Friday 20 May 2022

Glasgow's Recent Murals. Saving on Energy Bills.

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I noticed on a recent bus trip into town the mural wall along the Clydeside Expressway had several new murals I hadn't photographed before so that was a good enough excuse for a bike run to do just that.

 A good colourful climate change mural from a design by a 14 year old apparently.

 Looking along the Clydeside Expressway. As is always the case with humanity at large and its inherent instability great things were promised and expected at COP 26 in Glasgow in Oct/Nov 2021 but the focus of the world is easily distracted and the war in Ukraine, the food and fuel crisis etc etc.. means that it's inevitably just a fading memory that it ever happened at all. Life is like that. 

A row of politicians perhaps? I must admit I do get fed up at times with the vast assembly of talking heads on TV every week on various political programmes, (getting paid a great deal of money through their day jobs for voicing their opinions on anything and everything) while the vast majority of ordinary folk who actually go about quietly without any fuss and do all the stuff the country requires to keep functioning, (yet get paid a fraction of the ones who just talk for a living... or conduct a 'feasibility study' ...costing almost as much money as the actual work sometimes...before anything ever goes ahead.)... are mostly ignored and forgotten about. How did we end up with such a skewed society like that? Mind you, the last 30 years has accelerated the trend to elevate stupidity, mediocrity, and the warm blanket of superficial blandness descending on top of us... above all else. The 2006 film Idiocracy got it spot on and even predicted the rise of a Donald Trump type character as president... and first lady... who could yet make a comeback.

 Ocean mural. See it while you can... or it may yet come up to visit us....

 The lane at the back of the railway arches also has a wide range of murals.

Having read the book on this subject years ago I instantly guessed this was a reference to the famous story of Cleopatra dropping a large pearl, worth an entire ancient kingdom's economy, into a glass of wine then drinking it once dissolved to show Roman General Mark Antony that she could easily beat him in a competition to throw the most extravagant party ever. Presumably, up until that point he was winning the game. No idea what message this mural sends us today though.... as the world is so different now... less unfair...especially now that leveling up has taken place... Glad I captured this Cleopatra mural as it's now gone, replaced by something else instead.


 The last time I was down here, many months ago, also on a bike ride, this gated open area was closed off and security guarded... as some sort of big wigs party was taking place inside and the general public were not allowed in, unless invited.

 This time the gate was open so I took the opportunity to have a look inside.

 Some nice artwork. Wishful thinking though as it's rarely that warm in cloudy, windy Glasgow. Even today, mid May, it's too cold to sit outside without a thick jacket and hat on.

Pigeons Make Glasgow.

Face and birdlife.

 Elephant mural. Main arches.

 An older mural and a clever blend of Glasgow's shipbuilding industrial past with the city coat of arms story, as in a metal giant fish with a ring in its mouth.

 Giant face mural. Back lane.

 Yardworks mural.

 On a nearby back street around Yorkhill/Partick area I cycled across this district as the last time I was here new buildings were springing up to fill this once, house empty, long road corridor. Decades ago we used to park here to train on the railway wall during summer evenings, practicing rock climbing and toe and finger strengthening exercises on the near vertical but rugged sandstone embankment before the arrival of indoor climbing walls. A different age but a happy one... as we were young then as well.


Yet again though I discovered that most if not all of these blocks turned out to be student apartments.



If you put all the student flats currently in Glasgow into one group you could build a sizable new town out of them. Don't know how they managed to house them all years ago before these purpose built student flats arrived... or did they just stay in rented digs with ordinary families, in cheap hotels, guest houses, etc?

 Finally... Saving on energy bills. Probably not work with young children in a household who would be too active and restless to sit still for long in sleeping bags but as I mentioned in previous posts a cheap 3 season sleeping bag is one way to drastically reduce heating bills, usually available in some large supermarkets or discount stores. Under £30 last time I looked, mine was £15,  but with years of future use ahead you could save £100 of pounds on energy bills. I've not paid more than £40 for central heating during the winter months for the last five years yet stayed toasty warm in my sleeping bag of an evening, only putting the heating on for 30 mins or so morning and evening if it's sub zero outside just to keep the pipes from freezing during sustained severe weather periods although running the various household taps for 20 seconds every few hours also helps any ice from forming inside. Not a problem at all if it's above freezing or just an overnight mild frost. A cheap padded jacket and hat worn inside the bag also helps if it's really cold and can also be worn outside for general use. It was a mild winter last year so my heating was rarely on at all.  I could pay the heating bills if I wanted but I really do grudge giving them money for nothing as that's one place I can save money on... without much hardship on my part. Just a useful tip that may work for some.  That and a good box set TV collection plus paperback books and CDs for entertainment which you can usually pick up in local charity shops for a couple of quid every few weeks to make life more enjoyable. Frugal living doesn't mean you can't have treats.




Tuesday 10 May 2022

Largs. Gogo Water. Rigging Hill. Castle Hill Horseshoe.

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An unusual walk for me these days in that  A....I was up a hill....B...I was with my old hill-walking club friend John... and C ... I managed to get out of Glasgow for the first time in a long time. We went an hours drive away to the seaside town of Largs, which as you can see here, was overcast and murky when we arrived but the weather forecast promised blue skies and sunshine later.

 Largs is a popular and attractive town on the Clyde Coast with a fantastic backdrop of green hills behind it, which is where we were heading after parking the car on the seafront. The  walk starts here via a couple of nice local parks reached via May Street so appropriately named.

 The larger of the two back to back parks beside the bowling club and main road into town. 


We didn't have to visit these two parks but as it was the month of May and they would be looking at their best, flower wise, it was worth a slight detour to include them. John is a hill most of that breed.... he's not really into parks. "Where's the path into the hills then?" he asked, unamused by my photographic detour. "I've been led astray!"

The path into the hills follows the left bank of the Gogo Water, seen here, and any street leading uphill on the left bank will do. We took the one running past the old Largs Academy building, now demolished and replaced with low level modern housing, which led us up towards Flatt Farm on the OS Landranger map. Flatt Farm may sit level on its foundations but the track running past it is not. At the high point of the last houses you can either go steeply up this farm track leading straight into the hills, cutting out the wooded and very scenic Gogo Water gorge, or take the slower route down through this green sylvan valley. 

 We took the valley path down through the woods as it had been many years since either of us had visited it.

It was as beautiful as I remembered it with a wide thick carpet of wild garlic covering the ground between the trees.

 Dampness and shade is what they thrive on and the river, with it's many small waterfalls, and steep wooded slopes provides ideal growing conditions.

 Some of the best I've seen anywhere at this time of year. 

At this point I should mention we had John's new dog with us. I've never been all that keen on poodles when I've seen them on the street, thinking, maybe wrongly, that they were snappy and agitated little things but this dog changed my mind by being a complete delight. Calm, not scared of anything, with bags of playful energy and curiosity... despite being a very close match, size and colour wise, for the new born lambs bouncing around on the slopes above.


The beast in question locked securely in its prisoner transport device.


 One change I did note from earlier visits is this new path we were funneled up towards, rising diagonally halfway up the hillside between the high farm track and the now largely unfrequented path beside the stream. This is a nice path, seen here, but I also liked following the stream all the way up on previous trips, even though that lower path twisted and turned a lot more but had plenty of small tumbling waterfalls as compensation. This new track seems to replace that lower one beside the river with several new but small buildings noticeable between the end of the woods and Greeto Bridge. Some kind of small scale hyrdo scheme being our best guess but thankfully it's not that intrusive and does not spoil the surroundings much. 


We also noticed practically the entire open slopes of this small glen/valley on both sides had been recently planted with deciduous saplings supported by the usual wooden stakes and slim white protective tubes. Examples of this new urban lowland Central Belt forest is an increasingly visible presence nowadays on many walks. No sheep or lambs on the hills here until we reached Castle Hill so freedom for the young hound most of the way round.

New dog close up. Looks quite mournful here but it's not at all being bouncy and perky with a frankly disturbing and baffling meerkat habit of using any prone relaxing humans on lunch breaks as a high vantage point... our reclining knees, shoulders, and even heads convenient sitting posts to survey the surrounding landscape from. The Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci example of athletic scrambling/climbing then balancing poodles. Little need for a prehensile tail. Sharp claws I noted when it was my turn for a human/dog summit attempt.



Our horseshoe route across the now wide open moors took us past Greeto Bridge, seen here, then across the chasm ( deep narrow trench and waterfall) to Rigging Hill, 391 metres and Castle Hill. It's a great scenic circuit and brings you out directly above the town of Largs and the Firth of Clyde islands.


The Great Cumbrae to Largs ferry service arrives here as seen from Castle Hill. Note the walkers below on the path.



Trout fishery on surrounding slopes. The path down off Castle Hill is a joy, with a long flight of wooden stairs then sheep and lamb dotted grassy meadows, followed by scattered trees, yellow coconut scented flowering gorse bushes, and world class views. Blue skies and sunny weather had made an appearance by this time although distance views over the Firth of Clyde islands remained hazy.

 The new Largs school replacing the old Largs Academy.


Gorse bushes and grassy sward. Not too steep a descent so no crunching knees. Aging limbs not so keen on brutally steep, long descents these days so I didn't have to rest halfway down on this one at all.

A view of Largs and the Firth of Clyde.


The scenic hills around Largs. The path down Castle Hill took us out directly above the bowling green and local park I mentioned at the start then an easy stroll back to the car. 

 Kingfisher bench.

May in colour.



The scenic beauty of Largs.  Being a popular place for day-trippers it's probably better to arrive around 9:00am or 10:00am on a good day as parking spots along the coastal strip fill up quickly here although you can always find a discreet place in the quieter suburban back streets without parking beside someone's house or claiming their spot.

A very enjoyable day out and I wasn't as bad at hill walking as I thought I might be. Still fit and active. Evening meal of asparagus! pasta, turnip, curried mince, carrot and tomatoes. Deep fried avocado and kiwi fruit slices and three deep fried mars bars to follow as a sticky chocolate pudding treat. The healthy option of choice as recommended by my local food emporium booklet ' the rat and moving maggot guide to eating indoors on a very tight budget. 2022 government economy issue for testing times.' 

 To heat or eat... that is the question....sampled raw or covered in batter...


Sunday 1 May 2022

Meet Seredipity. A Life Long Friend Since Childhood.

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A more straightforward ordinary title for this post would be Knightswood Cross (seen above)  Dawsholm Park. Vet Centre, West of Scotland Science Park, Carinhill Woods,Westerton, Forth and Clyde Canal but that would be stripping it of any wonder and magic- just a boring list of places visited. And this walk... on this particular day... was nothing like that at all.


It started out fairly flat... in mood I mean.. with a walk around Dawsholm Park. This is a nice enough middle sized city park with a large south and west facing grass slope. It's quite a dark park usually as it's packed with mature large trees in the main and the only good distance views from it are from this open aspect meadow, looking over Anniesland, Knightswood, towards the hazy, on this day, Brownside Braes near Paisley. As you can see new trees have been planted here, and although I should be happy to see new trees growing anywhere this is the best open meadow in the entire park with the best distance views, which in 10 to 15 years time will disappear altogether if these saplings take over. Mind you I'll be past caring by that time. It's also where local families take their children to slide down this hill every winter when the snow arrives as it's steeper than it looks in the photo.

 Another view from the same Dawsholm Park sloping meadows that might well be covered up by trees for future visitors. I noticed a couple of years ago this also happened to another brilliant extensive viewpoint on the other side of Glasgow, widespread new tree planting covering nearly all of a bare grass slope that I'd only just discovered not far from King's Park and easily linked together to make a fine city walk. It turned out to be the old defunct King's Park Golf Course and I thoroughly enjoyed finding it and its stunning new views over the city. I went back a few years later after that initial discovery and was disgusted to find it new tree covered, 12 foot saplings already blocking the view and changing the whole wide open aspect of the place entirely. I really enjoy walking through woods, love trees, and with winter storms increasing in strength and toppling old ones we need new regeneration... but hopefully in well thought out locations. Not blocking long established views.


Ostensibly, I was in Dawsholm Park to see if I could find green parakeets. I spotted them here in the winter months with bare trees and snow on the ground, when I took this photo. Either they have moved location, been captured, or were just higher up in the trees feeding on buds and hidden from sight but I failed to spot them this time. It was just an excuse to motivate me into going outdoors anyway as I'm not one of these people that have a metronome setting inside... i.e... out every day for a set number of matter the weather... rain or shine... like a predictable clockwork toy. I'm much more of a grail quest sort of person. I usually need an end goal to focus on...or something different to inspire me. 


Once I.m motivated I'll easily do 10,000 steps without even noticing or counting them.... 20,000 or 30,000 to reach that distant golden hilltop... or whatever else it is that captures and holds my attention. I like colour, pristine blue cloudless skies above , and lush vibrant scenery around me. I'm a hedonist in the real sense of the word. Simple, mostly free, pleasures available to anyone- that never jade. Weather is not there to be tolerated or put up with but fully enjoyed. Fifteen years now since I've spent a day in dismal weather outdoors (in my free time) with a rain jacket on, except for an occasional shower between sunlit skies. Dawsholm Park I've visited dozens of times over the years so there was nothing new or unexpected there, and it was mainly green throughout... so my general mood was still flat and totally uninspired.

 And then.. all of a sudden... it happened... Serendipity slipped her hand in mine and took me to her magical realm... as she has so often since childhood. I entered a world of colour and magic. The wild River Kelvin above and my winning photograph of the week.


On an OS or Google map however I simply walked up the Switchback from Dawsholm Park then passed through a black pedestrian gate into what used to be the grounds of the old Garscube Estate. A grand multi roomed high turreted mansion house used to stand here on this lawn beside the River Kelvin ( demolished 1950s so now long gone, and almost completely forgotten) but you can still see a photo of it in this link, below. 

I've only been here once and didn't explore properly as time was cut short. I came back a year or so later, several times, and either the gate was shut or there was a sign up saying general public not allowed access ( although you can access it from the Maryhill Acre Road side, this is slightly inconvenient for me over at Anniesland on foot, meaning two buses or cycling round a good distance to get to that far side to start the walk.)

Anyway, the main point was this was a real novelty for me. A landscape in Glasgow, the size of a large city park, I'd never properly explored. That alone was a genuine miracle.

Miracle number two was a mid April visit, timed to perfection, by complete accident, to see this landscape at it's finest. In late Spring..... wandering along the network of paths that start just past the gate entrance and continue around the Vet Centre to eventually reach the river sitting in the shallow gorge below.

A path to really savour and move along at a snails pace, every remarkable inch stuffed full of scents and colour everywhere. ( I was thinking of visiting Glasgow's Botanic Gardens when leaving the house but I'm glad I did not and arrived here instead as I went there a week after this trip and it was just green, hardly any main decorative border flowers out at all yet.)

 By contrast the Garscube Estate grounds glowed with life and colour, birdsong, buzzing insects and wafting fragrance. Serendipity and I, like Adam and Eve, were entranced by our surroundings. I was completely alone, of course, on this trip... but it did not feel like that at all... entering nirvana is very addictive.... and comforting.


The estate now is owned by the University of Glasgow. Kelvin Campus.... with various low buildings dotted around this sculpted parkland setting but this just gives it added interest and appeal- like some 1960s utopian rolling suburbia of the very best kind, especially on a Wedgwood blue day like today. This is my religion.


Happy! And euphoric! In my own spectacular outdoor church once again! 

  In a sun drenched wonderland I've never walked through before.

 And as I say it was fairly extensive.

Mallard Ducks on the river.


Stone bridge over the River Kelvin, part of the original old estate, along with the now gone mansion house. Although I grew up in a council housing estate I also grew up, at the same time, in a grand estate like this one as Pollok was and still is one vast Capability Brown style sculptured landscape originally, many times larger than this one yet five minutes walk from my old doorstep. No wonder I had a happy childhood there... exploring substantial ruins, several castles, old buildings reclaimed by nature, and a water-world style theme park, only one without any tourists in it... all courtesy of Lord Darnley and Mary Queen of Scots, among others. 


Close up of bridge over the River Kelvin. The sight of numerous local dog walkers and a few sunbathing couples on the banks assured me it was no longer restricted to staff that worked there so I had free access to explore. ( I have cycled through the woods running parallel to Maryhill Road when using the higher River Kelvin pathway along the river bank from Acre to Balmore Road then returned through Maryhill Park and that eastern end of Dawsholm Park. Also a good walk or cycle.) but the rest of this estate was new territory.  


So good to get somewhere I've not been before.

a group of white daffodils.


Beautiful mature woodland yet also wide meadows and extensive views. A winning combination.


Period stairs and lawns still left in place around the old Garscube House estate.



A yellow poppy tree. That's what I'm calling it anyway. Cos in wonderland you do not need to know the name of everything... it just is... amazing and instant gratification. Later on I might look it up.


A happy man wandered back in a daze.


I had been to a magical place I had not walked through before... 

 Wonderful things had occurred... I never expected to see...


And that was enough...


Thanks to Serendipity I had found my grail quest, reached my golden hilltop... and that was enough.


Like any quest I still had a long weary road back to travel to the house but it was made shorter by the memory of riches you cannot hold in your hands. Riches and gemstones of the mind.

Over drumlin ridge crest, shadowed dell, and turquoise river valley this old knight stumbled on-wards....


until at last a golden path beckoned... Westerton Train Station. Bearsden.


pointing me homewards... Forth and Clyde canal. Yellow Marsh Marigolds leading the way.


The sheer beauty of tulips and a house and garden waiting for me. Thank you Serendipity. You saved me again... like so many times before.


A colourful post deserves an equally colourful meal. So the weary but happy green knight sits down to a dinner of fresh asparagus, pork,fried potatoes, egg and cherry tomatoes. Yum yum. A travellers meal.