Sunday, 21 October 2018

Autumn Enchantment. Scotland's First, Highest, and Best Looking Skyscraper.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
It is that time of year again on the artist's colour wheel. Autumn is my second favourite season after Spring. The parklands of Glasgow are my muse. My ever sparkling 'girl next door' and the true love for all of my life since I could see out the pram.
Bellahouston Park here and the recently introduced wild flower borders. Not only is it a pretty foreground it will hopefully help the insects. East and west coast has added these strips in parks, motorway verges and on roundabouts over the last few years.
A Red Admiral butterfly- a late summer/autumn specialist. Even seen them still flying in snow covered landscapes. Hardy creatures.
It was a lucky weekend as far as the autumn leaves were concerned- perfect depth of colours yet a few days later most would blow to the ground. Very much a lottery every year as to how long they stay on the tree and how deep the colour gets. If its quiet, frosty and still they can last for weeks but it's been mild and stormy recently, a lot of snapped off branches lying on the ground.
Tough for fragile things like butterflies. A Speckled Wood here- a rare find for me- the first I've seen... or certainly not familiar anyway. I had to look it up.
One of my favourite Glasgow parks and views. Bellahouston. At one time they built a tower here for the 1938 Empire Exhibition. 300 foot, 91 metres high, built to a space age futuristic design and already placed on top of a hill so the stunned crowds were sometimes treated to standing high above the cloud level on a still morning balanced on wide flat platforms resembling high diving board stages, one placed above the other. Nothing built in Glasgow since then at height has compared to that spectacular wonder of the age. It was the Shard of it's day. A wide landscaped grand cascade of waterfalls and fountains  poured from its hilltop base to the bottom of the slope with smaller towers underneath hiding pumping stations for the water to flow back uphill. Everything illuminated at night in different colours.
Type in Tait Tower. Glasgow after this post to see it all. This at a time when Glasgow or any of the other UK cities had no residential skyscrapers to speak of that the public could access easily so all the more extraordinary.Why Glasgow? Well, our normal shipping trade connections to New York of course and buildings rising higher and higher there. We wanted a taste of that action in our own city.
 Sadly, it only lasted a year then was taken down again for fear that enemy planes could spot it from a considerable distance. It did have 100 mile views across Scotland from the top platform so an all too easy landmark. By then the Second World War was looming on the horizon and much of Europe could be our enemy. One of the major attractions of its time though, a proud pinnacle to modernism and future trends, and around 12 million people came to this park to see it and the other exhibits, paying a shilling to get in. Just like some teenagers today wish they could go back to the 1960s or other supposedly more exciting eras I wished then I could travel back in time just for one day to climb it. The normal human condition to always cherish the unobtainable faraway over the everyday within reach.
We tend to think of the modern age having all the great wonders available but the various Empire Exhibitions in the UK and Worlds' Fair constructs in America could transform entire cities on an entirely different scale due to the money to labour and material costs then. This city park was one of three we could reach in a day trip from the castle trio location base in Pollokshields, the others being Maxwell and Pollok but when we were told a huge gleaming tower used to stand here, when all we could see was an uninspiring flat concrete foundation base it evoked a powerful longing in us. Did it really exist? Did it ever happen here? Hard for young minds to grasp looking at the spot. The Second World War was still a fresh memory for our respective parents but when they mentioned it, infrequently, to us, pointing out some disused structure in the landscape, it might as well have been Roman relics they were talking about- time wise. No idea of the timeline of history yet at that age. It was all just - 'the past' to us. Distant and remote. No relevance to our own lives so interesting but unimportant. Between 5  to 5000 years ago.... all the same to us. But the idea of this gleaming tower standing on a hilltop above the city did make a vivid impression.
Much like many born after a spectacular event who can't even fathom how it was possible when it was only the ghost of a past era we were learning about and little evidence remaining today... we were slightly skeptical of that magnificent missing structure existing but captivated by it at the same time in our imagination - hence the current widespread disbelief over the moon landings I suppose. Or the deliberate unlearning of the flat earth community as we move towards an uncertain future. Who doesn't love a 'Golden age' looking back.
All Glasgow's many parks were in their infancy then or not even constructed yet and when you look at old photographs most had flimsy, recently planted saplings in them- not the lush forests of mature trees we see around us today. We are so lucky to live in this age. I guarantee people will look back at this current period with great nostalgia. Every age is a golden one to those growing up in it. They just don't fully realise it at the time.

With a over a million toiling souls living here then Glasgow was a dirty, unhealthy, rat infested, overcrowded industrial powerhouse, full of factories, shipyards, tall chimneys belching out soot and grime, with frequently sick residents, shorter life spans, and a dead, lifeless river.  Too polluted to hold a single fish.
Along with half the population we have got rid of all that squalor and mess and the UK in general is a much healthier, greener place. The River Clyde has fish swimming in it again.
However, as Stacey Dooley's recent excellent documentary on the fashion industry showed the problem has just been moved elsewhere-and increased in volume- to India, Indonesia and The Aral Sea. Now they have dead rivers, pollution and lax environmental enforcement laws. Swings and roundabouts.
Maybe no coincidence she came to Glasgow for it. A city transformed within 60 years.  See link below.

Another programme I watched recently was Autumnwatch: New England set in the forests of New Hampshire to capture 'the Fall.'
While I enjoyed the change of wildlife, especially the flying squirrels, different birds and moose I must admit I was slightly disappointed in the colour range of the trees over there. Maybe it was the wrong place, wrong time, or a bad year but it was mostly red, gold, still green or brown in the footage they captured. I have seen much better images of autumn colours in USA blog land. This is an honest opinion. So I think we should appreciate and celebrate our own range of colours here more- not as vivid or showy perhaps but with a dedicate overall blend and varied combination of hues to rival anything- anywhere...especially in city parks- with trees collected from all over the world. New Hampshire and the lake they filmed at looked remarkably like Loch Lomond and its islands I noticed.

Autumn line up in pale gold.
Ye ancient forests of the Bear's Den.
Red Poppies. Bellahouston's Walled Garden. October. 2018.
Swans. Forth and Clyde Canal.
Great Western Road in Autumn.
The urban forests within any city. Very bare place without them.
Best colour mix of hues.
Flower border. Walled Garden.
Japanese Maple. House for an Art Lover. Bellahouston Park Gardens.

An unusual haunting song with striking visuals and lyrics. Apparently about a breakup where children are involved but the words could also apply equally to the ball we all live on. Our own Goldilocks planet. As far as we know the only one of its kind in an otherwise barren universe. A sparkling green, water rich jewel. Maybe we should take better care of it from now on.



Kay G. said...

Ah, Blue Sky Scotland, you are making me long for Scotland even though I have never seen it.
Spring used to be my favorite season but with climate change, it is too hot in Georgia. Give me Autumn, with cooler temps and the colorful leaves. It is now my favorite.
Hey! That first photo of a butterfly, are you certain it is a Painted Lady? I thought it might be a Red Admiral. I think it is anyway! :-)

blueskyscotland said...

Doh! You are right Kay. I'm too busy getting the info details right for everything else and missing the basics. Off to correct it. Well spotted.

Rosemary said...

The trees are looking really colourful on your doorstep Bob.
I do like Stacey Dooley, she is a great little journalist, but I missed that particular programme.
She often bravely goes and tackles really difficult issues, and keeps on pushing and prodding until she gets a proper response.

Carol said...

There have been some nice colours briefly at the back of my house recently but most of the trees very quickly lost their leaves and I didn't get around to getting a photo - a shame really as I've had a film in my camera all year which needs using up. I think it was lack of a real foreground putting me off as there's just a couple of huge fields in front of the trees which doesn't make for any kind of photographic foreground.

I saw a Red Admiral the other day with scrunched up/shrivelled wings - not sure why. I felt sure I should really stand on it but couldn't bring myself to do it so I just found it a nice flower head and put it on for a 'last supper'.

That skyscraper would have been very handy for going to the top of before walking trips and seeing how the snows were going on the Munros!

Anabel Marsh said...

Scotland at its best!

Andy said...

What a crime that tower wasn't left to stand after the exhibition. Every city should have at least one tall building and free access to the top floor for the public should be a mandatory condition of any planning permission - in my humble opinion anyway :)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
After 10 years capturing them I know the best places to see autumn colours at their best. You often can't win with modern life as apparently diet products (artificial sweeteners) are bad for you now as well as any liquid in a plastic bottle. I take heart from Feud as both Joan Crawford and Bette Davis had alcohol instead of blood flowing through their veins most of their adult lives, smoked like kipper sheds yet lived to a surprisingly respectable old age considering. The Barker Hypothesis in action.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Carol,
You probably could see a fair few Munros from up there as total height from sea level, including the hilltop must have been over 400 feet, probably Arran peaks as well. Snow forecast this week falling over the Scottish mountains.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Anabel,
I have a real soft spot for Bellahouston and all the South Side districts. My growing up playground... that's assuming I grew up of course.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Andy,
Probably just bad timing as the shipyards and nearby Clydebank were heavily bombed a few years later. They put up another tower at sea level near Govan for the Glasgow Garden Festival, which Princess Diana attended and went up to the top. (can't remember if Charles was there as well)
They should have kept that one but they sold it to Rhyl in Wales and it was a feature down there for many decades til old age or high running costs/ poor maintenance closed it down.
Unfortunately, Glasgow got its fingers badly burned with skyscraper living for the masses turning out some notorious estates so I can't see us going like London any time soon. Pity.
Several plans have been submitted for hi rise financial buildings but so far none have been approved over 21 floors high.