Saturday Saunter: 15th December 2018

Good morning,

It’s Saturday Saunter time and I’m in the rare and unexpected position to do this live. As I start this, I’ve not long woken up. There is some light in the sky and frost on the ground. Here in Glasgow there is an amber weather warning out for snow, ice and something called frozen rain so I may not be going far this particular day. Tomorrow I’ll be out as Hibs are playing Celtic in an early kick-off at Easter Road so I’ll have my layers on even though the weather warning will have passed.

In terms of reading, I finished Michelle Obama’s book last Sunday. I rattled through it in a few hours, something I used to do quite often when I was younger but don’t really get round to now. When I was a teenager I used to read whole novels on Sunday afternoons, Small Island by Andrea Levy being one example. Working through a book in one go can have its good and bad points. There is the satisfaction of getting the book finished but in my experience there is not a lot of memory of it thereafter. When I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the first time, it was in one go but it was only through slower re-reading that I was able to fully comprehend the plot. Anyway, Michelle Obama’s book was good, particularly the parts prior to her husband winning the Presidency, which were more interesting and detailed. The Presidency bits have been widely trailed and made the subject of talk-show anecdotes, making them much less interesting to come across in a book. I’ve also re-read a couple of Quintin Jardine novels too this week.

The travelling book last week at Hamilton was Michelle Obama’s book. Tomorrow’s choice hasn’t been decided yet but it will either be Walking the Song by Hamish Brown or The Silver Darlings by Neil Gunn, which have both been sitting for a while. Walking the Song is a selection of mountaineering essays, which might be particularly apposite given the snow. It looks like it could snow out my window now, the sky that light grey way.

I was up a bit earlier this morning and did my usual reading, going from The Guardian to the sports interview in The Scotsman (this week John Hughes, incidentally), ending up on the BBC News website. There were a few stories which got me interested, the first being pictures of the brand new Charles Rennie Mackintosh statue in Anderston, unveiled on Monday. This year, 2018, is the 150th anniversary of CRM’s birth, though that has been overshadowed by the School of Art going up in flames in June. The statue, which features CRM sitting on a chair, is a handsome one and I’ll be going to have a look. There is a bit of me that would like to have seen Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh featured too, since she was a particularly fine artist herself, but alas no. I like the sculptor Andy Scott’s words, quoted in The Scotsman, about how he tries ‘to make things that communities can identify with and feel a sense of pride in’. He is also the creator of the Kelpies, the massive metallic sculptures over near Falkirk, which are also rather lovely. It is difficult to find art which appeals to a general audience and Andy Scott seems to be well up on that, as of course Charles Rennie Mackintosh was too.

Also out there this morning is an interesting article from the BBC News website with the headline ‘Do autistic people “get” jokes?’ The short answer is depends on the autistic person, depends on the joke. The article seems to be an advertisement for the BBC’s new podcast 1800 Seconds on Autism, which I haven’t got round to listening to yet. The hosts, Robyn Steward and Jamie Knight, I’ve heard on other things before and they’re good, thoughtful people, particularly adept at communicating the autistic experience. From my own experience, humour is subjective. What really makes me laugh is often the strangest thing. I sometimes have to decipher when to laugh at other people’s humour. Glaswegian humour is often blunt enough that I can get there the right way. Punchlines are harder to get. I don’t really laugh on command. I’ve got a bland smile ready to go for such occasions, which is part of my toolbox for working with people. The other day I caught a few minutes of a new Kevin Bridges DVD, which was observational and funny. I could watch stand-up all day and usually laugh along with it. I don’t get things like The Office nor the need for much humour to be cruel and cutting. Humour brings light to dark situations. This week, for example, I was tickled by the video of Andy Serkis, the actor who played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies, imitating Theresa May talking about Brexit. We need people like him in our world.

Next week’s Saturday Saunter is written already. It talks more about Christmas and how the season isn’t always jolly. Over the festives I’ve got the annual Best Of post coming on Boxing Day and a special Books post on Saturday 29th December. Next year I’ve got a new series coming and I might do a bit of work for that when I’m back in Edinburgh on Wednesday. It will involve my second least favourite street in the capital but it is one I and a lot of people associate with Edinburgh so it’s going to be written about.

The view from Edinburgh Castle towards the Old Town and Arthur’s Seat

Anyway, that’s us for today. I don’t have a scooby what will be here tomorrow yet but I’ll sort that out shortly. Wednesday will be the last Streets of Glasgow of the year and a trip to the Gorbals. Easter Road West‘s post appeared about an hour ago and it’s a wee bit about each of the 12 Scottish Premiership grounds, since I finally completed the set last weekend in Hamilton. There will also be a post there tomorrow leading up to the Celtic game.

Have a nice weekend, folks, whatever you end up doing.


Digest: November 2018

So, it’s the November digest. The month started feeling a bit shocked and stunned by the dramatic scenes at the Edinburgh derby the night before. My first trip out was that Friday to Kirkcaldy, a spur of the moment decision to take the bus over the country to my favourite art gallery. The Edinburgh School exhibition featuring William Gillies, Elizabeth Blackadder, Anne Redpath and John Houston was just about to finish and I was glad to get another look. Kirkcaldy is always an absolute joy.

The next day Hibs were back in action, playing (and getting beat by) St. Johnstone. My only non-Hibs picture is Lochend Park. A post appeared about that particular park on Easter Road West a couple of weeks ago. I often go there before going to the ground, sometimes to read, other times just to sit.

On Thursday 8th November I was heading to work and while I passed through Paisley I thought I would get a picture of the ‘snail in a bottle’ sculpture in Wellmeadow Street, unveiled a couple of months ago. As I wrote about in one of the Saturday Saunters, it’s been taken away to be fixed. The best laid plans of mice and men.

That Sunday I went to Edinburgh, having a good decent wander around the New Town, along George Street and round by Rutland Square, ending up at the National Museum of Scotland at the very fine Rip It Up exhibition (which has since closed). The exhibition was great, a really stimulating look into Scottish pop music over the last five decades, from Lonnie Donegan to Frightened Rabbit via Lulu, Annie Lennox and Capercaillie. Thereafter I had another walk, including by Meadowbank Stadium, which is in the process of demolition. Around it is some decent street art.

Last Saturday I went to Edinburgh to watch the Hibs. Before I did I managed to fit in a Streets of Glasgow walk along Bothwell Street. It appeared here on Wednesday. After the football I took myself out for dinner and took a scenic route from Leith to catch my train back home. Urban walking is thoroughly underrated, especially when it’s through the New Town.

On Friday I had a varied day. I did some wandering around Glasgow city centre, mostly for this blog’s benefit in the coming weeks, and also took a wee trip to Stirling Castle, which was great despite the wind and the rain.

That’s our digest for another month. I’ve been busy with work and life and so adventures have been in shorter supply in November as lately. Plus it’s cold and dark a lot of the time now so rovings are less fun than in the summer months. December will have a few more trips, I think, plus of course the festives. At some point, possibly one of the Saturday posts, I will write here about why I really don’t like this time of year very much. Also on Boxing Day, which happens to be a Wednesday, the 2018 Digest will appear here. That’s always a good one to write. Last year, or the year before, I can’t remember, it was written by now but I haven’t got round to it yet. Soon, though.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Our next post will be Streets of Glasgow, this time Oswald Street. Next Sunday will be about the Caledonia Road Church. Cheers just now.

Posts this month –

Saturday Saunter: 3rd November 2018

Digest: October 2018

Layers of distraction

Saturday Saunter: 10th November 2018


Streets of Glasgow: Virginia Street

Saturday Saunter: 17th November 2018

Rip It Up, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Streets of Glasgow: Mosspark Boulevard

Saturday Saunter: 24th November 2018


Streets of Glasgow: Bothwell Street


In the Saturday Saunter post yesterday, I said that I might write today about planning a day trip. But I can’t be bothered with that. Instead let’s talk about today, Sunday. Today I am doing family stuff but I can be up to a lot or not a lot on the Sabbath day depending on life. When possible I don’t leave the house, having a lie in, sleeping in or doing a bit of writing. Sometimes, though, I go out and about, going far or just around Glasgow. A lot of Streets of Glasgow walks happen on Sundays, often when city streets are at their quietest and the best psychogeography can happen. I’ve spent a few Sunday afternoons in Kelvingrove, usually feeling chilled out and wandering with no great urgency around the art. Having one of the best galleries in the nation barely half an hour away by bus doesn’t ever get old. Usually I walk from the West End into town, going one of four or five ways depending on my mood and impulse, then getting the train home from there.

Since I am often away on Saturdays for football, I don’t tend to travel too far on Sundays. Now and then I make an exception. A few times I’ve ended up in my favourite art gallery, Kirkcaldy, on Sundays though recent bus timetable changes make that a bit harder (thank you very much, Stagecoach). A couple of weeks ago I went through to Edinburgh for a wander then a turn around the very fine Rip It Up exhibition at the National Museum (my review appeared here a few weeks ago). That exhibition finishes today. I’ve even ended up in St. Andrews, North Berwick or Dunbar some Sundays, often on the spur of the moment after waking up with a notion of adventure that needed fulfilled without delay.

Sundays have their share of headaches. I don’t drive so I rely on buses and trains. The first train from my bit of the city into town isn’t until 09.04, a pain in the hoop when wanting to travel to Edinburgh or anywhere else and get there much before lunchtime. Services which are regular during the week or even on a Saturday become infrequent on Sundays. That is understandable, there is usually less demand and transport staff need their days off too but it is annoying, especially when I am further limited by daylight and the wish at this particularly bleak time of year to wring every possible lumen of light from the sky. If I want to be out particularly on a Sunday – and I don’t make a habit of it – I take to the buses, including one notable Sunday recently when I had to get off the bus on Argyle Street and walk around much of the city centre to get around road closures due to filming.

Sunday football matches are particularly annoying, especially when they start at lunchtime at the telly’s behest. Since they invariably involve a team from Glasgow, I tend to leave earlier than I would otherwise like to avoid the crowds. A trip to Perth recently involved leaving quite early but I managed to get a decent lunch before going to the game since it kicked off at 3pm, the time football should start.

When life is busy sometimes opportunities have to be seized whenever they arise, even when a lie-in is called for but is ever elusive. That can happen on Sundays, thankfully a day when life seems that bit more relaxed, road closures and early starts notwithstanding.

Saturday Saunter: 24th November 2018

Good morning peeps,

This Saturday morning finds me leaving a bit earlier than normal to head for Easter Road to watch the Hibs since there is also rugby on at Murrayfield and the trains will be mobbed. Hence I’m writing this on Friday night. Anyway, depending on the weather, I will hopefully have a decent wander around the capital prior to going over to the ground. Today’s Saturday travelling book, which I started last week, I think, is Going To The Match by Duncan Hamilton, a selection of stories about the beautiful game in its splendour as much as its not so bonny moments. It isn’t quite in the Daniel Gray mould since it is more journalistic than lyrical but that’s not a bad thing.

I haven’t been reading as much this week. It’s been busy at work so I’m a bit knackered going into this weekend. I have been writing a bit more though, mainly stories. Most of my media consumption this week has been through my ears and podcasts. A lot of the American talk shows have podcast versions and in recent days I’ve been listening to Michelle Obama’s interview on Ellen and snippets from The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, which has a decent perspective even if Trevor Noah isn’t quite up to Jon Stewart’s high standards. I also really enjoyed Hibs Talk‘s interview with Hibs player Paul Hanlon, who comes across as a really good, genuine guy. Plus he scored that goal at Tynecastle. Tonight’s listening is musical, with a mixed bag playlist ongoing with Eddi Reader’s Patience of Angels playing as I type these particular words.

The other day my notebook was rapidly reaching its conclusion. For a while I was using muckle big A5 ones from Paperchase but they were running out of them, or at least ones that weren’t covered in glitter. I had been in Tesco a couple of months ago and picked up Pukka Pads, which I used for years. A week or two ago I had been in Morrison’s and bought a couple of notebooks anticipating my current one running out. When that event was imminent, I discovered that the new ones were unlined, not great. I managed to find a spare one with only a few pages scribbled in that is doing the job and I have two new Pukka Pads I bought on Thursday in reserve too. My notebook is usually filled with jottings, some stories, blog post drafts, blog ideas and shopping lists, not always my best work but it’s mine. It’s always a purchase I like to make and it’s one to get right. The spare one I’m using just now isn’t great, a supermarket special with thin paper and I might need to scribble more to get shot of it.

It’s Dua Lipa on the dial now, incidentally. I have diverse tastes. Anyway, last night I came across an interesting article on Facebook from Stylist, the free magazine they often give out by Central Station. As part of a series about self-care, they had an article talking about books which various folk reach for in times of stress, the volumes best to re-read in those dark moments that come to us all. One choice was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. For a while I re-read Harry Potter near enough constantly and I did so only a few weeks ago. It was a good, familiar book and I liked being in that world a bit. I tend to delve into nature writing when times are tough, Nan Shepherd or Roger Deakin, usually, though sometimes football too. Daniel Gray’s essays about the game work well to soothe a furrowed brow, for example.

I am a fairly avid consumer of social media and that can be a good and a bad thing. It tends to make me mad or put me on edge so the mute button and I are good friends. On Twitter I follow the classicist and all round good person Mary Beard and she wrote an interesting article last week about the dangers of social media becoming too much of an echo chamber, only seeing messages from those you agree with. Civility is lacking online and Twitter in particular can be a very dark place at times. The way I navigate it, apart from muting, is by following accounts which interest me and jettisoning those that stress me out. I also follow some folk who sometimes annoy me, mainly journalists, some politicians, which keeps the echo chamber bit to a minimum. A political strategist I follow, Ross Colquhoun, is also a Hearts fan and occasionally I see Jambo shite on my feed, which I just scroll past, usually very, very quickly.

Also on social media last night I saw a report from Thursday’s One Show featuring my home town of Dunbar and some of what happens around the harbour (or herber as it is correctly pronounced), including rowing, fishing and the lifeboat. The rower featured used to work at my high school while I think I knew the fisherman’s face. It made Dunbar look very beautiful and idyllic, which is almost about right.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. There will be a post here tomorrow, probably about planning a day trip. Wednesday I’m not sure yet. Easter Road West also features a post this morning too since it is game day. Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters, followers. Have a good weekend.

Rip It Up, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Grand Gallery, National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh

Last Sunday, better late than never, I got through to Edinburgh to see the Rip It Up exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. The Story of Scottish Pop has proved to be a popular summer exhibition for NMS and even on a gloomy November Sunday, the place was quite full. I rocked up and after a quick look round the gift shop, I paid my tenner and went in, minding the instruction not to take any photos. There was an introductory video but I skipped that, soon met with a bit about the import of rock and roll from America, all to the soundtrack of Lonnie Donegan and the Rock Island Line, not at all a bad thing. The exhibition went back and forth chronologically though it was fairly linear, starting with the 1960s and ending with the present day, quite poignantly with a bit about Frightened Rabbit. There was a lot of music being played, though the designers had done well to make sure it didn’t bleed through into other rooms. It varied from Lonnie Donegan to the Eurythmics, the Proclaimers to Big Country and the Skids. All around there were objects, robot dancers from a Franz Ferdinand tour, costumes, a mixing desk from Chemikal Underground and a poster from a concert I was at, when the Proclaimers were at the Hydro not long after it opened.

The exhibition didn’t just focus on the musicians, going into the experience of dance halls, record shops and moshing, even. It wasn’t a Scottish Music Hall of Fame, which I am sure would have been fine, instead bringing in a fair whack of social history. The information boards in a rack like a record shop was a particularly nice touch.

Overall the exhibition had a good universal approach, accessible for someone who knows nothing about Scottish music as much as obsessives. As I filled in the visitors’ book I read a previous comment that so many other artists could have been included in the exhibition but music, like all art, is subjective and you cannae please everyone. If it was me, I would have had more about Gaelic rock and less Rod Stewart but again that’s just me. Rip It Up was also just the right length for me since the rooms were quite dark with a lot to see and hear with every passing step. Since it was busy I had to do a bit of ducking and weaving to see everything I wanted to see but it was manageable. NMS always put on a good exhibition and this one was no exception, done with a bit of love and no little panache, much like the best of our country’s musical output.

The exhibition is on until Sunday 25th November, at the National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh. £10 for adults or £8 for concessions. For more details, please see the NMS website.

Saturday Saunter: 17th November 2018

This edition of the Saturday Saunter is being written ahead of time as when this is posted I will be on the way to work. In fact I am starting this on Wednesday night and Theresa May has just made a statement outside 10 Downing Street saying that the Cabinet has agreed to support the draft agreement between the UK and EU on Brexit. By the time you read this, though, Theresa May may have resigned, Tony Blair might have decided to shut his puss and unicorns might have colonised Mars.

Derelict Meadowbank Stadium, with graffiti in foreground which reads ‘The World Sucks’

Last Saturday’s post mentioned how I wasn’t so sure how I would spend that day. I had been considering Edinburgh and a whole host of other places but the capital was vetoed as the Scotland egg-chasing team was playing at Murrayfield and Hertz were doing something similar at Tynecastle. I ended up doing as little as possible, reading, listening to podcasts and doing a bit of writing. It was a good way to spend a Saturday. Instead I went out on Sunday. I walked around the New Town for a bit then headed to the National Museum of Scotland for its Rip It Up exhibition about music. A review will appear here tomorrow. Thereafter I walked down by Holyrood, through the park, up to Lochend Park and back into town.

I managed to get through quite a few books this week. Wild Geese, the Nan Shepherd collection, was swiftly dispatched on Saturday and it was good to the last drop. I also finished the Madeleine Bunting book about islands and I liked it, particularly as she got further into the Atlantic, finishing with the Flannan Islands and St. Kilda. Today I managed to finish HWFG by Chris McQueer, which was brilliant, hilarious and the right kind of warped. He also gave an interview to Common Space the other day, which is worth reading. On Monday I’m going to an event at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh where Chris McQueer and various other people are going to be talking about football’s greatest rebels as part of Book Week Scotland. It should be good.

I’m continuing this post on Friday afternoon and since Wednesday, numerous Government ministers have resigned and no-confidence letters in Theresa May are going about. Esther McVey resigned, which is no bad thing for humanity in general. Michael Gove is still in government, though, which is less positive. Anyway, less of the politics.

On Thursdays I work late and I used my lie-in to read the latest Quintin Jardine Skinner novel, Cold Case, in its entirety on my iPad. I am a versatile reader, fine with print and digital. I think in one of these posts a few weeks ago I ranted about how Rebus has no place in police investigations anymore, being retired. Skinner is too but Jardine got round it by making him a part of MI5 and also a special constable with Police Scotland. It wasn’t bad, to be fair, picking up loose ends from other books and generally being more laid back than other Skinner novels. Not that there weren’t deid folk in the book – there were a few – but it felt less rushed. Some crime novels can feel like that and I prefer to have some headspace when reading to see if I can figure out where it’s going.

The other morning I read an article that quite annoyed me. It was an interview with a Canadian writer called Sheila Heti and it was headlined ‘When people laugh while reading, they’re often showing off’, which was enough to set me off as when I read, I laugh because I can’t hold in how much I want to laugh at something I’ve read. It isn’t a way of boasting how much I am enjoying not being with someone either, it is a case that this book happens to be good. Often when I’m reading, I would like to be with someone else but I’m not. What I’m trying to say is that not everyone is a wanker. It is possible to appreciate books and laugh at them without being a tube with it.

In blog news, I’ve been thinking of some more Streets of Glasgow walks to do in the coming weeks. I have one more post ready to roll, Mosspark Boulevard which appears here on Wednesday. After that I have a few ideas. I’ve been thinking about Great Western Road for ages, also St. Vincent Street, Berryknowes Road not far from here, Crow Road and Clarence Drive in the West End. It’s just getting the right day when I have enough time and daylight to make it happen. It’s another strike against this time of year, the getting dark too bloody early.

I also have a post on Easter Road West today, which is about Lochend Park in Edinburgh, conveniently located right behind Easter Road Stadium. I’ve decided to scale back the football posts a bit, writing more about the experience rather than the games themselves. I haven’t been feeling it with the football stuff lately. The longform stuff I am writing here is more what I feel like doing at the moment.

Anyway, that’s us for today. As I say, ERW has a post this morning about Lochend Park. Tomorrow’s post here on Walking Talking will be about the Rip It Up exhibition at NMS. Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a very nice weekend.

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: 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.

Railwalk: Restalrig Railway Path

I had seen signs for the Restalrig Railway Path a few times on the way to Easter Road but it was only when I was on a roundabout walk of Edinburgh that I finally ended up on it. From Salamander Street I saw a bridge over the road with people cycling across it and that swayed my decision. I turned onto Leith Links then onto the path. Walking above the street was great, feeling removed but not detached from the city around me. There were a few cyclists and walkers, even a family foraging for berries. To the left was Seafield Road, industrial premises and the sludge works, the right the crematorium and cemetery, trees lent greater beauty by a coy sunshine. I hadn’t been in the area since a funeral a few years back and thoughts turned definitely on. Behind the crematorium is the site of the old Eastern General Hospital, now a care home but once the place where babies from the east of the capital and East Lothian were born, including me. I didn’t check to see if they had put the plaque up yet.

The path soon curved and there were more trees. I soon realised from a sign that I was now in Restalrig, at the other side of a golf course from where I went to primary school. The path now sat in a dip with houses at either side. Nearer Lochend allotments came to my right and smart flats to the left. Bridges came at regular intervals with signs telling the casual visitor where they were, which was appreciated as while I was on very familiar terrain, I had never been on this path before. I knew I would soon come to Hawkhill Avenue, round the back of Easter Road. The cantilever atop the Famous Five Stand peeked above the wall, the modern Lochend Butterfly flats dominating the landscape. A kid cycled around and around the path, waiting for his mum and dad to catch up. I turned left onto Hawkhill Avenue and I was back in urban Edinburgh once more. Some time I’ll finish the walk, finishing near the top of Easter Road the street, but it felt right to finish near my spiritual home, even on a quiet Sunday.

Thank you for reading. This is the first of a new series here on Walking Talking, probably occasional rather than weekly. Something entirely different will be here next week.