Saturday Saunter: Autumn, books and views

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Sunday morning, late enough that the sun is up and breakfast TV has been and gone, thankfully. On in the background is Match of the Day, an unusual choice for me because Hibernian FC, the top team in Scotland at time of writing, isn’t on, but it’s all right in the background. I’m writing this on a new computer and for some reason it isn’t using keyboard shortcuts when I want to italicise, which is a pain but never mind. Unusually I don’t have much of an idea what to write, only that writing this post now will save doing it during the week.

We’re getting towards autumn though as I write this in the last days of August, we are having something of a heatwave. I never used to like autumn and the shorter days I still despise but the autumn colours almost make up for it. It’s been good this summer to be able to roam that bit further here in Scotland though caution is still very much the order of the day, especially with the high Covid case numbers here in recent days. Look after yourselves, folks. Ca’ canny. September is often a good month weather-wise so hopefully some nice days lie ahead just to be out in the world.

But first some reading. Last weekend I started re-reading my favourite book, The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, taking it with me on a trip to Dundee. I re-read it every year or so and it’s beside me even while my to-read pile is only growing. Next on the list will probably be one by Neville Southall, Mind Games, which delves into the broader issues around football.

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

I posted the 32 areas Saturday Saunter post here last week and there will be more of those types of posts in the coming weeks and months, as I will probably have much less time and energy to write more often, unfortunately. One might have to focus on some of my favourite views. I was just looking through my recent photos and came across two from a fleeting visit to Portobello, one looking towards the East Lothian coast, the other towards Inchkeith and Fife. North Berwick Law was almost golden in the sunshine and the clouds were something out of a dramatic landscape painting.

Anyway, that is the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 4th September 2021. Thanks for reading. Streets of Glasgow returns on Wednesday and it is Castle Street. But, which one? Until then, madainn mhath.

Saturday Saunter: Essentials, the Makar and a castle

Good Saturday to you,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intercity: Edinburgh (Dublin Street)

Dublin Street: a street sign stating Dublin Street on the wall of a building.​
Dublin Street: a street sign stating Dublin Street on the wall of a building.
Dublin Street: looking down a street with buildings on either side towards trees, a cityscape, water and hills.​
Dublin Street: looking down a street with buildings on either side towards trees, a cityscape, water and hills.

Dublin Street is a street I’ve often walked in Edinburgh, often at the start or end of a New Town derive. It leads from Queen Street down into the New Town. The day I was there the place seemed to be held up by scaffolding, scattered on quite a few buildings. There wasn’t any on the dolls’ houses I’ve often admired in a property management office nor on the shop bearing the name of my last favourite punctuation mark, the ampersand. That shop looked fine enough and I walked on, stopping by the Stac Polly restaurant. I reflected that until recently, due to restrictions, Edinburgh had felt as remote and unreachable as Stac Pollaidh itself, all the way up beyond Ullapool. The unbridled joy I had felt of being able to go more than a few miles had turned to tears at the time the First Minister had announced the changes in restrictions and more than once since. Posters for Nicola Sturgeon’s party covered a window ahead as I stopped at the top of Dublin Street, turning to look back down across the city and towards the Forth, one of the better vistas our capital offers and an invitation to adventure in more ways than one.

Thanks for reading. This is another instalment of the occasional Intercity series here on Walking Talking. Other instalments appear on the Intercity page. Other Edinburgh streets which have been here previously are St. Vincent Street, Leith Walk, the High Street and Easter Road.

This post was written prior to the announcement that Glasgow and Moray will remain in Level 3 restrictions as of Monday 17th May.

Union Canal

It feels particularly apposite to write about the Union in a week when very big Union flags have been in the news but this is about the far nicer prospect of the Union Canal, not the antics of certain clowns down at Westminster. It feels only right since I wrote about the Forth and Clyde Canal last week. The Union Canal runs from Fountainbridge in Edinburgh through the west of the capital and West Lothian out to Falkirk. I mostly know the Edinburgh section as far as Slateford, where it meets the Water of Leith, a waterway covered here a couple of weeks ago. The last time I was along there was a year past October when I walked along part of the Canal to Meggetland where the Hibs and Hearts development teams were playing. I think I walked part of the Water of Leith walkway first and remember going through Gorgie on the way. The aqueduct at Slateford is particularly fine – it runs adjacent to the railway and over the Water of Leith – and there’s a set of stairs leading down to the Water of Leith from the Canal. Fountainbridge has been poshed up in the last twenty years or so with offices and restaurants scattered around the side of the canal.

Union Canal and railway side by side at Slateford: a canal aqueduct to the left, railings above stone arches, with a similar looking railway bridge to the right. Trees and industrial premises are between them.​
Union Canal and railway side by side at Slateford: a canal aqueduct to the left, railings above stone arches, with a similar looking railway bridge to the right. Trees and industrial premises are between them.

I was just thinking about the Forth and Clyde and Port Dundas which is in Glasgow. Port Hamilton is the name of the area of Edinburgh at Fountainbridge and I wondered who Hamilton was. It was the Duke of Hamilton of the day, of course, and the Port there was built from 1818-1822, so Canmore tells me, to support Port Hopetoun, which was closer to Lothian Road. Canals were much more important then for industry and commerce at a time when railways were much more limited and roads were much less reliable. Port Hamilton was more for coal, while Port Hopetoun had a broader range of things going on. Port Hopetoun was filled in during the 1920s and its site is now a cinema.

As I said, I don’t really know the Union Canal outside of Edinburgh aside from its western terminus at the Falkirk Wheel. That even includes the section in Linlithgow, a town I know quite well. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to remedy that soon, especially since the John Muir Way runs by the side of the Canal in that part of the world. I realised just now, looking at a map of the John Muir Way, that I do know the Union Canal as it passes over the Muiravonside Country Park near Linlithgow – the same place where I learned what an aqueduct was. I always thought aqueducts were cool, a wonderful effort of engineering. Thankfully there’s quite a few along the Union Canal, making it of architectural interest, as much of history and natural beauty in many parts.

Thanks for reading. A piece about the North Sea will follow next week.

Water of Leith

Persevere: a slab on a pavement with the words ‘So With The Darkest Days Behind / Our Ship Of Hope Will Steer / And When In Doubt Just Keep In Mind / Our Motto Persevere’.​
Persevere: a slab on a pavement with the words ‘So With The Darkest Days Behind / Our Ship Of Hope Will Steer / And When In Doubt Just Keep In Mind / Our Motto Persevere’.

I think we can call this a series now. I’ve written about rivers the last few weeks so I might as well continue. I have a list of three that I could write about, and have photographs of, including today’s offering, the Water of Leith, which runs from the Pentland Hills right through Edinburgh to Leith where it flows into the Forth. The Water of Leith was once surrounded by mills and industries though today there are a few factories interspersed with flats, allotments, the Union Canal and Colinton Dell as the river wends its way out of the city. The Water of Leith Walkway runs for 13 miles from Leith to Balerno and I’ve walked all of it at one point or another, sometimes in sunshine, other times in rain or even with snow on the ground. The last time I was there was last summer, my only visit to Edinburgh in a year, and walked from Leith towards the city centre. It included stopping by the quotations inscribed on the pavement near Great Junction Street, including the ‘So with the darkest days behind / Our ship of hope will steer / And when in doubt just keep in mind / Our motto Persevere’. I’ve always rather liked that and it currently graces an advertising hoarding on the West Stand at Easter Road, even though it was actually to do with Leith Athletic rather than Hibs, I gather.

St Bernard’s Well: a classical statue of a man amidst curved pillars and a circular roof with trees behind.​
St Bernard’s Well: a classical statue of a man amidst curved pillars and a circular roof with trees behind.
Dean Village: buildings of various heights and colours at either side of a river. The building to the left is red with towers and windows protruding out.​
Dean Village: buildings of various heights and colours at either side of a river. The building to the left is red with towers and windows protruding out.

The Water of Leith also passes near some of Edinburgh’s foremost visitor attractions including the Royal Botanic Garden and the Modern Art Galleries. That section from Stockbridge to Roseburn is my favourite, going by St Bernard’s Well, under the Dean Bridge and through the Dean Village before winding past a weir on the way to Murrayfield. At the weir are benches in memory of those who have died from HIV and AIDS and it is one of the most beautiful spots in Edinburgh. I remember being able to go into St Bernard’s Well one Doors Open Day and it had information panels shedding more light on that particular stunning structure, designed by Alexander Nasmyth and based on the Temple of Vista in Italy. St Bernard’s was also a football team, incidentally, who played at the edge of the New Town near Scotland Street. They took their name from the Well, so Wikipedia tells me. Their name lives on in a couple of amateur teams in Edinburgh though they left the Scottish League around the Second World War. There’s a plaque to them in King George V Park, if I recall. The Dean Village, meanwhile, had many mills harnessing the Water of Leith though now it is pretty much residential and a pleasant part of town.

Colinton Dell: a weir with three streams of water falling. Around the river are autumnal trees.​
Colinton Dell: a weir with three streams of water falling. Around the river are autumnal trees.

Beyond Slateford is Colinton Dell, which is particularly stunning with a weir and woodland. Colinton Village comes next, which is a conservation village and every time I’m there I always marvel that this seemingly rural place is in the capital of Scotland and very near the City Bypass. In Colinton is the Colinton Tunnel which has been artistically decorated. Some day I’ll be able to go and have a look – it’s only happened in the last year or so. The walk leads out through Currie and Juniper Green to Balerno, which is a nice village in the lee of the Pentlands. Invariably the bus back into Edinburgh takes only a few minutes to cover what has been walked in a few hours. Thankfully the memories and the good vibes from the walk take longer to fade and they encourage me to plan a visit for when the time comes.

Saturday Saunter: Books and Glasgow views

Good Saturday to you,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Saunter: Snow and viewpoints

Good morning,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Thursday night with ‘Britain’s Lost Masterpieces’ on in the background from the iPlayer. Much of Scotland has had snow this week. We in Glasgow had a few inches and it is beginning to thaw as I write this. Pavements and roads are slippy as the snow has compacted or iced over. It has been perishingly cold as well, the kind of cold which tingles the ears. I haven’t had a haircut since November and unfortunately that means beanie hats rise up and fail to cover my ears for long. I bought two new ones last week which fit my quite large head but still rise up to avoid covering my ears. There was proper snow here, the kind which is deep, fluffy and falls in great quantities, and it wasn’t even the first snow of the winter. I didn’t see a lot of snow growing up by the seaside so I still get a bit of excitement when there’s snow, even if the aftermath of ice and slush isn’t so great.

There have been a few cool photographs of football grounds covered in snow this week. The third best football team in the land, Hibernian FC, shared a picture with the hallowed Easter Road turf covered in the white stuff, while there was a very cool drone photograph showing Dumbarton’s ground, whose current sponsored name I forget, with the Castle Rock and the Clyde in the background. The C and G Systems Stadium is the name of Dumbarton’s ground, incidentally. I also watched a Footy Adventures YouTube video featuring Cathkin Park in the snow too. I’ve not been to Cathkin for a few months and I don’t think I’ve ever been in the snow either. Next time, maybe.

Looking across from the centre spot of a football pitch across to terracing surrounded by trees. Houses sit high above the terracing.
Cathkin Park, not in the snow. Looking across from the centre spot of a football pitch across to terracing surrounded by trees. Houses sit high above the terracing.

Dumbarton Castle is a fine place. It has incredible views across Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven, the Clyde and much of western Scotland. I should have mentioned it in my post Clyde the other day. Dumbarton has a trig point at the top as well as a panel showing the distance from the castle to other major landmarks, like Ben Lomond, Glasgow University and the since demolished Singer factory in Clydebank, if memory serves. Those panels often appear in high places, like at the Robertson car park in the Gleniffer Braes Country Park above Paisley, with directions across Scotland towards Berwick and Carlisle as well as more locally to Lochwinnoch, Glasgow Cross and Dumbarton Castle, naturally enough. I only went to the Braes for the first (and second) time last year and the views from up there are incredible, 600 feet up, a great place to watch planes if you’re of a mind or spot landmarks if you’re happier on the ground, like me.

Traditionally I make mention of the fact that tomorrow, 14th February, is Valentine’s Day and write about how that day should celebrate love in all its forms, including for landscapes and treasured places, rather than alienating people who may not have romance in their lives or indeed may not want it and bombarding the rest of us with saccharine bollocks. All that’s true so I won’t repeat it. Whether you spend tomorrow alone, with a loved one, or whatever, have a good one.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 13th February 2021. Thanks for reading, commenting and following. I’m not sure what I’ll be posting on Wednesday but it might be about the Tay, since I’ve written about rivers the last two weeks. Until then, cheers just now.

Forth

A few years ago, I walked across the Forth Road Bridge. I didn’t walk back – thankfully there’s a railway bridge quite nearby and a station in North Queensferry that’s on that line. I wrote a blog post about it, which appeared here around that time. The three bridges which span the Forth in that area, the Forth Bridge, the Forth Road Bridge and the Queensferry Crossing, are well placed to give incredible views up and down the Firth to mountains, seabird colonies and many towns which line its banks. The other day I was on Twitter at the right time, a suitably rare occurrence, and watched a video on Scotrail’s feed showing the view from a train’s cab as it crossed the Forth Bridge, the mightiest railway structure in Scotland. Its struts and girders passed by in a whir of red saltires. The video didn’t share much of the view which can be seen from a train window but that is to be expected since the train driver is surely keeping his or her eyes front. The view is finest from the Forth Bridge since there is no other bridge between it and the Forth opening out. Having grown up in East Lothian I’m particularly biased in loving the view towards the Bass Rock, North Berwick Law and the northern coastline of my native county. The best view of the capital starts from just south of Inverkeithing, a view across a yard to Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh unfolding below. East Lothian and Edinburgh are on the right through much of Fife until just after Kirkcaldy when the line turns north. That was always the point I turned back to my book.

Forth Road Bridge looking towards Forth Bridge and North Queensferry - looking over a grey railing towards water, a village and a red cantilevered bridge.​
Forth Road Bridge looking towards Forth Bridge and North Queensferry – looking over a grey railing towards water, a village and a red cantilevered bridge.
Cellardyke Harbour - harbour scene with two piers on either side. There is a gap between them looking out to sea.​
Cellardyke Harbour – harbour scene with two piers on either side. There is a gap between them looking out to sea.

The Forth has long fascinated me, having lived near it for much of my life prior to moving west. It is a river then a Firth before unfolding into the North Sea between Fife Ness and Dunbar. It has transported goods and people for generations, millennia really, including pilgrims, traders and holiday makers. Whenever I get a view of it, be it from Edinburgh city centre, the coast or one of the many bridges which cross it, I can’t help but look out. I suspect I’m not alone. My favourite views come at Cellardyke, where the Isle of May actually looks like an island rather than a rocky cliff, Dunbar, of course, Aberlady Bay, where the Forth opens out, Morrison’s Haven and Portobello, where East Lothian is particularly prominent, including the Bass, North Berwick Law and Hopetoun Monument. A couple of years ago, on a particularly perishing day when I managed some Loose Ends for this blog, I took the scenic route from Portobello to Easter Road via Seafield and Leith Links, which was a bit more austere landside but gave a very decent view along the Forth as the land curved.

East Lothian from Portobello - a coastal scene looking over water to a coastline with some hills. In the foreground is a promenade and a grassy bank.​
East Lothian from Portobello – a coastal scene looking over water to a coastline with some hills. In the foreground is a promenade and a grassy bank.
Dysart Harbour - nine posts of varying colours with a grey sea and harbour wall in the background.​
Dysart Harbour – nine posts of varying colours with a grey sea and harbour wall in the background.

The fine set of sculptures at Dysart Harbour, Sea Beams, are painted different shades of blue and grey reflecting the colours of the Forth at different times of the year. I’ve had the pleasure of being at Dysart to see the sea in most of those colours. I’m writing this at the tail end of January, a time of year when I particularly like to be by the Forth as it is at its most dramatic. For the moment I’m settling for photographs, my own from past rovings and others who live near enough now, plus of course the videos from train cabs, which aren’t so bad either.

An Edinburgh walk

Arthur's Seat from Calton Hill: looking towards a hill with a curved summit and ridge to the right. In the foreground is a cairn on a raised section of grass. A road is to the left.
Arthur’s Seat from Calton Hill: looking towards a hill with a curved summit and ridge to the right. In the foreground is a cairn on a raised section of grass. A road is to the left.

Originally today, I was going to post with interesting things I’ve found in my inbox but I’m going to do something different. The photo above shows Arthur’s Seat and part of Calton Hill, two of Edinburgh’s hills. I decided to write about Edinburgh after reading about the Royal visit to the capital earlier this week. When I next get to Edinburgh – and I’m not sure when that will be possible for a lesser mortal such as myself, resident in Glasgow – I’m planning on a walk. There’s probably too many places that I want to see so I might not manage them all in a single visit. Arthur’s Seat would be a contender, at least St. Anthony’s Chapel because I’ve seen a few cool photographs taken from there recently. The Botanic Gardens would be an absolute certainty. I’ve missed the autumnal colours of the Botanics this year but it is rather fine in all weathers and at all times of the year. Reading The Lighthouse Stevensons by Bella Bathurst has given me the notion to walk along George Street and stop outside the headquarters of the Northern Lighthouse Board with its model lighthouse shining. Calton Hill and its perspectives out across the city, Forth, Fife and East Lothian is a favourite and I have craved standing there for a few short minutes. Inside, the Portrait Gallery would be a great idea, possibly the National Gallery. Even just being on a train coming into Waverley, through Princes Street Gardens and under the castle, would be enough. When restrictions permit, I’ll do my best to make it happen.

A picture triptych

A picture triptych for us tonight, three pictures from the blog archive of past adventures and hopefully inspiring future ones too. We begin in Perth, possibly the night Ofir Marciano got sent off…

McDiarmid Park: a floodlight tower shining light on an otherwise black sky with two football stands on either side.
McDiarmid Park: a floodlight tower shining light on an otherwise black sky with two football stands on either side.

There are times I miss going to the football. I was going to cut back anyway, even before the pandemic, but watching a game on the telly just isn’t the same. It’s so easy to glance at a phone and miss a moment, plus the sensory experience, the sights, sounds and all else, cannot come through the TV screen. Plus when your team has drawn when they should have won, or they’ve just gotten gubbed, the journey home helps to soothe and bring perspective, a lot harder when you’re in the house already and it’s time to make the tea.

One of my favourite away trips is McDiarmid Park, Perth, home of St. Johnstone. The long trudge to McDiarmid is usually preceded by a decent dinner, thankfully, especially before a night game. Even in the cold, high floodlights shining down are an incredible sight. Saturday at 3 is when football should be but a game under the lights can be special too.

Statue facing Bass Rock: a statue of a man holding a pair of binoculars facing out to sea with a white island in the centre of the image.
Statue facing Bass Rock: a statue of a man holding a pair of binoculars facing out to sea with a white island in the centre of the image.

The Bass Rock looks different from every angle. From Fife, the Bass is a rotting molar; Dunbar, curved cliffs with a lighthouse. It’s closest to North Berwick, where the lighthouse can be seen but the rock faces the other way, out to sea. By the Seabird Centre in North Berwick is a statue of a man with binoculars looking out. It’s only been there for a few years and I like it. Some people find being by the sea oppressive and limiting but I really don’t. The sea is what’s beyond the horizon, not just the horizon itself. It’s birds, fish, all manner of wildlife, boats and what passes by, trade or folk on cruises, maybe. I grew up by the sea but I now live in a city and I miss it. It’s pictures like these that make me smile and plan a trip, even if it can’t materialise quite yet.

Train signs in National Museum of Scotland: curved signs for railway stations. From top to bottom are Dalmally, Garve, Carstairs, Barassie (which is obscured), Stonehaven, Addiewell and North Berwick.
Train signs in National Museum of Scotland: curved signs for railway stations. From top to bottom are Dalmally, Garve, Carstairs, Barassie (which is obscured), Stonehaven, Addiewell and North Berwick.

North Berwick also features in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, in the form of a train station up the stairs on the object wall. It’s the only one of the stations I’ve actually stopped at – life hasn’t taken me to Dalmally, Garve, Carstairs, Barassie, Stonehaven or Addiewell, at least not to get off a train in these places. The urge to go on a train somewhere far has receded over the last few months. My last big trip was London in February. Train videos on YouTube suffice for now. Hopefully there will soon come a time when we can travel once more without restriction, even without a face mask. Until then, it’s YouTube for me.

That’s our triptych. An inbox clearing post will be here next Wednesday and the Saturday Saunter returns this coming Saturday. Until then, cheers just now. Peace.