Glasgow Gallivanting: January 2017

Celtic Connections

Celtic Connections logoIf you live in Glasgow, you have about two weeks to get over the hedonism of Christmas and New Year when – ooft! – it’s Celtic Connections! This bills itself as “the largest annual winter music festival of its kind and the UK’s premier celebration of Celtic music” and we throw ourselves into it with enthusiasm, usually attending half a dozen or so gigs over the 19 days.

This year, in six concerts we heard musicians from Scotland, England, Ireland and America (and that’s quite a conservative selection) in five different venues ranging from the formal concert hall, via the Old Fruitmarket, to the iconic Barrowland Ballroom. Highlights? So hard to choose but, if pushed, I’d go for Phil Cunningham’s Highlands and Islands Suite. Phil, his accordion, and a front-row of other professional musicians were supported by students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – its Traditional Musicians, Chorale and Symphony Orchestra. There must have been 150 people on the stage and the music soared. When I said to John at the interval that I had been moved almost to tears I half expected a scornful look, but he agreed. It wasn’t only the evocatively Scottish music, there was also something so heart-warming about a stage full of young people working hard to perfect their art – having chosen to do so in our city.

Gluttony

Celtic Connections is pretty hard on the waistline – all those pre-theatre meals – and it’s not helpful that Burns Night falls slap bang in the middle. This year, we ate our haggis, neeps and tatties with friends in the Curlers, a local pub-restaurant. We have also been tempted by two large boxes of Chinese rose pastries, a new year gift from one of John’s Chinese colleagues. Definitely yummy – ooh, I need to walk all this off, but…

Queen Elizabeth Forest Park

…oh dear, we haven’t had much in the way of country walks: only one that I can remember, in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. This time last year, we spotted red squirrels from the wildlife hide. This time they were not to be seen, though there were plenty of birds about.

Exhibitions

We managed a couple of exhibitions in January. One Glasgow museum, the Burrell Collection, has recently closed for refurbishment and in the meantime some of its paintings are on show at another, Kelvingrove. The current exhibition is of work by Joseph Crawhall (1861-1913), one of a group of radical painters known as The Glasgow Boys. Girl on a bicycle has long been one of my favourites – just look at the little dachshund excitedly running alongside – but there was plenty more to see, and will be until 1st July if you are in the area.

We also saw an exhibition in the Lighthouse called A Life in Letterpress. Typographic artist Alan Kitching began his working life apprenticed to a printer, before becoming a technician at Watford College, then a teacher, designer and artist. In an age of computer design, he continues to create using wood and metal letterforms. The results are stunning! On till 5th March.

The last bit

New Year, new blogging resolution – to have a round-up post like this at the end of every month. How long will it continue? My last new series (People Make Glasgow) lasted for approximately (ahem, exactly) one post, and I’m already almost a week late with this one, so we’ll see.

I also wondered what would happen if I had nothing to round up, either because I’d written about it already or (and it does happen) I had done nothing worth blogging about. Step forward The last bit of random stuff and padding. This month – Scotland reacts to Trump, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Scotland is not impressed.

  • The sublime – Karine Polwart at Celtic Connections with I burn but I am not consumed, a poetic mixture of spoken word and song considering Donald’s Scottish roots. Favourite line: You who see nothing but your own face in the sheen of the Hudson River. (Sorry, I couldn’t get this BBC video to embed).
  • The ridiculous – Just 19 Incredibly Scottish Signs Telling Donald Trump He’s A Bawbag (Buzzfeed). Not for the easily offended. Translations available on request. (As a start, baw = ball. I’m sure you can work out the rest.)

So that was January in Glasgow. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Glasgow canal walks

Forth and Clyde Canal at Maryhill Locks
Forth and Clyde Canal at Maryhill Locks
The Forth and Clyde Canal runs very close to our house and we love it for a Sunday afternoon stroll. We have three choices – east, west or the spur that runs into the city centre. I’ve already written about the spur (here) so this post will cover the east and west walks we took in November. Now, you will probably guess that the photograph above does not show Glasgow in November! That was in June, but it’s the only time I’ve ever seen boats going through any of the canal locks so I wanted to include it.

Let’s walk east first. We join the canal at Maryhill where there used to be interesting, if not infamous, buildings above its banks such as the Glasgow Magdalene Institution for the Repression of Vice and Reformation of Penitent Females. Yes, really! Shockingly, this only closed in the late 1950s after a number of inmates escaped, leading to an investigation into their (mis)treatment. Today, the site is covered in houses with a golf course on the other bank, so nothing very picturesque. The camera only comes out when we reach Lambhill Stables.

The Stables were built around 1830 when horses pulling barges were the main means of moving goods along the canal. Today they have been restored as a community facility with a café, heritage displays and a garden. The Stables are closed on Sundays, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see. First, there is the memorial to the Cadder Pit Disaster of 1913.

A stroll round the garden results in some unexpected sightings. A robot in Lambhill!

Through a gap in the hedge at the back there are good views towards Possil Loch and the Campsie Fells.

Back on the canal towpath, we walk a little further then turn into Possil Marsh and Loch nature reserve – though there is so much marsh that we don’t actually see the loch again, as the track can only go round the very edge of the site. We do see, through another hedge gap, the splendid entrance (James Sellars, 1881) to Lambhill Cemetery and the plaque to commemorate the Possil High Meteorite which fell nearby in 1804. (This photo is a cheat, taken from an earlier walk. I couldn’t make the writing on the plaque legible, even in close-up, so I thought you might as well have a long view with the bonus of John).

It gets dark very early in winter, and the sun was setting as we walked back home.

A couple of weekends later, we set off west to walk another section of canal. Once again, it’s quite built up but there are times when you can pretend you are in the country. Not when you see a Saltire-painted tarpaulin and Nessie on the opposite bank though! And a curious cat who probably has as little idea about what is going on as we do.

It’s also easy to link up a canal walk with the River Kelvin Walkway. Here’s one we did in October, taking in the Botanic Gardens and its Arboretum.

Finally, you never know what you might come across on the canal. One of my volunteer “jobs” is leading walks from Maryhill Health Centre (aimed, for example, at people giving up smoking or finishing physiotherapy) and sometimes we have pop-up artists. Below, you can see members of the delightful Joyous Choir living up to their name and a small ceilidh band. Shortly after this picture was taken we danced The Gay Gordons up and down the towpath which prompted a certain amount of curious windae-hingin’ (hanging out of windows) on the adjacent Maryhill Road. It was fun!

This post seems to have got out of hand and strayed away from the original east-west walk! I kept thinking of more to add. Expect more rag-bag posts in the New Year as I clear out photos and ideas that didn’t get used in 2016. Linking this one to Jo’s Monday Walks. Her latest is about Roker Beach and Park where I spent many happy hours as a child.

Holmwood

Holmwood House
Holmwood

Holmwood, now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, is a unique villa designed by Glasgow’s second most famous architect, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. It was built in 1857-8 for James Couper, a local businessman. Thomson’s original room decoration, based on themes from the classical world, is being uncovered and we’ve followed the progress of this continuing conservation work over the years.

Here, a piece of original wall paper has been uncovered in the dining room, and the barometer sits atop the fire-place in the hall:

A selection from the classical frieze:

Beautiful floor tiling:

Ceilings and dome:

When we first visited, it was empty, and although still not fully furnished, it now looks more like a home.

There are also attractive riverside grounds to explore and a small kitchen garden, planted with a range of Victorian herbs, fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately, while we were in the house the heavens opened so we didn’t spend long outside.

All the more time to spend taking tea in the small café!

Glasgow’s Clyde

Squinty Bridge (Clyde Arc)
Squinty Bridge (Clyde Arc)
A few weeks ago, our Sunday afternoon plans fell through so we took a walk down to the Clyde instead. So many times I have walked in other riverside cities and marvelled at what they have made of their waterfronts. Glasgow always seemed to be lagging behind – in fact there were parts of the Clyde Walkway I just wouldn’t have felt safe walking along at one time. Thankfully, in recent years we have been catching up with the rest of the world and the Walkway is a very pleasant stroll. It also allows for a trip down Memory Lane as you shall see.

We started at the old (1870s) Hydraulic Pumping Station on Yorkhill Quay which used to power a swing bridge over the dock entrance. These Victorians really knew how to dress up their industrial buildings! It’s been used as a restaurant recently, hence the much newer conservatory. From here, you can look back to the Riverside Museum and the Tallship Glenlee.

Across the river, on the south side, is the Science Centre flanked by the BBC building, just visible on the left, and the Glasgow Tower which opened in 2001.

Glasgow Science Centre
Glasgow Science Centre
According to the Science Centre website:

Glasgow Tower is the only structure on earth capable of rotating 360 degrees into the prevailing wind and holds the Guinness-World-Record for the tallest fully rotating freestanding structure in the World. At 127 metres high, the equivalent of over 30 double-decker buses, the Glasgow Tower is the tallest freestanding building in Scotland.

You should be able to take a lift up to the Tower’s viewing platform. However, it has been closed for about 80% of its life because of a succession of structural problems and the fact that it can’t operate if it’s too windy. To be honest, I’m not that keen to try it…..

Near here, two pedestrian bridges cross the Clyde. We took the Millenium Bridge across the river, pausing in the centre to look upstream to Bell’s Bridge (the blue one) and the Clyde Arc, better known in Glasgow as the Squinty Bridge.

Bell's Bridge and Clyde Arc
Bell’s Bridge and Clyde Arc
This is where Memory Lane kicks in. Bell’s Bridge was built as the entrance to the Glasgow Garden Festival of 1988. I have wonderful memories of this – we had season tickets and visited often over the summer. Once the festival was finished, the site lay derelict for years until it slowly re-established itself as a media quarter. Here’s Bell’s Bridge in 1988 (with a bearded John) and a view of the site from the festival’s tower. Bell’s Bridge is visible at top left.

We only walked a little way along the south bank so that we could cross back over at Bell’s Bridge. We got a good view of the Clyde Auditorium (aka Armadillo) on the north bank and saw a poignant memorial to a firefighter.

The BBC Scotland Building is fronted by a sculpture, Poised Array, by Toby Paterson and displays a fabulous reflection of the other side of the river in its glass walls.

In 1988, Bell’s Bridge would never have been quiet enough to get a shot like this! Once again, we stopped in the centre of the bridge, this time to watch jet-skiers tearing downriver.

Back on the north side of the river we came to the Finnieston Crane – you’ve possibly spotted it already in both 1988 and 2016 pictures. It was erected in 1931 to load huge locomotives, a major export and Glasgow’s second most important engineering industry.

A little further on, we reached the North Rotunda. It and its southern companion mark the ends of the Harbour Tunnel built in the 1890s and long since fallen into disuse. The North Rotunda has been a restaurant for as long as I can remember, but the South Rotunda is boarded up. However, during the Garden Festival it served as Nardini’s Ice Cream Parlour.

Across from the Rotunda is a Hilton Garden Inn with a riverside bar. It was a very hot day, so we couldn’t pass that could we? Behind me, you can see the South Rotunda and the STV building. It seems that drinking beer in the sun was a 1988 pastime too!

Just past the Hilton is the Squinty Bridge. We didn’t cross it, but I’ve included this shot so that you can see why it got it’s nickname. I’ve never heard anyone actually calling it the Clyde Arc.

Squinty Bridge (Clyde Arc)
Squinty Bridge (Clyde Arc)
The next bridge down, we most certainly couldn’t cross. The Kingston Bridge carries the M8 over the river. We could stand under it though and admire the mural by Smug (Sam Bates). It’s one of several around the city celebrating the Commonwealth Games of 2014 which were held in Glasgow. There’s also a memorial to another fire disaster.

From the Kingston Bridge we decided to head for home. First we had to negotiate the bridges and walkways across the M8 and the Clydeside Expressway, both very busy roads.

On the other side, we came across this lovely old building, a former savings bank.

We walked past the splendid new Central Gurdwara and the building it replaced…

….before heading home through the greenery of Kelvingrove Park.

Kelvingrove Park
Kelvingrove Park
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Clydeside stroll. The best bit for me has been looking out my 1988 photographs, though my memory failed me in one thing. I thought we had so many – but there are only 55. For the whole summer! We take more than that in a day now: how times have changed. I also went looking for our Glasgow Garden Festival whisky miniature but, unaccountably, that seems to have gone. I did find our Festival Friends lapel pins and this photograph of me hillwalking the following year in my Festival T-shirt (another non-survivor) so I’ll leave you with that while I go off and nurse my serious hair envy. Can you have that for your younger self?

Ben Chabhair 1989
Ben Chabhair 1989
Linked to Jo’s Monday Walks.

SOCK: Somme Observed Community Knitting

Somme Observed Community Knitting
Somme Observed Community Knitting at the People’s Palace

The railings on either side of Glasgow’s People’s Palace are festooned with colourful blankets at the moment. During the First World War, Queen Mary’s Appeal for Knitters exhorted the women of Britain to produce 300,000 pairs of socks and 300,000 woollen belts for soldiers, a target which they exceeded. This inspired current members of Glasgow Knit and Stitch to form SOCK – Somme Observed Community Knitting – as an appropriate way to commemorate both the soldiers of Glasgow’s three Pals Regiments who took part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and the women at home who knitted for them.

Each knitted or crocheted square represents one soldier – about 3,700 in all. Come September, the blankets will be cleaned and given to local charities working with refugees and homeless people.

What a tremendous idea – a memorial with a practical use afterwards. Thanks to Beverly McFarlane, one of the knitters, for alerting me to it.

Somme Observed Community Knitting

The Ideal Hut Show

The Ideal Hut Show has reached Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens! A selection of architects, artists and designers from Scotland and abroad have transformed standard garden sheds for this exhibition, which is touring Scotland as part of the Festival of Architecture. I loved it! Especially as the weather has been so good lately: it’s been fun to wander through the huts. Do you have a favourite?

This has got me thinking about “Festival Glasgow”. In the first 6 months of this year, as well as the Festival of Architecture, we’ve been to events for Celtic Connections (music), Aye Write (books), the Storytelling Festival, Glasgow International (art), the West End Festival and Refugee Festival Scotland.

Some highlights – NB these are mostly phone photos, sometimes from quite a distance away, so they don’t really bear enlarging:

Here’s Frazey Ford (ex-Be Good Tanyas) supported by Ola Onabule at the ABC – this was our favourite gig of Celtic Connections (the emphasis mostly being on Connections rather than Celtic.) We were right at the front which had the added advantage, for an all-standing gig, of being able to lean against the crowd-barrier. The musicians at the Royal Concert Hall (centre) were a little stiff though 😉

I’d never been to a Storytelling Festival before. It surprised me by having music and images as well as spoken word.

I visited a number of small exhibitions during Glasgow International. Below is a 16th century commonplace book which formed the centrepiece of Speaking Volumes at Glasgow Women’s Library, a couple of colourful rooms at the David Dale Gallery, Semi-gloss, Semi-permeable in the gloriously light space of the Albus, and back to the Botanic Gardens where some sculptures by Aaron Angell nestled amongst the plants in the hothouse.

Finally, the West End Festival is still in full swing. Last Sunday we caught this colourful Lion Dance in a street near our home.

Glasgow is a really fun place to live, so the moral of my story is, there’s never a bad time to visit – there’s always something on!

Street art: Maryhill

Gallery 1: Murals

After I wrote my last post about Mary Hill, I thought I’d add something about the street art around the area. These murals first appeared during last year’s A to Z Challenge as part of Gallus Glasgow S: Street art.

Gallery 2: The Hub at Wyndford

I’ve often walked past this building and spotted the red banner on the brick wall in the first photograph below. Recently, I walked round the other side to see what else was there. A valiant attempt has been made to cheer up this rather run-down former school which is now being used as a community hub. I don’t think there are any tigers locally, but the buildings in the final two photographs are recognisably Glasgow. The one I’ve highlighted is the Armadillo, which also featured in last year’s challenge.

Gallery 3: Maryhill Locks

These railings run between the canal and the road at Maryhill Locks. They were designed by Catherine Rozdoba-Hallows and made and installed by the Maryhill fabrication company Scott Associates. I couldn’t decide which I liked best, so have included them all! They tell the history of Maryhill and the industries which grew up along the canal.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a peek at this area of Glasgow which doesn’t normally feature on the tourist trail.

People Make Glasgow: Mary Hill

Maryhill Burgh Halls
Maryhill Burgh Halls

Today is the day when many of my blogging friends are revealing their A to Z Challenge themes. I had a brilliant idea for a theme, based on the success of last year’s Gallus Glasgow. (Actually, what I mean is that pal Helen MacKinven had the brilliant idea for me. Check out her site if you want to see a poodle in pink shades.) People make Glasgow is the city’s current marketing slogan, and the idea was to choose some of the city’s historical figures to show how they still influence Glasgow today. The downside is that I left the research too late and had too many letters missing, so it’s going to appear as an occasional series instead. This is the first.

One way of influencing a city is to have part of it named after you – impressive! Mary Hill (1730-1809) and her husband, Robert Graham, inherited the Gairbraid Estate because Mary’s father, Hew Hill, had no male heirs. Mary and Robert ran into money troubles after speculating in coal-mining, but their big break came when parliament approved the planning of the route of the Forth & Clyde Canal in 1768, which went through the estate. They were compensated for this and once the canal was completed, around 1790, their land along the canal suddenly became much more valuable and they sold it with the condition that if a town was to develop in the area it would be named after Mary.

Maryhill became a burgh in 1856 and was incorporated into the City of Glasgow 1891. Its Burgh Halls were built in 1878, fell into disrepair in the 1960s and were rescued and reopened in 2012. A major factor in raising money for the refurbishment was the stained glass – 20 panels featuring the small industries and factories in 1870s Maryhill. Normally, stained glass is seen in churches and palaces, so I think it was visionary for the time to create windows showing ordinary people in their ordinary working clothes going about their daily tasks.

Maryhill Burgh Halls stained glass
Iron moulders and calico printers

I live very close to Maryhill, and since last autumn I’ve been volunteering as a Heritage Tour Guide at the Burgh Halls, on both the general tour and the Women of Maryhill tour which I’ve researched and developed myself. I graduated in history a very long time ago and I’m really enjoying being able to put that to use in retirement. You can see me (red stripey jumper) at the tour launch below …

… and enjoying tea and scones with some of the participants after the most recent tour on Saturday.

If you’re in and around Glasgow, keep an eye on the Maryhill Burgh Halls website for news of more tours and events.

 

Saints and sinners: a Glasgow urban walk

St Mungo mural
St Mungo mural

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook was full of a new Glasgow mural so at the first opportunity we went to see it for ourselves. The artist, known as Smug, has chosen his subject matter to match its location. It’s on a gable-end near St Mungo’s Cathedral, which is named after the city’s founder and patron saint, and represents a modern-day representation of one of his miracles, the bird that never flew. St Serf, St Mungo’s old master, tamed a robin which was accidentally killed by some of his disciples. They blamed Mungo who took the dead bird in his hands and prayed over it, restoring it to life. Look carefully, and you will see a halo round the modern Mungo’s head.

From the mural we crossed the road to the Cathedral and cut through the Necropolis. I was looking for a particular grave, that of William Minnoch, which I needed for another project. Successfully found!

From the Necropolis, we continued down to Duke Street and the Tennent’s Brewery. Now, I’m not saying people who drink beer are sinners – I’m more than partial to a pint myself – but it makes for a good post title. Mind you, some of the characters in the many murals which line the brewery walls look as though they might well be acquainted with a little bit of sin.

I’ve long meant to take a guided tour of the brewery but you need to book and, as I’ve never got round to it, we turned round and continued our circular walk. Plenty of interest as we headed back up towards the Cathedral.

For our final stop, we were back to saints. Provand’s Lordship is the oldest house in Glasgow – it was built in 1471 as the manse of the Master of the Chapel and Hospital of St Nicholas. After the Reformation, it had many secular uses before opening as a museum in the 1980s.

In one of the upstairs rooms, there was a collection of paintings of old Glasgow created in the early 1990s by Tom McGroran. I liked this one of Bridgeton Cross, a place I’m very familiar with, in the 1950s. For comparison, here it is today.

St Nicholas’s Garden, behind Provand’s Lordship, was laid out in the 1990s after the fashion of a 15th century physic or medicinal garden, so each bed has plants to treat different parts of the body, indicated by a moulding on the paving stones in front of it. The example below is for reproductive medicine.

The garden also features coats of arms, including Glasgow’s with the motto “Let Glasgow flourish” and the symbols of Mungo’s miracles (you’ll need to enlarge, I think, to see the bird that never flew perching in the tree that never grew!)

Around the cloisters are the Tontine Heads, so-called because they came from the old Tontine Hotel. There are 13 in total, varying in date from about 1737 to 1873. I’ve chosen two to display, because they reminded us of certain Scottish politicians. Anyone with knowledge of Scottish politics may wish to hazard a guess…

By this time, the weather was very wet and we hurried off to find a warm drink then get the Subway home. I hope you’ve enjoyed this stroll with some of Glasgow’s saints and sinners which I’m linking to Jo’s Monday Walks,  Monday Murals and  Art in the Streets.

January: Winter Gardens

People's Palace and Winter Gardens
People’s Palace and Winter Gardens, Glasgow

The picture above has appeared on this blog before, but I’m recycling it for Jude’s new Garden Challenge. Her theme for January is Winter Gardens – head to her blog the earth laughs in flowers to see her own entry, and check the comments for others.

What I haven’t shown you before are these photos of the inside of the Winter Gardens, two of which were taken from the balcony on the top floor of the People’s Palace. It’s very green and more spacious than it looks. I’ve been to a conference reception in the paths and clearings amongst the plants, and the café area – which just creeps into one shot – can be hired for weddings, graduation dinners and so on.

If it’s colour you’re after, head west to the Botanic Gardens where the hothouses are a delight in any season. Reds everywhere at Christmas! Disclosure: I’m far too impatient to take photos like these. All credit to John.

Or how about this? Between Christmas and New Year we had a short break at the Forest Hills Hotel near Kinlochard, which has beautiful grounds and gardens. When we arrived, it was dark and festively lit.

And it was lovely in a different way by day.

We had some rather damp walks when we were at Kinlochard – more on them to follow tomorrow.