August 2017
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  • Day2

    On being English

    August 6, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    After almost 34 hours travel and little sleep it was a relief to arrive at Heathrow and escape the confines of our aeroplane, even if it was just for 3 hours. Our hoped-for shower failed to materialise and instead we queued - no E-passports here! E-baggage checkin - yes, but then the long queue to actually get said baggage onto baggage conveyor belt. Security - more queues and extra checking - "Sorry sir but your laptop was hidden under your pack. We'll need to scan it again. Oh and we'll need to scan your backpack again. Oh and we'll need to scan you toiletries bag again. Oh and we'll need to check the whole lot for explosives".

    Accepting our smelly fate, we headed to the bar. My mind might have been saying "Ngaire it's not even 9am!" but my body was on beer o'clock time. As we sat drinking our warm beer and crisps it occurred to me that, despite New Zealand being full of English people, things seemed somehow different when coming across them in the home country. They're so...English!
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  • Day2

    Glasgow at last

    August 6, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    The cityscape soon gave way to a patchwork of greens and browns as we headed north on the final leg our our journey. We were surprised when the hostess asked if we'd like a glass of wine and an antipasto platter. Seems Richard had inadvertently booked business class! Oh well - it was a lovely treat after the trials and tribulations of cattle class.

    Glasgow airport was a welcome relief after the madness of Heathrow and we were soon on our way to Fortrose Manor - our home for the next 4 days. After a quick meet and greet with our delightful hostess Christine and a most welcome shower, we succumbed to sleep. We'd planned to start re-setting our biological clocks by waking at 5pm, but said alarm was soon silenced and 8 hours later we woke to a surprising light evening sky.

    A quick supper of homemade bread and strawberry jam (part of our sumptious breakfast table), washed down with a cup of tea (of course) and it was off out for an evening stroll along the quiet streets. By chance we'd booked our BNB in a quiet leafy suburb near the 500 year old University of Glasgow. The area is characterised by multi-storey apartment buildings, no doubt 100s of years old. Always a treat for us colonials with our modern histories. The rain that had greeted our arrival returned, so we high-tailed back to our cosy abode. Sleep beckoned once again.
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  • Day3

    Riverside Museum

    August 7, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Glasgow is located on the north bank of the River Clyde and was once the centre of a major ship building industry. Indeed, the city was an industrial giant until the 1970s. The Riverside Museum is a dramatic zinc-panelled building housing an impressive array of transport-related exhibits. It's crammed full of trains, trams, cars, bikes and a myriad of other transportation modes (including an impressive skateboard collection), representing different phases in the development of Glasgow. It was truly impressive and somewhat overwhelming, especially for two somewhat jet-lagged folk who'd already spent the morning at Kelvingrove! Much more than simply a collection of old vehicles, the displays provided insight into the social impact of transport on the city.

    Adjacent to this museum is the Tall Ship, a maritime museum based on a restored Victorian sailing vessel. We'd seen the tall masts of this ship from our BNB - indeed this is what prompted our visit to the Riverside Museum. However, exhausted after 2 museums and our walk in the park we headed home, succumbing to jet-lagged fueled sleep. Somewhat rested we headed out to the rather oddly named (but highly recommended) Roastit Bubbly Jocks restaurant - our first proper dinner of the trip (bread and jam had been more than adequate up till now). A wondeful meal of guinea fowl, washed down with a lovely Spanish red, all overseen by a delightful host. Definitely worth a revisit.
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  • Day3

    Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery

    August 7, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Scotland's "most popular" gallery certainly lived up to its label, with a wonderful selection of artworks and museum pieces available for all to see, free of charge. Housed in a beautiful stone building, both Scottish and international artists are well-represented. We were impressed by the diversity of works presented - everything from a full-size Spitfire to Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross (though the latter was on loan). We also enjoyed the creative way in which works were presented, with many examples of interactive and/or thought-provoking curation. I especially enjoyed some of the works by the "Glasgow Boys", an informal grouping of some 20 artists who flourished in the later 1800s and early 1900s. "The Druids - Bringing the Mistletoe" by George Henry and EA Horne evoked memories of Klimnt's "Beethoven Frieze", with its depth of colour and ethereal atmosphere. Amongst the Scottish wildlife section we discovered the elusive haggis. Some believe it to be a small creature with shorter legs on one side of its body so it can run around hills more easily!

    To our delight a Mrs Whippy van greeted us as we departed the museum . I discovered a local delicacy - scallop cones - scallop-shaped cones filled with icecream and lashings of raspberry sauce. Yum! Finishing our treats we headed off in search of The Tall Ship - a restored Victorian sailing ship now marine museum located on the Clyde River. Or at least that's where we thought we were headed.
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  • Day3

    Kelvingrove Park and surrounds

    August 7, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Despite our best efforts to catch up on sleep, our bodies reminded us that jet lag is a physiological process - the balance of serotonin and melatonin needs to be re-set. In other words, we still woke early. With hours to fill before our first museum visit, we set off to explore the nearby Kelvingrove Park. Established in the mid 1800s, the park is commonly recognised as the first purpose-designed and constructed park in Scotland. It offered an alternative playground for the middle class to Glasgow Green, which at that time was "unashamably working class".

    Using one of the many useful brochures provided by our AirBNB host, we followed the heritage trail through the park. Of particular note were the Sunlight Cottages, which are representatives of early 20th century philanthropic model housing erected by Lever Brothers Limited for their workers at Port Sunlight, near Liverpool. These lovely ornate cottages are quite a contrast from our state houses!

    Varous statues dot the pathway, amongst them William Thomson or Lord Kelvin (of the Kelvin temperature scale). Apparently he started university at the age of 10, was a Professor of Natural Philosophy (Physics) by 21 and published over 600 papers. Talk about over-acheiver!

    The University of Glasgow sits on a hill overlooking the park, with sweeping views of the city beyond. The compact main campus combines impressive old buildings with more modern architecture. At more than 550 years old, it's no surprise that some very well known academics have graced these halls.

    A brief respite from the light rain came in the form of coffee and delicious scones in the former Queen's Room, overlooking the very pretty herbaceous border. Replenished, we made our way to the rather majestic Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and my first glimpse at the wonderful works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
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  • Day4

    Hill House

    August 8, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    It is simply not possible to capture the beauty of this house with 6 photos (which is all I can load with the free version of this travel blog site), but I recently discovered how to do collages! Hill House was absolutely stunning. The house was commissioned by Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie and completed by Macinktosh in 1902/1903. With his wife Margaret Macdonald, he designed both interior and exterior. Every detail contributes to the overall aesthetic, creating a sense of harmony. The mix of light and dark worked beautifully and there was a general air of tranquility. Every room was a work of art. The attention to detail was awe-inspiring. There were a couple of rooms where the owner had requested that Mackintosh incorporate his own, more traditional furniture. The contrast with Mackintosh's style was stark and highlighted his forward thinking. The gardens are also very beautiful, though it seems Mackintosh had little involvement in their design. Despite the popularity of this tourist attraction we managed to avoid major crowds, which added to a very memorable experience for us.Read more

  • Day4

    Charles Rennie Mackintosh

    August 8, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    For me, Glasgow means Charles Rennie Makintosh, Scotland's celebrated architect and designer, who became a leading figure in the Art Nouveau movement in the late 19th/early 20th century. His work is immediately recognisable with its fluidity of form and simplicity of line. He was well known for his treatment of a room as a complete "work of art". Much of his work was an artistic collaboration with his wife Margaret Macdonald. He took inspiration from Scottish traditions and blended them with the flourish of Art Nouveau and the simplicity of Japanese forms. There are still excellent examples of his work throughout Glasgow, not only in museums, but also whole buildings (such as the Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow School of Art, Queens Cross Church and Hill House). The next few entries will highlight some of our key Mackintosh experiences.

    Our first introduction to Mackintosh was at the Kelvingrove Museum, where a large collection of works by key names in the Glasgow Style are exhibited. Amongst them are Margaret Macdonald's stunning gesso panels "The Wassail", which were made for the Ladies Luncheon Room at Miss Cranston's Ingham StreetTea Room. Tea rooms were all the rage during this period and Miss Kate Cranston was an early proponent and leading entrepreneur. The panels depict the pagan fertility ceremony of wassailing, which aimed to promote a successful fruit crop. Another beautiful gesso panel "O Ye, All ye that walk in the Willowwood" was created for the Salon de Lux in the Willow Tea Rooms. Also on display was a setting from the Chinese Room (also known as the Blue Room), again from the Ingham Street Tea Rooms. This brief introduction to the work of Mackintosh and Macdonald set the scene for the remainder of our Glasgow exploration.
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  • Day5

    Queens Cross Church

    August 9, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Queen's Cross Church was one of Mackintosh's earliest buildings and indeed he was a trainee architect at the time. Commissioned by the Free Church of St Matthew, simplicity in design was necessary (in keeping with their beliefs). What Mackintosh produced was indeed simple but highly sophisticated in form. His trademark organic forms and limited colour palette were evident even at this early stage in his career. We were highly impressed by the excellent condition of the church and it's contents, thanks largely to the efforts of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society. This was one of the last Mackintosh sites we visited, but the earliest in terms of his career, and it was interesting to consider how his style had developed from this early example.Read more