Bonus walk on Easter Road

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After the Leith Walk Intercity adventure, I had to get back into town anyway and I chose to go back via Easter Road. The street, not the Holy Ground. I didn’t have too many impressions on this walk. Cannonballs sat on the pavement near the Four In Hand pub. Not sure why. Funeral teas were respectfully catered for, due to the cemetery a few yards away. A Hibs flag was furled over the door. I looked over the cemetery and saw the roof of the Famous Five Stand, a sight only bettered by the familiar view down Albion Road to the ground. Not long before I’m back. From there, if you turn your head, there is a view right up to Salisbury Crags. ER has high buildings on either side so it is almost like a tunnel with the hill at its head.

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A house back the way had cacti in the window and a Charles Rennie Mackintosh style front door design. The paper shop across the way still has its sign promising 5p off all morning papers. It’s still going. Further up was a food shop called ‘It’s All Good’, probably healthy so maybe not so good. Then again the two separate adverts for bacon rolls outside Scotmid might give the case for kale and quinoa, whatever that is.

Easter Road might have been too familiar to write much about but it was fine. Good to be back on familiar terrain I will be on a lot in the next ten months. It really is all good.

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Intercity: Edinburgh II (Leith Walk)

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As I came back into Edinburgh, the rain kept falling. I had over an hour to kill before my train and I wanted to do an Intercity walk. I thought about my options. I didn’t want to sit at Waverley Station, fine place though it undoubtedly is, so I thought about where I might be able to buy an umbrella. It was beautiful and sunny when I left the house that morning and I didn’t even have a jacket. There’s a Tesco Express on Picardy Place and they had an umbrella stand right by the door. I bought the cheapest umbrella they had (still too dear at £7) and it was colourful, stripy, possibly eliciting a laugh and a whoop from a couple of women outside the shop. Then I was ready to do business.

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Leith Walk leads from Edinburgh city centre right down to the port of Leith. Leith was independent from Edinburgh until 1920 though there is a certain civic pride even today. I know Leith Walk quite well. I seem to have a habit of walking up Leith Walk on the way to Easter Road. It’s a street which always has a lot going on. It represents Edinburgh far more than the High Street with actual day-to-day life happening and the effects of gentrification felt far more acutely. Leith Walk is also a street which inspired Streets of Glasgow, another series I write for this blog. I wanted to know Glasgow streets as well as I do those in Edinburgh. And so it goes.

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The walk began by Picardy Place amidst the roadworks. The usual down the street photo taken, I started to walk. Despite the rain there were a few folk sat under the trees at Gayfield Square, always a scene of serenity in a chaotic city. The walk as far as McDonald Road and Brunswick Road was full of little bits of interest. The old-fashioned lettering on the side of the mini market. The skin spa advertising dermaplaning which strikes me as pelting some poor soul’s skin with water. The handwritten notices threatening folk with the Council if they don’t stop putting their rubbish in Slumdog’s bins. (Slumdog is a restaurant, incidentally.) Graffiti on a bin showing a Wi-Fi symbol with the legend ‘Radiation kills’. Then Harburn Hobbies, a shop which sells model trains. I always like looking in the window, though I’m not a model train person, at the precise replicas of local buses and old coal wagons. Randomly Harburn Hobbies sits right next to a sex shop. Whatever gets folk through the shift. Apropos of nothing, my gaze then fell on a pub up the street which had an advert for Innis and Gunn beer. I don’t like beer but the advert said it was ‘Brewed with Naked Golden Oats’. The mind boggles.

It being teatime, there were quite a few food smells, including pasta, pizza and Indian food. I came to the junction with McDonald Road and Brunswick Road and stopped at the crossing. It is traditional when I’m on a walk to wait for all signals so I see more. In this case, though, I crossed earlier. Though I was dry, it was still raining pretty heavily. I did look across at McDonald Road Library, which has turrets, and a handsome building across the road which had a tower. A classically Edinburgh looking block. There was also Tribe Yoga. I’m not sure if they would wage wars or anything.

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There was a beautifully drawn artwork on the ground, with unicorns in the middle and a Celtic ring and the words ‘We [heart] Scotland, We [heart] Leith, Persevere’. It bore the legend ‘From Canada We Love’ and I realised it has a twin, or had a twin, which sits on the corner of Jamaica Street and Clyde Street in Glasgow. I saw it on the Subway walk last year. The rain brought out the colours beautifully. Nearby was what used to be called the Boundary Bar, which separated Leith and Edinburgh. Until Leith was subsumed by Edinburgh, there were different licensing rules and it was possible to drink for half an hour longer in one side of the bar as a result. Near enough across the road was a Hibs pub called the Harp and Castle. As I walked up, unbidden came a song celebrating Hibs defender Paul Hanlon and his memorable equaliser at Tynecastle on the way to the 2016 Scottish Cup. ‘We had our day at Hampden and it’s all because of you!’ That always makes me want to jump up and down but I desisted and moved on.

As I got further towards Leith, there was evidence of the campaign to stop gentrification with the efforts to stop a cafe closing on a block destined to be levelled and rebuilt as more student housing. It even featured an almost Biblical quote: ‘Let there be Leith’. Nearby were a couple of murals, one featuring a colourfully dressed young woman and the other featuring a saltire with Arabic script. The latter reminded me of some street art near the mosque on Annandale Street. It brings to mind a line from a Proclaimers song. ‘We’re all Scotland’s story and we’re worth just the same’. Talking of celebrity Hibees, I soon came to the Central Bar, housed in part of what used to be Leith Central Station which in its derelict state was depicted in Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. Choose life, folks.

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Random graffiti near Leith Central Station. Quite existential.

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Anyway, I came to the foot of the Walk with the statue of Queen Victoria and a ghost sign above what used to be Woolies. It was still wet but I didn’t care. It was a great walk, varied, unique and different, even if I had to balance photo-taking and an umbrella.

Thank you for reading. Another Intercity post follows next week, this time in Stirling. Other Intercity adventures can be found through the Intercity page. The first Intercity walk in Edinburgh featured the High Street. A bonus walk on Easter Road appears here on Thursday.

Saturday Saunter: All the best things, books and football

Good morning,

Happy Saturday to you. As this is posted, I will soon be leaving for Stirling. I’m going to watch Hibs but also to cram another Intercity post in. Stirling is one of my favourite Scottish cities and I like being there, particularly up at the Castle which I always say is my favourite big castle in Scotland. In an ideal world, I would be able to combine the football with the castle and everything else but I know what I’m like. I’ll want a lie-in and leave at lunchtime, with little time beyond a quick wander and heading straight to the football then home. Dunfermline was like that last week. I had plans to do an Intercity walk and take a leisurely daunder up to East End Park. Not so. I had a lie-in and forgot that getting across town would be made harder by an Orange walk. So, I found another way to the bus station (by taxi and Subway) and eventually got to East End Park just in time to stand in a long queue for steak bridies (which were braw). Hibs won 3-1, incidentally, and played in the new away strip, which I may acquire soon.

Before I go into Hibs mode, I wanted to say a little something about the Women’s World Cup. I tuned into the Final just in time to see Megan Rapinoe, for it was she, scoring a penalty to put the USA one up against the Netherlands. The USA won and deservedly so. The main effect of the Women’s World Cup must be to raise awareness and to bring more people into the game. Women’s football in Scotland is very much secondary and it shouldn’t be so. I’ve thought a lot the last couple of weeks about Erin Cuthbert. She said that she achieved her dream by just playing at the World Cup. I imagine that there were a few people who watched this tournament and wondered whether they could reach that stage in a few years. I hope so.

As a sideline, read Laura Waddell’s article in the Scotsman about Megan Rapinoe and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

This is turning into a football post and it’s really not supposed to be. Last Wednesday night I went up to Arbroath for the first pre-season friendly of the new season. I left work and made my way into town for the train up to Arbroath. I hadn’t been out of the Central Belt for a week or two and the train ride was brilliant, just being able to sit and read, write, stare out of the window and tan my bag of fruit. (‘Tan’, I should explain, is a Scottish word for eating and generally devouring food. It also means to steal or break windows. I didn’t steal or break any windows on this adventure.) At Arbroath, we had a chippy sat looking over the harbour. In the distance, ten miles or so out to sea, was the Bell Rock Lighthouse, a wonder of engineering. Every time I’m in Arbroath, I like to try and find it on the horizon. Also visible was the Fife coast, including Tentsmuir Forest, which I’ve meant to go to for a while. I wasn’t there to sightsee; I was there to watch the Hibs and they got beat. The young goalie, Paddy Martin, had a bad night. But the football was secondary. Gayfield, Arbroath’s ground, is very close to the North Sea. Indeed, according to Wikipedia, it is the closest ground to the sea in Europe. On a cold winter’s day, it would be dismal. On a summer’s night with the light the right way, it was glorious. Gayfield is an old-fashioned ground with a small grandstand and terracing. You can walk around the side of the pitch, indeed the full perimeter of the pitch. I absolutely loved it. The combination of the football, decent Vimto bonbons, a big sky and a sea was just what I needed.

My travelling book to Dunfermline last weekend was Underland by Robert Macfarlane, which I am still working through. I took it with me to Carlisle on Tuesday too. It seems to be yielding more from taking it slow, savouring rather than bolting it down. The chapters about walking in Slovenia and the Paris catacombs have been brilliant. Robert Macfarlane’s writing is tightly-packed and can be exhausting to read at times but I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. For a change of pace, though, I might starting reading one a friend gave me a couple of weeks ago, Confronting The Classics, a book of essays by Mary Beard. I started reading it the day after I got it but I’ve not been able to get back to it. Mary Beard is one of life’s good people and I get the impression I’ll finish that book with a broader perspective on the world.

Oh, before I forget (and I almost did), every year the Scottish Book Trust has a writing competition. This year’s is called Blether and SBT have been publishing a selection of entries online. Mine is the second piece in issue 15 so have a read.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 13th July 2019. Tomorrow’s post is Intercity. Next Wednesday is about history and why I like it. Next Thursday? It’s a bonus walk. Whatever you do this weekend, have a good one. Peace.

Digest: May 2019

Digest time again. May 2019 is over and done with and it’s been a wee bit busy with life. Wednesday 1st May saw me journeying from work across Glasgow to the Forge on a shopping mission. The only picture from this was the Hovis factory which I took as a joke.

Friday 3rd May saw me in Edinburgh on that mission, this time successful. I walked along Montgomery Street towards Easter Road, which was a new one for me. A long, diverse street.

Monday 6th May was a public holiday. I had considered quite a few options but ended up going for a decent walk through the north of Edinburgh, from the New Town to Newhaven via Warriston. It was a nice walk, an old railway with a fair bit of history. I published a post about it the other Thursday. On the way back, I went to the supermarket and came home via Craigton Cemetery, which was a wee bit beautiful.

Saturday 11th May saw Hibs play Kilmarnock. The day was bright and sunny but the game I won’t allay, as the Proclaimers sang.

On Sunday 12th May my dad and I walked around Cumbrae. It was beautiful. Great views, sunshine and interesting.

Friday 17th May was a day off and I bopped around Renfrewshire and Glasgow. From the express bus into town, I undertook no fewer than six Streets of Glasgow walks, including the longest one in that series so far. It was sunny, warm and varied, to say the least.

The following week I worked a lot. Coming home from work one night I got the train from Paisley and the train that pulled up was a class 385, one of the new Scotrail trains that mainly run to Edinburgh but are going across the country now. Being a little bit of a train nerd and despite having been on these trains a fair bit, I quite liked getting a snazzy new train the couple of miles home.

Monday 27th May was a bank holiday. After a quick bit of blog business in Glasgow, I journeyed across to East Lothian and Haddington. In Haddington I had a walk in the sunshine by the river Tyne before popping into the John Gray Centre (pictured above), which had an exhibition featuring parts of the Traprain Treasure, Roman loot found on Traprain Law in 1919. It also had a rather decent photography exhibition by the Haddington Camera Club. The Traprain Treasure exhibition was great and it’s on there for the summer. It was weird to be back at JGC, a building I used to work in, but a nice weird.

On Friday 31st May, yesterday, I had a Glasgow afternoon despite the rain. I went to the mighty Mitchell Library and spent a wee while doing a bit of research. I also seem to have good thoughts in the Mitchell Library – I decided to go back to studying through the Open University after one visit, for example – and I had an interesting writing idea I might explore. After the Mitchell, I walked along to Kelvingrove and wandered around some of my favourite galleries there, with the French art gallery my particular highlight as ever. I walked up to the Hunterian Art Gallery, which is in a state of flux at the moment. I can recommend the German Expressionist exhibition which is dark but interesting. I also stood for a few moments in the cloisters of the University, which was rather fine.

So, that’s the May digest. For the blog it’s been a busy month. Both of the main series, Loose Ends and Streets of Glasgow, are winding down for the summer. I did the last Streets walks of the current run in one epic day and it felt fine. I often pack a lot of blog stuff into one day but six walks was a bit knackering, particularly Great Western Road. In June I’m hoping to get some new adventures, maybe not so far but to places I’ve never been before.

Also in the book for June is a friend’s wedding and at least one football-free Saturday.

Anabel at The Glasgow Gallivanter usually brings a Scots word into her monthly digests. Since I nicked the digest idea from her, I might as well bring a little Scots into things too. A word I didn’t used to like but use fairly often is ‘shan’, an east coast word to describe things being particularly bad or unfair. Another is, of course, ‘ken’. One of my colleagues said that I never say that particular all-purpose word but I don’t go as east coast at work as I might at home.

I was just looking through my likes for the month and a post I particularly liked is Yenn Purkis’s insightful post about giving and receiving gifts, an issue I often struggle with. Yenn Purkis is an intelligent writer about autism and life in general but this post really struck home.

Anyway, enough of my pish. Loose Ends returns tomorrow and it is a Roman one. Streets of Glasgow is back on Wednesday and it is on the edge of the city centre. A proper Saturday Saunter will appear here next weekend. Anyway, thanks for reading, commenting and following. Have a lovely month. Peace.

Posts this month –

Digest: April 2019

Saturday Saunter: Book talk

Loose Ends: Marjorie Bruce cairn

Streets of Glasgow: Argyle Street

Saturday Saunter: Writing, walking and special interests

Loose Ends: Democracy cairn

Streets of Glasgow: Sinclair Drive

The end of the football season

Saturday Saunter: Cumbrae, ferries and hay fever

Loose Ends: John Frederic Bateman monument

Streets of Glasgow: Victoria Road

Street art of Glasgow

Saturday Saunter: Haircuts, day trips and Underland

Loose Ends: Craigmaddie Gauge Basin

Streets of Glasgow: Cowcaddens Road

Railwalk: New Town to Newhaven

 

 

 

The end of the football season

I plan a lot of my life around the football season. Whenever the fixtures come out, I stop everything and take out my diary and the work diary and plan what annual leave I need to take, what swaps to negotiate. The TV schedules often require some adjustment too, usually a lot of cursing at another early start to get to Edinburgh by lunchtime. The season comes to an end on Sunday as Hibs play Aberdeen at Easter Road. Traditionally I celebrate the end of the season by going for a long walk somewhere after the game. Last season, it was a scorching summer’s day and after Hibs sensationally drew 5-5 against The Rangers, I ended up out at Aberlady Bay lazing on a beach. I’ll take myself for a chippy at the very least this time.

Aberlady Bay

After Sunday, I have two whole months without football. I’m a club before country person so I don’t really care about the national team’s games, only taking a polite interest when a Hibs player is involved. I usually feel a bit at a loss, without a major part of my routine.

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Belhaven Bay

Then I plan day trips. That’s often the best part of any adventure. Last year included Culross, St. Andrews, Abbotsford and Dunbar. This year is going to involve quite a few end-of-the-line places, those where trains terminate and others which I’ve only visited to watch football. Argyll is a contender. Maybe I’ll finally visit New Lanark. I haven’t been to Doune Castle for a while. I might take a trip up to the Mearns or into deepest Fife to Kellie Castle. Even braving Englandshire to Northumberland or a place I’ve longed to visit, the Derwent Pencil Museum down in Keswick. My favourite building, Durham Cathedral, is overdue a visit too.

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Durham Cathedral

In short, the historian in me loves the summertime. A lot of out-of-the-road places are only open in the summer months. Plus I get to satisfy those urges that have built up over the football season, those places I’ve maybe passed but made a mental note to go back to. Over the summer, until July, the League Cup and pre-season friendlies, I’ll hopefully cover quite a bit of ground; a lot of it will probably be written about here. Any suggestions will be gratefully received.

Saturday Saunter: 6th April 2019

Good Saturday to you,

Today’s Saturday Saunter is being written a few nights ahead of time. It’s Tuesday and the weather has been strange today. I walked home from work – about three miles – and it was pleasantly sunny, cool but not freezing, though only a few hours before that there was hail. Very odd. This post is being written with YouTube playing on my telly. All The Stations, which went to all of the railway stations in Great Britain in 2017, is now doing Ireland and they are on the way to Tralee at the moment. As with the British version, I’m looking forward to seeing some familiar stations. I’ve only been to some of the stations around Belfast though I don’t think they’ll be there for a few days.

I’m not sure what I’ll be doing when this is posted yet. Hibs are playing today, against Hearts at Tynecastle, but I now boycott Tynecastle so I won’t be there. I’m off so I’ll be away somewhere but keeping a very beady eye on the score from Gorgie.

Dunglass Collegiate Church

Last weekend I went on a few adventures. Some of them will appear here on the blog in the coming weeks but one that won’t is a trip I took to Dunglass Collegiate Church. I’ve been there a couple of times before but this time I was there on foot. Dunglass is about eight miles south of Dunbar and it is fairly awkward by public transport. On a Sunday a grand total of two buses go to Cockburnspath from Dunbar and I had to be on one and then on the last one back, 2 and a half hours later. I wasn’t really going to Dunglass but it was rude not to when I was passing. The church sits in an estate. Right next to it was a marquee from which emanated music. Actual live jazz singing, perhaps a soundcheck for a function later. That was slightly surreal. I wasn’t even alone in the church with a few likeminded souls. Dunglass was a burial chapel for the Home family and it might be small but it has some character, the light reflecting the right way whenever I’m there.

One contender for today might be Linlithgow Palace. I’ve been to Linlithgow many, many, many times and I’ve written about it here a right few times too, most recently as part of Loose Ends, I think, but I’ve been past it a lot on the train and I’m overdue one of my twice-a-year visits. Linlithgow has lots of Royal connections and those are interesting but I just like going there, wandering about and looking out.

I was really tired on Tuesday night so ran out of steam. It’s now Friday and still no further forward on what to do tomorrow. Thoughts I’ve had include Dumfries, Doune Castle or the East Neuk of Fife. I also thought about Arran but it might be too cold and windy. I fancy a long bus or train ride so hopefully I can figure out something.

This week has been World Autism Awareness Week. My line is always that it’s not just about awareness, it’s about acceptance too. I’ve had a lot on this week and I couldn’t think of anything to write here, as I did last year. One thing that gave me cheer this week was reading about Watford Football Club installing a sensory room at their ground. Other clubs have sensory rooms and plans in place to support autistic supporters though Watford seems to have done a lot, which is encouraging. My club, Hibernian, haven’t done so much yet though I can only hope they will at some point. I seem to remember a small-scale effort to try and get something happening. Going to the football is very important to me as therapy, really, a source of enjoyment, pleasure and sometimes deep frustration, as on Wednesday night. It can be an overload but I’ve found a way to try and make it work.

Talking about overloads, I wrote here recently about cutting down the number of Twitter accounts I follow. Mainly I culled all the political stuff and anything that didn’t give me joy, in true Marie Kondo stylee. That is helping during this time of political uncertainty. At time of writing, it is uncertain whether the UK will still be in the European Union by next Saturday. It’s much nicer to read about football (mostly), nature or ghost signs than the latest fuddery from Westminster. I avoid watching the news and I only really glance at the headlines otherwise. That’s probably best.

I’ve been re-reading Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie, which has been a very good antidote to all the shite in the news. I haven’t been reading a lot apart from that, apart from my Harry Potter re-read, which is just about done. I’m not sure what I’m in the mood to read at the moment. Over the last few years I’ve read more than in the last decade so maybe a barren period is natural.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. Tomorrow will be Streets of Glasgow, as will Wednesday. Next Sunday will be the 600th post, Loose Ends-style. Have a very nice weekend. Toodle pip.

Postscript: Staying in to watch the football today. Possible day trip tomorrow.

Saturday Saunter: 23rd March 2019

Good morning to you,

The hardest bit of writing is very often getting started. I’ve had a few first sentences fly across the screen then swiftly deleted with some judicious key presses. The Saunter is a blank page so it is harder than writing about a walk or a visit somewhere. Sometimes I can do it no bother. The beginning comes then paragraph follows paragraph until it naturally winds down. Other times it can be a bit of a grind and just getting words down is an achievement. This is one of those. We’ll persevere.

This is being written on Wednesday night since I am working on Saturday. It’s been a busy week but it began with a few adventures. Last Saturday I was at the football. Hibs won. On Sunday I roved around Glasgow, managing a couple of decent wanders plus a few minutes at Cathkin Park, one of my favourite places on the earth. A few parts of Sunday will appear here at some point, including two of the best Streets of Glasgow walks in that series so far. Monday was another day around Glasgow with a friend and we went to the Women’s Library to see the Artemisia Gentileschi painting and then to the House for an Art Lover. They have fabulous scones. White chocolate and raspberry. Thoroughly tidy. The Margaret Tait exhibition at GoMA is also worth a look and I’ll be heading back soon. It was a great weekend.

St. Vincent Street

Sunday’s Streets walks involved St. Vincent Street and Argyle Street, two major streets in this city and very high up the list of choices for the series. Argyle Street might be my favourite walk so far being very varied in terms of architecture, people and everything else. It had street art and pigeons, globes and gantries. St. Vincent Street was also very cool, particularly the bit from Buchanan Street to the motorway.

On the topic of the blog I’ve decided that the 600th post will be a Loose Ends adventure though at this point I’m not sure what that will be. I have to find a connection from the last one I did, which involved a favourite painting. It might be a very big day trip. We’ll see.

Cathkin Park

Cathkin Park was braw, as ever. For the uninitiated, Cathkin Park used to be the home of Third Lanark, a football team here in Glasgow until they went out of business in 1967. Cathkin’s terracing has been reclaimed by nature though recent work has cleared away some of the weeds and moss. It is near where I used to work and I don’t get over as often as I used to. It is a spiritual place, often quiet and a little eerie, summoning up memories and imaginings of past games. I stood for a little while behind a green and white post then walked around the perimeter of the pitch. Then I walked across the pitch, its condition not much worse than the dry Easter Road pitch I had seen the day before. Not for the first time I relived a game held at the third Hampden across the way about three years ago. The second Hampden was just where I needed to be.

Central Station

Earlier tonight I stood in the main concourse at Glasgow Central station waiting for my platform to come up on the board. I do that fairly often though rather than scrolling through my phone I ended up peoplewatching, wondering where people were going, appreciating the variety of the never ending stream of folk heading past. Central is currently starring in a documentary on the BBC Scotland channel, the station building and its staff, of course. It is strange seeing a familiar place on the telly but even stranger to be in that familiar place after seeing it on the box. I do love Central, the busiest railway station in Scotland (11th in the UK) and undoubtedly the finest.

That is us for today. Tomorrow’s post will be another instalment of Streets of Glasgow, this time in the Merchant City. Wednesday will be Loose Ends and that’s also in Glasgow. Next Sunday is the March digest. Anyway, have a very nice weekend. Cheers just now.

 

Saturday Saunter: 9th February 2019

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Inverness

Today’s Saturday Saunter is being written on Friday night live from a Citylink bus just leaving Inverness on the long road home to Glasgow. My earphones are in and I am ready to read and write my way down the road. It’s been a good day. I managed to get the Intercity walk for Inverness done and also do a bit of walking, book buying (more on that story later) and museum visiting. These kinds of day trips happen less and less these days now I work full time and spend so much time watching the still-managerless Hibees. I must manage ten or twelve a year and that’s okay. Most adventures are on a smaller scale now. I left for Perth at lunchtime a couple of weeks ago so I could fit in some life stuff and a lie-in. Today I left the house around 8am and will get in around 9.15 tonight, traffic and weather permitting.

When you read this I will be on the move again, this time to the capital to see the Hibs. For the second week on the bounce, there is also rugby on at Murrayfield so I’ll be heading through early to avoid the hordes. Scotland are playing Ireland so things could be fun. I have to get back quick from Edinburgh because I have a work night out at the theatre. We’re going to see something called Abigail’s Party, about which I know next to nothing except that Alison Steadman was in the original. Then I fully intend doing as little as humanly possible on Sunday.

Today’s travelling book is one from the pile I bought from Leakey’s bookshop in Inverness, Night Falls On Ardnamurchan by Alasdair Maclean. It’s about his family’s history on a croft in Ardnamurchan, according to the blurb, which tempted me to buy the thing in the first place. I’ll see how it goes.

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Leakey’s Bookshop, Inverness

I’ve managed to finish two books this week, Di Stefano by Ian Hawkey, about the Real Madrid talisman of the 1950s, and Moonwalker by Alan Rowan, tales of climbing Munros at night time. That last one I finished on the way up to Inverness hence I justified the book purchases at Leakey’s. It is a glorious shop, incidentally, built inside an old church and containing a real fire as well as books kept at a safe distance away from the flames. I’m going to write about it for Loose Ends because it’s an interesting place. It will appear in a few weeks time, after I write the thing and after the next three instalments after Greyfriars Burial Ground appear.

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Celtic Park

I know this blog is a football-free zone but I wanted to write a little bit about my trip to see Hibs get beat by Celtic the other night. For those unfamiliar with the game in Scotland, Celtic Park is the largest football stadium in Scotland, holding just over 60,000 people. Celtic take the matchday experience seriously and over the summer they spent £2 million sorting their ground including installing a brand new PA system and spotlights. The spotlights have been widely derided but they were used on Wednesday night. MC Parkheid played the usual nauseating Celtic tunes pre-match then announced that there was to be a light show. The tannoy got cranked up to 11, the lights swirled around and AC/DC’s Thunderstruck played with bass level visuals on the advertising boards. This tableau was completed by Celtic’s mascot, Hoopy The Huddle Hound, dancing around in the centre circle. It was awful on many levels, so cringey that I laughed in disbelief. Then I realised how much of an overload it was, the whole combination of music, vibration and lights just far too much. I could thole them, just, but for many people, autistic or not, they would have been a major problem. It was only the surreal spectacle of some poor soul dancing about in a foam costume that kept me going.

There’s just one more city left in the Intercity series, Aberdeen. I hope to get there in a couple of weeks’ time. After a break I might expand it to include places with cathedrals. It’s an interesting series and I like doing it. I’ve enjoyed the last two – Perth and Inverness – particularly and those places are very similar, both by rivers and yet in the heart of the city. The Perth one appears here tomorrow.

Well, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a very nice weekend.

Before I go, a wee bit of blog admin. I’ve added a page where all the Saturday Saunter posts can be found in one place. It should be in the menu at the top of the screen.

Digest: January 2019

January Digest time and it’s been a busy month. I’m not a fan of New Year and I was impatient, after not feeling right over the festives, to get out and about as early as I could relying on public transport. On Wednesday 2nd January, I got a train into town and then a bus to St. Andrews, the day cold but bright, enjoying a walk around by the Castle and Cathedral before going home as the sun came down.

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The following day I went to Edinburgh. I only have two photos, featuring the Portrait Gallery, which has the BP Portrait Award on just now. As ever, the ones I liked the most didn’t win.

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Saturday 5th January saw me in Dundee, with a wee interlude in Cellardyke. It was cool and cloudy but I had a good day, managing a whole host of adventures which have featured on the blog by now. The walk by the Forth in Cellardyke was just ideal, the grey light pensive but open to the East Lothian coast beyond. It was good to explore Dundee a bit more, with Dundee Law a particular highlight.

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After work on Friday 18th January, I went into town to do a wee bit of shopping. Before doing that, I managed a Streets of Glasgow walk for the first time in ages, along West George Street. I also took a turn along the Clyde in the half-light, which was incredibly worth it.

That Saturday the Hibs were playing Elgin City. It was baltic. The trains weren’t right so I didn’t get as much of an Edinburgh wander as I hoped.

The following Wednesday Hibs played Motherwell at Fir Park. The game was awful, the pies weren’t. I hadn’t realised how high up Fir Park was with many distant streetlights twinkling in the distance.

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On Friday 25th January I went to Perth, really to do Intercity but I ended up having a great wander, particularly loving Greyfriars Burial Ground, which I stumbled over on a bit of a derive.

That Sunday the still-mighty Hibees went to Paisley and won. After the game I took my auntie on a tour of the street art and architecture of Paisley. It was absolutely baltic but nice in the pale, wintry sunshine.

Well, that’s the January digest. Loose Ends features here again on Wednesday, staying in Perth. There will be a wee bit of a shuffle after that, with Streets of Glasgow returning too. Saturday Saunter continues, purely because I like writing them. Thanks as ever to all readers and followers. There’s been a few new ones in January, which is nice. Anyway, have a good February.

Posts this month –

Digest: December 2018

Saturday Saunter: 5th January 2019

Intercity: Glasgow

Loose Ends: Calton Hill, again

Saturday Saunter: 12th January 2019

Intercity: Stirling

Loose Ends: Dundee Law

Saturday Saunter: 19th January 2019

Intercity: Edinburgh

Loose Ends: Martyrs’ Monument

Saturday Saunter: 26th January 2019

Intercity: Dundee

Loose Ends: Perth Bridge

Intercity: Dundee

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From the Royal Mile to somewhere entirely different but no less interesting. I began at the bus station on the Seagate and proceeded along and up through the city along a route I’ve come to know quite well. Since I was six, with a few lapsed years in between, I’ve been a Hibs fan and one away trip I went on a few times as a kid was to Tannadice, home of Dundee United. Tannadice is on the same street as Dens Park, the ground of United’s deadly rivals, Dundee. Naturally as a football fan I came to associate Dundee, the city of the three j’s, of Oor Wullie, Jocky and Lorraine Kelly, with one street in particular and it’s why Intercity’s Dundee visit started on the corner of Tannadice Street and Arklay Street one Saturday lunchtime.

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Dundee United were playing Partick Thistle that Saturday and the build up was getting going. Yellow cones lined the roads, yellow jacketed stewards were positioned and as I passed Tannadice there was a definite meaty smell that might have been the pies or the offering for the folk in the dear seats. This was matchday, so early the last game might just have been over. In the meantime, all was quiet on Tannadice Street, a dude in a Partick Thistle dugout coat stood in one of the entrances blethering in Weegie to his pal and a couple of stewards outside Dens were putting the world to rights too. I didn’t see anyone on the allotments that sit behind Tannadice’s Eddie Thompson stand, even with it being a Saturday morning.

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Roughly two hundred yards separate Tannadice and Dens Park. I didn’t measure it, that was Wikipedia, but it is the shortest distance between any two football grounds in the country. There are all sorts of cool links between the two clubs including the same folk who sell programmes and operate the turnstiles at the two grounds. My favourite one is that the same person does commentary for blind and visually impaired people and Tannadice and Dens. As I walked the few paces past the Shed, Dens Park was right on me. Dens has an Archibald Leitch main stand, one of the few left in the country, and it is unusual because the stand isn’t sheer against the pitch, its two ends meet in the middle then go at an angle to reflect the road behind it, Sandeman Street. I’ve been to Dens and I’ve even been in that stand. What I hadn’t noticed before was the art-deco stylee ‘DFC’ over the main entrance. By the time I passed the shop at the Bobby Cox Stand end of Dens, it was possible to get a cool view over the stands with the Tannadice floodlights behind.

Before I finished my eye turned to the Rough and Fraser shop on the corner. I’ve since discovered that Rough and Fraser are a well known Dundee bakery and I passed another branch on my way up to Dundee Law. The thought struck me that Rough and Fraser could either be a fearsome defensive partnership or a detective duo, a Scottish Dalziel and Pascoe or whatever. Ironically I had read a crime novel on my way up to Dundee which featured a detective called Fraser who got killed. I won’t tell you which novel in case you happen to pick it up. Anyway, I digress.

So far, Intercity has featured four cities and four very different places. The first one when I thought I might struggle to fill the post was Dundee, ironic since this might be the longest post yet for a walk that didn’t even last ten minutes. Funny that. This one couldn’t have been more different to Edinburgh and the High Street but I think they played to different parts of me, the historian and the football fan who still gets excited in the vicinity of a stadium. Both were happy with this one.

Thanks for reading. The January digest will appear here next week while another Intercity post follows the week after.