My liking for train travel is well documented, I have been reminded of this during lockdown by two separate emails, both from subscriber lists.
The National Railway Museum in York is a fascinating destination for normal times, I have mentioned before the thrill of sharing the same space as these leviathans of steam power. I am always delighted to see large reproductions of the classic rail travel posters, deliberately evocative and romantic. Whilst neither term would describe train travel just now, I was none the less intrigued to see a re-imagination of these artworks, on the Museum’s website. Sample below gives a flavour of this.
From Waterstone’s bookshop (other bookshops are available) came news of a new train travel opus, which looks like a grand way to escape the current everyday for a few hours. Review here – no prizes for originality in the article title, but oh, how different it must be from the 07:09 to Edinburgh Waverley.
Well, here’s a thing, I thought that the discovery of flat wine bottles was going to be the most amazing find in my week, but no! Scotrail has come to the rescue of those of us who are missing a daily commute, by posting real time films of various journeys. Admittedly there’s a difference since it’s been filmed out the back of the cab (not for anyone who can’t sit with their back to the engine) but strangely welcome all the same. One can either have a journey where it feels like one knows every blade of grass or the rails less travelled. Apart from the timing and the overcrowding issues, I am a massive fan of rail travel, and this is the longest I have gone in my life without an orange and yellow ticket in my pocket.
It seemed like a good idea to go to England on the day of the Rugby World Cup Final, so we found ourselves in Wakefield, after a stress free train trip with added random acts of kindness.
Our stay was in the hotel in Holmfield Park. We’ll need to go back to see the rhubarb sculpture, which I would have sought out had I known about it. The grounds were well stocked with mature trees which put on a stunning autumnal display, augmented by the fireworks display at night which we also did not see, but certainly heard.
On the Sunday we managed to get ourselves and luggage to the Hepworth Museum. This houses a permanent display of the works of Dame Barbara Hepworth, sculptor and native of the town. The building, designed by architect David Chipperfield,* sits astride the river Calder, and the full length windows in the building give excellent vistas of the river, in particular the weir. It also houses exhibitions, currently on show are works of the young David Hockney and Alan Davie. It opened in 2011 and it’s free to visit, has storage lockers and a decent café.
Trip home was also on time, and smooth. Thanks to Tickety Split and a rail card bought with Tesco points, we saved over 50% of the original cost.
*cracking pictures if you follow the arrow on this link.
As part of the on-going (and why not?) celebrations of our advanced old age, the 59ers hied to the fair environs of Glasgow on Monday, there to partake in an ethical jewellery making session, using reclaimed materials. Led by Stefanie Cheong, we spent a hugely enjoyable day learning how to choose, shape, solder and fashion our own silver rings. The day passed very quickly as we were fully involved in the creative process aided by copious cups of Earl Grey, and a lunch provided by Diana. There may also have been cake. I was genuinely intrigued to see the end products, especially as I have a rep for being fairly maladroit in these situations. My chums have a bit more flair! I’m delighted with mine, every aspect of it was of my choosing.
Once I receive a picture of me I will add one in!
Paul and I had been to Glasgow on Saturday, to see Still Game at the Hydro. We stopped off at the Riverside Museum first, and enjoyed a look round the exhibits, which spark off so many memories. We were there the weekend it opened., back in 2011. I posted pictures about it then and noted that everyone who passed the horse drawn hearse was clapping* the (fake) horses’ heads. Happy to report that the noses of these fine beasts are just about threadbare by now, seems the folk memory of cuddies in the streets runs deep.
*”clapping” is Scottish for showing tactile appreciation of an animal. “Can Ah clap yir dug, mister?”
A random selection from our trip north, through stupendously beautiful areas of Scotland. Car did us well over the longest hauls in particular, like Pitlochry to Kingussie, and a singularly frustrating tour of the car parks in Fort Bill. Thanks to the EV community who put meaningful updates on the ZapMap and a shout out to the men we met who are happily touring the west coast to install more chargers. They also inadvertently told us where to buy a decent breakfast roll in Craignure. Grudging thanks to CYC Scotland who at least confirmed that the charger at Kilchoan was hors de combat. More to be uploaded once I figure out how to release the phone pictures from Google photos to the PC.
Having had the great good fortune to visit many of the Western Isles, I was intrigued to find What We Do In the Winter, which I will be listening to in order to find out.
Picture below of James GS Black Esq., MA, meeting the “Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Prince and Steward of Scotland and Lord of the Isles at the 150th Glenisla Highland Games, all at once.” Note matching socks. Jimmy plays with the Dundee City Pipe Band.
North of the Tay and south of the Forth, the weekend saw us in cahoots with Rieko as we visited some old and new haunts. First to Dundee, there to see the V&A, designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The exterior is a delight to photograph, especially now that the gardens are flourishing. Next door the RRS Discovery was interesting and if it was a bit chilly, then it only served to remind of the privations experienced on the expedition to Antarctica. After a pit stop at the DCA, we called in at Dundee train station so that the lady herself could make some arrangements. Of course the randomly allocated ticket clerk was bi-lingual and of course her other language was Japanese. That made a potentially protracted transaction simple.
Home via the supermarket for essential supplies, and ginger pork cooked by our guest. Next day, after yet another instance of Kirsty knows best saw us traversing one of West Lothian’s more challenging farm roads, we finally arrived at Hopetoun House. This beautiful mansion, a tourist attraction in its own right, is enjoying a boom due to its being a film location for Outlander. It’s a glorious example of two styles of Scottish led architecture, designed by William Bruce and then altered and extended by William Adam. We had an interesting tour, a chat with the guides, and I was even able to tell them a thing they did not know*, which does not happen often.
There were views of the three bridges from the roof terrace, but for my money the best views are on the return journey, since the road is almost at sea level and the vistas are not occluded.
The next destination was new to us, Midhope House, also a filming location for Outlander, derelict but atmospheric. I’m going to have to watch the series now, if only to find out how they erased the telegraph poles from the long shots.
Blackness Castle was brisk and busy, those floors are still made of bedrock and it’s no place for your Manolos, but it offers an insight into medieval life, as viewed from the river. And after a brief call to the farm shop (Blue Murder Cheese, Badger beers) it was home again to beautiful sushi and then an early night.
As ever it’s a grand opportunity to see your own country from the point of view of a tourist, and a foreign visitor. There could be more in the way of multi lingual information, disabled access is not always clearly indicated, some staff assume that you have already read a 16 page induction leaflet on how their premises operate, but mostly it’s endlessly fascinating and of course beauty lurks round the most unexpected corners.
…was the best quiz team name, as voted by Julia. We had a weekend away with the 59ers, back to glorious Perthshire, with its trees and bonny flowers. A visit to the ceramics festival at Scone proved a success, I think we all opened our wallets or purses at some point, rain did not stop play. The ospreys at the Loch of the Lowes were on form, as were the cakes in the tea rooms of Dunkeld. But mostly we talked, blethered, chatted, caught up, hung out, and just enjoyed each other’s company, especially round the dining table.
Up in Kenmore with the folk club, A8M, celebrations, music and jaunts. For some reflection we visited the Fortingall Yew; debate rages, quietly, about its age but it’s definitely very old*. It felt pretty humbling and impressive to be in its company. I note from Wiki that part of it has changed gender. Mum always said there is nothing new under the sun. She would have enjoyed the pre-dinner-drinks drinks in our posh verandah room.
And I row my boat away,
Doon the waters of Loch Tay,
As the evening light is fading
And I look upon Ben Lawers
Where the after glory glows;
And I think on two bright eyes
And the melting mouth below.
She’s my beauteous nigheanruadh,
My joy and sorrow too;
And although she is untrue,
Well I cannot live without her,
For my heart’s a boat in tow,
And I’d give the world to know
Why she means to let me go,
As I sing horeehoro.
Nigheanruadh, your lovely hair
Has more glamour I declare
Than all the tresses rare
‘tween Killin and Aberfeldy.
Be they lint white, brown or gold,
Be they blacker than the sloe,
They are worth no more to me
Than the melting flake of snow.
Her eyes are like the gleam
O’ the sunlight on the stream;
And the songs the fairies sing
Seem like songs she sings at milking.
But my heart is full of woe,
For last night she bade me go
And the tears begin to flow,
As I sing horee, horo.
She’s my beauteous nigheanruadh,
My joy and sorrow too
And although she is untrue,
Well I cannot live without her.
For my heart’s a boat in tow
And I’d give the world to know,
Why she means to let me go
As I sing horeehoro.
Last week found us in Montrose, to visit the Basin and its wintering residents. Timing was either spot on or spot off; coinciding as we did with that time in late winter when there is enough daylight to evince notions of venturing further afield, only to find out that most places of interest are still shut. Honourable mentions therefore to the Basin visitor centre, the gardens of House of Dun, Brechin Town House, Montrose Museum and Art Gallery, and the Aircraft Museum. They were open and staffed.
A high spring tide meant that the birds hiding on the Basin foreshore were forced to reveal themselves, giving us a fine view of a wisp of snipe, nine in total. (And also giving me the opportunity for legitimate use of a collective noun). Other highlights included various sculptures, and it should not go unmentioned that everyone we spoke to was pleasant and helpful.
If you do not know the story of Bamse, read the book.
Due to my misinterpretation of the rules for the honesty box in the Aircraft Museum tearoom, we were entitled to rather more biscuits than were consumed. However, in the presence of so many sobering reminders of the real cost of war…
There was an excellent exhibition of sea themed paintings at the gallery in town, including many by famous son William Lamb. I have yet to find a sculpture trail or map, but I believe much of his work is dotted around the environs.