End of the line: Gourock

Glasgow has a considerable railway system, probably the best outside London. Every so often I walk through Central Station and I think about how many of the stations on the big departure board I’ve actually been to. It’s quite few. I’ve been to London Euston and Manchester Airport, Edinburgh, Stranraer, Ayr, Largs and Lanark, amongst others, but not Neilston, Newton, Larkhall or Milngavie. I took a picture once of the board, intending to go to every destination on it, but I just haven’t got round to it yet. I seem to remember Birmingham New Street was on the board as a terminating station and I’ve still not been to Birmingham, despite being told it has great museums.

Most embarrassingly up until recently I had never been to Gourock by train. Gourock is a town by the Clyde and it is where the trains that go my way end up. All I knew about it was that it had an open air swimming pool, a prom and ferries to Dunoon. One beautiful Saturday afternoon, I decided to go there, just to scratch that itch. I rocked up to my local station and a Class 314 train rolled up. I call them ‘rollerskates’. They don’t tend to have much elegance and I seem to have been on more of them since Scotrail announced they were taking them off. Anyway, class 314 away and absolutely everywhere is improved by sunshine. The train crossed rolling fields at Arkleston and into Paisley where the roof crosses and trusses were reflected on the buildings and the floor with the bright sun. The train was fairly busy, mostly with families, and later as we neared Greenock some kid was singing about someone called Sally and their various stages of life, which steadily got more tragic. She might have ended up a zombie, as I recall.

It being Saturday, there was quite a bit going on outside the window, including football at St. Mirren and Morton, which was strange being by a football ground when the game was on and not being there. There was also rugby later nearer Langbank. I am on this route fairly often and going past Paisley Gilmour Street felt strange. Going past Bishopton was downright revolutionary. The M8 was to the right and the airport soon came into view. Later the urban gave way to a great view over the Clyde to Dumbarton and Bowling, Ben Lomond and the Argyll hills, crannog posts sticking out the riverbed at low tide. It is one of my favourite stretches of railway in Scotland and it was familiar up to Greenock, where the line divides with one branch off to Wemyss Bay, the other unfamiliar towards Gourock. Old stone walls rose high at Greenock Central and the wonderfully named Fort Matilda had suitably old-fashioned railway buildings.

Then came Gourock. The station was all glass, giving great views to the Clyde that sat behind it. The route to the Dunoon and Kilcreggan ferries led along the platform under a glass canopy, not as nice as Wemyss Bay but still all right in the sunshine. Gourock sits on a point sticking out into the Clyde where it turns down south. I left the station and walked along the front. It was rather lovely, sunny but cooler than Glasgow being that bit closer to the sea. There were quite a few others walking along and I walked most of the way to McInroy’s Point, stopping at regular intervals to stand, stare and take photos. The views were great towards Cowal, Kilcreggan and Helensburgh. I always say that north of Dumbarton is where Scotland really begins and that was really evident looking north over the Clyde from Gourock. The bit I was in was quite fine, though, with flowers, yachts in the water and on the lampposts. The open-air swimming pool wasn’t open yet but I saw where it was and I could see ferries going back and forth to Dunoon. The high street was all right, a few local traders mixed in with the usual supermarkets, charity shops and off licences.

I was back on the train home about an hour later, just in time to get Partick Thistle fans heading back from Cappielow and guys from Greenock heading out on the piss in Glasgow. My earphones were in but the Partick Thistle fans were actually all right, quite civilised as you would expect from the mob who gave us Kingsley, the only football mascot designed by a Turner Prize winner. The train, unsurprisingly, was a class 314. Scotrail did promise they were taking them off, honest. They even mention on social media when they do their last run. Anyway, the views were still beautiful in the sunshine in reverse, my book was even better and I ended up back home, glad to have finally reached the end of the line.

Thanks for reading. Loose Ends returns next week.


Loose Ends: Bilsdean

The previous link in Loose Ends was my favourite painting, ‘Paps of Jura’ by William McTaggart, which hangs in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. Many, many connections can be derived from that beautiful painting and I considered a great many of them, including the very long howk to Kintyre where this particular artwork came into being. Time and logistics made that one impractical. I actually had a suggestion which worked incredibly well so I made it happen. Kelvingrove has some very fine paintings, including a fair few by the Glasgow Boys, a group of Scottish artists who worked in the latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th. Several places in Scotland featured as settings in the Glasgow Boys’ work, including Moniaive in Dumfries and Galloway, Brig o’Turk in the Trossachs and Cockburnspath in Berwickshire, the last of which became an artists’ colony.

I got up fairly early one Sunday morning, an act made worse by the clocks going forward that day too. It was sunny and pleasantly spring-like as I took the train across the country, changing in Edinburgh for the journey down to Dunbar. I grew up there so know exactly how to kill about 45 minutes before the bus, by walking down to the East Links to sit and look out at the waves for a few minutes. On a Sunday, there were just two buses to my eventual destination so I had to be sure to catch it.

Today Cockburnspath is probably best known as the eastern terminus of the Southern Upland Way, the long-distance path which stretches 214 miles to Portpatrick in Galloway. It is about eight miles south of Dunbar and the bus ride took me via Innerwick and down the A1 into the village. I went down to the beach via Dunglass Collegiate Church, a pleasant ruin that once served as the burial chapel for the Home family. Rather surreally there was smooth jazz emanating from the tent next door. From there I escaped the jazz and crossed the A1 towards Bilsdean, stopping by the waterfall that still fell but as a trickle. I walked down onto the beach, a rather pebbly beach with the tide quite far out. There was some nice spring sunshine and it was nice sitting even in the shade, my hoodie open and my jacket cast aside as I sat, scribbled and thought. I wasn’t alone as there were a few folk about walking their dogs.

I hadn’t thought to bring a picture of ‘Hard At It’ by James Guthrie, my favourite Glasgow Boys painting painted possibly on that very beach. That pretty much sums up my haphazard approach to blogging and after 600 posts it certainly isnae changing now. The view will have changed only a bit, only to the left where the hulking grey lump of Torness Power Station dominates. To the right, though, was St. Abbs Head, Pease Bay and Siccar Point a bit closer. As I sat, waves roared and crashed – the best sound on earth, closely followed by birdsong, some chirps and a bit of singing. I thought about next connections and about the history of the coastline, including smuggling, which happened a lot in hidden corners in that particular part of the world. Before I left, I kneeled down on the sand and drew ‘600’ with my finger, getting a photo before I smashed it out with my foot. Celebrate, commemorate and onto the next.

To the connections and I did the next one a couple of hours after this. If I hadn’t, Cumbrae would have been a decent contender, since parts of it are also in sight of a nuclear power station. The National Gallery of Scotland had a painting of nearby Fast Castle, last time I looked, and I’m due a trip there too. I also thought about Cove Harbour, which is also nearby, and East Linton owing to the connection with Arthur Melville, one of the Glasgow Boys.

Each connection in Loose Ends is special. Even if it’s a visit to a graveyard on the way somewhere else, or a bridge, or a castle, there has to be a significance to the place, a bit of thought or impulse to make it work. This series was named after a line in ‘Scotland’, a poem by Hugh MacDiarmid, and I can certainly say that I have, as MacDiarmid wrote, ‘a great love’ of Scotland, ‘deeply to read / The configuration of a land’. Whether I read it right is quite another matter entirely. After 600 posts, hopefully I’ve improved in that regard. Thankfully there are many more adventures to be had, gathering up all those loose ends.

Saturday Saunter: 13th April 2019

Good morning,

I’m starting this on Tuesday night, which seems to have become my night for writing. I’ve already written up a couple of Loose Ends posts which will be appearing here in the coming weeks. It is fairly late and I hope to write this then do a quick bit of yoga before bed. In my ears right now is the Lower League Ramblings podcast, presented by Arbroath player Danny Denholm. His guest this episode is Keaghan Jacobs, who plays for Livingston, talking about only playing for that club. That they are friends and have a shared background is an advantage and it’s a good series.

This Saturday is another one without football. At time of writing, I’m thinking about a wee trip on the bus to St. Andrews. I’ve done that journey quite a few times and while it is a fairly long bus ride, around two hours and forty minutes from Glasgow, I like it for its variety, from the very urban to rolling fields and countryside. It features some beautiful places and two, TWO, New Towns, Cumbernauld and Glenrothes. Plus the bus has spacious leather seats and plugs for phone chargers. What more could anyone possibly want? I may stop at Dunfermline en route but will see. When I write things like this, I often end up doing something differently so don’t be surprised if I do something entirely different.

Now listening to David Tennant interview Ian McKellen. Two very fine actors and Ian McKellen’s voice is wonderful, without even focusing on the words.

I’ve finally finished my Harry Potter re-read and I’m still working on Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie, which I’ve had in my bag for the last couple of weeks. The book currently gracing my iPad is What Kept You, Hibs? by James Stephen, a thoughtful account of Hibs going up to lift the Scottish Cup in 2016. No sarcasm in that epithet. To be more serious, I also have a few crime novels which I could be reading. The Hibs book is getting me over a reading slump. When that happens, it just needs to be the right thing to get back in the way of it.

Dirleton Castle

Last Sunday I ended up going to Dirleton Castle. I’ve been to Dirleton many times and I seem to go once every couple of years, even living on the other side of the country. From Edinburgh I could have taken a train to North Berwick and walked or bussed the couple of miles from there but I ended up taking the bus there and back. I am a very regular bus passenger and in my time I have been on some very rickety buses. The East Coast Buses 124 I got to Dirleton was immaculate with comfortable seats and USB charge points, as well as an immensely irritating automated announcement of the next stop. A lot of the buses here in Glasgow are being replaced right now, pretty much because of the Low Emission Zone the city council is gradually introducing in the city centre, so many buses operated by First and McGills are all shiny and new, which is weird and makes me self-conscious as I don’t want to dribble, spill crumbs or break anything. It feels a little space-age though thankfully the bus I got home tonight was older with the lining of the seat cover coming away.

Ian McKellen has given way to Jodie Whittaker being interviewed. I’m not a Doctor Who fan but luckily the discussion is going far beyond the Tardis.

Dirleton Castle is a fine place and I was glad to wander around it for a while. It’s going to be part of the Loose Ends series in the coming weeks so I won’t write too much about it now. What I will mention briefly is killing time walking around the village, around the kirkyard. Dirleton Kirk is a lovely church and the graveyard was quiet, unspoiled and full of old gravestones. Some of the graves were modest, others more elaborate for landed gentry. I did think about walking down to Yellowcraigs but time was against me and it was a bit cool with haar (sea mist) rolling off the Forth. Another time maybe.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. Tomorrow’s post is the 600th post, part of the Loose Ends series. On Wednesday will be a post about the end of the line. Loose Ends returns next Sunday and Streets of Glasgow is back a week on Wednesday. Have a lovely weekend, wherever you end up.


Streets of Glasgow: Fifty Pitches Road

Fifty Pitches Road is probably one of the lesser known streets I’ve featured in this series. I know it but I live nearby. Indeed I can actually see it from my bedroom window or I could if it wasn’t dark as I write this. The walk was on my way home, a slightly scenic route less direct than my normal traipse across an overpass. It was a bright March afternoon as I got off the bus and crossed the busy Shieldhall Road onto Fifty Pitches Road to start. I stopped to get the obligatory street sign photo then paused to look at the remains of a brick structure. It looked fairly modern so was probably quite functional. As I walked all the rubbish seemed to be squashed, car wheels doing their worst to juice bottles and fast food wrappers.

Fifty Pitches Road is named after a vast array of playing fields that once stood on the site. Fifty football pitches or more. Today it is mainly industrial with some offices, most notably for NHS 24 (the out-of-hours health service), Southside Housing Association and the print works for the Daily Record. McKenna Park, home of St. Anthony’s FC, is nearby, as is a red blaes park that I pass as I walk each day to the bus. Fifty Pitches is also intersected by the M8, Scotland’s busiest motorway which stretches from the outskirts of Edinburgh to Greenock in the Clyde riviera. The motorway was busy that Friday afternoon with commuters. A few cars and vans passed me as I headed under the M8. The graffiti tag of ‘Spar’ made me wonder if I would soon see one for the Co-op or Nisa. Volvo vans were to my left and I could soon see the Daily Record printing works and the high-rise flats of Cardonald, Moss Heights. The roundabouts featured grey standing stones, small and fairly thin of much more recent vintage than Callanais or the Ring of Brodgar. I soon came to a gap through which I could see the outline of some houses at the other side of the railway, one of them where I live. But for a bridge I could be home in barely five minutes rather than the fifteen by the convoluted loop I was obliged to take. Anyway, I passed the premises of the Sparta Trampoline Club. I didn’t know Sparta had trampolines, let alone that they had an outpost in south west Glasgow.

Past the Daily Record printing works and the hulking modern lump of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital rose in the distance. Workers stood outside the printing works and the NHS having a smoke, others pouring out bound for home. The roundabout ahead was the end of Fifty Pitches Road and another Streets of Glasgow walk as I turned for home myself, just another commuter again.

Thanks for reading. This is the sixtieth Streets of Glasgow walk here on Walking Talking. Nearby streets featured in this series include Paisley Road West, Govan Road and Edmiston Drive.

Streets of Glasgow: Wilson Street

This walk continued right after a fortnight ago’s Bell Street instalment of Streets of Glasgow. I was in the Merchant City killing time and plucking up the courage to go to an event in the area. I stood in the shadow of the badminton mural and decided to head along Wilson Street. The badminton mural – put up for the 2014 Commonwealth Games –  sat before an empty plot, encased by a fence with letters spelling out Candleriggs Square. On the right were modern housing developments. I passed a lamppost with stickers advertising Country Boy Brewing, with a pick-up truck in the centre, and the Hanseatic Football Tradition with floodlights. These stickers appear all over the place, often near football grounds, and I like spotting them. I stood under the badminton mural a moment, five years’ Glasgow weather having weathered it nicely.

A pub called the Citation stood in an old court building, Greco-Roman with pillars, flourishes and scenes along the bottom. Strings of clear lights lined the pillars, spotlights getting more effective as the light slowly drained from the sky.

I came further along and realised that I was coming towards Virginia Street, which I have covered in this series before, and also the Polo Lounge, which I was in a few weeks ago in a taste from someone else’s life. The Polo Lounge was in a very handsome red building with columns and arches outside and topped by a grey cupola. A rainbow flag flew outside the door. A blue Police box stood nearby, selling coffee into the evening. For no reason I could fathom a bell or a metal buoy sat on the corner of Wilson Street and Virginia Street, a fitting end for a walk that grew more interesting and beguiling by the end.

Thank you for reading. This is the fifty ninth Streets of Glasgow walk from Walking Talking. Quite a few nearby streets have featured in this series, including Bell Street, Glassford Street, Virginia Street, Ingram Street, Trongate and Miller Street.

Saturday Saunter: 6th April 2019

Good Saturday to you,

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

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

Dunglass Collegiate Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digest: March 2019

Digest time and I covered less ground than in February but that isn’t always a bad thing.

My first adventure of the month was Saturday 2nd March when Hibs were playing Celtic in Edinburgh. Before the game I went for a rain-soaked walk to Newhaven.

The following Friday I was again in Edinburgh to see the Hibs.

The next Thursday I was in town for an event. Beforehand I went to the Glasgow Women’s Library to see the Artemisia Gentileschi painting on display there. On the way back I sat in Glasgow Green to eat my sandwiches then had a good wander around the Merchant City, managing two walks as part of this blog’s Streets of Glasgow series.

That Saturday I was once more in Edinburgh to see Hibs. It had been cold and snowy and it became cold and wet so it was brief. It got nicer as I got closer to Glasgow. It was ever thus.

The following day I went out around Glasgow. I visited the new Charles Rennie Mackintosh statue, Kelvingrove and Cathkin Park as part of a wider Glaswegian ramble. I had felt that I had neglected my adopted home and this went a great way to redressing the balance and satisfying the deep love I have for this city.

That Monday I was off for a very nice day trip with a friend around Glasgow. We were at the Women’s Library to see that Artemsia painting again then we went to the House for an Art Lover (which was all right, with very good scones) and finally GoMA which had a fantastic exhibition about filmmaker Margaret Tait.

The following Sunday I spent the day bopping around southern Scotland and Northumberland, taking in Dawyck Botanic Garden, the walls at Berwick and Eyemouth where we went for a perfectly serviceable chippy. It was good to be in familiar climes for a while, with the walk around Dawyck particularly soothing and good for the soul.

On Friday I went to Livingston to watch the Hibs.

Yesterday I went out for lunch then went on the train to Gourock, the end of the train line that runs beside my house. Gourock was nice in the breezy spring sunshine.

Today I am planning on going to Dunbar or at least somewhere in the east.

So, that’s the March digest. Thank you to all readers, commenters and followers. Post 600 will appear next month. It’ll be a good one. Streets of Glasgow returns next Sunday while Loose Ends appears on Wednesday. Cheers just now.

Posts this month –

Saturday Saunter: 2nd March 2019

Digest: February 2019

Loose Ends: Portobello Potteries

Saturday Saunter: 9th March 2019

Streets of Glasgow: West George Street

Loose Ends: Leakey’s Bookshop

Saturday Saunter: 16th March 2019

Streets of Glasgow: Jamaica Street

Loose Ends: Desperate Dan

Saturday Saunter: 23rd March 2019

Streets of Glasgow: Bell Street

Loose Ends: Charles Rennie Mackintosh statue

Saturday Saunter: 30th March 2019

Saturday Saunter: 30th March 2019

Good morning,

When this is posted, I hope to be away on manoeuvres working on the 600th post. I might not be out as on Friday night, last night, I was at the football, watching the Hibs play Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena, Livingston’s ground. That stadium, Almondvale as it was originally called, isn’t one of my favourites though the name some wag off Twitter has given it, the Spaghettiad, is quite possibly the best thing ever. A lie in might be the plan for today especially as I might have been pissed off after trudging the mile to the railway station around many, many roundabouts. Livingston is horrible.

I don’t really do tags. In the early days of Walking Talking, I sometimes entered the WordPress photo challenge but I can’t be bothered with that sort of nonsense anymore. I saw one on the Orangutan Librarian blog – not sure what the name is about – and it interested me. It was about good reading habits. I also saw one about reading your country, which was on the Portobello Book blog, so I’m going to break tradition and write a little about them. I just like the ideas so will take them without tags.

My own reading habit is to read when I feel like it and when it is possible to do so. I don’t read every day and I don’t read the same genres all the time. Often I like crime fiction, other times non-fiction, particularly about football or travel. I’m of the school that as long as people are reading, that’s good enough. At the moment I’m re-reading Harry Potter for the umpteenth time. I often read in series but usually the latest instalment as I’ve often binged on them previously. I usually read when I’m travelling and most of what I read is on paper right now. It’s a higher percentage than eBooks at the moment. Given what I do, a lot of what I read comes from the library. It is one of many reasons why I don’t like being given books. I’m not sure if my reading habits are good, bad or indifferent. It’s just what I do.

As for reading my country, I’m very lucky that some of the finest works of literature have come from Scotland. I can’t think of a Scottish book I liked from my childhood but the first one that came to mind that I like to read aloud now is The Fourth Bonniest Baby in Dundee by Michelle Sloan and Kasia Matyjaszek. A book I read in school was probably the poetry of Norman MacCaig, which I still like today. There are loads of examples of historical fiction but it isn’t a genre I read. Quite a few books are set in my favourite areas of Scotland – Glasgow, where I live, and East Lothian, where I’m from – though the Quintin Jardine Skinner crime novels mainly feature Edinburgh and East Lothian but Skinner did work in Glasgow at one point. Peter May’s Lewis trilogy features a part of the country I would love to visit. There are so many Scottish classics and I read a right few of them as a teenager. One I would recommend, and I’ve also seen it at the theatre, is The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins, quite a dark novel set in an Argyll forest during the Second World War. He was quite a versatile author, Robin Jenkins, and I would encourage anyone to delve into his work. A Scottish book I haven’t read but I would like to is Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. I’ve never read it though I know people who are very devout fans of his oeuvre. Finally, my favourite Scottish authors are Nan Shepherd, Kathleen Jamie, Muriel Spark, Ian Rankin, Stuart MacBride and quite a few others that I couldn’t begin to adequately list.

Yesterday’s travelling book was a re-read, Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie, an excellent book of essays.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. The March digest follows tomorrow. Have a very nice weekend, whatever you end up doing.

Loose Ends: Charles Rennie Mackintosh statue

I had been meaning to have a look at the new Charles Rennie Mackintosh statue for months since it was unveiled in December. One Sunday I got up and decided to make a day of it, heading first to Anderston to see the statue then going on a ramble to see what I could find. It linked just fine with the last instalment of Loose Ends, featuring the statue of Desperate Dan in Dundee, since it was also a statue plus there is a gallery dedicated to Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the brand new V and A Dundee museum. The statue was put up by property developers Sanctuary Group, sculpted by Andy Scott and unveiled by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, on the ninetieth anniversary of Mackintosh’s death. I liked it immediately, far more than I thought I would, to be honest. I took photos then sat down and looked at the statue. I liked the little details, including the ring on Mackintosh’s finger and the distinctive chair he was sitting on. It fit in well with the sharp angles of the new flats behind too. I couldn’t help thinking that there should be a statue of one of the Glasgow Girls group of artists or even that Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh should have been cast up alongside her husband. Maybe one day. In the meantime, it was a cracking statue, well-worked and in an apposite setting, in a community rather than a great civic space.

To the connections and there could be a visit to one of the many structures linked to Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow and beyond, like House for an Art Lover or the Hill House. This could also include Kelvingrove just along the road or pretty much anywhere in Glasgow, really. Loose Ends tends to involve a bit of forethought, very often a hunch or an impulse, and the next connection, which occurred about half an hour later, was certainly one of those.

Thank you for reading. The next Loose Ends post follows next week.

Streets of Glasgow: Bell Street

Bell Street leads from the back of the Gallowgate right into the heart of the Merchant City, encompassing a pram centre and Police Museum, beds and Portakabins. I had never been on it before and I was only there because I was going to an event a short while later. The walk started at the back of Morrisons on the Gallowgate, where Google Maps told me Bell Street began. There wasn’t a sign to confirm that for about 200 yards but for Streets of Glasgow purposes, I started walking past the Glasgow Pram Centre, the cool neon lights of the Barrowlands peeking down the street to the left. Flats on the left and the road wound down underneath a railway bridge, a dapper Glasgow gent in a long brown coat and a blue bunnet opening the door to the flats as I passed.

Under the railway bridge not one but three different signs confirmed I was on Bell Street after all. A tall mill building rose high on the right and on the winding lane into a development there was a sign which declared it to be Parsonage Square. I remembered that the family behind the Glasgow Humane Society are the Parsonages. I wonder if it was named after them. The mill building, now houses and offices, was a muddy golden brown – in short it looked its age – and it reminded me a lot of Dundee. Not at all a bad thing. Across the street were some more modern housing blocks and at street level a pile of grey bricks, very much out of place amidst the reds and browns of the Merchant City.

I came to the junction with the High Street and noticed a bed warehouse and offices belonging to Unison. In the distance was a mural dating from the 2014 Commonwealth Games, this one showing a badminton match in progress. I walked in its direction, first stopping to look in the window of the bed shop which had a bed with the mattress propped up to show the wooden bed frame drawer below. I don’t understand why they did that. Beds are for sleeping and occasionally other purposes. Why would it being propped up sell it better? Anyway, the building across from it had an attractive gable end featuring the city crest and the year 1896. An archway below featured a ghost sign for a produce agent with offices in Tontine Lane.

Soon I was outside Merchant Square and looking across the street once more to another handsome building with a grey cupola and railings around the roof. It featured the rather pleasing juxtaposition of the Glasgow Police Museum and a bar below. No comment. Above the building next door were six rather lovely golden leaf sculptures, each in line with the pillars below.

I stopped a short distance later and looked back along, in another world from the post-industrial surroundings of only a few minutes before. One of the best bits about Glasgow is how it changes every few minutes. It’s why it’s best to explore it on foot. You just see more, Bell Street a case in point.

Thank you for reading. This is the fifty eighth Streets of Glasgow post on Walking Talking. Nearby streets featured in this series before include Gallowgate, High Street, London Road, Duke Street, Albion Street, Trongate and Glassford Street. Wilson Street, which is also nearby, follows next week.