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Pollock House, Glasgow, Scotland in winter

Thursday, December 31, 2009

This afternoon, Glasgow was still very wintry with sub-zero temperatures. However, the sun was shining with a blue sky so I went off to photograph Pollock House which dates from the mid 18th century and sits on the bank of the White Cart Water (river). This is the third generation of castle or mansion built on or near this site in the past 1000 years.

Pollock House, a Palladian mansion. was begun by famous Scottish architect, William Adam and finished by his son, John. The patron/owner was John Maxwell.

The woodlands and walled garden date from 1741.

John Stirling Maxwell placed the house and estate ( 458 hectares) under control of the National Trust for Scotland. Since 1998 the house and gardens have been managed by Glasgow City Council and are open to the public.

Here is the front aspect of the house (facing the river) with a snowman.

A weir on the White Cart. At one stage there was a small hydro electric scheme here to provide power for the house.
A dash of bright colour. These primula (polyanthus?) were found outdoors but in a sheltered alcove.

The next two images show the Pollock Beech, a 250 year old veteran growing on the site of the site of the second castle dating from around 1270. The unusual shape may be attributable to pests and diseases over the years.
Practice of tying ribbons to trees dates back thousands of years.

Woodland scene near to the Pollock Beech.

Interesting photo looking through a garden doorway.

A small formal garden in the library parterre.

A video showing the river and weir.



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Scottish Highland Cows in Winter

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Scotland continues to suffer from an exceptionally harsh winter spell. Yesterday the daytime temperature in central Scotland (Perthshire) fell to an incredible minus 17 degrees centigrade which is on a par with places like Iceland. Many properties are suffering from burst water pipes and/or frozen water pipes. Glasgow ( S.W. Scotland) is slightly milder than some of the cold spots in the Highlands but, nevertheless, temperatures remain at or below freezing and there is a good layer of snow and ice around.

This morning, there were some slushy snow showers combined with low temperatures and overcast skies, conditions which are not ideal for photography. In the circumstances, I went to off on my bike to visit a nearby herd of Highland Cattle. These animals are actually ideally suited to the type of weather we are experiencing and seem totally non-plussed.

This breed of cattle is very docile which meant I was able to up right close without unnerving them. The images below show these attractive animals in their icy habitat.

Mother and calf.

This video shows the entire herd. I think they viewed me as a curiosity!



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Glasgow Necropolis, Scotland

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This morning, with relatively clear skies but still sub-zero temperatures, I went off on my bike to visit Glasgow's Necropolis (City of the Dead) with two objects in mind: (a) to obtain information on various memorial stones for my Glasgow Ancestry blog and (b) to photograph some of the grander memorials in anticipation of setting up a new web page for this important site which is popular with visitors to Glasgow.

In essence the Necropolis was founded in the 19th century to house the remains of the wealthy and high status elite of Victorian Glasgow at a the time when the City was growing rapidly and aspired to the position of Second City of the (British) Empire.

This is an elevated site, conveniently close to the Cathedral, and as such affords a good panorama over Glasgow and environs.

The magnificent tombs and memorials now feature in a dedicated Heritage Trail for the benefit of interested visitors. In total there are 35 significant memorials which feature in the Trail. Below can be found a selection of relevant images. I aim to complete the set in due course.

This is the Major Archibald Douglas Monteath Mausoleum (1842). Monteath made his fortune in India. The design is based on the Knights Templar Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

This 35 ft high memorial to William McGavin dates from 1834. McGavin had a varied business career but was notable for his publication "The Protestant" which campaigned against Catholicism.

This is the Peter Lawrence Monument (1840). Lawrence was himself a sculptor of some note with examples of his work elsewhere in the Necropolis.

This is the Davidson of Ruchill Mausoleum and dates form 1851.

Davidson was a wealthy businessman whose wealth came from the lucrative muslin trade. The monument is modelled on a Greek temple.

Aitken of Dalmoak Mausoleum.

This grand and impressive building was designed by James Hamilton II and dates from 1875. Designed in Greek renaissance style it ranks as one of the largest mausolea on the site.
This is the William Miller Monument which dates from 1872. Miller was Glasgow born poet who lived 1810-1872. He died penniless but is remembered for for the poem " Wee Willie Winkie runs through the toon."

This is the entrance facade dating from 1836. Due to flooding and change of sentiment this subterranean crypt never achieved its original purpose.

This video clip provided a panoramic shot of the Necropolis including the nearby Cathedral. Included is the 70 ft. John Knox Monument (1825) which actually predates the Necropolis Cemetery. Knox was a famous Protestant reformer of the 16th century who is buried in St Giles Kirkyard, Edinburgh.



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Glasgow in Winter

Monday, December 28, 2009

Today we remain in the depths of a harsh winter spell in Glasgow, Scotland. Untreated roads are frozen solid, some of the main roads are blocked due to accidents and the elderly are suffering because of the severe cold which has gone as low as minus 16 centigrade. On the plus side four of Scotland's ski resorts are operational and the unusual weather makes for good photographs and various leisure activities.

This morning the weather prognosis was not good and I forced myself out with the aim of getting a few images showing just how bad things were here. I aimed for Queen's Park which benefits of a high elevation and on reaching the park was pleasantly surprised to witness the sun actually shining an a good part of Glasgow city. With the snow covered Campsie Fells (hills) in the background this vista provided some interesting photo opps the results of which are provided below.

Youngster out with sledge.

Frozen pond. Not much space let for the wildlife!

Glasgow City glistening in the winter sun with snow covered hills in the background.

Another aspect of Glasgow City.

Video clip of Glasgow panorama.



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Walk in the Park, Glasgow, Scotland

Sunday, December 27, 2009

This morning proved something of a challenge for images.

We are in the depth of winter, recovering from a exceptionally cold spell. There is still snow on the ground with continuing precipitation via a mix of wet snow and rain. Not surprisingly, there was little sign of sunlight.

Cognisant of the above conditions I set of for nearby Linn Park through which flows the White Cart Water (river) which, during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries ,actually powered many of Glasgow's nascent heavy industries, mills, etc. So, what is now a pleasant area for relaxation was, in past times, a heavy industrial area with all sorts of manufacturing, coal mining and quarrying.

Linn is a Scottish word connected with water. Llyn was the Brittonic (Welsh) word for lake and linne is Gaelic for pool, so the word occurs in most parts of Scotland.

After a visit to the park I went on to the nearby cemetery to obtain images and information for my separate GlasgowAncestry blog, a task not made easy by the poor light and wet snow.

Here is an image of Old Cathcart Cemetery in this morning's weather conditions.

Kids sledging at Linn Park

Dog walkers and families enjoying the snow.

This image shows the White Bridge over the White Cart. It was built around 1835 and is the oldest cast iron bridge in Glasgow. Quite attractive in a snowy setting!

This video clip shows the White Cart in winter including the White Bridge adverted to above.



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Historic Crookston Castle, Glasgow, Scotland

Saturday, December 26, 2009

This morning, Boxing Day, the temperature in Glasgow, Scotland rose to around zero but this relief was offset by a snow storm. I usually go out on my bike to get images but this morning I elected for the soft option and went off in the car to photograph historic Crookston Castle, which is the second oldest building in Glasgow. The wintry conditions certainly served to present the building in a different light!

The site may have been used as an Iron Age fort ( about 2000 years ago) but the current fortification probably dates from the late 12th century when Robert de Croc built the first recorded castle on the site. In 1330 the estate came into possession of the Stewarts of Darnley who undertook various improvements and embellishments. Following a siege in 1544 the castle was abandoned in the late 16th century.

Crookston Castle is under the care of Historic Scotland and is usually open to the public (but not today!). The castle stonework is noted to be exceptional quality and must have been the responsibility of a master mason.


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Tour of River Clyde at Glasgow, Scotland

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas morning in Glasgow. Overnight was below zero but seemingly not as cold as last night when parts of Britain were colder than Alaska.

With reasonable visibility and the main roads clear, I cycled down into Glasgow centre this morning to obtain some images of the River Clyde and the general snowy landscapes. Unusually we have a white Christmas so this opportunity might not arise again for a few more years. An interesting and productive morning without the severe cold of yesterday.

Here is an interesting shot, the paddle steamer Waverley, Armadillo Conference Centre, Finnieston Crane, the Squiggly Bridge and the Squinty Bridge.

This shot is looking downstream with the Tall Ship, 'Glenlee' on right bank.

Science Centre Tower on right and Ship-building cranes at Govan on right.

Similar to above.

View from the snow covered bank showing the Squinty Bridge and Science Centre Tower.

Aspect of the new, 'Squiggly' bridge. Official name is the Tradeston-Broomielaw Bridge.

This video clip shows the Steamship 'Waverley', Armadillo Conference Centre, Finnieston Crane ( a relic of Glasgow's shipbuilding past) and the Science Centre Tower. In the summer time it is possible to travel to top of the latter and obtain fantastic views of Glasgow and beyond.



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Tour of Eaglesham Moor, Scotland

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Last night was bitterly cold ( about minus 10 C in Glasgow and minus 16 C in the Scottish Highlands).

This morning I arose early with intention of obtaining some images showing the effects of the unusual low temperatures. So, I went off early on my mountain bike to Eaglesham Moor which has a high elevation and hence prospective good views of Glasgow and surrounding area. I had hoped to get images of the City of Glasgow basking in the winter sunshine but this proved not possible. However, I did obtain many other images with which I am reasonably happy and which are discussed below.

This shows Montgomery Street, Eaglesham ( a conservation village) with the local church.

Stag with his entourage of hinds.

Small copse (wood) basking in the winter sunshine.

Aspect of the wind farm on Eaglesham Moor. This is the largest wind farm in Europe.

View towards East Kilbride.

The following four panoramic images were all taken from a high standpoint and look towards the snow covered Campsie Fells (hills) beyond Glasgow. The City of Glasgow sits roughly in the centre of the images but is obscured by shadow.

This is the spire of Eaglesham Church

Upon return I was suffering from mild hypothermia because of the extreme cold and chill factor due to cycling downhill. Just about back to normal now.

Another cold night tonight then there are some prospects of the temperature lifting a little.


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Glasgow In Winter Tour

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This morning, I took advantage of yesterday's snowfall and went out with my bike and camera around Rouken Glen Park, Glasgow Southside. This proved an interesting trip. My mountain bike certainly helped me to get around, despite the snow.

Here are the results:

Kids out with their sledges.

Jogger and canine friend in the snow.

Boating pond almost totally frozen over. Just a small patch of fresh water for the waterfowl.

View of the frozen pond.

View of Glasgow with snow covered Campsie Fells in the background.

Park scene.


Another waterfall
River scene
Tree vista
Snowed over park
Video of Glasgow City with Campsie Fells in the distance.



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Cycle Tour of Glasgow, Scotland

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This morning, I went into Glasgow Centre by bike. En-route I visited Langside and Queen's Park which (a) was the site of a famous 16th century battle and (b) being elevated affords superb views over Glasgow City and the hills beyond.

My timing was just right because after lunch heavy snow falls occurred. Scenery should be different tomorrow morning, I will have to get up early for some pics.

Fortunately, I had the benefit of some sunshine which highlights the snow covered Campsie Fells and Kilsyth Hills in the background.

These images were taken from the south looking north.

This interesting video clip shows the following sites ( left to right):

  • Science Centre Tower.
  • SECC ( Conference Centre)
  • Arc of the Squinty Bridge
  • In the background are the snow covered Campsie Fells and Kilsyth Hills.


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Undiscovered Glasgow, Scotland- Hawkhead

Monday, December 21, 2009

This morning, I found myself in the Crookston area of Glasgow and took the opportunity to visit a huge tower which I have noticed on the landscape between Paisley and Glasgow.

This tower transpires to be the water tower for a former mental hospital at Hawkhead called the Govan District Asylum and dates from 1895.

Whilst the former Victorian era buildings are no longer used, the site has been re-built and renamed as the Levendale Hospital and still provides services for mental health and related illnesses.

The tower remains in good condition and appears to be floodlit at night.

I am pleased to have satisfied my curiosity regarding the origins and functions of the tower.

Whilst in the area noticed a seven mile cycle route along the White Carte River, from Crookston to Paisley. I will explore this when the weather improves.

Overall, a productive morning despite the presence of black ice and a sprinkling of snow.

This image shows the tower on the local landscape.

Close up of tower.
Video clip of the water tower.



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Scottish Farmers Market

Sunday, December 20, 2009

This morning, with temperature at zero centigrade and a light sprinkling of snow, my wife and I ventured out to nearby Clarkston to undertake a spot of last minute Christmas shopping at the Farmers Market which is held in the station car park.

Here we found a range of stalls selling a wide variety of wholesome (organic and the like) products including fruit and vegetables, meat, bread, burgers, fish, pies, cheese and even chocolate and Italian produce.

Shopping in the sort of environment in the cold and outdoors is a somewhat different experience from the usual sterile supermarket, maybe that's the appeal of these sort of markets which are common all around the U.K.

The products are not cheap but there is the impression of value for money and a direct connection with the local producer, which is nice.

The tiny bread stall was very popular. It was instructive that people would be prepared to queue up in the cold to purchase bread when there was a local supermarket just 5 mins walk away. Maybe there is a message here for the marketing people as I have noticed that British people will always wait patiently in line for bread where it is perceived as a value or unusual product.

Below are some images of the various stalls together with a video clip at the bottom of the post.

The forecast predicts severe weather for Scotland in the immediate future so perhaps we just got our shopping completed in time! Might even have a white Christmas.



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Greek Thomson Architecture, Beattie Monument, Glasgow

Saturday, December 19, 2009

This morning in Glasgow the weather was in line with official forecasts, sunny and dry. So, I cycled down to Glasgow City Centre with dual object of (a) catching up on some pre- Christmas shopping and (b) tracking down another Alexander 'Greek' Thomson piece of architecture, this time at the Necropolis.

After circling the Necropolis a couple of times I eventually found my quarry which is a monument to the Reverend Alexander Ogilvie Beattie who was the first minister for the Gordon Street United Presbyterian Church and who died in 1858. Being made of sandstone, the inscription on he monument is partly eroded.

Although designed by Thomson the monument was sculpted by J & G Mossman in 1867.

Beattie was a supporter of Thomson and commissioned Thomson to build the St. Vincent Street UP Church. The building was under construction at time of Beattie's death.

The monument comprises a pylon topped with a beautiful urn rising from the base of cyclopean masonry. The monument also uses the same Grecian motifs found in many of Thomson's interiors.



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Greek Thomson Architecture, Holmwood House

Friday, December 18, 2009

This morning, the temperature in Glasgow was hovering around zero. However, in the absence of significant snow and ice I included in my morning cycle ride a visit to Holmwood House, 61-63 Netherlee Road, Glasgow. I have almost completed a portfolio of Thomson property images for a new architecture web page.

This is now a heritage property owned by Scotland's National Trust. The property dates from 1857-58 when it was built as a combined high status home and business show-room for a wealthy paper mill owner whose business was powered by the close by White Cart Water (river).

Alexander 'Greek' Thomson was one of Scotland's greatest 19th century architects. He obtained inspiration from the designs of ancient Greece without ever actually visiting that country.

By some measures, Holmwood House is Thomson's finest and most elaborate villa. A particular feature here is the wall that connects the main house with the coach house, a feature reminiscent of designs by Lutyens and Frank Lloyd Wright some forty years later. This linkage can be seen in the video clip below.

Thomson's villas have echoes of American designs, with wide eaves and strong horizontal emphasis.

At Holmwood, Thomson also designed the rich polychromatic wall decoration which is now being recovered.

This property is open to the public and is deserving of a visit.



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Greek Thomson Architecture, Bucks Head Building

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Weatherwise, today was a day of two halves; sunshine in the morning then cloud and snow in the afternoon. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong half to go out and about.

This afternoon I first of all visited Old Cathcart Cemetery to renew my portfolio of images for my separate Glasgow Ancestry Blog. However, I was stymied by the snow and and had to move on after recording details from just three memorial stones.

Next I cycled on, down into the centre of Glasgow to photograph another building in my series of buildings designed by the 19th century architect, Alexander 'Greek' Thomson.

The building featured today is the Bucks Head Building located at junction of 59-61 Argyle Street & Dunlop Street. This dates from 1863 and appears to be in a good state of repair. It is the only commercial building by Thomson in which the iron construction is expressed externally. In front of the masonry piers on the curved corner is an attenuated iron colonnade with exquisite capitals supporting an ornamental balcony.

Bearing in mind that Argyle Street is one of Glasgow's premier shopping districts , I was surprised at the lack festive/Christmas decorations and atmosphere. No shortage of footfall, however!



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Eaglesham Moor, Scotland

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This morning, I took advantage of the reasonably sunny weather and drove up to Eaglesham ( an upscale, heritage village south of Glasgow) which benefits from a high elevation and thereby affords good photo opportunities. Eaglesham Moor is also home to Europe's largest wind farm.

Here is an image of a just a snapshot of the huge collection of wind turbines on Eaglesham Moor.

View of Glasgow with Campsie Fells in the background.

Another view of Glasgow looking north with hills in the background.

Local farmstead with sheep and a wind farm.

This video clip shows the City of Glasgow looking north with various ranges of hills in the background including Kilpatrick Hills, Campsie Fells and Kilsyth Hills. Good visibility for December!



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Greek Thomson Architecture, Caledonia Road Church

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This afternoon was reasonably dry and mild. So, after a spot of lunch, I cycled down to near the centre of Glasgow ( actually the Gorbals) to view and photograph the now ruined Caledonia Road Church which was designed by Alexander 'Greek' Thomson during the period 1856-57.

This was Thomson's first church but now a forlorn ruin on the edge of the Gorbals having been burned by vandals in 1965. However, all is not lost! The remains display dignity and distinction, with an elevated portico and a most unusual tower, probably inspired by modern German architecture.

These ruins are easily accessed, on what is now an island surrounded by heavy traffic.

Thomson's memorial is within a mile of this spot, at the Southern Necropolis. He was born 1817 in Balfron and died 1875. During his working life he took enormous inspiration from the architecture of ancient Greece without ever having actually visited Greece.


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Greek Thomson Architecture, Castlehill, Glasgow

Monday, December 14, 2009

Today in Glasgow we experienced some welcome relief from the fog and murk of the past 4 days or so. The sun actually managed to sneak through and provide some welcome light!

This afternoon, I went off to capture another Alexander 'Greek' Thomson property image. I had two in mind (near neighbours) but the second was obscured by a line of trees in front of the building so I was left with the just one which is located in a 'High End' part of town.

The image below shows a fine, but typical Thomson villa with its asymmetrical elevation, low-pitched roofs and wide eaves all in context of Thomson's characteristic abstracted Grecian style.

Thomson was a famous 19th century Glasgow/Scottish architect who was inspired by the architecture of ancient Greece notwithstanding which he never actually left British shores during his lifetime.


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Glasgow at Christmas

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This morning, I cycled down to Glasgow City Centre with prime aim of obtaining some images for my upcoming architecture web page. I was half hoping to obtain some 'Christmassy' images of the shops etc., but this was not be. The shops were not decked out in colours and lights which I found somewhat strange.

Weather this morning was cold (maybe just a tad above freezing) but, crucially, a continuance of the foggy conditions which have been prevalent for the past few times. This sort of murky weather does not help to lift the spirits at this time of year!

On the way down I noticed a couple of developments, namely (a) closure of the Glaswegian Pub
and (b) closing down sale of Borders Book Store. These are signs of the times in the British High Street. Pub economics are very unfavourable right now and I think that pubs are closing down at the rate about five per day across the country. Borders has probably succumbed to the Amazon threat. I like books and used to patronise Borders but, that said, Borders was always a funny sort of place and I could never figure out its raison d'etre. Might go down in a few days and see if there are any bargains to be had but am not optimistic because there was never anything much there which I wanted to buy at any price!

In George Square there is the usual, gaudy, funfair type amusements, per image below. No idea why this is allowed to disfigure the centre of the City at any time, let alone Christmas.

In the course of my travels I did encounter groups of 'Father Christmases'. It would appear the folks had attended some sort of competition and were on their way home. See the three images below.

Main driver behind my trip in the murk and gloom was to obtain images of some Alexander 'Greek' Thomson architecture, which I did.

Image immediately below is of the Egyptian Halls at 84-100 Union Street which was constructed as a bazaar or shopping centre in 1870-72 and is named after the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, London.

This is the Gordon street Warehouse, opposite Central Station and dates from 1858-59. Concentrate only on levels 1, 2 and 3 because the top section comprises an Edwardian superstructure which does not meld with the facade below.

Overall, a mixed sort of trip. However, I did achieve key objectives.


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Christmas Garden Walk, Scotland

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another cold, foggy day in Glasgow with hints of ice on the ground.

This afternoon, my wife and I participated in garden walk at nearby Greenbank Garden with an underlying Christmas decorations theme.

Greenbank House is a mansion dating from the late 18th century when it was constructed by an entrepreneur engaged in the then lucrative tobacco trade with what are now Southern States of the U.S. For an appreciation of the property see image no 2 below.

Greenbank now belongs to the National Trust, a heritage organisation which uses the property as an administrative base.The gardens are well regarded in horticultural circles and are open to the public throughout the year. There are also plants and bulbs for sale as per image no 1 below.

Here is the tour group at rear of the property.

This is Viburnum, an evergreen which produces white flowers during the winter time.

This an aspect taken at front of Greenbank and shows false windows. In past times there was a tax on windows so this was probably an architectural feature with tax avoidance in mind!

Here is a Highland Cow, forming part of a small herd in a field at the front of Greenbank House.

Here is a local overjoyed with a Christmas wreath.

More information:

  • Greenbank garden is comprised of heavy, clay soil.
  • There is a collection of 500 daffodil varieties at Greenbank. In April there is a Daffodil Day.
  • Herbaceous plants have collapsed with weight of recent precipitation and require tidying up.
  • For manufacture of seasonal wreaths a wide range of local trees and shrubs can be used including Dogwood, Holly, Atlantic Cedar, Grand Fir, Laurel, Hedgehog Holly, Box. Also Sphagnum Moss to retain moisture within the decoration.
An interesting afternoon, albeit not quite what we had envisaged!


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Kom Ombo, Egypt

Friday, December 11, 2009

Today, proved somewhat dismal in Glasgow, Scotland. There was persistent fog which closed the airport for sometime. I did manage to get out for a short while, to obtain images for my separate ancestry themed blog but, other than that little escapade, there were no real opportunities to obtain photographs of architecture or much else.

This evening, therefore, I am going to dip in, again, to the portfolio of images accumulated during my recent Egypt tour which had a strong influence on ancient and modern architecture which in turn is represented in certain parts of Glasgow, particularly in work by Greek Thomson, e.g.the Egyptian Halls in Union Street.

This evening, I am going to focus on Kom Ombo, the ancient city of Pa-Sabek, where the crocodile god was worshipped in pre-dynastic times. Location is between Edfu and Aswan.

Kom Ombo in fact comprises two temples, on the right is a temple dedicated to the god Sebak, the god of fertility, whilst the temple on the right is dedicated to Haroeris, the solar god of war.

The temple was rebuilt by the Ptolemies around AD300 on an earlier site dating from Tutmose III. The edifice is located close the edge of the Nile.

During the period of our visit the light faded quite rapidly

Carved pillar from the hypostyle hall.

These inscription show early medical/surgery tools.

Two images of the temple taken as the light fades.

The site also features a sophisticated system for predicting the rise of the Nile at flood time.


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Greek Thomson Architecture, Walmer Crescent, Glasgow

Thursday, December 10, 2009

This afternoon, I am posting images and a video clip covering Walmer Crescent, which is located at Paisley Road West, above Cessnock subway station.

This dates from 1857-62 and was designed by Alexander 'Greek' Thomson who took inspiration for his designs from the architecture of ancient Greece.

Walmer Crescent is one of Thomson's few surviving tenements, an austere composition with no ornament but relying on the balance of upright square columns and horizontal lines.

An impressive building. However, it would appear that the sandstone is in need of some remediation work.



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Greek Thomson Architecture, The Know, Glasgow

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

This morning, I continued with my search for examples of Glaswegian architecture designed by Alexander 'Greek' Thomson (1817-1875). Thomson was inspired by classical Greek architecture, particularly later in his career. Earlier he experimented with various styles such as Italian Romanesque, Scottish Baronial and Gothic. The property I visited this morning, The Know, dates from 1852 and was an early example of Thomson's round-arched Italianate style, composed around a belvedere. The villa is asymmetrical as demanded by the principles of he Picturesque and reflects influences of Scottish writer and designer, John Claudius Loudon.


The Lodge (or Gate House)


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Greek Thomson Architecture, Moray Place, Glasgow

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

This morning, I managed to get out for a short trip down to Moray Place in Strathbungo, Glasgow South Side.

This is a small terrace of ten small houses designed by Alexander 'Greek' Thomson and dating from 1859-61. Thomson actually lived (and died) in No 1 Moray Place (video clips 1 and 2).

In this terrace (row houses) repetition and unity is evident with all the ground floor windows and doors evenly spaced and identical in size. An unbroken run of 52 square columns (see image below) on the first floor links the two projecting end houses.

I would imagine these properties, with huge expanses of glass, are not particularly energy efficient today. Just a few metres in front of this terrace runs a railway, albeit well hidden in a deep cutting.

Overall, an impressive piece of architecture. Tenements in nearby Nithsdale Road and Darnley Street were also designed by Thomson.

video video video


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Abu Simbel, Egypt

Monday, December 07, 2009

Today, I had planned to visit and photograph some more Greek Thomson architecture sites in preparation for a new web page on the subject. However, I was stymied in my endeavours on two accounts: (a) very poor weather and light conditions and (b) continuing very slow recovery from a harsh cold/flu which leaves me in the 'walking wounded' category.

This evening, I have decided to dip in again to my recent visit to some of the famous archaeological sites of Egypt, at least the images of blue skies and sunshine should help to lift spirits during a dark Glaswegian winter!

Memories of Abu Simbel will linger with me for a long time, not least because the visit entailed a 2.30am start and a long coach drive through the desert to reach the site just after dawn broke. Like many equivalent sites in Egypt I felt I was just part of a mass tourism production line with quality of information and the overall visitor experience somewhat mediocre. Compared to this the quality of information etc., at a typical Historic Scotland site is on a different (higher) level, but that said the climates are not comparable and Egypt is not Scotland.

Despite concerns with quality of the visit experience and very early start, I am very glad that I went because I can at least now physically connect with this world-famous site and research more information at my leisure.

Some key information on Abu Simbel:

  • Theoretically dedicated to Amon-Ra, Harmakis and Ptah but in reality constructed for the glory of Ramses the Great (Ramses II)
  • Built about 2000 years ago and then relocated to current site during 1965-9 to avoid being swamped by the rising waters of the Nile due to the construction of the Aswan Dam.
  • The torso of one of the statues is missing due to an earthquake.
  • The facade consists of four colossal statues (20m high) of the Pharaoh, Ramses.
  • Inside the body of rock is a temple comprising a number of rooms including a sanctuary with various statues including those of Harmakis, Ramses II, Nefertari and others. Photography is not allowed inside.
  • Not to be overlooked is the 'small' temple or Temple of Hathor, dedicated to Nefertari. This can be seen in the right section of image no 1 below.



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Greek Thomson Architecture, Millbrae Crescent

Sunday, December 06, 2009

This afternoon, with benefit of some unseasonal sunshine, I drove down to obtain some images and video clips for a new web page I am planning for Alexander 'Greek' Thomson architecture, Glasgow, Scotland.

Very briefly, 'Greek' Thomson was a 19th century architect and perhaps one of the greatest minds in Scottish architecture of his day. He was inspired by the architecture of ancient Greece but never actually visited that country.

Thomson left a considerable legacy of his work around Glasgow. This image and video shows Millbrae Crescent, Langside, Glasgow which dates from 1876-77. It was one of the jobs completed after Thomson's death by his last partner, Robert Turnbull, but its flair and elegance in combining the style of rustic villas with the urbanity of the terrace (row house) suggests that it was designed by Thomson.



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Edfu, Egypt

Saturday, December 05, 2009

This evening, I have dragged my self away from my sick bed to post some images and reflections of my recent visit sites of ancient Egypt.

Focus this evening is Edfu, which is the best preserved temple in the whole of Egypt.

This temple was constructed under Nectanebus II (360 BC) on top of an older temple dating from the time of Tutmose III.

The temple's dimensions are:

  • 137 m long
  • 79 m wide
  • Pylon 36m high.
  • The entrance is guarded by two, black granite statues depicting Horus in form of a falcon (see image no 3 below).
Note Greek influenced columns below.

The great entrance pylon to the temple.

God, Horus in form of a falcon.

This video clip shows exterior wall decorations to the left of the entrance.



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Cruise River Nile

Friday, December 04, 2009

This evening, I have compiled a portfolio of images and video clips relating to my recent visit to the River Nile, Egypt.

The Nile is the only river which runs from the south to the north. It has a length of some 6600 km.

People on and close the river at any one time comprise a strange juxtaposition of wealthy (in realtive terms) tourists and local people who may have to survive on five dollars per day. These locals seem to lead a life not dissimilar to the ancient ancestors of up to 5000 years ago. This river and its environs was the catalyst to a huge accumulation of wealth, power and empire building from roughly 3000 BC to a few hundred years BC, not to mention the skills and advanced technology required to build massive temples and pyramids all requiring a complex social structure and hierarchy. To gently cruise down this mammoth waterway in the sunshine and simultaneously connecting with the power and wealth of the pharaoh era is a magical experience.

This image shows a local boatman as sunset.

Old fashioned paddle steamer which is now, apparently, used for high end luxury cruising at about five thousand dollars per person per week. The ship carried the number '1917' which may well have been its date of construction.

Local boatman going about his business.

Harvesting reeds (or papyrus), just like his ancestors.

Sailing boat (Felucca) captain.

A small fleet of Feluccas, mainly for the tourists.

Videos 1,2 and 4 show various aspects of the Nile, including local houses and activities. Video no 3 shows the tour group having a good time on a Felucca trip.

video video video video

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Karnak, Egypt

Thursday, December 03, 2009

This evening, I am catching up on my portfolio of images, etc., following return from trip to Egypt and it's stunning archaeology and architecture.

Karnak is a few kilometres from modern Luxor (formerly Thebes). This ancient and extensive complex, extending to about forty two hectares, is full of impressive architecture, monuments, and temples. Includes in the site is (a) the temple dedicated to Amon (b) sanctuary on Montu, god of war and (c) sanctuary of the goddess, Mut who was Amon's wife and represented as a vulture.

This first image shows the colossal statue of Pinedjem, albeit from an unusual angle.

Hieroglyphics incorporating cartouche.

Tour group in shadow of obelisk.

Here is the actual obelisk, of Tutmose I

Statues of two pharaohs
View with hypostyle hall in the background.This hall measures about 102 m long and 53m wide within which area stand no less than 134 columns 23m high.

It is reported that, during the 19th dynasty, more than 81,000 persons were involved in the construction of the Temple of Amon. The hypostyle hall contains columns sponsored by no less than four different pharaohs.

Carving of a gigantic scarab (dung beetle).

Sphinxes of Ramses II in the Ethiopian Courtyard.

Details of the hypostyle hall.

Ram-headed sphinx, one of two columns at entrance to the first pylon at the Temple of Karnak

Another aspects of the hypostyle hall.

One side of the avenue of ram-headed sphinxes.

This video clip shows the sacred lake with the hypostyle hall in the background. The lake is some 120m long. This is where then priests carried out nocturnal rituals.



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Temple of Luxor, Egypt

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

This evening, I am collating images and memories of recent visit to Luxor, Egypt. This was the Thebes of ancient Egypt, a city renowned for its wealth but sacked in 672BC and subsequently destroyed completely around 2000 years ago.

Key facts relating to the Temple of Luxor:

  • Known locally as Amon's Southern Harem.
  • Started by Amon-Ofis III, enlarged by Tutmose III and finished by Ramses II.
  • Linked to the nearby Temple of Karnak by a long avenue of sphinxes with human heads.
  • The great pylon at the entrance was built by Ramses II and is 65m wide.
  • In front of the entrance is one obelisk (25m high) which dates from the time of Ramses II. Its twin can be found in Paris, France to where it was removed in 1833.
  • The two massive statues at the entrance represent the Pharaoh.
  • Insider the entrance is the courtyard of Ramses II then a 25m long colonnade leads to the courtyard of Amon-Ofis III.
Entrance showing the two colossi.

Remains of interior paintings dating from Roman times, apparently representing Roman senators.

Part of the avenue of sphinxes

Remaining obelisk of Ramses II

Video clip of interior.



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Tour of Luxor Streets, Egypt.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

This evening, I have decided to tell the story of an unofficial 'tour', on foot, around the back streets of Luxor, Egypt last night together with my wife. We were staying on a Nile cruise ship moored at Luxor and decided to go for an evening stroll. However, we were immediately 'befriended' by a local who purported to be a member of the ship's crew and spoke reasonable English. So, with some trepidation, we were escorted into the back streets, away from the 21st century and the usual tourist traps into a medieval world of unsealed roads, donkeys, local traders, horse drawn vehicles, worshippers at the mosque and local ladies out shopping. This was the real world and slightly scary because we were totally in the hands of a local gentleman who we had never met before. However, we never felt under threat or any way intimidated

We were escorted to a spice trader (see image no 5 below) principally because my wife wanted some sort of essence of coconut. After a considerable amount of haggling and discussions we came away with a substance for which we probably paid well over the odds and didn't really want, just like an everyday trip to a British supermarket!!

Thankfully, our guide was honourable and escorted us through the maze of back streets back to the boat in the course of which there was a loud bang which proved to be nothing more sinister than a street lamp exploding.

In ancient times Luxor was known as Thebes, capital of the Egyptian kingdom and known for its fabulous wealth. Since sacking of the city in 672 BC the city never recovered its former standing.

As an avid student of prehistory, I was very impressed by the various ancient temples and other historic sites encountered on the Nile cruise. However, memories of this impromptu walking tour of the real world of modern day Luxor will stay with me for a long time. Bear in mind the images below were taken at night. Apparently the shops stay open until around midnight. Fascinating atmosphere.

I am not sure what substance this gentleman is smoking, but it makes him quite happy.

Street trader (literally) selling fish.

Local lady with an efficient way of carrying her shopping. No doubt also good for the deportment.

Street scene with donkey and children at play. We noticed that children we encountered seemed quite happy although living in some degree of poverty (by our standards).

Spice stall selling a wide range of exotic smelling substances.

Another street scene with horse drawn carriage.

Trader specialising in pots, pans and baskets.

In course of the next few days I will be posting more images of our Egypt experience.


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