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Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End

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  1. Yesterday
  2. The West Highland Railway from Mallaig to Glasgow via Fort William, has been a 'bucket list' ambition for me for a long time. Saturday was predicted to be a fine day, so I decided to get out and do it. It's also on the bucket list of many tourists who come to Scotland, and this could cause a problem in the height of the tourist season. You want to get a window seat, facing the front, but if the train is packed with tourists, you might end up with an aisle seat, and your back to the engine. Hopefully, there would be far fewer tourists in late September. The bus pass allows you to get half price train travel, but only in Strathclyde region. So, you can use it for the train to Oban, which is in Strathclyde, but not to Fort William and Mallaig, which are in Highland region. So, this was going to be the most expensive outing yet. I'd get free travel between my home and Glasgow, and also on the bus from Glasgow to Fort William, but then I'd be paying full fare for the rest. There's a bus service between Mallaig and Fort William, but it's pretty restricted, and didn't fit in with the itinerary. So, I'd get the train to Mallaig. I expected that I'd just spend a couple of hours or so in Mallaig, before catching the West Highland Railway train back to Glasgow, but as I was idly thumbing through the Cal-Mac ferry timetables one day, I noticed that there was actually a ferry from Mallaig to Armadale in Skye. Now, my travels around Scotland have turned me into something of a 'ferry bagger'. I 'bag' ferries the way some folk bag Munros. It's easier on the hips. I've done five since June, and this would be number six, if it was doable, and it was - just. The ferry leaves Mallaig at 1400, arriving at Armadale at 1445. I could disembark, and spend a few minutes of my first visit to Skye taking a couple of photos, before joining the back of the queue to board the ship again. The ferry would arrive back in Mallaig at 1545, with 20 minutes to spare before catching the 1605 train to Glasgow. Cost of return trip, just £6. It was going to be a day of 'firsts'. First time in Mallaig, on the Armadale ferry, and isle of Skye. First time on the West Highland line, including twice across the Glenfinnan viaduct, between Mallaig and Fort William. Glenfinnan is the viaduct made famous in Harry Potter films. It would be my first time across Rannoch Moor, one of the wildest places in Scotland, with no roads or villages for many miles. I'd heard that red deer were often seen from the train on the moor. That would be another first, if I saw one. I've seen nine roe deer on my travels, this year. Five individuals, plus a group of two adults and two fawns in a field of sheep, in Mull. Since they're mainly nocturnal, and mainly woodland dwelling, making it hard to spot them, you're left with the impression that there must be an awful lot of roe deer in Scotland. But, I've yet to see a red deer. It was my first time through Glen Coe from the south, and it was just as spectacular as when I traveled through it from the north earlier in the year. I took a few pics through the window of the bus, but wasn't optimistic about the results. I made a mental note of the relative positions of the chair lift, visitors' centre and Glencoe village for next year. The 0830 Fort William bus from Buchanan Street was 10 minutes late leaving, and lost another 10 minutes en route, due to a lot of passengers getting off and on along the way. So, it arrived in Fort William at 1156, which left no time for any sightseeing. It was straight to the railway station to get the 1212 train to Mallaig, arriving at 1334. On approaching the Glenfinnan viaduct, half the passengers got their cameras out, and started snapping away. I took a few pics, one of which turned out half decent. After Glenfinnan, the train passed by Scotland's deepest loch, Loch Morar. I'd expected it to be larger, for a body of water over 1,000 ft deep. The schedule was tight - too tight, maybe. I was trying to cram a lot in. I had just 15 minutes in Mallaig, before catching the 1400 ferry to Armadale, in Skye. It took 45 minutes to do the crossing, and I had 5 minutes on Skye to take a few photos, before boarding for the return trip. The weather was just about perfect, and there were a lot of tourists taking photos. There seemed to be a lot of Germans and Americans, but very few Chinese, compared to early summer. On the train back from Fort William, through Rannoch Moor, the sun began to flirt with the mountain tops, and the gloaming seemed to add to the ethereal magic of the place. I had thought that Rannoch Moor was my best chance of getting my first sighting of wild red deer, and so it turned out. About half a mile before Rannoch station, a group of four red deer hinds came into view, about 200 yards away. So, that's another bucket list item ticked off. By the time the train reached Ardlui, it was pitch black. October sees the start of the winter timetables. With far fewer bus, train and ferry services, and fewer daylight hours, there won't be any opportunities to do long distance outings with multiple connections like today's itinerary. It's a summer thing, really.
  3. Earlier
  4. Two destinations today - North Berwick and Dunbar. I'm getting gallus. I'd never been to either. There was a good bus service to both from Edinburgh, a bus every half hour. I decided to go to North Berwick first, then on to Dunbar, before returning to Edinburgh. North Berwick is the headquarters of the Scottish Seabird Centre, yet another hidden gem. Like the St Andrews aquarium, it's a 'tardis', and much bigger on the inside than you'd guess from looking at the outside. Maybe 'iceberg' would be a better analogy, as the hidden bit is underneath. There must be many visitors who think that the ground floor cafe and gift shop is all there is to it. But, the real action is down below. There's an admission charge of about a tenner, but it's well worth it. There are remotely controlled cameras on the neighbouring islands where the seabirds breed, including Bass Rock. You can control the cameras and zoom in, and see the results on a big screen. The kids loved it. But, that wasn't the best of it. There's a theatre, which I didn't know about. I was passing by, and a very welcoming young lady with a beautiful smile asked if I'd like to come in. I didn't want to, but even a pensioner like me can't resist that charm. So, I did, and was given a pair of 3-D plastic glasses to put on. I was a bit sceptical about this, but did as suggested. Now, I've seen every episode of the BBC's Blue Planet, and loved them all. You'd think documentaries about marine life couldn't get any better than that. You need to see this. It's made by Jacques Cousteau's son and narrated by Daryl Hannah. It's all about whales and dolphins (and Florida manatees). But, it's the 3-D thing that blew me away. Maybe I'm just an old fogey who's unacquainted with this stuff, and today's youngsters know all about it. But, this was like something from the 'Twilight Zone'. The close ups were far closer and detailed than anything in Blue Planet, but at certain points in the film, the whales and dolphins appeared to be swimming around in the theatre. I had no idea that such technology existed. Of all the hidden gems I've found on my travels, this was far and away the 'hidden gemmiest'. Outside the Seabird Centre, I could see the Bass Rock to the east. It looked as if it had been whitewashed, but that was obviously due to all the gannet guano. 'Guano' is a technical term for 'droppings'. 'Droppings' is a polite term for shite. On to Dunbar. I got the biggest fish and chip portion I've ever had for £7.60. It was so big, I couldn't finish the fish. That was a first. I often don't finish the chips but never leave any fish, but this fish portion was huge, and the seagulls got about a quarter of it. And, the chips were actually a bit 'crunchy', in contrast to the usual soggy pale chip shop chips. I don't remember the name, but if you're ever in town, it's just off the western edge of the High Street, and has a board outside saying it was established in 1916. There's a museum in town that is dedicated to John Muir, who was born in Dunbar, and emigrated with his family to the US in the 19th century, aged 11. It's the house he was born in. He returned to Dunbar to revisit relatives as an adult. He is revered in the US as being one of the pioneers of environmental activism, and was the driving force in the establishment of the US national parks. He is particularly associated with Yosemite, in California, which is near to where he lived. In the past, Dunbar castle was one of the most important castles in Scotland. Today, it's a decrepit ruin, and bits keep falling off it, so visitors aren't allowed. But, you can still get lots of good photos.
  5. Pat

    TransEurope Cafe

    Goes completely against notion of places being enjoyable and attractions for tourists rather than money making opportunities.
  6. Scottish Courts have deemed the proroguing unlawful. Now the Supreme Court. It's like the most fanciful soap ever.
  7. Fair play to the speaker and his pre proroguing speech, didn’t miss the shambles
  8. Yes, disgraceful that we cannot have the slightest space without some moron wanting to build soulless bloody flats
  9. Another super trip, Yonza. I really like Rothesay and that bus you mention that goes round the Island and to Kilchattan Bay is very handy. The driver let us off exactly where we wanted to go. Quite a lot to see in Rothesay. Love your photos of the museum in Dunoon. I love it too, agree it's not so easy to find. I'll hunt for some of our old Rothesay photos and se if anything I can add. Those Cal-Mac fares are amazing. Wonder where you're off to next?
  10. 13 - 15 September, 2019 https://www.glasgowwestend.co.uk/glasgow-youth-film-festival-2019/
  11. Love this place. Great for gin drinkers, ice cream lovers, delicious coffee lovers and the wraps are heavenly. https://www.glasgowwestend.co.uk/bungalow-cate-mother-india-kelvingrove-glasgow/
  12. Glasgow Doors Open Day 2019 - 16 - 22 October https://www.glasgowwestend.co.uk/category/whatson/glasgow-doors-open-day/
  13. Pat

    TransEurope Cafe

    Yes, Jim has played there quite a few times over the years. It is indeed very quirky. Also performed their with our Ten Writers Project few years back as part of Wet End Festival. It's a shame the plan to build in the lane has reared its ugly head again.
  14. Sounds challenging. I'm off to Tuscany soon. No beaches in the itinerary.
  15. She's resigned because cannot bear to see Tories have the whip removed. Children dependent on food banks don't seem to worry her.
  16. Hi Pat am now working on a sunny Italian beach scene. Loads of buildings with windows, might have bitten off more than i can chew, time will tell
  17. Amber Rudd resigns, effectively calling Boris a liar....at last she tells a truth
  18. After so much bad weather recently, today was too good to miss out on. I like the sun, but I'm not a big fan of very high temperatures when traveling, so today was just about perfect. Rothesay to Dunoon would be the main bit. The ferry from Wemyss Bay to Rothesay took 35 minutes, and cost £3.50. There's a bus from Rothesay that gets on a ferry at the northern tip of Bute and travels 440 yards to Colintraive, on the Cowal peninsula, before carrying on to Dunoon. There's a £1 charge on the bus for the ferry. The Cowal peninsula is like a southern outlier of the Highlands - very rugged and craggy. It would be an intrepid hiker who went off road. It was a scenic trip, spoilt by the increasingly common sight of the desolation left behind when the monoculture spruce plantations are clearfelled. The plantations themselves are a blot on the landscape, and little used by wildlife. No other vegetation can flourish in their sunlight free interiors. However, when the trees are cut down by today's high tech machines, they are debarked and have their branches shorn off. All this wood is left on the ground, along with the stumps, and it just looks terrible. I always do a bit of googling about where I'm going, so I know where to visit. In Rothesay, I settled on the castle, museum and St Mary's chapel, which is a 15 minute walk from the town centre. In Dunoon, there was the Castle House museum, and not much else. It was very poorly signposted, so easy to miss for the casual visitor. It's another hidden gem. There's a bus in Rothesay that does a circuit around town, and another that goes out to Kilchattan Bay and back, so if you've got some time to kill, you could go on one of them. I got on the around town bus, which took 20 minutes to return to the town centre. The bus went up the steepest road I've ever seen a bus travel on. There's also a sightseeing bus, which does a round trip of Bute, starting from the town centre bus stop just across the road from the ferry terminal. You can't use the bus pass on it, but you get a small discount on the £12 fare. The ferry from Dunoon to Gourock wasn't a Cal-Mac ferry. It was an Argyll Ferry, and cost £4.80 for the 25 minute crossing, which is a bit dearer than Cal-Mac prices.
  19. Have you tried the very quirky Tchai Ovne in Otago Lane? Daughter and I love it, pots of Spicey Honey Tea and Yogi Yogi Chai tea and maybe a mixed platter to munch full of uni students all full of youthful enthusiasm
  20. Boris now in charge of a minority Govt, hopefully the end of times for these disgusting people
  21. Good to see University of Glasgow taking steps to address reparation re slave trade in Glasgow. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/23/glasgow-university-slave-trade-reparations
  22. Samscafe, you won't be seeing many sunny subjects these rainy days but hope you are still painting. I've ordered some wool as it will soon be hat-crocheting season.
  23. You would think that a General Election was no threat with the team that are in power. So worrying that so many ordinary people, not in Scotland, could vote Tory. They moved further to the right and more anti-migrant to attract the UKIP vote. Don't know if they would now vote Brexit. What a thought that the likes of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson vying to lead the country. You would think that Corbyn would be sailing through. At the moment Cummings seems to be in charge.
  24. Yes, fabulous photo, Yonza. I was in Dumbarton a couple of weeks back and we took a wee drive down Havoc Lane past my old school, Notre Dame Clerkhill, which is now a ruin. The story went that Wallace's cave was down there near the shore. Sure enough graffiti on the wall with his name. There is a new (to us) road down to the Clyde. We sat for ages as it was like a bird sanctuary, including dozens of swans swimming on the Clyde and we saw one tall black bird that I thought was a shag. There were many different species including some that I didn't recognise, some birds with similar colouring to seagulls but much smaller and rounder. Will definitely go back. It was fascinating. Shot of some of the swans - not too clear as just had my phone and the were far out.
  25. These freak weather events seem to be happening more and more. Must be awful for people living in coastal towns. There hasn't been much on the news because we're getting wall to wall Westminster. Very informative, Yonza. I hope the \Azores high' swings into action and the 'recurve' back out to sea takes place.
  26. It's currently off the east coast of Puerto Rico, and has just been upgraded to a category 1 hurricane (75 mph) by the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in the last hour. Puerto Rico doesn't need any more grief from hurricanes. They're still a long way from recovering from hurricane Maria in 2017, which caused 3,059 deaths, and $92 billion in damage. Hopefully the effects of Dorian will be minor. It's not a direct hit and much weaker than Maria, but will still bring a ton of rain. It's where it's headed that is going to be the major news story next week. There's currently very little about it in online news sources, because news is normally about what has happened, rather than about something that might happen in 5 days time. But, that's when Dorian arrives in Florida, about midday UK time on Monday. So, is it certain to hit Florida? No, there's a small, maybe 20% chance that the high pressure system, known as the 'Azores high', could weaken much more than expected, in which case Dorian could 'recurve' around it and out to sea, without impacting land. More likely, it would hit Georgia or the Carolinas. The high pressure is what is steering Dorian to Florida. Currently, the NHC has it making landfall in the middle of the Florida east coast, near Cape Canaveral, but the average 5 day track forecast has an error of 200 miles. If the ridge gets stronger than expected, Dorian will make landfall further south, which is where the population density is highest. That's where cat 5 Andrew made landfall in 1992, causing catastrophic damage. After Andrew, building codes were radically revised in Florida, to make buildings much more resilient to hurricanes. The NHC is excellent with its track forecasts, but much less so with its intensity forecasts. Part of the reason for this may be that it doesn't want to get itself a name for 'crying wolf', so its intensity forecasts are very conservative. Less than 24 hours ago, it was predicting a landfall in Florida of just 70 mph. Now, it has updated that to a major cat 3 of 115 mph. Given its track record of underestimating, this could be conservative. Conditions between Puerto Rico and the Bahamas are not very conducive for strengthening, although some strengthening should occur. However, once Dorian gets north of the Bahamas, conditions become much more favourable, with very high sea surface temperatures, low wind shear, and a very moist environment. It's hard to see what could stop rapid intensification, although there's always the possibility of internal factors, such as a collapsed eye wall. This is likely to be next week's major news story. I think it'll be a category 4 at landfall.
  27. That's a once in a lifetime photo of five flying Canada geese on the link. I'm jealous. I've been to Musselburgh three times - twice for the horse racing, and once when I was a volunteer for the Scottish Wildlife Trust. There was a guy with us whose knowledge of the Scottish bird watching scene was phenomenal, and there's a patch of sea very near to Musselburgh racecourse which has an amazing variety of bird species, although I'm not sure what makes it so special. I saw lots of species I'd never seen before, that day. HERE'S THE PHOTOGRAPH YOU WERE IMPRESSED BY, YONZA.
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