Sunday 23 January 2022

A Renfrew Promenade Walk. Clyde View Park Gallery. 2005 to 2022. Visible Changes.

                                                    ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.


As I'd not been over the River Clyde via the Renfrew Ferry for a couple of years I thought I'd take the opportunity to see what has changed in that time. 

The first surprise was a little DIY garden, constructed from throwaway objects, donated items, or discarded stuff on the banks left by people or high tides. 

 Fairy Garden and Trim Trail. Not only amusing for children but adults as well if you find a passing beetle for the slide. Things to do while ferry waiting.

 Not just thrown together either but done with skill, time and effort. Flotsam and Jetsam twins here.

Happy Lion table. Not something you see every day.

Something to look at while you wait for the ferry which is roughly every 10 to 15 minutes Mon to fri. 6:30am til 6:30 pm  and Sat and Sun 10:00am to 6:30pm. Except 12:00 to 12:30 which is skippers break for lunch. This is the old model from around ten years ago. Passenger/ cyclist only but with room for one ambulance.

 The modern Renfrew Ferry. No ambulance space required now so a lot smaller and lighter but probably more economical to run. This is the last ferry operating on the upper River Clyde. 50 to 100 years ago many different types of ferry crossed the river at various points in the city, linking workers to shipyards, factories, and busy docks. Govan, Finnieston and Erskine all had one.) This last remaining crossing has been threatened with closure several times but it is still an essential service and the easiest, fastest way for workers or visitors linking Braehead, Xscape, Renfrew, Paisley (or to reach parts of west Glasgow in reverse journey), travelling by public transport. £2:50 adult passenger one way- bikes free of charge.  Concessions £1:50.

 There is now a new section of walkway along the river from the Renfrew Ferry to Braehead whereas before there was always this missing section. This has now been filled in with new housing and a waterfront path. Up until the 1950s this river boasted a long line of metal cranes, as thick as any forest, lining both banks, with rows of completed or half built steel ships of every size and shape jostling for space, and a number of tall, smoke belching chimneys scattered here and there. Glasgow and this part of the River Clyde, in my memory of it then as a child, was a very dark city- any Victorian era tenements and buildings covered in 100 year old deposits of  soot and grime, river polluted and dead of life below yet thriving on the surface with humanity and activity of every kind. Boom and bust economy during recessions but before cheaper labour costs pulled work permanently overseas a river packed with ships from the city centre down to Gourock on one bank and running down to Clydebank and  Dumbarton on the other. The River Clyde responsible then for building one fifth of the world's ships and a huge chunk of it's railway locomotives as well. The City of Glasgow itself, at a  1930s-1960s high of one million residents, jam packed with shoppers every weekend, in an age before retail parks and new towns on the outskirts developed, pavements always black with pedestrians, and at night, in winter, a heaving mass of noisy starlings perched above, enjoying the warmth from all the street lights.

You can see that half forgotten age even today on the new promenade walk, which has to take several short detours inland to avoid old abandoned docks, slipways, and embankments.


I was pleased to see the housing here has a lot of variety to it, in a range of different styles as one of the mistakes Glasgow District Council made in building the massive 1950s council housing estates like Drumchapel, Castlemilk and Easterhouse, apart from the size of them, was the identical, depression inducing, sameness- long rows of three and four storey tenements, drab grey or light brown/pale orange in colour, stretching unbroken to the far horizon- prison block style- only with metal and concrete, often weather sheltered verandas, twice the length and depth of these small exposed ones. Every era it seems has its own pros and cons.



Another different style, no doubt reflected in the price range. No verandas here- or 'personal sun terrace.' as some estate agents like to label them.


My favourite ones in this vicinity with walk around spacious (and sheltered from rain) glass verandas,  river views included, but probably more expensive. No real gardens to speak of though so I'll stick where I am with back and front personal green sun plazas, trees and plants under my windows. Old slipway and dock in front.


 Which brings us neatly to Clyde View Park, seen here a couple of years after it opened in 2005. It was the first purpose built new park in the West of Scotland for many decades, laid out almost like a zen garden with a pond and fountain at one end of a postage stamp square then a small pebble lined stream bed flowing very gently, as it was flat, through the park to reach another fountain and pond at the other end. 


I was very impressed by it. When it was first created it was delightful in its brand new zen like perfection to detail. An artwork. The water gurgled softly over a Chelsea Flower Show type garden display on a mattress of clean bare pebbles. The whole route, pond to pond, was mostly vegetation free so you could follow and see the entire stream layout in great detail like a living map without any obstacles in the way. In spring/ early summer  the flat grass/ meadow area came to startling life with a carpet of truly gorgeous and glorious white clover serviced by dozens of fat, friendly bumble and honey bees. Hoverflies, butterflies, and wildflower strips dotted the edges of the stream and both ponds. Any trees were head high and for its size, a mere seven acres square, it seemed to pack a lot into it. To give you an idea of what I am taking about, scenery wise,  here's a good photo link to its opening/conception in 2005.



 These photos were taken a few years after that initial opening when vegetation had started to grow. Still beautiful to look at but no wildlife in sight, apart from insects, since the beginning and the original bare look of the ponds and stream starting to be obscured by greenery... as was the plan.

 Fast forward almost 20 years later to today and it appears as if the pond/ stream system has gone to seed somewhat, packed with bull rushes and brown winter vegetation with the original features, and water surface almost totally obscured. Could not tell if the fountain was broken, switched off, or working as I couldn't even see it. This overgrown jungle along the length of the stream and 20 foot of height added to all the trees nearby made the park seem much smaller somehow. I was disappointed with that aspect of it.

 Yet in another sense it was thriving. A moorhen here. One of a dozen spotted along with several ducks. Before, in the bare zen garden, there was not any place to hide from danger so no birds or mammals ever visited it, as far as I could see on visits. The reeds are so dense now that otters and water voles could easily be in there and you would never know the difference. 


So it's a catch 22 situation for me in many ways. A choked stream bed of boulders, above. An area where wild life is mostly hidden from view now but positively thriving.... yet visually and aesthetically unappealing to the eye as a human.... as you can't see very much... of anything.


 Same with both ponds. Better looking and rather enticing when it had clear, short edges of bare grass and fountains going, yet undeniably more attractive to wildlife now... when, as a human, you can't see much at all. :o)

 As a keen wildlife/ landscape/ nature photographer I prefer to see the subject in question as here on the Renfrew Ferry slipway. Pied Wagtail, Juvenile Black Headed Gull and twa dabbling ducks here.

 The view across the river showing another old slipway and pier. Dozens of these relics on both banks yet only one working shipyard left on the Upper Clyde- two if you include Port Glasgow.


An interesting day out. The walkway/cycletrack at Clyde View Park in Renfrew Village. I'm lucky in the sense that I have been here in this same area to observe all the different changes occurring over 20 years in this ever evolving small park. And I'm still enchanted by the 'miracle of the seasons' happening all around me.


Friday 14 January 2022

Adventure Is Where You Find It. A Local Ski Day.

                                           ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN

  A day of snowfall at low levels, during what has been so far, a very mild winter, was not to be overlooked so I immediately got out the cross country skis  and set off for a local glide and slide around the area. The Forth and Clyde Canal at Anniesland here, above. By using this normally green but now white corridor snaking through the north west corner of the city you can link up several parks/ green spaces/ quiet minor roads to make a satisfying walk or cross country ski route.

 I did not know how long the snow would last but assumed it would melt quickly so I wanted to take advantage of it as it freed up a large chunk of land normally out of bounds to the general public. Kilpatrick Hills here seen from Lincoln Avenue in Knightswood.

 The land in question being Knightswood Golf Course, normally busy with golfers and bouncing golf balls but under snow transformed into a new chunk of empty ground to go exploring in. And unlike the higher hills no uneven ground, boulders, holes, or tussocks to trip over or slow you down. Glasgow, and Edinburgh, sits at the same latitude as the frozen Hudson Bay in Canada, the lower wooded parts of Alaska, and is further north than both Moscow and Lake Baikal in Russia. Granted, they have a much colder climate than we have with the slender island of the UK warmed in winter by the Gulf Stream/ North Atlantic Drift and no part of it far from the influence of the sea. An amazing fact nevertheless that many people don't even think about in familiar old Britain with its usually temperate climate so better hope that wonderful Gulf Stream stays stable.  Dog walker on golf course here, above.

 Only when the wind brings weather from the Arctic North or from the East, across Siberia, do we get bitter spells of weather and this winter, so far, it has arrived from the South bringing much warmer air with it.

 I just enjoyed taking advantage of a brief cold spell, sliding over smooth flat ground normally out of bounds the rest of the year.

 Of course when we do get air from these places the temperature can drop alarmingly and I remember taking these photos when the River Clyde froze solid after several weeks of sub zero temperatures when it got down to minus 10 in Glasgow for over a week, and dropped to minus 20 in the Scottish Highlands. The Tuxedo Princess here, a floating car ferry turned into a nightclub, which dates this photo to the late 1980s as it was normally berthed in Newcastle before that, and returned back there, still used as a floating nightclub, popular with celebrities, until the early 2000s  Originally built in Dumbarton for ferry crossings from Stranraer in Scotland to Northern Ireland.

When I took these in the late 1980s  the River Clyde was solid right down to the Renfrew Ferry... in those days a much larger, heavier craft than the current one used this crossing so was able to act as an icebreaker in the river, carving an open corridor through the ice, bank to bank, with everything downstream cracking open as a result freeing the rest of the river which only had chunks of ice floating in it, moving gently downstream and aided in part by tidal salt water flowing up to remain unfrozen below that point. A memorable sight. A harsh winter for wildlife though.

On another occasion, March 2018, ( the infamous 'Beast from the East') we had a large dump of snow, even at low levels, like here, within the heart of  Glasgow City Centre bringing normally busy streets to a standstill and causing public transport to grind to a halt, albeit briefly.

 I took advantage of that time as well, catching a morning bus into the city centre, having a walk around then getting one of the last buses back out again  to my house on the outskirts before the snow got too deep for them to operate in.


In the city parks it was even deeper, allowing locals to build snow tunnels and igloos in six foot deep snow drifts.


This present fall was just enough to have fun with and in the city of one hundred hills... and many urban mountain ranges... ie the  various hi rise flat clusters...I had no need to fly away to Alaska, Canada, or Siberia to enjoy myself. I was already my imagination.... for a few hours at least.


There's something very inspiring about any tall structure standing in the landscape... be it jungle pyramid, lofty mountain range, huge trees... or in this case... skyscrapers. Always awe inspiring...

...and ascetically pleasing. This is a modern temple and these are the  stairs leading up to it. Hard to reach on old fashioned cross country skis though.


Once up there however it was flat again and any minor roads held enough snow to glide along happily. (or shuffle and slide in my case) 

From this higher location good views opened up over the district of Knightswood and the Kilpatrick Hills beyond.


Drumchapel tenements and the snowy hills behind...


Who needs to escape elsewhere when you have all this? Loganair plane landing at Glasgow airport with its distinctive tartan tail fin.

 By using this golf course (or the adjacent Wee Park running along beside the Garscadden Burn nearby if golf course is out of bounds again)...Knightswood Park, Trinley Brae, and the canal tow path, all fit together... and a good walk or ski under snow can be worked out of a few hours duration. Within an urban area yet mostly undertaken through green sections of pleasant land. Knightswood Cross and twin churches here, above, from another green hillside section.

Looking across at Trinley Brae and High Knightswood... where I was heading next.

The view from Trinley Brae towards Scotstoun and the hidden River Clyde...

Glasgow...Winter in North West


Radnor Park Flats in Clydebank.

Evening sunlight in Knightswood Park.

 'Carpe Diem'    as they say in Rome. The next day it melted and we are back to milder conditions.


Saturday 8 January 2022

Night Therapy. The Art in Darkness. A Gallery.

 Over the last few weeks the winter temperatures have been mild, which is handy indoors when you are trying to save fuel costs, but it has meant a long run of damp, grey, gloomy weather. I never get inspired or motivated to go out in wet, grey conditions in my free time so at this time of year, when it's dark so early, I go out at night instead or deliberately leave the house just when the sun is falling from the sky on this good flat earth. This is one of the benefits of living in a large city and I have been fortunate enough to have encountered and savoured so many during this long existence.

                                All photos click full screen

The time for vampires to stir and climb upwards... or foxes to rouse from sleep.


So, brushing the cobwebs, spiders, and layers of dust from my scarred broad shoulders I too began to stir and slither out from my hovel to experience the dying of the day.


And it is always a fine sunset when it does not burn the skin of a human being. A time of dreams.


This first night reminded me of old film noir movies set in the London fog of yesteryear. Very atmospheric.... yet seen by night, instead of being grey and dismal... all is now colour, shadows....


.....menace and mystery... (As these photos are constructed to fit my 17 inches by 10 inch screen (43 cm by 25cm) they are best viewed full screen in a darkened room to get the full effect.)


....and I've always loved night walking.The seaside town of  Gourock from Lyle Hill here... So many decades of different, exquisite, blood fresh driving under the old Rotherhithe Tunnel running deep beneath the River Thames , then walking back under it again a few days later via the pedestrian en-tranced  wormhole with 'Sarah' at night... living the life 1970s style... exploring UK wide city parks, streets, and interesting period districts/ old buildings, long demolished and forgotten now, in the free travel days of our youthfulness...


...and even now, from 16 to 70, I still get a kick out of walking or cycling at night... a misty evening here with visibility down to 40 feet or so...


perfect for night cycling...edgy and slightly dangerous...the ground beneath two slender wheels...



Despite poor distance visibility mist does help you see slightly better, close up....being white.... all white moving objects stand out in fact...


...while also adding a pleasurable layer of distortion....

 ...between the seen and the unseen. Like the gap between stars...

So I do enjoy wandering in Night Town...

... and always will...


It's also more of a challenge for photography....

pushing the limits of what a camera can and cannot capture...


and it also sharpens the senses...


tapping directly into our primitive superstitious past.... when humans... not that long ago... were both predator and prey... especially at night...

instinctively more alert... watching every single shadow... our race collective antenna  still brilliantly attuned to pick out any shapes that move... or hostile noise... wary of threat or sudden attack...


As I myself homed in on my chosen target of this evening... every sense tingling with mouth watering anticipation....

No hesitation allowed... straight in for the kill....

" Could I have a doner kebab please and a can of coke?"

Yes!  The mighty modern hunter tracks down his the shape of meat trapped on a revolving spear.... carefully sliced off in an age old carving ritual... in front of the hungry gathered local tribe.

The end.