Thursday, 10 November 2016

Autumn in the Urban Forest. The Great Wood of Glasgow.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
Well folks, it's that time of year again. Autumn. With light winds and no major storms rolling in off the North Atlantic yet, often name checked as one of the most turbulent oceans in the world, this year it seems to be lasting well into November with many areas still hanging onto a full canopy of leaves. I have been out and about- sometimes alone-sometimes with my local muse 'Belle' or 'Tink' or 'That Witch in the Woods' (she has many names, bless her) and sometimes with more conventional friends. I didn't need to travel far as her area is the best for autumn colours and different varieties of trees.
  It's not surprising I met her in sylvan ways and we teamed up, instinctively drawn together, as I was a child of the great urban forest myself, growing up on a tough council estate- Nitshill in Pollok, but at the same time living deep within the largest mature deciduous forest in Scotland. Some might think the natural place for wild forests would be in the Scottish Highlands or Southern Uplands but it's not. Most of the trees there have been stripped out in the distant past replaced by mono-culture dark plantations of fir or pine which attract little wildlife beyond the outer edges and the natural regenerating woodlands have long been held in check by sheep, grouse moors or deer.
Instead a vast patchwork quilt of scattered woodlands and parks in the cities and towns, especially Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee, provide a glimpse of what lowland Scotland must have looked like in the past.

This is one of the reasons I was comparing the Lake District (and Wales) with mountain Scotland in the last few posts as I noticed the difference straight away in all three landscapes when I first started going down there. The Scottish Highlands may be wild, scenic and empty but both these other mountain areas mentioned seem to have retained their deciduous woodlands far better, or have planted more, and look very different as a result. You notice that when it rains as natural shelter is never far away down south... even in mountain regions. Trees add a huge amount to any walk, especially deciduous woodlands.
Of course in parks you have a mixture of trees gathered from every corner of the globe by Victorian collectors - a practice frowned on now, but it does make for spectacular landscapes. From Gourock in the west to Airdrie and Carluke in the east the urban forest sprawls, admittedly not unbroken, but certainly vast in size and for the most part deciduous. (ie. the leaves drop every autumn) It's one of the reasons I like living in a city, as although I like the Highlands and mountain areas they are bare and pretty lifeless places by comparison... or so I think anyway. I've always loved my urban jungle of trees and from many parts of Glasgow looking out over the city (Bellahouston Park hill looking towards Pollok, Barrhead, and the South Side springs to mind) all you really see is a continuous belt of woodlands stretching to the far horizon with only an occasional hi- rise or tenement rooftop sticking out to remind you that humans live within it at all.
I didn't think this way years ago of course and it's taken me decades to form this viewpoint, reading and understanding history, social trends in landscape engineering and picking up information here and there but I believe it's a valid one. When I was young I wasn't interested in all that- I just loved woods and all the usual things that children of my generation who lived outdoors when not in school enjoyed. Climbing trees, collecting berries, fruit, nuts and conkers in season, building dens, and generally having a good time outdoors without computers, any technology, or adults. We now live in a news, media, information and gadget saturated age but back then the TV was six inches square, black and white, and usually grainy and hard to watch with a small aerial indoors that often required frequent adjustment to get any picture at all. Not worth staying in for if dry weather outside. Newspapers were only of interest to us for the cartoon page. Innocent times in many ways but we did have our dragons like every other age. The threat of pedophiles probably existed but they never frequented our woods much and any adults were either given a wild berth when seen or chatted to happily if known. Being half feral anyway as kids few folk could creep up on us... usually it was the other way around...just like the natural caution the rest of the woodland animals and birds showed towards any humans that came into the forest. Suspicion or fear didn't enter our thoughts very often but when they did it was usually easily understood and not the vague shadowy menace always lurking in the background it is now- like a friend getting beat up by a drunk parent a few times, someone getting injured outdoors falling or landing poorly or the risk of drowning in the many flooded quarries nearby. Stuff we understood and just accepted as part of life. On the plus side pedophiles would also be given a good kicking, maybe even killed by other adults, if caught... which tended to put them off as they didn't seem as numerous as they are today although punishing innocent strangers was always a possibility.
A spotty dog. Maybe escaped from 'The Woodentops.  ' Remember them?

Back in the present I still love trees and even have favourite ones I treat as trusted old friends, many of which should still be around long after I'm fertilizing the roots of others.
Capturing the best of the autumn colours is a yearly occupation now and I always think I can do better each time. Good motivation to get out there and explore.
A rare selfie.
This year I stayed mainly local for this gallery which allowed me to photograph in a range of different lighting conditions- full mid- day bright sunlight, as here,above - late evening sunshine, like the photo below-
and in overcast dull conditions.
A double rainbow.
On the brae.
On golden paths we travel...
to experience the joy of deciduous woodlands...
with sweet witch I wept the last...
to think how easily this could all end...
Do you believe in climate change children?
If so... clap your hands...          **** the fairies. How we deal with that now and in the near future is far more important.

No wonder we spent all our free time outdoors. Dodging older kids aiming air rifles at you, occasional gang fights and the usual falling out among friends was much more fun than watching TV back then. Enjoy. Funny how this seems brilliant now ! Didn't think that back then though :o) Andy Pandy probably put me off. A puppet Jimmy Savile and slightly dodgy even then.


Ian Johnston said...

Superb post Bob - this autumn has been a cracker for colour...highlights for me included a drive along Deeside where the larches and Aspens were a path of gold which altered the light, a Gean tree in our garden which seemed on fire so vivid were the colours, and the enormous crop of Rowan berries being cleared by the arriving flocks of thrushes.

The Woodentops....probably my earliest memory of a TV programme - thanks for reminding me!

Kind Regards

Anabel Marsh said...

Fantastic shots! And who could forget the biggest spotty dog you ever did see? I Liked Andy Pandy too, but will b
Never look at him the same easy again now!

Kay G. said...

Never heard of the Woodentops! (Watch With Mother...that's funny!)
I think the spotty dog sounds a lot like Mr. Bean.
Richard remembers them but says that he does not remember watching them that much. That is what HE SAYS anyway! HA!
Oh, and I love your photos, as always! That double rainbow, I can't tell you how happy I would be to see a rainbow, it would mean that we would have had rain.

Carol said...

We've had the nice colours this year but no light to photograph them with! :-( Love the Dalmatian - one of my favourite types of dog. Also love the first photo - but what's the white thing in it?

Linda W. said...

Your autumn colors are lovely! It's true I think a lot of today's kids spend way too much time indoors tethered to their computers and video games and not enough time outside.

Linda said...

Beautiful burst of colour! Thank you so much for sharing, I feel as though I took this tour myself! :)

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Ian,
Yes, a group of golden larches can be impressive and really light up a conifer forest.
According to folk tradition, as you no doubt know, masses of berries mean a hard winter ahead. Hope not :o)
I also remember the first TV series that made a big impression on me in colour as it was the first I watched after years of black and white box watching. Might put that up next.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
I suppose Andy Pandy was a bit too nice and sanitized for me- a modern equivalent would be the last two years of The One Show where nothing bad or unsafe or un PC ever occurs or is reported...

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
I also remember watching Casey Jones around the late 1950s, still on the six inch black and white screen. Remember the song but the static was so bad half the time you couldn't see the action and had to guess what was happening from the dialogue. Ah, the good old days.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
It's a wood pigeon's egg I think. Found it on the ground the same day as the other stuff in the photo so a very late egg that would never hatch or survive. Found other eggs last week from a very exotic bird. You will never guess the species. Eggs laid in November. A future post for that.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda W,
In many ways you can't blame them as the world is a more dangerous place with increased traffic, predatory behaviour and many more temptations out there. Also many of the computer generated worlds are amazing and incredible, if addictive.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda,
Glad you liked it.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous post of pictures and words, back to a youth I remembered with some fondness

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Andy,
Glad you liked it. I suspect children today will be telling their kids how good it was in their day as well. As long as you have a happy childhood and you are not in a war zone every age is the golden era looking back for each new generation.

Anonymous said...

Hello dear people of Scotland!
I came to this blog because I searched"forests of Scotland" and amongst the many photos that appeared, one was a large stone egg-shaped structure... Can't find it now on the blog... Can someone write me and tell me what and where it is ?
Sherry ...