Saturday Saunter: Tournaments, podcasts and travel programmes

Good morning to you,

I’m writing this one on Friday night, unusually for me and even more unusually on my iPad rather than my laptop. It’s been a bright but chilly day in Glasgow and I spent it having lunch and wandering about the city centre. This post is appearing on the blog a little earlier this Saturday morning due to work.

Hampden Park: at the back of a football stadium, looking up stairs and rails towards blue turnstiles in a red brick building.​
Hampden Park: at the back of a football stadium, looking up stairs and rails towards blue turnstiles in a red brick building.

The main event in Scotland this week has been the men’s national football team qualifying for Euro 2020, beating Serbia on penalties. It’s the first time the men’s team has qualified for a major tournament since 1998 so a lot of people are very happy about it, even including our First Minister. I am a club before country person though Scotland qualifying still makes me happy. Good news is in short supply right now, in the wider world as much as in a footballing sense with the Hibs being mince in recent weeks. Our game is often maligned and qualifying for a tournament with games to be played at Hampden can only be a good thing, as is the inspiration for kids up and down the country. I was thinking earlier about the 1998 World Cup. Scotland played Brazil in the very first game. I got home from school just in time to watch the game, which finished 2-1 to Brazil. I can remember the 2002 World Cup more clearly, getting to watch England play sitting in a high school classroom. I’m sure the country will grind to a halt to watch Super John McGinn, David Marshall and company do their stuff at the Euros. I’ll certainly be watching.

I haven’t read much in the last week or two but I have been listening to a few podcasts, Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend, The Terrace Scottish Football Podcast, Scotland Outdoors and Podlitical from BBC Scotland, which featured an interview with the outgoing Political Editor of BBC Scotland, Brian Taylor. He’s seen a lot in his career, stretching from the late 1970s to last week, an eon in Scottish political history from the call for a Scottish Assembly, Margaret Thatcher and the Poll Tax through devolution, the SNP coming to power, and the coronavirus. Conan O’Brien recently interviewed Maya Rudolph, who comes across well. She plays the Vice President-Elect of the United States Kamala Harris on Saturday Night Live at the moment, which will no doubt keep her in work for the next four years at least. I particularly enjoy The Terrace when they discuss lower league football and the discussions with Chris Iwelumo have been good.

In these times when once more we can’t travel as far as we might like, whether we are in Level 3 or a firebreak or just a lockdown, Channel 5 has had Secret Scotland on with Susan Calman travelling around the country, to some familiar places and not so familiar. It seems to have been filmed this year, with her visit to Glasgow Central Station with a backdrop of signs encouraging wearing face coverings. Susan Calman can be a wee bit twee but her good humour is just right for these times, inspiring new adventures in the future.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 14th November 2020. Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow returns on Wednesday too. Until then, keep safe, keep well. A very good morning to you all.

Saturday Saunter: Stars, murals and bookshops

Good morning,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on a cold and windy Sunday night with The West Wing on in the background. It’s on All4 so I’m binging it from the beginning. By the time this is posted, the world may well know the victor of the US Presidential election. Since I am writing this in advance, I may add some thoughts to the bottom of the post.

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.
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.
Pele mural: the figure of a footballer running with arms outstretched with another footballer behind. There is a golden background behind both men.
Pele mural: the figure of a footballer running with arms outstretched with another footballer behind. There is a golden background behind both men.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, last Friday I journeyed to Shawlands especially to see two murals recently put up in support of Black Lives Matter. I only expected to see one, of Andrew Watson, the first black international footballer, football administrator, trophy winner and FA Cup player, though there was also one of Pele. Both were very fine, Watson depicted by Barry the Cat, Pele by King Listy, accompanied by a plaque detailing their subjects’ history and why the murals were put there. Those of us who appreciate football, even after last Saturday’s result at Hampden, can trace the development of our game to both of them. Go see them, if you can. Read the plaques too. The murals are by a cafe called Jodandy’s, if you’re in the area, down a close.

the frontage of a bookshop with three windows and a lamp lit to the left of the front door. Above the shop to the right is a bust of a female.
Stanfords Bookshop, London: the frontage of a bookshop with three windows and a lamp lit to the left of the front door. Above the shop to the right is a bust of a female.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone reading this that I am a lover of bookshops. In the last few months, I’ve been able to get to a few in Glasgow and further afield. Browsing when you know you don’t need anything else to read and then picking something up anyway is something I do with unerring frequency. Two particular highlights have been King’s in Callander and Bouquiniste Books in St. Andrews. Anyway, I read last week that Stanford’s, the travel and maps specialists in London, are struggling because of current events. I visited Stanford’s for the first time in February and it is somewhere special, a repository of maps of anywhere you could think of and holding a formidable collection of travel guides, including more Scottish books than most bookshops this side of Hadrian’s Wall. Come to think of it, they had guides to Hadrian’s Wall too. They even had maps on the floor, of Snowdonia in Wales and the burgeoning expanse of London, both Ordnance Survey. I want a map floor for my house. Since none of the likely recipients read my blog, I think it’s safe to mention that I ordered a Secret Santa Christmas gift from Stanford’s and it’s on the way. I won’t be in London any time soon but at least it’s something.

At the moment, we are all under varying degrees of restriction and at time of writing it is unclear whether Scotland will follow our southern neighbours into a second national lockdown. I have found considerable comfort in recent weeks walking amidst autumn leaves, or just walking and being outside, weather permitting. I am not a fan of the darker nights this time of year but this year it is more important to get out into the world as much as possible. The academic Devi Sridhar has written about this and she couldn’t be more right.

One of the few advantages of dark nights is looking up. I was walking home from work tonight. It was dark, it was a bit chilly – I walk fast so don’t feel it so much – and it was quite clear, a few clouds. It was nice. I thought about other nights in less urban places with a sky full of stars, like the first night camping at Arisaig last year or nights when I was a kid walking on clifftops in Dunbar. I remembered a night about a year ago, freezing, and I stood atop the railway bridge just along the road and looked up to see stars. Only on very cold wintry nights can I normally see stars here. Tonight it only looked like planes. No matter. I’m not religious in any way but looking up at the stars, even an urban sky, gives me comfort that there are other worlds out there, stars, meteors, planets, whatever, and that’s just a bit cool.

Before I go, I have a fondness for train videos on YouTube though one with a wider resonance is Geoff Marshall’s video about mental health.

It looks like there will be a new President of the United States come January 20th 2021. I cannot help feeling that it would be a victory for humanity as a whole.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 7th November 2020. Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow is on Candleriggs this Wednesday. Until then, keep safe, keep well. A very good morning to you all.

Saturday Saunter: Darkness and graphic novels

Why, hello,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter. It’s Saturday 31st October so I will of course be spending my night…watching the Scottish Cup semi final between the only Premiership team in Edinburgh and some mob from Gorgie. Hopefully I won’t be spooked by what I see through my tellybox from Hampden. I don’t do Halloween, though of course at least two of the bloggers I read regularly do, namely Natalie at Wednesday’s Child and Jessica at Diverting Journeys so please do see them for all your spooky needs!

What I can write about is darkness. The other day I was at Pollok House. Through the window I could see up an avenue orange with fallen leaves. The autumn colours, reds, yellows, oranges, go some way to redress the balance of the nights fair drawing in and thicker coats being deployed. As a person who particularly cherishes natural light, I intend to do what I do every year and soak up as much of it as I can over the coming months until the nights grow longer. The nights might be long but hopefully the days will bring some decent light too.

In the coming weeks I might read a couple of books I’ve bought recently. Not just the Northumberland book with the toty text that I mentioned last week but The Little Book of Humanism by Andrew Copson and Alice Roberts and a graphic novel about Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua. I’m particularly looking forward to dipping into the humanism book in the next few weeks, into nice heathen words. I’ve been trying to find a way into graphic novels in the last wee while. It is a complex world of books that I don’t know very well but I’m trying. I got into the Heartstopper stories by Alice Oseman and I have read Posy Simmonds in recent weeks too. On a pile I also have an illustrated version of Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, which I read in print form when I was a teenager. Any suggestions would be gratefully received. I was particularly struck by the story of Ada Lovelace when I was at the Science Museum in London a few years ago so will hopefully enjoy this version.

Today is the last day of Black History Month in the UK and a particularly interesting article published in its honour is from the Historic Environment Scotland website about Frederick Douglass so go seek that out. At some point I will need to go to the Frederick Douglass mural in Edinburgh.

Talking of murals, yesterday I finally got to the mural of Andrew Watson, the first black international footballer, which is in Shawlands. The added bonus of Pele across the close was a particularly good surprise. I will write about that next week.

Today’s featured image is the view from Queen’s Park over the Glasgow skyline, taken about a year ago. Glasgow is still autumnal even as the clocks have gone back.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 31st October 2020. Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow will be back on Wednesday and it will be Shuttle Street. Until then, keep safe, keep well. A very good morning to you all.

Saturday Saunter: Cemeteries, books and history

Good Saturday to you all,

Welcome back to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written not too long in advance on Tuesday. As I start this, I only have a vague inkling of what to write beyond the first paragraph so this could be interesting!

I’ve written here before about the journalist Peter Ross who chronicles the lives of interesting people across Scotland. He’s brought out a new book, A Tomb With A View, which is about cemeteries. It features a few familiar graveyards, including the Necropolis in Glasgow and Warriston and Greyfriars in Edinburgh, as well as others further afield in London, Dublin and Belfast, delving with sensitivity into their stories and the lives of their denizens both living and dead. The bit about ossuaries I would rather have missed, frankly, but that’s because I don’t particularly like skulls. The preface about walking in cemeteries during the early days of the pandemic particularly resonated as I sometimes did the same thing. The Easter Rising keyrings and the Eamon de Valera mugs on sale at Glasnevin in Dublin sound spectacularly tacky.

Over the weekend I was away so didn’t read that much. What I did read were the September entries from Notes From Walnut Tree Farm by Roger Deakin. I haven’t delved into that particular favourite for a while and Roger’s jottings were particularly soothing, about fields, trees and much else besides. I did buy books over the weekend, though – Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty, and the Grampian Quartet by Nan Shepherd, the latter bought in a second hand bookshop in St. Andrews. Dara McAnulty is a young autistic man from the north of Ireland who writes compellingly about his local area and conservation more widely. I hope to read his book more properly soon.

A white wall featuring illustrations of various people wearing face masks hugging each other.
A white wall featuring illustrations of various people wearing face masks hugging each other.

The Dundee V and A is a very fine museum and I had the pleasure to be there this past weekend. The Mary Quant exhibition was on and that was fine, featuring many dresses and the stories of those who wore them. One thing that caught my attention elsewhere was on a corridor wall, drawings by Eleni Kalorkuti called ‘Reimagining the hug’, featuring face mask-wearing people hugging; the illustrations sought to ‘adjust behaviour to connect safely’. A hug from a special someone can’t be beat, it really can’t, but in these socially-distanced times, we are continuing to find new ways to connect with our loved ones.

Historic Environment Scotland are running a new campaign to get Scots talking about heritage, asking about childhood favourite stories and places. The picture which accompanies the HES Facebook post is of Hailes Castle not far from where I grew up in East Lothian and a place I went to as a kid. A place I went to as a kid, and hope to see again soon, is Linlithgow Palace, which is just a great place to roam, complete enough but still ruined with fine views over hills, the Peel and the loch.

Our interesting perspective is about a movement in the Shawlands and Battlefield areas of Glasgow to put up murals in support of Black Lives Matter. One, by a cafe called Jodandy’s in Pollokshaws Road, depicts Andrew Wilson, the first black international footballer. I’m going to have to see it soon.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 3rd October 2020. Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow will be here on Wednesday. After that the blog will be on hiatus until Wednesday 21st October. There might be a book recommendation or two on the blog Twitter feed too. Until then, have a nice weekend. Keep well, keep safe. Bye for now.

Saturday Saunter: Maps and psychogeography


Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, again being written in advance. Football highlights again grace my screen as I start this week’s post.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally finished Alphabetical by Michael Rosen. It’s a very fine book, an history of the alphabet and much else besides. A couple of passages in the final pages particularly interested me, including discussions of the derive and the conception of the London A-Z. The derive, a psychogeographical walk seeing the urban in a different way, is a particular favourite pursuit of mine and Rosen talks about walking around parts of London where during the English Civil War (or War of the Three Kingdoms, depending on your philosophical hue) defences were laid out in a semicircular formation to combat the Royalist forces. A derive is possible just about anywhere and, as Rosen says, with guidelines for the walk entirely personal to those doing it.

Recently I bought a road atlas. I like maps anyway and this one was bought to aid future day trip planning. It now lives in the back seat of a car. It is an A-Z atlas, the descendant of the original London A-Z, considered the ultimate street atlas of London and surrounding areas. I have one beside me now and it sat in my backpack throughout my trip to London in February. It was the work of Phyllis Pearsall, who set about walking thousands of miles across the metropolis to create the map. As much as Google Maps is useful, nothing beats a paper reference and particularly one as detailed. A fact that I’ve always liked is that it is common for map manufacturers to include fake streets (or trap streets) in order to beat copyright infringement.

Today’s interesting perspective is from Patrice Evra, a footballer who experienced more than his fair share of racial abuse. This interview from the Guardian is an interesting account of his career and its highs and lows.

I like to illustrate these posts whenever possible though in the last weeks, that has been harder. Like today. I’ve decided to delve into the blog photo archive and pick a vaguely interesting and apposite image. It’s the featured image at the top of the post if on the website or what accompanies the post on the WordPress Reader. It helps to make the post more interesting, especially when shared on social media. That isn’t without its problems either, especially when the accompanying picture ends up being different from the one I’ve described. It’s been sorted for the posts I’ve got lined up. Anyway, today’s is definitely from a deserted country road, taken when walking between Dryburgh Abbey and Melrose a few years ago.

Well, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 12th September 2020. Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow returns on Wednesday. A Saturday Saunter will appear here next Saturday at 8.30. Until then, keep safe. A very good morning to you all.

Saturday Saunter: Books, poetry and lighthouses

Good morning,

This Saturday Saunter comes early because of work and being written a couple of weeks in advance for much the same reason. I am writing this on a Sunday afternoon with highlights of the weekend’s football on in the background. It’s a cloudy and wet afternoon here in south west Glasgow and it’s just as well I didn’t plan to go far today anyway.

The other day I was reading Bookworm by Lucy Mangan, a memoir of how reading had shaped her life. I was struck by how she would read everywhere and anywhere, which I did, up to and including cereal boxes, though I had only read a few of the books important to her growing up. I was trying to think of those books I cared about as a kid, including Roald Dahl’s oeuvre. I did read CS Lewis, as she did, though not many impressions linger. Harry Potter, of course. I read a fair bit of non-fiction, as I still do, mainly about football and history, indeed as I still do. Horrible Histories and encyclopaedias. I remember getting a book out of the library about London and being particularly fascinated by Cleopatra’s Needle on the Embankment, which had a time capsule buried underneath it. Strange the random things that stick in your mind.

I’ve been reading about the US Presidential election. I’m writing after the Democratic National Convention has finished but before the Republicans do their stuff. Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, quoted Seamus Heaney in his speech the other night, a passage from The Cure at Troy about hope and history rhyming. Heaney is also a favourite of Bill Clinton, who quotes it occasionally in his speeches, as he did most notably, as the Guardian writes, in the wake of the Good Friday agreement. RF Foster is quoted in the Guardian article and says that Biden read Yeats and Heaney to overcome a speech impediment, which is interesting. Poetry is often used to underline political points, to make the prosaic seem beautiful, and sometimes it feels like an add-on rather than benefiting the speech being made. Judging by Biden’s history with Heaney, I would like to think this quote comes from him and his wider reading.

Lighthouses conjure up images of far-off, lonely places, tall towers spreading light in a storm. There was an interesting article in the Herald about the relevance of lighthouses in the modern world and undoubtedly they are relevant, aiding safe navigation even in these technological times. Some time I will need to go lighthouse bagging – I don’t think I’ve been to very many. One I have been to is Kinnaird Head, part of the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, which recently reopened. For its reopening, the Museum published autism friendly visiting guidance, which is deeply commendable.

I’ve read quite a bit in recent weeks, including Miracle Workers by Simon Rich, an increasingly rare foray into fiction, which was hilarious. As I mentioned last week, I’ve also read the memoir of Clyde Best, The Acid Test, about his footballing career at a time when there weren’t a lot of other black footballers in England. I also finally finished Alphabetical by Michael Rosen, which I will write about in next week’s Saunter.

That is the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 5th September 2020. Thanks for reading, commenting and following. Wednesday will see the return of Streets of Glasgow, my psychogeographical series wandering around Glasgow’s streets. Another Saunter will be back here next week. Until then, keep safe. A very good morning.

Saturday Saunter: History and comedy snobbery

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written almost a full week in advance. In my ears as I scribble this into my notebook is ’99 Red Balloons’ by Nena.

I only wrote the last Saunter two days ago but plenty of ideas are in my inbox that I could write about. The most recent was about the links the National Trust have found connecting many of their properties and the slave trade. I don’t doubt there will be quite a few with the National Trust for Scotland’s properties too – I seem to remember the NTS doing some research into that in recent weeks. It’s well worth remembering that communities up and down the land benefited from slavery with few not affected in some way.

Joe Hullait, the creator of Scot Squad, wrote an excellent article in the Radio Times talking about snobbery in television comedy, saying that he had been encouraged to downplay parts of work that had only been seen by viewers in Scotland. He replied that this work was what put him in that particular television commissioner’s office. As a Scot, and a person with a sense of humour, I am disgusted that such attitudes persist. My attitude is that if something makes me laugh then great and I could not care less where it has come from, whether northern England, France, Hollywood or even the hallowed halls of Oxbridge. Thankfully Scot Squad is hilarious, shown most recently by Chief Miekelson’s guide to the new normal, where he discourages Scots from shaking hands and encourages supporters of Scottish Championship outfit Heart of Midlothian to send postcards from Alloa when football with an audience eventually resumes.

As this is posted, I will be travelling to work. I hope to have had a few adventures in between times and may well write about some of them in the coming weeks.

There’s not much been read in recent days. I’ve been reading a fair bit about railways but that’s nothing new. The next book I hope to start is an history of Italian football I bought a couple of weeks ago. I think that will happen in the coming days. I’m in a non-fiction mode right now.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 22nd August 2020. Thanks as ever for commenting, reading and following. Virtual Loose Ends returns on Wednesday for its penultimate outing. Until then, keep safe. A very good morning to you all.

Saturday Saunter: Books, Culross and editing

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to this Saturday Saunter, this time being written late on Thursday night. It’s been warm and sunny for much of this week, a complete contrast to last week when I was off and it was wet and miserable for quite a bit of it. On in the background tonight is a YouTube compilation of clips from QI, which is pleasant enough to be going on in the background. 

There’s been quite a lot happening since I last wrote one of these posts. Quite a bit in the football too but I’m not in the mood to dwell on that, especially since Hibs have been deposed from the top of the Scottish Premiership. I was in Culross for the day a couple of weeks ago. It was a birthday trip for a wander around that stunning village before a slight detour to Musselburgh for some fine ice cream at Luca’s. More recently, last Thursday, I walked to Pollok Park, a place I’ve been to a few times in the last few months. It was a nice day and naturally the area around Pollok House was mobbed but I managed to find a quiet corner to read my book for a while.

I was reading Alphabetical by Michael Rosen that day, an history of the 26 letters of the alphabet, and I managed to break the back of it sitting on a picnic bench at the front of Pollok House. I’ve managed to read quite a bit the last couple of weeks, including a book about the history of the BBC in Scotland, 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff and The Library Book, a collection of essays about libraries, naturally enough. The last two were gifts, incidentally, so they jumped the queue over many other books trying to make demands on my time. Near the top is a book I bought last week about the history of Italian football, as well as an anthology of writing about Scottish nature, edited by Kathleen Jamie.

WordPress have changed the editor again so I have no clue how many words I’ve written so far. It’s changed between Sunday and today. On Sunday I was writing up some brand-new Streets of Glasgow walks, which I had done that day in the city centre. They will be here in September, all being well. It was weird to be doing psychogeography after so long, especially in very different circumstances than the last time I did a Streets walk, in the spring of 2019. The big hand sanitiser outside Brewdog was different for a start.

Our change of perspective for today is an intriguing article from the Guardian by Angela Saini about how scientists should know their history and then avoid bias based on ethnicity.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 15th August 2020. Thanks very much for reading. The blog returns on Wednesday with the second last Virtual Loose Ends. I will be right back here next Saturday. Until then, a very good morning.


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.

Saturday Saunter: Parks, books, football and Whithorn

Good Saturday to you,

How are you? I’m writing this on Wednesday afternoon and there is a big ominous rain cloud over yonder as I start this. To be honest I’m not sure what I will be doing when this is posted. I’ve had notions to go for a big walk, possibly as far as the mystical and mythical land of Glasgow city centre but definitely not to shop or go to a beer garden. It might be one of the hopefully much quieter local parks for me. That was what I did last Saturday. I went to Barshaw Park, though it felt too busy to take photos or sit in the walled garden, so I headed instead to Rosshall Gardens, which were much quieter. There’s a woodland walk there which is wonderfully peaceful and fools you into thinking that you’re not in a city.

Rosshall Gardens: a woodland scene, looking from under a tree over a pond, which reflects the trees and foliage above it.

When writing the Saturday Saunter each week, I sometimes have an idea or two, sometimes I don’t. Now and then I write out of frustration, more frequently with a skip and a jump as the words tumble out. I was tempted to write about some stuff in the news but I’m at the point where I want to avoid it. Instead I want to write today about other things. Firstly a blast from my boyhood. When I was a kid, highlights of Scottish football matches came twice a weekend, thrice if I had been at the game. Saturday night would be Sportscene on the BBC (probably Sunday as it was on late so it would get taped), Sunday Scotsport, which was on ITV (where I lived got Grampian even though we were in the catchment of STV). Scotsport is no longer and Sportscene moved later into the week, only on a Saturday night after games in the Cup. No more. Sportscene will be back on Saturday nights from the start of the season, currently looking favourite for August. BBC Scotland comes in for some stick. Some of it justified, some not, but this is a very good move. Roll on the start of August and the return of proper football, none of this corporate English pish. Even if it’s behind closed doors, it’s the real thing.

Whithorn is in Dumfries and Galloway, beyond Wigtown and Newton Stewart. It is notable as being an early centre of Christianity in Scotland. I went there once and the museum was excellent, just the right blend of text and images to appeal to most audiences. Researchers have found that the Whithorn monastery might have been established later than thought, using carbon dating to make their case that it might have come into being in the 7th century AD rather than the 5th. The BBC News story is worth a read though if you are squeamish, please be warned that it shows a burial.

Also, it is worth looking to Twitter for an interesting thread. Sara Sheridan has written about lesser-known Scottish female writers, including Susan Ferrier and Muriel Spark.

Our weekly different perspective comes from The Guardian with some black photographers looking through their archives and talking about them.

I’m currently listening to an audiobook, A Short History Of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. I’ve read Bryson’s travel books for years but I’ve never been able to get through one of his science books. I listened to The Lost Continent a couple of weeks ago and realised that audio might be the way to go with the science. So far I’m an hour in and it’s fine. I have to take science in small dozes. It is very important, of course, though understanding it and remembering it is harder.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 11th July 2020. Thanks very much for reading. The final instalment of 5 In 5 will be here tomorrow and it’s a sculpture. Virtual Loose Ends continues on Wednesday and it will be continuing back in Glasgow. Until then, keep safe. A very good morning.