying my walk. The connection with the cairn on Calton Hill came simply because it was a monument.
Craigmaddie Gauge Basin is lovely, part of the Craigmaddie Reservoir, the newer of the two reservoirs just north of Milngavie which give Glasgow much of its drinking water. It connected with the John Frederic Bateman monument because of its shared history and geography. It was very photogenic and one of the photos is on a screensaver of mine to this day.
Bearsden Bathhouse was a place I had wanted to go for a very long time, since high school, the remains of a Roman bathhouse, used by soldiers stationed on the Antonine Wall. It sits in the midst of modern housing and I had it to myself for a wee while as I wandered, took photos and sat under a tree for a bit. It connected to Craigmaddie because it’s near Craigmaddie. Simples.
I knew I wanted to end at the flagpole at Queen’s Park in Glasgow. The last round had ended on Calton Hill in Edinburgh and I realised ending in a place with a synoptic view was a good shout. Queen’s Park connected with Bearsden as while I couldn’t see it from the flagpole, I could see Glasgow University, whose Hunterian Museum houses a considerable Roman collection. I was knackered as it had been a busy and very warm day, with a Streets of Glasgow walk still to be fitted in while in the area. I was glad to have Loose Ends done for a little while and felt it was the right place to pause, looking over this great city.
The second Queen’s Park visit, to start the third round of Loose Ends, was on a cooler August day. The next connection, Caledonia Road Church, could be seen and I decided on that fairly swiftly. I always like a trip to Queen’s Park. Being able to see a great swathe of the city, being both in it and out of it, always appeals.
That’s another Loose Ends Redux done. The next one will be next week and it will be another lengthy post containing the entirety of the third round of Loose Ends, beginning at Caledonia Road Church. Until then, cheers just now.