Last Day in Glasgow

July 14, 2016 - Oban, United Kingdom

Sadly our last day in Glasgow has arrived - and not a cloud in the sky. It's not even cold, although not exactly warm either. We had said last night that we would go on the Hop-on-Hop-off bus, and Rosie was keen, but when we rang this morning, the three of them were going to lunch at Lebowski's first. So Max and I got our bus brochure stamped by John at the hotel, and spent a few moments of hilarity while we all marvelled at the massive discount of £1 off the £12 ticket. The staff here are wonderful, not only efficient and helpful but friendly and funny as well.

We walked down to George Square but the bus stop had been moved on account of the Homeless World Cup in the square, so we walked around the corner to stop 7 thus doing the west end loop first. We remembered quite a bit of Neil Oliver's commentary, although it has been updated since 1913, among other things to take account of the completion of the Armadillo and the SSE Hydro, which are, respectively, a concert hall and a multi-purpose venue.

As we went along Argyle Street I kept my eyes open for Lebowski's, and sure enough there was Olly lounging in a chair in the sun and making a phone call. Because my reflexes are slow, and my sensory processing skills are below par, I missed a great photo opportunity. We heard later that Zack was bitterly disappointed, having put his day on hold for a haggis lunch at Lebowski's only to find they served it only at weekends.

We did a complete circuit, and this time we were taken past Glasgow Green in the East End and Neil reminded us that if you live in Glasgow you can graze a sheep there. Nobody seemed to be taking advantage of this privilege as far as we could see. As the bus turned around by The People's Palace (a museum) and an old carpet factory (ditto) we caught a glimpse of the largest terracotta fountain in - Glasgow? Scotland? The World? - before going back through the park, and then passing through the business section of the town. On the other side of the river is the district known as The Gorbals, in which my many-times-great grandparents lived for a time. It had been, so Neil told us, a leper colony and the lepers were allowed to come over the river only once a week to shop for food, ringing their 'gory bells'. Or something like that.

We did another half circuit and got off at the University (Zack and Rosie did some runs around there, and a little bit of exploring, and were so impressed they mentioned coming over to do a PhD each. A noble ambition which may not survive their return to working life). We did another tour of The Mackintosh House, this time without a guide, and marvelled again at how beautiful it is, and what a shock it must have been to Victorian taste. Even today it seems more fresh and modern than some of the English homes I've seen - not many in the flesh, as it were, but plenty in programmes such as Escape to the Country.

Max was wilting, so got off the bus at the stop nearest our hotel, while I went on to the Cathedral. Built in stages from the 12th Century, it fortunately survived the Reformation zeal of Henry VIII. The Gothic architecture is beautiful, of course, as is much of the stained glass, but it seemed a little bleak compared to, say, Durham or Exeter. This may be because I walked around in the cold, or possibly because it contains only little islands of activity, such as a Cathedral shop tucked away in the corner, and a few chairs in some of the chapels. I may be wrong, but it didn't give me the feeling of being much used, with crowds seated in pews in the nave for example.

As I walked back onto the street who should I see hopping off the bus but Zack, Rosie and Lucie. I showed them the gravestone of Dr Peter Lowe, set into the wall, then they went in to explore - and later, they told me, to enjoy a stroll and a stretch in the sun at the Necropolis. Lucie said later that her visit to the Cathedral was one of the highlights of her trip to Glasgow. I was delighted! I hurried back into town to catch The Lighthouse before it closed, as by then it was 4 o'clock. It is part of the building Mackintosh designed for the Glasgow Herald, and the part that houses architects' offices and a Mackintosh interpretive centre and shop is in a tall tower set at the corner of the building. I climbed up the apparently endless, heart-attack-inducing circular staircase and was rewarded with a view over the city. There was still time for a fairly quick trip around the Mackintosh exhibits, where one was allowed to take photos (unlike the Mackintosh houses) and the shop.

Back at the hotel, I collected Max for a walk over to Finneston's, the seafood restaurant which Zack had booked for 8.30. The food was sensational. Even Olly ('Seafood's not really my thing, Gran') enjoyed his perfectly cooked fish and chips, with it's own tiny jar of pickles and a side of Toulouse sausage cassoulet. He avoided the accompanying mushy peas though, as a result of what was evidently an unfortunate experience with same at Harry's Cafe de Wheels some years ago. Zack ordered a bewildering array of mussels, haggis-crumbed something or other, scallops and I can't remember what else. And there was a lot more, all of which I photographed, sometimes with cries of amazement. Sarah and I shared a rice pudding, and Max and Lucie a treacle tart.

We heard that David and Sarah had enjoyed the Kelvingrove Museum and the Botanic Gardens, and had then had lunch and a drink in town.

Olly was on a real high, having spent a considerable part of the day negotiating the sale of his laptop and Samsung phone and the purchase of one of those unbelievable Apple watches and an iPhone. The net financial result of his negotiations was, we gathered, that he had to shell out less than he was expecting. He has always been a self-confessed and unrepentant gadget freak!

All too soon we had to say goodbye as they are off to Edinburgh in the morning, so they bundled Max and me into a taxi, carrying their suits and shoes which we promised to deliver to them in Derby.


The 'squinty' bridge
SSE Hydro - part of the Entertainment complex.
The 'armadillo', or Clyde Auditorium
Mackintosh House Museum


Sue Bonjer:
July 17, 2016
well you well and truely say that your"done" Glasgow. enjoy the rest of the trip
July 18, 2016
Clearly your extraordinary stamina is undiminished, Margie.
I dips me lid.
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