Sunday 27 December 2015

A River Clyde Gallery. Fountains, Sculptures, Towns and Parks.

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During the long golden autumn just passed and an unexpected but welcome month of good dry weather and sunny days in October... or thereabouts I had time off to go a few cycle rides. This is a gallery from a circular tour around Clydebank, Glasgow, Renfrew and Paisley that took in a pleasant easy few hours. Rubber fenders ready to be used on a large boat. River Clyde near Partick.
Also popped into Intu, formally Xscape, just for a look, which has a climbing wall, indoor snow slopes and loads of food and coffee shops. Many more food outlets than when I remember being on the wall in here years ago, both here and at nearby Braehead, which must now have a food, drink or entertainment outlet to match the number of actual retail shops inside. Over the decades shopping malls seem to be  focused around eating and drinking as much as actual shopping these days. Given the sheer variety of fast food outlets on offer within every large shopping mall, (usually conveniently located next to a children's play area and seating. Trap the kids first; then get Mum and purse second. ) it's no surprise the UK has an obesity crisis. Spending a day shopping has never been to my tastes apart from a swift in and out occasionally to get something I really want but many of them like Braehead or close rival Silverburn in Pollok aim for a full family day out with access to cinemas, swings and other fairground style rides, food and drink, plus retail shopping all under one roof. Presumably, due to discount retailers undercutting and taking profits in conventional domestic sales of lower priced clothes, food and drink in the current climate.
A view down the River Clyde towards. Clydebank and West College.

As mentioned in my Glasgow and Firth of Clyde Guide books: Blah, blah.... and Blah, blah, blah, Part Two, a flat cycle track/ walkway runs from the Renfrew Ferry past Braehead out towards King George V Dock. This is the track and makes a pleasant stroll along the riverbank on foot or it can be extended as you can also walk the other way, downriver past the Renfrew Ferry on a similar but less popular track to the mouth of the Black Cart Water and panoramic views over a water based kingdom with the Clyde looking wide, wild and mysterious from this vantage point. A little modern park sits within Renfrew, just upstream from the ferry, down beside the river, called Clyde View Park.
Although small what makes this park special is it's design,with a man made river system running slowly through it with deep pools, jets and water features, reed beds and statues. For its size it packs a lot in and is a favourite of mine.
The reedy river.
Another deep pool.
A sculpture. Presumably the draftsmen that created the great ships on paper before a single rivet or metal plate stood upright.
A back elevation of this sculpture. Shipyards on the Glasgow (Scostoun) side.
View from Renfrew of Yoker and Clydebank.
Renfrew Town Hall.
Back view of the town hall tower. Just like the one in Disney land.
A view of Barclay Curle Crane on the river.
Amazing display of large golden flowers.
Robertson Park. Renfrew. Perfumed rose beds in full bloom. I also like to link up any parks and green spaces on an urban bike run or walk just for greater interest.
Park entrance. Another nice, slightly larger park.
I then paid a visit to Paisley's oldest park which contains a couple of notable monuments. This is the Robert Burns Statue.
Which is somewhat overshadowed by an even greater monument and one that has been fully restored after lying in ruins for years. "The Fountain of the Ocean" depicts the exotic wonders that the sailing ships must have brought back tales about onshore to astonish and delight landlubbers. Huge sea creatures armed with ivory daggers, large sea crocodiles swimming far from shore, swift strange birds and great white bears from the north. It still is a remarkable fountain today but in its prime it would have been astonishing to see these semi mythical creatures full size and in vivid colour in a water filled basin.
The complete fountain.
The story of its birth and eventual restoration. "Life needs some wonder in it to be worth living."

Wednesday 23 December 2015

A Paisley Christmas. River and Lights Gallery.

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I haven't felt Christmas at all this year until one moment. Normally I don't bother that much with Christmas until the last minute as I have that luxury, present wise, but the place I've been all month that feels the most like Christmas is definitely this town, above. Paisley. It didn't really inspire Christmas thoughts making up parcels or sending cards away as that was going through a set list.... it happened wandering round Paisley on an icy Sunday night just as the lights came on then completing the town trail in the dark, up and over the brae to the Coat's Observatory. That's when Christmas arrived for me. That special moment of sparkle to round off a great short walk.

As I lived a bus ride away, growing up, I used to come through here often and was always impressed by the range of Christmas lights and the unique features within this large town. For a start the White Cart Water pours through and over these falls before disappearing right under the town centre via a dark tunnel. In flood or when iced up these falls are impressive and set the backdrop to the mills, the Abbey and the massive Town Hall. Paisley has a long proud history and you can really get a feel of that wandering around the place with its ancient buildings, unfamiliar statues to Renfrewshire heroes, ( a certain William Wallace, among others) and spacious pedestrian areas. Free parking at weekends is available beside the falls and around the Abbey district. Well worth a visit and great for children.

You may have noticed I have taken to stamping my photos. Both Alex and myself have had several photos taken recently and passed off on other blogs as that author's own work so reluctantly I'm going to stamp mine from now on. As it's Christmas I might as well promote something and have fun with it as well. It's early days yet but future photos will have very discreet stamping, sometimes invisible to most viewers.
Paisley's lights are a wonder as they form several different groups, well spread out from each other along the river bank.
Some actually made me laugh and that is when the spirit of Christmas arrived inside me. Free parking, no presents to buy, a lovely Dickens themed walk around an ancient series of buildings and better than expected lighting effects. For years Glasgow's Christmas lights in George Square have been somewhat overshadowed and modernized by space sharing money spinners like an ice rink, flashing fairground rides and food stalls parked around them.
Here, in Paisley, there is a pleasing purity involved. Nothing else going on other than traditional style lights in a fantastic setting and families taking young children around the river front area to see them.
The three wise men. (The code just says "and a happy new year.")
The main street. Paisley.
Paisley Town Hall.
View across the river.
Santa in town.
Lights across the river.
Christmas Tree on Main Street.
Paisley Shopping District at night. Best time to visit for walking is between 3:30 and 6:30pm. Better to find a parking spot in daylight then wander round as the lights come on. £1 for 2 hours Mon to Fri. Sat Sun Free parking.
It pays to advertise....
Angels gather.
Well worth a visit. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Makes not a bad set of DIY Christmas Cards either.
Book link here.

And a Christmas treat to end on. Danny MacAskill in sunny Gran Canaria.

Monday 14 December 2015

At the World's End. December in Colour.

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Cards on the table time. I've never liked grey as a colour. It's ok for hanging mist shots, or certain cloud formations but in general I don't care for it much at all. Given a succession of dull grey days horizon to horizon over the past month I decided in advance to go out at night instead. Better for dusk and sunset shots. This is a gallery of bike rides, mostly setting off to coincide with sunset then riding back again in the dark. A crow above, flying past a Bellahouston Park sunset in Glasgow.
Cloud reflections. After a wet weekend I've noticed that the rain often stops as evening approaches, maybe because of cooler temperatures and less energy in the atmosphere. Rain storms all day then great sunsets as you need a sky still full of clouds for them. Bellahouston Park again.
My willing familiar and hi rise reflections. Same crow as first shot.
Hi Rise demolition, floor by floor. My crow beats a remote controlled drone as it can talk and think... after a fashion.
Sun Death. The Dragon's Egg.
As if by high weather magic my crow suddenly turns into a dragon.
Cycling through night town.
Great Western Road after a rainstorm. Main dual carriageway into Glasgow from the north west still passable with care.
Very close to being completely shut, which given the volume of traffic that normally travels along it, would grid lock the entire west side of the city if forced to use other roads.
A view in the other direction.
The Swan Pond. Glasgow Park.
Park puddles after rain storm.
Another flooded road. Street reflections.
Winter night cycling. Scary but fun if you watch out for sudden holes and ice.
Wet leaves on step.
Sunset Kingdom at the World's End.

 Here's one of the best short compilations I've seen on Scotland's Wildlife. Stunning footage of pine marten (seen here) owls, red deer, beaver, wood ants, water voles, etc etc... best watched full screen.