Saturday 22 May 2021

Victoria Park..... at its best in May.

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Mid May is definitely the best time to explore the Scottish Parks for the range of colours, especially to see bluebells, azaleas, and rhododendrons at their best. Last week I met up with Anne and Belinda to wander round a couple of the best ones. This is the Victoria Park Fossil Grove quarry area, above, yet two months ago it looked very bare and barren. Hardly anything growing here. 

Amazing the difference sun and warmth makes to any landscape. Covid 19 has not really made a major impact on me so far as I do not travel abroad now, have little inclination to go retail shopping or eat out in restaurants, go to movies, sporting events etc... so this is my best free treat right here. I am a modest hedonist in that I like to pleasure my senses if possible... but for me that can easily be done on a budget or for nothing at all.

 A beautiful sunny day, blue skies above- fantastic tropical landscapes... and always a short car or bus ride away.

 In mid May the UK is hard to beat for colour and variety. Bluebell hollow here.

 A red tree.

 A back woods realm of nature's perfume and pleasure garden.

Coot with young chick. 

Two chicks for this one.

A feast for the senses. Nature therapy... although I hate that throwaway term used almost daily during the last year.... like you require to be led there by qualified instructors to find it. All you have to do is look at your surroundings. What other planet in the known universe is a match for this one?

A sunny day is all I need to be happy and content and we have had a fine run of them recently.

Does it get any better than this? Glasgow's notorious  'Urban Jungle.'

I provided lunch for our trio. This chef had zero complaints I'm pleased to report. Six each of these per person.

Orange duck pate, some butter, salt, black pepper, cherry tomatoes on crackers then strawberries and cream to follow. A study in red.

The glory of Spring in a northern city.

 The simple but profound miracle of new leaves appearing every year. A joy in itself. The finest present ever unwrapped.

 Imagine a landscape without trees.... 

... without dappled shade... or colour...

A bench. The tulip garden.

Magnolia flowers in May add an exotic touch.

A colour splurge. 'Happy colours' a social experiment easily proved years ago. Certain colours lift the mood instantly.

Visual hedonism. Every single Spring is my 'summer of love.' Forever and always.

The pond.

 The Fossil Grove building.

Personally and truthfully, I rarely feel the need to go abroad these days, as thanks to Victorian plant collectors, the world's exotic species come here to me instead. And... with a good reliable weather forecast... sunny days and clear blue skies are usually a given fact, even in Scotland. What more could you ask.

 We do live on a planet of exceptional wonders. A green and blue fertile ball surrounded by a million miles of terrifying darkness, dust, barren rocks, gas and ice. If we mess it up through our own stupidity and greed there is no escape plan for us. So never take any current riches or life giving abundance on our floating orb for granted... it will survive for many eons yet, with new forms of life evolving on its renewable skin as the universe above spins on ... once free of our disturbing pestilence that is...the unknown birth of future creatures rising, falling and howling from countless swamps, caves and jungles from beginning to eventual extinction.....we, on the other hand, might not be there for that. Just one more dinosaur skeleton species from the ancient past of Earth to add to the other 90 percent of all life that once existed yet now no more. But maybe that's all part of nature's great plan as well. Who knows. Once a Goldilocks planet- always a Goldilocks planet. Our homely third rock from the sun. And that thought makes me happy.


Monday 10 May 2021

The Shire. My Life within a fairy tale. A story of priviledge, inclination, and luck.


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I used this photo a few posts ago of where I grew up in Nitshill. It started off a nice well kept scheme/estate then over the years went slowly downhill. I was lucky in that I grew up in the 1960s when it was still good ( this photo was taken early 1980s, 'the thatcher years' of heavy industry collapse and mass unemployment in many northern towns and cities.) I recently bought a book about Glasgow scheme life called Shuggie Bain, I haven't read it yet as it probably depicts an all too familiar tale of poverty, slum life, alcohol and misery. Been there- done that.

Luckily for me I only had to walk five minutes from my front door and I crossed into another world entirely. The magical lands of 'The Shire.' It was a transformation every bit as impressive as Dorothy and Toto going from drab flat dusty Kansas into vibrant bright Oz... or stepping through and out of a certain tricky wardrobe into a mysterious land... or disappearing into the sunken depths of Mythago Wood... or Anodos crossing the invisible border into  Phantastes from 1858, a less well known book nowadays perhaps yet one that heavily inspired (along with the darker dreamlike companion novel Lilith) later fantasy/folklore offerings  such as  The Lord of the Rings. Narnia and the Alice books. "Know your beginnings." Novalis.

Goodbye gangs and poverty- hello adventure and colour....

 Imagine you had all this across the road from you. Wouldn't you go there instead? So I did. I willingly stepped straight into fairy land... and some might say....I've been there ever since.

 It was and is a wonderful place and just like the 1960s and 1970s books I've been re- reading and rediscovering again during our long year of Covid 19 I love them all and I enjoy and marvel at this incredibly varied landscape still... and always will.  And it's made a nice change from crime/detective novels which seem to dominate modern books. Above and below- The back lands around Barrhead and Neilston.

 Each and every spring, summer, and autumn we escaped into this magical kingdom of rolling drumlins, small woods, streams, meadows, gentle escarpments, and ponds. I've still never found/seen anything like this landscape elsewhere in Scotland but it does remind me of many English uplands and small grassy hill ranges down there. The Cotswold Escarpment, North and South Downs, Chilterns, Malvern Hills and many more. The wondrous realm of fairies and sunshine I wandered into long, long ago. The first religion.

 This is one. Direct origins perhaps?

and does this classic damselfly pose not bear an uncanny resemblance to the human heart motif we have used for many centuries? I wonder which one inspired the other?

 30 minutes walk in another direction took us to here. More wonders. Rouken Glen Park.

 One of several waterfalls in 'The Shire.'

 Further afield, a bike ride away, other lands awaited. Funnily enough, given all this on the doorstep, relatively few teenagers from the various estates ( Nitshill Priesthill, Pollok, Arden ) were drawn to wander here so we had this golden land  mostly to ourselves. Yet another wonder of the age.

A buzzard above... as our spirit guide.

Round every corner great new views spurred us on to explore further. I would have gone myself and sometimes did but my luck held and I often had two or three same aged friends to travel with. " Those happy carefree days of childhood that may never come again" as someone once said...

Walking or cycling it's a fantastic landscape but with few lay bys for cars in this area, train or bus travel gives extra scope to explore and an OS landranger map offers visitors a unique experience in the modern era. Hopeful solitude for efforts undertaken. Nowadays you can take public transport into Faerie land. Train or bus to Barrhead, Patterton or Neilston

Kilmacolm view.  I had several other posts prepared before this one but they were all recent local walks without much inspiration in them- my muse missing in action.... until I discovered two old folders labelled 'The Shire.' Simon and Jaelithe country. Harlequin and Colombina reborn.


Bluebell woods.

 Strange things can occur here... I still have no idea what these creatures are?

Cows and ridges. Misty morning.

 An inviting network of minor roads, perfect for cycling but tough on the legs with all the ups and downs involved. Made even more poignant when I realise that I may never have the strength and energy again to do a large circuit like this one on the bike as old age catches up with me. Unless electric bikes come down in price or I come into some spare money.

'The fairest of a thousand shires.' The summit view from Duncarnock, above.

Castle Semple Loch.

Who needs Disneyland and the Mouse House when you have nature as characters.

 Hungry geese tuck into a breakfast of grass. I prefer cornflakes myself.

After a bare drab northern winter you have the pure lush joy of summer to look forward to again. At least for a few months.

 Hedgerows bursting with wild flowers and colour. Meadowsweet and rose bay willow herb here.

 Each new path a twisting delight of colour and buzzing bees. The steady background hum of high summer in head high vegetation. The Red Queen's maze to draw you in.

 My favourite small dam but just one of many in this area. Dozens to chose from.  And, as of old, in each deep pool, a tiny spirit resides.

Great crested grebe and juvenile.

Necklace of ponds.

 An emerald kingdom.

 'Somewhere down the reedy river.'  A visual  invitation to explore I could never refuse. Howwood and the Black Cart Water

A wagtail.

 The Barrhead Dams.  One mile from my house.  How could any youngster refuse all this?       Treasures of the mind.

To be continued...

For a further enhancement/ treat look up on You Tube.     The Mummers Dance. The Secret Garden.    Five minutes of full screen visual riches with surprisingly pagan overtones/origins for a children's film. Enjoy.