Jackie Stewart

Speedsters promo picture

And now for something completely different ….
If you are interested in motor-sport and you happen to be within easy travelling distance of Perth, then you might want to pay a visit to Perth Museum and Art Gallery, 78 George Street, Perth.

At the moment they are having an exhibition of photographs in celebration of Scottish motor sports legends. It’s called Speedsters and there are 47 photographs on show in the upper round gallery of the museum. Here are some of them.


Part of display

They include action shots of Jim Clark and Sir Jackie Stewart. It ends with a portrait shot of Dario Franchitti. The exhibition continues until 11th December and entry is free.

Jackie Stewart was the local hero when I was growing up as he lived just along the road from me and he was the main reason I became interested in F1 racing. This has passed on to the next generation.

Here’s a film of him driving round Brands Hatch.

The museum is a great place to go to as a family because everyone is bound to find something to interest them there.

There are displays of silver, furniture, Scottish pottery and art and a lot of local history objects.

The large natural history section would probably be the favourite part for any youngsters. There are plenty of stuffed animals and geological specimens, including a large meteorite.

So if you find yourself in Perth, don’t just trawl around the shops. Give yourself a rest from consumerism and take the short walk from the High Street to the museum for a spot of something different.

Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery


Kelvingrove Museum And Art Gallery

This Museum and Art Gallery is a real home from home to just about everyone who grew up in or around the Glasgow area. It is the most visited museum in Britain if you don’t count the London ones which obviously get masses of tourist trade.

I think our mothers took us from a very early age partly because it was somewhere to take kids which was warm and dry, which is always a bonus when you live in such a wet climate.

It’s a great habit to get into though and I’m sure that it has given millions of people a real love and appreciation of the arts over the years.

We were deprived of it for four whole years whilst refurbishment took place and I was chewing at the bit to get there when it re-opened. So was everybody else apparently because the place was absolutely heaving with people and it was great to see so many youngsters for whom it must have been their first visit.

Kelvingrove was built for the 1901 International Exhibition and although other buildings were erected for it they were only ever meant to be temporary for the duration of the exhibition.

The International Exhibition was a great success and the profits from it were kept in a fund which was used to purchase art works and artefacts.

It seems hard to believe but in 1951 the fund still had £8,200 in it. In London the Salvador Dali painting called Christ of St. John of the Cross was being exhibited with a price tag of £12,000 on it.

I think there must have been quite a lot of haggling but eventually Dali accepted the £8,200 and the Dali belonged to Glasgow. Much to the horror of quite a lot of people who thought it was a ridiculous sum of money to give to a living artist.

It must be worth several million now and although I really don’t like religious art I must admit to a fondness for this one. Especially the bottom section of it. If you happen to be in the Glasgow area be sure to check it out.

When people think of Dali nowadays they think of his surrealist art. My favourite has always been the melting clocks. For more information on him check out Echostains’s blogpost here.

Glasgow Scotland Street School

We managed to fit in a visit to Glasgow just at the end of the school holidays here. My husband is a teacher so he will be back at the chalk face on Monday.

We drove over The Squinty Bridge for the first time. I really like it, I think it’s quite elegant. They’ve been doing some radical road tweaking recently (as usual) so it was all a bit confusing.

Day 330/366 - The Squinty Bridge

Eventually we got to our destination which was the Scotland Street School. Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1905 and used as a primary school until 1979, it has now become a museum of education. The building is really stylish and very different from the very plain Victorian school which I went to.

It must have been nice to have some lovely coloured tiles and windows instead of the very utilitarian design of most schools.

They still had the belt (tawse) for punishment just like the rest of us, until it was banned in 1982 or thereabouts. They have one on show but I have one hanging up in my dining-room. It is quite a talking point as younger folk can’t believe that you could get ‘six of the best’ from such a heavy, thick strap of leather until fairly recently.

I can hardly believe it myself really, although I witnessed it plenty of times. I always managed to avoid it but lived in fear of it. Sometimes if a teacher couldn’t get someone to own up to a misdemeanour – the whole class ended up getting it.

Teachers must have had plenty of stamina then, anyway I digress.

If you are into Rennie Mackintosh architecture and design you will enjoy a visit to this school.

Edinburgh (Capital Punishment)

We had a lovely day out in Edinburgh yesterday, keeping well away from Princes Street. I’m from Glasgow and we laughingly call such a trip capital punishment.

First we visited the National Gallery of Modern Art, it has free plentiful parking and free entry so no worries there.

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh

We used to take our boys to the gallery quite often when they were wee, you can’t start them off too young. I can’t tell you how impressed an art teacher was when one of them recognised a Henry Moore from a photograph.

Reclining Figure

Unfortunately there is a Damien Hirst exhibition on at the moment and it just left me completely cold. Fish, a dead sheep and a medicine cabinet. I just don’t get it at all and to me his whole career has come about because the so called experts weren’t brave enough to stand up and say what garbage his ‘art’ really is. The diamond encrusted skull was so unoriginal and boring.

I watched Newsnight Review last night and Kirsty Wark and company seemed to be surprised by how bad his attempts at more traditional art were. Actually, they wondered if he had deliberately made poor attempts as they didn’t seem to think it was possible for the great Damien Hirst to be so evidently talentless.

Well, I’ve never seen any evidence that he has ever had any talent. It’s just The Emperor’s New Clothes all over again.

Anyway. To shake off the Hirst mind numbingly boring experience, we decided to take a walk along the Water of Leith path which is just at the back of the Gallery.

Water Of Leith 1

We hadn’t been that way before and decided to turn left and took the path to Stockbridge rather than Balerno as we haven’t the foggiest notion of what there is to see at Balerno.

Water Of Leith 2

It was a really lovely day and it was quite busy down there what with joggers, walkers and cyclists. The water was really picturesque with great reflections of the autumnal trees.

Water Of Leith 3

I was surprised that there is so much housing along the way and some really great buildings, both modern, old and sort of repro. It must be a popular place to live as it is so rural but close to the city.

It wasn’t long before we were mounting the steps leading to Stockbridge which always seems to be quite villagey to me. It even has a traditional butcher shop and I can tell you that they are really thin on the ground in Scotland now – and I never thought I would find myself saying that. That’s Tesco for you.

There are nice independent shops like a cheesemonger as well. It’s just a pity that there are so many charity shops, although I shouldn’t really complain about that as we did buy quite a few books. Now we just have to find space for them, usual problem. It was nice to see that Scotmid has taken over the old Woolworths shop as I know that the local residents had a bit of a battle to stop one of the big supermarkets from taking it over. That would have killed off the whole area shop-wise.

So if you ever feel tempted towards capital punishment do yourself a favour and shun Princes Street for a nice slice of real Edinburgh life.

Perth, Scotland

Had a nice day out in Perth yesterday. We visited the J.D. Fergusson Gallery which has a good exhibition of his art – as you would expect. They have hundreds of his little sketches, mainly from the 1910 era when he was in Paris. I love to see artists’ doodles. He really seemed to be able to capture whole personalities on wee scraps of paper.

Upstairs, the gallery has works by various Scottish colourist artists and by people who were influenced by them. Here are three by Fergusson himself.

Fergusson paintings

Fergusson paintings

These are by other artists.

Three non-Fergussons

Three non-Fergussons

If you’re interested in art and are in the vicinity of Perth then this gallery is definitely worth a visit. For some reason it isn’t advertised in The Guardian Guide under exhibitions, which I usually rely on to keep me informed of what is going on.

The building itself is an old converted water tower and it is nice that they have been able to convert it into a useful facility. Admission is free too, which is always nice.

If you are interested in The Colourists, you should try to get a look at the Scottish Colourists 1900 – 1930 by Philip Long.

Book cover

Book cover

As we were close to the river we went for a stroll along the embankment, which has been spruced up in recent years and has stylish metal gates leading on to the river steps.

Embankment gates

Embankment gates

Unfortunately, it was a bit of a grey day yesterday. The river Tay was about as placid as I have ever seen it though and old bridges always look good. Perth Bridge was built in 1755 so it’s looking pretty good for its age.

Bridge over Tay at Perth

Bridge over Tay at Perth

I reckon it will be another week or two before the trees really start changing colour though and then the whole of Perthshire is really worth a visit, just for that.

Riverbank trees and Church

Riverbank trees and Church

Haworth Parsonage

The next stop on our road trip was Haworth, which I have always wanted to visit since I read Jane Eyre when I was about 12. I have to admit that my first reading of it was 38 years ago – I can hardly believe it.

I wasn’t disappointed. We arrived in Haworth quite late at night and so we had the chance to see the parsonage when it was beginning to get dark and there was nobody else about and that was a really good start to the Haworth experience.

We left the B&B around 9.30 the next morning as we knew that the parsonage didn’t open until 10 o’clock and we wanted to have a bit of a walk around Haworth before then. So again we just about had the place to ourselves as things seem to start very slowly there and most of the shops don’t open until 11 o’clock.

Looking around the place my first impression was much better than I had imagined it would be. The countryside is really lovely and the parsonage is set at the top of a very steep hill where you would think there would be plenty of fresh air to keep you healthy. However, if you go on the guided tour you will discover that the graveyard just outside the parsonage garden was absolutely stuffed with bodies as the mortality rate was the highest in the whole country. We visited the graveyard before going into the parsonage and tombstone wise it is the busiest I have seen by far, and I’ve seen quite a lot of graveyards in my day as I like going around them – there’s no accounting for it really. And when you think that most of the bodies would have been tucked underground in nothing but a shroud, as a coffin would be too expensive and a gravestone just out of the question, you get the idea that Haworth was not a great place to be. However, even I was shocked to discover that there were 42,000 bodies buried there before it was closed down. So many that they couldn’t decompose properly.

Haworth Parsonage

Haworth Parsonage

Anyway, onward to the parsonage, which as you can see looks lovely. Apart from the view of that graveyard a stone’s throw from the front door. I was quite amazed that so much of the furniture had actually belonged to the Brontes. Often, museums just have furniture which is of the correct period in them so it is really lovely to see the real things, including the sofa on which Emily died.

So many personal belongings are on show. Letters and tiny books, art work, dresses, shoes, jewellery, hair, sewing boxes and even dog collars. The house is beautifully decorated and set out and I would recommend visiting it if you are at all interested in the Brontes.

The one thing that surprised me was the size of the place. I had always imagined the parsonage to be really big as it does look very imposing in photographs. In reality it is much smaller than I had thought it to be and it must have been quite a squeeze to fit 6 children, mum and dad and a servant into it. Parsonages and manses are usually huge, so I think Haworth must have been a very poor parish. I wonder if Reverend Bronte ever tried to move elsewhere.

It was all too much for me to take in really, so I will have to go back again when we aren’t so pushed for time. I would like to take a walk on the moor over to High Withens.

The staff are very friendly and you can use your entry ticket for a whole year, which is brilliant if you live nearby. Unfortunately it was a 5 hour drive for us.

If you do get the chance to go, make sure that you find time to attend the very interesting talk and the tour of the churchyard.

Imperial War Museum North

Imperial War Museum

Imperial War Museum North

We went for a bit of a road trip around some of the north-west of England and as the war museum had been recommended to us as a great place to visit we made our way there.

What a fantastic place, I couldn’t fault anything at all. Make sure that you wear really comfortable shoes, though, if you do go, because it took us about four hours to get around it all and I was pretty nearly exhausted by the end of it.

I had never been to the Imperial War Museum in London before as it was actually shut on the day that I was in London. It was about thirty years ago and at that time most of the museums were not open the whole week. I don’t really know why but I suspect it was all the fault of the ghastly Maggie Thatcher, I’m blaming her anyway.

Consequently, I had no real idea of what would be on show. Well they had just about everything. Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to take any photographs, so you will just have to take my word for it that they had a Harrier jump-jet hanging from the ceiling and various different vehicles which my husband could recognise from a vast distance, it must be a bloke thing.

But there were also lots of more personal things. People’s letters and cards, photographs and clothes. The most moving exhibit to me was a massive pile of suitcases which had been piled up on top of each other making the shape of a huge doorway. Representing just some of the people whose lives had been ripped apart by war.

The only thing that I think it lacked was an actual Anderson shelter, which you could go into and sit for a bit to imagine what it must have been like, maybe they could rig up the sound of bombs dropping outside as well. I’m quite willing to admit that this could just be me being a bit strange and that nobody else would find that interesting at all. As a 5 year old I suffered from Anderson shelter envy. I could only gaze over the garden fence at the next door neighbour’s shelter and I always wanted one to play at ‘house’ in.

The Daniel Libeskind building, which came in for a lot of flak at the time it was built, is actually really great and perfect for the purpose.

You should make time to take the tour of the building which is provided every hour. We had a lovely, enthusiastic young woman called Jenny as our guide and she explained all the thinking which went into the structure and design of the space.

And it was all free, which I think is a good idea because I always feel the urge to be really generous with donations when I’m not actually forced to pay an entrance fee. I think I might be quite unusual in that way though as I didn’t see much evidence of hard cash in the donations box, apart from mine. There did seem to be a lot of 5 pences and coppers. Such meanies.

A highly recommended day out.