Saturday Saunter: Fireworks and assignments

Good Saturday to you,

Our Saunter for today is being written on Tuesday night, Bonfire Night, as a train has just passed by my window. My part of Glasgow has quietened down now so my earphones are now off. I absolutely loathe fireworks, for their loudness and shrillness, and would ban them except in organised displays. They play havoc with my nerves, having the same effect as a very crowded bus crossed with a drill. Tonight’s music has been mixed, currently Skipinnish. I did hear earlier that it has been suggested that Bob Marley is particularly effective for soothing dogs on this night, so may try that on my human ears.

This post appears as I will be away to Perth to watch the currently managerless Hibees. My current plan is to head up a bit early, scoop up some lunch and eat it at Huntingtower Castle, a rather fine castle just outside Perth and about 15 minutes walk from McDiarmid Park. I like Huntingtower. If I remember rightly it has a painted ceiling somewhere as well as a small colony of bats. I like an away trip when I can combine some history with my football.

My laptop is still warm from working on an assignment for my current OU module, analysing a wallchart and saying how it might be relevant to historians of empire (a wee bit). I think I’ve done enough for tonight. My books and a print-out of said wallchart are scattered on the bed beside me. By the time you read this, the assignment will be submitted and my mind will be turned to next week’s work. It won’t be coming with me to Perth, though. I think I’m going to take Cameron with Egbert by Dervla Murphy, which I bought in Leakey’s Bookshop in Inverness at the start of the year. Regular blog readers will know that I went through a Dervla Murphy phase last summer and I think it suits my current mode and mood.

In my voracious intake of articles and popular culture, I came across a rather cracking thing on Twitter the other day, which showed two colours of shopping baskets. One was coloured to indicate that staff could approach and assist, the other not to make it clear that the shopper wanted left alone. I do most of my clothes shopping in person and particularly for shoes. I particularly like Schuh though get irritated by their very eager staff when I just want to look and make my decisions from careful observation. I suppose being able to shoe shop in under ten minutes might just be my superpower.

Or it could be autism, according to an article by Joanne Limburg on the Guardian website the other day. It is a very nuanced article, going into the perspectives of a fair few autistic adults. My perspective is summed up better by the writer Katherine May and it’s worth quoting here: ‘My autism brings some things I really value – the flood of words I experience, the ability to fixate on a subject and burrow deep into it, and an intense relationship with the natural world. But there are other bits I’d get rid of. I break things and hurt myself all the time; and I hate the way that I don’t remember faces and so come across as rude.’ She also talks about how it can often be easier to speak to a group of people than one person, something I relate to from years of working with the public.

I can also relate to the actress Emma Watson, who is approaching the thirtieth birthday which is recently in my own rearview mirror. In an interview with Vogue, she talked about how she is ‘self-partnered’ rather than single, which is quite a good way to look at it. Self-respect, all the way.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 9th November 2019. Tomorrow’s post is about a statue in Fort William, Wednesday’s Loose Ends about a rock not in Fort William. Any ideas for the 700th post, please send them my way. Have a very nice weekend. Cheers the now.

Digest: October 2019

It’s the October digest and another busy month full of life, of football, studying, art, walking and sitting on buses and trains. Let us begin.

The first adventure of the month was on Sunday 5th October and I went on the bus to Kirkcaldy. I often like art galleries on quiet Sunday afternoons and Kirkcaldy is a particular favourite. Some different contemporary art pieces had been put up since the last time, including one from a boat looking towards St. Kilda and another painting, more colourful and possibly Cubist, showing two St. Kilda lads falling from cliffs. I don’t have notes so can’t remember who painted the latter. Frances Walker painted the beautiful one looking back over the sea to St. Kilda with seagulls flying and waves lapping.

That Tuesday I went to the Glasgow Film Theatre for the monthly Access Film Club autism-friendly screening. This month was The Farewell, which featured a Chinese-American woman whose grandmother was dying of cancer in China. Her family decided not to tell the grandmother about her terminal illness. That makes it sound much more miserable than it was, with some wonderful darkly comic moments.

On Saturday 12th October, there wasn’t any football so I went first to Summerlee, the industrial museum in Coatbridge, where I had a wander around the site then took in its temporary exhibition about Albion Rovers FC. The exhibition featured some fine photography and a documentary on a loop. Thereafter I headed to Cathkin Park where I stood, wandered and pondered for a bit. On the way back to town, I went to the Tramway for the Nick Cave exhibition, which I liked a lot more than I thought I would. I thought it would be a bit of a sensory overload but it was really fine.

Saturday 19th October saw a visit to Hamilton to see Hibs draw.

Monday 21st October I was off and went to the Riverside Museum with my favourite little people.

The following day I was in Edinburgh. I went to see the Hibs Development Squad play Hearts Reserves at Meggetland. Rock ‘n’ roll. Before the game started, I sat and did some OU reading. Exotic. On the way to Meggetland, I walked along the Water of Leith walkway for a bit and then through deepest, darkest Gorgie and by the Union Canal. I sat and ate lunch by the Water of Leith near the Dean Village and it was quite lovely. A heron sat on a weir. It looked like something out of a painting.

Wednesday 23rd October saw me in Dundee in a blur of street art, exhibitions and walking.

Thursday 24th October I went out for a couple of hours and had a wander in the West End, sitting for a wee while in the Botanic Gardens, reading some more of that week’s OU chapter in the Kibble Palace.

Friday 25th October was Arran. It was an excellent day, with a little while in both Lamlash and Brodick. Going on a ferry always makes a good day.

On Saturday 26th October I went to Edinburgh to see Hibs.

Monday 28th October saw me in Dunbar. I walked by the waves. I thought and pondered and it was absolutely ideal.

Wednesday 30th October was another trip to Edinburgh to see Hibs.

In blog news, post 700 will probably come in November. Any thoughts on what I should do or questions, send them my way. The blog is on Twitter at @walkin_talkin1. Our next post will be Loose Ends and it will be at Agassiz Rock in the shadow of Blackford Hill. Until then, thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. Cheers just now.

Posts this month –

Digest: September 2019

Saturday Saunter: Stars

Glenfinnan

Loose Ends: Arandora Star Memorial Garden

Saturday Saunter: Persevere and autumn colours

Skye and coos

Loose Ends: Leith Links

Saturday Saunter: The Unexpected Return

Loose Ends: Charlotte Square Gardens

Loose Ends: Leith Links

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The last link took me to the Arandora Star Memorial Garden in a quiet corner of Glasgow city centre. As I was there, I thought of a Proclaimers song, Scotland’s Story, about how our country was essentially built by immigrants. One settled in Leith so I decided that the next instalment of Loose Ends would take me to Leith, more specifically Leith Links, a park I know well. Leith Links is a place I often sit in before going to the football, reading and often eating lunch on a bench there. As the name suggests it has a golfing history – we don’t do golf on the Walking Talking blog, holding to Mark Twain’s credo that it ruins a good walk – and also proper history. Near where I sat and ate my lunch was the Giant’s Brae, the remains of the mound where the English artillery gathered during the siege of Leith in 1560. I know that particular place better as Hanlon Hill, where tens of thousands of Hibs fans gathered to greet the 2016 Scottish Cup winners the day after that wonderful day. This day was warm and sunny with a few sunbathers, families and dog walkers. A football pitch was marked out but no game was in progress. I was about to go to one not far away at Easter Road so I didn’t linger long after finishing my lunch.

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Unusually the next connection was already decided since I was in Edinburgh anyway. I had two different connections ready with another place across the city only open once a year.

Thanks for reading. Another Loose Ends adventure follows in a fortnight’s time. The Loose Ends page features other parts of the adventure so far.

Saturday Saunter: The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues

Good Saturday to you,

This Saturday Saunter is being written on Monday night, which seems to have become a habit. Unusually it isn’t Skipinnish playing in the background. I seem to have a random shuffle happening and it’s Vampire Weekend in my lugs at the moment. Mansard Roof. Proper late-2000s arthouse indie. This will be posted on Saturday morning when I will be having a lie-in before going to Kilmarnock to watch Hibs. I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to this trip to Rugby Park. Hibs haven’t been great recently plus the last trip down there wasn’t great. We got beat and someone spewed over my trainers. Plus drunk folk on the train. Joy.

Ayrshire’s finest, Biffy Clyro, are playing now. Many of Horror. Not the sanitised X Factor version. Incidentally, one of the finest epithets I have ever seen in print was Marina Hyde’s description of Simon Cowell as the Karaoke Sauron. Repellent individual. Anyway, an absolute tune has come on while I’ve been writing and culling a political rant: May You Never by John Martyn.

In book news, I’ve managed to read a few books in the last week or so, including a couple of Quintin Jardine re-reads, the new Stuart MacBride (decent but I think his editor might have been on holiday) and the first of the Marsali Taylor Shetland sailing mysteries, which was all right. I think I might read more of that series. My current book is Out of the Woods by Luke Turner, which I’ve had on my pile for ages and I need to get back to its library home at some point. My travelling book for Kilmarnock today, since it’s compact and the journey isn’t far, is a selection of Greta Thunberg’s speeches published in a handy pocket-sized volume by Penguin.

For the last few minutes I’ve been trying to remember something I was going to write here this week. I had a mental image of where I thought it as well, when I was on the bus earlier tonight, where the 9A turns past Decathlon at Braehead towards Hillington. If you are unfamiliar with this place, imagine rolling hills, countryside, haggis running around freely. No, of course not, Decathlon’s a big sports warehouse and across from it is a huge shopping centre and generic glass-fronted offices. Between these is a busy road. I remembered where I had the idea before the idea itself. Go figure. Anyway, the idea was about autism positivity. Last week I watched Amy Schumer’s latest stand-up special on Netflix. I’m not a huge fan but I watched it because I had seen a piece which mentioned that she has an autistic husband. The standout quote was simply that his autisticness, all those things that society often views negatively like bluntness and attention-to-detail, was why she loved him. It gave me hope.

I’m back on my modern trad rock playlist now, Runrig, Tide Lines and Skipinnish. On Saturday, I will just have my iPod (yes, they still exist) so my music will be more limited. Usually when travelling to the game, I listen to Hibs tunes, normally the Proclaimers. On the way back it depends on the outcome. If Hibs win, it’s usually the Proclaimers. If they draw or get beat, which can often feel like the same thing, it’s Kacey Musgraves or Johnny Cash. There’s actually a song for this away day, though, indeed my favourite Proclaimers song which isn’t ‘Sunshine on Leith’: ‘The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues’. I don’t sing to myself a lot but when I do, it’s usually ‘The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues’, the closing number from the Proclaimers’ first album, ‘This Is The Story’. The last visit to Killie was just like the song, ‘the day was bright and sunny but the game I won’t allay’. I also agree with its sentiment that ‘the best view of all is where the land meets the sky’. There’s not a lot of water or wildness on the way from Glasgow to deepest, darkest Ayrshire but I can imagine it over the horizon.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 14th September 2019. Thanks for reading. Tomorrow’s post sees the welcome return of Loose Ends and it’s back to Queen’s Park. I am about eight Loose Ends posts ahead at the moment with enough written until December, which is a nice position to be in. Wednesday is as yet unwritten. Whatever you do, have a good weekend. Peace. And GGTTH.

Saturday Saunter: Podcasts, fashion and women’s football

Good morning,

As this is posted, I will be on the way to work hence it’s coming a bit early. It is of course being written in advance, this time on Monday night as Skipinnish is on in the background. Last Monday night was beautiful, warm and sunny. Tonight is dark, windy and rainy, quite a contrast.

Unusually I’ve had a few thoughts about what I want to write about today. Topics include autumn, podcasts and the Body Beautiful exhibition I went to in Edinburgh on Sunday. Whether I’ll get round to them or not, I’m not sure.

Earlier tonight I read an article from the FIFA website about Kylie Cockburn, who is an assistant referee working within Scottish football. She regularly runs the line at men’s games and I often see her name amongst the officials at Hibs’ games. What I didn’t know about her was that she’s also employed as a police officer and got unpaid leave from the Polis to go officiate at the recent Women’s World Cup in France. It was an interesting article particularly because she went into how her day job means she isn’t fazed by some of the abuse coming her way at the weekend. To be fair, she is one of the better officials in the men’s game in Scotland. She was also involved in VAR decisions during the World Cup, which is interesting to hear about from the other end.

I’m now listening to Lower League Ramblings, a football podcast featuring Danny Denholm of East Fife. This episode features Joelle Murray, the captain of Hibs, right now talking about the difficulties of keeping girls interested in football beyond the teenage years. Easter Road hosted an international qualifier last weekend, seeing Scotland win 8-0 against Cyprus and there’s a Champions League game there next Wednesday, 11th September, between Hibs and SK Slavia Praha. I’m toying with going to the game next Wednesday. It’s not every day a Hibs team plays in the Champions League after all. Wonderfully the attendance at the Scotland-Cyprus game, 6,206, was higher than two of the Hibs’ men’s team’s attendances in the League Cup this season.

Anyway, this blog isn’t supposed to be about football. Talking about podcasts, I’m listening to a lot of The West Wing Weekly, which is going into the seventh and final season of The West Wing. The discussions about the seventh season and how it seemed to go wrong are making it more interesting. Joshua Malina’s perspective and that of Richard Schiff, who played Will Bailey and Toby Ziegler respectively, are particularly pertinent. I’ve also been listening to Longbangers, a new Hibs podcast, and the older Hibs Talk, which has been more interesting as the team has been pish. I listened to the new episode of Longbangers yesterday and it summed up a lot of my thoughts about Hibs at the moment. Some of their jokes are chronic, though.

I was in Edinburgh on Sunday. It was good to be back in the capital and not being there amidst the Festival. I walked down to the Hermitage of Braid, one of my favourite green places, and sat and read a book for an hour. Those who follow me on social media will have gathered that I wasn’t too happy last weekend after Hibs were thoroughly gubbed by Motherwell. I went home on the Saturday night and read a book, namely a re-read of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Then I started reading a compilation of posts by The Fitba Nomad, a groundhopping blogger, including visits to some of the bigger and smaller grounds in Scottish football. It was an unusual read in such a scenic place but it worked for me. Then I walked along by the burn until I turned up by the rocks and back into town. Some of that walk will appear in Loose Ends in the next few weeks.

I got to the National Museum of Scotland and headed first to the Body Beautiful exhibition currently in the Temporary Exhibition Gallery on Level 3. Body Beautiful featured examples of modern fashion and its growing diversity, designs by Vivienne Westwood, Max Mara and Jean Paul Gaultier. Clothing for various groups were spread across the gallery, including for disabled, LGBTQIA+ and older people as well as those of colour. All this was interesting to read about. Fashion doesn’t represent many folk, to be frank, and any moves to be more inclusive and body positive can only be welcomed.

It is now September and autumn is upon us. The weather today felt almost wintry but let’s just call it autumn for now. I’m looking forward to walks in the Botanics in both Edinburgh and Glasgow amidst the leaves. A trip to Pollok Park, a place I haven’t been to in too long despite being very close to here, is an absolute autumnal must. I love the colours, the sharpening light and the leaves falling, but not the getting dark earlier and earlier. It being dark at 8pm is bad enough now, let alone the being dark by 5pm which will be upon us soon enough.

Anyway, I’m well into the 800 word territory and I’m not slowing down soon. Joelle Murray on Lower League Ramblings is winding down and I’m going back to Skipinnish, I think. It’s just after half nine and I might write up some of the Loose Ends posts before bed. There’s a Roger Deakin quote going through my mind ‘At night you write out of guilt but in the morning you write out of hope’. This is my writing time, since I find it hard enough to get out of bed let alone getting up early to scribble. There’s not much guilt for me tonight. I’m just liking the words streaming across my screen.

That’s us for today, though. Tomorrow is the final instalment for now of Intercity and it’s Aberdeen. Wednesday is about book memories. Whatever you do this weekend, have a good one. Cheers.

Digest: August 2019

The August digest is usually one of the busiest of the year. August sees my birthday, the start of the football season and the Edinburgh International Book Festival as just three parts of my calendar, which is often busy enough as it is.

The month started with my birthday, my thirtieth, to be exact. On that day I was in Arran for the day in glorious sunshine. We went to Lochranza, a part of the island I hadn’t been to before, and it was brilliant, with a ruined castle to be explored after a pub lunch. After that we got a bus most of the way around the island to Blackwaterfoot, with very fine views to Kintyre, then the bus back to Brodick, ferry to Ardrossan then the train home from there. It was a great day, one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.

The following day was the start of the football season. I know that I had seen Hibs play no fewer than seven times in friendlies and the League Cup but it was the proper season, the beginning of the Ladbrokes Premiership with Hibs at home to St. Mirren. Hibs won 1-0 in what can be charitably described as one of the less Brazilian football matches despite the sunshine.

That Monday saw me visit Aberdeen. Amidst some family business, I had a very decent walk along the Esplanade. I wrote about it and it appears here next week.

Sunday 11th August was wet and dismal but that didn’t stop a visit to Bute, driving the long way and having a decent walk.

On Tuesday 13th August I went to the Glasgow Film Theatre at night for an autistic friendly film. It was Spirited Away, a Japanese anime dubbed into American. It was all right. The walk in the sunshine back to Central Station was particularly fine.

Saturday 17th August saw Hibs play Morton in the League Cup. Beforehand I sat in Lochend Park and ate lunch. It was the right place to be, away from the Festival crowds.

The following day I was out and about in Glasgow. I went to Queen’s Park then out through the Gorbals back into town. I gathered up some loose ends for this blog along the way. They will appear here in the coming weeks.

On Saturday 24th August I was once more in Edinburgh to see Hibs. They weren’t great. What was much, much better was seeing Kathleen Jamie talk at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. An excellent writer and thinker and I walked out of there feeling about ten feet tall. I also managed a couple of bits for the blog while in the capital. Getting home was a bit interesting. I took the slow train as the fast train was mobbed. It was interesting, with some bits straight out of a Chris McQueer story.

Monday 26th August was this blog’s fourth anniversary. When I got home from work, I ended up writing a post because I forgot to prepare anything.

Saturday 31st August saw me in Motherwell to watch Hibs.

That’s the August digest out of the road. We’re coming into a time of the year I like more as I grow older. Autumn’s coming up. Not so much as I write this on Monday night as it’s roasting outside but soon it’ll be autumnal. September’s looking interesting. I have a few things in my diary, including a wee part in Doors Open Day, a wee turn and the usual Hibs and cramming in blog stuff. Plus I’m going away for a couple of days at the end of the month, which should be great. In the meantime, have a great September. Cheers.

Posts this month –

Digest: July 2019

Saturday Saunter: Zen on Arran

Intercity: Dunfermline

London Road sculptures

Saturday Saunter: Earplugs, role models and books

Intercity: Dundee II (Commercial Street)

Bonus Aberdeen walk

Saturday Saunter: Writers, zines and pebbles

Intercity: St. Andrews

Four.

Alternative Edinburgh

Saturday Saunter: Writing and reading

Saturday Saunter: Earplugs, role models and books

Good Saturday,

Unusually this is being started on Sunday night as I’m busy on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights this week, when normally I might think to write this post. It’s just about 10pm and I’ve had a busy day, walking in the rain on Bute. It was much better than it sounds. We had driven the long way to get to Bute, taking the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ferry from Colintraive to Rhobodach and then down to Rothesay and Kilchattan Bay from there. Anyway, home now and in the background I have a Skipinnish playlist from YouTube.

The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ferry

This post appears on a Saturday morning when I’ll be off to Edinburgh to watch Hibs. It’s going to be a ‘go to the game and straight home’ sort of occasion as I can’t be doing with Edinburgh during the Festival circus. Last year I bought a packet of earplugs and I’ve put a set in my jacket pocket and my backpack. They worked a treat last year and they’ll probably work today especially as leafleters were gathered beyond the Playhouse when I was in Edinburgh two weeks ago, a zone I would normally consider safe.

The schools have just gone back here in Glasgow. I should explain for non-Scottish readers that school holidays in Scotland go from the end of June to mid-August. Our education system is generally different from England, as is our legal system, of course. It’s traditional that the weather gets nicer when the schools go back and it was sunny and warm on Thursday when the schools went back in Renfrewshire (where I work) though wet and windy on Friday as I write these words. The best part of the schools going back for me, a contentedly childless person, is the fact the museums and shops are quieter if I’m off on a weekday. Happy days. Another bonus is that I’m long past school age and I don’t have to brave school again myself.

Greta Thunberg is a remarkable person. As a society we need to do a lot more to deal with the effects of climate change and Greta Thunberg is spreading a valuable and essential message. Unfortunately she gets it tight on social media on account of her age, what she’s saying and because she’s autistic. I read a thread on Twitter the other day that mentioned that she’s a rare autistic role model since a lot of media portrayals of our condition tend to be negative and driven by stereotypes. They don’t reflect the diversity of neurodiverse folk, how many of us have empathy, how we can communicate and how we are not serial killing loners. Changing that will take time and any positive contributions that people can make must be embraced and cherished, especially if they might actually help move our society forward.

I haven’t been reading terribly much this weather. A fortnight ago, I took my favourite book, The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, when I was heading to the football. Today I have a book I got for my birthday, The Pebbles On The Beach by Clarence Ellis, which from the blurb and the cover looks like my kind of book. Also on my pile just now is a Marsali Taylor crime novel that’s been there for ages, the new Stuart MacBride and a book by Diego Maradona about the 1986 World Cup. A book I got recently was the rather cool Spirits of Glasgow featuring illustrations by Jo Whitby and a story by Chris McQueer. I got it as a pre-order (it’s not out properly until September). Don’t panic, I’ve not turned into a blagging, bragging book blogger – I heard about the pre-sale on Twitter and promptly bought a copy. The illustrations are beautiful, quite like Neil Slorance in style, and I’m looking forward to reading it properly.

I often like to catchup with American late night comedy shows and my favourite is the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Stephen Colbert was interviewed the other day by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and amidst the discussions about Donald Trump, they talked very movingly about grief. I sat and watched it this morning and it was profound. We do not talk enough as a society about serious matters of life and death. We get too preoccupied by trivial nonsense.

On a brighter note, and not at all trivial, this very Saturday morning Natalie from Wednesday’s Child has published an ex-pat’s guide to Glasgow so have a read at that.

Anyway, that’s us for today. Intercity is back tomorrow and it’s Dundee for the second time. It features one of my favourite bizarre photographs I’ve ever taken. Wednesday will be a bonus walk from my recent trip to Aberdeen. Another Saturday Saunter will appear a week today. In the meantime, have a great weekend. Cheers for now.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.