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.

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

Digest: October 2018

The October digest of Walking Talking is here. I know the Saturday posts tend to have updates on my life and times but I like the digest format.

Paisley Abbey and Paisley Town Hall by night

I usually compile the digest from my photo library and the first photo I took in October was on the night of 4th October just after I had missed a train home from Paisley. It’s a rather nice picture looking across to Paisley Abbey and the Town Hall.

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John Muir Grove, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
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Foyer, Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

The following day I went to Edinburgh and spent a good while wandering about the Botanic Gardens, swishing through leaves and sitting under trees. I also went to the Portrait Gallery and had a look at the very fine Victoria Crowe and transport photography exhibitions. The Victoria Crowe portraits were great, with the one featuring Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell a particular favourite.

That Saturday the Hibs beat Hamilton Accies by six goals to nil.

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Indian Mutiny memorial, Park Circus, Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow

On Sunday 14th October I did a whole lot of stuff for the blog, including a trip up to Park Circus and Kelvingrove Park and then I walked all the way out to Parkhead, via Charing Cross and the Merchant City. A few Streets of Glasgow walks resulted, including North Frederick Street which appeared here this past Wednesday. I also had a moment looking at the new Irish and Highland Famine memorial by the People’s Palace, which is fairly subtle and unsentimental.

That Tuesday I went to watch Scotland Under-21s get beat by England Under-21s at Tynecastle. Being at Tynecastle was very strange.

On Saturday 20th October Hibs got beat by Celtic at Celtic Park. I was there and got wet to and fro Central Station.

That week I was off and on the Monday I went through to Dunbar, enjoying a walk around the Prom to Belhaven then doubling back to the harbour in the cool autumn sunshine. It was nice to be there though it was incredibly windy, which is par for the course in Dunbar.

On the Tuesday, I went to Manchester, enjoying a look around the National Football Museum and its exhibitions Band FC and Homes of Football.

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The roof and stairway, V and A Dundee

That Thursday I was in Dundee for an extended look around the very shiny and new V and A. It is a beautiful building with interesting and insightful exhibitions and I was glad to be there. Plus I had polony rolls for lunch before heading along to the museum. A review of the museum (not the rolls) appeared here a week or two ago.

The following day I went for a swim and on the way back did a Streets of Glasgow walk on Mosspark Boulevard.

On the Saturday I went to Edinburgh, had a wander through the Meadows, then went out to Prestongrange for a wander in that dear, familiar place.

Colinton Dell
Sunset over Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

The next day I was back east for a very bracing walk along the Union Canal then the Water of Leith walkway all the way out to Balerno. Colinton Dell was particularly beautiful. I hadn’t been out that way in years and it was amazing how many houses had sprung up by the Water of Leith, particularly in Currie and Juniper Green. We also went for a wander around the Botanics, which were very fine as the sun set.

That Wednesday I went to watch Hibs play Hearts at Tynecastle. Less said the better.

So, that’s the October digest. Our next post here is Streets of Glasgow on Wednesday, this time Virginia Street. There will probably be a Saturday post and another travelling post next weekend. Stay tuned for that. As ever, thanks so much to all readers, commenters, followers and have a good month.

Posts this month –

Digest: September 2018

Saturday

Loose Ends: Calton Hill

Streets of Glasgow: Glasgow Street

Book blethers

Railwalk: Restalrig Railway Path

Streets of Glasgow: John Street

Saturday, Saturday

Park Circus

Streets of Glasgow: Woodlands Road

Saturday Saunter: 27th October 2018

Design in Dundee

Streets of Glasgow: North Frederick Street

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

Defences

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

Books

Streets of Glasgow: Dundas Street

Power

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Prestongrange

In 1174 the monks of Newbattle Abbey got a charter from King David I to dig for coal at Prestongrange. History doesn’t record if the monks dug for the coal personally but for the next 800 years or so that part of East Lothian, around Tranent, Prestonpans and inland towards Musselburgh and Midlothian, was built on coal. Bricks forged from the clay that came with the coal went to build the town houses of Edinburgh’s New Town and even to Jamaica. Until recently, coal still played a crucial part in the economy of East Lothian, right until Cockenzie Power Station closed in 2013. By then, it was one of only two coal-fired power stations left in Scotland, the other, Longannet, just up the Forth near Kincardine, closed in 2016. For two years, the chimneys of Cockenzie still stood high against the landscape until eventually they were levelled in the summer of 2015. They had been a familiar part of my life for as long as I could remember, passed twice a day as I went from where I lived in Dunbar to primary school in Edinburgh. Even after I moved to Glasgow and coursed down the A1 or sat on a train as it speeded by, the chimneys at Cockenzie were still there. The chimneys seemed like they could be seen from space. They certainly could be seen from all around, from Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh to Gullane, even from the Fife coast at the other side of the Forth. Then one day they were gone. They fell with an embrace and then swiftly to earth in a hail of rubble and smoke.

I walked by there recently. I hadn’t been to Cockenzie for a few years though I liked to visit the harbour there and Port Seton along the way. The space where the Power Station once stood is now a vast crater, fenced off with dire warnings for safety and security pinned to the barriers. The only part that still survives, being worked at by demolition crews, is a turbine building. There have been talks about using the site for a combined cycle gas turbine station or for a cruise ship terminal, to tap into new technologies or just the tourism industry that increasingly fuels our country’s economy. As I walked along the coast road that day, it just felt eerie. It also felt sad. Cockenzie was a coal-fired power station and it was one of the major polluters of Scotland. It was also a major employer and people lost their jobs in an already quite deprived area. A place that bustled with activity now had just a handful of workers. It had reinvented itself before, though. The power station had been built on the site of Prestonlinks Colliery, one of two collieries at either side of Prestonpans at one point. It will certainly do so again if Scottish Power get their way and the combined cycle gas turbine station emerges.

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Dunbar. I don’t have a picture of Torness. Torness is to the south or over the hill.

The East Lothian coastline, like that of the Forth more generally, was dotted with power stations. One functioning power station remains, Torness, near Dunbar. The stories and memories remain of others that once dominated the landscape. I remember being at a Jack Vettriano exhibition at Kelvingrove a few years ago, standing in front of a painting that depicted a courting couple standing by a power station’s chimneys, Methil in Fife, now also demolished. The painting’s label noted that this painting was an historical record of a place that was no longer there, with couples having to go elsewhere to satisfy their yearnings. Portobello in Edinburgh is now seen as being a trendy seaside enclave within the capital with house prices to match. It once had a power station, though, looming high above the flats and businesses of Seafield, Porty and Joppa. Apparently its chimney was a landmark that reminded Edinburgh folk they were close to the beach. There’s a photo on Canmore, Historic Environment Scotland’s website, from 1980 when the power station’s demolition was in progress, of the shell of the building standing in front of the tenements of King’s Road, with rubble all around the foreground. Today it is all houses and a five-a-side football complex. There is a restored pottery kiln nearby, a reminder of an even earlier past of textiles traded across seas. But not much trace of the power station that once powered the homes of the city beyond.

Torness Power Station is hard to love, regardless one’s feelings about nuclear power. It is boxy and stands starkly on fields close to the North Sea, still in East Lothian but close to Berwickshire. Torness is in a stunning setting. From the surrounding walkway, part of the John Muir Link from Dunbar to the start of the Southern Upland Way at Cockburnspath, it is possible to see for miles and miles, to the Isle of May and Fife, to St. Abbs Head and Siccar Point, all from a vast concrete sea wall. Torness can also be seen from afar and when it is passed, be that on the A1 or the train, it is, like Cockenzie was, a landmark that home is near, even if my home is now further away than just the few miles to Dunbar.

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Soutra
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Soutra towards Edinburgh

The Lammermuir Hills sit above Torness, separating East Lothian from the Scottish Borders. Recently I stood at Soutra, at the western end of the Lammermuirs overlooking East Lothian and Edinburgh. Soutra was once a medieval hospital, run by an Augustinian order. I looked towards Cockenzie and of course the chimneys were gone. The many pylons remain. In those hills are not gold but wind turbines, an ever more familiar part of the landscape today. There is very little historical about wind turbines. They are controversial, aesthetically and for their effect on wildlife and the surrounding ecosystem. Most power generation is. Cockenzie, like Longannet, like Methil, was on the list of the top 10 polluters in Scotland. Torness harnesses nuclear power and that has its great share of dangers. In 1174, coal was the answer. Now, it isn’t so certain. The skyline has changed considerably over that time with power stations having sprung up and been demolished all along the Forth, mines dug low into the earth and millions of tons of coal brought up to fuel homes and factories. Walking around today, there are still some traces of this, even if now they are mostly just memories growing more vague with each passing day.

Source and further reading –

Canmore (Historic Environment Scotland), Portobello Power Station, view during demolition, accessed via https://canmore.org.uk/collection/1308748

Stations

The journalist Simon Jenkins recently published a book called Britain’s Best 100 Railway Stations, rating those stations on their architectural and other merits. Ten of those hundred – Aviemore, Edinburgh Waverley, Glasgow Central, Gleneagles, Glenfinnan, Pitlochry, Perth, Rannoch, Stirling, Wemyss Bay – are in Scotland, with the beautiful station at Wemyss Bay pictured on the cover. Of these ten, I have spent time in five of them, passed through Aviemore, Gleneagles and Pitlochry, and one day I would like to get to Glenfinnan and Rannoch.

Glasgow Central
My own top 10 would probably include Waverley, Central, Perth, Stirling and Wemyss Bay though I might add to the list Glasgow Queen Street, Leuchars, Linlithgow, Paisley Gilmour Street and Prestonpans, off the top of my head. On the subs bench would be Arbroath and Dingwall, probably Dunbar since it’s the station I’ve spent the most time on in my life. Haymarket’s recent revamp is rather fine too, managing to work in the handsome station house to the sleek modern glass and chrome affair that makes up the rest of the station. I’ve written about Waverley fairly recently – in Edinburgh Waverley – and Glasgow Central in the Streets of Glasgow post about Gordon Street. The others I’ve been to a fair bit, except Dingwall, which I’ve only been to once.

Dunbar
Perth Station is formed of two distinct sections, the shed I know best where the trains to Inverness and Edinburgh leave from while there are two bay platforms at the far end for trains to Dundee and Glasgow which I have come to know better in recent years. While Perth is huge, empty and rattly now, it strikes me as a place which has been bustly over time and it is quite atmospheric, resonant of past journeys and feeling far from anywhere else. The approach from Dundee is the best, passing across the Tay and Moncrieffe (or Friarton) Island along a bridge two storeys above street level into the station. It also passes near the Fergusson Gallery, which is situated in an old water tower right by the river.

Stirling is one of the few Scottish stations that appear in art, namely ‘Stirling Station’ by the Glasgow Boy William Kennedy, which currently resides in Kelvingrove. Stirling is smaller than Perth but quite pleasant in its way. The nicest feature is the main concourse with a curved glass roof sort of like the one at Wemyss Bay, though the main entrance with the jagged gable end is quite fine too.

Wemyss Bay is gorgeous, particularly the glass roof and its curves, the wooden curved walkway down to the ferry and the view outside. It’s well-tended and every time I’m there it feels like an adventure.

Glasgow Queen Street
Glasgow Queen Street is in the midst of a refurbishment so it isn’t looking its best at the moment. I still always feel excited as I walk up the platform to the train, feeling palpably content under that elegant roof and walking on that polished floor.

Leuchars is an underrated pleasure. It is not on a direct route to Glasgow so I haven’t been there for a while. It has a single island platform sitting in the middle of a field, albeit one facing an army base. I’ve spent a fair bit of time there sitting looking out watching the world go by.

Linlithgow isn’t the most beautiful station but it has a great view from its platforms towards the Palace and St. Michael’s Church, particularly as the sun sets as it casts silhouettes.

Paisley Gilmour Street
Paisley Gilmour Street looks like a castle from the outside. It is fabulous for people watching. It is also an elegant big train shed, a bit like Perth, with trains to destinations across western Scotland coming in and out every few minutes. The new mural in the walkway is beautiful, fitting with Paisley’s hopes to become City of Culture in 2021.

Prestonpans
Prestonpans is probably the least likely addition to this list. I like the murals painted on the outside of the old station buildings, including an image of Prestongrange’s Beam Engine and other allusions to the Pans’ considerable history including salt and brewing. There is also a very fine view across the fields to Bankton House.

The best bit of train travel is the travel itself, being on the train and seeing what is passed by on the way somewhere else. Stations make the whole experience better, well, some of the time and we are lucky in Scotland to have some very fine stations indeed. Writing this has encouraged me to spend some time this autumn exploring some of them, perhaps beginning with a return to Wemyss Bay and Perth. To the trains.

Digest: June 2017

This month I haven’t been terribly far. Just working a lot, living life, all that jazz. I’ve had to look at the photos on my phone to see where I’ve been that’s worth noting. On 2nd June, I was at the dentist. Just before I went in for my scale and polish (no fillings required), I had a wee turn around Elder Park, donated to the people of Govan by Isabella Elder. I have written a post about Elder Park, which will be published on the blog in late July, I think. I don’t get down that way as often as I used to, even while it is barely a mile away.

Elder Park

The following night I went out to dinner in Glasgow city centre. I had time to kill before my train home so undertook one of the Streets of Glasgow walks down Queen Street. It wasn’t my favourite of the series but I particularly liked the building above Greggs.

Billy Connolly mural by Jack Vettriano in Dixon Street, Glasgow

Friday 16th June I went on the trail of the Billy Connolly murals. I went on the bus into the town, along Paisley Road West as I sometimes like to do, just observing the city going about its business. I liked the Billy Connolly murals immensely, particularly the Vettriano one. I walked from the third mural, the Rachel McLean one on the Gallowgate, and down through the Gorbals to start another Streets of Glasgow walk, this time down Cathcart Road. I just felt like walking and I enjoyed watching the world change past my feet. I sat in Cathkin Park a while and noticed that it was looking very overgrown, though some of the posts have been painted green and white for some unknown reason. Third Lanark played in red so goodness knows. After that, I did the second Streets of Glasgow walk of the afternoon, this time along Battlefield Road, which despite being familiar was enjoyable and yielded a lot of interest – post appears sometime in the next couple of weeks.

That Sunday was the day of the Open Day at Easter Road and it got considerably warmer and sunnier as I travelled eastwards. Easter Road was mobbed but it was good to be back. I wrote about it the other day. Afterwards I walked up to Ocean Terminal, changing into my new Hibs top as my T-shirt was drenched in sweat. It was really too warm. I got a bus to Elm Row and then another out to Prestongrange, my old work, where I wandered about Morrison’s Haven before sunbathing for a bit. I then headed over the way for a walk around the site, reliving old times and trying to imagine what had once happened there. A real Carlsberg sort of day.

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Prestongrange

Most of the rest of my photos for June reflect that I worked nearly all of the rest of the month. When I was walking home one night, I stopped on the flyover at Cardonald and noticed how I could see for miles across the city, to the University, Park Circus and the riverside at the Science Centre. I like a view like that, not quite synoptic but good enough.

View across Glasgow to Science Centre

Today I was in Dunfermline, really just for lunch, then went home via Edinburgh. It was nice to be out of the routine, even for a little while.

View from Dunfermline to Forth Bridges

July looks set to be interesting. I am away for the day tomorrow and football starts again so I will be out and about across the country. I have a few days up for grabs and I have annual leave at the end of the month too. Maybe a Streets of Glasgow walk or something else. We’ll see what happens. Until then, thanks again to all readers. Post on Sunday is about the greatest band in the world, The Proclaimers. Stay tuned.

Posts published this month –

Digest: May 2017

Walking in cities you don’t live in

Seaweed

Streets of Glasgow: Queen Street

Clipboards

Edinburgh Waverley

Sir Billy

Real men

Suggestion box

Streets of Glasgow: Cathcart Road

20 years on from the Philosopher’s Stone

Wallace and Gromit

Easter Road

The front of the bus

I went to primary school in Edinburgh. When we went out and about in the city, we invariably took the bus, more often than not a double-decker bus in colours of deepest maroon operated by Lothian Buses. I always liked to sit on the top deck of the bus and normally at the front, not just to see the view to wherever we were going but also to look down the periscope. In those days before CCTV was widespread on public transport, the driver could look up to a mirror strategically located at the front of the top deck to see if anyone was causing bother. I liked to look down and see what was happening even if it wasn’t that exciting: usually it was the top of the driver’s head, invariably flecked with grey if it wasn’t bald. Often that was more exciting, though, than what was passing the windows.

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Sexy Lothian Bus in action shot. Taken by the Water of Leith, in Leith, naturally enough

To this day, if I am on a double-decker bus, I tend to opt for the front of the top deck. I am a fan of what Patrick Geddes called the ‘synoptic view’, and the best all-encompassing views you tend to get are on high. When you can’t go up a hill or in a hot-air balloon or whatever, then a bus just has to do. If I can’t get the front, I usually try for the first seat behind the stairs, which also tends to have more generous leg room so it is possible both to see what’s going on and do so without one’s knees grazing one’s chin.

Edinburgh is a great city to explore by bus. It has an excellent and widespread bus network and not all of the buses are maroon, thankfully. I have seen some strange sights from its buses, though, including flat dwellers sunbathing on the ledges outside their residences in high summer, two floors up. I’m an advocate of ‘whatever works’ as a life strategy but there are limits. I seem to remember that was in Tollcross, near the Cameo cinema.

Glasgow is also a fine place to explore by bus. I don’t know if I have written here before about the 90 bus, which goes absolutely everywhere, or at least from Braehead to Partick, a couple of miles as the crow flies but via Govan, Battlefield, Rutherglen, Parkhead, Springburn and Maryhill. I covered part of its route on the road to the Scottish Cup, just before Hibs went on to win it last May – post here. The 3, which stops about 200 yards from here, covers a similarly epic route, from Govan to Drumchapel via Cardonald, Crookston, Pollok, Pollokshaws, Shawlands, the city centre, Partick and Scotstoun, though I have noticed that it is being served increasingly by double-decker buses. Happy days.

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Local bus stop

Sadly a lot of the buses I use are single-decker buses, low and unassuming, not to mention without much of a decent view. My last, decent double-decker journey was just after the New Year, down from Edinburgh to Prestongrange, a journey covered many times in my life en route to work there. Like so many times before, I stepped to the front of the bus on the way back just in time to get that view across Morrison’s Haven towards Fife and Edinburgh just as the sun began to set, just another perk of being up high.

Incidentally, this post was inspired by an article in the Edinburgh Evening News, entitled ‘10 Things Everyone Who Grew Up In Edinburgh Will Remember‘. I also remember going to the UCI Cinema and for a pic ‘n’ mix at Woolies, though in Musselburgh.

Golden Hour

Recently I saw a picture on Facebook taken during the ‘golden hour’, that bit of time this time of year between 3-4pm when the light is slowly fading and what there is of it is golden-yellow, casting just the right shade across whatever the surroundings are. It is a time of day I love and invariably I structure day trips in such a way to make sure I’m outside as it starts to get dark, to wring that last little bit of day before the night takes hold.

Here are a few photos of the golden hour from various trips this winter so far, beginning in Northumberland and going through the city, Dunbar and a few other places besides.

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Embleton Bay
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Tynemouth
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Amble
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Amble
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Haddington
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Glasgow from Queen’s Park
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North Berwick
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Prestongrange
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Dunbar
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Silver Street, Dunbar

Arthur’s Seat

I wrote in the North Berwick post recently about Arthur’s Seat, the hill that dominates the Edinburgh skyline, and about how you see it varies according to where you are. Here are some photographs of Arthur’s Seat from different angles and distances:

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Arthur’s Seat, featuring the Scottish Parliament and Dynamic Earth, from Calton Hill

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Arthur’s Seat, the Pentlands and Leith from Morrison’s Haven, near Prestonpans.

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Arthur’s Seat and Eastfield, from Fisherrow Harbour, Musselburgh.

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Arthur’s Seat, Inchkeith, Edinburgh and the Pentlands from Dysart, near Kirkcaldy.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Arthur’s Seat (top right), from Easter Road Stadium, Albion Road, Edinburgh.

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Arthur’s Seat and Craigentinny Primary School, from Craigentinny Road, Edinburgh.

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Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags from the Roof Terrace at the National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh