Saturday Saunter: Books and bird hides

Good Saturday to you,

It’s beginning to feel more like spring here in Glasgow. There’s more daylight, it has been fairly mild of late and the calendar has turned into March. While out walking I’ve seen a lot more crocuses and snowdrops, yellows, purples and whites. I like that. The utter cold and snow of a couple of weeks ago seems to have gone, which is undoubtedly a good thing. As this is posted, I might be out for a walk. Or not as I sometimes like a lie in. I’m writing this on Thursday night with Extraordinary Escapes with Sandi Toksvig on in the background. Sandi’s a good human.

I don’t know much about birds. I can recognise crows, robins, seagulls but not much in between. Birdwatching is an ever more popular pastime and one place people go to do that is by Loch Leven near Kinross, not to be confused with the other Loch Leven by Ballachullish. I read that the bird hide by Loch Leven was destroyed by a fire recently and that is sad. Loch Leven is beautiful, historically interesting and a place of nature despite being quite near the M90 motorway. People go there to rest and to find interest in the natural world. I’ve been to Loch Leven a couple of times, both on hot, summer’s days and the castle is one of the finest in Scotland, secluded on an island in the centre of the loch. I hope the crowdfunder to rebuild the hide achieves success for when people can travel to birdwatch once more.

It feels appropriate to have Sandi Toksvig on while thinking about Women’s History Month. The other day I watched a talk on Zoom presented by the National Library of Scotland about women walkers, featuring the author Dr Kerri Andrews and curator Paula Williams. It was interesting, talking a little about Nan Shepherd as well as other notable mountaineering women who I hadn’t heard of before. It prompted me to plonk one of my three copies of The Living Mountain back by my bedside – the slender white paperback one with a Dunbar Schools bookmark – and I’m looking forward to re-reading it soon. I’ve got a couple of books on the go just now and one of them is an audiobook of Made in Scotland by Billy Connolly, where funnily enough he talked about regularly re-reading his favourite book, Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, and buying copies for his friends and evangelising about it. I could relate.

I am writing this on World Book Day so it feels appropriate to write about what I’m reading. Billy Connolly, or at least his words read by Gordon Kennedy, has been my soundtrack to tidying and cleaning lately. I’ve got two other books on the go at present, Hibs Through and Through: The Eric Stevenson Story by Eric Stevenson and Tom Wright, which I’ve mentioned before and I’m enjoying, and Antlers of Water: Writing on the Nature and Environment of Scotland edited by Kathleen Jamie, which I started earlier and is also excellent, with a wheen of topics covered so far including radiation, wind turbines, red kites and ancient animals. The Eric Stevenson book is a decent one for before bed, the Antlers of Water more for the day. There seem to be good books for different types of day but I can’t quite explain which books fall into which category. I’ll have a think about that for next week.

Andrew Watson mural: a mural of a figure with crossed arms wearing a striped football jersey. There is a golden background with the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ to the bottom right.

After I finish those books, I’m going to read a new book I got recently, about Andrew Watson, the first black international footballer. He appears in a mural in Shawlands as well as on the side of the Hampden Bowling Club, the first Hampden. I was prompted to buy it after listening to a virtual tour of Hampden last week and I’m looking forward to reading it soon.

In a week when Scottish politics has been particularly toxic, one positive has been the debate on Thursday for International Women’s Day.

Also, I would like to share the excellent video shared by Dundee United FC in honour of World Book Day. Books and football are quite a combination.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 6th March 2021. Thanks for reading. There will be a post on Wednesday, possibly about a river, possibly not. Any suggestions are welcome. Until then, a very good morning to you all.

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