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Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End

yonza bam

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About yonza bam

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    I'm no' falling for that one. Do you think I came up the Clyde on a banana boat?
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  1. 2020 already? That means that 'The Magnificent Seven' is now 60 years old! Depressing thought for the day
  2. I'd three days of my annual leave left, so took Wed-Fri off, as the forecast looked promising for a short excursion. Decided on Moffat and Dumfries, but when I looked out the window this morning, it was well below zero, and the frost didn't melt later, like it usually does. I'm okay working outdoors in those temperatures, but it dampens the enthusiasm for bus rambling, even if it is a nice sunny day. Saturday is predicted to be only a degree or two higher, so I'll be staying in. I'd thought about doing the winter only ferry from Lochranza in Arran to Tarbert at the northern end of the Mull of Kintyre, then getting another ferry across Loch Fyne to Portavadie on the Cowal penisula, before catching a bus to Dunoon. But winter buses and ferries aren't synchronised like the summer ones, and there are fewer services, so it isn't doable. Pity. I'll just wait until next spring, and do a return trip across the Cowal peninsula to Tarbert. Thought I'd make a list of the bestest favourites journeys this year, so here it is: 1) Train from Mallaig to Fort William. The Mallaig to Glasgow West Highland railway journey has been called the most scenic rail journey in the world, and the Mallaig to Fort William section is probably the best bit. The vistas are breathtaking. I was very lucky to get lots of sunny days that were in the low 70s in my travels, and that was the case when I did the West Highland trip. There are not many days in the year in Scotland when the lochs and sea are Caribbean blue and glistening yellow. 'Almost mystical' describes it well enough. 2) Glencoe. I traveled through it twice on the bus. Once from the north, and once from the south. The mountains are truly majestic, and surprisingly green. Many of the comments on the Tripadvisor page remark on how green the mountains are. That's probably just because they're not as high as the Rockies or the Alps, but the copious rain they get probably helps, too. Apparently, the magical environment is a combination of a volcanic caldera ground and scoured by ice age glaciers. So, now you know. 3) Rannoch moor. Part of the West Highland rail trip, only doable by train, and since it's outside Strathclyde region, you can't get a half price fare. But worth every penny. Rannoch moor is one of the wildest places in Britain, with no roads or villages for many miles. It has the highest railway station in Britain (Corrour). I traveled through it when the sun was beginning to set behind the mountains and the twilight upped the mystical factor big time. Got my first ever sighting of wild red deer, four hinds about 200 yards from the train, just before Rannoch station. 4) Oban to Glasgow bus. The bus from Glasgow to Oban goes up the west side of Loch Lomond, through the Trossachs, then through Crianlarich and Tyndrum, en route to Oban. It's a very scenic trip, but the return journey through Inveraray and Arrochar, taking in lochs Fyne and Long, is even better. 5) The Great Glen Inverness to Fort William, taking in the Caledonian canal, Loch Ness, Urquhart castle, Fort Augustus, Loch Lochy and Ben Nevis. What's not to like? 6) Rothesay to Dunoon. The bus gets on a ferry at the northern tip of Bute, to travel the 440 yards to Colintraive, on the Cowal peninsula. The hills are very rugged, and look like better mountaineering practice than the Highlands, although smaller. It's a very scenic journey, spoiled by the desolation left by the clearfelled plantations. 7) Inveraray to Tarbert. Down the west coast of Loch Fyne, going through the 'hidden gem' villages of Inveraray, Lochgilphead, Ardrishaig and Tarbert.
  3. No idea, but they'll probably gain. These are the odds for a majority: Con 2.04 No majority 2.2 Labour 21 Lib/Dem 150 Brexit 180
  4. Yon's a bam, but a minor league bam compared to whit they've got in America.
  5. Congratulations! You sure put in a ton of work. When I lived in the west end, someone once said to me that "the west end is just a lot of neutered cats, sitting on front door steps, and wondering what the point of life is". I thought it was a strange thing to say, but from then on I couldn't help noticing all those cats, that had previously barely impinged on my consciousness. I don't know if they were neutered or not, though.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. It's Strathaven Balloon Festival day, so have decided to stay put. The balloons have already been up at 6.30 this morning. No idea why they pick that very early start. They're usually up on Friday evening, but the wind was too strong yesterday, so they stayed grounded. They'll be back up just after 6 pm. Hope there's not a repeat of last year, when STV had a news item about it, resulting in literally thousands of sightseers coming into town from all over Scotland. There just wasn't anywhere for them to park, resulting in pandemonium. Today is the 20th anniversary of the event. So, I'll just make this a general information and rambling summary post. The National Entitlement Card for over 60s, commonly known as the 'bus pass' entitles users to free bus travel throughout Scotland on virtually all services, but not tour buses, like city sightseeing buses. You can use it as far as Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed, in England. It also allows you to travel off peak on trains, after 9 am week days, and all day Saturday and Sunday, within Strathclyde Region, at reduced cost. For journeys up to 10 miles one way, it's a standard £1 single and £1.50 return. Longer journeys are half the usual price. You can't use it on ferries, unless you live locally on the island or peninsula that the ferries serve. However, ferry prices are government subsidised, so very good value. For example, the Oban to Craignure, on Mull, ferry costs £7.40 return. It's 50 minutes and 11 miles each way, so good value. Ardrossan to Brodick return is £8. The card also allows you to get concessions (typically 20%) for entry fees to zoos, castles, museums etc. Best bit so far - Glencoe Worst bit - Glasgow to Oban train Hidden gems - Tobermory, Fort William museum, St. Andrews aquarium, Campbeltown Linda McCartney memorial garden. To do list: Dunbar and North Berwick, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Rothesay to Dunoon (bus goes on a ferry for the 400 yards from Bute to the Cowal peninsula), Uig in Skye (if I'm feeling up to it). Also, the ferry from Lochranza in Arran to the Mull of Kintyre changes its destination from Claonaig to Tarbert during the winter season, because Tarbert is a sheltered harbour, so more suitable for winter travel. I went through Tarbert en route to Campbeltown, and it looks a cracking wee village, so I fancy getting the ferry from Lochranza to Tarbert, then across Loch Fyne on another ferry to Portavadie on the Kyle of Bute, and then a bus across the Cowal peninsula to Dunoon. It might be the only trip I do all winter, and I'll be waiting for ideal weather. I might have to throw a sickie to do it, but as I haven't had a day off sick in two years, I'm due one.
  12. Campbeltown. You wonder why it exists. Hard to imagine a more remote town of comparable size (pop. 5,000) on the UK mainland. Its heyday was in the Victorian era, when it had a fishing fleet of over 600 boats, a shipbuilding industry, and so many distilleries, it earned itself the name 'Whiskyopolis'. Times have changed big time. No ships are built today, the fishing fleet has virtually ceased to exist, partly due to EU quotas, and just one distillery remains. It's a 4 hour 10 minutes drive from Glasgow. But, you have to go far to the north, up to Inveraray, before you can turn south to the Mull of Kintyre. That's because the sea lochs, Fyne and Long have to be circumvented. They don't call it 'Loch Long' for nothing. It's a journey of discovery. So many 'hidden gems' of coastal villages, like Ardrishaig, for example. There were far fewer tourists than on my other trips. I think that's mostly because Campbeltown probably isn't on the 'to do' list of most tourists, but I also noticed fewer tourists on the more 'mainstream' part between Loch Lomond and Inveraray. I think the tourist season has peaked. I expected that most of the passengers on the half full bus would be going to Campbeltown, like myself. So, I was very surprised when more than half of them got off the bus at Kennacraig ferry terminal. Kennacraig services Port Ellen and Port Askaig, on Islay, and also the small island of Colonsay. The ferry to Port Askaig continues to Colonsay, then on to Oban. Total journey time is six and a half hours. I've become something of a 'ferry bagger' and intend to do that trip some day. Campbeltown has some impressive architecture. It used to be said that the number of churches almost equaled the number of distilleries. Maybe it's a compensation thing. Many of the churches have eccentric architecture, as if they were trying to outdo each other in order to attract the faithful. One has a spire that completely dominates the church, and looks like a lighthouse. Most have other uses today. One is a heritage centre, but it's only open Mon-Thu. The museum is only open Mon-Fri, so I didn't get to see either of them. Behind the museum, there's a memorial garden to Linda McArtney, with a bronze statue of her sitting on a rock. It's out of the way, and easily overlooked if you're a casual visitor, but well worth the effort to find it. Next to the shut museum, there's a delightful looking art deco cinema house, which is believed to be the oldest (1913) purpose built cinema in Scotland still showing films. On the way back, the bus stopped for 10 minutes at Inveraray, and passengers got out to stretch their legs and do whatever else you can do in 10 minutes, like down a half and a half in a pub. I had a walk round and noticed the 'Vital Spark' berthed at the pier. I don't know if it's actually one of the ones used in the TV shows, or if it's just a replica for the tourists. It's a lot smaller than the impression you get from the television shows. Arrived back at Buchanan St bus station at 7.10 pm. It was a long time on a bus, but I liked this one enough to do it again some time.
  13. Nice pics. Heck, the last time I was in Millport, Yuri Gagarin had just become the first man in space and Harold MacMillan was Prime Minister. Can't decide on the next 'weather permitting' journey. The forecast for Saturday is looking decidedly dodgy. Campbelltown, Dunbar and North Berwick, or Rothesay to Dunoon through the Cowal peninsula are all possibilities. I knew tour buses went on ferries, but didn't realise service buses did likewise. But, there's a bus that travels from Rothesay to the north coast of Bute, then gets on the ferry to the Cowal peninsula, and then on to Dunoon. Sounds like an interesting trip.
  14. First good weekend weather for a while, so decided to get out and do the 55 miles of coastal road around Arran. I'd only been in Arran once, for a few hours in the 80s, and I still don't know what I saw. I had expected Brodick, the 'capital', to be an actual town, instead of a row of detached houses punctuated by the odd hostelry and shop. It's much more developed today, but still not what I'd call a proper town. The 0945 ferry from Ardrossan took 55 minutes to make the crossing. It was late leaving because of the sheer number of tourists. I thought the Oban-Mull ferry was crammed, but this was really crammed. Oddly, most of the passengers seemed to be Brits, while most of the Mull ferry passengers seemed to be foreigners. The bus to Blackwaterfoot on the west coast going via Lochranza on the north coast was also crammed, with some passengers not able to get on. This created an additional delay, and the bus was half an hour late leaving. As a result, about 8 tourists who had intended getting the ferry from Lochranza to Claonaig on the Mull of Kintyre, had to watch the ferry sail away without them from the bus. They weren't best pleased. Total time for the round trip was two and a half hours. The south of the island was unimpressive - just rough pastureland that you can see anywhere in Scotland. The north was more scenic, but not in the same league as the Highlands. Overall, I felt slightly let down, but it was still a worthwhile day out. Whiting Bay looks like a nice place to retire to, but Lamlash has more pubs and shops.
  15. Thanks, Pat. Afraid Iona isn't doable in one day. The Skye trip is definitely daunting. Makes the Glasgow - Inverness - Fort William - Glasgow trip look like a dawdle. You're right about St. Andrews, but for me the traveling is more enjoyable than the destination, and it's not the most scenic trip. I still can't get over Glencoe. I'll pick out some pics and you can select your favs.
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