South West Scotland 2021: Part One
31 August- 1 September 2021
After yesterday’s all day drive up to Scotland, I didn’t plan too much for today, chilling mostly and only venturing out when my daughter had a job interview. River and I walked to Glasgow Necropolis on Emily’s suggestion and looked to spend a couple of hours out exploring. Wow, WHAT a location! The Necropolis is a huge Victorian graveyard built in 1835 on a hill next to the Cathedral. With a monument to John Knox (Scottish minister and religious reformer) already in position, the graveyard grew to have around 50,000 people buried here, many without headstones, but the area is still home to over 3,500 memorials that visitors can wander through. It was amazing here, although where it was warm and sunny, it created a far too happy atmosphere for a location I felt would suit some incredible moody photos. I was really excited at the prospect of coming back though, when the atmosphere suited my impression of the place – dark, grim or foggy please! The warm happy sunshine brought too much joy here for today though so I simply I wandered through the characterful graveyard, and snapped some pictures on my phone for ideas.
Once she was done, Emily phoned to say she was heading home so I headed back too and we passed the rest of the day with me assisting her moving and picking up several items she needed a larger vehicle for.
Oh dear what an awful day today would end up. I took River and we walked all the way to the botanical gardens. I had overestimated the distance – and the weather. The sun beamed down and the heat was quite blistering, consequently we were knackered by the time we got there so we just sat in the sunshine, had fluids, and rested for some time. I bought a wrap to eat and looked around at the packed park. There seemed no point trying to take any pictures here, since it looked like any old park on a packed sunny day. After we rested a bit, I looked at going into the glass houses instead, but dogs weren’t allowed in. This felt so very disappointing here!
Feeling a little despondent over this location, I thought I would try the Squinty Bridge instead, 40 minutes walk away… It seemed do-able, but took me much longer than I expected. My feet were getting really sore, and I walked at a super plod speed, trying to find as many shaded areas as I could for River to walk in. As I neared the spot I had plotted on Google maps, I realised I had clicked on ‘Squiggly bridge’ – and this was clearly the wrong one! Frustrated with myself, I re routed, only to walk 10 mins in the wrong direction. Agh!! I turned back to Squiggly bridge (actual name is Tradeston bridge, but the locals have named it Squiggly) and aimed to continue in that direction towards the Clyde Arc (also known as the Squinty Bridge – the one I was after – can you see why the mistake occurred?!). We paused at Squiggly and saw that its actually got a very apt name. It isn’t a straight bridge, it curves in a gentle S shape as it crosses the River Clyde. I took some photos of it with my phone before we crossed it, since I was really taken with the reflection in the still water of the river. It showed that this bridge had an equally attractive underside, visible only when the water stilled enough I guess!
As we plodded over the bridge, looking out over the water, we were stopped by a young man who asked to stroke River. I said yes, seeing no problem with this, and as he petted her he started to tell me that his dog had been stolen and that he was really sad. He kept talking, and I found it very hard to leave, feeling terribly rude to do so, since he was clearly getting some solace stroking my dog. As he continued talking and petting River however, I noticed his hands kept going to her collar, gripping it, then letting go. I ended up a little unnerved, but before I could take my leave, a second (seemingly drunk) man came up and also started petting her, with similar movements around the collar. I wasn’t at all comfortable with this, but really couldn’t get away, with a man now either side of me, blocking me and both effectively holding onto my seated dog. Then the ‘drunk’ man asked ‘how much does one of these cost?’. At this, the younger man answered £1000. I felt terribly unsettled by now but saw an opportunity. I laughed lightly and said ‘well, while you two discuss how much MY dog will sell for, we really need to be on our way’ and I immediately pushed through them and left. Thankfully their grip on Rivers collar had loosened at my sudden movement and she slipped through their hands. Sore feet or not, we both walked at pace off the bridge and kept going until I was sure we weren’t followed.
We walked all the way to the correct bridge, sat for a short while to rest my feet, and then continued down to the next one to get a better vantage point. As it was nearing sunset, I decided to stay for that. The sky was pure blue, so nothing but a dirty pink happened from my position but I took a photo anyway… After all, I’d been carrying my whole kit with me all day, I should get it out once at least! The water was still pretty flat as I snapped the photo, but it changed a few minutes, later, so that was something anyway. Another photographer there, with his back to me, was frantically firing shots in the opposite direction, but for the life of me, I couldn’t quite see what was exciting him. Yes, the sun was setting that side, and I did snap a couple of pictures for the sake of it, but I genuinely felt there was no focal point to the image and ‘just the sun setting’ really didn’t do it for me. Even looking at the pictures these months later, I am asking ‘…but what did I take a photo OF??!’ Looking back upriver, I realised that the best time for a photo here would be at sunrise. I suspect the sun will rise behind this bridge. Now I bet THAT looks wonderful!
From here I went to get an uber home. My first time trying to catch one of these, but I was SO exhausted that I really couldn’t face taking another step. Today had felt highly frustrating, and like Glasgow was against me, but at least being driven back would feel like a treat. That was until the guy pulled up, saw River and waved ‘No Dogs! No Dogs!!’ pulling away before I had even gotten close. But I had PUT that in a message before you even accepted the job you @$#!@!! I nearly cried I was so tired. I waited a moment to gather myself and tried again. The second uber driver responded with ‘absolutely! No problem!’, and arrived a few minutes later. He happily chatted about his own pooch, and telling me all about his life here since coming from Eastern Europe a couple of years ago. He was genuinely lovely, and restored my faith in the service. Not that I have used it since…
On reviewing the day, I saw I had walked 11 miles in the blistering heat. Not a good day for the total lack of inspiration I felt… But I was happy to take the hit, because my daughter had already been told that she had landed her dream job, and if it offset the balance in the universe, it was well and truly worth the pain!