Sunday, 24 March 2013

Clydebank.Glasgow.River Clyde.Forth and Clyde Canal.

The reason for the long title is that this is two bike trips combined into one. When I was doing the 'Glasgow. City of Towers' post a couple of weeks ago I used my bike to get around quickly over two separate days, both of them absolute crackers, though very cold. This is the canal at Bowling above and as you can see its frozen.
It was minus -8 overnight but as long as you cycled in the sun it was fine.
I used the Forth and Clyde canal to reach here as its a green and pleasant highway not far from my house. Traffic free. Photo is the unusual giant chain link sculpture outside the Golden Jubilee hospital in Clydebank.
As a keen amateur photographer you always think you can do better whenever you go out which is what gives me motivation, even in areas I've been before. You always see different things, or new places or the light is special. These photographs should hopefully highlight that. Taken into strong oblique sunlight I'm really pleased how this one turned out. Fantastic light. Be even better next time though :) Might even bike in Kate Moss as a model if she can get out her bed in time. It was an early start with ice still on the tow path puddles but the light was exceptional.
One of the great things about the Forth and Clyde Canal and The River Clyde around this area is that together they give you many miles of traffic free, walker/cycle friendly corridors to explore that link up with loads of other places, parks, history, gardens and landscaped waterfronts. This is in front of the new Clydebank college where it faces onto the River Clyde. Titan Crane behind. Mist still clinging to the Kilpatrick hills in the distance.
Clydebank, of course, was famous for its shipbuilding and was heavily bombed during the Second World War. The Polish destroyer ORP Piorun happened to be undergoing repairs at John Browns Shipyard at that time and returned fire with its guns. Over 500 hundred civilians' were killed and hundreds more injured over two nights of carnage. Worth a look. Once inside Click on picture of tram to see full impact on just one street.

These flats at Radnor Park were built after the war to rehouse folk. The big employer in Clydebank, apart from the ship yards, was Singer's. In its heyday it was the biggest sewing machine factory in the world: It had Britain's largest clock face at 26 feet in diameter adorning its huge iconic clock tower and it was the second largest clock face anywhere in the world. It employed 12'000 to 14'000 workers when it was at its peak including my mum and dad who met there. Time for an 'Aw.'
 Now Clydebank has a multiscreen cinema, a shopping centre and a floating chip shop. Progress I suppose.
Time for an 'Ach, that's no right. Where's all the full time jobs gone?'
Town hall clock tower is still standing though with the massive wall of the Kilpatrick hills behind.
A heron enjoys the morning sun, spreading its body to catch the maximum rays. Didn't fly away for once, probably because it was drying its wings. I'm a sneaky snapper me.  I creep up on nature when its disadvantaged and discombobulated.
I was lucky enough to see this large cargo ship coming down the River Clyde near the Erskine Bridge. Its the Merle and I had a feeling I'd seen it before on the river so I looked it up out of curiosity.
If you look at its history in here its the modern equivalent of an international puffer. Carries general cargo and fairly gets around Europe. Hard working ship. Probably carrying a load of scrap metal here from Renfrew Car breakers yards as that's big money nowadays and highly sought after. Next stop could be Germany, Holland or London. It used to be called The Apollo and I've snapped it before on the Clyde years ago. Good to see the river is still getting used for some trade.
A new area and a new island bag for me. Yippee! The Saltings. Its a recent development under Erskine bridge at Old Kilpatrick. You always could go out onto the wasteland/ marsh here but it was pretty rough and boggy with few tracks and not very bike friendly. Now its been transformed with a network of good easy paths and I'm calling it an island because ,as you can see from the map, its surrounded by water. An island you can cycle or walk around.
I'm on the other side of the Forth and Clyde Canal now heading towards the city centre. This is near Maryhill. A still, windless day of great reflections. I took most of my City of Towers shots on this bike trip. Nothing like a bike for covering miles across a city yet allowing you to stop anywhere you like.
Park Circus Towers from the canal. It was another smashing day with a misty, pastel yellow/red light great for silhouettes.
View west across Glasgow. Glasgow Museum and Art gallery Towers. I always think this building could be equally at home in an Indian city.
Perfect reflection in the canal near Maryhill/Ruchill.

Converted warehouse at Port Dundas. Glasgow City. Now upmarket apartments.
And finally...Family playing on the beach at Erskine slipway.

Keeping to a general feeling of times past here's a couple of cracking videos you may like. Double 'aw'. Those of you of a certain vintage may remember a time when children got dirty and played outside unsupervised. (Actually the kids around me do that all the time as well so its only some areas and a media brainwash sort of thing that sometimes goes on.) Want an Example? Weather forecasters and news now... Snow in March! Whoever heard of that happening! Its the middle of Spring! Yeah, right. I'll keep calling March a winter month thank you. It always was before. Its bad in Arran now admittedly but I went there in Late March ten years ago and it certainly didn't feel like Spring. I've had snow in early May over there up on the ridge and didn't think it was that unusual so I'm keeping March firmly in winter until I'm proved wrong.

Belter of a video and a great song as well. You might see yourself in here.

Brings back memories of short trousers and very sore knees as a child. Ouch!

I should have posted this second video along with the Glasgow. City of Towers Post but I'll slot it in here instead. Loads of memories in here for anyone brought up on a Glasgow housing estate in the 1950's and 1960's. You might even see your house in this one.
PS. Just found an amazing video of the development of Glasgow's districts after the Second World war. Its a real winner so I've attached it to the Glasgow. City of Towers post from two weeks ago as it explains that entire post perfectly.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Ben Venue. Trossachs.

After a brief spell of spring like weather in Scotland winter has returned with a vengeance this week and the high mountains are covered in snow once again. We found this out when we tackled Ben Venue. My friend Ron had never been up this hill, one of the rockiest mountains in the Trossachs range, above Loch Ard and I hadn't been up it for years either so we set out for that. The mountain in the above photo is not Ben Venue by the way. Its that famous ancient mountain Ben Cartwright..taken from the rear. Actually I haven't a Scooby doo where it is but it must be a Munro near Ben Venue as its in the same batch.. Its a senior moment as I don't remember taking it :) Its probably a zoom of Beinn Narnain.
We picked the route setting out from  the lay by car park near Ledard farm on the shores of Loch Ard, seen above. I've been up this fine mountain from the other side as well, the shorter route from Loch Achray, but I remembered that as being fairly steep and intense. That's probably the best way up now incidently, apart from a day like this one, when the hill was plastered in soft melting snow.
Its a popular hill but the path was a lot boggier than I remembered it and proved tough going with a foot of mushy snow on top of thick mud in places. A problem that's been a curse all year given the extremely wet summer we have had during 2012.
The main consolation was bumping into this group of wild goats on the sheltered sides of the Ledard burn with its deciduous woodland. This is easily the prettiest goat I've seen with a luxurious golden coat shimmering in the sunlight. Still had the pungent aroma though that most goats are famed for. You really need to click on this picture to get the full impact of the beast. Very pleased with this picture and the one below.

You can also see from its friend here how Goats have always been associated with the Devil and the personification of evil although they are harmless enough beasts with a nice nature. As a nature naïve teenager I was once walking back to a remote cottage alone in the dark on a secluded path through some dark and tangled woods on Bute when a six foot high horned apparition suddenly appeared around the side of an old gnarled tree with a loud groaning noise. I came very close to peeing my pants in shock until I realised it was just a large billy goat straining up to its fullest extent on hind legs to reach some juicy leaves above its head. Down through the centuries this sight and others like it must have occurred often, giving them their undeserved reputation as being a gateway to dark forces and the wilder side of human nature. They are probably the inspiration for the Ancient God Pan. The spirit of wild places and hidden desires released by the Greeks and Romans through wine. Only a myth? Well, its still a problem for todays society as  prisons are full of people who have let the dark side of this old forgotten god take over their souls. They just call it something else now, that's all.
Halfway up Ben Venue we were rewarded for our bog slog determination with this fabulous view over towards Ben Lomond's steep north face. You can just see two tiny figures heading towards the summit.
A view of the Cobbler. Ben Venue is a great viewpoint over The Crianlarich Hills, The Arrochar Alps, The Luss hills and The Trossachs.
The snow in places was appalling though. Knee deep and extremely slippy with a foot of soft slushy porridge lying on top of sodden grass. Probably the worst conditions underfoot I've been out in all winter with a rapid melt not helping matters. It took ages to make it to the first coll.

A sight of Ben Venue at last from Beinn Bhreac.
We were also surprised to find a new looking hut up here in the middle of nowhere near Creag a Bhealaich. This certainly wasn't up here the last time I was in this area. It looked like BBQ's on the porch and a paying guest type operation as it was locked and heavily shuttered for the winter. I suspect its linked to the Time Share/Hotel Complex on the shores of Loch Ard as a kind of summer mountain cabin. It certainly has stunning views and a all terrain vehicle track leading up to it from near that location.
Ron on the Porch.
It was weird the way the snow had accumulated up here. In places it was deep and thick.
In others, even higher, but under the influence of a strong melting sun, completely bare of any snow.
An enjoyable day out but a hard one. Took this photo on the way back of the long line of cliffs. The impressive northern headwall of the Campsie Fells viewed from Balfron

Todays video carries on the Goat/ Devil theme. A Russian film linked to an American group known for their ability to conjure up mysterious and atmospheric music. A classical /dark Gothic instrumental group they have stumbled into a lucrative market as they are now used widely in films and horror type theme parks.
Nox Arcana. Night of the Wolf.
This is better than most, and a good match in my opinion but its obviously not scary enough for a discerning modern audience raised on 3D gore and gut spurting reality games. Its nice and atmospheric in a quaint, old school way. Pretty wife returns from the dead. Shame about the nails but nothing a good manicure couldn't fix. Don't really understand what the problem is here. I'd have her back like a shot. Just separate coffins as her own one looks waterlogged for some strange reason. Maybe vampires are all secretly incontinent in their sleep. Still, beggars cant be fussy:)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Glasgow. The City Of Towers.

Its taken me a long while to formulate then put together this collection of photographs but finally I'm ready to post the idea I've had for many years. Recently one of my friends mentioned that just because I knew the full reason behind a throwaway phrase I've used in the past on the blog (The City Of Towers) didn't necessarily mean that everyone else would automatically know what it meant.
I assured him they would.
He assured me they would not.
' You're an obsessional nutter that sees the world differently from most other people.' He insisted. 'Not everyone shares your vision of what's around you, you know. Your barking mad ,but in a good way.'
After I'd shot two of his toes off for daring to criticise the Great and Powerful 'Me' I came to the startling conclusion he might well be right.

For years I've been toying with the idea of the ultimate photographic 'grand homage' to Glasgow's ring of mighty towers that dominate almost every view of Glasgow. No other city in the UK has embraced the concept of towers in the sky so fully.

All The photographs on this Post should be clicked full size to get a true appreciation of scale.

Where did this begin I hear you ask?
Stay with me and I will tell you I reply.
You see, I'm lucky enough to live in the shadow of a wonderful city of towers. With yet another modern film just released inspired by the Wizard of Oz lets go right back to the beginning...
Glasgow has always been inspired by Tall buildings and a European influence, Seen here to good effect in Park Circus, just above Kelvingrove Park. Very Italian. A city used to building large objects on an industrial scale. Ships, locomotives, components... buildings.
But then it was gripped by another influence coming out of Europe. The Cult of Modernism.
The Great Father of Modernism, as all my readers will undoubtedly already know, my limping, eight toed, little friend, was Le Corbusier who envisaged a future metropolis of towers rising into the air.
A vast interconnected machine  where citizens would  live, work, play, fight, and die together in a high rise environment which would provide everything for them, like cogs in a vast, smoothly operating, machine. Homes would be mere slots on the side of a giant building, stretching towards the sun, as prophesized in his visionary 1933 book 'The Radiant city.'

In no other city in Britain, maybe even in all of western Europe itself, did this grand vision establish itself so fully.
Sure other cities have hi rise towers, but most are concentrated inside the city centre itself not in a large outer ring scattered around the suburbs with green spaces between them exactly as he described them in that ground breaking tome..
Or as here, in Maryhill.

Maybe he himself was inspired by the 1927 Fritz Lang classic Metropolis. Or  just maybe, being Swiss then adopting France as his home, it was the shining towers of  free standing winter ice he undoubtedly would have seen on his travels that left an impression on him.
Dorothy had to leave rural Kansas in a flying house to find her Emerald City of high spires and wonder filled delights. The citizens of Glasgow are already living in one and generations of its children have grown up gazing out of one of these narrow slots in the sky.
What do you mean 'Its nothing like the Emerald City?' How can you say 'There isn't a giant balloon in Glasgow anywhere.?' My moaning, hopping friend.
 Da Dah! There is now.. The Hydro. Dorothy had Toto, I Have you, Two toes. (missing) Box ticked.
There. Does it look more like the Great Wizard's balloon now you  grumpy nitpicker! Satisfied. Box Ticked!
What do you mean Dorothy's city was full of primary colours and  hidden dangers: A land of good and evil characters and mysterious realms visited? Box Ticked.  Munchkinlanders. Actually the Firhill Polis.

What's that two toes? She left her own world behind her and entered a new one through a worm hole?
Easy. How's that?
What do you mean it was a twisty wormhole not a straight one? Want to lose any more toes?

                                                    There.Satisfied now. Box ticked!
'Christ on a crutch! Dorothy had a four legged window polisher, a timid scarecrow, a leaky tin arsehole and a cowardly lion for her friends and they weren't as troublesome put together as you are now you crabbit faced  hop along. What do you mean you want sometime stronger than paracetamol?'
Well, maybe you,re in luck. We might be in the right place here for medicines. The Possilpark back street chemist may be open for business.
Or... we could visit yet another temple of wonders to take your mind off things. Entertainment in Glasgow is also hi rise. You get a great view at night from the upper levels of this complex over half the city and that's before you even enter the cinema screen of choice.

Everywhere you look in Glasgow Le Corbusier's dream/nightmare of brutal modernism is alive and well. Only when the last one of these great leviathans topples into the streets below will we be free of this influential architects vision. One which transformed the  modern world we see around us today.
Like it or not one man can change the world as dramatically as the great wizard himself.
Call us legion, for we are many....We live in the Emerald City of Glasgow.
The Great and Powerful City of Towers.

Talking of free standing towers of winter ice this is a short but stunning film of just that. It should be watched full screen. A dazzling city of melting ice with tiny figures in the middle of it.
Breathtakingly beautiful. Did this inspire le Corbusier perhaps? Watched in HD this is amazing.

Just found a video that is a perfect explanation of the thinking behind the multi story approach. Its 18 minutes long but worth every second as it shows you a fantastic archive of Glasgow and its people and the construction of its districts after the second world war. If you live in Glasgow, East Kilbride or Cumbernauld or have done in the past you wont want to miss this. Five star film of a bygone era of optimism. Typical 'old style' commentary but it gets better with each minute passed. Wish I'd found it earlier.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Beinn Resipol.

In the morning we cycled out from the bothy and motored round to Beinn Resipol which is a smashing hill with stunning views over the western seaboard.
Alex with a view back east towards the Nevis area.

Coming down off the summit. Just enough snow to make it interesting but not enough to hamper progress as its a fair old trek to the top for old duffers like us. As I was fresh I think I enjoyed this hill even more than John and Alex as they were tired and heavy legged from the first day which was fairly tough as well.

A view across to Sgurr Dhomonuill, at 2914 metres the highest peak in the area.
Garbh Bheinn is the most dramatic though with its line of rugged cliffs. Hardly seen a soul all weekend and had the bothy to ourselves.
A view of the Skye Cuillin from the summit.
Eigg and Rum.
A zoom of the ridges over on Rum.
Looking towards the seaward end of Loch Shiel.
The mountains around Ballachulish. Mamores region. Taken on the way back.
View from the real food café where we stopped for chips.
Very good weekend. Excellent company and weather.
Video this week asks the question 'where is the limit for extreme sports nowadays and where will it end?. Posted this because an 11 year old is shattering records previously thought just 10 years ago as being completely impossible. An English girl of roughly the same age has climbed the massive walls on Yosemite with her dad recently. Makes you think. I'm glad I did my climbing when E 1 was though of as a hard route. This is just ridiculous. I probably couldn't even get off the ground on the route outside shown at the end. 40 years from now will we be able to fly without wings? She makes it all look so easy as well. Gutted!