Wednesday 30 March 2022

Wonderland. Spring and Early Summer Extravaganza.

                                                  ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN

 Whether we know it or not all things exist on Earth under the moving hands of a great clock.

 In every country, in every city, town, village, and hamlet the great clock ticks...

 ...It ticks us into life .... and it ticks us out... rich or poor alike...

Ancient cultures built monuments like The Henge and Egypt's Nilometer markers to better understand the workings of its moving mechanical hands.... they also constructed lasting stone monuments to the solar battery that powers all life on Earth... the sun. Each questing cluster of humanity in different scattered locations trying instinctively to get a few inches closer to that earliest worldwide all seeing god.... the original light giver in an age of true darkness and savagery. In our myriad towns and cities, from continent to continent, soaring churches, chapels, synagogues, mosques, pagan temples, and even skyscrapers prove we are still repeating a modern replica of that early upwards homage today. We also used that handy golden light pouring down to mark time on the ground with a upright stick casting it's own shadow to denote each passing hour. Countless generations later- science attempted to explain it in more detail, removing some of the mystery surrounding the concept of Demeter, Persephone, Hades, and Helios. and gave us individual timekeepers to wear on our wrists...calendars to hang on our walls... tiny replicas of that great, largely unseen, still ticking clock.

 Yet the wonder and sheer miracle of seeds planted in the ground coming into life at certain times of the year still remains and should never be taken for granted.

The first and greatest religion of all....that if more people still worshiped it...adored it... not just farmers...and revered it... truly treasured it.... as the all important life giver it surely is... we might just survive into the future...

 Even a dim understanding of what this gives us should be enough...yet humanity in particular... seems not only capable of enhancing and enriching existing beauty... but equally capable of destroying it.. and ultimately us... as well... 

 Our greatest paradox... is to somehow overcome.... our own cruel thoughtless nature...

Rubbish in the canal...from a throwaway culture.

 As a simple, mostly instinctive, life-form  myself  the visual wonder of  nature's gift... is often enough for me... beauty and colour combined... literally grown from wet soggy winter mud in this instance... is that not a superior form of alchemy?

 ... to be able to walk in the footsteps of Persephone when she reappears each Spring is a huge gift indeed...with the golden god Helios smiling down... more than enough for me to enjoy and take pleasure in... observing her glorious scented lawns...her servants.... the bees, other insects and butterflies, doing her bidding without question. Do they enjoy it? Do they feel the same euphoria as me at all this daily splendour around them each spring or are they just driven by instinct alone?

 ... to plant seeds and watch them grow at the correct time of year is still a seasonal miracle greater than any dark church or glimpse of saintly bones in a crypt for me personally...

... as is sampling the rich harvests of  Demeter.... a feast for eyes, soul and body....

and watching all other forms of life.... dance, hop, jump, crawl, or flutter around me... each with their own internal clock driving them on-wards... from birth to eventual death...

... and the powerful burst of hedonism of just being alive during Spring and early summer...' the rapture'

 ... by far my favourite time of year...

in this, the autumn of my own days... in this particular body....

 but with the magic of thousands of youthful travels... at this time of year...

 ...still enshrined in past memory...

...with hopefully... a few more yet to come...

 in the always delightful...

company of Persephone...


..............A cherished lifelong friend....and iridescent sparkling jewel...


This sums it all up perfectly...  and best watched full screen... enjoy.

Friday 11 March 2022

Metropolis. The Changing Face of Glasgow. Through The Rabbit Hole.

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The last time I took a trip into Glasgow City Centre, last autumn just past, I was on a bike and stayed mostly along the Clydeside Waterfront. As well as several major new building projects taking place there, mainly banks and hotels, I was shocked at how much graffiti there was along both walkways and slightly intimidated by crowds of non cuddly people gathered in that vicinity.

  Being an elderly dude now (and on a desirable expensive bike) I soon retreated to a more salubrious, quieter vicinity, one not frequented by sundry ruffians of ill demeanor and provocative clothing.

I'm normally not too bothered by graffiti on back streets or deserted/ abandoned areas but on this occasion it was a km long sprawl on both banks of the river and seemed completely at odds with the new buildings going up. It was a bit of a downer in other words. I was also soaking wet and chilled from several heavy thunderstorms on the cycle in. Numerous scaffolding and metal construction works made it feel dirty and chaotic rather than futuristic and optimistic so this time I avoided the Clydeside area altogether for the sunshine sparking pleasures of the West End. 


 The West End on this occasion being Anderston Train Station, seen here. Recent floods made it feel even more surreal than usual.


 Not only is Anderston an underground train station to start off with, it is also situated directly under the massive concrete supports of the Kingston Bridge and the M8 Motorway.

 An additional surprise was the unexpected sight/ delight of so much vivid colour in what is normally a grey concrete, often windy underpass. An art project leftover from the recent Cop 26. It set the tone for an interesting and enjoyable day. Through the rabbit hole indeed.


And I had my very own Alice with me in the shape of Anne, returned after a long absence.
 We had already enjoyed a beautiful train journey to get here so this was just the icing on the cake....


I picked Anderston Train Station to get off as it's usually quiet yet it leads directly up into futuristic paradise in the shape of The Anderston Centre Complex. (from a visual point of view anyway.)

  Built in the early 1970s and a major project of several hi rise apartment towers, elevated walkways, shops, offices and even underground levels running below the main block it was a real glimpse of the future. A brave new world. Or so it seemed.


Twenty years later however it was dilapidated and half empty, just too far west of the city centre shopping district to attract much footfall yet I always loved it. Still do. It almost didn't survive to reach the present day as one plan put forward was demolition then rebuild. Instead it was saved and refurbished and now at last it seems to have found its proper place.


Before it was isolated and forlorn but now Glasgow's rapidly expanding business and financial district is wrapping its arms around it and certainly on this sunny blue sky day it appeared perfectly in tune with its newer neighbours. A large office block worth billions to the city being built here in the distance.


55 Douglas Street. Right beside the 1970s Anderston Complex these three newcomers have all sprung up. The first brand new, the second, (black building) a Morgan Stanley Bank, and the third, the almost completed billion dollar money monster (with red crane). You can just see the older Pinnacle building above that in this photo and an Anderston Centre tower to the left.

Pros and cons. In this older distance shot of the financial district you can see the Anderston Centre towers plus the white Pinnacle building, far right, which had great unrestricted views across the city before the new bank arrived directly in front of it.


The Pinnacle Building on Waterloo Street, Refurbished yet still one of the most distinctive buildings around, only the uppermost flats retaining views south across the city in the direction you are looking at. Views back north still unimpeded as you can see.


One block across from that the Sentinel Building occurs. Multi coloured at night I seem to  remember. Around the same time as the Kingston Bridge/ M8 Motorway construction/ demolition of old slum tenements was going on in the 1950s and 1960s... Glasgow's city planners, influenced heavily by Le Corbusier's 'Radiant City' utopian concept of numerous high rise tower clusters adorning every city, proposed a complete demolition of Glasgow City Centre entirely, including  the iconic City Chambers building and everything else in the way of progress. In their place, on the flattened ground, would rise a totally modern city of concrete rectangular towers, like a mini New York. Thankfully this did not happen although the outskirts and the dozens of hi rise towers constructed there instead, now mostly gone again, hint at how that grim scenario might have played out had it occurred. Inconceivable now of course that anyone would propose wiping out what Prince Charles once named the finest Victorian built city centre district still remaining in the UK but the 1960s was a strange crazy age of smash the past and rebuild everything for the future mentality.


Completed in 1971 the Anderston Complex gives an inking of what that concrete city centre might have looked like, scaled up into larger proportions and covering a much wider area of the city. Even the Anderston Centre was supposed to cover a larger area on both sides of the M8 but was eventually scaled back to its present size.  

Instead we are getting a future Glasgow... one piece at a time. Part of the Barclays Bank Building complex at Tradeston.


The newly completed Barclays Bank.

 Clayton Hotel. Glasgow's New waterfront takes shape in 2022.

New waterfront buildings with several more to follow along the River Clyde.


Meanwhile, over at Pitt Street the Moda Living complex takes shape, sandwiched between the Dakota Hotel and the Novotel building.


Moda living project. Holland Street side of it comprising apartments, interior courtyards, elevated walkways, residents gym, hi rise tower, viewing platform, blah blah blah, etc. This is the Anderston Centre for the 2020s right here. Moda living has completed sites in other UK cities already following a similar design plan.

Same area of Holland Street. The old Pegasus House building gets a refurbishment turning it into another hotel. Most of the new buildings are either banks/offices, hotels or student flats, maybe as a way of future proofing the city centre shopping district, the largest in the UK outside of London yet with less residents maybe opting to live within all city centres, especially post pandemic/ work from home influence, and growing online shopping it is hampered by its central location with so many outskirt retail parks compared to 30 years ago. Students, office workers, hotel staying tourists, and newer young professional city residents are probably seen as vital to a continuous growing city if it is to stay relevant to modern youngsters and remain economically vibrant.

Met Tower. North Hanover Street. A new building with viewing deck for university students. Several more buildings are planned here along with a major facelift for Queen Street railway station, turning it more eco friendly. The Avenues project is another major city wide ongoing development, turning several major shopping streets and existing thoroughfares into more attractive, sylvan, pedestrian and bike friendly corridors with less emphasis on traffic. Could be good and forward thinking... could be bad... time will tell.


Maldron Hotel near Sauchiehall Street. By now were were getting severely discombobulated."I don't remember that being there?" said Anne/ Alice. "Curiouser and curiouser. Is that a brand new one or an old refurbished building?"

"I think its new." I replied.

The new Elgin Place on Bath Street. Student flats or residential accommodation on a site that used to hold an impressive mid 1800s Greek revival style A listed church that looked like a proper ancient temple with six large pillars and high ornate carved triangular pediment as a grand front entrance. Lying unloved and empty for decades or occasionally used as a nightclub until fire damaged and condemned early 2000s. Unlike the gleaming financial district this ultra modern high glass cube is the only new tall building on an otherwise lower period traditional stone tenement shopping street so it looks doubly impressive and yet completely out of place. Might have a roof terrace/ viewing platform for residents, which is an irritating new trend in modern buildings I can't gain access into. Wah!!!

 One West Regent Street I think. Modern tall glass next to period lower stone architecture. The dilemma facing most city planners is to blend them together somehow. As I say, by this time were were getting new building disorientated.


The Ink Building. Brand new but fits right into place beside the other rows of glass cubes here.

 Another view of the new office/bank building. The top level of this one has a viewing platform and a running track... as a perk of working there presumably.

 Argyle Street. Another new glass tower is born but not yet fully developed. Glasgow is currently undergoing a major construction boom by the looks of it.

Brand new student flats near Stow College. St George's Cross District.


More new student flats beside Buchanan Bus Station. I'd imagine there's excellent views from the higher flats in all these buildings so the Le Corbusier dream of storing people like wine bottles in a rack is still with us today in another form. Fine for young professional types, as was probably intended in the initial vision built by this architect in France... just not workable when groups of children live there, especially when they turn teenage and rebellious and form gangs- which happened with most of the older concrete deck access estates built in Glasgow and elsewhere.


University buildings. University of Strathclyde District.


Walking around Glasgow, with its numerous steep drumlins to negotiate if you walk directly north from the River Clyde as we did on this occasion is not for the fainthearted but provides great views. My damsel swooned badly when she turned the corner and spotted this one leading up to the City of Glasgow College. Between three different universities and an additional large college complex the size of a university Glasgow can definitely say it's a learning centre.

" This is the best way up to where we're going, honest."

"Yeah right! It just happens to be where you want to photograph as well doesn't it?."

"Well,  It is a new building tour we're doing."

Baird Street student district above Townhead. Yet another climb to get here. Better exercise than a hill day- a gentle stroll round our city. 10,000 steps keeps you healthy.

Boyce House. Student flats.

 A city filled with students methinks. 

And just above that new district, on the opposite side of the M8 motorway we found North Bridge, where the hi rise flats of Sighthill used to stand. Concrete towers now flattened and construction of a new estate going on.

 North Bridge. No more Le Corbusier dreams of living at soaring heights for the ordinary masses and a lower, more human scale estate development here instead..... and a new pedestrian bridge leading into the city centre being built as I type.

"I am shattered." Anne muttered  in rebellion. " Every time I go out with you it's a marathon and you walk my socks off!" How much more!

"Is that an Alice quote." I countered. "Doesn't count unless it's an Alice quote. Just as well you wore boots this time."

We did turn back though, saving Sighthill for another outing as it was an off limits zone anyway, still getting built behind mesh fences.


A grand day out in a modern Glasgow.

I thought so anyway.