Saturday Saunter: Books, Dublin and Jedburgh

Good Saturday to you,

Yes, it’s Saturday Saunter time again, being written on a bright, sunny and windy Friday lunchtime. I hope everyone reading this is okay and keeping well. It is now May and the weather has been cooler and wetter this last week than it was for a while before. It’s been more of the same lately, the one walk a day, telly, books, scrolling on a screen, some actual work. My OU course is now finished and I’ve spent much of this week writing an assignment, thankfully now submitted. Randomly as I type this, an advert for the Open University has just come on the TV. Strange when that happens.

A spherical sculpture sat on paving slabs. The sculpture has been ripped apart to reveal its innards. Behind the sculpture are trees and grey university buildings.

I’ve spent a bit of time this week going through old photographs. Different devices and getting some of the best photographs in one place has been the mission. I would imagine that a lot of the pictures have appeared here on the blog at some point though some are older, showing by the phone image quality. One of my favourite pictures was taken a good few years ago, the first time I went to Dublin. I’ve been to Dublin three or four times and it’s a very interesting city. I may be one of the very few people who has spent their entire time there sober, though. The picture was taken on the campus of Trinity College, near the Old Library, where the Book of Kells lives. The Old Library is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It looks the part with wooden shelves as high as the eye can see. Outside is a sculpture of a broken globe. I always liked it though until now I hadn’t learned what its story was. It is called Sphere Within Sphere, sculpted by Arnaldo Pomodoro, and there are others around the world including in the Vatican Museums, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art and Tel Aviv University.

Jedburgh Abbey: looking towards the nave of a ruined abbey, a tower in the centre with curved columns on either side. Below the tower, through an arch, is a town and a car park.

Another picture I like was taken at Jedburgh Abbey, from up high looking towards the nave. Jedburgh is one of quite a few ruined abbeys in the Borders, alongside Melrose, which featured in Loose Ends Redux the other day, Dryburgh and Kelso. Jedburgh is an old-fashioned Royal Burgh, the last town before the border and a fiercely independent Border burgh into the bargain. The Abbey is a particularly gorgeous ruin and despite not having a roof, it is easy to imagine it in its pomp. The walk from the Visitor Centre gives an excellent view of the remains of the other buildings of the Abbey precinct, for abbeys were home to religious communities with all that entailed. It’s particularly lovely on a summer’s day.

I wrote last week about re-reading Harry Potter. As of today I am on book five, The Order of the Phoenix, and Harry is about to have his hearing at the Ministry of Magic. Near the top of my to-read pile are eBooks from the library eBook app, The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry and I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman, and also a book I got at the National Library before all this happened, The Secret Life of Books by Tom Mole. We went to a talk by Professor Mole on World Book Day, appropriately enough, about how books help us form relationships. I haven’t read the book yet, though I want to do so soon.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 2nd May 2020. Thanks so much for reading. Loose Ends Redux will be back on Wednesday and it will be in Ayrshire, the Borders and Edinburgh. I may well write something else but we’ll see. It’s just finding something to write about right now. Until then, stay safe, keep well. Cheers just now.



Digest: January 2020

At last the long month is over. It is now February and as I write this on the morning of Saturday 1st February, it’s grey and dismal. At least it’s not still January and we’re edging ever closer to longer days and slightly less changeable weather. January was of course another busy month in the world and in my own life too, with lots of changes and developments happening. Plus a lot of the same in other ways. Without further ado, let’s do the January digest.

Thursday 2nd January is a public holiday in Scotland and I was keen to get out after the country basically shut down on New Year’s Day. I decided to go to Edinburgh for a walk, eventually walking in gradually wetter conditions from Portobello to Prestongrange, keeping close to the coast throughout. The walk was bracing and good for the soul all the same.

Saturday 4th January was football-free since the Scottish Premiership has a winter shutdown. After doing some business in Paisley, I went into Glasgow to Rottenrow Gardens, part of Strathclyde University’s campus, for Loose Ends then to Kelvingrove to finally see the Linda McCartney photography exhibition. That was tremendous with my favourites the more arty ones, one of Twiggy looking pensive and thoughtful, another of old men in Campbeltown and probably the best a London street scene on a cold winter’s afternoon as it got dark.

The following day I went to Dunbar. This had multiple purposes but was mainly about going to see the new Dunbar Bear sculpture which sits by the A1. First I went to the Creel Loaders statue on Victoria Street, again for Loose Ends, then around the Prom to Belhaven. I walked through Lochend Woods, a place that inspired much writing when I was a teenager, to the Bear then back into the town via the East Links. I liked the Bear a lot more than I thought I would. It stood out well against the landscape, the gently rolling hills and fields.

Friday 10th January involved a trip to Falkirk to see its fine Wheel and the Kelpies. It was a brilliant day in lots of ways. One way was being able to compare the design of the Kelpies to the Dunbar Bear, also designed by Andy Scott.

Sunday 12th January was Newcastle, parking in Tynemouth then going to the Baltic over in Gateshead. The Baltic had a diverse range of exhibitions though my favourite included a sculpture of a hippo spread oot on the floor.

On Tuesday 14th January I went to the Glasgow Film Theatre for their monthly Access Film Club screening for neurodiverse folk. This month’s selection was the darkly funny Jojo Rabbit.

Saturday 18th January was another trip to the cinema, to see 1917, apparently partly filmed in the dry dock at Govan. It was decent though sad in various parts. The cinema was the big Cineworld in the town and looking down from the top after was particularly magical.

The following day, Sunday 19th January, saw Hibs play Dundee United in the Scottish Cup at Tannadice. It finished 2-2. The game was freezing. Before I did some business for Loose Ends, going to the V and A and then the McManus just for myself.

Wednesday 22nd January featured another trip to Edinburgh to see Hibs play Hamilton.

Saturday 25th January involved a trip out to an event at Celtic Connections, the folk music festival which hits Glasgow at the start of the year. This was my first and it was excellent, a selection of bothy ballads, war stories and playing beautiful traditional music.

Sunday 26th January was another trip to Edinburgh, this time not for football. It was a trip to the Writer’s Museum then the National Museum of Scotland, followed by a trip down the West Port for books. It concluded with a posh fish supper. It was braw.

Tuesday 28th January was the replay between Hibs and Dundee United at Easter Road. Beforehand I sat in Starbucks (other coffee shops are available) and did some work on an OU assignment due imminently. The game was also very cold but finished 3-2 to the good guys.

That’s the January digest then. It was nice to relive it as I wrote this all in one go. The walk between Porty and the Pans feels forever ago.

Our Scots word for this month is ‘weel’ or ‘well’. That’s not to be confused with ‘weal’, which is wealth or good. ‘Weel’ cropped up a few times when reading a certain Burns poem at work in January.

As for the blog, we’re back, I’m back, on Wednesday with Loose Ends and some more Glasgow street art. On Saturday is the Saturday Saunter, naturally. Two posts a week is suiting me fine this weather. Time to actually sit down and write is fairly scarce so the time this grey morning is precious. In February there will be the annual Valentine’s Day is a big pile of steaming shite post, which I’ve written already and is milder than most years.

Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a good month.

Posts this month –

New Year Natter

Saturday Saunter: VAR, rain and vivid light

Digest: December 2019

Loose Ends: George Square

Saturday Saunter: Photos, woods and getting lost

Loose Ends: Donald Dewar statue

Saturday Saunter: Kelpies, the weekend and the Doomsday Clock

Loose Ends: La Pasionaria statue

Saturday Saunter: Trains, Burns and by the silvery Tay

Loose Ends: Billy Connolly mural

Saturday Saunter: Radio, being an OU student and books

Good Saturday to you,

This last Saturday Saunter of 2019, indeed of the decade, is being posted as I am having a quiet Saturday at home. I did plan to go to Durham today but due to just feeling tired, there was a late call-off. Hopefully I will get there again soon.

I am starting this post on Wednesday night. I have just downed a bottle of white chocolate milk and I have the radio on, Hearts vs Celtic. At the moment Scott Brown has just been booked for the lessers. After I finish writing this, I think I might pick up a book from my formidable to-read pile or else do some more scribbling. I have been reading more than I have been writing the last few days. I started re-reading Tony Benn’s diaries again the other day, prompted by the defeat of his compadre Dennis Skinner in the election last week. I also started the autobiography of motor racing driver Jason Plato but I wasn’t quite in the mood when I started it on Saturday.

Friday morning now. I was quite sleepy when I was writing on Wednesday. I’m going to write this then get ready to go to Edinburgh. There’s football tonight, Hibs vs The Rangers, but I’m off today so I’m going to head through early for a walk somewhere, hopefully by the Forth. My soundtrack this morning is Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 6 Music. I haven’t listened to much radio for a while but my work has had the radio on, though it can’t get digital. I have a digital radio I bought about six or seven years ago, a Pure one with a CD player in it. Unfortunately there’s a Christmas song on at the moment, but it’s a 1960s number rather than Slade or whatever. There was a cool version of Auld Lang Syne earlier.

Lauren Laverne has just recommended Underland by Robert Macfarlane to her guest Tim Key. I think I might need to listen to this show more.

I read an article the other day seeking to bust myths about studying with the Open University. To be fair, the article was on the Open University Facebook page so it can hardly be impartial. Neither can I, to be honest. I have been an Open University student on-and-off for just shy of a decade and I haven’t really thought of what that means for me. Of course it can impress people but that’s not an important factor. At the moment my student experience is me with my iPad, sitting in bed while having a lie-in or sitting on a train or a bus. Sometimes lately in football grounds before the match starts. It is wonderfully portable. I fit it in around my life, often with a wee bit of guilt at not having got round to this week’s reading until just then. It needs mental energy and time, when you simply don’t want to give it as much as on sunnier, brighter days when it’s a pleasure. It is those late nights when struggling with a stray reference in a bibliography when a warm bed and sleep is the goal, ready to feel deeply unrested for the morning. The goal for me is to get the degree done then decide what I want to do when I grow up. The current module, Empire 1492-1975, has been interesting but with a lot of reading. After that’s done, one module left and hopefully that’s it.

Christmas tree, with lots of clear lights

I finish up for Christmas on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, at 2.30. After that it’s straight home, feeling deeply relieved. It has been a long year. Personally I’ve had a lot on work-wise and in my life too. Turning 30. On Christmas Eve, I will feel Christmassy. Anything before that detracts from the fact there’s work to be done, preparations to be made. Then I can chill, read, spend time with family, sleep, eat, all that for twelve whole days. The best bit is that the Christmas tunes, Wizzard, the Pogues and all the rest, they go back in the box, not to be heard for another year. Braw. The lights get turned off and overloads come from other sources instead. I might manage a couple of trips out. I like the interregnum between Christmas and New Year. The weather is usually grey and a bit cold, much like today, actually, but I don’t mind that.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 21st December 2019. Tomorrow’s post is about something called the Sunshine Award. No post on Wednesday but Thursday, Boxing Day, will be the annual Best of 2019 post. Next Saturday will be the Books of 2019. They’re both written already, I’m happy to say. To all readers, commenters and followers, all the very best. For those who celebrate Yule, a very Merry Christmas. To all who follow the Gregorian calendar, a Happy New Year when it comes. Oh, and trans rights are human rights. Peace.


Clean inbox time

Every so often I clear out my email inbox. Whenever I see an article that I might want to write about, I send an email to myself and before too long, I have too many to use. I write posts like this every few months and this is the latest in a long line. So, let us begin.

Self-care is ever more important in this age. The first two articles, both from The Guardian, deal with it in different ways, one about comfort TV and the other about the mental health of performers at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Comfort TV is watching dear, familiar sitcoms on a loop on Netflix, Amazon Prime or whatever. I have been known to do that though at the moment I am dipping into my toe into unfamiliar waters a bit more. I have a couple of standup specials saved on my iPad from Netflix at the moment, which is a bit of a diversion for me.

I have written before about my personal dislike for the Fringe. As an act of personal self-care, I avoid it. That being said, I admire people who have the nerve to perform in whatever form and going to Edinburgh takes a lot, be it drive and finance. The Guardian article was thought-provoking and more should be done to protect performers, especially from sexual harassment as was noted on the BBC News website recently.

I am soon to resume an Open University degree in history and an article from the OU website about how to write the perfect assignment resonated with me. I’ve written a fair few in my time, some having achieved good marks, others not so much. Some were written with every ounce of what I had, others half-arsed, to say the least. More than once I’ve finished an assignment at 1am the night before it was due and one notable occasion saw me come home after seeing Hibs beaten at St. Mirren and writing the assignment in a couple of hours with a good head of steam. I do not claim to be an expert in anything and particularly in writing essays. My method is to fly by the seat of my boxers. I write essays by stitching stuff together, working from notes and thoughts to put it all into one semi-coherent piece of prose. Sometimes I can do it in good time before the deadline. Mostly not. I don’t see it changing in the coming months.

The last item I want to share is from Twitter. There is a growing and welcome wave of autism friendly hours and days in shops, museums and galleries and as an autistic person I welcome them. The rationale for the autism-friendly Wednesday at the Category Is Books shop in Govanhill was outlined recently and it is worth a read. Category Is specialises in books about LGBTQ life, issues and much else besides. I’ve been a couple of times and it is a wonderful, serene place. They welcome everyone, however and whoever they are.

Anyway, that’s my inbox a bit emptier now. Thanks so much for reading. The Saturday Saunter returns on Saturday, naturally enough, and the second Aberdeen Intercity post is on Sunday. Cheers for now.


Why history?

A few years ago, I was studying in the lower reaches of the Central Library in Edinburgh. The topic at hand was slavery as part of the Open University degree which is still in progress. I had printed off some articles and I had my course books in front of me. The chapter delved into statistics and in my frustration in understanding the charts and tables, I was close to chucking all of the papers out the window. What a confetti it would have made on the street below.

I was reminded of this recently when listening to an otherwise fascinating lecture about emigration. The speaker was great, interesting, engaging…until the tables came out. I am a fairly intelligent person and I have a half-decent grasp of maths. With statistics, I’m lost and it’s why I prefer words or qualitative evidence generally. I can do mental maths and my job requires a fair bit of adding up in my head but I’m glad I don’t tend to have a lot of numbers to deal with.

I have roughly two years left of an Open University degree in history. I started it a few years ago and after a couple of breaks, I’m now two thirds of the way through. After the lectures recently, I am more determined to get it done. It’s hard, though, keeping up with a course calendar while trying to work full-time and be a fairly civilised person but it’ll happen. The OU is exceedingly portable and a lot of materials come in PDF format so I can read them just about anywhere, on my iPad or off a computer screen.

The question I sometimes ponder is why history? Why have I devoted so much time to study the past? It all comes from my own past. I grew up in Dunbar, a place which oozes history of all types. Almost every building on the High Street is listed. Two battles which helped to shape the future of the kingdom happened in Dunbar. John Muir left from Dunbar to found national parks and shape consciousness about environmentalism. The inventor of the screw propeller came from Dunbar too. The Castle had its moments too. I just looked round and saw this as normal. My family and school took me places, told me stories. For a while I wanted to study politics but as time went on, I realised history was what I wanted to know more about. I don’t think it’s possible to understand the world today without having a grasp of what happened before.

Where I live now is incredibly historical too. My surroundings are quite modern – 1950s, 1960s architecture with a whole lot of motorway and railway nearby – but around me there are stories, good and bad. Glasgow has an immensely diverse past. Our city is a collection of villages forged together by people coming here for a better life and for work. We also have a darker past, with bigotry and slavery just two facets that should never be forgotten when considering all sides of what makes Glasgow what it is. I’ve spent six years here and I still don’t think I understand Glasgow. It might just take a lifetime.

Knowing our history is ever more important right now. Politically, particularly. I am a big believer that the best education can happen outside a classroom. It did with me. I was listening to a podcast last night about the Glasgow Women’s Library, a place which holds an immense amount of books and materials about all sorts of things. Every time I go there, I feel a little more positive about the world. Go to museums, libraries, castles. Walk down the street. History is beyond the classroom. It is walking round a graveyard or by an abandoned building. I’m studying again soon and I can’t wait. It’s about finding the right balance between the theoretical and the practical, putting one’s feet on the ground and feet up to read. That’s why I love history and it’s not going to change any time soon.

Digest: June 2019

It was only on Sunday that I remembered I hadn’t written this digest yet. Usually I write it over the course of the month, rather than doing it in one big burst. Now, then…

The first photographs of the month are from Saturday 8th June, the day I attended an Open University history day in Edinburgh. Later in the year I will be going back to my degree and the day had a few lectures on emigration, the French Revolution and Islam, and talks about the current crop of OU modules. Afterwards I had a walk around the New Town in the rain, thinking and planning and not giving a toss.

On Friday 14th June, I went to see a friend at Prestongrange. I had a good wander around the site before and after.

Sunday 16th June I spent the day in the Borders. We met in Linlithgow due to engineering works (allowing me to do an Intercity post) and then we went to Dryburgh Abbey, Smailholm Tower (as written about here) and Bamburgh beach. A rich full day with history, views and waves, the last of which were particularly appreciated.

The following Tuesday I went into Paisley after work to do the Intercity walk there, which appears here on Sunday.

That Saturday saw me at a wedding reception in the east. It was great to catch up with old friends and acquaintances.

The following morning saw me have a walk along the prom at Portobello as far as Fisherrow Harbour. Then my friend and I took a bus down to North Berwick for a daunder in the sunshine.

On Friday, I went to New Lanark and the Falls of Clyde, neither of which I had been to before. I thought with the considerable heat that being by the river and waterfalls might help. Not really. The surroundings were gorgeous, though, more about walking than sampling any of the history. I think I will do New Lanark again on a winter’s day. A post about this adventure appears here tomorrow.

That’s the rundown of where I went in June. July is to be busier. I am in Arbroath tonight to see Hibs play their first preseason friendly and I will be travelling around the country for football over the next few weeks. It feels like no time has passed since last season ended against Aberdeen. Plus at the end of the month I have a week off, which will be very welcome indeed. At that point the blog will take a break from Saturday 27th July until Wednesday 7th August.

The digest usually covers where I’ve been over the month. It doesn’t delve into the finer details. This month has personally been busy with a wee bit of sadness, one or two happy days and a big personal step. I don’t know how that last one will end yet. What I’ve come to appreciate with ever more intensity is that life’s too short. I’m an humanist and I believe that we have but one life. It is up to us to make the best of it. The best words I can find are from my favourite book, The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd. ‘Love pursued with fervour is one of the roads to knowledge’. It’s true.

Our Scots word of the month is ‘hansel’. It was used in Jackie Kay’s poem at the 20th anniversary of the Scottish Parliament on Saturday. I’ll be mentioning it in the Saturday Saunter this coming Saturday. Hansel, or handsel as the Dictionary of the Scots Language has it, is a good Scots word meaning to inaugurate, to begin. It could also mean a gift to mark such an occasion.

Finally, in popular culture I have enjoyed this month, I haven’t read so much this month but what I can do is talk about a couple of podcasts I’ve enjoyed. David Tennant’s discussions with various folk he knows, including Michael Sheen, Samantha Bee, Tina Fey, Jon Hamm and Jodie Whittaker, are particularly good and got me through a fairly sleepless night recently. I like conversations between two people and a new podcast came my way recently called These Are The Days, presented by Ronny Costello. The first episode, featuring a discussion with Paul McNicoll, was particularly insightful about raising a child with a disability as well as just being a right good blether about growing up in Scotland and Dundee in particular.

Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. There have been some nice conversations recently so thanks for that. Over the next few weeks here will be some more Intercity adventures and a few more havers about places I’ve been recently. Tomorrow’s post was written on location at New Lanark so have a read at that. Have a very nice July.

Posts published this month –

Digest: May 2019

Loose Ends: Bearsden Bathhouse

Streets of Glasgow: West Graham Street

Glasgow amidst the art

Saturday Saunter: Studying, writing and reading

Loose Ends: Queen’s Park

Streets of Glasgow: Great Western Road

Mackintosh and Kingsley

Saturday Saunter: Poetry, statues and lighthouses

End of the line: Milngavie

Streets of Glasgow: Clarence Drive

Walking rules

Saturday Saunter: Fruit, podcasts and walking

Intercity: Linlithgow

Streets of Glasgow: Prince Albert Road

Smailholm Tower

Saturday Saunter: Sunshine out my window

Intercity: Glasgow II

Saturday Saunter: Studying, writing and reading

Good morning,

Saturday again. Today I’m in Edinburgh. Not for football, unusually, but on academic business. Some readers may know that I’m slowly but surely working through an history degree with the Open University. This year I’m on hiatus but will be getting back to it in October. The OU history faculty are having a day of lectures and talks in Edinburgh so I’m probably listening to one of those just now. The programme looks interesting. There are two lectures, one on the Scottish Enlightenment and the Napoleonic Wars, the other on Islam in Britain in the time of Empire. Both of these should be good, with the last one particularly relevant for the module I plan to study next.

It is Tuesday night as I start this and on in the background is The West Wing, one of the finest programmes ever committed to film. The episode is ‘Bartlet for America’, where Leo McGarry is testifying to Congress. Leo is a particularly great character, someone who radiates stability and depth, and this episode is one of the finest of the entire run.

My life is generally pretty busy. I’m lucky though that I have a few things going on, rather than just work and nothing else. This week I’ve been able to write something for a writing competition and think thoughts towards a book of my own. The writing competition is one I’ve entered before, the Scottish Book Trust’s annual writing campaign, and I had a piece published in it two years ago, which was about getting a steak bridie nicked out of my hand by a seagull. This year’s theme was ‘Blether’, which is particularly effusive talking for those outside Scotland, and I wrote a piece about bus journeys I used to take each morning to Govan on the way to work. Glasgow buses are usually quite loud with people talking and that was the case even around 8am as I journeyed to work. It was one of these things that was an idea the other lunchtime and I just wrote it down, making minimal revisions as I typed it up later.

Astonishingly, with pre-season friendlies, the League Cup, work and a wedding, the spare Saturdays I thought I would get this summer won’t be happening. I know I don’t have to go to Dunfermline for a pre-season or to Easter Road for the League Cup match with Alloa but it’s very likely I will. I may need to be creative about how I use the Fridays I have off, or the Sundays, to cover as much of the country as I would like.

Right now the episode of The West Wing is pretty much done and President Bartlet has just given Leo the handkerchief with ‘Bartlet for America’ written on it, the way Leo floated the idea of Bartlet running in the first place. Wonderful moment. Good telly for a wet, miserable night. It’s raining pretty heavily out my window just now.

I’ve not been reading that much recently. I’m about 90 pages into Underland by Robert Macfarlane and I’ve started a book of short crime stories by Denzil Meyrick on my iPad. I’ve also been re-reading issues of Nutmeg, the Scottish football periodical, which has been about my level reading-wise. Nutmeg is great and it has good quality articles about all aspects of Scottish football, which has suited my attention span. With reading, though, I go through fits and starts. Mostly it’s been magazines, online articles and blogs. Three posts I’ve enjoyed have been Alex Cochrane’s words and photos of Kolkata, Alison’s review of Calgary Bay beach and Alli Templeton’s Berkhamsted Castle visit.

That’s the Saturday Saunter post done for today, Saturday 8th June 2019. Tomorrow is the final instalment of Loose Ends, for now at least. Wednesday is back to Streets of Glasgow and it’s the big one, GWR. Not sure if there will be a Thursday post yet. Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a nice weekend. Tatty bye.



Digest: June 2018

Heat. Exam. Buses. Shorts. Sunshine. Castles. The first six words I can think of to describe my June. It has been very warm here in Glasgow for the vast majority of June. I am writing this on Saturday night and it is sweltering. I don’t handle the heat well anyway but this week has been beyond belief. This whole month has, really. We tend to get summer for about a week then it gets all horrible again. This year it’s been summer with a few days of dreich. I could do with some dreich soon, though.

Lighthouse lamp at National Museum of Scotland

Friday 1st June saw me going to the capital for some shopping. I walked up the Royal Mile, had a look at the quotes lining the wall outside the Scottish Parliament then ducked into St. Giles, intending on writing about it for Loose Ends here on the blog. It didn’t happen as I was scunnered by the £2 to take photos. I spent far longer in the very lovely National Museum of Scotland, which did feature in Loose Ends this past Sunday. I had forgotten how good NMS is and I only went to a few select bits, much of the Scottish and some of the old museum. Brilliant place.

St. Andrews Castle
Dunfermline Abbey Nave

The following week I was off for my OU exam. I revise better with less distractions and amazingly well on buses. I ended up on a bus to St. Andrews, reading my books on the way and having a good wander around the town and along the beach when I got there. The following day I ended up in Dunfermline, again revising on the bus and taking in the Palace and the Abbey Nave, the latter the work of the same stonemasons who did Durham Cathedral. That was another Loose End, featuring here this coming Sunday. The Friday was exam day and I sat in the Botanics before sitting my exam. I think it went okay. To chill out my head I walked into town to get the train home, going via Renfrew Street. It was a week before the fire and that night with the sunshine it felt good to be there, lots of folks around for the degree show.

Fossil Grove

Sunday 10th I went to the Fossil Grove, just over the river from here in Scotstoun. I had never been but it was fine, a wee bit neglected but interesting all the same. I walked to Kelvingrove via Partick, turning off Dumbarton Road past the West of Scotland Cricket Ground and Partick Burgh Halls, both fine looking places. I went into Kelvingrove and made sure I saw my favourite painting, The Paps of Jura by William McTaggart.

That Monday I had a day trip with a good friend and it was great. We started at the Kelvin Hall, looking at the museum displays, before going across to Kelvingrove to sit in the atrium cafe for a bit. In Edinburgh we walked up to Leith and just generally blethered. It was great.

Library at Abbotsford. Je t’aime.

The following Saturday I had been thinking about for ages. Eventually I decided on the Borders and it was the right move. A social media recommendation took me to Abbotsford, a country hoose once home to Sir Walter Scott but with a braw library. I walked to Melrose by the river through the hay fever and took a turn around the Abbey, a place I had been to before but I had never fully appreciated before. On the train back to Edinburgh I decided on a chippy over in North Berwick, which I ate at the harbour. Post on this adventure appeared here the other day.

Dumbarton and mountains beyond

The next day I was with my dad and we went to Cardross and Dumbarton Castle. Cardross featured a wee glimpse of the St. Peter’s Seminary. Dumbarton was the right place to be on a gloriously sunny day. The ice cream just made it so.

On Wednesday I went shopping after work. I soon realised that the trains were off because of the heat. I got the Subway to Govan then had a few minutes before the bus. I walked down to the river and had a good look at the Mary Barbour statue. The bus had difficulties again because of the weather but eventually it got moving and I got home.

Gable end mural, Browns Lane, Paisley
Murals, Browns Lane, Paisley
Mural, Browns Lane, Paisley

Friday I was off and went out for dinner in Paisley at night. I went up Browns Lane to see some street art and ticked off another item on my 30 Before 30 list, a drink of Belhaven beer. I wasn’t keen.

That’s June. This month I have read We Shall Fight Until We Win, the graphic anthology produced by 404 Ink and BHP Comics to mark the centenary of some women getting the vote, as well as The Marches by Rory Stewart and What Goes On Tour by the Secret Footballer. Plus too bloody much about Huguenots and Martin Luther. I am currently reading the memoir by mountaineer Cameron McNeish and re-reading Notes From Walnut Tree Farm by Roger Deakin.

Thanks as ever to all readers, followers and commenters. Have a nice month.

Posts this month –

Streets of Glasgow: Addison Road

Loose Ends: Lamer Island

Subway Surface: It starts

Loose Ends: Tranter’s Bridge

Different routes

Subway Surface: Govan-Hillhead


Loose Ends: Culross

The where and the how

The beach at the back of the bay

Subway Surface: Hillhead-St. George’s Cross

Loose Ends: Glasgow Cathedral

Abbotsford, Melrose and chips by the sea

Visiting Glasgow

Subway Surface: St. George’s Cross-St. Enoch

Loose Ends: National Museum of Scotland

Digest: May 2018

That’s the end of May then. Another busy month and a whole lot of adventures. In May I’ve been to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, East Lothian twice and all the way to Crookston. A lot of travels have been football-related though some haven’t, not least the first adventure I had in May neatly packed into a lunchtime. I was in Glenburn, a suburb of Paisley, and over lunch I ended up going for a walk a little way into the Gleniffer Braes, sitting down on a bench with a considerable view across Paisley to the hills beyond. It was a new perspective on a place I am becoming increasingly familiar with.

On Saturday 5th May I went to Aberdeen to watch Hibs. I left fairly early in the day and read and listened to music on the way up. I went to the football then took myself out to dinner before going home. I was thinking about the Bank Holiday Monday which was coming and ended up buying Ordnance Survey maps for two very disparate bits of Scotland, the area around Hawick in the Borders and Elgin in Moray, before I boarded that bus to civilisation. As it turns out I didn’t get to either one.

The following day was lovely and warm and I had a lie in. After all I had been all the way to Aberdeen the previous day. Mid-afternoon I went out to Crookston Castle, intending on writing about it for Loose Ends, a series featured on this blog on Sundays at the moment. The place was fairly busy with people though that didn’t stop me enjoying the views across this bit of the world. Crookston Castle is within half an hour’s walk so I did just that. On the way back I finally made it to Rosshall Gardens where I wrote up notes and pondered a ruined boiler house in the grounds. I still need to write that bit of the adventure up.

The next day was Bank Holiday Monday and after much deliberation I ended up on the way to Edinburgh. I wanted to do a dry run for visiting Tynecastle that Wednesday so I proceeded in lovely sunshine into deepest darkest Gorgie, found where the away end is then swiftly came away again with no fixed agenda. I found myself at the bus station thinking about where to go and I just missed a bus to St. Andrews. There was a bus sitting bound for East Lothian and I thought briefly about Hailes Castle before eventually concluding I quite fancied a trip to Dunbar. On the way down I felt like going to Lamer Island, the Battery, which has featured here before and that was where I ended up after a turn around the harbour. I managed to find a connection to Crookston Castle and thus my visit also became part of the Loose Ends series. Alas time and train timetables meant I didn’t have long before I needed to head back to Glasgow.

No wonder I’m tired. The following night I went out for dinner. On the way we looked at some of the very fine street art which is scattered around the Merchant City.

Next night was the derby at Tynecastle, another item off my 30 Before 30 list.

That Sunday was the last game of the season and it was at Easter Road. I don’t have any end of the season traditions and when I left the ground, leaving through exit number 7 as always, I decided to go get fish and chips by the sea. That became North Berwick and after walking to a shop to get provisions, it became a walk around Aberlady Bay first. Aberlady Bay, for those who don’t know it, is a nature reserve with a long, deserted beach at the end of it. But first I had to cross Tranter’s Bridge, a wooden bridge across a burn named after the author Nigel Tranter who often walked there trying to think up ideas. The bridge, which I knew about but Google Maps didnae, features in Loose Ends soon too. The walk was beautiful but very warm. I ended up on the beach and to my slight surprise I ended up sunbathing for a bit. I don’t sunbathe. I think the sand that was still stuck to my body hours later when I got home is probably why. After that interlude I walked to Gullane then got myself to North Berwick for fish and chips, which were no’ bad, eaten by the harbour.

That Tuesday I was doing a work thing in Renfrew Town Hall, recently refurbished, and it is a fabulous building.

The next Friday I ended up in Edinburgh and went for a long walk along the Water of Leith from Leith to Murrayfield, ending up there on the bus home. Particular highlights of this walk were St. Bernard’s Well which was gorgeous in that light and the grounds of the two Modern Art Galleries in the Dean Village.

That Sunday I went to watch Partick Thistle play Livingston. Thistle got relegated.

I walked home from work the next Friday and walking over by Arkleston, there was a brief moment by the motorway when I could be fooled into thinking I was in the proper countryside.

The next day was Saturday and I was off. I went to Culross, via Dunfermline where I partook in some steak bridies for lunch. I was a bit too late for the Palace but I wasn’t heartbroken since I was able to wander in the sunshine, sitting and reading for a bit and looking at the many fine buildings. I went to Culross Abbey all too briefly and the Abbey ruins were great to explore on that beautiful day.

The next day I spent the day with my dad, bopping around central Scotland, starting in Linlithgow with a turn around the loch. We then drove the few miles to Cairnpapple Hill. From the cool but pleasant weather in Linlithgow, Cairnpapple was shrouded in haar. This made the experience all the more beguiling, other-worldly as we made our way round the henge with visibility only a few feet in front of our faces. Barely five minutes away in Torphichen, it was much clearer and sunny. We had lunch in Callander Park in Falkirk, looking over a duck pond. It was good to see the museum and park busy with people. Thereafter we drove across the Forth to Castle Campbell, one of the more atmospheric Scottish castles, with a walk through Dollar Glen an added bonus. Dollar Glen feels like something out of a fairy tale, or where trolls, goblins and nymphs should live. Castle Campbell is great, a blend of ruins and a fairly intact though restored tower house. Before dining in Linlithgow, we headed back to Cairnpapple Hill where it was now sunny and decent views could be had despite the haze. We first had to contend with some cows. A family were already there, reluctant to venture across the field. To slightly misquote We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, we couldn’t go over them, we couldn’t go under them: we had to go through them. We succeeded and the perspective was well worth the close encounters of the bovine kind.

Monday was a bank holiday and I decided to satisfy an ambition and another thing on my 30 Before 30 list to boot. I decided to walk the route of the Glasgow Subway. On the hottest day of the year. I succeeded in 4 hours and 8 minutes from leaving Govan to getting back there. Tales of that adventure will appear here shortly. Afterwards I had a fleeting visit to Glasgow Cathedral, which will be part of the Loose Ends series after Culross.

That’s us for May then. On Friday it is Streets of Glasgow time and it is the final post of that series before hiatus, Addison Road. Loose Ends returns on Sunday and it is Lamer Island this time.

Before I forget, the Wednesday’s Child blog featured an interesting post recently about what constitutes being well-read. I said I would share a list of some books that have been important to me and these appear below. At some point I will go into greater depth as to why I like these particular books:

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark

The collected works of Roald Dahl

The collected works of Douglas Adams

The Harry Potter series

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg

Candide by Voltaire

The collected works of Kurt Vonnegut

The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins

Nasty Women, the feminist anthology compiled by 404 Ink

Godless Morality and Looking in the Distance by Richard Holloway

Findings by Kathleen Jamie

The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd

Waterlog by Roger Deakin

Neurotribes by Steve Silberman

Tony Benn’s diaries

My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Walking Talking takes a week off next week. That’s for practical reasons. As some of you might know, I’m doing an Open University degree and the exam for my current module is next week. I’ll have to revise. Exams aren’t good. I don’t see the point in them but that’s easy to say when I’m staring down the face of one.

Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers. It is one of the nicest bits of blogging that sometimes lengthy digressions can occur because of comments or seeing just which random has liked a post today. Cheers, folks.

Posts in May –

Digest: April 2018

Causeway cliffs

Loose Ends: Linlithgow Palace


Walking talking

Streets of Glasgow: Waterloo Street

The beginning

Flotsam and jetsam

Streets of Glasgow: Cadogan Street

Loose Ends: Stirling Castle


Streets of Glasgow: Firhill Road

Loose Ends: Crookston Castle

Digest: April 2018

April’s over and it’s featured snow and sunshine, not always at the same time. I’ve worn a thick jacket and shorts, though definitely not at the same time. So, it’s Digest time, beginning on the tres, tres cold Easter Monday. I took a train into town and as it stopped waiting for a platform at Central, I took a photo of a warehouse in the process of demolition. I stopped off in Edinburgh and managed to source a Stephen’s steak bridie or two for lunch before getting the train down to Dunbar, where it was cold and windy. It often is there though it doesn’t snow very often. Despite it being baltic, I felt in the mood for a walk and ended up walking as far as Tyninghame, sheltered for much of the way by the woods and then heading inland up a muddy track. At Tyninghame I grabbed a bus up to North Berwick where it was even colder. I got a bus into Edinburgh and headed home. It snowed as the bus headed along the M8 towards Glasgow. At least two blog posts have resulted from the Dunbar walk, namely Dunbar in the snow and Defences.

The following day Hibs played at night and I was there. It was wet, I think.

That Friday I had a Glasgow day, with two Streets of Glasgow walks. I had the notion to do a Streets walk on Firhill Road, partly because of the cool mural I had heard about at one end of Partick Thistle’s ground and also because I had featured streets near the grounds of Rangers, Celtic and Queen’s Park but not the Sizzle. The Firhill mural is excellent and I’m glad I got there. On the way across town, I decided to put Streets on hiatus, not because I don’t enjoy writing it but because I felt it was time for it to take a break. The last Streets walk was deliberately chosen, Addison Road, which is near the Botanic Gardens. It started to rain as I came the other way and I hid out in the Kibble Palace until it dried off a bit. From there I wandered up Ashton Lane and Cresswell Lane before walking into town along Woodlands Road and then Renfrew Street, which may feature in Streets when it starts up again.

The following Sunday found me out and about again though not with a great masterplan of where to go. When I was on the train into town, my eye fell on a poster advertising a Lego exhibition at Aberdour Castle in Fife, a place I like. I found myself trudging up to the bus station and then on a bus to Dunfermline, changing there for another to Aberdour. The Lego exhibition didn’t excite me a great deal as I would rather go and see places then see them represented in brick form. Aberdour is a cracking castle though with a painted ceiling and interesting gardens. It was also where the new Castle connections series was conceived – it’s since been renamed Loose ends, inspired by reading the poem ‘Scotland’ by Hugh MacDiarmid. The next post in that series will appear on Sunday 6th May. That day in Aberdour, though, I also walked down to the Forth and looked out towards Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Back to Fife the next Saturday as once more I didn’t have a grand plan. I found myself on a bus to St. Andrews though as I got closer to that fine town, I had a notion to check out a football match even though Hibs weren’t playing. My two options within distance were East Fife vs. Arbroath or Raith Rovers vs. Queen’s Park. The fact that St. Andrews was mobbed made the decision easier and I ended up on a bus out of there after a polite walk around the town streets. The bus to Leven, where I would have to change, had great views across the hills and then the Forth too as the bus came into Lundin Links and Upper Largo. I was bound for the San Starko to see Raith Rovers play Queen’s Park and I got into the Penman Stand just before kick off and in time to see Roary Rover, Raith’s mascot, dancing to Taylor Swift. Game finished 2-0. After the game I got the bus to Edinburgh, had a wander then had a very fine chippy sitting in the gardens on London Road.

That week I had an OU essay to write. It got written and I was even under the word count.

On the Friday I decided to go to Linlithgow as part of the Loose Ends series. Linlithgow Palace, like Aberdour, appeared in Outlander. It is also one of my favourite places on the planet and I was glad to wander about for an hour in the pleasant April sunshine. I had my piece sitting in the great hall. What I did which I had never done before was walk under the buttresses at the Peel side of the Palace, a new perspective on a familiar place. From Linlithgow there’s lots of connections though I decided to find another I could do that day and found myself on a train to Stirling. Stirling Castle is my favourite big castle in Scotland and it’s linked to Linlithgow by being where Mary, Queen of Scots, born in Linlithgow, was crowned. It’s also managed by Historic Environment Scotland, as is Aberdour. I was happy just to wander about Stirling, not bothering with the Stirling Heads and instead just looking out across central Scotland and beyond to some mountains.

The following day I went to watch Hibs decisively beat Celtic 2-1 on a warm sunny afternoon in Leith. After that I went for a swift walk around Morrison’s Haven, just outside Prestonpans. The sunshine was beautiful, the surroundings even finer. It was great to be there, even briefly.

The next Saturday, last Saturday, Hibs were playing Kilmarnock and I headed through a bit earlier to sit up Calton Hill to think, look and remember.

On Sunday I went to Cumbrae. We parked in Largs then got on the ferry. Millport is a very pleasant town and the sunshine just made it and the views to Ailsa Craig, Arran and Lesser Cumbrae all the more spectacular. The Cathedral of the Isles and its labyrinth were particularly interesting. I’ll write a longer post next week about it. I managed to get sunburnt, keeping up the fine tradition I have of getting burned in the most exotic places, like last year on the ferry to Arran or a few years ago at Lochleven Castle near Kinross.

So, that’s us for April.

I try to keep up with other blogs and last night I was on the way home and read a post on FiveThirtyEight, an American politics blog, about posts they wish they had written. I think they in turn had nicked the idea from Bloomberg. In the Books post last week, I recommended Wednesday’s Child‘s post about bookmarks. Alex Cochrane’s post from the other night about Grangemouth is also worth a look. I like the way they write and their subject matter particularly, which is usually about lesser-spotted places and sights, always insightful and showing another side beyond the obvious. This Digest originated from Anabel Marsh’s monthly digest, the most recent instalment of which appeared the other day. She features a Scottish Word of the Month and included a fair few synonyms for being drunk, including my personal favourite jaked. I drop in a few Scots words here – indeed I wrote a post in Scots here not so long ago – though the only one I can share off the top of my head is ‘fleein’ which can also mean drunk.

The next post here on Walking Talking is about the Northern Irish coast and that will appear on Friday. Loose Ends appears this coming Sunday with a post about Linlithgow Palace.

As I was revising this post last night, news came that the Glasgow Women’s Library, which I visited and wrote about last year, has been nominated for the Art Fund Museum of the Year, alongside Brooklands Museum, Ferens Art Gallery, the Postal Museum and Tate St. Ives. It is brilliant that GWL are nominated for this award. GWL benefits the city and the wider world by its mere existence, let alone the fine work it does. Hope they win.

Thanks as ever to all readers, commenters and followers.

Posts this month –

Streets of Glasgow: Trongate

Some thoughts…

Digest: March 2018

Manchester and Liverpool

Streets of Glasgow: University Avenue

Dunbar in the snow


Walking across the Forth Road Bridge

Streets of Glasgow: Kelvin Way

Castle connections

Some blethers

Leith Walk the other way

Streets of Glasgow: Bath Street

Crossing the road


Streets of Glasgow: Dundas Street