Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write a Travelogue (11/06/14)
- TITLE: My Glasgow
By Melanie Kerr
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It’s a tough motto to live up to. Glasgow has let itself off the hook by reducing it to just three words – “Let Glasgow Flourish.” It is the largest city in Scotland and boasts once being the European City of Culture, more recently hosting the Commonwealth Games.
If it’s culture you are looking visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. Earlier this year the temporary exhibition was “Let Glasgow Flourish”. I’d read the stories of St Mungo and Glasgui, his “dear green place” and expected the exhibition to fill in some of the spaces. The focus was on the industrial revolution and how the wealth of the city was built on slavery and oppression. Fictional characters from all walks of life told their story in information boards and black and white photos of people and pages from business ledgers. Preaching the Word and praising the Name of God didn’t really feature. I much preferred their earlier exhibition “The History of Football”. Every cup ever awarded, every strip ever worn and even a virtual football field with a kickable ball projected on the floor – it was every supporter’s favourite place. No visit to the museum is complete without a visit to see Salvador Dali’s St John of the Cross.
Still looking for my St Mungo fix I visited The Lighthouse, Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture. Not a pretty building, it looks like the annex of the nearby multi story car park. The top floor is the visitor centre with a slide show tracing the history of Glasgow. Beginning with a tumble of buildings next to a river it spread out like ink on blotting paper. Outside the film room the walls are decorated with pictures of famous weegies past and present including Billy Connoly and John Logie Baird. Peter Capaldi, the current Dr Who, isn’t there -yet.
A large street map filled most of the floor space. I traced the road to the hotel I was staying in, and the train station I arrived in. My husband worked out where Ranger’s Ibrox stadium was and stamped on the “sons of darkness”. He then knelt down to kiss Celtic’s ParKhead Stadium. He touched roads and buildings tracing the places he had worked and pubs he had been barred from.
No visit to Glasgow is complete without a bit of shopping. Forget the Buchanan Galleries, the shopping centre in the heart of Glasgow. Leave Sauchiehall Street to the buskers and the busy crowds. On Saturday and Sunday mornings the best place to go is the old Candleriggs market, or the Merchant Square. It’s a large indoor space surrounded on all sides by restaurants. If it’s Italian pasta, or Spanish tapas or Irish Stew you want all taste buds are catered for, but it doesn’t come cheap.
Every weekend there is a craft market at Candleriggs. The floor is packed with tables packed with handmade jewellery or knitted jumpers or felt hats. My niece was in the last few days of her pregnancy so I bought a “baby cube” – baby-grows, socks and nine disposable nappies packed into a cube shape. A local poet was selling a selection of books. We talked shop for a while, not quite in rhyming couplets but near enough. My husband listened in awe as the man recited a poem about Celtic’s magnificent victory over Barcelona a year or two ago.
Still avoiding the High Street stores head to the Barras, a mixture of street markets, indoor markets, shops and pubs in the East end of Glasgow. The market sellers know their scripts. They are not looking for £50 pounds, at £30 they are all but giving it away, no, lady, just give them £10 and the pile of towels is all yours to take away! Our first set of towels when we were newly married came from the Barras.
It’s worth exploring the different floors of the indoor market. My husband is drawn to books much like a mosquito is drawn to the sulcatone excreted on human skin. After much sorting through boxes he found treasure - an early edition of “Shep the Sheepdog” by Enid Blyton.
A cup of tea to end the day? The elegant Willow Tearooms look down on Sauchiehall Street. No cardboard cups with logos stamped on the side, but proper china tea pots, cups and saucers. Charles Rennie Mackintosh fans will love everything about it. A contented sigh.
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