Intercity: Dundee II (Commercial Street)

The second walk of the day and Dundee again. The first instalment of Intercity in the City of Discovery was past Tannadice and Dens Park. I also associate Dundee with Commercial Street, which runs from the McManus to the Tay, so it was natural to pick it for Dundee’s second Intercity walk. I had circled the McManus twice, fine building that it is, and sat on a bench before I took to Commercial Street. A 22 bus had passed me each time and my warped brain brought up a Taylor Swift song. Forever after, I may know the 22 in Dundee as the ‘I don’t know about you’ bus. I looked up at the Northern Assurance building, crowned by a turret and a basket, then turned down Commercial Street, which was slightly more run down than I remembered. Busy, though, with folk waiting for buses at various points. That made it a little difficult to take photos with some kind soul even ducking out my road as I took a photo. Some handsome buildings stand on Commercial Street with some fine doorways and Victorian buildings throughout, some even with towers as on the corner with Seagate.

By St. Paul’s Cathedral (not that one) stood two statues, one naval admiral Adam Duncan and the other Dundee icon Oor Wullie, one of the trail liberally scattered across Scotland this summer. This one featured a brown coloured Oor Wullie with his hair and dungarees golden. I’m not the hugest fan of the Oor Wullie figures, the Toy Story, seabird and star ones in Dundee, North Berwick and Glasgow excepted, though it was there. Even weirder was a hair mannequin in a hairdressers’ window. It bore a very luxurious mane of hair with a generous, though styled beard. It looked like Noel Edmonds if he suddenly invested in Just For Men. It might have been the work of a hair artiste whose services were offered across the road. I can only imagine what a hair artiste does. Probably something worthy of the Turner Prize.

The walk finished and I’m not sure if I know more about Dundee than when I began but it was fine all the same. I wrote the notes for this one in the nearby V and A museum, sat on a bench on the stairs. As I scribbled, I people-watched and listened, another walk done, just ready to be written down.

Thanks for reading. Another Intercity walk follows next week. The first Dundee Intercity walk can be found here, with the other instalments in the series on the Intercity page.

By popular demand, a post about my favourite places in Edinburgh will appear here a week on Wednesday.

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Intercity: Dunfermline

A day of Intercity walks began in Dunfermline. Dunf is blessed/cursed with a very good bus service to Glasgow, with four or five buses an hour. Of course the day I was there saw the bus timetables in Fife change which flummoxed me a bit fitting in the later destinations. But it was possible. The timetable booklets at Dunfermline bus station were going like nobody’s business. An hour later, the Glasgow booklets were gone. Anyway, logistics worked out and fortified by the inevitable, incredible steak bridies, the Dunfermline Intercity walk began by Dunfermline City Chambers, known by the rather prosaic handle Dunfermline Customer Contact Centre, a prosaic name for a beautiful town house building quite like a Disney castle. The only municipal building I’ve seen like it is Renfrew Town Hall. This walk covered a few streets, beginning at the top of the hill and ending near the bottom by Andrew Carnegie’s birthplace. It was either that or the walk along Halbeath Road to East End Park but I get in trouble if I write too much about football here.

I soon passed Dunfermline Abbey with its spire bearing the words ‘King Robert The Bruce’. Bruce’s remains are buried within the Abbey, all except the heart which is in Melrose. Sadly I had no time for the Abbey Nave, a particular favourite place of pillars and stained glass put together by the masons who brought us Durham Cathedral. There was a decent, meaty food smell nearby, possibly coming from a pub just up the way. Nearby was a nightclub called Life. I always think life is better without being in nightclubs, to be honest. A sign by the Palace directed people to the various extremities of the Fife Coastal Path, North Queensferry and Culross closer, St. Andrews further away. I was to be there a few hours later in the day. By the sign was a plaque about Charles I, the last monarch born in Scotland, born indeed in Dunfermline in 1600. The plaque was sympathetic, maybe even obsequious, declaring that Charles met ‘his death with dignity and courage’.

Moving swiftly on I walked under the Palace, Royal place and Abbey guesthouse. I let a family pass and the girl walked by stomping, as little girls often do. I could hear kids running about the Palace – that’s fine with me as long as some history goes in along the way. I was now on Monastery Street, pedestrianised as far as the Cenotaph. I had never seen the Cenotaph before. It was present but almost an afterthought, hidden in the corner. There was a Garden for Heroes across the way too. As I walked with the Palace beside, the Abbey above and the river water in my ears, I was reminded very much of Stirling, history all around me which is never a bad thing.

Before I came to the Carnegie birthplace, I passed a ghost sign above a shop. The next door building clearly housed a nationalist with Yes flags hanging out the windows. They were bang up-to-date since the Yes campaign for independence has recently changed its branding. That’s the type of details I notice. I try not to, honest. I don’t have a scooby how Andrew Carnegie felt about Scottish independence but his birthplace had some rather cool details on the outside, panels on the wall depicting discovery (with a ship) and industry with a miller’s wheel and some tools. It seemed a good place to end this walk and it was decent, a walk through one of my favourite towns in Scotland, history as ever with every step.

Thanks for reading. Another Intercity walk follows next week. Dunfermline has also featured in Loose Ends.

Saturday Saunter: Zen on Arran

Good morning,

Another Saturday Saunter and it’s being started on Monday night on a Citylink bus somewhere south of Perth. I’ve been up in Aberdeen for the day, partly on family business and partly for the blog. I’ve just finished writing the two blog posts which have resulted from my wanders. It’s been a beautiful, sunny day, at least from about Laurencekirk going north and still in deepest Perthshire going home.

The blog has been on hiatus and that’s been quite relaxing. I have been keeping up with other blogs and gathering material for my own. Hopefully it’ll be up to standard.

I don’t really do relaxing. There are days I just vegetate and don’t go over the door but they often come with notions to go places that soon fizzle out. I relax by doing stuff. I write hundreds if not thousands of words a week because it helps focus my mind. I spent a few days last week bopping around the country on buses or doing a whole lot of walking. I’m not a lying on the beach kind of person or a mad partier. The week or so being off reset things a bit, giving me time to read, reflect, sleep and saunter. If I can pick one moment of Zen, it would be last Friday, changing buses at Blackwaterfoot on Arran. The place was fairly busy but I just looked out to sea. Over yonder was Kintyre and in the middle of the calm water was a yacht. Zen, right enough.

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A yacht with Kintyre in the background

This Saturday sees me working hence this is being posted earlier than usual. It’s so I can pin Tweets too. Tomorrow I’m away to Bute for the day on another CalMac ferry. Going on a CalMac ferry always feels like going on your holidays, even for a short trip. It might be the safety announcements in Gaelic.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 10th August 2019. Intercity follows tomorrow and it’s Dunfermline, fuelled by steak bridies. Wednesday is about some sculptures on London Road in Edinburgh. Whatever you do this weekend, have a good one. Cheers.

Saturday Saunter: Warmth, light and overload

Welcome to this Saturday Saunter. This is being posted as I am on my way to work. Today is my last day before an incredibly welcome period of time off. I’m going to be off for about ten days which is the longest I have had off since Christmas. I don’t have all that much planned save a couple of football matches and a day trip or two. I plan to have a few lie-ins, read and take it as easy as I possibly can. One of those day trips will be next Friday, which is my 30th birthday. Not sure where we’ll be going yet but rest assured it will be a good one.

I am writing this on Wednesday night. It has been exceedingly warm today and even at twenty to ten at night it is still warm. The sky is a pale blue as the sun sets and white puffy clouds breathe on the tree line. It is to be even warmer tomorrow (Thursday) and maybe a bit cooler by the weekend. Even with the heat here, we are getting it better than down south. It was ever thus.

I did plan to write a post about turning thirty and my hopes for the world in ten years time but the draft got very ranty. We don’t do politics here and avoiding the news has been very cathartic this particular day with the confirmation of our new Prime Minister. The comedian Richard Osman put it best on Twitter the other day: ‘It’s so hot outside, it’s almost as if the yawning gates of Hell have chosen to open up on this particular day from some reason’. Even if Hell is really only a place in Norway, that’s probably about right.

High Street, Edinburgh, in December when it was relatively quiet

Another particular bad place is Edinburgh during the month of August. I tend to visit the capital only when necessary in August when the Festival circus is on. I’ll be there for the football and a couple of things at the Book Festival and that’s it. I read an interesting thread on Twitter the other day which asked autistic folk in Edinburgh what their top tips were for avoiding the Fringe. Noise cancelling headphones, disappearing into your mobile and wearing an official lanyard were good suggestions, as well as the Don’t Take A Flyer game, which I’m down for, involving pretending leaflets just don’t exist. Knowing alternative routes which avoid the Old Town is also useful. Last year I employed earplugs as well as my usual fast speed and looking down, plus of course heading as far away from the city centre as humanly possible. It is just a massive overload. The people, noise, posters, folk shoving leaflets in your hand, the whole drill. Unfortunately Edinburgh has gotten busier during the other 11 months of the year so what August used to be like 10 years ago is what it’s like all the time. Avoidance is the key.

Before I move off the subject, Wednesday’s Child published a post satirising the Fringe the other day so have a read at that.

Talking of reading, I wrote the other night about my to-read pile. The book I was reading earlier was Fitzy: The Story of My Life by Tony Fitzpatrick, player, manager and now Chief Executive of St. Mirren. Usually football memoirs tend to be much of a muchness but Tony Fitzpatrick’s is interesting. One passage which nearly brought me to tears was the bit about his young son dying of leukaemia. Tony Fitzpatrick’s book captured the feeling well of losing someone so close and so young. There are some feelings which never go, some wounds which never heal and some moments which knock you sideways, regardless how much time has passed.

Turning thirty has been difficult for me. Like most people I have regrets, things I haven’t done and things I would do differently. Recently, however, I adopted a strategy, which is ‘screw 30’. It is just a number. Life is what you make of it and it takes you in all sorts of directions. I mentioned earlier my hopes for ten years time. I would rather treat my impending oldness as an opportunity rather than something to be resented.

There is a bad moon rising right now and it might get worse. Hope is important and I hold to that today. It is cliched. It is crucial, today more than ever, to remember history. Light can often follow darkness. It’s important to hear, and listen to, a diverse range of voices, even if you don’t agree with them. So too is it crucial not to lose hope that there will be a brighter day, if not tomorrow or the next day but soon.

On that note, it’s time to end. With my time off comes a hiatus for this blog, starting in a few words time. We will resume on Wednesday 7th August with the July digest. Thank you for reading my drivel, whether you have come here by chance, or as a regular reader, commenter or follower. Have a very nice weekend and I will see you soon. Peace.

Saturday Saunter: The Engine Shed, Stirling and not writing about adventures

Good Saturday to you,

It is Tuesday night as I start this and it’s sunny outside with a wee bit of a breeze. I had all sorts of plans to write a fairly serious Saturday Saunter about mid-year burnout, Scottish Twitter and incels but I can’t be bothered with that. Instead I’m going to go free-form.

I don’t write about every adventure here. It’s partly time but also because writing about an experience can sometimes reduce it. Places and trips blend into one and I don’t like that feeling. Being busy sometimes means that life creeps up on you and the Zen, mojo, life that comes from a good adventure can be eroded quite rapidly. Writing can relive it but then the memory can sometimes be about the piece rather than the place. It’s a problem with writing a lot and wanting to write a lot. Sometimes you can run on empty, inspiration-wise. Last weekend I was very busy and went to East Lothian on Friday, Stirling on Saturday and around Glasgow looking at the Oor Wullies on Sunday. It had a lot of good moments but I don’t want to write about too many of them. Hopefully they’ll live on in my brain a wee while longer as a result.

Stirling was really about the football but I managed to have a wander before the game. I did the Intercity walk which appears here tomorrow and then I had a few minutes in the Engine Shed, a building conservation centre run by Historic Environment Scotland. There were displays about the various materials which form Scotland’s buildings and their makeup, scientific and historical but not too technical. There was also a display about the engineer James Watt, which was decent too. Most of all I liked the architecture of the building, a former train shed, and the big windows brought a great light in too. What was also wonderful was that they are well-up on accessibility, with a poster about the sensory/relaxed hour they had had earlier in the day. When I asked about it, the very helpful member of staff showed me into their sensory room, which had some toys, beanbags and mats scattered around. It made me happy as an autistic person as well as a history buff. I am both at the same time, of course.

What I also liked in the Engine Shed was the big satellite photograph of Scotland in the middle of the floor, with an insert to the left featuring St. Kilda and the top for Shetland. Rockall was posted absent, incidentally. I had such an urge to clamber all the way across it but I desisted, even though there wasn’t a sign. It probably isn’t becoming in a person soon to be in his thirties.

I think of Stirling as being a bit like Disneyland, a Scottish historical Disneyland. A lot of the buildings, the surroundings, every few yards there’s something important. It’s like Edinburgh but less busy. It was still busy the other day, mind. Even the walk to the ground, which is out-of-town and past a retail park and a derelict barracks, had its scenery. I could see the Ochil Hills and the Wallace Monument standing high on Abbey Craig. From my seat in the stand I could see wind turbines on the hills. On the way back, Stirling’s Old Town, and its castle, rose high on the landscape. I always like a trip there, even if the football wasn’t that great.

This is being posted as I am off to Edinburgh to watch Hibs. Underland will again be with me as I continue to work my way through it. I’ll finish it eventually. I’ll probably have a walk somewhere in the capital before the game, maybe the Botanics.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 20th July 2019. Tomorrow’s post is Intercity: Stirling. Wednesday is about my to-read pile. Thursday is about my commute. Whatever you end up doing, have a good weekend. Cheers.

Why history?

A few years ago, I was studying in the lower reaches of the Central Library in Edinburgh. The topic at hand was slavery as part of the Open University degree which is still in progress. I had printed off some articles and I had my course books in front of me. The chapter delved into statistics and in my frustration in understanding the charts and tables, I was close to chucking all of the papers out the window. What a confetti it would have made on the street below.

I was reminded of this recently when listening to an otherwise fascinating lecture about emigration. The speaker was great, interesting, engaging…until the tables came out. I am a fairly intelligent person and I have a half-decent grasp of maths. With statistics, I’m lost and it’s why I prefer words or qualitative evidence generally. I can do mental maths and my job requires a fair bit of adding up in my head but I’m glad I don’t tend to have a lot of numbers to deal with.

I have roughly two years left of an Open University degree in history. I started it a few years ago and after a couple of breaks, I’m now two thirds of the way through. After the lectures recently, I am more determined to get it done. It’s hard, though, keeping up with a course calendar while trying to work full-time and be a fairly civilised person but it’ll happen. The OU is exceedingly portable and a lot of materials come in PDF format so I can read them just about anywhere, on my iPad or off a computer screen.

The question I sometimes ponder is why history? Why have I devoted so much time to study the past? It all comes from my own past. I grew up in Dunbar, a place which oozes history of all types. Almost every building on the High Street is listed. Two battles which helped to shape the future of the kingdom happened in Dunbar. John Muir left from Dunbar to found national parks and shape consciousness about environmentalism. The inventor of the screw propeller came from Dunbar too. The Castle had its moments too. I just looked round and saw this as normal. My family and school took me places, told me stories. For a while I wanted to study politics but as time went on, I realised history was what I wanted to know more about. I don’t think it’s possible to understand the world today without having a grasp of what happened before.

Where I live now is incredibly historical too. My surroundings are quite modern – 1950s, 1960s architecture with a whole lot of motorway and railway nearby – but around me there are stories, good and bad. Glasgow has an immensely diverse past. Our city is a collection of villages forged together by people coming here for a better life and for work. We also have a darker past, with bigotry and slavery just two facets that should never be forgotten when considering all sides of what makes Glasgow what it is. I’ve spent six years here and I still don’t think I understand Glasgow. It might just take a lifetime.

Knowing our history is ever more important right now. Politically, particularly. I am a big believer that the best education can happen outside a classroom. It did with me. I was listening to a podcast last night about the Glasgow Women’s Library, a place which holds an immense amount of books and materials about all sorts of things. Every time I go there, I feel a little more positive about the world. Go to museums, libraries, castles. Walk down the street. History is beyond the classroom. It is walking round a graveyard or by an abandoned building. I’m studying again soon and I can’t wait. It’s about finding the right balance between the theoretical and the practical, putting one’s feet on the ground and feet up to read. That’s why I love history and it’s not going to change any time soon.

My favourite place in Glasgow

Glasgow has now been my home for six years and over that time, I like to think I’ve seen a lot of what it has to offer. I had seen a Tweet about someone else’s favourite place in Glasgow and it got me thinking. Where would I choose? Would it be Cathkin Park or up by the flagpole at Queen’s Park? George Square or walking up the platforms at Central or Queen Street? I started writing a post and I got bogged down. Then a few days later, I looked at my photos and realised I do have a single favourite place in the city. It’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. I go quite a few times a year and every time I focus on something different. Mainly it’s art. The French collection, the Scottish Colourists and the Glasgow Boys. Glasgow Girls too. I usually look in to the Scottish early history gallery and the cultural survival room with its Benin bronzes and displays about St. Kilda. Before I do that, I stop by my favourite painting, ‘Paps of Jura’ by William McTaggart (featured in Loose Ends recently), and sit and stare for a few minutes. I think and I mentally plan day trips. Then I go up and I wander, happy and calm for a while. My favourite place in Glasgow, without a shadow of a doubt, is Kelvingrove.

Saturday Saunter: Steps, love and good journalism

Good Saturday,

This Saturday Saunter is being started on Sunday night. Usually I write it during the week but I’m due to be away on Wednesday night to see the Hibs in their first pre-season friendly against Arbroath. Plus I had a whole load of ideas for this post and that’s quite unlike last week, which was quite improvised. Whether I get all of those ideas in, including talking about drag artistes, steps, Jackie Kay, wild places, love and good journalism, who can say?

Steps is the most prosaic so I’ll start there. A colleague of mine has a fitness watch which does pretty much everything except cooking breakfast. I had notions to get one to count my steps – I do a fair bit of walking in a week, including on the job – until I was informed that my phone probably does the job already. It does. I have an iPhone (other phones are of course available) and it has been counting my steps since I bought the thing a couple of years ago. Today, Sunday, I haven’t been out of the house so no data has been recorded. Yesterday involved walking the 3 miles to work then about a mile or so back (I got a lift part of the way) which was about 12,404 steps or 9km (roughly 5.5 miles). The day I walked around Cumbrae back in May was 33,378 steps or 21.2 km (13 miles). I looked out of polite interest rather than anything else. I walk because it’s an efficient way to get to work plus I actually quite enjoy it. It’s a good way to combine thinking and getting stuff done.

On Saturdays and Sundays I tend to start my morning by reaching for quite a few news sources. On a Sunday, I tend to glance towards some of the political comment articles in The Observer but mainly I read the two articles from the Scotland on Sunday by Dani Garavelli, who writes insightful articles every week about many things. Recently she has written about the social effects of lapdancing and a whole lot of politics though last Sunday’s two, about restorative justice, and the recent case of a mother being prosecuted in Alabama for the death of her unborn child after being shot in the stomach, were particularly insightful. Every week I find myself nodding along, whatever the subject. She also wrote an excellent piece recently in the Scottish football magazine Nutmeg about the lack of funding and attention for women’s football, particularly timely given the Scotland women’s team being in the World Cup recently.

Scottish Parliament (on right)

Talking of writers I love, the Scottish Makar, Jackie Kay, was in the news last weekend for delivering a poem at the Scottish Parliament. The Queen and her eldest laddie were at Holyrood to mark the 20th anniversary of the legislature and amongst the speeches and the forelock-tugging, Jackie Kay delivered a poem and it was typically braw. Read it if you can. ‘Under the Common Weal, we’re taking the long view’, ran the closing refrain. I certainly hope so. In other Jackie Kay news, she also did a good interview in The Guardian having a discussion with the outgoing US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, which is particularly good to read.

Jackie Kay’s poem made several mentions of LGBTQ people and I watched a particularly good show on All4 the other day, which is worth mentioning. It was called Drag SOS and involved a group of drag artistes going into a town, gathering up some locals and putting on a show. That’s interesting enough but it delved deeper, with the people involved lacking a lot of confidence for a lot of reasons. One was a father whose son was gay and also a drag queen. It was incredibly moving to see them bond as part of the process. It is part of a series, with the first in Dover before the Family Gorgeous, as the group are known, go around the country. It hit home with me, not least as a person who sometimes lacks confidence. I’ll be watching some more.

Talking about love, I was reading some more of Underland by Robert Macfarlane the other night and came across a passage which was particularly moving and relevant in my particular stage of life. It began by talking about trees moving closer together and sharing roots. ‘I think of good love as something that roots, not rots, over time, and of the hyphae that are weaving through the ground below me, reaching out through the soil in search of mergings. Theirs, too, seems to me then a version of life’s work’. Good love is the goal for many of us, even if finding it is harder sometimes than we want it to be.

I also wanted to share a couple of good posts from other blogs I’ve read recently. Our blog pal Wednesday’s Child has written a post about statues and another about Glasgow’s High Street, both worth a read, and for dark humour, go to Cheers, Govanhill for some slightly dark musings.

I’m continuing this post on Saturday morning. It is about twenty to eight and it’s sunny out my window. I’m listening to the Hibs Talk podcast. Today is six years to the day since I moved to Glasgow. I don’t regret it, not for the moment. It’s been a rollercoaster ride but it’s made me a stronger and better person as a result.

Before I go, I wanted to share a Twitter thread I saw the other day and haven’t really stopped thinking about it. It is very difficult to convey what it’s like to be autistic. The autistic experience is different for every single autistic person but this chimed with me and my own experience. Pete Wharmby wrote the thread so salutations to him. Two that I relate to: ‘Autism can be like…Missing every implicit cue anyone ever gave you, meaning you miss out on all sorts of things’ and ‘Having a dark as hell sense of humour whilst being told “autistic people don’t have a sense of humour” and laughing at them’. Very, very true.

Finally, today I am heading away to Dunfermline to watch Hibs. Steak bridies await. Also an Intercity walk to do. In order of priorities, though, it’s steak bridies, Hibs then blog. Sorry, blog. On that subject, tomorrow’s post will be Intercity in Paisley, Wednesday Streets of Glasgow and Thursday post as yet unwritten. Whatever you do this weekend, have a good one. Cheers for now.

New Lanark

This post is being written under a hot sun. In my ears are a turning waterwheel, the lilting notes of birds and a waterfall just over yonder. I’ve just had a great walk by the Falls of Clyde (and there is a few of them, running even in this heat). I stopped regularly along the way, taking in the views. It didn’t feel like Scotland at all, the tall trees and rapids like something in America or Canada, the illusion only broken with a west of Scotland-accented walker or six. On a summer’s day, it is spectacular; I can only imagine how special it would be to be back on a crisp winter’s day.

I’ve never been here before. It’s been on my list for a very long time. New Lanark was a workers’ village, devised by David Dale in 1786. His son-in-law Robert Owen was a philanthropist and socialise who sought to improve the lot of his workers, providing housing and education. The mills were powered by the Clyde, down river famous for ships, here for weaving and textiles. This I knew from a quick glance at my phone and memories from school. As I walked from the station, it reminded me of a similar workers’ village, Stanley by the Tay. The setting was enough, the day too beautiful for much history.

That’s better. I’ve topped up my sun cream and used various hayfever lotions and potions. The wheel’s still going, the birds still singing. I can hear a plane nearby, that, the cars and an occasional voice the only noises. Unfortunately I’ll need to leave soon, back to Glasgow before the rush. Another day I’ll explore more, delve into the history and the guid socialist virtues but today was about walking, forgetting for just a moment I was in Scotland as the river flowed on below.

Digest: June 2019

It was only on Sunday that I remembered I hadn’t written this digest yet. Usually I write it over the course of the month, rather than doing it in one big burst. Now, then…

The first photographs of the month are from Saturday 8th June, the day I attended an Open University history day in Edinburgh. Later in the year I will be going back to my degree and the day had a few lectures on emigration, the French Revolution and Islam, and talks about the current crop of OU modules. Afterwards I had a walk around the New Town in the rain, thinking and planning and not giving a toss.

On Friday 14th June, I went to see a friend at Prestongrange. I had a good wander around the site before and after.

Sunday 16th June I spent the day in the Borders. We met in Linlithgow due to engineering works (allowing me to do an Intercity post) and then we went to Dryburgh Abbey, Smailholm Tower (as written about here) and Bamburgh beach. A rich full day with history, views and waves, the last of which were particularly appreciated.

The following Tuesday I went into Paisley after work to do the Intercity walk there, which appears here on Sunday.

That Saturday saw me at a wedding reception in the east. It was great to catch up with old friends and acquaintances.

The following morning saw me have a walk along the prom at Portobello as far as Fisherrow Harbour. Then my friend and I took a bus down to North Berwick for a daunder in the sunshine.

On Friday, I went to New Lanark and the Falls of Clyde, neither of which I had been to before. I thought with the considerable heat that being by the river and waterfalls might help. Not really. The surroundings were gorgeous, though, more about walking than sampling any of the history. I think I will do New Lanark again on a winter’s day. A post about this adventure appears here tomorrow.

That’s the rundown of where I went in June. July is to be busier. I am in Arbroath tonight to see Hibs play their first preseason friendly and I will be travelling around the country for football over the next few weeks. It feels like no time has passed since last season ended against Aberdeen. Plus at the end of the month I have a week off, which will be very welcome indeed. At that point the blog will take a break from Saturday 27th July until Wednesday 7th August.

The digest usually covers where I’ve been over the month. It doesn’t delve into the finer details. This month has personally been busy with a wee bit of sadness, one or two happy days and a big personal step. I don’t know how that last one will end yet. What I’ve come to appreciate with ever more intensity is that life’s too short. I’m an humanist and I believe that we have but one life. It is up to us to make the best of it. The best words I can find are from my favourite book, The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd. ‘Love pursued with fervour is one of the roads to knowledge’. It’s true.

Our Scots word of the month is ‘hansel’. It was used in Jackie Kay’s poem at the 20th anniversary of the Scottish Parliament on Saturday. I’ll be mentioning it in the Saturday Saunter this coming Saturday. Hansel, or handsel as the Dictionary of the Scots Language has it, is a good Scots word meaning to inaugurate, to begin. It could also mean a gift to mark such an occasion.

Finally, in popular culture I have enjoyed this month, I haven’t read so much this month but what I can do is talk about a couple of podcasts I’ve enjoyed. David Tennant’s discussions with various folk he knows, including Michael Sheen, Samantha Bee, Tina Fey, Jon Hamm and Jodie Whittaker, are particularly good and got me through a fairly sleepless night recently. I like conversations between two people and a new podcast came my way recently called These Are The Days, presented by Ronny Costello. The first episode, featuring a discussion with Paul McNicoll, was particularly insightful about raising a child with a disability as well as just being a right good blether about growing up in Scotland and Dundee in particular.

Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. There have been some nice conversations recently so thanks for that. Over the next few weeks here will be some more Intercity adventures and a few more havers about places I’ve been recently. Tomorrow’s post was written on location at New Lanark so have a read at that. Have a very nice July.

Posts published this month –

Digest: May 2019

Loose Ends: Bearsden Bathhouse

Streets of Glasgow: West Graham Street

Glasgow amidst the art

Saturday Saunter: Studying, writing and reading

Loose Ends: Queen’s Park

Streets of Glasgow: Great Western Road

Mackintosh and Kingsley

Saturday Saunter: Poetry, statues and lighthouses

End of the line: Milngavie

Streets of Glasgow: Clarence Drive

Walking rules

Saturday Saunter: Fruit, podcasts and walking

Intercity: Linlithgow

Streets of Glasgow: Prince Albert Road

Smailholm Tower

Saturday Saunter: Sunshine out my window

Intercity: Glasgow II