Branklyn Garden, Perth, Scotland – part 1

Earlier this week we visited Branklyn Garden in Perth which is a smallish garden, just two acres, which is owned by the Scottish National Trust. It’s a lovely place and has some gorgeous plants, it’s especially scenic at this time of the year with all the acers, rhododendrons, azaleas and Himalayan poppies in flower at the moment.

acer , meconopsis, Branklyn Garden, Perth, Scotland

There are some wee winding paths through the acers/Japanese maples, but there are wider paths too.

acers, Branklyn Garden, Perth, National Trust Scotland

The orange coloured flowers are particularly striking. I think these are azaleas rather than rhododendrons.

orange azalea , rhododendron, Branklyn Garden, Perth, National Trust Scotland

But the primulas and meconopsis are putiing on a great display at the moment too.

primulas, poppies, Branklyn Garden, Perth

I think you’ll agree that the acer below is contributing a lot of colour too, with it’s zingy citrus shade and the red of its seed pods.

Japanese maple, acer, Branklyn Garden, Perth

This garden is like a slice of heaven, the only thing which mars it is the sound of traffic from the nearby road below it. Obviously when the original owners of the garden built their house and garden in this location the traffic was a lot lighter.

orange azalea, Branklyn Garden, Perth

There is a small stream which runs through part of the garden, but I’ll leave the photos of that to another post. It was just so lovely to get out and about and do something quite normal but certainly different from sitting at home as we have had to do for so long, and it felt safe.

acer, Branklyn Garden, Perth

Duke of Wellington in Glasgow


As you can see the famous statue of the Duke of Wellington on his horse Copenhagen in Glasgow is today sporting an updated version of his more usual traffic cone hat. It’s a very sad day here in Scotland as we leave the European Union, hopefully it won’t be for long.

Holmwood House, Glasgow

I thought I had already done a post on Holmwood House in Glasgow, but it seems I haven’t, I must have just written it in my head but got no further than that! Anyway …

Holmwood House

Holmwood House

The large circular window is the drawing room, where the very ornate ceiling in my last post is located.
Holmwood House

Holmwood House was designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. He was heavily influenced by Greek architecture hence his name. Sadly there aren’t that many of his buildings still standing, over the years lots have been demolished for various reasons including neglect to the point of them nearly falling down.

Holmwood must have been a fairly comfortable family home in its day, it only has four bedrooms so despite its grand appearance it should have been fairly easy to deal with from a housekeeping point of view. Presumably they had a butler though as there is a butler’s pantry. At some point there was a fire in this room so the wall tiles aren’t original but they look like they must have been put up around the 1930s to me, I really like the design, it’s very fresh looking, almost art deco although the top border is pure Victorian, acanthus leaves.
Butler's pantry tiling

The gates also have an acanthus leaves design on them, as well as that sort of pared down Greek key design which also features on the stonework of the house.
Holmwood House Gates

The photos below are of the vegetable garden, with the coach house in the background. It has some of the same architectural details of the main house. You might be able to see that there are puddles in the garden, that’s how bad our summer was!
Holmwood House Garden

Holmwood House Garden

Pollok House and Garden in Glasgow, Scotland

Here we are back at Pollok House and Garden, you can see my previous post about it here.

Pollok House  garden

Unfortunately the wedding which was taking place inside the house later went outside for the reception in one of those wedding marquees, not my idea of an elegant do but they are very popular nowadays. It meant I couldn’t get photos of all of the garden.

Pollok House  garden

I do love box hedging and it’s so easy to strike cuttings from any trimmings you make. I think I’ll make some sort of wee design in my own garden, nothing grand like this of course.

Pollok House  garden

Below is an area of mixed flower beds.

Pollok House  garden

And a stone wall bedecked with self seeded flowers.

Pollok House  garden

No grand house is complete without a lovely bridge it would seem. This is the bridge which the Clydesdale horse in my previous post walked over.
Pollok House bridge

The tearoom is located in what was the kitchens of the house and it’s obviously the place to go for lunch as it was very well patronised. It’s worth taking a look down there even if you don’t want anything to eat or drink as it’s all very Downton Abbey-ish, with the butler’s telephone booth. I recommend the gingerbread though Jack chose the shortbread, we sampled each others – as you do, both were very tasty. There’s also a good exhibition of Scottish landscape paintings downstairs.

It was a good day out all in all.

The Glasgow School of Art

On our pre-Christmas visit to Glasgow we ended up way up at the top of Sauchiehall Street, we hadn’t meant to walk that far but it was a nice bright day and we just kept finding more and more good buildings for Jack to photgraph, he’s a bit of an art deco fan.

The Art School

Anyway as you can see from these photos we decided to hike up to the Art Nouveau Glasgow School of Art as it was so close to where we were, and I mean hike, I had forgotten how steep that hill is! As you can see from the photos a large part of the building is swathed in scaffolding and I think some sort of covering has been put over the top, to keep the rain out.

The Art School

There was a chap on the TV recently saying that they should NOT rebuild the library and the rest of the damaged building as it was, but should add on a modern design instead. I really hope that that was just some hopeful architect in wishful thinking mode because although a newly built Mackintosh building is obviously not going to have the same history as the original, it’ll be an awful lot better than some random structure being tacked on to Mackintosh’s masterpiece.

Art School

As you can see from the photo above the undamaged part of the building has some lovely details but apparently his designs were always practical as well as pretty. The metal brackets at the windows were for the window cleaners to put their ladders against. I still wouldn’t fancy that job though. If you’re interested you should have a look at the lovely images of The School of Art here.

I think it’ll be scandalous if a decision is taken not to rebuild the damaged parts of the building as they were originally, apart from anything else a new extension to the Art School was just opened across the road from the original – and it is in a modern architecture style, and I bet it doesn’t last anything like as long as the old building has, I give it 30 years!

Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Willow Tearooms, Glasgow

Willow Tearooms  in Glasgow

On our recent stopover in Glasgow I had thought that we might have our lunch at one of The Willow Tearooms in the city. But we were too busy photographing the loads of gorgeous buildings nearby, so we ended up just having Cornish pasties – on the go. Next time we’ll be more organised.

Willow tea rooms

These tearooms were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh – as I’m sure you will have realised. The photos above are of the tearoom at the bottom of Buchanan Street. You can read about them here. The actual tearoom is upstairs I believe.

The photos below are of the tearooms at the top of Sauchiehall Street. These have only fairly recently been opened as a tearoom again as the building had been taken over by a jewellers for some years.

Willow Tearooms

I think the windows of this one are wonderful. You can see images of the tearooms here.

Willow Tearooms

It was Miss Cranston who commissioned C.R. Mackintosh to design her tearooms for her and you can see the original interior in the Kelvingrove Art Galleries in the west end of Glasgow. There are more images of The Miss Cranston interior in the gallery here.

Nowadays of course there are gift shops alongside the tearooms. There’s so much Mackintosh inspired ‘stuff’ around that we have taken to calling it Mockintosh.

In fact I couldn’t resist buying some Mackintosh inspired fabric from the nearby Manders shop. I got a couple of yards in their sale, at a seventh of the original price! I have no idea what I’m going to use it for though.

Mackintosh fabric

Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games

After all the long countdown to the Commonwealth Games – I think they started it at 500 days before the start – the games themselves seemed to be over very quickly. I’m not the biggest sports fan but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Commonwealth Games, ever since they came to Edinburgh way back in 1970. They’re called the ‘friendly games’ and I think that that is really true, in comparison with the Olympics anyway.

The list of competing countries and territories seems almost endless, and it isn’t just ex British colonies which take part, some countries which were part of other empires have opted to join the Commonwealth. I’m not sure why they decided to do that, but it does have the Queen as its head, rather than an elected and often corrupt official.

Anyway, back to the games, four years ago Scotland bagged 26 medals (the highest had been 33 in Edinburgh in 1986) and so the target was to get more than those this time around and they managed that with bells on as 53 medals was the end result. Scotland came in fourth, behind England, Australia and Canada. But it isn’t really the medals which is the important thing, it’s the atmosphere of cooperation and friendly rivalry which it’s all about, with world class sports people competing alongside people who aren’t nearly so good. I love it that people try their best and don’t give up. One runner finished over 4 minutes after the race had been won but he made it to the end and got a huge cheer just for finishing. Also the ‘para’ games run at the same time so those sports have the same crowds. You can see the medals table here.

If you’re interested you can see a lot of the races and events here. And there are more images here.

Best of all though is that the city of Glasgow was well showcased. It’s a place which has suffered from having a really rough reputation, but it’s not any more violent than any other large city and the friendliness of the locals is legendary, and I should know as I’m a Glaswegian myself!

The Games were pronounced to be the ‘best ever’ and I really think that that’s true. I was dying to go to Glasgow to soak up the atmosphere but the thought of all the crowds kept me away.

The opening ceremony overran by 40 minutes, to the horror of the dancers involved, poor souls, some of them were almost on their knees towards the end of it. I’m hoping you can see the video of it all here, dancing Tunnocks Teacakes and all, though that video isn’t available to me. It was the Scottie dogs which stole the show as they led the teams in.

Riverside Museum, Glasgow (Transport Museum)

Riverside Museum

It’s just a short walk from the Crowne Plaza Hotel to the Riverside Museum, and a very pleasant walk it is too on a sunny day, along the Clyde Walkway.
Riverside Museum
I used to visit the old transport museum quite often when it was housed at the Kelvin Hall and I was surprised that the new museum seems smaller than that one. On the other hand they have a lot packed into it, because as you can see above and below, they have layers of displays of vehicles which are cunningly affixed to the walls.
Riverside Museum
It isn’t only transport which you can see though, there are also displays of clothing from Edwardian to the 1950s and various other bits and pieces and of course a mock up of an old street, just as there was in the original museum, with old shops which you can go into. Trains, trams, motorbikes, fire engines, horse drawn carriages, even mobility scooters feature in the museum and of course there’s a sailing ship anchored at the back of the museum.
Riverside Museum of Transport

Riverside Museum

Riverside Museum

I was particularly pleased to see the original Peace Camp caravan which had been parked opposite the nuclear submarine base at Faslane for years. After all, it’s part of Scottish history and we drove past it often as we lived nearby in our young days. The peace camp was set up in the 1970s by people who were against nuclear bombs and didn’t want anything like that on Scottish land or water. Every time we went past this caravan at Faslane Peace Camp my father-in-law would huff and puff with fury – what an eyesore that is – why are they allowed to park it by the roadside? – it’s a blot on the landscape!
The Peace Caravan at Riverside Museum.

He was an old Tory but even so, his reaction always amused me as I looked at what was on the opposite side of the road – miles and miles of enormous razor wire fencing surrounding what is genuinely a beautiful landscape, completely spoiled by the Ministry of Defence who saw fit to dump nuclear weapons in Scotland, when nobody here wants the ghastly things.
Apparently the peace camp is still there, with newer caravans, but it’s ages since I’ve been along that road. I would really like a caravan like this one for my garden though, it would be better than a summerhouse, but I don’t think it would be very easy to get it over the fence.

The car below was made at the Argyll Car Factory which was near where I was brought up. The car factory didn’t last long though, they were just too expensive and the factory itself had been so expensively built, the staircases inside were made of marble! it looked like a palace, not a factory and I know this because when my dad’s wee shop in Glasgow was flattened in the 1960s he ended up working in this factory. It must have been hellish for a man who had always been his own boss, by then the factory was government owned, making torpedoes of all things. Dad just pushed a pen there, I suppose it was what people have to do to get food on the table for the family.
Riverside Museum
Anyway, the Riverside Museum is well worth visiting if you find yourself in Glasgow. It is European Museum of 2013.

Glasgow at Easter

It’s over three weeks since we moved house and we’re still in a guddle (mess) mainly because of the books, we just don’t have enough space for them all and I’ve tried weeding some out but it doesn’t make much difference to the piles. Anyway, you might know that we went over to the west of Scotland at Easter, we were in Glasgow for one night only!

The area we visited is the most recent part of the city to have been spruced up and I couldn’t help wondering what my parents would have thought of it all. I think they would have liked it, the people in Glasgow have always been keen on modernity, in fact my dad was one of those people who had broken up a Georgian sideboard for firewood in the 1950s, but I suppose nobody wanted them then and he wouldn’t have been the only person doing things like that.

Dad was a fruiterer and florist and his shop was very close to where I took these photos, in Finnieston, but his shop was flattened in the 1960s in another phase of Glasgow’s constant modernisation.

Unfortunately flickr has changed the way you can embed photos. As a result they now appear smaller. Click on each one to get the full size. (You’ll have to click back to get back to the blog post though.) Why do websites keep changing things for no good reason?

BBC Scotland

The above photo is of the BBC Scotland building.

In the foreground below is a footbridge (Bell’s Bridge) over the River Clyde. The building behind it is where the convention Jack was attending was held.

Crowne Plaza + Bell's

The photo below is of the Clyde Arc bridge, commonly known as the Squinty Bridge.

Squinty Bridge

The next photo is of the Riverside Museum of Transport. As you can see it’s a very unusual building but inside it has some great exhibits (I’ll show you those photos tomorrow) the museum was named the European Museum of 2013.

Riverside Museum

You can go and look around the tall ship which is anchored outside the museum, it’s the Glenlee. For some reason this photo is full size!

Tall Ship 2
Next is the Riverside Museum, looking west along the River Clyde.


The photo below is looking east towards the city centre.

from Riverside

It always amazes me that so few tourists ever think of visiting Glasgow. Edinburgh is always the destination for travellers, whether they’re in Britain or from abroad, and believe me, if you’ve only visited Edinburgh then you aren’t really getting the Scottish experience at all. Edinburgh is teeny compared with Glasgow and is so staid and dour. But Glasgow is just jumping with atmosphere.

Luckily lots of new people will find out for themselves when the Commonwealth Games take place there later this year. I think I can safely say that they’ll be fab!

The Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope

I enjoyed reading the previous book in the Palliser series so much that I couldn’t wait long to get stuck into this one. It’s all very topical as Trollope was writing about the 1870s Whig (Liberal)-Tory coalition and the problems it caused.

Poor Plantagenet Palliser or the Duke of Omnium as he is now has been given the job of Prime Minister and as the two political factions really hate each other like poison, just as they do now, he isn’t really the right man for the job. Planty is still hankering after decimalisation and reforming the weights and measures system, he doesn’t have the temperament which is needed to keep on the right side of everyone at Westminster. He doesn’t have the gift of being all things to all men (or women) in fact he snubs them inadvertently, and they don’t forget it.

Meanwhile, his wife the duchess aka Lady Glencora has become wildly ambitious, in fact she really thinks that she could run the government better than any of them (don’t we all!). She throws herself into becoming a great political hostess with the intention of making her husband very popular but she tries too hard and ends up being disappointed. Obviously nobody had told her that all political careers end in tears.

Again, Trollope has two very strong women characters, the other one being Emily Wharton. I had always thought that Trollope was very fair minded when it came to women and really ahead of the times regarding women’s freedom of thought and their rights but it didn’t stop him from writing two female characters who are really bad judges of character. Both Glencora and Emily are easily taken in by a handsome face and slick manners. Maybe that was Trollope’s experience of women. Anyway, disaster ensues. I’m fairly sure that my blood pressure took a battering from Ferdinand Lopez’s antics and his wife’s reactions to them!

Although this book was first published in 1876 the themes are all so similar to life at Westminster and in the ‘City’ of today. Ferdinand Lopez is a gambler on the stock exchange and buys and sells commodities which usually don’t even exist. It’s all a con and he uses other people’s money to gamble with. He would fit in well in the financial scene of today.

If you know anything about Victorian politics it’s easy to pick out Mr Gresham as being Gladstone and Daubeney is Disraeli. Topics such as suffrage and political reform are being discussed but as someone said recently, they discuss things in Westminster for 100 -150 years before anything actually happens, as proven by the decimalisation of the currency!

And here we are 150 or so years later in a Liberal-Tory coalition, they still hate each other like poison but it’s supposed to be for the good of the country but in reality they just want to hang on to power. We are back to being ruled by a bunch of old Etonians, just as they were in Trollope’s day, and they think that we (the people) are a bunch of oiks and plebs!

I have to say that it’s much better reading about Trollope’s Westminster rather than the politics of today. I’m going straight on to reading the last one in the series, The Duke’s Children.
I’m obviously not the only person to be reminded of the Victorian Whig/Tory coalition.