Saturday Saunter: 10th November 2018

Good morning,

I am in the fairly nice position of being able to do this live. It is 07.36 as I start this, it is cloudy and mirky outside as the sun starts to come up. I have no fixed plans for today yet. Hibs played last night – less about that the better – so I don’t even have football to fall back on. I have a few contenders, including Edinburgh to catch the Rip It Up exhibition about pop music at the National Museum before it finishes, St. Andrews because I haven’t had a wander there in ages, Dawyck Botanic Garden for similar reasons or Arran ditto. Sometimes an idea bobs its way to the top when thinking about something else and maybe by the time I finish this I’ll have a definitive clue about where I’m going today.

Sign where the snail in a bottle sculpture would normally be, Wellmeadow Street, Paisley

The other day I was in Paisley changing buses and I had a few minutes so I went to look at the new Snail in a bottle sculpture on Wellmeadow Street. The snail in a bottle case happened in 1928 when May Donoghue met a friend at a cafe in Wellmeadow Street, Paisley, and had a ginger beer. Only a dead snail was in the bottle and May naturally enough fell ill. She took the manufacturer of the ginger beer to court and won, the judge Lord Atkin citing the parable of the Good Samaritan to establish just how manufacturers should have a duty of care to those who use their products. This became an established principle in law not just in Scotland but around the world and it all began in Paisley. The sculpture was unveiled a few weeks ago and I’ve seen it through bus windows but of course it wasn’t there, removed for maintenance after wind damage. At some point when it’s back I’ll get a photo and stick it up here.

Coca-Cola, News of the World and other billboards, Paisley Road West, Glasgow

In psychogeographic news, the Evening Times reported the other day that the old gable-end adverts on Paisley Road West are set to be revamped, possibly working with the original companies, maybe by producing a pro-Glasgow or pro-Cardonald design. I like them the way they are but I would approve of a Snug design like those in the town, maybe something involving Crookston Castle or the Battle of Langside or some other historical event that happened in the south side, which is of course the best side.

Deserted street, looking up Virginia Street to Virginia Place, Glasgow

Before I forget, Streets of Glasgow returns this coming Wednesday. I pulled last week’s instalment, on Virginia Street, for several reasons but mainly because between writing it and when it was supposed to appear, BBC Scotland put on a documentary about Scotland’s links to the slave trade and I haven’t seen it yet. Plus it was quite a hard post to write and try and be measured. Hopefully the Virginia Street post will appear on Wednesday.

My copy of HWFG by Chris McQueer as soon as I took it out of the packet

Right, to the books, and last week’s travelling book was Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey by Madeleine Bunting. I got 81 pages in and I haven’t picked it up since, unfortunately, though it is a decent book, a mixture of memoir and travelogue. My to-read pile has grown a bit, including the addition of HWFG by Chris McQueer, the follow-up to Hings, an incredibly funnily twisted selection of short stories. I can’t recommend Chris McQueer’s books enough but maybe not to read on a train or bus as the last time I did I got some very funny looks as I nearly collapsed with laughter. It won’t be a travelling book, then, but I might get to it tomorrow. I’ve still got the Wild Geese Nan Shepherd book in my bag to finish so I might read that wherever I get to then Madeleine Bunting then Chris McQueer. What a combination that is.

Talking of trains, the replacement post on Wednesday was one I wrote in the summer about how distracted I can be by all the sensory stimuli about in the world and that particular day in a train carriage. I try my very best to avoid busy trains and buses whenever possible. As a matter of course, when going between Edinburgh and Glasgow, I make my way to the front of the train, which is logically the best place since that is closer to the exit but less people go there, probably because it is a longer walk. I have been known to let crowded buses pass rather than get on them. Getting to work involves a slightly longer walk to get a quieter bus rather than the next one which is usually mobbed with commuters and school children. Plus the quieter bus is also a double decker and that’s always a good thing, getting a broader perspective on the world.

Incidentally, the sun is up and there are hints of blue sky out the window. Also, my soundtrack is Kacey Musgraves this morning. It was the podcast The West Wing Weekly before that but it was an episode I had heard recently so it got changed. I think I’ve written before about how whenever Hibs get beat, I usually listen to country music, usually Johnny Cash and Kacey Musgraves, on the way home. If they win, it’s usually Hibs songs, a draw depends on the manner of it. I just felt in a Kacey Musgraves mood, cheery but pragmatic sort of music for a Saturday morning.

Before I go, I wanted to share a story from The New York Times about the love many autistic boys in New York have for its Subway. Photographer Travis Huggett went around taking photographs of these laddies having a rare time on the Subway. My favourite line from the article was from Travis Huggett: ‘“It’s not often that you get to photograph people doing their favorite thing in the world,” he said. “To have me along, taking pictures — they don’t care.”’ Go read it, it’s a good article.

I noticed typing the last paragraph that I used the very Glaswegian expression ‘rare’ and I am hearing it in that very Weegie way, pronounced ‘rerr’ rather than the way I would say it, rhyming it with ‘bare’ or ‘bear’. I am getting ever more Glaswegian all the time.

Anyway, that’s our Saturday Saunter for this week. Tomorrow a post will appear here. I haven’t written it yet so it’s a surprise. Wednesday will hopefully be Streets of Glasgow: Virginia Street. Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a very nice weekend.

PS: No, I still haven’t decided where I’m going yet. I will let you know.


Layers of distraction

As I started to write this, someone’s phone music went off loudly. Goodness knows what the song was. I’m currently on a busy train heading south and I’m trying hard to focus on what I’m writing. I have earphones in and I’m working to keep my eyes on the page and words undulating out of my pen rather than my eyes skirting left to the person who has just sat down to my left or right to look out the window without accidentally gazing into someone else’s phone screen. There is a whole lot of sensory information going through the air, chatter, the click of the conductor’s punch, the zipping and unzipping of purses and wallets to fetch and deposit tickets, PA announcements proclaiming the breadth and depth of available meal deals. That’s just the audio. There’s a half-decent smell of some vaguely familiar scent nearby, all the better than body smells and the best stinky food Waverley Station had to offer.

My filter has varying degrees of effectiveness. I always try to get the window seat to minimise what I have to sift through but this time I was assigned the aisle seat and the window seat was taken. The function of my filter depends on a wheen of different factors – the weather, how tired I am, how early in the day it is plus of course how busy my conveyance is at the time. Today is particularly enhanced since it’s a busy train, there are people around me and CrossCountry specialise in the clusterfuck of non-consecutively lettered coaches and not running enough of them. Plus it’s a Sunday morning and in other circumstances at 11.30 I would still be in bed.

The smell is hand cream, I think, from the Body Shop. I’m off the train soon anyway. I’m keeping myself writing to avoid the freshly opened salt and vinegar crisp smell tempting me into opening my sandwich too early. Now, it’s cucumber. I’ve just seen the sea quicker than expected, and it’s time to pack up, bound for a now sunny outside, and another adventure.

Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow will return next week.

Digest: October 2018

The October digest of Walking Talking is here. I know the Saturday posts tend to have updates on my life and times but I like the digest format.

Paisley Abbey and Paisley Town Hall by night

I usually compile the digest from my photo library and the first photo I took in October was on the night of 4th October just after I had missed a train home from Paisley. It’s a rather nice picture looking across to Paisley Abbey and the Town Hall.

John Muir Grove, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Foyer, Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

The following day I went to Edinburgh and spent a good while wandering about the Botanic Gardens, swishing through leaves and sitting under trees. I also went to the Portrait Gallery and had a look at the very fine Victoria Crowe and transport photography exhibitions. The Victoria Crowe portraits were great, with the one featuring Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell a particular favourite.

That Saturday the Hibs beat Hamilton Accies by six goals to nil.

Indian Mutiny memorial, Park Circus, Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow

On Sunday 14th October I did a whole lot of stuff for the blog, including a trip up to Park Circus and Kelvingrove Park and then I walked all the way out to Parkhead, via Charing Cross and the Merchant City. A few Streets of Glasgow walks resulted, including North Frederick Street which appeared here this past Wednesday. I also had a moment looking at the new Irish and Highland Famine memorial by the People’s Palace, which is fairly subtle and unsentimental.

That Tuesday I went to watch Scotland Under-21s get beat by England Under-21s at Tynecastle. Being at Tynecastle was very strange – I wrote about the experience for Easter Road West here and here.

On Saturday 20th October Hibs got beat by Celtic at Celtic Park. I was there and got wet to and fro Central Station.

That week I was off and on the Monday I went through to Dunbar, enjoying a walk around the Prom to Belhaven then doubling back to the harbour in the cool autumn sunshine. It was nice to be there though it was incredibly windy, which is par for the course in Dunbar.

On the Tuesday, I went to Manchester, enjoying a look around the National Football Museum and its exhibitions Band FC and Homes of Football. I wrote a review of it for Easter Road West too.

The roof and stairway, V and A Dundee

That Thursday I was in Dundee for an extended look around the very shiny and new V and A. It is a beautiful building with interesting and insightful exhibitions and I was glad to be there. Plus I had polony rolls for lunch before heading along to the museum. A review of the museum (not the rolls) appeared here a week or two ago.

The following day I went for a swim and on the way back did a Streets of Glasgow walk on Mosspark Boulevard.

On the Saturday I went to Edinburgh, had a wander through the Meadows in order to research a post about the history of a certain football team, then went out to Prestongrange for a wander in that dear, familiar place.

Colinton Dell
Sunset over Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

The next day I was back east for a very bracing walk along the Union Canal then the Water of Leith walkway all the way out to Balerno. Colinton Dell was particularly beautiful. I hadn’t been out that way in years and it was amazing how many houses had sprung up by the Water of Leith, particularly in Currie and Juniper Green. We also went for a wander around the Botanics, which were very fine as the sun set.

That Wednesday I went to watch Hibs play Hearts at Tynecastle. Less said the better.

So, that’s the October digest. Our next post here is Streets of Glasgow on Wednesday, this time Virginia Street. There will probably be a Saturday post and another travelling post next weekend. Stay tuned for that. As ever, thanks so much to all readers, commenters, followers and have a good month.

Posts this month –

Digest: September 2018


Loose Ends: Calton Hill

Streets of Glasgow: Glasgow Street

Book blethers

Railwalk: Restalrig Railway Path

Streets of Glasgow: John Street

Saturday, Saturday

Park Circus

Streets of Glasgow: Woodlands Road

Saturday Saunter: 27th October 2018

Design in Dundee

Streets of Glasgow: North Frederick Street

Saturday Saunter: 3rd November 2018

Happy Saturday,

Looking through the galleries, Kirkcaldy Galleries, Kirkcaldy, Fife

Yesterday I spent an hour in my favourite art gallery, Kirkcaldy. It was a good chance to see the very fine Edinburgh School exhibition again before it shuts tomorrow. That exhibition featured works by – amongst others – Anne Redpath, John Houston, William Gillies and Elizabeth Blackadder, with a mixture of still lifes, landscapes and portraits including by a few by Gillies and Houston of the landscapes of the Lothians and Fife. My favourite of those was the dell in Temple, where Gillies lived in Midlothian, though overall I liked the Anne Redpath of a French town in the murky yet strangely ethereal twilight.

Beyond that I had my usual wander around the permanent collections, spending the most time in the room at the far end amidst the works of William McTaggart, a blend of scenes of children playing, landscapes and seascapes, including watching an emigrant ship leave forever as it turned past the Mull of Kintyre. There was a newly acquired painting with two children playing on the beach at Carnoustie, the sky suitably atmospheric, possibly wintry.

In what probably won’t be a huge surprise to regular readers, a lot of my thoughts this week have been about the Edinburgh derby on Wednesday. My team has been in the news due to the scenes at Tynecastle the other night. I was at the game but my thoughts are too jumbled to make much sense of at this stage. I have managed to cobble something together for Easter Road West, which appears there this morning.

On a brighter note, I have managed a bit of reading this week. I’m still working my way through the new Nan Shepherd collection, Wild Geese, and I’ve finished my Harry Potter re-read, finishing with the play script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on the way to Kirkcaldy yesterday. What I have as my travelling book for today is Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey by Madeleine Bunting, a journalist I liked when I used to read The Guardian. It was a library choice, chosen solely because the title appealed. I’ll let you know what I think of it.

On my pile to re-read is Findings by Kathleen Jamie, a splendid book of essays that I have read many times. Kathleen Jamie has an excellent appreciation of the world, keen but inquisitive, and a new book – like those of Robert Macfarlane – is a moment to cherish. Her last volume of essays, Sightlines, was spotted in the now defunct Waterstone’s in George Street in Edinburgh and I was incredibly close to cheering as I scooped up my copy.

Monday is of course Bonfire Night, the end of the festival of shite around this time of year encompassing the clocks going back, Halloween and of course fireworks. The fireworks I can mostly avoid and there seems to have been a lot less let off around my way in the lead-up this year, which has been appreciated. They put me on-edge, the combination of whizzes and bangs really freaking me out. The best fireworks are seen, not heard, preferably on a telly showing a far distant display. Like Halloween the reasons why the whole thing happens have been lost in the wider onslaught of consumerism; like Halloween and the dreaded C-word, however, it is one massive sensory overload and to be tholed until it’s all over.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for this week. Tomorrow’s post here will be the October digest. On Wednesday Streets of Glasgow will return with another street in the Merchant City. Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a very nice weekend.

Design in Dundee

View to the roof and mezzanine, V and A Dundee
View to the roof and mezzanine, V and A Dundee

On Thursday I managed back to the new V and A Museum of Design in Dundee and spent a great couple of hours wandering around. I got a glimpse of the Scottish Design galleries and the temporary exhibition, Ocean Liners, which is fresh from the V and A down in London. It was a bright autumnal afternoon in Dundee and the sunshine shone through the portholes and down the slats that line the foyer of the building. There was a short wait to get into the Scottish Design galleries, the V and A operating a queuing system to ensure the galleries didn’t get too crowded. This was one of quite a few thoughtful touches around the place, including a quiet room and a Changing Places toilet.

Object wall, V and A Dundee Let Glasgow Flourish, object wall, V and A Dundee Mackintosh gallery, V and A Dundee

The Scottish Design galleries were magnificent. There wasn’t much of a linear structure so I could wander and look without losing the thread of what was going on. The collections, drawn from the V and A’s own holdings as well as from institutions across the country, were varied, mainly early modern or modern but encompassing video games and Robert Adam, Patrick Geddes and Alexander McQueen. The Mackintosh section, recreating a tea room, was wonderful, very appropriate given how Kate Cranston will be appearing on the latest Royal Bank of Scotland £20 note. It felt like being in the hallway at the Hill House, not at all a bad thing. There was a drawing from Patrick Geddes featuring a quote that neatly encompassed a lot of his work and what I feel about urban exploration:

‘Town plans are no mere diagrams, they are a system of hieroglyphics in which man has written the history of civilisation, and the more tangled than apparent confusion, the more we may be rewarded in deciphering it.’

From close to home were examples of the Paisley pattern and a beautifully illustrated ornithology book by Alexander Wilson. There were selections of lavish Turkey Reds from the Vale of Leven too.

This was only a small selection of what was there, a snapshot based on what jumped out at me. I hope to get back soon anyway and I think it will yield more on a second visit, the mark of a truly good museum.

Shipping advertising posters, V and A Dundee Swimsuit display, Ocean Liners exhibition, V and A Dundee Style display, Ocean Liners exhibition, V and A Dundee

The Ocean Liners exhibition was all about the glamour of big liners, their early history, construction and evolution. That normally wouldn’t be my bag but it was on and I was there. It was beautifully designed. At various points it really felt like being on a ship, including the crossing from the first room with shipping posters into a ship, complete with a water light effect on the floor. There were a lot of mirrors and good lighting choices which added to the overall effect. The middle room which featured an arrangement of swimsuits as well as smartly dressed mannequins was just magnificent, very well designed. It was worth it for the curatorial design choices alone, let alone the objects displayed. I should add that the exhibition exit featuring a dark room and a video screen above the exit door with seats at either side was a bit much for me but that didn’t overly detract from the experience.

Sitting in the cafe later, I enjoyed just looking around at the roof and the portholes, all sorts of triangles and sharp angles adding to the clever design making best use of the possible space. Some of the interior spaces felt like the Lighthouse in Glasgow, all sleek and modern. It being a bit quieter than my last visit made it a lot easier to savour the building and its collections. I left not a little inspired, which really is the mark of a good museum.

Saturday Saunter: 27th October 2018

I am starting this post on Thursday night, live from a Citylink bus powering along the A90 somewhere between Dundee and Perth. I’ve had a rather good day in Dundee, including a couple of hours in the new V and A. That was wonderful but I’ll not be writing about that today. A post all about the V and A will appear tomorrow instead. After the V and A, we had a good walk along the side of the Tay, encountering a McGonagall poem on the pavement by the Tay Bridge and a graffiti wall featuring some incredible work. And Count von Count from Sesame Street. Ha ah ah. We ducked into the DCA where there were two decent exhibitions, one of photos of the North and South Pole, the other video art about Detroit.

Count Von Count graffiti in Dundee
Count Von Count graffiti in Dundee
View from the Prom to North Berwick Law and the Bass Rock, Dunbar
View from the Prom to North Berwick Law and the Bass Rock, Dunbar

This week I’ve covered quite a lot of ground. On Monday I was in Dunbar and had a windy walk along the Prom to Belhaven. Tuesday I was in Manchester including a couple of cracking exhibitions at the National Football Museum, a photography exhibition by Stuart Roy Clarke called ‘The Game’ and the rather fabulous Bands FC. An exhibition review is over at Easter Road West where there is also a digressive sort of post this morning.

As this is posted I may well be off somewhere. Current contenders include Kirkcaldy to go to my favourite art gallery or Edinburgh, just because. To be fair I am also in Edinburgh tomorrow but that’s going to be a walk along the Water of Leith so there’s plenty else to do.

To the books and I’ve managed to get through a wheen of books this week:

  • Unstoppable: My Life So Far by Maria Sharapova
  • For Every One by Jason Reynolds
  • Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves
  • In A House Of Lies by Ian Rankin

I started the Nan Shepherd compilation Wild Geese earlier and I am near the end of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it in the thirteen years since it was published but it was one of the bits the film messed up.

As for the books I finished this week, the Jason Reynolds poetry one resonated quite a bit as it dealt with existential angst and the dying of dreams and all the stuff that afflicts people staring down the barrel of 30 like me. It was published by the wonderful 404 Ink, who put out good books including Hings by Chris McQueer and Nasty Women. Ann Cleeves is excellent though I must be one of the few people who have only encountered the Shetland series in book form not on the tellybox. I like Jimmy Perez as a character. In contrast to hard-drinking male detectives like Rebus, Jimmy Perez and Lorimer from Alex Gray’s books are more sensitive and often better characters. I like Rebus too but I’ve found lately I’ve enjoyed Ann Cleeves and Alex Gray more. Rebus is supposed to be retired and it just didn’t seem right in the latest one that he got shoehorned into another police investigation. Surely Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox could carry a book on their own?

For what it’s worth, my favourite detective is undoubtedly DS Roberta Steel from Stuart MacBride’s Logan MacRae novels. As an aside, I spent one very enjoyable lunchtime at work recently listening to the podcast version of Stuart MacBride’s event at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival. He is one sarcastic son-of-a-gun.

Other recent podcast highlights include the Scotland Outdoors special featuring a tour round the Hebridean places that feature in Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy novels and – guilty pleasure time – the podcast version of the Ellen DeGeneres show. Yes, seriously. It’s presented by Ellen’s executive producers and features clips of interviews from the show. I can confirm I skipped the recent edition featuring Simon Cowell. Marina Hyde of the Guardian had it right when she called Cowell the Karaoke Sauron.

Anyway, gang, I’m just about home, quite near Cumbernauld to be precise, so I’ll wrap this up. More about the V and A appears tomorrow and Easter Road West has some football blethers this morning. Next Sunday here will be the October digest, I think. Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a good Saturday whatever you get up to.

Saturday, Saturday

New V and A museum, Dundee


Our agenda this morning is upcoming travels, books and any other business. Maybe in that order, maybe not. We’ll see. It’s Saturday morning and I am going all the way to Parkhead later to watch the Hibs. I am currently off for ten days with a few travels planned for the coming time. I have a couple of trips sorted already. I am off to Manchester on Tuesday and Dundee on Thursday. I will be in Edinburgh next Sunday and at some point I will try and get to Dunbar. I think I’m due a fix of my home town. Beyond that I’ll be having a few lie ins and trying my very best to read some books, maybe getting round to a few Glasgow jaunts too, probably resulting in a right few posts for the blog in the process. Manchester should be interesting. At time of writing, I have done absolutely no research for Manchester but I’m sure I’ll manage to cobble together a decent day.

I haven’t read so much this week. I have a lot of books on my tablet plus I’ve still got Maria Sharapova’s autobiography and We Only Want The Earth, Sandy Macnair’s rundown of Hibs’ fortunes last season. Also sitting by my bed are For Every One, a book of poetry by Jason Reynolds, which I bought mainly because it’s published by 404 Ink, an independent publisher from Edinburgh behind Nasty Women and bringing Chris McQueer to the world’s attention. The world or this corner of it are immensely grateful for that. I also have The Silver Darlings by Neil Gunn still. Digitally, though, I have the latest Ian Rankin and Ann Cleeves, which I might work through on my various journeys this week.

I did read The Railway Adventures by Vicki Pipe and Geoff Marshall, the duo behind All The Stations, the YouTube series from last summer going around each and every railway station in the land. It was a nicely illustrated book but I liked the attention-to-detail, the asides and quips that made it feel personal rather than just another travel guide.

Talking of which, I’ve been thinking about last Sunday’s post, which was a walk along the Restalrig Railway Path. At the moment Sunday posts here are a bit freeform. Tomorrow’s, for example, is about the view from Park Circus here in Glasgow. Anabel’s comment on the Restalrig post got me thinking about the lesser-spotted parts of Edinburgh, the bits that aren’t on the tourist trail. Edinburgh, to many, is about the Old Town and Princes Street, maybe a diversion to the Botanic Gardens or the Royal yacht down in Leith. That stuff doesn’t interest me, or not very much. Off the top of my head, I have a few thoughts, either posts that I can write here from memory or would need a visit. For starters, though, I can recommend the beautiful Colinton Dell, on the Water of Leith walkway and which I hope to visit next weekend, or the equally lovely Hermitage of Braid, which I was in a few months ago. Both of which are well outside Edinburgh city centre though very reachable via public transport (Colinton Dell is near Slateford train station and served by many buses, particularly the 44, while the Hermitage gets the 5, 11, 15 and 16, if memory serves.)

Since I started writing this post the other night, I have added to the to-read pile. On Thursday I was killing time at Braehead on the way to work and ended up in Waterstone’s. Fatal mistake. I bought a new compilation of writings by Nan Shepherd, Wild Geese, which currently sits in my backpack. If it’s anything like the book of Muriel Spark’s essays I read a few years ago, it will be a big hit. My favourite book is The Living Mountain and the most popular post on this blog, thanks to Google, is It’s a grand thing to get leave to live, since those words appear on an RBS banknote. This new collection has been edited by Charlotte Peacock, whose fine biography of Nan Shepherd Into The Mountain came out last year. Charlotte Peacock also has a blog, which I can heartily recommend too. I think Wild Geese will be one of those books to savour and read slowly to get its best effect, like The Living Mountain and the best books, in my experience.

Tynecastle Park

One last thing before I go. I also write a football blog called Easter Road West, which is generally about Hibs but can delve into other aspects as required. On Tuesday night I went to watch Scotland Under-21s play England Under-21s at Tynecastle. England won 2-0, incidentally. Anyway, I’ve written a couple of posts over at ERW about the game itself and the overall experience of watching a game at the home of my team’s deadly rivals. Please do go have a read. What might be of more interest to Walking Talking readers is this morning’s post which is about a visit I made a couple of months ago to St. Mary’s Church in the Calton, which is where Celtic were founded. Hibs are playing Celtic today hence I posted it today. I’m interested in the beginnings of things and it’s a different way to write about football or indeed any well-covered topic.

Anyway, that’s us for today. As ever, thanks for reading, liking, following, commenting. Tomorrow’s post here features Park Circus and Streets of Glasgow on Wednesday features Woodlands Road.

Have a very nice weekend.

Saturday morning thoughts, again

Happy Saturday! As this is posted I will hopefully still be in bed. The Hibs are playing today but in Paisley, a mere 15 minutes door-to-door from my home to the Simple Digital Arena, home to St. Mirren FC. That means there won’t be a travelling book today since surely to goodness I can just scroll on my phone for the 11 minutes the train journey will take. Most of my books are in boxes after a house move but I can talk about what I read last weekend. On the way to and from Dundee, I read The Life and Death of St. Kilda by Tom Steel, a refreshing and unsentimental insight into the life of the people of St. Kilda before and after their evacuation in 1930. It was a sober and serious book but eminently readable, not flinching from discussing the difficulties of life 100 miles out into the Atlantic for the islanders, missionaries, nurses and people who sought to supply or govern them, with an interesting aside about the role of the archipelago as a missile testing range.

Last Friday I went to Tantallon Castle near North Berwick. On the way I managed to finish two books that were sitting in my bag waiting to be finished, The Hidden Ways by Alistair Moffat and Call Them By Their True Names, a book of essays by Rebecca Solnit about Trump, America and the relationship between truth and authority. Alistair Moffat’s book was good too, a selection of walking routes across Scotland, including the Herring Road between Dunbar and Lauder. It was an interesting contrast between those two, one more serious than the other while both are relevant to these times. We need to know about our past but also to walk and be in the landscape from time to time lest we get too far up our backsides. In a brief sojourn in Edinburgh, I ended up with a football magazine called Glory which had a special about Irish football. It is more of a coffee table thing but I look forward to reading it eventually. Also coming home with me was We Only Want The Earth by Sandy Macnair, a telling of the first season with Hibs back in the Premiership. A lot of it is very recent in my brain but reading about it is no great hardship, especially since I haven’t yet reached the gubbing by Aberdeen just before Christmas.

I am writing this a bit ahead of time so I will also say that as part of the house move, I came across a few books I bought ages ago but haven’t yet read. That’s why my travelling book for the football on Tuesday was The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It seems a seminal book in the canon but I haven’t read it so it came with me to Easter Road on Tuesday. Some time soon I will let you all know what I thought of it.

Tantallon Castle was great, one of my favourite places anyway. I had left Glasgow late so my time there was curtailed a bit. Plus I walked the three miles to and from North Berwick, the return leg at full speed to catch the train back to Edinburgh. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and the East Lothian countryside was looking braw. I spent most of my time just gawping at the Bass Rock and down to the Lammermuirs, Doon Hill and St. Abbs Head, a pleasure to be in a dear, familiar place, however briefly. Randomly the HS steward was someone I used to work with in Dunbar years ago, which was a nice surprise.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday morning post. Tomorrow is Loose Ends and it will be in Edinburgh again. A post will also appear on Easter Road West this morning too. Have a nice Saturday. Cheers.

New museum

On Saturday I managed a wee peek into the brand new Victoria and Albert Museum outpost up in Dundee. It being the second weekend of opening meant everybody and their granny had the same idea, with a big queue just to get in the door let alone to get into the permanent galleries. Luckily it was a beautiful sunny Saturday by the Tay and getting to stand and stare at the fine Kengo Kuma design was absolutely no hardship. Eventually we got into the foyer and it was beautiful, all wooden boards with portholes giving views over the Tay. That was worth the queuing alone, as was the staircase with yet more porthole windows and the fine display of contemporary Scottish design including pencil and pen grips produced by the Galgael Trust not so far from here in Govan. Wee bit of civic pride there. The queue for the Scottish Design galleries showed no sign of dissipating and we resolved to come back in a few weeks once the novelty had worn off. Before heading off, we headed out to the terrace for a very fine view across the Tay Road Bridge and down the river towards Broughty Ferry.

We came back later as the sun was setting and managed to look at the building for a bit longer. The moon peeked between the arches of the building but eluded the perfect photograph. A photo is but a pale imitation at the best of times and it couldn’t have been truer at that moment. The building was enough that day, the architecture the main attraction since I couldn’t get near the actual exhibits but that was no problem whatsoever. I have the feeling I’ll be back regardless, to see the exhibits and do the cultural thing but I was really in Dundee that for the football so the V and A was a bonus, the stunning building good enough for me.

Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow returns next week.

Digest: August 2018

Another month and another digest. I started this month on holiday and managed a fair few adventures along the way.

Wednesday 1st August I bopped around Glasgow. I had a few bits of business to do in the town before heading out to Cathkin Park for a Loose Ends post. It was good to be at Cathkin again, to stand, ponder and wander. I noticed a major difference on the terracing as a lot of overgrown flora and debris had been cleared. Later on I went to the Gallery of Modern Art, first doing a Streets of Glasgow walk on Royal Bank Place. GoMA had an interesting blend of exhibitions going on – have a look at their website for updates.

Painting of Plug from the Bash Street Kids, McManus Galleries, Dundee

The following day was my birthday and I went to Dundee for the day, having lunch and then going around the fabulous McManus Galleries with its exhibition on the Bash Street Kids. The parodies of famous paintings featuring Beano characters, most memorably Plug in the style of Vincent van Gogh, was utterly genius.

Sunday 5th August was the first game of the league season so I went through to Edinburgh for that, doing the same the next Thursday for Molde in the Europa League.

That Friday I had a training course in Glasgow and after that was done I walked through the town and ended up in the Necropolis, which I have also written about for Loose Ends. I had a bit of a reverie there, thinking of history and the present in waves. Thereafter I covered John Knox Street and George Street for Streets of Glasgow, the latter in heavy rain.

A penguin sculpture in a Formula 1 fire suit, Perth

Perth was the destination the following Sunday for yet more soccerball. Before going to McDiarmid Park, I ended up being led around some of the penguins that have plodded off from the larger trail currently gracing Dundee and surrounding districts.

Yet another Sunday with football came the following week, this time back in the capital with yet more rain.

Anstruther, looking towards East Lothian

Friday 24th was the start of a long weekend. That morning I achieved a longtime ambition and walked the length of Paisley Road West. It was to celebrate the 500th post and third anniversary of this blog. The walk was fine, not the most exciting but it was in nice weather and it was diverting enough. That afternoon I went on a world tour of Fife, lunching in Dunfermline and eating a lemon sole supper along the coast in Anstruther. Sitting looking out the window along the way, including from the top deck of a 95 bus from Leven to Anstruther, was glorious.

That Saturday I went to the capital to watch the Hibees once more.

Ramshorn Cemetery, Glasgow

The next Friday I went on a wee jaunt after work, walking through the city on a glorious sunny afternoon and bagging two more Streets of Glasgow plus another Loose Ends adventure in the Ramshorn Graveyard.

In August I managed to read a fair bit. By screen I read Notes On A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig and My Life, Our Times by Gordon Brown. In print I worked through some more of Dervla Murphy’s oeuvre. Her words are measured and refreshing. Informed curiosity is the only way I can think of to describe it. We need more people like Dervla Murphy in our world.

This was the first year in a decade that I haven’t managed to be at the Edinburgh Book Festival at all. The only day I had tickets I ended up giving them back because Hibs were playing. I avoid the Fringe and my visits to the capital involved going out of Waverley Station the back way and heading east. September is the month of Edinburgh for me and I look forward to getting back to the capital for some proper wanders without fear of being handed a hundred leaflets.

This month I also managed to go swimming for the first time in at least five years. I don’t write much about my fitness regime, which consists of occasional visits to the gym and a whole lot of walking, but learning to swim properly is on my 30 Before 30 list as is being comfortable enough to wild swim.

My football blog Easter Road West has had a few posts this month. A lot of it has been about the varying fortunes of the Hibees, though I have also written about the identity of Hibs as an Edinburgh and Leith team and also a walk around the outside of St. James Park in Newcastle.

That’s the tale of August. September should be interesting too. It might involve an island trip, it will definitely involve football away days. There will be a few manoeuvres in the name of this blog too. It’ll be fun.

I didn’t want to be all schmaltzy with the 500th post but I want to thank all readers, commenters and followers for their support over the last three years. I know some readers in real life, others only through a screen. Regardless it’s nice to know there are folk reading and maybe even benefiting from what I write in some small way. Thanks again for reading, commenting and following. Have a good day and a nice September.

Posts in August –

Digest: July 2018

Coming soon…

Streets of Glasgow: London Road

Loose Ends: Coldstream

Streets of Glasgow: Royal Bank Place

Loose Ends: The Meadows

Streets of Glasgow: John Knox Street

Loose Ends: Cathkin Park

Streets of Glasgow: Paisley Road West

Streets of Glasgow: George Street