Loose Ends Redux: Caledonia Road Church-V and A Dundee

Good afternoon to you,

I started doing Loose Ends Redux back in March when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write, only that I needed something easy to put together. It’s been nice to revisit past adventures but as they are getting much more recent – and readers remember the original post – I’ve decided to curtail it here. This super post will contain thoughts on the most recent round of Loose Ends, just to get it done so I can post something else. Next week will be the start of Virtual Loose Ends, a virtual journey around Scotland with brand new connections. Starting at Aberdour Castle and ending at the V and A in Dundee like the series did, I’ve pieced together some places that didn’t feature in the original, finding connections between them. Some I’ve been to lots of times, others only once or in the passing. That comes next week.

This post will include:

Caledonia Road Church

Arandora Star Memorial Garden

Leith Links

Charlotte Square Gardens

Agassiz Rock

Blackford Hill Rocks

Arden Street

Espedair Street

Glasgow Central Station

Kibble Palace

George Square

Donald Dewar statue

La Pasionaria statue

Billy Connolly mural

Mitchell Street mural

Fisherrow Fishermen


Creel Loaders statue


Abandon Ship

V and A Dundee

Caledonia Road Church: looking up towards a ruined church with a tower to the left and a smart Grecian top with pillars. Weeds are growing from the middle of the level of the building.

The Caledonia Road Church is a ruined church designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. It has been a ruin since the 1960s and it is one of Glasgow’s great curiosities. I went there straight from Queen’s Park and wandered, looked and took photos.

Arandora Star Memorial Garden: an urban garden with a tree to the left and mirrors arranged on a patio area to the right. Behind is a red apartment building and a breezeblock wall with some plaques on it. 

The Arandora Star Memorial Garden is in the grounds of St. Andrew’s RC Cathedral by the Clyde. It connected from Caledonia Road through religion. The garden is a memorial to those who perished when the Arandora Star was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland in 1940. Italian and German internees bound for Canada were on the ship. 805 people were killed. The garden is a beautiful memorial to this event and a reminder of how we should never judge people for their origins, only what they make of themselves.

Leith Links: a path underneath some trees in a park. A red curved building is to the right.

Leith Links came about because I had a Proclaimers song called ‘Scotland’s Story’ in my head. It mentions internees and Leith. I was in the capital for football and to go to an event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I sat there, ate my lunch then went to the game. It’s amazing, writing this in June 2020 as movements are restricted, how remote that feels.

Charlotte Square Gardens: the back end of a statue of a man on a horse. Statue figures are gathered at the base. On ground level are trees and tents, one advertising the New York Times.

Charlotte Square Gardens lies empty most of the year. Only in August – in normal circumstances – is it opened, housing the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I was there in August and so I sat, read, wrote, bought books and went to an event. It linked to Leith Links because of geography.

Agassiz Rock: a rocky outcrop with a tree atop a rock in the foreground. To the left is an area of rock with graffiti on it. 
Blackford Hill Rocks: layers of geological rock with trees above.

At the time I was reading a book about geology. That was how I linked Charlotte Square to the Agassiz Rock, in the shadow of Blackford Hill in the south of Edinburgh, named after Swiss geologist Louis Agassiz who did some fieldwork there. On the way back into the city I came to other rocks, which linked to the Agassiz Rock by geography.

Arden Street: an urban street with identical grey and yellow tenement buildings on either side and at the end. A blue sky with some white clouds above.

On the very same Sunday I walked back into Edinburgh city centre and came down Arden Street, the street where Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus lives. I linked it to Blackford Hill through books. Arden Street was bright and sunny and no sign of Rebus’s beaten-up Saab.

Espedair Street: an urban street with buildings on either side. The building to the left is yellow with satellite dishes on it. To the right are buildings of various sizes, some yellow, brown or white.

Espedair Street is in Paisley, a little south of the town centre. It’s residential, with a ghost sign and a park behind. I know it a bit better since I did Loose Ends as someone I know stays near there. It linked to Arden Street since Espedair Street is the title of a book by Iain Banks.

Glasgow Central Station: looking up towards a glass roof of a railway station with buildings curving to the left, including a Costa Coffee shop. 

Glasgow Central Station is the busiest railway station in Scotland. I haven’t been there since March at time of writing. It is a grand station, fronted by a hotel, with trains going to England and across western Scotland. I had to look up the link I found from Espedair Street:

‘Central had a tenuous link to Espedair Street through the works of Iain Banks. As well as Espedair Street, he also wrote The Bridge. Bridge, railway, station, Central Station.’

Kibble Palace: inside a bright glasshouse with ferns amidst the pillars and a sculpture of a woman in side profile with her hand on her chin in the centre.

The Kibble Palace is in Glasgow Botanic Gardens. There used to be a railway station in the Glasgow Botanics and that was the link from Central. I was there in October just as there was about to be a light show in the Botanics. The Kibble Palace is a greenhouse with temperate plants, sculptures and benches. I like to sit there and read from time to time.

George Square: looking up at a grand building with a tall tower in the centre and two smaller towers to the left and right. A lit-up stencil of a Christmas tree is at the left of the image.

George Square was the next link late one afternoon. George Square houses the headquarters of Glasgow City Council, who manage the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. It is a city square with statues, restaurants, traffic and pigeons. I like to sit there and peoplewatch, sometimes to eat lunch on a nice day.

Donald Dewar statue: the statue of a tall man wearing a suit. The man is balding with glasses. Behind is a building with a city crest and the words ‘The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall’. On the glass frontage of the building is the reflection of part of a shop sign for John Lewis.

Donald Dewar was the first First Minister of Scotland, a Labour politician who represented Glasgow and did a lot of work to establish the Scottish Parliament. He died suddenly in 2000 and his statue sits at the top of Buchanan Street in Glasgow. The statue linked to George Square by geography.

La Pasionaria statue: a statue of a woman with her arms aloft. Below is a quote ‘Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live For Ever On Your Knees’. Below that is information paying tribute to volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War.
Billy Connolly mural: a mural on the gable end of a city building depicting a man with tousled hair with one arm pointing up and one pointing down. Behind him is the sea.
Mitchell Street mural: a mural on the end of a city building featuring a woman looking through a magnifying glass towards people between her fingers.

La Pasionaria is a statue by the Clyde put there by various groups including the Labour Party to commemorate those Glaswegians who fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War. At time of writing, it is one of four statues of women in Glasgow. It links to Donald Dewar by being a statue in Glasgow as well as through Labour. I did this while on the way into town one December Sunday.

Around the corner is one of the murals of comedian Billy Connolly, this one painted by Jack Vettriano, depicting the Big Yin being blown about on the Caithness coast. It is public art in Glasgow, as with the next link, the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids mural of a woman with a magnifying glass. It sits on the end of a building on Mitchell Street, a back street not far away from the Clyde.

Fisherrow Fishermen: two sculptures of two men on a rock. 

The next link was a sculpture by Gardner Molloy of two fishermen by Fisherrow Harbour in East Lothian. I was there early in the New Year on a dismal, dreich day. It is public art and I like it. The walk from Portobello to Prestongrange blew cobwebs away, I have to say.

Rottenrow: sculpture of a nappy pin with city buildings behind.

Rottenrow used to house Glasgow’s maternity hospital and is now a park with only part of the hospital’s exterior remaining. It also has a sculpture of a nappy pin. It links to Fisherrow through the word ‘row’, pure and simple. I remember this day for other reasons. It was an early January Saturday and I had been in Paisley for business before going to Kelvingrove to see the Linda McCartney photography exhibition before it closed.

Creel Loaders: a sculpture of three people, two men and one woman. The woman is carrying a basket on her head. To the left and right are residential streets.

‘Row’ also provided the connection to the Creel Loaders statue on Victoria Street in Dunbar, Victoria Street formerly housing a row of houses called the Cat’s Row. The Creel Loaders statue, sculpted again by Gardner Molloy, marks the fishing industry of the burgh, creels of fish and shellfish often taken long distaes over the hills.

DunBear sculpture: a metal sculpture of a brown bear stood atop a plinth with a dramatic sky behind. 

The new DunBear sculpture of a bear sits in a field under Doon Hill on the outskirts of Dunbar. It links to the Creel Loaders by geography. I was there that same January Sunday and it took a few minutes for it to be free of people enough for me to get some photos. I quite like it though of Andy Scott’s sculptures, I prefer the Kelpies.

Abandon Ship: some street art on the doorway of a building featuring a ship and some lavishly illustrated plants with the words ‘Abandon Ship’ in the top left.
V and A Dundee: looking through an archway with water either side of the path towards a river with a bridge stretching to land on the other side.

The DunBear is dedicated to John Muir, who sailed across to America on a ship. The Abandon Ship art is on the wall outside a pub in Dundee and I noticed it on the bus into the city. I liked it and realised it connected just dandily with the bear and with the last connection of the current round, which was across the road. The V and A is fairly new, a ship-shaped museum jutting into the Tay. From the museum it is possible to get a great panorama up and down the Tay, to Broughty Ferry, Fife and up into Perthshire. It seemed the right place to pause.

That is the end of the Loose Ends Redux. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. Next week will come a brand-new virtual adventure, beginning in Aberdour. Until then, keep safe. Cheers just now.






Loose Ends Redux: Portobello Community Garden-Leakey’s Bookshop

Well, now,

Welcome to another Loose Ends Redux. Today’s three instalments are:

Portobello Community Garden

Portobello Potteries

Leakey’s Bookshop

I remember these three particularly clearly. The two in Porty were on a very cold Saturday and I was taking a very scenic route to Easter Road for the football. As I recall, afterwards, I walked by Seafield and Leith Links to the ground. Strangely I can’t remember the game itself.

Portobello Community Garden: three elaborate pillars with crown-shaped tops in the middle of a garden of durable plants.

Portobello Community Garden I remember but I can’t remember how I connected it to Meadowbank. It was bright and sunny but very cold. I remember looking from there over to East Lothian, a view right up the coast to North Berwick Law possible. The Garden has pillars salvaged from a nearby garden (Coade Stone, I gather from the original post) and at that time Meadowbank was being demolished and built anew. I’ve always liked them and I think it was because they’re a bit unusual that I particularly wanted to shoehorn them into Loose Ends somewhere.

Portobello Potteries: two bottle-shaped kilns in an housing estate. The sun is blocked from view by the kiln on the left.

The Portobello Potteries connected, purely and simply, by geography. The kilns which now stand in the middle of an industrial estate are particularly cool and the photos I took of them for this post are some of my favourites ever taken for the blog. Portobello has a lot of history and some of it is still in plain sight, which is particularly cheering, even on a very cold day.

Leakey’s Bookshop: a bookshop with books on two levels.

Leakey’s Bookshop was a new one for me. I was in Inverness a few Fridays later, mainly to write the Intercity post for Inverness, but I had seen pictures of Leakey’s and resolved to pay a visit. I came out with a decent wee pile of books, some of which I still haven’t read over a year and a half on. Leakey’s is in an old church, the Gaelic Church, to be precise, and a big log fire helps keep it relatively toasty. I connected Leakey’s to Portobello because of a big section of books about pottery on the mezzanine. Hopefully I will get back to Leakey’s soon. It is a glorious place with an excellent selection of Scottish books particularly.

That’s today’s contenders. Thanks very much for reading. Next week’s post will cover a considerable swathe of Scotland, first Dundee then back to Glasgow. Until then, cheers just now.

Loose Ends Redux: Greyfriars Burial Ground-Meadowbank

Good afternoon,

It’s Wednesday so it must be Loose Ends Redux time. We’re getting into the second round of Loose Ends now and these three were all on different days.

Today’s three are:

Greyfriars Burial Ground

John Witherspoon statue

Meadowbank Stadium

Greyfriars Burial Ground: a fairly sparse urban graveyard with a low grey tree in the foreground.

Right into it and Greyfriars Burial Ground is in Perth. I was in Perth for a whole lot of blog business and was walking back towards the Tay when I glanced down a street and saw the old cemetery. It was gorgeous, properly old and leafy. I really enjoyed my walk around Greyfriars and it was a really good surprise. It connected with Perth Bridge because of geography, pure and simple.

John Witherspoon statue: a statue of a man on a plinth. Behind is a white building. The sky is blue with lots of white cloud.

A more obscure connection led me from Greyfriars to the John Witherspoon statue in Paisley. Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh was where the Solemn League and Covenant was signed in 1638 and remains part of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. John Witherspoon was a minister of the Kirk and he preached in Paisley before going off to America to establish Princeton University and sign the US Declaration of Independence. The statue sits outside the University of the West of Scotland on the High Street, just across from Paisley Museum, currently getting revamped. The statue was sculpted by the Queen’s Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland, Alexander Stoddart, who also sculpted the Adam Smith, David Hume and James Clerk Maxwell statues in Edinburgh.

Meadowbank: looking over a graffiti-adorned wall to the remains of a Brutalist structure to the left and the end of a grandstand on the right.

Getting from John Witherspoon to Meadowbank was especially tricky. Reading the post back, I had forgotten about the statue in between though I ended up using the fact that Witherspoon went to the University of Edinburgh. Meadowbank now looks very different to this. It is in the process of being rebuilt too, with a new sports centre and stadium slowly emerging. When I did this walk, the old, Brutalist stand was getting torn down, with only one section left.

So, that’s another Loose Ends Redux done. Next week will start in the perishingly cold Portobello and finish in a much warmer bookshop. Until then, keep safe. Cheers just now.

Saturday Saunter: Fieres, books and flowers

Good Saturday to you,

Most likely it will be absolutely roasting outside when this is posted. This is being written on Thursday night and it is very, very warm now too. I was out for a walk a little while ago and it was 27.8 degrees centigrade, according to a temperature gauge passed en route. Far too warm for me. I know some people love the heat but I can only deal with it in very small dozes. Plus the hay fever. Hence I’ll probably spend much of this weekend inside with a book.

I’ve written here before about the Scottish Makar, Jackie Kay. Today I came across a poem of hers I hadn’t seen before, Fiere, and it is excellent, about friendship, love and the adventures those things bring. Plus it’s in Scots, which is always a good thing. The Dictionary of the Scots Language cites its use by Burns and Allan Ramsay, amongst others. Fiere, or fere, is a wonderful word, archaic perhaps, but beautiful, a more vivid word than friend or spouse, which it can mean. Read it if you can.

A lot of us will have spent a lot of time lately with books, print, digital or whatever. Last week I was sent an article from no less than the Times Educational Supplement. I know, oooh, ladidah. Anyway, the TES published a list of 100 books which teachers say all bairns should have read by the time they leave school. I skimmed the list then read it later, making a rough note of what I had read from the list. I came up with 17, which is decent though clearly my education must have been deficient in some way not to have read them all. These lists are subjective so another list would have been come up with by a different group of people. My list, for what it’s worth, is:

  • 1984 (Orwell)
  • To Kill A Mockingbird (Lee)
  • The Harry Potter series (Rowling)
  • The Catcher in the Rye (Salinger)
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Haddon)
  • The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
  • Holes (Sachar)
  • Catch-22 (Heller)
  • Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Stevenson)
  • The Hunger Games trilogy (Collins)
  • The His Dark Materials trilogy (Pullman)
  • Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury)
  • Around The World In Eighty Days (Verne)
  • The Fault In Our Stars (Green)
  • Treasure Island (Stevenson)
  • The Bell Jar (Plath)
  • On The Road (Kerouac)

I should point out that I read most of these in my teens, though the most recent of these I read was The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, which I read a year or two ago, and before that The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, which was a bit less recently than that. What one person considers a classic, the next could consider it utter pish. Whatever works.

At the moment I am still re-reading Harry Potter, now on Deathly Hallows. In other JK Rowling news, I have been reading her new children’s story online, The Ickabog, which is decent, and also listening to the new audio version of Philosopher’s Stone, finishing the Sorting Hat chapter read by Olivia Colman, Jonathan Van Ness and Kate McKinnon earlier this afternoon. I did ditch a book earlier this week, which I don’t do often, though won’t name it. It was a comedian’s autobiography, incidentally. Olivia Colman is excellent and her imitation of Maggie Smith playing Professor McGonagall was absolutely class. Simon Callow, Olivia Colman and Numa Dumezweni are my favourite readers so far.

Rosshall Gardens: a woodland glade with low hanging trees and white flowers below.

I usually pick the picture which accompanies the post based on the contents but there’s not much I can work with so far! On Sunday afternoon, I walked to Rosshall Gardens, which is not so far from here, and had a wee turn around the gardens avoiding the rain and other people. My favourite part was walking under the trees amidst the flowers. My hay fever had a party afterwards, mind.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 30th May 2020. Thanks for reading. Wednesday will see the return of Loose Ends Redux, which will be right across Scotland. Until then, cheers just now.


Loose Ends Redux: Dundee Law-Perth Bridge

Hello again,

Welcome to another instalment of Loose Ends Redux, this time mainly on Tayside. Two of these were on the same day, the other a week or so later, all in January 2019.

Today’s three contenders are:

Dundee Law

Martyrs’ Monument

Perth Bridge

View from Dundee Law, looking across Dundee: looking down from a hill over trees and a cityscape with a river, two bridges and hills behind.
Dundee Law: monument with cityscape, River Tay and Fife behind.
Dundee Law: looking from a trig point to two benches then down to a cityscape including two football grounds in close proximity.

I was in Dundee for quite a few reasons that early January day. I had just started doing Intercity so had walked along Tannadice Street and part of Sandeman Street as a street I associated with Dundee. I realised that Dundee Law also connected with Calton Hill, the last link in Loose Ends, as both are hills that stand in cities though it is also possible to see football grounds from both of them, Easter Road (and Meadowbank) from Calton Hill and Tannadice and Dens from Dundee Law. I remember this one quite clearly. It was the first time I had been up the hill and I tried to do it carefully up the steps. I sat for a while and looked out over the vista. I’m also reminded, by reading the post back, that I had passed a guy drinking from a bottle of wine on the way up the Law. I think it was actual wine as opposed to Buckfast, if I remember rightly. It was a grey and cloudy day, quite mild for January. At some point I’ll need to go back on a summer’s day to see the difference.

Martyr’s Monument: looking along a path to an obelisk monument. Cars are parked to the left with buildings behind the cars and the monument.

The Martyrs’ Monument is in St. Andrews and I went there that day on the way back to Dundee from Cellardyke. I never pass up an opportunity to go to Cellardyke. St. Andrews is rather fine too. The connection was being able to see St. Andrews from Dundee Law, if I remember rightly. The Martyrs’ Monument exists to commemorate those Protestants who lost their lives for spreading their version of the Word prior to the Reformation.

Perth Bridge: plaque declares that the bridge was built in 1766 with WIlliam Stewart as Lord Provost and John Smeaton as engineer. It was widened in 1869 with John Pullar as Lord Provost and A.D. Stewart as Engineer.
Perth Bridge: looking upriver from a bridge with trees and some houses to the right. A lamppost is in the middle of the image, on the bridge. A bird, possibly a pigeon, sits atop the lamppost.

I was in Perth as it was a nice day and I fancied a jaunt, plus I could do several blog things all in the one trip. I had just done Intercity: Perth, walking by the Tay, and realised Perth Bridge connected just braw with the Martyr’s Monument. Christianity was the link. Perth is St. John’s town. I remember walking across Perth Bridge on a bright, cool January afternoon though have checked that the bridge was built between 1766 and 1771 by engineer John Smeaton. I walked from one end to another, carefully reading the information boards and looking up and down river. I’ve always liked the Tay in Perth. Despite flowing through a city, and by a busy road, it is still a proper river with wildlife and everything.

Loose Ends Redux returns next week with three more adventures from the second round of Loose Ends, first staying in Perth then going to Paisley and finally, on another perishingly cold day, in Edinburgh. Another Saturday Saunter will be here on Saturday. Until then, keep well. Cheers just now.

Loose Ends Redux: Makar’s Court-Calton Hill

Good afternoon,

Welcome to another Loose Ends Redux, this time entirely in Edinburgh. Loose Ends invariably involves finding connections based around where I happen to be. These three are from a day I was bookhunting in Edinburgh so I remember them well. I decided that 21 would be the pause in Loose Ends as it was a bit exhausting and if I remember rightly Calton Hill had been earmarked as the pause place because it connects with a lot of other places.

Today’s places are:

Makar’s Court

Wild West

Calton Hill

Calton Hill, again

Makar’s Court: a pavement with quotations from various writers. In the foreground is John Muir: ‘I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature’s loveliness’.

I had to check how I connected Makar’s Court to the Ramshorn Cemetery in Glasgow. It was through John Muir, whose words written in the Bonaventure cemetery in Georgia I often think about in graveyards. Makar’s Court is in Lady Stair’s Close in Edinburgh outside the Writer’s Museum. On the pavement are quotations from eminent Scottish writers. I like to walk there every so often and see if there are any new ones. John Muir has a stone in Makar’s Court though I have other favourites, including Nan Shepherd and Muriel Spark.

Wild West: looking up a street with wooden buildings and signs advertising saloons and showrooms

The next one was the Wild West. The image still adorns the top of the Loose Ends page to this day. In the mid-1990s, a furniture showroom decorated a back street in Morningside in Wild West style. Even though the furniture shop isn’t there any more, the Wild West backdrop remains. I remember this well. It is wonderfully surreal. There’s a garage there and pop music blared from within, as did very Edinburgh voices. Go when you can. I connected it with John Muir.

Calton Hill: the Nelson Monument, a tower with a circular building below. There are a lot of white clouds across a blue sky.
Calton Hill: looking from the hill over a residential area with a football ground in the centre. Beyond is the Firth of Forth.
Calton Hill: looking across a cityscape with the Firth of Forth behind. This image shows Leith, Restalrig and Lochend.
Calton Hill: looking across a cityscape towards the Firth of Forth and Fife. This image shows the New Town. The building with a glass roof and a dome is the Lothian Buses garage.

Calton Hill soon came and my feet were tired from a long day wandering. Calton Hill and the Wild West are both in Edinburgh and that was the connection. It was sunny and bright and I was relieved that the first Loose Ends round was finished. At this point, in September, I stopped doing Loose Ends things for about three months though I did do Streets of Glasgow and Intercity.

The series resumed back on Calton Hill and I can’t remember it at all so here’s what I posted for the second visit:

‘Calton Hill was the place where Loose Ends left off, back in September, a fitting culmination of a few months of connected adventures including old football grounds, the Wild West, castles, bridges and fever hospitals. I was in Edinburgh just before Christmas and decided to start it all off again, beginning once more on Calton Hill, walking up on a suitably bracing December Saturday. It was bright as I headed up from Waterloo Place, as ever moving around the crowds who generally took the stairs rather than the winding way up the hill. There was a gorgeous light cast across the city, the buildings a golden brown hue, particularly across the New Town. From the prow of the hill a shadow was cast across the nearest streets, particularly London Road, a Lothian bus one of the few spots to escape the darkness.’

The series would return to Calton Hill later, though the next instalment was on the shores of the silvery Tay. We’ll continue with that next week.

Saturday Saunter: Light Towers, Berwickshire and books

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, being written on another sunny Friday afternoon. I hope everyone has been doing okay.

View from the Forth Road Bridge towards the Forth Bridge and North Queensferry: a view looking over a bridge’s railing to the sea, a town and a cantilevered railway bridge.

Many bloggers will know that a lot of online traffic comes from search engines. Two posts which have had a fair bit of readership recently posts from a couple of years ago about walking across the Forth Road Bridge, and the Restalrig Railway Path in Edinburgh. The Restalrig Railway Path walk was in September 2018 and I’ve managed exactly one more Railwalk since, from the New Town to Newhaven in Edinburgh. The Forth Road Bridge walk was on a sunny, spring day though I can only remember it nicely as time has passed. The height over the Forth didn’t help. We walked down into North Queensferry and stopped by the Light Tower at the harbour. I’ve written here before about my love for lighthouses and the Light Tower was built by Robert Stevenson, of the Lighthouse Stevensons, in 1817. It was restored fairly recently and it is very fine. The Tower sits in the shadow of the Forth Bridge, the real one, the rail one, indeed, and was probably more useful before the Bridge was built.

Lochranza Castle: looking across a burn to a ruined castle with a hill behind. A person in a kayak is on the water to the left.

I was thinking about where I want to visit once the lockdown is finished – after I see some loved ones, obviously – and I’m settled on Arran. Rightly, visiting Arran isn’t possible right now but on a sunny day like this, I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be. Sitting on a ferry, the blue Clyde below, Goatfell on the right. A spin around the island towards Lochranza would be excellent. Hopefully soon.

In reading news, I am into Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, book six of the series, though I think I’m going to take a break for a bit so I can read something different. On the library eBook app are The Way Of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry, I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman and Keeping On Keeping On by Alan Bennett, though I’m not sure what one to read first. This week I have been working through Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix and the memoir of Tam Dalyell, who was a particularly unique Labour MP for West Lothian then Linlithgow from 1962 to 2005. Both are re-reads but both interesting in their way.

Eyemouth sculpture: a block with sculpted figures all along its length. Behind is a harbour wall and the sea.

This week Anabel Marsh has been writing about the East Coast fishing disaster in 1881. It had a horrific effect on Berwickshire, particularly Eyemouth, and having grown up in Dunbar, a few miles up the coast, I was aware of it too. It made me think about the history of that coast, fishing, smuggling and geology. Siccar Point is one of Hutton’s Uncomformities. There’s another one on Arran, I think. Fast Castle, high on a cliff, is the subject of one of my favourite paintings in the National Gallery of Scotland. Coldingham and St Abbs are both gorgeous places and I like to go to St Abbs once a year. St Abbs features one of the sculptures which commemorates the fishing disaster, showing people looking out to sea for the men who never came back. Eyemouth has more, on the front between the arcade and the harbour. History is all around us.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 9th May 2020. Thanks for reading. Loose Ends Redux returns on Wednesday and it’s entirely in Glasgow this time. There’s another odds and ends post of stuff from my inbox on Thursday. Until then, keep safe. Bye just now.


Loose Ends Redux: Bachelors’ Club-The Meadows

Loose Ends Redux is back again. Our last instalment stopped in Bridgeton at the Glasgow Women’s Library. Today’s three adventures went forth from there, to Ayrshire, the bottom of Scotland and then back to the capital. Two were prompted by football.

Today’s places are:

Bachelors’ Club


The Meadows

Bachelors’ Club: a two-storey building, cream with dark red doors on the ground floor. An A-frame board advertises that this is the Bachelor’s Club.

The Bachelors’ Club is in Tarbolton, Ayrshire. I had never been there before and I hoped to get somewhere linked to Robert Burns. Jean Armour was referenced in the Glasgow Women’s Library, which led to Burns. I also liked the juxtaposition leading from the GWL to the Bachelors’ Club. The Bachelors’ Club was a social club of which Burns was a member. Their rooms, now managed by the National Trust for Scotland, have Burns artefacts and interesting interpretation.

Coldstream: looking down from a viewpoint to a winding river with trees on either side. A bridge with four arches is in the centre at the back of the image.

Burns also linked to Coldstream. He crossed the Tweed there to visit England for the first time and recited some words. I saw these on a board and knew I had a link. I was in Coldstream anyway for a pre-season friendly involving a Hibs XI and the link was just a bonus. Coldstream is a pleasant market town and I liked being there.

The Meadows: a path running through a park with trees on either side of the path. A tree’s shadow is across the image as it is a very sunny day.

If I remember rightly, the connection from Coldstream to the Meadows, a park in Edinburgh, came through football. Hibs played their first game there, on Christmas Day 1875 against Heart of Midlothian. I was there on a gorgeous July afternoon, in bright sunshine, and thought of links as I took the scenic route to watch Hibs play an European fixture. I had a McDonalds sitting in Lochend Park before going to the ground, if memory serves. I like the Meadows and have walked there many, many times, thinking, plotting, just looking. I have been there in the last couple of years, possibly the day I went to the Hermitage of Braid and around Blackford Hill last September.

Anyway, that’s another Loose Ends Redux. We will resume next week back in Glasgow. 19 of 63 Loose Ends links have happened in Glasgow so far. 14 in Edinburgh, 8 in East Lothian, 4 in Dundee, 4 in Fife, 3 in Paisley and 3 in East Dunbartonshire, all on the same day in that case. 4 castles, 2 palaces. Next week features two of the three cemeteries. Until then, keep well, keep safe. Cheers just now.

Saturday Saunter: Books, Dublin and Jedburgh

Good Saturday to you,

Yes, it’s Saturday Saunter time again, being written on a bright, sunny and windy Friday lunchtime. I hope everyone reading this is okay and keeping well. It is now May and the weather has been cooler and wetter this last week than it was for a while before. It’s been more of the same lately, the one walk a day, telly, books, scrolling on a screen, some actual work. My OU course is now finished and I’ve spent much of this week writing an assignment, thankfully now submitted. Randomly as I type this, an advert for the Open University has just come on the TV. Strange when that happens.

A spherical sculpture sat on paving slabs. The sculpture has been ripped apart to reveal its innards. Behind the sculpture are trees and grey university buildings.

I’ve spent a bit of time this week going through old photographs. Different devices and getting some of the best photographs in one place has been the mission. I would imagine that a lot of the pictures have appeared here on the blog at some point though some are older, showing by the phone image quality. One of my favourite pictures was taken a good few years ago, the first time I went to Dublin. I’ve been to Dublin three or four times and it’s a very interesting city. I may be one of the very few people who has spent their entire time there sober, though. The picture was taken on the campus of Trinity College, near the Old Library, where the Book of Kells lives. The Old Library is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It looks the part with wooden shelves as high as the eye can see. Outside is a sculpture of a broken globe. I always liked it though until now I hadn’t learned what its story was. It is called Sphere Within Sphere, sculpted by Arnaldo Pomodoro, and there are others around the world including in the Vatican Museums, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art and Tel Aviv University.

Jedburgh Abbey: looking towards the nave of a ruined abbey, a tower in the centre with curved columns on either side. Below the tower, through an arch, is a town and a car park.

Another picture I like was taken at Jedburgh Abbey, from up high looking towards the nave. Jedburgh is one of quite a few ruined abbeys in the Borders, alongside Melrose, which featured in Loose Ends Redux the other day, Dryburgh and Kelso. Jedburgh is an old-fashioned Royal Burgh, the last town before the border and a fiercely independent Border burgh into the bargain. The Abbey is a particularly gorgeous ruin and despite not having a roof, it is easy to imagine it in its pomp. The walk from the Visitor Centre gives an excellent view of the remains of the other buildings of the Abbey precinct, for abbeys were home to religious communities with all that entailed. It’s particularly lovely on a summer’s day.

I wrote last week about re-reading Harry Potter. As of today I am on book five, The Order of the Phoenix, and Harry is about to have his hearing at the Ministry of Magic. Near the top of my to-read pile are eBooks from the library eBook app, The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry and I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman, and also a book I got at the National Library before all this happened, The Secret Life of Books by Tom Mole. We went to a talk by Professor Mole on World Book Day, appropriately enough, about how books help us form relationships. I haven’t read the book yet, though I want to do so soon.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 2nd May 2020. Thanks so much for reading. Loose Ends Redux will be back on Wednesday and it will be in Ayrshire, the Borders and Edinburgh. I may well write something else but we’ll see. It’s just finding something to write about right now. Until then, stay safe, keep well. Cheers just now.



Loose Ends Redux: Dunfermline-Glasgow Women’s Library

Welcome to another instalment of Loose Ends Redux, this time involving Fife, the Borders and Glasgow. Writing up these posts has brought back clearer memories than others, depending on the place. I remember Abbotsford and the Glasgow Women’s Library a lot more clearly than Dunfermline, which I had to look up.

Today’s places are:



Glasgow Women’s Library

Dunfermline Abbey Nave: a church with pillars below a gallery and stained glass windows in the lower centre of the image. Two of the pillars have chevrons pointing upwards.
Dunfermline Abbey Nave: looking up towards a pillar with chevrons upon it pointing up. Above the pillar on either side are arches. Behind are three tiers of gallery, with arches lit up by artificial and natural light.
Dunfermline Abbey Nave: various colours of stained glass reflected onto stone by bright sunlight outside.

Dunfermline is a place I know well. I wrote the notes for the Loose Ends Dunfermline post sitting on a step in the Abbey Nave. The Abbey Nave is beautiful, much like Durham Cathedral and created by the same masons. It connected from the previous Loose End, the National Museum of Scotland, since NMS is in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, and Dunfermline was once the capital. The Abbey Nave is a great place to sit and ponder for a few minutes and I hope to be back there soon.

Abbotsford: an elaborate, wood-lined library room with shelves all around with lights hanging from the ceiling. Nearer are two golden chairs, an octagonal glass display case and a rectangular display case.

The next instalment was going to be Melrose Abbey. Robert the Bruce is mostly buried in Dunfermline Abbey, though his heart is in Melrose. On the way to Melrose, however, I had a recommendation to go to Abbotsford, Walter Scott’s house, so I felt I had to oblige. The library was incredible and it was where I spent most of my time going around Abbotsford, sat in a chair by the window. There was a connection with Dunfermline in the entrance hall, wood from the old Abbey Church. The main thing was the library, though, a proper old-fashioned affair with leather book covers. I struggled to leave.

Glasgow Women’s Library: the exterior of a library building looking down the street towards a housing block. In the centre of the image is a sign for the Glasgow Women’s Library and a flag in pink and yellow declaring ‘It’s For Me’
Glasgow Women’s Library: various books on a brown wooden table. The books, all by Muriel Spark, feature stylised designs based on their contents.

Libraries are places where I feel comfortable and I spend my working life in one too. I’ve been to the Glasgow Women’s Library four or five times and it is an incredible place. Above all it has a sense of calm and purpose. The GWL is a library, museum and archive. When I visited for Loose Ends, a couple of summers ago, they had an excellent art exhibition, artworks inspired by Muriel Spark’s novels. That day I joined the GWL and hopefully they’ll be open soon.

Three more Loose Ends down, 41 to go. Next week’s Redux will go to Ayrshire, the Borders and back to Edinburgh. Thinking back to this now, I can’t believe I managed to fit all of this into my life. I work full time, as I did then, and it seems all a bit unreal. Especially as I am writing this in April 2020 with the coronavirus outbreak when going more than a mile or two from my house isn’t possible. We hold ever stronger to the adventures we had when we hope to be able to adventure once more.