Sunday 24 November 2013
Bugger that I thought. Let's run to the sun instead and visit the warm valley.
This is the garden valley. An area of wooded slopes and fertile meadows carved out by the mighty River Clyde in its upper reaches where its waters in the distant past have been broad and fierce enough to bite deep into the surrounding landscape creating a sheltered, warm, oasis. A deep winding, trench running for many miles through the soft geology of this part of Lanarkshire.
Monks were the first to realise the potential of this area, growing apples, plums, soft fruits and berries on the warm, usually frost free banks during the short Scottish summer. Orchards were planted and thrived. Later arrivals grew strawberries and tomatoes here on a large commercial scale, and it earned several new names. The 'Glass Gorge', the 'Fruit Basket of the Central Belt, The Garden Valley.
http://food.list.co.uk/article/54556-the-clyde-valley-is-home-to-leading-firm-of-scotlands-tomato-industry/ A good link here with a brief history of the produce and new blood continuing the tradition.
One of the most remarkable facts about this fruit growing trench is that it lies at the same latitude as Hudson Bay in Canada and is further north than Newfoundland, and the frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia. In summer it can get hot and humid down here with lush vegetation, including bizarre meadows of wild course rhubarb coating the riverbanks and in winter the gulf stream ensures its temperate climate.
Taking the M74 out of Glasgow, then the scenic A70 as it follows the river along the floor of the trench I soon arrived and parked the car in the village of Crossford, where there is a medium sized car park, public toilets and a handy information board/map of walking paths in the area.
The Clyde walkway runs through here and follows the far (left )bank of the River back towards Motherwell and Glasgow, though they both seem very distant from here. From the car park walk up the main street until you can cross the bridge seen above ( B7056 Braidwood Road ) From here a pleasant walk takes you along the flat embankment in a north westerly direction then climbs gently to offer superb views over the district.
In the hard world of adulthood anyone who still holds onto a flicker of that inner child when they grow up is lucky indeed as the world will always seem a wonderful, unexpected place viewed through their eyes.
'In a hole in the ground there lived a.....
No doubt growing up on the edge of this deep trench with a birds eye view of the sliced landscape below him cut by the river and its numerous tributaries running off the surrounding uplands inspired him to take an interest in geology and the formation of natural features from an early age.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carluke and famous for its jam. Great tale in here under another notable resident Thomas Weir, the Warlock of West Bow, reputed to be one of the inspirations for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde after his self confessed spectacular fall from grace.
Just watched 'Nina Conti- A Ventriloquist's Story: Her Master's voice' on BBC4. I already knew Nina was talented with bags of sparkle as I've seen her act a few times over the years but this was a different level again. A worthy winner of best documentary as it explores the strange love/hate partnership that exists between ventriloquist and dummy/creation at a deep level. Heart warming, moving and watchable it gets better and more bizarre the longer it goes on. Well worth catching on i player in this link or whatever medium you can see it on and should do her career no harm at all in an age when ventriloquists are not seen as 'cool or radical' enough. After this unusual insight into the realms of the psyche she could get a side job as a director. Never thought I'd have a lump in my throat over a puppet's fate.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01jv1yr The two minute video in here with granny swimming underwater( The OAP nightdress clad dummy) should give you a taste of it. The i player repeat has now ended but the five minute video 'N.C at the Edinburgh fringe' is still there.
There's only one music video that's a perfect fit for this post. I've been a fan of Kate Bush since 1978 but my favourite song of hers is this highly personal offering which I don't think she'd write nowadays as you become more guarded in your outlook due to the intrusive nature of fame. Perfectly combined with a poignantly sweet video that should remind adults everywhere of that inner child buried deep but still alive in their soul, squashed down under the painful realities and practical struggles of everyday life. A garden( song) for a garden( film) for a garden (blog post). Perfect ending.
Sunday 17 November 2013
Her final flourish. A million mile rainbow stretching across the globe
Before the fall.
To sink and dream unseen, in caverns quiet- safe and deep- below
Protected inside a ring of slumbering bears- a wall of sleeping hedgehogs- a moat of poisonous reptiles twisted together in black and gold- they all keep her secure.
Joseph Arthur. A smile that explodes. A very underrated and talented singer songwriter. If music and album sales world wide were anything like they were 20 years ago this guy would be a household name by now. His back catalogue of great albums and original songs over the last ten years speak for themselves. 'Our shadows will remain' is a classic CD, named album of the year in his home country many times over.
Lou Reed, David Bowie, Neil Young, Rod Stewart, Elton John, The Stones, Hendrix, The Beatles, Dylan, The Doors. Just as well they are already legends because if they were starting out again today they would need to wear a meat dress or swing naked from a wrecking ball to grab any attention in a world where original, creative music can sometimes be an inconvenient afterthought that's irrelevant to selling records. If they were starting out today I think they would struggle to make the same impact.
As the album documents the breakup of a relationship the 'smile' is probably the same sweet one girls often produce to soften the blow before announcing the bad news that they're leaving.
Friday 15 November 2013
That's what it says on the faded sign anyway. In reality I wonder how long this place can keep going
as pound shops, charity outlets, cheap discount supermarkets and a shrinking number of visitors mean that profits must be slim and new ways of earning money are increasingly limited for the shrewd entrepreneur. I found myself wondering what a modern stall holder looked like and was surprised by the answer. A good link here. Well worth watching both videos inside. The Billy Connolly video has some great archive footage at the start filmed in the streets around the market.
When you watch the news about the continued growth and investment in the nations capital and big banking sector its like messages from a different planet as in many parts of the UK, in its cities and towns, its always been austerity Britain.
A tranquil scene on the nearby River Clyde looking across the water at the Glasgow Central Mosque.
Built in 1983 on a four acre site this view could be anywhere in the world. Who needs the Taj Mahal
when you have autumn reflections as good as this on your doorstep in leafy Glasgow?
Weird creatures settle on buildings.
Symbols appear. Be they signs of good or evil?
The speculation involving the true identity of this notorious uncaught serial killer at the end of this link is interesting.
If the Barras were the place to visit for cheap bargains then Paddy's market was another level down again. In its heyday this was yet another treasure trove for my father to explore on a Sunday with a reluctant me in tow. Call me a snob but I disliked it intensely as the less perishable goods for sale were often just placed along the walls of the lane in the pouring rain if the tables were full. I remember being mortified when my dad, who was unemployed at that point after the factory he worked in closed down, bought a coat which had been placed flat on the ground and had acquired a few lumps of dog dirt on it thanks to a stray mutt with loose bowels. He haggled a bit and got it even cheaper due to this fact. 'That's nothing. It will wash off.' he explained when I complained.' Got a real bargain there.'
He had to wash it in the river then wring it out by hand, placing it in a bag before carrying it onto the bus. On the up side, with the money he saved on the coat, I did get a bike for Christmas. From the Barras of course. A bargain!
Wednesday 6 November 2013
http://www.perthshire.co.uk/index.asp?pg=356 Good link to the Great Moor of Rannoch and what it contains here.
One thing I didn't know about this place was that it was the home of Donald Duck and also, his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie plus old Scrooge McDuck himself. Rannoch moor is Dismal Downs in the Disney cartoons!
You couldn't make it up! It was also the setting for part of Robert Louis Stevenson's much loved novel 'Kidnapped'.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clan_McDuck Bizarre. In the words of Sir Michael Caine." Not a lot of people know that." An actor incidentally who also has played Scrooge.
Not a hard days hill walk though at around 4 to 5 hours, around 14 km in distance, with a good path up to the summit. You could also do it from the west if you like more of a challenge.
A great day out and a cracking hill walk. Save it for a clear day.
Few modern pop videos can claim to be haunting, beautiful, poetic, hypnotic and exquisite, all at the same time but this is one. Filmed around the stunning Lake Ioannina (Pamvotis) in northern Greece which lies at an elevation of 470 metres or one and a half thousand feet high this song is a musical interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe's classic poem 'The Lake'.
If you like this artist I can highly recommend the album 'I am a Bird Now.' Released in 2005. A mercury music prize winner and one of the most extraordinary CDs of the last twenty years featuring fantastic arrangements of piano, saxophone, violin and cello around the themes of transformation and duality. Best watched full screen. A fan video and an excellent one. Some of these are better than the expensive official variety I often find. Crafted with real love and devotion over a longer period of time.