Monday 28 August 2023

David Livingstone Centre and River Clyde Walk.

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  A trip out to the David Livingstone Centre, which is situated on the River Clyde near Low Blantyre and Bothwell. It is a very interesting museum dedicated to the life and travels of David Livingstone, Christian missionary, doctor and Africa explorer. He was born and grew up here, at that time, early 1800s, part of a collection of buildings belonging to a cotton mill and weaving tradition, usually trades situated beside plentiful fresh clean water.


As well as the museum there's also a gift shop, tearoom, toilets and surrounding grounds with various sculptures together with some lovely flower borders in seasonal splendour.


This is a selection of planted beds here.


Exotic Pink.

Rudbeckia or Black Eyed Susan.

 I've been in the museum before, around ten years ago, and apparently it has been modernized since then to include other exhibits. Nothing illustrates how dangerous travel in Africa could be however than this amazing centerpiece sculpture of David Livingstone getting badly mauled by a lion. 


From every angle there's a dynamic view of sudden unexpected attack. It didn't kill him but crushed one arm very badly in its powerful jaws before it was killed by other helpers, as shown. Surprisingly, according to the info board, famous film special effects artist Ray Harryhausen had a hand in its creation, modeling it in wax first, as he had a David Livingstone family connection, before sculptor Gareth Knowles turned it into this scaled up and very lifelike depiction.


 Lesser individuals might have given up then and gone home for good with only a mangled arm to show for his efforts but from the age of ten D.L. had worked long daily shifts in the nearby cotton mill as well as some school work so lying down was never an option for very long. It was only after this event occurred that he started exploring inland Africa and its great rivers, The Zambezi and the Nile, in earnest once it eventually healed to the point where he could continue.


There's a few other sculptures and art works dotted around the grounds and they are free to visit. Rather than use up a car park space within the museum grounds we parked in the lane outside. At the bottom of this lane is a pedestrian bridge across the River Clyde. This is where the walk starts.

 Pedestrian Bridge across the River Clyde. As soon as you cross this bridge turn left and follow a path through the woods downstream, which is narrow at first and can be slippy after rain, but soon opens out to become flat easy walking along this side of the river on a good wide path.


This kind of path.... but wider.


View from the foot bridge looking upstream.


Houses on the David Livingstone side of the river. Before the foot bridge was built a ferry used to be at this spot, carrying workers and locals across.


The wild River Clyde at Blantyre.

River Clyde Reflections. This riverside path takes you past Bothwell Castle ( usually a photogenic treat but currently surrounded by scaffolding and ugly metal fences. After three km the only other suspension footbridge takes you back across the river. At this point you can go several ways. Myself and Alan crossed over a wooden stile then a grass field to follow the river down this other bank. A beware of bull sign, loads of fresh cow pats, and unsighted corners made this field crossing slightly tricky and apprehensive but it was very scenic....


... almost magical in its serene calm.... as you can see from this photograph, above. And no bull to be stumbled across... which might have been less serene for us. Stopping here for lunch therefore we spotted a kingfisher and a tree-creeper. Both far too fleeting and fast for a photographer on a walk to capture but good nonetheless. Many years since I've seen a kingfisher close up. After lunch we continued to follow this bank across another green field before the trees closed in. Two more wooden stiles proved we were still on a faint trail beside the river but summer vegetation growth was waist to head high by this point so we cut up the slope near the old priory to find a better trail which led us out onto an open meadow filled with wild flowers and a larger track.


This is it here. Almost looks like flattened spoil heaps with a grey crushed powdery earth surface showing in places. Does not look at all like ordinary soil. As Blantyre in the past was a coal mining village this might well be the case. You can also reach this point via the other easier route following an obvious tarmac path from the second footbridge then a minor road left to arrive here. From this point several woodland trails take you back to the David Livingstone Museum.  Allow around 4 hours for walk at an easy pace. DLM around £6 to £8 each admission. Book online or pay at door. Limited parking in DLM lane for walk only or train stations at Low Blantyre or Uddingston.



Map of the world fountain. DLM.

Another good day out and an enjoyable river walk.


Thursday 17 August 2023

The Barras 2023 and some wall murals.

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A couple of weeks ago I was supposed to be meeting Alan at the Barras Market in the East End of Glasgow but being a Sunday I was late trying to catch a bus so I missed him by 15 mins as he had to be elsewhere and had left his mobile phone in the house. Bus services in Glasgow on a Sunday are usually grim so despite leaving my own house much earlier than I normally would on a week day ( when I have a choice of four different buses every 15 to 20 mins Mon to Fri, ) only one of the four buses I could normally get ran a service on Sundays and even then it was cut to every 40 mins. So I missed him. Raindrops clinging to nasturtiums above. Sticky water in action. Another form of surface tension demonstrating the basic laws of physics. Nature always provides us with loads of inspiration. Water gemstones perhaps as a glittering example? I'd imagine rain had this idea first before humans replicated this look with solid objects.

 Cut diamonds mural.

 The original inspiration perhaps to start polishing rough gemstones? After all, this example was right in front of humans all the time as a perfect sparkling reality of what might be possible. Also visible magnification in action with the largest droplet here. Monkey see... monkey do.


So after 20 mins of waiting I realized he was not going to show up so I had a wander around myself with the camera.


Bud Neill mural above Bill's Tool Store. It was a morning of heavy showers but that just meant the streets and market stalls had less customers than normal, rain being a real trade killer for open markets with less footfall on wet Sundays.

 The other half of the mural. Bud Neill was a popular newspaper strip cartoonist during the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s era with a fictional blend of Wild West cowboy influences. local Scottish humour, and World War  II references.  Bill's tool store has been situated in the Barras for decades.

 A mural tribute to the Scottish novel Shuggie Bain, about a young guy growing up in Glasgow. I've got the book in the house somewhere but not read it yet. 

 It is situated on the side wall of the famous Barrowland Ballroom and is so large I had to capture it in two separate photos.


A few other colourful murals in this area.


An old favourite. Glad to see it still there.


An older very faded and slightly damaged mural I've managed to restore back to full colour before it disappears forever. This is the old Barras market. A traditional view as a place for bargains, street entertainment, and gossip with friends while shopping.


The old clay pipe factory, built in 1877, now an occasional arts venue. This was where I was supposed to meet Alan.


A Celtic pub in the Barras. Being traditionally an East End located football team, with Parkhead stadium not that far away, Celtic pubs tend to dominate here. Rangers being located at Ibrox with Rangers pubs scattered around that area traditionally. Makes sense before or after games for favourite pubs to be walking distance away from the football grounds due to the large numbers of supporters involved in one locality.

 Calton Weavers strike mural.

 The other part of it.


Fortune telling mural perhaps....


Tunnock's tea cakes. A Scottish factory making a variety of tasty treats, caramel wafers being another popular one they make.



Ornate Catholic church in the Barras.


A closer detail of it.


Ukraine mural on shop shutter. 

Wall art.

 What the Barras Market area looks like now.... a handful of lanes with some shuttered shops like these, some moveable outside pop up stalls, and several out the elements labyrinthine, almost Dickensian, indoor passageways... all selling a wide range of fancy goods. Not as wondrous or as busy as in it's heyday period (1930s to 1980s) with much stiffer competition nowadays from a plethora of other discount stores but still a unique experience in Glasgow to this day.


Some buildings in the area could do with a fresh coat of paint however... or modernization in some way....


But even the Barras District is gradually changing with a large new supermarket close by and modern apartment blocks springing up in the area.


The most colourful local restaurant being this one.

 Also with an American theme going on by its vibrant some well known Scottish treats...


Sidewalk mural.... and Only Fools and acted by giant budgies...or pigeons.... so plenty to look at as you eat your meal.

 I wandered back via Glasgow Cross District.


Architects often try to imitate certain existing features of their surroundings when placing a new building into the mix. These apartments having the look of an updated medieval castle/ courtyard in some ways with the newer rooftop spire copying the much older version at the back.


Period buildings close by, above.



Glasgow Cross, a mere stone's throw from The Barras. The well preserved older part of the city. If the city fathers had managed to keep and restore more of Glasgow's older districts of period buildings however we would have been much more of a match for Edinburgh's quaint tourist honey-holes of cobbled lanes and alleyways. Glasgow at that time though seemed to be more obsessed with Le Corbusier's vision of a new radiant city springing upwards from the old outdated warrens and communal closes of the early 1800s... demolishing entire old streets and districts... replacing them with in vogue 1950s to1960s visions of concrete hi rise modernity and motorway ring roads.


The remaining older buildings we do have left giving a glimpse of that potentially rich ornate past with a brand new 2023 addition rising above in the background and nearing completion.

On the way back I passed another new addition to Glasgow's infrastructure. On the site of the former Western Infirmary, several blocks rising from the rubble of the old. Probably University of Glasgow student flats.... or other uni infrastructure of some sort.

....and another street mural in nearby Partick. Still raining on and off.


So I might have missed Alan but I still made the most of my time at the Barras. Even with Sunday buses! Angry mural.

 Rock's not dead mural.

And I met a young fox and got to play with it. So a good productive day.