Saturday Saunter: Books and vennels

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Monday night. We’re getting earlier in the week again. It’s about half past eight as I start this and it’s a bit windy tonight. There’s a blue sky strewn with grey clouds out my window in suburban Glasgow. In the background is a Jay Foreman video from YouTube. Earlier today I had a wander in Gleniffer Braes Country Park, just south of Paisley, enjoying the views from the Robertson Car Park right across much of western Scotland. I hadn’t been there before and we had a good time picking out familiar landmarks. I always like a synoptic view.

I like a Scots word now and then and one came across my radar earlier, via Scottish Language Dictionaries, is vennel, which is an alleyway or close. The context was that there are some streets called The Vennel in Dumfries and Galloway though there is one near the East Beach in Dunbar, where I grew up. Also in Edinburgh near the Grassmarket. It’s a nice word, almost French in appearance.

I’ve read a fair bit lately. There’s been some audiobooks in the mix, including A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson which I think I was listening to writing this post last week, and the excellent The Lost Words by Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane, a smattering of beautiful natural words narrated by Guy Garvey, Benjamin Zephaniah, Cerys Matthews and Edith Bowman. I’ve also read two books by YA writer Alice Oseman, Solitaire, which features her webcomic Heartstopper‘s main players Nick and Charlie as background characters, and Loveless, which is brand new and set in Durham, which is always a plus. I also read the excellent Imagine A Country, a series of essays about what sort of country Scotland should be, edited by Val McDermid and Jo Sharp. Some of the essays were a bit wooly, others easily implementable. Some authors were more amenable to independence than others, all imagining a country with a broader mind and perspective. On paper I have Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells A Story by Michael Rosen, a history of each letter of the English alphabet in turn.

Prestwick Beach: looking over a seaweed-strewn beach over fairly calm water towards hills on the horizon beneath a dark grey cloudy sky.

I also got to the sea the other day. We stopped at Prestwick Beach and had a quick daunder, just enough to see and hear waves and look across the Firth of Clyde towards Arran. It was just enough to clear my head and satisfy my urges.

This week’s article to make us think is an interview with the Labour MP Dawn Butler who has suffered no end of abuse and vandalism of her constituency office. Whatever your politics, that is disgusting.

I realise I used the word ‘daunder’ earlier. Sometimes spelled ‘dauner‘, particularly here in Glasgow, it means a saunter or wander. Always happy to oblige.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 18th July 2020. Thanks for reading. As I post this, I will probably be wandering in one or other of this city’s fine parks. Hope you have a good weekend. Next Wednesday will be another instalment of the Virtual Loose Ends and that will involve churches, trees, canals and sports arenas. Until then, keep safe. A very good morning. Peace.

8 thoughts on “Saturday Saunter: Books and vennels

  1. Alli Templeton

    I wondered when I read ‘daunder’ for the first time if that was another of your lovely Scottish words. I guessed what it meant, and I can imagine Prestwick Beach would be a beautiful place to have a quick daunder around. We also did that this week, heading down to the south coast for a couple of days and did a lot of daundering by the sea! It helped us, and I’m glad it helped you too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Vennel does come from French – vennelle, meaning an allayway but how they came to use it in Dumfries, goodness knows! I was always familiar with it from childhood, probably because Friars Vennel in Dumfries had a great toyshop!

    Liked by 1 person

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