Thursday 24 May 2018

Glasgow. Metropolis and Hills Beyond. Snowfall. Colleges and Universities Gallery. Part One.

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
A gallery from March 2018 taken just after heavy snow falls in the city with many main roads closed, most traffic at a standstill, and people opting to leave their cars stuck at home to walk to the shops as many side roads and retail parks had up to four foot of snow, lying in drifts, covering them.
Opting to leave my car at home myself, in case I got stuck or had a slide/ traffic accident on ice/snow covered roads as soon as the public transport came back on and I had a free day I took a bus over to the south side of Glasgow to visit Queen's Park. This is a view from the flagpole summit towards Castlemilk. Most of Glasgow and many of the city parks are built over drumlins, small hills a few hundred foot high resembling an upturned egg box carton containing 50 or so eggs with a city built over it.
As a result many of Glasgow's Parks have outstanding views... and great sledging hills ...which was one reason for coming here with a friend. It wouldn't look very cool for adults without children to enjoy sledging on their own so I had a cunning plan B which involved two rolled up DIY flexible sledges which would easily fit into a rucksack and stay hidden but could be  pulled out and used when required.
I have not lost my inner child altogether and managed to find quieter, steeper slopes where no one could see us in action.
Surprisingly long descents followed from summit flagpole to the bottom and great speed was achieved at times on what was basically two strips of tough plastic and old shower curtains with no brakes. Must have been close to a couple of hundred foot of descent or more and a long walk back up again so only a couple of runs before we packed in. Good fun though.
This is the popular area of the park with families having fun- needless to say it wasn't down here we carried out our furtive runs as swerving and stopping once started proved problematic. It was also far too flat here for adults used to proper mountain sports in the past. I'm not going to put my greater ranges bottom on anything slippy unless I'm travelling at a suitably decent velocity to impress onlookers.  I have some pride!
The other main reason for the trip was to capture some great photos of the city and the different feeling that snow brings to any place and transforms it. Billy Connolly mural here. Three of these large gable end wall murals of B.C. adorn the city centre. This is the last of the trio to be on the blog.
It's funny that people will travel halfway round the world to sleep in ice hotels for the novelty value alone but no takers here for a fresh air pint outside, served on a snow covered table and chairs.
The nature of murals is that they are temporary projects which usually have a shelf life and this spectacular example is showing signs it will not last forever at low level. Shame, as it is a cracking example of good popular art in the city.
The front of the pub after winter snows. Tables arranged outside during below freezing temperatures seemed a tad optimistic to me but smokers are well used to being punished outdoors I suppose since the indoor smoking ban was introduced.
Glasgow Green with a DIY version of an ice hotel. As the Clutha bar is a five minute walk away it has full facilities.  i.e. food and drink nearby. Soon have the roof on this igloo then it's open for tourists.
The main reason for the trip however was to take interesting photos of the 'city in a bowl', surrounded by a wall of snow covered cliffs. Being March and freezing weather the air quality, visibility and snowy backdrop all combined to make great unique images of the metropolis I call home.. That and an excellent photographer in the right place at the right time. Yes, that'll be me folks :o)
It's not just random snaps I take either...oh no.... I do wait patiently for all the right elements to come together. Not enough gulls in this one and flying in the wrong direction. i.e. out of the photo.
A short time later, a slightly different angle, a touch of 'magical thinking,' i.e. some tasty bread thrown down... and all the stars align. Cliffs still in shade... lead gull in sunlight... buildings in focus and pin sharp capture. A happy moment for me. I may be crap at it compared to a paid professional who has to master a wide range of techniques and different equipment but I take it seriously enough as I hobby. And being a hobby, without any time pressures, deadlines to meet, parameters to fit inside, or rules to follow other than my own I still get to enjoy it.
Slightly different lighting effects here and the bold straight lines of the City of Glasgow College. Although Glasgow has three separate universities it also boasts a number of mega colleges, old independent institutions in different parts of the city/ other outlying districts and towns, that have grouped together as several separate buildings in different locations under one umbrella college group name. You can see two of them here, one up on the hill, and one down at the River Clyde. Under a mile apart in this case-both newly constructed buildings. Judging by the sheer numbers of purpose built student accommodation to go with it constructed in recent years within this particular metropolis Glasgow must be one of the top teaching cities in the UK. For this level of investment over the last decade it must also be very profitable I'd imagine. Swapping an industrial past for technology and knowledge based industries. Or maybe it's just because old buildings don't get very reliable Wifi signals with thicker walls and ceilings and the city has to compete with many other continuously advancing structures elsewhere around the world so is forced to modernize from the outdated buildings to attract new students? For me its the changes to the skyline that impress me most. Every couple of years a different look- a new building springing up. Mostly replaced hospitals, schools, colleges, universities and upmarket estates/ upscale apartments making use of newly vacated classic old properties. As in Donaldson's School through in Edinburgh a few posts ago or the gleaming glass towers of Quartermile in the same city cleverly morphing into the guts of a still standing old hospital like something from a Dr Who script..
City of Glasgow College by the river. This is where the nautical department resides, training individuals that could end up working in shipping all over the world, hence the emergency life-craft boat launcher to practice escape drills on.
One of the western side of the Campsie Fells and the rounded lump of Dumgoyne.
The modern 'Dragon's Breath.' Sunlight hitting the windows of the Scottish Power building that supplies our energy needs so quite appropriate really. Along with the City of Glasgow College two of the biggest large scale additions to the skyline view.
Well seen in this distance photo of the city centre.
And one of St Enoch's glass roofed shopping centre, George Square, and the Campsies behind from Queen's Park.

Part of Glasgow's East End district. The Royal Infirmary, Royston and Dennistoun.
One of the rolling streets of Glasgow's city centre district with red sandstone tenements climbing over a drumlin.
And another street in Partick a few miles away. We also have flat level streets in the city but a fair number look like this. Think San Francisco - Glasgow style.
The University of Glasgow with the western edge of the Scottish Highlands behind. No surprise they have well established walking and climbing clubs here with mountains on the doorstep.
A more distant view. Slightly different direction.
Sunset hits the towers and spires around George Square.
A cracking day and night out. Thank you mystery companion :)

The late Alex Harvey was a Glasgow legend famed for his love of showmanship. musical theatre, encyclopedic knowledge of old songs and comic books. He combined all these elements together in the early 1970s to create a rock band that evolved like no other. As seen here.

Wednesday 16 May 2018

For Gardens of Eden Everywhere.

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I was a winter baby. Born under grey skies, frost, fire,lightning, storms, and snow. But that was never my true nature. I'm mainly a creature of honey, sunlight and butterflies by instinct- split through with occasional shards of darkness, starlight and shadow. Only in 'Spring' did I come to know this though... my first 'Spring' spent truly alive....experiencing that torrent of joyful emotions during that early awakening into my own personal Garden of Eden. "Oh Yes! This will do me nicely," I thought. "This is me."
 I was still at the crawling stage then. A furtive rug rat escaped into the family garden from the gloom of the home. New smells, new colours, new under knee surfaces, new burning ball above and a porcelain dish sky filled with little flapping and buzzing things.
And then the fall.... dragged back inside to sit with Lucifer... garden denied me.
So it's a lifelong attraction that's never dimmed.
Gardens of Eden can be anywhere. A single splash of colour against a blue sky. A feeling inside you. A smile. Meeting a stranger who turns, usually unexpectedly, into a best friend over the years.
Or signs of new life in a pond.
.....or a nicely composed photograph, capturing a mallard duck just where you want it to be against a scenic backdrop. Even the quack bottled away in this one with an open beak. Victoria Park near Jordanhill in these photos.
My intention on this trip was simply to capture 'The Flourish' in Glasgow- that moment when the spring colours reach their zenith... vivid... spectacular... sensationally bright. The 'Flourish' only lasts a few short weeks- three weekends usually- so if poor weather or anything else interrupts a visit during what may effectively be six prime non working days in a year- it's easily missed.
A large thrush. Except for those with an internal body clock that is.
Courting pigeons. A strutting, head bobbing male in action. I've noticed over the years some ardent pigeon fanciers sometimes imitate these head bobbing and strutting dances in the street in human form to call flying birds home or attract new captives down into their roost when they think no ones looking. Maybe it does work. Positive thinking certainly gets you a long way. I've often thought this method could be used instead of dating sites for awkward first date meals or tricky conversations required  just a long row of pouting, strutting, foot slapping eager males and the females pick a winner. No fights to the death, teeth marks, or locking horns in the pigeon world. They've got it sussed.
Hoverfly and rhododendrons.
Cherry Blossom.
Interesting to note here that these swans have collected a discarded sign saying 'Save our Swans' for their nesting material. A good choice of advertisement. It states that swans are being poisoned by people feeding them mouldy bread they wouldn't eat themselves , unhealthy white bread (gives them rickets just like Victorian children) or other unsuitable or rancid materials chucked in to eat. So not so bird brained after all are they? And good recycling.
A sea of tulips in Victoria Park's oval garden.
Jungle Jangle- the much wilder and sprawling back woods. Can you spot a 'Tigger' yet children? They are often well camouflaged in this kind of environment.
Overview of the Oval.
The Daffodil Meadows.
Suburbia Dreaming in May.
A perfect combination.
And a mechanical crow with camera eyes to protect all this hard work and glory from 'Morlocks.' Any garden of Eden takes time, labour and skill to keep it looking that way so many. many thanks to Glasgow's Parks Department.

 And a bouncy upbeat number of equal colour and artistry to match. Heard this song a while ago. Catchy.

Saturday 12 May 2018

A Paisley Gallery. Town Mural Trail. Fountains. Waterfalls. A Muse Musing.

A gallery of Paisley's wonderful murals taken over the course of a year. Autumn Flowers in the town.
Gerry Rafferty. Paisley singer/songwriter. Part of a lane of murals in the town.
Jimi Hendrix. Simply star struck to be in beautiful Renfrewshire in the 2000s. This lane leads to The  Bungalow Bar, Paisley's live music venue (which has had a change of location over the years within the town) featuring up and coming new acts but also a place that has booked loads of well known bands and artists in their early starting out period.
Not too sure about Jimi or John Lennon ever appearing here though but the murals are great.
Singer Paolo Nutini, like Gerry Rafferty another home grown Paisley talent that rapidly gained international success. The actor Gerard Butler being another Paisley celebrity.....and Dr Who's David Tennant (born in Bathgate but grew up in Paisley)... and dozens more...a town punching well above fame percentage levels for population size. Was John Lennon a secret 'buddy' also, I wonder?'
Unusual and distinctive mural in a particular style which could well be another John Lennon mural in 1960s Yellow Submarine cartoon disguise at a guess, hence my very own conspiracy theory. The former Beatle was well known for spending holidays in Scotland visiting family up north in Durness. Did he father a secret child here as well perhaps when gallivanting about Paisley? It could be true! A wee Paisley boy or girl growing up unsuspected. The hidden clues in these ancient murals never lie.
Another unusual mural- this one very close to a Paisley tattoo parlour. So look out for a person wandering around the town with 'Lennon wiz ma Da' engraved on a bare arm or bum. Another blatant clue.
The 'Kingfisher' mural. No shortage of suitable spots in the town for this colourful little bird to rest with a river flowing through its heart.
The waterfalls beside the old mill, once a source of power for industry.
Which this woman would know all about.  Ellen Farmer.MBE. A former mill worker and town historian. This mural is also found in Brown's Lane near the town centre. Paisley has really taken murals to its heart over the last few years and this is just a small selection with projects still ongoing- many painted by well known Scottish street artists fast gaining a world wide reputation.
Paisley has always had beautiful listed buildings though... as seen here on the Russell Institute.
For its size, a large former cotton and textile town, it boasts an impressive range of architecture and sculptures which makes a visit here a worthwhile experience although it narrowly missed out on it's recent City of Culture bid... which in the end went to Hull.
A local smoothie and along with Buckfast Tonic Wine one of your five a day healthy options.  Paisley does have the usual post industrial social economic problems blighting many outlying urban areas throughout the UK where former wealth was more evenly spread across the entire nation in times past instead of being concentrated into one super city/ region- London and the South East,  but it also has a fantastic legacy and industrial heritage.
The recently restored fountain in a local Paisley park.
And back lit water jets sparkling against the sun.
The magnificent 'fountain of the oceans.'  Not many towns can boast an elaborate gem like this one.
An empty High Street shop front tells its own story but a colourful temporary solution to a common problem in this instance. I read an article today about a colony of albatross in the middle of the ocean on a tiny island being wiped out from swallowing plastic parts and feeding them to their chicks as food. I also read an intelligent and well informed comment attached to it.  (Hooray! a very rare event indeed for Yahoo News- the worrying future of information delivery service awaiting the masses once real paper investigative journalism is dead and gone) along the lines of..... 'No one cares about that- ...ordinary people too obsessed with consumerism, excessive worldwide profit margins via deliberate downward social engineering, increasing levels of self interest in individuals before common good, celebrity endorsements over sense, rampant greed and personal comfort placed above everything else... to worry about the future of the planet' which is very true in my book. A few do care but not enough to make a difference. Looking around the world today I do think the human race may be doomed, mainly through its own stupidity and lack of awareness or self denial of any problems until the last minute... and I'm not particularly smart... thick even...average grades in an average comprehensive school. Never set foot inside a university.... So if I think we're completely stuffed, just by studying the observable evidence available over a casual 60 years lifespan and short personal history on earth, looking back in a purely non academic manner at the last five decades and moving it forwards in a logical progression of habitat loss... well.... it's not a good sign. It could be fixed but it's probably too bitter and painful a pill for humanity or governments to ever swallow, involving complex and almost certainly deeply unpopular solutions which would only be taken as a last resort. This in a world where eight or nine individuals have more money and power than the poorest 50 percent of the population put together, a modern trend that's increasing. Rather than sit back and enjoy it though that combination of money and influence more often than not in the past has been used to change day to day reality for the rest of us and not always for the better.

 Despite a huge investment in universities and endless studying from birth to death just to get a decent job and keep us occupied, many folk in general actually seem to be getting less intelligent by the day/minute/hour/ decade... or willingly turning themselves into cyborgs via "indispensable" gadgets. Why would you put spy gadgets in your home for instance I wonder? Or buy expensive cars that are less secure than older models (according to some news reports.)That doesn't make much sense but it's happening and increasingly popular inventions apparently. ( I'm on here every week so I'm equally addicted as well to some things but I do remember a computer free past life before Pandora's Box took me over completely. It takes an addict to spot an addict.) Any qualms about the future are easily lulled with that current popular buzzword 'sustainability' when there's nothing remotely sustainable about any of it due to ever-increasing population demands on limited resources and no appetite by governments to curtail it in any significant way as the entire world economy is based around buying new products and a short life concept of throw away equipment and goods. Thanks to the internet and the five second attention span that goes with it... reading a longer paragraph, (like these two here... put in deliberately just to piss you off if you didn't skip them entirely :o) can be a struggle these days- finishing a proper old fashioned book... a herculean effort for many. Spelling all the words correctly in any given sentence online an almost impossible task these days seemingly even with a spell checker. Even if it's only three words long. ( read Yahoo News and related comments or almost any other internet provider message board to see what I mean. Probably text typed at work... in the dark.... from a tiny hidden smart phone held under a desk I'm now thinking,....hopefully :)

Although its supposed to be the 'age of the nerds' and an era of groundbreaking scientific discoveries we really celebrate stupidity as well side by far greater measure.. in so many different ways.

 More folk than ever seemingly believe we never made it to the moon... the Earth is flat, like a pancake... and so is the moon itself presumably... aliens have taken over the planet in positions of power... and we are all living in a highly advanced computer simulation... ( that last one may well be the real deal, validating the others- we can only hope that is the case for our sake and the planet's recovery. Much easier to reboot from scratch than repair any damage done to the old model.  Especially if it ain't really real- ...  flat or otherwise.

300 years ago they regularly churned out thousand page books in gloomy rooms which became best sellers and established many of the classics we know today and also composed book length poems where every verse and line was studied and analyzed. Starved of any education many miners, ordinary workers and field hands taught themselves to think and wonder by flickering candlelight in draughty hovels, reading after work and on Sundays, page by steady page gaining hard won knowledge about the world around them beyond the next valley. Now, ironically, with a universe of knowledge and information at the click of a button its mental overload time and the vast majority default into trivial pursuits, increasingly conditioned to live a life indoors,  as that's also a part of human nature. Even if you have everything... it's never enough.... or far too much in this case.
St Mirin.  The patron saint of Paisley.
St Mirren football team, a mural depicting winning the Scottish Cup. Note the different spelling.
The well known decorated lions of Paisley.
As well as the murals you can look out for these ceramic animals dotted around the town.
A much older lion in Paisley museum. Paisley folk are often called 'buddies.'  This is 'Buddy' the circus lion. He's stuffed as well. Supposedly, the origin of 'buddies' came from local slang pronouncing  'bodies' as in  "OMG!  nae-bodies in the pub" . i.e. its empty. Nae buddies in the pub.
Robert Burns statue. Fountain Gardens park. Where the fountain resides.
Back to back queens here. Victoria and her unruly subjects. A typical Paisley lass in traditional attire for working in the mills. Clothes get stuck in the machines you know, very dangerous... so far safer to work away bare breasted.... like they did until the 1970s and safety guards came in. Millennials today would never believe the working conditions in previous decades :o).
Gable end mural next to students social club.
And a happy rooster. Although a fair collection more murals keep turning up so a good day out can be had exploring this town. The Museum and Art Gallery, Paisley Abbey and Town Hall, Coats Memorial Church, The old Cotton Mills, and the cobbled streets of the Hilltop Heritage Trail are all interesting highlights worth exploring.

And a beautiful visual wonderland to go with it. If this band and song had existed in 1960s swinging London instead of 1990s UK coastal resort Great Yarmouth they might well be much better known as this song and fan made video is up there with the best classics from any period of music. Often it's 'location location' as The Beatles, Oasis, Mr John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix et all would be proud to call this free flowing liquid guitar delight their own work. A genuine album highlight for any songwriter worthy of the name and not the only classic from this underrated band. Check out 'Heal' ( wildlife vid) and 'I Want To Touch You' (LP version) for further sonic guitar gems on You Tube. Fan made compilation art like this created with love, dedication and genuine feeling or understanding of the subject matter and lyrics is the definition of modern art  for me. You can keep your paint dribbles or a blank canvas with a few pastel lines on it that need expert explanations of what you are actually looking at no matter how high the prices soar. This is real treasure... for me at least and a song that grows on the listener as it progresses with the flowing beauty of an ocean wave. A timeless classic is only a classic if enough people know about it and this fully deserves to be up there on any music or radio playlist.