Saturday Saunter: Books and dear, familiar places

Good Saturday to you,

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.

Saturday Saunter: Autumn, books and views

Good Saturday to you,

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.

Portobello Beach looking towards East Lothian: a beach with railings in the foreground and groynes separating the parts of the beach. In the distance is a coastline moving to the centre with some hills and fields.​
Portobello Beach looking towards East Lothian: a beach with railings in the foreground and groynes separating the parts of the beach. In the distance is a coastline moving to the centre with some hills and fields.

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.

Saturday Saunter: Essentials, the Makar and a castle

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, posted a wee bit earlier than normal since it’s a working Saturday. I’m writing this quite late on Wednesday night and I just heard a car go past my window. I often think better late at night but reserve this time for reading or watching some good TV. My laptop suddenly declared it needed a charge so have turned to my iPad to continue this week’s musings.

One of the best places I visited recently was a hidden corner by the Union Canal near Linlithgow. It had prayer flags, cushions and a space to meditate, a magical place where I could feel the peace dropping slow. In the last few weeks I’ve encountered a few new, interesting and beguiling places, a pleasing change from not being able to venture far for much of the last year or so.

In recent months it has become more acceptable to just avoid the news as much as possible, for self care as much as anything else. The news from Afghanistan this week has been particularly horrific and it is a reminder why knowing about history and thinking in the round is crucial. I try to understand the essentials of the news and leave the rest. Social media has been particularly dire this week – the maxim that opinions are like backsides holds true – and I am ever more tempted to keep it to football, books and castles and block and mute the rest. Plus maybe sources of good food and bookshops.

In book news I was really happy to read that Kathleen Jamie is the new Scots Makar or national poet, succeeding Jackie Kay, Liz Lochhead and Edwin Morgan in that august position. Kathleen Jamie is a superb and perceptive writer, writing incisive poetry and prose. I’ve read more of her essays, most recently Surfacing, though her last poetry collection accompanied me to Cambridge about five years ago. She is the right voice for our times bringing environmental awareness and appreciation as well as a keen eye for people and their quirks. I heard her speak at the Edinburgh Book Festival two years ago and it was the best night I’ve spent there. She’s a great choice.

Talking of Edinburgh, I was bemused by the recent protest at the Castle which involved about 30 people storming the place citing the Magna Carta as they went, as sensible as those who went to Television Centre in London not realising the BBC now do the news about five miles away and have done so for about a decade. The Magna Carta has never applied in Scotland and I gather that the bit these folk mentioned in the name of freedom was repealed (in England where it actually had effect) in 1216. Research goes a long way, folks. Edinburgh Castle is also a barracks with actual soldiers too so the Magna Carta wouldn’t get anyone very far.

Anyway, that is the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 21st August 2021. Thanks for reading, commenting and following. Streets of Glasgow is back on Wednesday and we’re back in the West End. Have a good weekend, one and all. Until next time, tìoraidh an-dràsta.

Saturday Saunter: Magic leaves

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Monday night. In the background I have the launch of the Walter Scott 250 programme from Saturday, which is presented by Brian Taylor from Abbotsford. I went to Abbotsford a couple of summers ago and unsurprisingly the library is my abiding memory of the place, wood panelled yet well lit with an excellent vista over the Tweed. The launch featured a light show on Smailholm Tower, which I also visited a couple of years ago, and I have good memories of that place with a fine view over the surrounding hills and fields. I have a considerable backlog of videos and talks to catch up with and maybe I’ll manage some more of these over the weekend since Hibs aren’t in action.

Smailholm Tower: a tower house stood on a rock with a dramatic cloudy sky behind.​
Smailholm Tower: a tower house stood on a rock with a dramatic cloudy sky behind.

I’ve managed to work through a lot of my to-read list in recent weeks and finished two of the books I was working through, Hidden London and Hibs Through and Through: The Eric Stevenson Story. I have immersed myself in the various hidden places under London recently through the Hidden London Hangouts on YouTube and this book accompanies them, produced by some of the contributors from those videos who work at the London Transport Museum. It is a decent blend of photographs and historical details, delving into the growth of London and how it was ravaged by war. The most recent Hidden London Hangout, meanwhile, featured a place which I visited last year, the Mail Rail, the underground railway system which conveyed post under the streets of London. The Eric Stevenson book was very different though no less interesting in talking of the Hibs teams of the 1960s and 1970s. I have two books on the go now, plus an audiobook which I’ve been listening to as well. The audiobook is Ask An Astronaut by Tim Peake, which discusses Peake’s mission to the International Space Station as well as the behind-the-scenes bits about being an astronaut. I’m not far in and it’s seven hours long so it might be on the go for a while. I’m re-reading The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane, which I read for the first time about ten years ago. Macfarlane is one of my favourite writers and it felt like time to revisit his older works. The book I started tonight is From The Jaws Of Victory: A History of Football’s Nearly Men, edited by Adam Bushby and Rob MacDonald, an anthology of writings about football teams who nearly got there, with contributions from some of the best football writers out there, including Nicky Bandini, Giancarlo Rinaldi and Patrick Barclay. I’ve just started the first piece, about Bolton Wanderers in 1953, and it’s set to be a good one. I like to read a variety of different books – it keeps things interesting.

‘These are magic leaves we spread’. That was a phrase in the Walter Scott video of Smailholm Tower and I wholly agree with that. My love of reading is just as acute now as it was when I was a child, if not more so. Next in my to watch list on YouTube video is a short talk about relics of St. Cuthbert held at Durham Cathedral, a place Scott wrote about, randomly enough.

It has been cooler today than recent days, a colder wind blowing. The daffodils are coming out, though, and that’s a good symbol of spring, as is the reappearance of hayfever remedies in my house, unfortunately. The combination of nice weather and the potential of restrictions easing felt right.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 27th March 2021. Thanks for reading. As ever, I’m not sure what I’ll be posting on Wednesday. It might be about a waterway but I don’t know yet. Until then, cheers just now.

Saturday Saunter: Maps, bings and books

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Tuesday night. It’s been a beautiful day here in Glasgow, sunny and quite pleasantly warm. Very Spring-like. Whether it will still be like that on Saturday as this is posted, who knows. I imagine as this is posted that I will be easing my way into the day gently before watching the football. As well as the Livingston-Hibs game, this weekend sees the return of League 1 and League 2 in Scotland after a couple of months hiatus, undoubtedly a good thing and more relevant than a certain game taking place at Parkhead this weekend.

Rosshall Park: a still pond surrounded by trees.​
Rosshall Park: a still pond surrounded by trees.

Maps have helped many of us through the last year of not being able to travel as much as we might like. I have a few, including a decent wedge of Ordnance Survey maps covering most of Scotland. Hopefully I will be able to use some after 26th April. The Ordnance Survey seem to have had a similar thought, taking the opportunity to ask its mailing list’s subscribers where they want to walk to once lockdown has concluded. Plus sell them maps. As for me, I will be consulting the Urban Nature map of Glasgow that I acquired recently and seeing where I could go for a walk in the meantime. For example, I had a very cool walk in Rosshall Park the other day and it felt a lot further out of the city than it actually is. Over the last year I have got to know some incredible places here in the city and even when it is possible to travel, I hope to still be a regular in quite a few of Glasgow’s fine parks.

The Guardian published an article about the bings of West Lothian, heaps of spoil from industrial workings that dominate the landscape, visible from the motorway and the railway. West Lothian is quite a fascinating part of the world, encompassing both the old Royal Burgh of Linlithgow, birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, born in the Palace by the Peel and Loch, and the New Town of Livingston, with its many roundabouts and football team who play at a stadium named after an Italian restaurant. The bings symbolise the depth of industrial history of the area, of shale and coal mining, and the Shale Trail looks like it will be a good addition to the area, using modern technology to tell the tales of the local area as people walk or cycle along the 16-mile route.

I’ve read quite a bit in the last few days. I’ve finished Nick Hewer’s autobiography and Antlers of Water, the anthology of Scottish nature writing I started last week. Antlers of Water is immense, very varied with poetry and all parts of Scotland covered by its various writers. Nick Hewer I enjoyed more as I got going as he talked about his journeys to farflung parts of the globe including Mongolia and Sierra Leone. I’ve been working between two books this week, the Eric Stevenson book I started a couple of weeks ago and Hidden London, about the abandoned and disused parts of the London Underground. My to-read shelf has two football books and a nature book so we’ll see I’m in the mood for next.

Before I go today, I’ve been thinking about how to write about the news of the weekend. I came to the conclusion that my voice is much less relevant than those of others. One is the mother of Moira Jones, who made a thoughtful statement on Tuesday.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 20th March 2021. Thanks for reading. A post will follow on Wednesday but I’m not sure what that’ll be just yet. Until then, cheers just now.

Saturday Saunter: Books and Glasgow views

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Tuesday night. It’s been much milder the last couple of days and the snow has melted, which even for me is a good thing. As this is being written I will probably be having a lie in before watching the football later. It’s been a long two weeks since Hibs were last in action, too long.

I’m in one of those modes where I’ve started a whole bunch of books but haven’t finished any of them yet. At current count, I have Nick Hewer’s autobiography, Snapshot by Daniel Gray and Alan McCredie, Rob Roy And All That by Allan Burnett and an audiobook of Alice in Wonderland read by Alan Bennett. I think Alice in Wonderland will be finished first – it was a decent soundtrack for cleaning earlier – and it’s got about 45 minutes left. Nick Hewer is the outgoing host of Countdown, soon to be succeeded by Anne Robinson, and his memoir is arranged by letters rather than chronology. Snapshot I’ve written about before and Rob Roy And All That is a Horrible Histories-type book about one of Scottish history’s foremost figures and one I don’t know much about.

Aberlady Bay: a beach with sand dunes to the left. The sky has low cloud. The sea and land are out to the left in the distance.
Aberlady Bay: a beach with sand dunes to the left. The sky has low cloud. The sea and land are out to the left in the distance.
Hermitage House: a two level house with crenellated battlements. In front is a picnic area and sundial. All around are trees.
Hermitage House: a two level house with crenellated battlements. In front is a picnic area and sundial. All around are trees.
View from Dundee Law to Tannadice and Dens Park: looking from a hill and a trig point over a cityscape including two football grounds towards hills.
View from Dundee Law to Tannadice and Dens Park: looking from a hill and a trig point over a cityscape including two football grounds towards hills.
Falkirk Wheel: looking side-on to a hydraulic boat lift, with cogs and circular motions. There is a low sun to the bottom left.
Falkirk Wheel: looking side-on to a hydraulic boat lift, with cogs and circular motions. There is a low sun to the bottom left.
Bellahouston Park: looking down from a raised white wall over parkland towards trees and a block of flats.
Bellahouston Park: looking down from a raised white wall over parkland towards trees and a block of flats.

The other night I was catching up with The Sunday Times from the weekend, which featured 32 Scottish walks, one from every local authority. East Lothian’s was Aberlady Bay and Gullane Point – one of the finest walks in Scotland – and Edinburgh had the Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill, also very fine. Dundee has the Law from Discovery Point and I’m also familiar with Falkirk’s, involving the Falkirk Wheel and the Antonine Wall, and Castle Campbell and Dollar Glen in Clackmannanshire. All of these are historically interesting, picturesque in many cases. Glasgow featured the street art in the city centre. Don’t get me wrong. We have some incredible murals and street art in Glasgow but we also have many, many fine parks, some of which are lesser-known than others. There are fine views right across the city from Bellahouston, the Necropolis, Tollcross and the Forth and Clyde Canal, amongst others. We have rivers and burns, castles and much else besides, all within the boundaries of the largest city in the nation.

About a year ago I was in London for a few days. It feels like much more than twelve months have passed since I was there. I’ve been binging Hidden London Hangouts produced by the London Transport Museum, featuring discussion of old and disused Underground stations and other transport locales in the metropolis. It’s a really innovative way to fulfil their remit and it includes those of us who don’t get to London very often but remain interested in its hidden places.

Another interesting article I read was by the mighty Mary Beard, talking about witchcraft and abuse on social media. There’s been too many stories lately about folk getting abuse and even death threats on social media, including footballers and football managers, academics, politicians and people trying to share interesting things and thoughts. It honestly eludes me why people would prefer to vent and cause harm rather than just switching off their devices or scrolling on when things annoy them.

Our different perspective for today comes from Glasgow University. The Hunterian Museum has appointed Zandra Yeaman as its Curator of Discomfort. She has the specific remit to change institutional attitudes about its collections and their links to slavery and colonialism.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 20th February 2021. Thanks for reading, commenting and following. It’s appreciated. A post about the Tweed will be here on Wednesday though I’m running out of rivers I have enough to blether about. Any suggestions will be gratefully received. Until then, a very good morning to you all.

Since this was written, I can confirm that Rob Roy and All That was finished first. Alice as read by Alan Bennett has been dispatched too.

Saturday Saunter: Books, walls and roads blocking sculptures

Good morning,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on a dismal Thursday. I have not a scooby what I’ll be doing when this is posted though I imagine I might be out for a walk somewhere. As I start this, I have a Robson Green documentary on in the background. He’s walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall, from east to west, and it’s been all right. I’ve been to a few parts of Hadrian’s Wall and it is showing the rugged landscape particularly well.

Model of the Angel of the North in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge - a silhouetted model of a figure with two large wings protruding from either side. The model is in front of a big window and is also reflected on the walls on either side of it.​
Model of the Angel of the North in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge – a silhouetted model of a figure with two large wings protruding from either side. The model is in front of a big window and is also reflected on the walls on either side of it.

Staying in the north of England, the sculptor Antony Gormley isn’t happy that proposed upgrades to the A1 just south of Newcastle will stop people from properly seeing his best known work, the Angel of the North. I’m not a big fan of Gormley’s work but I do like the Angel of the North, which can be seen from the A1 as well as the East Coast railway line. It’s striking and brings people to the area, as well as being a landmark when travelling north reassuring the weary passenger that home is relatively near. Highways England has said that they will seek to ‘minimise the effect on the landscape’ so who knows what will happen? Hopefully some decent views will still be had.

I read a fair bit though lately I haven’t had much of a plan for what I wanted to read. The last book I finished was a profile of the last ten Prime Ministers by Steve Richards, which was half decent. I don’t have anything in particular lined up. I read a fair few book blogs and I know they have been going into the most exciting books that will come out this year. To be honest, the only book coming out this year which I’m looking forward to reading is the memoir of Pat Nevin, a former footballer. I have a significantly sized pile from last year and probably previous years too, so new books might not feature too much for a while. Near the top is The Unremembered Places: Exploring Scotland’s Wild Histories by Patrick Baker, which I got for Christmas, as is an anthology of Scottish nature writing edited by Kathleen Jamie, Antlers of Water. Also near my bed at the moment are Hibs Through and Through: The Eric Stevenson Story, about a Hibs player who played in the 1960s, and The Little Book of Humanism by Andrew Copson and Alice Roberts, which seems more for delving into than reading from end to end. I usually go with whatever I am in the mood for so I might continue with Snapshot by Daniel Gray and Alan McCredie for the next few days.

Our different perspective today is from the historian Christine Whyte who shared some resources to help folk read more about Scotland’s imperial history. Knowing where to start definitely helps.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 30th January 2021. Thanks for reading. There will hopefully be something here on Wednesday. Until then, cheers for now.

Books and pictures

Good evening,

For want of anything else to post tonight, I’ve got a post in the Saturday Saunter discursive vein. Hopefully I’ll have enough left in the tank for Saturday! I’m writing this on Tuesday night though I don’t doubt that when this is posted, I’ll be in much the same position, sat at the dining table on my computer. It’s been a wet, dismal day here in Glasgow today but that has come after a few cracking, cold, sunny days so that’s not too bad.

I’ve read a fair bit this week, more than in a right few weeks. Last week I read the autobiography by Doddie Weir, rugby player and Motor Neuron Disease campaigner. It was excellent, funny and insightful. I’m currently reading The Prime Ministers: Reflections on Leadership from Wilson to Johnson by Steve Richards, profiles of each of the Prime Ministers who have presided since 1964 to the present. It’s decent so far. I’ve read about Harold Wilson and Edward Heath so far though there’s still Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron and May to go so quite a lot. It’s accessible, going beyond a recitation of policies, successes and failures to discuss how they were perceived by their contemporaries and how they are seen by history now. I also started Snapshot by Daniel Gray and Alan McCredie, words and pictures capturing Scottish football at all levels. I’ve skimmed the pictures and now I’m going through the excellent words by Daniel Gray. Braw. The last picture of the book is on Albion Road in Edinburgh, which made me smile even if the team’s last result at Hampden really didn’t.

Looking back through my photos of recent walks, there’s quite a few sunny, shadowy pictures in parks, which is never a bad thing. January is a great month for walking, especially if it’s sunny.

Tynemouth Priory: a ruined church with gravestones in the foreground.​
Tynemouth Priory: a ruined church with gravestones in the foreground.
Tynemouth: a seaside scene in the midst of a winter sunset. Waves roll to the shore; a pier with a lighthouse at the end stretches out to sea. A cliff is to its right.

I was watching Susan Calman’s Grand Day Out the other night. She was in Yorkshire and went to Whitby Abbey, a place I’ve never been. It looked gorgeous, though, all ruined and gothic on a headland. It reminded me of Tynemouth Priory, which I have been to, on the coast near Newcastle. Tynemouth is in a particularly good setting, on a cliff top with a beach. I was last in Tynemouth about a year ago – it’s a good place to park if going into Newcastle since they’re connected by the Metro.

Anyway, those are some musings for this Wednesday. The Saturday Saunter will be back on Saturday. Until then, cheers just now.

Saturday Saunter: Music, Scots and Sunny Woodlands

Good Saturday to you,

What a week it’s been. I’m writing this on Thursday night and unusually I have a load of ideas for this post today. Whether I’ll get through them all, I’m not sure. I didn’t want to tempt fate by writing this post earlier than Wednesday in case I used expressions like ‘President Biden’ or anything like that. Amanda Gorman, the inaugural poet, was particularly brilliant.

One of the other things I’ve watched this week, aside from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s inauguration, has been Celtic Connections, the folk music festival which normally happens in real life in Glasgow in January. This year it has been online, a wee bit on TV too, and it was one of the best investments of the year to buy the Festival Pass. I’ve watched a couple of the concerts so far, including the opening concert featuring Duncan Chisholm and the one the other night with Karine Polwart, Rab Noakes, Siobhan Miller, Findlay Napier and Eddi Reader. Karine Polwart’s opening song, Come Away In, inspired by a Burns poem, was particularly brilliant. Hopefully it’ll be possible to go to Celtic Connections in person next year.

The Scots language often features in Celtic Connections and this week there’s been a bit of a stooshie with people slagging off Len Pennie, otherwise known as Miss PunnyPennie on Twitter, for posting in and about Scots on social media. Many of us talk and think in Scots. It is a language and varies widely across the country with influences from all sorts of languages and media. Len Pennie is a talented person and she chooses to communicate in Scots. Braw.

End of the pier at Eyemouth - a wooden pier with a post at the end and waves lapping at either side. Cliffs extend to the left. The grey clouds are ​low, below a light blue sky.
End of the pier at Eyemouth – a wooden pier with a post at the end and waves lapping at either side. Cliffs extend to the left. The grey clouds are low, below a light blue sky.

Since travelling great distances isn’t possible at the moment, I’ve found a fair bit of inspiration from social media. One was from the wonderful chip shop Giacopazzi’s, in Eyemouth, which shared a view from their harbourside shop across to the old Maritime Museum which is in the process of demolition. Eyemouth is one of my favourite places and I was glad to visit last summer when restrictions were eased. Last February, meanwhile, was my last visit to Kirkcaldy Galleries, my favourite art gallery, and one of my favourite paintings there, which is ‘Sunny Woodlands’ by Thomas Corsan Morton, with a person sitting under some leafy trees. They posted it on social media the other day and it was a wee boost, I have to say.

An excellent and timely article I read the other day was by David Leask, of The Herald, about the importance of learning the truth about Scotland and its links to slavery unfettered or diluted by political narratives.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 23rd January 2021. Thanks as ever for reading. Not sure what’ll be here on Wednesday. Until then, keep safe. A very good morning to you all. Peace.

Saturday Saunter: Borders, sculptures and monuments

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on a dark and dismal Wednesday night. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing when this is posted but the weather isn’t to be great, which is not out of character for this year so far.

Recently I mentioned the Turner watercolour of the Rhymer’s Glen at Abbotsford. I’ve been thinking about the Borders quite a bit lately and maybe later in the year I might get back there. A wander around Dryburgh Abbey would be nice. I’ve only been there in the summer but I imagine it would be great on a cold, bright January day. Same with Melrose Abbey. Hermitage Castle is a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time – it’s a castle in a very rural part of the Borders with links to Mary, Queen of Scots – though it isn’t usually open in the winter anyway. Plus it isn’t easy to get to, even with a car. Randomly it was owned by a forebear of Sir Walter Scott, since this is a small world. The book I’m reading at the moment was written by a Borderer, actually, Doddie Weir, My Name’s Doddie, and it’s decent so far, going into his rugby career as well as his more recent diagnosis with motor neurone disease. He has a great sense of humour and his book is enjoyable even for someone like me who doesn’t like rugby.

Kelpies - two large sculptures of horses, one in side profile, the other to the right with head up. There is an electricity pylon between the sculptures.
Kelpies – two large sculptures of horses, one in side profile, the other to the right with head up. There is an electricity pylon between the sculptures.
DunBear - a sculpture of a brown bear stood on a plinth.
DunBear – a sculpture of a brown bear stood on a plinth.
Poised - a metal sculpture of a cat sat on a plinth. The cat is in an office building.
Poised – a metal sculpture of a cat sat on a plinth. The cat is in an office building.

I was looking at some photos the other day, including the Kelpies and the DunBear, both of which I visited last January. What I didn’t know was that the leopard sculpture in Marischal Square in Aberdeen was also the work of the same sculptor, Andy Scott, as is the memorial to the Ibrox disaster and the Charles Rennie Mackintosh statue in Anderston. The Kelpies have become a symbol of Scotland since their unveiling in 2013 and they are even more impressive close up than they are in pictures. The leopard sculpture, Poised, is cool too and it sits in the confines of an office block above an ice cream shop.

Glenfinnan and Loch Shiel

This seems to have become a discursion about interesting places around Scotland. That’s okay with me. I’ve written before about the National Trust for Scotland’s efforts to delve into the history of its properties and their links with slavery. The Glenfinnan Monument, which stands at the head of Loch Shiel, commemorates the ’45 Jacobite rising. It was built, according to new research, as written about in The Guardian recently, using funds gleaned from the work of slaves on Jamaican plantations. Even in the Highlands, there are links. It would be interesting to know if there are other connections in Glenfinnan to slavery. It’s a small place but nothing would surprise me.

Before I forget, WordPress is trying out native sponsored posts. One might appear if you read this on the website as opposed to WordPress Reader. I don’t endorse any adverts which appear here. It’s a bit annoying really.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 16th January 2021. Thanks for reading. A post about interesting local places will appear on Wednesday. That appears just when Joe Biden will be sworn in as President of the United States, which is infinitely more important. Until then, keep safe. A very good morning to you all. Peace.