One of my favourite bike tours in my home area is a circular trip around the west end of Glasgow, then crossing the River Clyde over to the south side districts, then through Paisley, then Renfrew- then back across the River Clyde via the Renfrew Ferry to the West End again. Although passing through urban areas it is a very green route normally and can be varied at will to include new districts off the template, using quiet urban streets, or cycle tracks, or a variety of bridges and tunnels, to create almost endless variety off the basic circular tour route. A fast head down cyclist could probably do the complete circle in a couple of hours but I like to dawdle along, take photos, explore places of interest and just enjoy myself so 3 to 5 hours for me normally. It's one bike tour I never tire of in any season so although I did it again last week here's a compilation over several years and different seasons taken on the route.
( Although advances in treatment for mental health problems have improved greatly since the bad old days a recent programme I watched a few days ago. 'Kids in Crisis- Panorama.' highlighted that under-funding- increased demand for services- and lack of staff in certain specialized areas means that many vulnerable children are either going undetected or fail to get any help when they need it. Teenage years are tricky anyway at the best of times but the current technology and social media revolution/growth must surely heighten any latent paranoia, feelings of low self worth, and increase addictive or narcissistic tendencies to a unprecedented degree. I can feel that effect to a lesser degree myself sometimes with this blog as in ..." Why didn't they like that post? Why so few comments for that one? Why so many for that one and how can I repeat it? (The cynically manipulative dopamine rush of any gambling product to pull you in.) or...Have I pissed them off somehow with something I've said unintentionally???" It's very easy to get sucked into cyberland... as if that's all that matters....then gradually stop living in the real world... and spend an inordinate amount of time in front of a screen instead.
Luckily, I'm a grown up and remember an age before social media arrived so I can understand what's happening and squash those feelings flat before they gain control over me but for anyone of teenage years being judged, sentenced, condemned by online trial, applauded, deliberately deluded, criticized or praised daily...this often is their entire life, biggest reward system, and notion of self worth in society. There's a good reason why the people that develop all these social media products often restrict or ban entirely their use among there own children as they know it's highly addictive and can be damaging.
For example....On a recent bus ride a normal family group I noticed in a passing park were walking slowly through beautiful flowerbeds on either side yet everyone- mum, dad, four children, including two aged around 7 to 10 were all glued to separate screens intently- hardly a glance away from it's controlling influence.. Each locked into their own small world yet moving together as a fugue state collective unit. They might as well have stayed indoors for all the attention they paid to their surroundings or each other. Turned into zombies by the all important screen, even outdoors. Only granny, walking behind, was fully human- no phone visible... just enjoying the park for its own sake- and not as a backdrop casual selfie snap either as an afterthought - and as such completely isolated by the rest of the group who walked along slowly as one organism, staring down into their hands the whole time. A different species to them. A brief snapshot of modern life glimpsed from a bus by a person equally addicted to landscape photography and posting online every week so I am aware of a certain hypocrisy in that viewpoint :) I rarely use a mobile phone or any gadgets outside though unless someone calls me first for a brief conversation and I'm always very observant and interested in my surroundings at all times. You can feel very alone in a crowd of people however- even more than on a solo walk, especially in smart phone land where ignoring people you are with in favour of online interests, popularity checks, and number of hits is the new normal and an addictive drug to literally die for in some cases. Is the asylum now within the community at large? Or is the community the real asylum to escape from? Recent long bus trips and casual observations have made me wonder about that.)
Given where I could have grown up- Easterhouse- ( It was a walk round the asylum grounds there not very far from the house they were offered that changed my parents minds instantly) so you could say an asylum delivered my destiny. Like a standing stone in the landscape. A portal to jump through. And jump they did- back on the bus to decline the offer to move. The second council house they were offered a few months later was here. Pollok and Nitshill. My childhood and teenage years paradise home. Also a fixture on the modern bike tour circle.
Easterhouse- flat- not as many trees and parks-swampy fields containing little of special interest- high gang violence.
Pollok- equally large in size and population and gang violence but full of rolling wooded small hills, farms, fields of cattle, ponds, dams, and old castles to explore. Thank you God and Bishoploch Mental Institution- the asylum that truly saved my life. ( it's now a local nature reserve beside Easterhouse but one of the few I've never visited, funnily enough.)