Virtual Loose Ends IX: Statues, graffiti and Victoria

Welcome to this final instalment of Virtual Loose Ends, a connections adventure around Scotland but done on a screen. By the time this is posted (I am writing this in late June 2020), it might be possible to visit some or more of these places once more.

Oscar Marzaroli statue: statues of three boys on a city street, one stood upright in the centre, two on either side, all three wearing high heels.
Oscar Marzaroli statue: statues of three boys on a city street, one stood upright in the centre, two on either side, all three wearing high heels.

We left off last time at the Girl With A Backpack statue on Cumberland Street in the Gorbals in Glasgow. Along the street is a set of sculptures by Liz Peden of three boys wearing high heel shoes out in the street, based on a famous Oscar Marzaroli photograph taken nearby. I rather like the photograph and have a postcard of it beside me as I write.

Gorbals Vampire mural: a mural on an arch depicting a vampire stood in a graveyard with red eyes and hand outstretched. Above are the words 'The Gorbals Vampire' and below some historical details.
Gorbals Vampire mural: a mural on an arch depicting a vampire stood in a graveyard with red eyes and hand outstretched. Above are the words ‘The Gorbals Vampire’ and below some historical details.

Also close by is a mural of the Gorbals Vampire. The Gorbals Vampire was an urban legend of a creature who would come from the Southern Necropolis and come after children. The mural is of a more recent vintage and adorns an arch under a railway.

Dundee Pasteurised Milk Park: a park with a wall in the middle with elaborate graffiti, mostly in red and black.
Dundee Pasteurised Milk Park: a park with a wall in the middle with elaborate graffiti, mostly in red and black.

The DPM park is in Dundee, near the Hilltown and the football grounds. It is a legal graffiti spot, adorned with some amazing and creative art. I believe art can be found everywhere and can be created by virtually any means, be it a paintbrush or a spray can. DPM stands for Dundee Pasteurised Milk, which used to be made on the site. Nearby, incidentally, is a great mural of Oor Wullie talking about mental health, which is well worth a visit too.

Firhill Stadium is the home of Partick Thistle FC, the only team in Glasgow as they often proclaim. The only one in League 1 at the time of writing, certainly. They have a cool mural on the wall which leads up to the Jackie Husband Stand at Firhill, which features fans, a ball and general football scenes. It links with the DPM Park not only because of the art but also because the DPM is near Tannadice and Dens Park.

St Mirren Scottish Cup mural: a mural featuring a trophy in the centre with 19 and 87 and either side of the base. Around either side are male figures, one with arms outstretched.
St Mirren Scottish Cup mural: a mural featuring a trophy in the centre with 19 and 87 and either side of the base. Around either side are male figures, one with arms outstretched.

Brown’s Lane in Paisley also features street art and indeed art relating to football. St Mirren won the Scottish Cup in 1987 and this feat is depicted on the wall in Brown’s Lane as well as musicians, since the Bungalow music venue is nearby, and much else besides. It’s worth exploring the street art in Paisley but particularly the lane.

Famous Five Stand, Easter Road Stadium: looking across a football pitch towards a two-tiered stand curving to the centre at the left. The stand, as do the two stands to its left and right, has mostly green seats.
Famous Five Stand, Easter Road Stadium: looking across a football pitch towards a two-tiered stand curving to the centre at the left. The stand, as do the two stands to its left and right, has mostly green seats.

Another place which depicts the Scottish Cup is the Famous Five Stand at Easter Road Stadium, home of Hibernian Football Club who won the 2016 Scottish Cup. I don’t think I mention that here enough. A panel featuring club captain Sir David Gray and Lewis Stevenson lifting the cup hangs on the side of the stand. The Famous Five Stand is at the northern end of the stadium, built in 1995. The Famous Five were a notably successful forward line for Hibs during the 1940s and 1950s, comprising Gordon Smith, Eddie Turnbull, Willie Ormond, Lawrie Reilly and Bobby Johnstone. The Hibernian Historical Trust has done a lot of work showcasing the history of the club around the ground and the lower concourse of the Famous Five has a plaque about James Main, a Hibs player in the 1900s who died of a ruptured bowel the day after being kicked in the stomach during a game.

Queen Victoria statue, Leith Walk: near the bottom of the image is a statue of a regal woman on a plinth on a city street. Around are a shopping precinct, lampposts and traffic lights.
Queen Victoria statue, Leith Walk: near the bottom of the image is a statue of a regal woman on a plinth on a city street. Around are a shopping precinct, lampposts and traffic lights.

On the open-top bus route when Hibs win a trophy is the statue of Queen Victoria, which stands at the bottom of Leith Walk outside what used to be Woolworths. The statue is one of very few of women in the capital. Indeed there are more statues of dogs than women in Edinburgh, which surely, surely should be remedied.

V and A Dundee: a museum on the left, smart with grey panels, shaped like a ship. To the left a ship. The sky is mostly grey, dramatic with a hint of orange on the horizon.
V and A Dundee: a museum on the left, smart with grey panels, shaped like a ship. To the left a ship. The sky is mostly grey, dramatic with a hint of orange on the horizon.

Victoria and her husband Albert gave their name to a museum in Kensington in London, which in 2018 opened a branch dedicated to design…in Dundee.

That’s Virtual Loose Ends. Thanks so much for reading. I’m not sure what will be here next week but something there will hopefully be. Until then, keep safe. A very good afternoon.

Virtual Loose Ends VII: Bridges and memorials

Welcome to another instalment of Virtual Loose Ends. This whistle-stop tour is a virtual connections adventure around Scotland. We left off last time at Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow. We will continue, by dint of geography, at the Hunterian Museum, part of the University of Glasgow. The nearby cloisters featured in the post last week but I was clever enough to be specific about the place. The Hunterian Museum is one of the oldest museums in Scotland, the collection of William Hunter featuring art, anatomy and geology amongst other things. The Hunterian is particularly old-fashioned in its design with a balcony and I’m fond of its old-school anatomy charts. There is also the Art Gallery across the road, which has an excellent collection of Scottish Colourists.

Cramond Island is an island in the Firth of Forth, accessible depending on the tide over a causeway. It has some World War II-vintage defences including triangular defences across the causeway. I’ve been there a couple of times though always make sure I look up the tide times lest I be cut off. It happens a lot.

Considerable views can be had from Cramond Island towards the north of Edinburgh, Fife and along the Firth of Forth, including to the Forth Bridge. There are three bridges at Queensferry, the new Queensferry Crossing, the Forth Road Bridge and the real thing, the Forth Bridge. It is one of my favourite structures in the entire world, metal and overdesigned but gorgeous. Sadly I don’t cross it very often any more but I always feel my spirits rise when I see it or indeed cross it.

On the same railway line is the Tay Bridge, opened in 1887. It was the second railway bridge to cross the Tay, of course, with the first washed away in a storm in 1879, which, as William McGonagall noted, ‘will be remembered for a very long time’. From the Dundee end it is possible to see stumps from the old bridge, running almost parallel to the 1887 bridge. It winds across the Tay from Wormit right to the centre of Dundee. On a particularly long train it is possible to see the other end of the train out the window as the train turns into Dundee.

The Clyde Arc is rarely called that in Glasgow, instead being called ‘the squinty bridge’ because it looks like an eye. It passes from Cessnock to Finnieston, near the BBC and STV on the southern side, the SEC on the north. It was built in 2006 as part of a continuing redevelopment of the riverside area in the city. The Arc is a handsome structure and adds considerably to the cityscape.

Along the Clyde is the People’s Palace, the museum of the people of Glasgow. Its displays about how people lived and thought are excellent and the video of Glaswegian comedy is always worth a look, particularly for Parliamo Glasgow.

Outside the People’s Palace is a more recent addition to Glasgow Green. Our city and country was changed utterly by migration, particularly because of famine in Ireland and the Highlands. An upturned boat and plants stand amidst some interpretation boards and the names of families and places on the path.

That’s another instalment of Virtual Loose Ends done. Next week we will continue a little way away and continue towards some castles. Until then, keep safe. Bye just now.


Virtual Loose Ends VI: Winching statues, harbours and museums

Welcome to another Virtual Loose Ends, the sixth instalment which will once more criss-cross the country in an entirely virtual and socially distant way.

Riverside Museum: looking across a grey river towards a tall ship and a museum with a spiked roof.

We left off two weeks ago at the Mary Barbour statue in Govan. It connects geographically to the Riverside Museum, Glasgow’s transport museum, which features cars, trains, buses and social history of many kinds. My favourite part, as with the old museum in the Kelvin Hall, is the recreated street, which last time I was there had posters about rent strikes, another connection with Mary Barbour. The street has a pub, cafe, shops and a Subway station.

Summerlee: looking through a gate with Summerlee written in capital letters towards industrial buildings and tram lines.

Another transport museum, and place with recreated streets, is Summerlee, in Coatbridge. Summerlee is excellent with exhibitions about the local area and its industries as well as local life, sport, religion, leisure and much else besides. The last time I was there they had an exhibition about Albion Rovers, the local football team, with some cracking black-and-white photographs chronicling life at Cliftonhill.

Morrison’s Haven: looking through weeds towards the outline of a harbour filled-in and now covered in grass.

The Summerlee company also owned Prestongrange, a mine, brickworks and many other things in East Lothian. The nearby harbour, Morrison’s Haven, has since been filled in though boats took coal, bricks and other products out to the world, once busier than the port of Leith a wee bit further up the Forth. Morrison’s Haven was filled in when Cockenzie Power Station was built in the 1960s and it is a particularly fine place to walk, as I like to do when in the area.

Kirkcaldy Galleries: an elaborate sculpture of a tower with doors and fish sticking out of them. Behind are paintings of pastoral and seaside scenes.

From Morrison’s Haven it is possible to get great views across the Forth, to Edinburgh and Fife. Kirkcaldy can be seen and a must whenever I’m there is Kirkcaldy Galleries, the museum, art gallery and library, which has an excellent art collection particularly, with Glasgow Boys, Colourists and William McTaggart represented. It also has locally made Wemyss Ware on display, linking to the industries on the other side of the Forth, made at Prestongrange, Macmerry and Portobello particularly.

Wincher’s Stance: a statue of a man and a woman in a romantic embrace, set amidst a bus station.

To get to Kirkcaldy from Glasgow requires a bus, passing through Buchanan bus station in the heart of the city. In the bus station, apart from buses, is a statue by John Clinch of a couple embracing after a long separation. It is called the Wincher’s Stance, winching being Glaswegian for kissing. I suspect lots of similar gatherings have taken place there at one time or another.

Glasgow University cloisters: pillars with a curved roof above.

Near to the bus station is Glasgow Caledonian University. Another higher education institution, Glasgow University, used to be based in the city centre before moving to the West End. Its buildings are Gothic and grand, the cloisters like being in a cathedral. I particularly like to stand in them for a wee while whenever I’m in the area.

Kelvingrove Park: a view across a park with brightly coloured, autumn trees towards a tall tower.

The University of Glasgow overlooks Kelvingrove Park. Kelvingrove Park stretches through the West End of Glasgow and has high and low parts. The views from Park Circus, high towards Charing Cross and the city centre, are particularly outstanding, a perspective right across the city and beyond.

Well, that’s another Virtual Loose Ends done. Thanks so much for reading. Next week we will continue in the West End before venturing forth once more. Until then, keep safe. Cheers just now.

Virtual Loose Ends IV: Churches and barometers

Welcome to this fourth instalment of Virtual Loose Ends, a virtual adventure around Scotland, travelling by connection. We paused last week on Arthur’s Seat, the hill which dominates Edinburgh. We continue from Salisbury Crags, just downhill, a series of cliffs which look over the west of the capital, connected to Arthur’s Seat by geography and geology, certainly.

St. Patrick’s Church: a church in yellow sandstone with a central tower with a green top.

Nearby is St. Patrick’s Church in the Cowgate. St. Patrick’s is known as being where Hibernian Football Club was founded in 1875 by the Catholic Young Mens Society. A plaque to this effect sits just inside the main door of the church. It is a particularly fine church and I recommend a visit to explore it properly.

Hampden Park, during a Queen’s Park game – a large football ground with a game in progress. The seats opposite are red and blue with white writing on them spelling out ‘HAMPDEN’.

Arguably the greatest day in the history of Hibernian Football Club happened on 21st May 2016 at Hampden Park in Glasgow when Hibs won 3-2 against The Rangers to lift the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years. I suspect I don’t mention it here very often. Hampden Park is Scottish football’s national stadium, for a little while longer also the home of Queen’s Park. In its heyday Hampden attracted well over a hundred thousand people to big matches, hosting European finals, internationals and of course Cup Finals. A more modest 52,000 capacity exists today. Also at Hampden is the Scottish Football Museum, an interesting look at the history of the game in all its facets.

Hamilton Crescent: a cricket ground with houses and trees in the background.

The first football international didn’t take place at Hampden, the third Hampden nor the first two, but at a cricket ground, Hamilton Crescent in Partick, which was then, as now, the home of West of Scotland Cricket Club. I’ve walked around its perimeter and while I have utterly no interest in cricket, I can see that it would be a fine place to watch it or indeed a proper sport.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh: tall redwood trees amidst other trees on a sunny day.

I am astonished that the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has not featured in Loose Ends already, being one of my favourite places on the planet and a place I like to go to to think, reflect and read from time to time. The Botanics also features a very fine view across Edinburgh and plant collections from across the world. My favourite spot is under the sequoias. There are really few finer places. It connects with Hamilton Crescent since near to RBGE is a cricket ground, The Grange.

Benmore Botanic Garden: a grove of redwood trees leading to the centre of the image.

Benmore Botanic Garden is on a hill in Argyll not far from Dunoon. It has a sequoia grove near its entrance and I never fail to feel uplifted when I walk between them. Benmore is part of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Scotland, as is the Edinburgh Garden. It is hilly though has a pleasant green at the bottom with a burn. I’ve been there in a few weathers and it is always worth spending a few hours there.

Neptune’s Staircase: a set of canal locks leading upwards.

Ben More is a mountain, as is Ben Nevis. In the shadow of Ben Nevis is Neptune’s Staircase, a series of locks which are part of the Caledonian Canal and designed by Thomas Telford. It is a fascinating place, simple scientific principles put to work by complex design.

Well, that’s another Virtual Loose Ends. Thanks for reading. We will continue next week with a more maritime connection. Until then, keep safe. Cheers just now.

Loose Ends Redux: Caledonia Road Church-V and A Dundee

Good afternoon to you,

I started doing Loose Ends Redux back in March when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write, only that I needed something easy to put together. It’s been nice to revisit past adventures but as they are getting much more recent – and readers remember the original post – I’ve decided to curtail it here. This super post will contain thoughts on the most recent round of Loose Ends, just to get it done so I can post something else. Next week will be the start of Virtual Loose Ends, a virtual journey around Scotland with brand new connections. Starting at Aberdour Castle and ending at the V and A in Dundee like the series did, I’ve pieced together some places that didn’t feature in the original, finding connections between them. Some I’ve been to lots of times, others only once or in the passing. That comes next week.

This post will include:

Caledonia Road Church

Arandora Star Memorial Garden

Leith Links

Charlotte Square Gardens

Agassiz Rock

Blackford Hill Rocks

Arden Street

Espedair Street

Glasgow Central Station

Kibble Palace

George Square

Donald Dewar statue

La Pasionaria statue

Billy Connolly mural

Mitchell Street mural

Fisherrow Fishermen


Creel Loaders statue


Abandon Ship

V and A Dundee

Caledonia Road Church: looking up towards a ruined church with a tower to the left and a smart Grecian top with pillars. Weeds are growing from the middle of the level of the building.

The Caledonia Road Church is a ruined church designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. It has been a ruin since the 1960s and it is one of Glasgow’s great curiosities. I went there straight from Queen’s Park and wandered, looked and took photos.

Arandora Star Memorial Garden: an urban garden with a tree to the left and mirrors arranged on a patio area to the right. Behind is a red apartment building and a breezeblock wall with some plaques on it. 

The Arandora Star Memorial Garden is in the grounds of St. Andrew’s RC Cathedral by the Clyde. It connected from Caledonia Road through religion. The garden is a memorial to those who perished when the Arandora Star was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland in 1940. Italian and German internees bound for Canada were on the ship. 805 people were killed. The garden is a beautiful memorial to this event and a reminder of how we should never judge people for their origins, only what they make of themselves.

Leith Links: a path underneath some trees in a park. A red curved building is to the right.

Leith Links came about because I had a Proclaimers song called ‘Scotland’s Story’ in my head. It mentions internees and Leith. I was in the capital for football and to go to an event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I sat there, ate my lunch then went to the game. It’s amazing, writing this in June 2020 as movements are restricted, how remote that feels.

Charlotte Square Gardens: the back end of a statue of a man on a horse. Statue figures are gathered at the base. On ground level are trees and tents, one advertising the New York Times.

Charlotte Square Gardens lies empty most of the year. Only in August – in normal circumstances – is it opened, housing the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I was there in August and so I sat, read, wrote, bought books and went to an event. It linked to Leith Links because of geography.

Agassiz Rock: a rocky outcrop with a tree atop a rock in the foreground. To the left is an area of rock with graffiti on it. 

Blackford Hill Rocks: layers of geological rock with trees above.

At the time I was reading a book about geology. That was how I linked Charlotte Square to the Agassiz Rock, in the shadow of Blackford Hill in the south of Edinburgh, named after Swiss geologist Louis Agassiz who did some fieldwork there. On the way back into the city I came to other rocks, which linked to the Agassiz Rock by geography.

Arden Street: an urban street with identical grey and yellow tenement buildings on either side and at the end. A blue sky with some white clouds above.

On the very same Sunday I walked back into Edinburgh city centre and came down Arden Street, the street where Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus lives. I linked it to Blackford Hill through books. Arden Street was bright and sunny and no sign of Rebus’s beaten-up Saab.

Espedair Street: an urban street with buildings on either side. The building to the left is yellow with satellite dishes on it. To the right are buildings of various sizes, some yellow, brown or white.

Espedair Street is in Paisley, a little south of the town centre. It’s residential, with a ghost sign and a park behind. I know it a bit better since I did Loose Ends as someone I know stays near there. It linked to Arden Street since Espedair Street is the title of a book by Iain Banks.

Glasgow Central Station: looking up towards a glass roof of a railway station with buildings curving to the left, including a Costa Coffee shop. 

Glasgow Central Station is the busiest railway station in Scotland. I haven’t been there since March at time of writing. It is a grand station, fronted by a hotel, with trains going to England and across western Scotland. I had to look up the link I found from Espedair Street:

‘Central had a tenuous link to Espedair Street through the works of Iain Banks. As well as Espedair Street, he also wrote The Bridge. Bridge, railway, station, Central Station.’

Kibble Palace: inside a bright glasshouse with ferns amidst the pillars and a sculpture of a woman in side profile with her hand on her chin in the centre.

The Kibble Palace is in Glasgow Botanic Gardens. There used to be a railway station in the Glasgow Botanics and that was the link from Central. I was there in October just as there was about to be a light show in the Botanics. The Kibble Palace is a greenhouse with temperate plants, sculptures and benches. I like to sit there and read from time to time.

George Square: looking up at a grand building with a tall tower in the centre and two smaller towers to the left and right. A lit-up stencil of a Christmas tree is at the left of the image.

George Square was the next link late one afternoon. George Square houses the headquarters of Glasgow City Council, who manage the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. It is a city square with statues, restaurants, traffic and pigeons. I like to sit there and peoplewatch, sometimes to eat lunch on a nice day.

Donald Dewar statue: the statue of a tall man wearing a suit. The man is balding with glasses. Behind is a building with a city crest and the words ‘The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall’. On the glass frontage of the building is the reflection of part of a shop sign for John Lewis.

Donald Dewar was the first First Minister of Scotland, a Labour politician who represented Glasgow and did a lot of work to establish the Scottish Parliament. He died suddenly in 2000 and his statue sits at the top of Buchanan Street in Glasgow. The statue linked to George Square by geography.

La Pasionaria statue: a statue of a woman with her arms aloft. Below is a quote ‘Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live For Ever On Your Knees’. Below that is information paying tribute to volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War.

Billy Connolly mural: a mural on the gable end of a city building depicting a man with tousled hair with one arm pointing up and one pointing down. Behind him is the sea.

Mitchell Street mural: a mural on the end of a city building featuring a woman looking through a magnifying glass towards people between her fingers.

La Pasionaria is a statue by the Clyde put there by various groups including the Labour Party to commemorate those Glaswegians who fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War. At time of writing, it is one of four statues of women in Glasgow. It links to Donald Dewar by being a statue in Glasgow as well as through Labour. I did this while on the way into town one December Sunday.

Around the corner is one of the murals of comedian Billy Connolly, this one painted by Jack Vettriano, depicting the Big Yin being blown about on the Caithness coast. It is public art in Glasgow, as with the next link, the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids mural of a woman with a magnifying glass. It sits on the end of a building on Mitchell Street, a back street not far away from the Clyde.

Fisherrow Fishermen: two sculptures of two men on a rock. 

The next link was a sculpture by Gardner Molloy of two fishermen by Fisherrow Harbour in East Lothian. I was there early in the New Year on a dismal, dreich day. It is public art and I like it. The walk from Portobello to Prestongrange blew cobwebs away, I have to say.

Rottenrow: sculpture of a nappy pin with city buildings behind.

Rottenrow used to house Glasgow’s maternity hospital and is now a park with only part of the hospital’s exterior remaining. It also has a sculpture of a nappy pin. It links to Fisherrow through the word ‘row’, pure and simple. I remember this day for other reasons. It was an early January Saturday and I had been in Paisley for business before going to Kelvingrove to see the Linda McCartney photography exhibition before it closed.

Creel Loaders: a sculpture of three people, two men and one woman. The woman is carrying a basket on her head. To the left and right are residential streets.

‘Row’ also provided the connection to the Creel Loaders statue on Victoria Street in Dunbar, Victoria Street formerly housing a row of houses called the Cat’s Row. The Creel Loaders statue, sculpted again by Gardner Molloy, marks the fishing industry of the burgh, creels of fish and shellfish often taken long distaes over the hills.

DunBear sculpture: a metal sculpture of a brown bear stood atop a plinth with a dramatic sky behind. 

The new DunBear sculpture of a bear sits in a field under Doon Hill on the outskirts of Dunbar. It links to the Creel Loaders by geography. I was there that same January Sunday and it took a few minutes for it to be free of people enough for me to get some photos. I quite like it though of Andy Scott’s sculptures, I prefer the Kelpies.

Abandon Ship: some street art on the doorway of a building featuring a ship and some lavishly illustrated plants with the words ‘Abandon Ship’ in the top left.

V and A Dundee: looking through an archway with water either side of the path towards a river with a bridge stretching to land on the other side.

The DunBear is dedicated to John Muir, who sailed across to America on a ship. The Abandon Ship art is on the wall outside a pub in Dundee and I noticed it on the bus into the city. I liked it and realised it connected just dandily with the bear and with the last connection of the current round, which was across the road. The V and A is fairly new, a ship-shaped museum jutting into the Tay. From the museum it is possible to get a great panorama up and down the Tay, to Broughty Ferry, Fife and up into Perthshire. It seemed the right place to pause.

That is the end of the Loose Ends Redux. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. Next week will come a brand-new virtual adventure, beginning in Aberdour. Until then, keep safe. Cheers just now.






Loose Ends Redux: Portobello Community Garden-Leakey’s Bookshop

Well, now,

Welcome to another Loose Ends Redux. Today’s three instalments are:

Portobello Community Garden

Portobello Potteries

Leakey’s Bookshop

I remember these three particularly clearly. The two in Porty were on a very cold Saturday and I was taking a very scenic route to Easter Road for the football. As I recall, afterwards, I walked by Seafield and Leith Links to the ground. Strangely I can’t remember the game itself.

Portobello Community Garden: three elaborate pillars with crown-shaped tops in the middle of a garden of durable plants.

Portobello Community Garden I remember but I can’t remember how I connected it to Meadowbank. It was bright and sunny but very cold. I remember looking from there over to East Lothian, a view right up the coast to North Berwick Law possible. The Garden has pillars salvaged from a nearby garden (Coade Stone, I gather from the original post) and at that time Meadowbank was being demolished and built anew. I’ve always liked them and I think it was because they’re a bit unusual that I particularly wanted to shoehorn them into Loose Ends somewhere.

Portobello Potteries: two bottle-shaped kilns in an housing estate. The sun is blocked from view by the kiln on the left.

The Portobello Potteries connected, purely and simply, by geography. The kilns which now stand in the middle of an industrial estate are particularly cool and the photos I took of them for this post are some of my favourites ever taken for the blog. Portobello has a lot of history and some of it is still in plain sight, which is particularly cheering, even on a very cold day.

Leakey’s Bookshop: a bookshop with books on two levels.

Leakey’s Bookshop was a new one for me. I was in Inverness a few Fridays later, mainly to write the Intercity post for Inverness, but I had seen pictures of Leakey’s and resolved to pay a visit. I came out with a decent wee pile of books, some of which I still haven’t read over a year and a half on. Leakey’s is in an old church, the Gaelic Church, to be precise, and a big log fire helps keep it relatively toasty. I connected Leakey’s to Portobello because of a big section of books about pottery on the mezzanine. Hopefully I will get back to Leakey’s soon. It is a glorious place with an excellent selection of Scottish books particularly.

That’s today’s contenders. Thanks very much for reading. Next week’s post will cover a considerable swathe of Scotland, first Dundee then back to Glasgow. Until then, cheers just now.

Loose Ends Redux: Greyfriars Burial Ground-Meadowbank

Good afternoon,

It’s Wednesday so it must be Loose Ends Redux time. We’re getting into the second round of Loose Ends now and these three were all on different days.

Today’s three are:

Greyfriars Burial Ground

John Witherspoon statue

Meadowbank Stadium

Greyfriars Burial Ground: a fairly sparse urban graveyard with a low grey tree in the foreground.

Right into it and Greyfriars Burial Ground is in Perth. I was in Perth for a whole lot of blog business and was walking back towards the Tay when I glanced down a street and saw the old cemetery. It was gorgeous, properly old and leafy. I really enjoyed my walk around Greyfriars and it was a really good surprise. It connected with Perth Bridge because of geography, pure and simple.

John Witherspoon statue: a statue of a man on a plinth. Behind is a white building. The sky is blue with lots of white cloud.

A more obscure connection led me from Greyfriars to the John Witherspoon statue in Paisley. Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh was where the Solemn League and Covenant was signed in 1638 and remains part of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. John Witherspoon was a minister of the Kirk and he preached in Paisley before going off to America to establish Princeton University and sign the US Declaration of Independence. The statue sits outside the University of the West of Scotland on the High Street, just across from Paisley Museum, currently getting revamped. The statue was sculpted by the Queen’s Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland, Alexander Stoddart, who also sculpted the Adam Smith, David Hume and James Clerk Maxwell statues in Edinburgh.

Meadowbank: looking over a graffiti-adorned wall to the remains of a Brutalist structure to the left and the end of a grandstand on the right.

Getting from John Witherspoon to Meadowbank was especially tricky. Reading the post back, I had forgotten about the statue in between though I ended up using the fact that Witherspoon went to the University of Edinburgh. Meadowbank now looks very different to this. It is in the process of being rebuilt too, with a new sports centre and stadium slowly emerging. When I did this walk, the old, Brutalist stand was getting torn down, with only one section left.

So, that’s another Loose Ends Redux done. Next week will start in the perishingly cold Portobello and finish in a much warmer bookshop. Until then, keep safe. Cheers just now.

Loose Ends Redux: Dundee Law-Perth Bridge

Hello again,

Welcome to another instalment of Loose Ends Redux, this time mainly on Tayside. Two of these were on the same day, the other a week or so later, all in January 2019.

Today’s three contenders are:

Dundee Law

Martyrs’ Monument

Perth Bridge

View from Dundee Law, looking across Dundee: looking down from a hill over trees and a cityscape with a river, two bridges and hills behind.

Dundee Law: monument with cityscape, River Tay and Fife behind.

Dundee Law: looking from a trig point to two benches then down to a cityscape including two football grounds in close proximity.

I was in Dundee for quite a few reasons that early January day. I had just started doing Intercity so had walked along Tannadice Street and part of Sandeman Street as a street I associated with Dundee. I realised that Dundee Law also connected with Calton Hill, the last link in Loose Ends, as both are hills that stand in cities though it is also possible to see football grounds from both of them, Easter Road (and Meadowbank) from Calton Hill and Tannadice and Dens from Dundee Law. I remember this one quite clearly. It was the first time I had been up the hill and I tried to do it carefully up the steps. I sat for a while and looked out over the vista. I’m also reminded, by reading the post back, that I had passed a guy drinking from a bottle of wine on the way up the Law. I think it was actual wine as opposed to Buckfast, if I remember rightly. It was a grey and cloudy day, quite mild for January. At some point I’ll need to go back on a summer’s day to see the difference.

Martyr’s Monument: looking along a path to an obelisk monument. Cars are parked to the left with buildings behind the cars and the monument.

The Martyrs’ Monument is in St. Andrews and I went there that day on the way back to Dundee from Cellardyke. I never pass up an opportunity to go to Cellardyke. St. Andrews is rather fine too. The connection was being able to see St. Andrews from Dundee Law, if I remember rightly. The Martyrs’ Monument exists to commemorate those Protestants who lost their lives for spreading their version of the Word prior to the Reformation.

Perth Bridge: plaque declares that the bridge was built in 1766 with WIlliam Stewart as Lord Provost and John Smeaton as engineer. It was widened in 1869 with John Pullar as Lord Provost and A.D. Stewart as Engineer.

Perth Bridge: looking upriver from a bridge with trees and some houses to the right. A lamppost is in the middle of the image, on the bridge. A bird, possibly a pigeon, sits atop the lamppost.

I was in Perth as it was a nice day and I fancied a jaunt, plus I could do several blog things all in the one trip. I had just done Intercity: Perth, walking by the Tay, and realised Perth Bridge connected just braw with the Martyr’s Monument. Christianity was the link. Perth is St. John’s town. I remember walking across Perth Bridge on a bright, cool January afternoon though have checked that the bridge was built between 1766 and 1771 by engineer John Smeaton. I walked from one end to another, carefully reading the information boards and looking up and down river. I’ve always liked the Tay in Perth. Despite flowing through a city, and by a busy road, it is still a proper river with wildlife and everything.

Loose Ends Redux returns next week with three more adventures from the second round of Loose Ends, first staying in Perth then going to Paisley and finally, on another perishingly cold day, in Edinburgh. Another Saturday Saunter will be here on Saturday. Until then, keep well. Cheers just now.

Loose Ends Redux: Makar’s Court-Calton Hill

Good afternoon,

Welcome to another Loose Ends Redux, this time entirely in Edinburgh. Loose Ends invariably involves finding connections based around where I happen to be. These three are from a day I was bookhunting in Edinburgh so I remember them well. I decided that 21 would be the pause in Loose Ends as it was a bit exhausting and if I remember rightly Calton Hill had been earmarked as the pause place because it connects with a lot of other places.

Today’s places are:

Makar’s Court

Wild West

Calton Hill

Calton Hill, again

Makar’s Court: a pavement with quotations from various writers. In the foreground is John Muir: ‘I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature’s loveliness’.

I had to check how I connected Makar’s Court to the Ramshorn Cemetery in Glasgow. It was through John Muir, whose words written in the Bonaventure cemetery in Georgia I often think about in graveyards. Makar’s Court is in Lady Stair’s Close in Edinburgh outside the Writer’s Museum. On the pavement are quotations from eminent Scottish writers. I like to walk there every so often and see if there are any new ones. John Muir has a stone in Makar’s Court though I have other favourites, including Nan Shepherd and Muriel Spark.

Wild West: looking up a street with wooden buildings and signs advertising saloons and showrooms

The next one was the Wild West. The image still adorns the top of the Loose Ends page to this day. In the mid-1990s, a furniture showroom decorated a back street in Morningside in Wild West style. Even though the furniture shop isn’t there any more, the Wild West backdrop remains. I remember this well. It is wonderfully surreal. There’s a garage there and pop music blared from within, as did very Edinburgh voices. Go when you can. I connected it with John Muir.

Calton Hill: the Nelson Monument, a tower with a circular building below. There are a lot of white clouds across a blue sky.

Calton Hill: looking from the hill over a residential area with a football ground in the centre. Beyond is the Firth of Forth.

Calton Hill: looking across a cityscape with the Firth of Forth behind. This image shows Leith, Restalrig and Lochend.

Calton Hill: looking across a cityscape towards the Firth of Forth and Fife. This image shows the New Town. The building with a glass roof and a dome is the Lothian Buses garage.

Calton Hill soon came and my feet were tired from a long day wandering. Calton Hill and the Wild West are both in Edinburgh and that was the connection. It was sunny and bright and I was relieved that the first Loose Ends round was finished. At this point, in September, I stopped doing Loose Ends things for about three months though I did do Streets of Glasgow and Intercity.

The series resumed back on Calton Hill and I can’t remember it at all so here’s what I posted for the second visit:

‘Calton Hill was the place where Loose Ends left off, back in September, a fitting culmination of a few months of connected adventures including old football grounds, the Wild West, castles, bridges and fever hospitals. I was in Edinburgh just before Christmas and decided to start it all off again, beginning once more on Calton Hill, walking up on a suitably bracing December Saturday. It was bright as I headed up from Waterloo Place, as ever moving around the crowds who generally took the stairs rather than the winding way up the hill. There was a gorgeous light cast across the city, the buildings a golden brown hue, particularly across the New Town. From the prow of the hill a shadow was cast across the nearest streets, particularly London Road, a Lothian bus one of the few spots to escape the darkness.’

The series would return to Calton Hill later, though the next instalment was on the shores of the silvery Tay. We’ll continue with that next week.

Saturday Saunter: Podcasts, telly and walks

Good Saturday to you,

Hope everyone reading this is keeping okay. This missive is being written later on Friday. It’s a bit windy out and it was raining when I was out earlier. Given the warm sunshine a lot of us have had lately, some rain is a decent change of pace. I can also confirm that I smelled petrichors so all good there.

This week I’ve been listening to a few podcasts. I have quite a few built up and despite having a lot of time to listen to them, the backlog only keeps growing. I’ve been listening to the Terrace Scottish Football Podcast and the British Museum podcast, very, very different, obviously, but no less interesting. The Terrace is continuing despite these football-less times – the Bundesliga resumes today, of course – and they have been discussing the life and times of the Scottish game as well as what to watch and play in the midst of lockdown. Hopefully that will continue amidst the dissection of the latest, interminable statement from Ann Budge or whoever. The British Museum is one of my favourite places on the planet and its work continues even while its doors are currently shut. The podcast features discussions about museum accessibility and volunteering – both areas close to my heart – as well as Venetian maps. Accessibility is particularly important to the BM, I’m glad to say, and it was good to hear about their work in that area.

Most of my telly watching has been through the BBC iPlayer, including A View From The Terrace‘s clip show of their films (which is on in the background now), Landward, about Scotland’s great outdoors, Inside Central Station and Hidden LivesHidden Lives is a series of documentaries about Scottish life, so far taking in the burning of the Clavie (a tar barrel) in Burghead and the Bo’ness Fair, presented by journalist Peter Ross. Peter Ross is great so go watch that if you can. Inside Central Station is about the mighty Glasgow Central Station, normally the busiest railway station in Scotland, in its glass-roofed finery. It is weird seeing Central so busy in light of current events. I’m advised that I appeared in the background of the Christmas Special last year, striding across the street. Central has an incredible history and it is amply covered in this new series.

Bellahouston Park: looking across a park. A white wall is to the left, trees in the centre. A tower block stands to the left; more trees stand to the right.

Crookston Castle: looking up to a ruined tower house. A fence is at the top of the tower. Trees stand to the left and right of the castle.

I’ve been out for a few walks over the last week including to Bellahouston Park and Crookston Castle. I hadn’t been over to Bellahouston for ages and since it’s quite near here, I thought I would remedy that, even if the grass and dandelions didn’t play nicely with my hay fever. I walked nearly to the top of the hill, looked across to the Cathkin and Gleniffer Braes, then came back home through the Craigton Cemetery, which as usual tree-lined and flower-filled. Like Central Station, Crookston Castle has featured in my Loose Ends series and I hadn’t been there since. The castle itself is closed at the moment so I walked around the perimeter, checking it was still there and enjoying the sunshine.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 16th May 2020. Thanks for reading. Loose Ends Redux resumes on Wednesday and it’s back in Edinburgh this week. There might be something else out too. Until then, keep well. Cheers just now.