Sunday, 16 December 2018

The Far East Coast. The Birdlands.

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Sometimes you will go to a place and it just feels different- a bit special.
You can't put your finger  or mind on exactly what it is but something feels unusual.
Yet looking around everything appears normal and ordinary enough.
Now what could it be that makes it stand out?
Maybe the landscape?
Something in the air perhaps?
Or the surroundings?
Or out to sea?
Nope. Nothing there.

 Sometimes mysteries like this one just can't be solved.
Not a clue.
The same old ordinary surroundings.
Maybe in a film perhaps? Something by Hitchcock?
And then it's gone again. Ambiguous and intangible. Beyond reach.
Just ignore the feeling and maybe the strangeness will go away.
A pleasant river walk in bright sunshine will do the trick.
But it still keeps bugging you. What is it that's different? Think boy think!
Maybe a seat will help beside a group of long tailed tits in the trees above.
Nope, keep going down the river to the sea.
The grass seems nice and short here for some unknown reason.
Still, nothing comes to mind.
Beautiful river walk though leading down to the sea.
Can start to smell the beach now and even feel the waves. I'm very attuned to my surroundings at all times you know and pride myself on being hyper observant.
But I couldn't shake the impression that something very different made this place special.
but I'm buggered if I knew what it was. Why do I keep thinking of Tippy Hedren?... and Canada?... and fresh boiled eggs for dinner? No idea. Sometimes things just pop into your head with no clear explanation or apparent cause at all.
A lovely walk though , taken a while ago now.....just before poppy time.

After last weeks slightly downbeat post this is the most upbeat and catchy song I know. A French high tempo, high energy, electro swing number. A breath of fresh air in the music charts. If you don't like this you may be already dead :) Who says there's no great songs anymore? There's thousands of great new artists and acts if you only look for them. To suit all tastes. For some reason they just don't appear on television much these days where the same old faces and bland middle of the road acts tend to dominate proceedings, often lacking any truly catchy new material and melodies.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Neon Playground. Part Two. Glasgow Cross. University Lands. George Square Lights.

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The second half of my night time walk through Glasgow's city centre districts. The physical barrier between salt and freshwater upper tide limits for the River Clyde at Glasgow Green.
From this city park I headed up past the Barrowland Ballroom to the High Street, the original 12 street layout of Glasgow's beginnings on old maps. Some of Glasgow's oldest buildings are clustered here dating back to the 12th century. Tollbooth steeple above- constructed in the early 1600s.
Glasgow Cross and the (replica) Mercat Pole. Many of these old surviving structures, like the one at Prestonpans, were used as the town jail. Why build a big place for prisoners when a tiny, cramped stone box acted as a better deterrent? Same as today I mused, seeing this, when eight years of austerity cuts, endless council closures, selling off British assets to overseas interests and deliberately inflicting hardship and punishment on the general population at large have worked wonders for the economy- The UK growing two places from 7th to the 5th largest economy in the world during a so called recession. How can that be one wonders?  Well it happened last time as well funnily enough... and the time before that... and before that... Supposed to be to save money but the recent damming UN report on Universal Credit and benefit sanctions says otherwise- mainly a political choice and tool rather than a necessity. How can making families homeless then putting them up in B and Bs for months or even years save any money over time? Or employing highly educated bean counters from private companies on large salaries to make it all work when the old system was at least functioning semi efficiently already. (A bit like T.M.s "this is much worse than what you had before but take it anyway" Brexit deal. :o) Luckily, the good will of Joe and Jill public and volunteer food banks save people from actually starving in the streets in 2018. Freezing to death every winter for the hundreds of homeless on our streets is still a viable option though. Come to think of it that old design of a city jail from the bad old days is looking quite cosy now. At least its dry, warm and sheltered in there compared to where most of the modern unwanted sleep of an evening these days.  I suppose that passes for progress.
 Events like the yellow jacket protests in Paris however tell the politicians when the ordinary plebs have had enough of being stood on. Hats off to the French mind you, always better organized than apathetic us when it comes to meaningful protests over acts of perceived injustice.
The Mercat Building at Glasgow Cross.
The origins of Glasgow are quite murky. Many of the Tobacco Lords in the 18th century, when the city experienced a huge growth spurt, owed much of their enormous wealth to the slave trade, going to Africa to capture luckless natives there then transporting them by sailing ship, stacked in long rows, in dark holds, as human cargo, to eventually work as slave labour in the plantations of America and the West Indies. City centre streets like Jamaica Street, Tobago Street, Virginia Street etc give a big clue as to where the profits came from. London, Bristol, Liverpool, and Lancaster, did well out of it too, three being west facing ports and the other the biggest port in the UK, but Glasgow really owes it's existence as a major European city to that early leap ahead in wealth and status, setting it up nicely, ahead of most of the competition, to grab an extra big handful of the Industrial Revolution, dominating the markets in shipbuilding, steel production and locomotives for several generations afterwards. If they hadn't seized that early trade winds three week advantage over other ports, I would not be living in the 4th largest city in the UK today. ( 3rd largest according to Wiki but Leeds at 750,000 to Glasgow's 600,000- {down from over a million residents pre 1940s era{- would suggest otherwise.)
A range of stars had to fall into alignment for Britain to kick start its golden age of spectacular growth. The money in the first place to implement vast change, the right technology, abundant nearby coal fields in the right areas, transport networks and contact links to move goods easily and the drive and ambition to get things done, like deepening an entire river to create an inland port and convenient base in Glasgow's case. We would have been daft not to grab it with both hands as other European countries would have certainly snatched it for themselves, given the same opportunity.

Now known as the Gallery of Modern Art, this multi floor building was originally the private residence of a Glasgow tobacco lord, the billionaires of their day, most of them with plantations or investments in Jamaica, the other West Indies, or North America.
Maybe the golden mesh here and the railings at the back of this fine building quietly symbolize the sailing ship's rows of chains and groaning prisoners. Or maybe not..History is sometimes what you choose to remember and highlight as a society rather than the grim reality. Liverpool does have a Museum of Slavery, depicting it's part in the slave trade but Glasgow certainly doesn't publicize that connection very much. Mind you, 300 years before that they happily burned women and children in the Scottish streets and had family picnics around their charred remains...all with the blessing of the church and Mary Queen of Scots... and during the 16th to the 18th Century European white Christian villagers were extensively grabbed by the notorious Barbary Coast pirates who decimated fishing communities and small port towns to such an extent that people were very unwilling to live beside the sea anywhere from Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and southern UK waters. These too were part of a vast and thriving slave trade, sold and swapped as 'white gold' to the Ottoman Empire who also got very rich importing (white) slaves. So it's all relative I suppose. Basically, if you're at the very bottom of any society, in any way, throughout any period of history.... you are ******* :o)
There are rare exceptions of course, often held up as shining examples/carrots for the rest of the herd to take note and follow- graft really hard from lowly beginnings and this too could all be yours one day. Professional criminals meanwhile opt for an easier, hopefully quicker option but one with higher risks.

Compared to those past ages however we live in very lucky times, in a privileged and affluent western country... and the ones that do not have that stolen luxury and colonial derived wealth want to live here too- well, you would, wouldn't you?
 Moxy Hotel here. Collegelands. High Street. Certain universities and grand public buildings in Glasgow and other UK cities may have been partly funded by the slave trade but today a new university land is springing up anew.
Unlike the drab older buildings many of the new breed are very colourful. City of Glasgow College main building here. This district just to the east of George Square is an Aladdin's labyrinth of different caves of education..... right in the heart of the city.
With the University of Strathclyde, Caledonian University, and the massive City of Glasgow College plus various hi rise student flats all competing in the one area for modern slaves world wide.
Wage slaves that is- the next lucrative cattle drive to farm in any numbers. Grazing herds of these wandering souls can often be found here in classrooms, restaurants and bars. Like a modern game reserve in many ways. Farming young students must be fairly lucrative I'd imagine....with education and degrees as the prize.
Part of the University of Strathclyde.
Another part of Strathclyde's many buildings.An older one this time. Caledonian University lies further up this hill but on a flat section of ground. Built over many different drumlins Glasgow City Centre is either sloping up, or sloping down, or sometimes its almost level, usually on streets running west to east, across the city. This does make for good views however. Steeper hill streets run north to south generally, but not always.
And another section. A flat road. Hooray! West to East.
then down at last into George Square. The early scenes of mass panic in the film World War Z seen on TV recently were shot right here a few summers ago. Last time I was in to see the Christmas lights it was a bit energetic and noisy with a large spinning fairground ride and screaming teenagers on it. This year it's more sedate with a slow moving big wheel and quieter attractions and low music but it feels more like Christmas should be somehow and better for young children to see the lights and walk around without flashing distractions everywhere. Christmas should twinkle- not flash.  That's my take on it anyway.
City Chambers up close.
And a full view.
Royal Exchange Square. GoMA building again.
Diamond Dolls Nightclub, a different type of attraction... but not for me.
I prefer the solitude of Glasgow's back lanes and the perfect stillness of long ages past.
What wonders and times these alleyways have witnessed. Memories dripped into the stones, drop by precious drop.
Unchanged since the 1960s and long before that. Ageless and timeless portals.  A comforting thought.

And a fitting video to end with... as winter arrives. A love story for Christmas... but a very unusual one. Easily one of the most original and influential films of the last decade in that genre. Spawned loads of copycats, including a dire remake, but none as well executed, as moving, or as extraordinarily different in tone and concept, as this.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Neon Playground. Glasgow at Night. The Art of Darkness. Part One.

The phone call went like this- " Hi Anne, how do you fancy another night-walk? City illuminations and unusual places in the dark."
" Sorry, not a good time for me at the moment coming up to Christmas- too much to do. Where were you thinking of anyway?"
 I fancy Glasgow Green. Haven't been there much after dark. Might be good."
" You ARE nuts. Think I'll give it a miss for now."

So I went alone- and still had a great time.
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First stop was Central Station, seen here, with its massive clock tower. A new hotel had been built on the corner and I'd only seen it from a distance.
Sandwiched tightly into a fairly narrow gap between Oswald Street and the Central Station Bridge/underpass I was wondering how it would make an impact as it has the larger frontage Radisson Hotel next door and a half dozen others nearby to choose from.
They have obviously thought of that in the design plans however and have used colour to great effect here, turning it into a totally bright blue corner. And as folk who look at my blog regularly will already know or have guessed - I'm a big visual arts fan and bright colour junkie. Addicted to that,,,,, also sweet dripping honey from above, occasional moon howling, capturing the darkest of shadows at night by stealth and handling bright balls of sunshine during the day. Endlessly filling the jars and bottles in my locked cellar with special goodies like the happy little bee I am.
At this time of year when it can be dull, grey, misty and wet for weeks at a time in Scotland I really miss my colour fix and often switch to night time walks instead to top it up. This is where Glasgow can hold its own easily with Edinburgh. The east coast city has castles,volcanic outcrops, ancient streets, and a glorious Dickensian Jack the Ripper foggy feel at night whereas Glasgow is more brash, more modern, and a mini New York in some ways. Straight talking, honest, lively, and in your face. And it also has a large river snaking through its central core. Riverboat Casino here, above, on the River Clyde Waterfront.
Glasgow's Financial District is close by, seen here, but this time I decided to walk along the River Clyde upstream into Glasgow Green.
Traffic approaching the Broomielaw, heading into the City Centre.
Traffic on the busy Kingston Bridge with the white lit pedestrian bridge in the foreground.
Glasgow at night from the old red pedestrian bridge, leading into the vibrant heart of the city.
The waterfront view from Carlton Place. By this time I was thinking of some of the vivid art styles I'd seen and liked in various films and graphic games and how to replicate them with just a camera. Things like Nightcrawler, V for Vendetta, Let the Right One In, 71, The Art Deco BS trilogy, Sin City, Moonrise Kingdom, Tron:Legacy, etc etc...
So I started experimenting with different camera settings from pin sharp to blurry, to impressionist mode.
City of Glasgow College here and its lifeboat launcher used for training sea career students.
Deserted walkways. River Clyde embankment.
A fellow traveller in the night realm.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh Mural. Saltmarket District.
Glasgow's Central Mosque.
Glasgow Sheriff Court. One of Europe's busiest with a concrete surrounding dry moat 20 foot deep on the inside perimeter to stop the naughty prisoners and anyone else absconding, once inside.
The Great Arch. Entrance to Glasgow Green. A well known city park. I think its fair to say mainly locals frequent it at night so a new place for me to visit. No idea why Anne wanted to miss this out :o)
It was busier than I expected and I bumped into loads of people in the dark places walking their dogs, including a large white fighting hound with diamond studded ears that lit up and a huge black Rottweiler which had a red winking bulb attached to its collar as it bounced towards me with fixed intent, looming out of the shadows. Without that it would have been almost invisible. A great invention. Being December I took it as a happy omen and promptly christened it Rudolf. It was almost big enough to be a reindeer anyway. Good to see the recent trend for owning urban wolves is still alive and thriving.The bigger the better. They'll come complete with saddles next.
A view of the park. A rare open area of grasslands so close to the heart of Scotland's largest city.
One of the quiet roads dissecting this vast expanse. Empty at night apart from a few visitors going about their own business. I'd deliberately picked a time after heavy rainfall to get wet gleaming streets but it didn't rain once when I was out, preserving my proud record of ten years of outdoor walking in Scotland for the blog without a raindrop falling on me. Yes, you heard that right.:)
Very Scenic. Very Gothic. I was thinking of Vincent Van G and Don Mclean's Starry, Starry Night when I took this one.
A hazy impressionist one of the People's Palace.
The path leading to Nelson's Column.
Doulton Fountain at Night.
A Queen Vicky Moment.
Templeton's up close in December.
Doulton Fountain and Templeton's old Carpet Factory.
Barrowland Ballroom. Home to many great music acts over the years. To be continued.....

And here's a great, fun, cheery, upbeat, sunny song as a total contrast.
You may have heard part of this catchy modern classic in a recent advert. I like the walk-along, easy going vibe of this. A bit different from the normal.