I know I wrote a post about Lanes of Glasgow a year or two ago but I couldn’t resist this one, especially since it counts as a street too. I’ve always quite liked the twinkly lights across Sauchiehall Lane, street art and all, and there were a few people sitting outside an Irish bar on the lane. A van was being unloaded as I stepped right, looking at a woman’s face, heavy eyelids closed. A guy with a guitar was depicted high up the wall to the right, eyes behind sunglasses, tattooed arms above hands strumming a brown electric guitar. I realised I was at the back of Waterstones and could roughly figure out which shops I was at the back of. I walked across the road and took in the rest of the lane, much dingier and ending with railings and a car park beyond. Not much but worth a look all the same.
Thanks for reading. This is the one hundred and first Streets of Glasgow post here on Walking Talking. Other nearby streets which have featured here include Sauchiehall Street and Rose Street, which will be here next week. The Streets of Glasgow page features links to the other posts in the series.
The 100th Streets of Glasgow walk and I crowdsourced for ideas for this one. I got an idea and it felt right. This series was conceived as a way to learn more about Glasgow, my adopted home, and its history. Ladywell Street worked. One of the oldest streets in Glasgow and with some history, the site of a 13th century well closed off when the Necropolis was built. There is a monument to it, a black well with a smart top and a lion on the front. The monument sits in an alcove declaring that the Lady Well had been restored in 1836 and rebuilt in 1874 by the Merchants House of Glasgow. It was restored once more by Tennent Caledonian Breweries in 1983. That bit’s important as it sits right at the back of the Tennents brewery and the air was thick with its product. Barrels upon barrels stood at the other side of the gate but I was happy to move on since I don’t like beer. A water fountain, a gift in 1860 from James Crum of Busby, stood at the head of the street as did a Glasgow City Council security van. Its occupants didn’t pay me heed, thankfully. I looked round and I couldn’t see a street sign declaring this to be Ladywell Street. The maps say so and there is a sign pointing to the well but not saying what street it is, a rare lapse. It is a side street leading into the back of a brewery with a big cemetery wall to the left and fences to the right. It had cottages once, at least in 1902, but not now. There isn’t much to see beside the monument, which is definitely worth the diversion. But there should still be a sign. I thought I could have pulled a page out of my notebook and made a makeshift one but I decided against it. As I researched this one, I realised the old mill buildings nearby on Duke Street were called the Ladywell, as is the housing scheme across the street, so the name’s still out there even if there isn’t a street sign.
Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written long in advance on a sunny August day. Our theme today is ten favourite castles, mostly in Scotland, one in England. I particularly like ruined castles and understandably this list has seven of them. In no particular order, then, we’ll start with…
Stirling – my favourite big castle with an incredible view across much of central Scotland. It has some beautiful buildings and gardens but the view wins.
Blackness – another place with a great view up and down the Firth of Forth. It was a royal prison designed to look like the prow of a ship.
Tantallon – a proper ruined castle on a cliff. Red sandstone with an unrivalled view to the Bass Rock and over East Lothian as far as St. Abbs Head.
Hailes Castle – another East Lothian castle, under Traprain Law and by the mighty river Tyne. It once belonged to the Earl of Bothwell. It’s a nice, chilled out place.
Dunbar – a ruin seen from below. Not much left but it’s iconic and near where I grew up. Quite an incredible history.
Dunstanburgh – a dramatic ruin on a cliff in Northumberland between Craster and Embleton. It’s all about the setting.
Culzean – another place about the setting. Great views with a beautiful building and gardens.
Doune – I like Doune. It has links to Monty Python and Outlander. It’s a nice ruin over a river. We have a few of those, like Bothwell.
St. Andrews – St. Andrews Castle has a great edifice, looking like a proper castle. It is by the sea. There’s a mine and countermine to explore.
Caerlaverock – a proper castle with a moat and towers. It’s in the middle of a nature reserve not far from the border.
Anyway, that is the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 18th September 2021. Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow is back on Wednesday. No Saturday Saunter next week so this will be back in a fortnight. Until next time, mar sin leibh.
Wishart Street started at the junction with Alexandra Parade where a big advertising screen did its stuff for capitalism. I bristled at the advert for clothes featuring the cast of Love Island, a group of people not known for wearing many of them, and not for the first time resented that perhaps maybe, just maybe, people could celebrate personality and not just how people look. As I walked I thought about George Wishart, the Protestant reformer who I thought the street was named after. I knew he had been executed in the 1540s but it was only when I got home that I realised it was 1546. I sometimes get my Protestant reformers confused. The back of the Royal Infirmary stretched out to my right, the more modern maternity wing followed by the 19th century main hospital. Folk were getting picked up and dropped off. Babies were probably born as I passed but I was very much in the present. Colourful posters called for power tae the key workers and I have no argument on that score. An old sign on a lamppost declared this area a risk for thieves or so said Strathclyde Police sponsored by the Glasgow Angling Centre, quite a combination. Gold-topped railings started and the Necropolis started to my left, graves and memorials at the bottom of the hill. I thought it was an attractive, secluded place to have a grave. A memorial to William Wallace stood on its own further on and I had another reminder of the Bell o’ the Brae, the street that used to be at the other side of the Cathedral. The Council grass cutters had been out in the Necropolis as the grass was strewn with cuttings and leavings. Joy. I had only seen Wishart Street from the Bridge of Sighs before and there it stood before me, an elegant passage from the city to the Necropolis. The lights underneath weren’t lit since it was the middle of the day. As I came to the junction, I felt cheered up by my walk on a street mainly dominated by stuff around it, the beginnings of life as well as its ending.
Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, again being written on a Sunday morning. This might be the new time to scrieve right enough. On in the background is a Hidden London Hangout on YouTube and before that was the last day of the Paralympics. Channel 4 have done a superb job covering the Paralympics with insightful features and commentary which didn’t patronise or reduce everything to being inspirational. I’m going to miss having live sport on before I go to work in the morning, as was also the case with the Olympics. As this is being posted, I will be having a chill day, which should be good.
Our sermon today is about constancy. No, of course, it’s not. I just had a Simpsons line in my head and felt like it was a good way to begin. I read a story the other day about how doctors in Brussels are prescribing visits to museums to help with mental health. I think that’s a great idea. I found my first museum visit after the first lockdown, which might have been Kelvingrove, was excellent. Being able to be in a dear, familiar place just made things feel more normal, calmer. I was in the Hunterian Art Gallery the other weekend and it was good to just walk in the door, let alone to enjoy its current exhibitions about Whistler and Joan Eardley, which are well worth going to see. By and large I have felt safer and happier in museums than many other public spaces since the first lockdown finished but that was the case even before the pandemic. I hope this initiative helps people at Brugmann Hospital and beyond.
I also read an excellent book the other day, Mind Games by Neville Southall, which went well beyond a footballer’s memoir and talked about so many issues which affect footballers and wider society, from addiction to sexuality, abuse to self-confidence. It is an important book and one which could be so easily dismissed as being about football when it goes far beyond. I have a long to-read list but last night I just looked at some football pictures published in past issues of Nutmeg magazine as that was all my attention span could deal with. Next is a book I bought years ago but am only now getting round to, Connemara: Listening to the wind by Tim Robinson. I’m going between nature writing and sport at the moment, which is working quite well.
Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 11th September 2021. Thanks for reading as ever. Streets of Glasgow returns on Wednesday and it’s post 99 with mention of Love Island and the Reformation. Why not? Until next time, then, madainn mhath.
When working out which streets to cover for this series, I sometimes do a bit of research. I look at books or maps now and then while other times I just wing it. What I didn’t know until the night before this walk was that there are in fact three Castle Streets in Glasgow. My Pevsner’s guide mentions two of them. One is in Townhead, another in Partick and the third in a housing scheme in Baillieston. For the avoidance of doubt, I found myself on the Townhead version, starting by the Barony Hall, confused as I was doing the High Street walk as to where my street actually started. I deduced it was outside the Barony Hall and so I began. My soundtrack was the sound of construction work on the Strathclyde University buildings to my left though I was able to stop and read the plaque about the Alms House. The statue of William of Orange stood in Cathedral Square to my right as I walked, a couple of recent wreaths at its feet suggesting it was August, even if Orange walks hadn’t happened due to Covid restrictions over the summer. The Provand’s Lordship remained firmly shut as I passed the oldest house in Glasgow and I remembered a decent visit there a couple of summers ago. Workers from the nearby Royal Infirmary sat in the precinct in front of the Cathedral, talking and eating lunch. I passed a red traffic cone lying in the grass, perhaps from the roadworks on the nearby motorway and maybe soon to adorn the statue of the Duke of Wellington outside GoMA. The Royal Infirmary just looks like a hospital from Castle Street, imposing, brown, Victorian, with modern additions behind and to the side. In front is a busy traffic junction and much of my walk was spent navigating it. The angular tower adjoining the car park is smart with a statue of a man, which seems to be Christ giving sight to a blind child. It once housed the Blind Asylum, memorably described in my Pevsner’s guide as ‘excruciatingly Franco-Flemish, with a spire bristling gargoyles’. That’s still better than the grey, concrete multi-storey car park next door and the motorway curving in multiple ways in front of me. I turned left and walked under the motorway heading to Royston Road where Castle Street eventually ended. Once the Townhead Library stood on this part of the street but it is no longer. It is a particularly brutalist end of one of the great streets of Glasgow.
Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Sunday morning, late enough that the sun is up and breakfast TV has been and gone, thankfully. On in the background is Match of the Day, an unusual choice for me because Hibernian FC, the top team in Scotland at time of writing, isn’t on, but it’s all right in the background. I’m writing this on a new computer and for some reason it isn’t using keyboard shortcuts when I want to italicise, which is a pain but never mind. Unusually I don’t have much of an idea what to write, only that writing this post now will save doing it during the week.
We’re getting towards autumn though as I write this in the last days of August, we are having something of a heatwave. I never used to like autumn and the shorter days I still despise but the autumn colours almost make up for it. It’s been good this summer to be able to roam that bit further here in Scotland though caution is still very much the order of the day, especially with the high Covid case numbers here in recent days. Look after yourselves, folks. Ca’ canny. September is often a good month weather-wise so hopefully some nice days lie ahead just to be out in the world.
But first some reading. Last weekend I started re-reading my favourite book, The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, taking it with me on a trip to Dundee. I re-read it every year or so and it’s beside me even while my to-read pile is only growing. Next on the list will probably be one by Neville Southall, Mind Games, which delves into the broader issues around football.
I posted the 32 areas Saturday Saunter post here last week and there will be more of those types of posts in the coming weeks and months, as I will probably have much less time and energy to write more often, unfortunately. One might have to focus on some of my favourite views. I was just looking through my recent photos and came across two from a fleeting visit to Portobello, one looking towards the East Lothian coast, the other towards Inchkeith and Fife. North Berwick Law was almost golden in the sunshine and the clouds were something out of a dramatic landscape painting.
Anyway, that is the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 4th September 2021. Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow returns on Wednesday and it is Castle Street. But, which one? Until then, madainn mhath.
Renfrew Street comes with a back story. I had planned to do this street about two years ago. I walked its length on the way home from an exam and decided that I would go back and tick it off the list for Streets of Glasgow. One week later there was a big fire which decimated the Glasgow School of Art and spread to the ABC on Sauchiehall Street. The stretch between Scott Street and Hill Street, which houses the GSA, is still closed off with scaffolding and construction workers everywhere. On a sunny summer’s day I decided to see how it was going. I came across the M8 and saw a cool bit of street art all about love. It is all we need, after all. There were some ghost signs including one for FW Woolworth and Co. Ltd. Some other art stated ‘Lest We Forget’ with a silhouette of a soldier. Renfrew Street was closed off near the GSA, as I mentioned, so I diverted and soon returned as it left Garnethill and became much more of a city centre back street. The Pavilion Theatre had posters about how laughter and pantomime will return soon and it may have done by the time this is posted as restrictions change. The big Cineworld was open, a Test and Protect poster at the door in a sign of the times, and I looked back up the familiar, long, straight street, in the midst of the busy city centre but shaded by the high buildings. Long city streets are my favourite kind.