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Firth of Clyde, Greenock, Scotland

Sunday, January 31, 2010

This morning, I went off to visit a historic site on Lurg Moor, above and behind Greenock and Port Glasgow. This was quite a jaunt because I had to navigate across some very rough ground and barbed wire fences. Clearly, the ground conditions are normally extremely wet but were fortunately frozen over today ( temperature about zero centigrade) thus enabling me to get around without the customary wet feet. The underlying purpose of this unusual trip will feature as the theme of tomorrow's blog posting but, in the meantime, I am posting an interesting collection of images focusing on the stunning scenery. Weather conditions were very favourable comprising near freezing temperature coupled with bright sunshine, a combination very conducive to photography.

Firstly, this video clip covers a span of scenery from Dunoon and Cowal in the west (left) through to Loch Long, Gare Loch, Helensburgh and the Kilpatrick Hills in the east (far right) . The water in the middle is the River Clyde

This image shows Greenock with the Clyde and then Gare Loch and Helensburgh in the distance.

The following are interesting images arising from freezing conditions affecting a couple of burns (streams) I came across on my adventure across the moor,


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Ceilidh Dance, Glasgow, Scotland

Saturday, January 30, 2010

This morning I am posting information and images from last evening's Ceilidh Dance held at Glasgow City Chambers in aid of Scottish Epilepsy Initiative.

Ceilidh is pronounced KAY-lay and is derived from a Gaelic word meaning visit or house party. The term has evolved to mean an informal Scottish traditional dance event.

At the event last night, music was provided by the Caledonian Fiddle Orchestra and the programme included a list of popular dances including Gay Gordons, Dashing White Sergeant, Strip the Willow, St. Bernard's Waltz and many more.

Also present were the McGinty Pinks and the Leaping Piper ( on which more below).

The venue was the sumptuous ballroom at Glasgow City Chambers which dates from the late 1880s. For more information on the City Chambers please refer my blog post of Jan 21st 2010.

Dancing in process. Refer also this video clip

The Leaping Piper

Next two images are of the McGinty Pinks, a very skilled quartet with pipes and drums.

This shows the Caledonian Fiddle Orchestra

Another view of the ballroom with 19th century chandelier


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Oakshaw Trinity Church, Paisley, Scotland

Friday, January 29, 2010

Today's Blog Theme: This morning, I visited Paisley and took photographs (above) of a church which always intrigued me, namely the Oakshaw Trinity Church which sits on a high location and is home to the combined Church of Scotland and United Reformed Church.

The building dates from the 18th century. Here are some key pieces of information:
  • Both church and tower designed by Baillie John White. Former completed 1754 and latter 1767-1770.
  • Unusually, the tower was built by the town council under whose ownership it remains to this day.
  • Tower is 161 feet ( 49M) high.
  • The building was refurbished 1876-77 and again in 1994. Inside is the largest ecclesiastical ceiling of its type in Europe.
In the surrounding burial ground can be found many ancient memorials dating back to the early 19th century and late 18th century. Many of these memorials can be found listed in my separate GlasgowAncestry blog.

Glasgow Weather: Commenced with a snow/sleet shower this morning but thereafter brightened up. Cold with clear sky for rest of the day.

Ancestry Research: Following visit to Paisley Abbey, I have posted to my GlasgowAncestry blog a listing of Boer War military casualties obtained from a plaque in the Abbey entrance.

Scotland Tours: Various admin main matters. Responded to enquiry from South America for a Scotland castles tour.


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Touring Scotland

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tour Arranging: Today, I have not managed to get out, instead being preoccupied with admin work and correspondence on various tours under discussion. Tying up details on tours is time consuming but key to a successful outcome. Apart from an enquiry on a Loch Ness tour, my main focus has been on designing a one day Glasgow tour for a group off a cruise ship. I have suggested that the tour include:
  • Glasgow Necropolis
  • House for Art Lover
  • Burrell Collection
  • Auchentoshan Distillery.
  • Glasgow Cathedral.
Image above shows the new 'squiggly' bridge over the River Clyde, part of a project which has improved greatly the riverside area in central Glasgow.

Glasgow Weather: Mild, but relatively dry. Possibility of a looming cold snap. Snow is projected for parts of the Highlands.

Glasgow Ancestry: Have posted information on a Glasgow family named Brodie to my separate GlasgowAncestry blog. Brodie is an interesting name, seemingly emanating from the Moray area and with a history dating back to Pictish times.

Website: A tranche of new pages is in process with more to follow over next week or so.


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Tour of Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This morning, I went off to join a tour of Hampden Park, Scotland's national football (soccer) stadium. As there were no other visitors I had the benefit of a personal tour.

Hampden Park is a strange set up, it is actually owned by a Glasgow amateur team, albeit of long pedigree, called Queen's Park F.C. which still plays at the stadium. Queen's Park FC . the oldest football club in Scotland, was founded in 1867 and set the foundation for the modern Scottish game of football. Football legend, Sir Alex Ferguson actually started his career with Queen's Park in 1958-60.

Although owned by Queen's Park, the stadium is leased to the Scottish Football Association who use the facility for games at national level. Because of the high quality facilities, UEFA have approved the stadium for European finals which are not necessarily connected with Scotland.

Hampden park was extensively refurbished in 1999 at cost of GBP63M. Apart from football, the stadium is also used for conferences and concerts.

The stadium is set in a natural bowl with result that the pitch is some 30 ft (10 metres) below the nearby street level. Maximum seating capacity is 52,000.

Queen's Park FC has had a stadium on the site since 1903.

Hampden is very well presented, offering both tours of the stadium and access to the Scottish Football Museum under the same roof. Scotland has been at the forefront of football (soccer) evolution. Glasgow hosted the first international match in 1872 and in 1873 the Scottish Football Association was formed.

The name 'Hampden' has a strange origin. It comes from a nearby street name which in turn was derived from John Hampden, a notable player in the English civil war who died fighting for the parliamentarians in 1643.

Hampden has no less than 12 changing rooms. Here is the main visitors changing room.

Baths for after match 'therapy'. Which is the Early Bath?

Indoor practice pitch used for pre-match warming up.

Practice goal with facility for measuring speed of the shot.

This is where the teams line up before entering the stadium. Beyond the two double doors is the pitch.

After passing through the doors, this is the vista presented to the teams. See also this video clip.

Overall, a worthwhile tour. Will now be better prepared for football (soccer) themed tours of Glasgow.


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Dunkeld, Scotland in Winter

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This morning, I went off to one of my favourite spots in Scotland, namely the Dunkeld area in Perthshire.

This region suffered from the recant bout of extreme weather with temperatures down to minus 16 centigrade together with heavy snow which still lingers on the hills and sheltered places.

During my travel around the area the temperature was just above freezing with ice still evident on one particular loch (lake).

Images from the trip can be found below together with commentary.

This was taken from the 200 year old Bridge over the River Tay looking towards a snowy Dunkeld with Craig a Barns (hill) in the background.

This was taken from the north bank of the Tay with the Telford Bridge on the right looking towards Birnam Hill in the centre. Birnam has connections with Shakespeare's Macbeth via Birnam Wood and the Birnam Oak.

The following three images cover Loch of the Lowes, maybe 3 miles from Dunkeld. This is a wildlife reserve (predominantly birds) with well placed viewing hides. I was the only visitor. Ice still covered large sections of the loch.

In summer, Loch of the Lowes is famous for its visiting Ospreys which breed there and can be viewed on CCTV. There are many other water birds, red squirrels, pine martens, otter and deer. I was particularly intrigued by the bird feeding stations which attracted a huge range of 'customers' particularly siskins (small yellow birds). This is a quality experience for visitors interested in wildlife and ornithology.

This shows the snowed over Dunkeld and Birnam Golf Course. No teeing off today!

This was taken at a fishing beat on the bank of the River Tay near Dalguise looking towards a snow capped Capel Hill.

Overall, an interesting trip. A completely different micro climate to that prevailing in Glasgow.


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Burns Night, Glasgow, Scotland

Monday, January 25, 2010

This evening I am posting experiences from a local community Burns Night Ceilidh and Dinner which was arranged to support the Govanhill Baths Community Trust.

Piper welcoming guests.

Chef enjoying a joke with some guests.

Opening address.

Here are the first and last verses of Address to a Haggis by Rabbie Burns:

Fair fa your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftain o the puddin'-race
Aboon them a'ye tak your place
Painch, tripe, or thairm
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind you care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies
But, if ye wish her grateful prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

Haggis warm reeking rich wi' Champit Tatties, Bashed Neeps

Ceilidh Band-The Drueth

Toast to the Lassies

Response from the Lassies

Poems and songs
Ceilidh dancing

This event was extremely patronised. The event was organised to raise funds for the preservation and conservation for public benefit of the Govanhill Baths and for the redevelopment and reopening of the Edwardian swimming pool and wash house in Govanhill, Glasgow.


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Virginia Tobacco Merchant's House, Glasgow

Sunday, January 24, 2010

This evening, my theme is then 18th century Tobacco Lord's House in Glasgow's Miller St. However, will first address other daily developments, viz:

Glasgow Weather: Dull, overcast and dry. May well dip below freezing tonight.

Glasgow Ancestry: To my separate Glasgow Ancestry blog I have posted information on Russell family history from information at Glasgow's Necropolis.

Scotland Tours: Three new tour enquiries: one from the Middle East; two from North America. Also, working away on details of tours which are already in the pipeline.

The Last Tobacco Lord's House, Glasgow: This is my theme for this evening and subject of image at top and video at foot of this posting.

Tobacco trading with what are now the Southern States of the U.S.A. generated huge fortunes for a cadre of Glasgow entrepreneurs in the late 18th century. Much of this wealth was invested in grand houses of which only the Palladian style mansion in Glasgow's Miller Street survives. It was built by John Craig in 1775 and first occupied by John Findlay but it left the Findlay family in 1826 and subsequently had a chequered existence, first becoming offices of a gas company and then housed a succession of jewellers, glass importers, cotton spinners and printers. It was acquired by a conservation trust in 1989 and then restored to its current condition. The building is opened to the public only once a year. An interesting legacy of Glasgow's commercial past.



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Mackintosh Lighthouse Architecture, Glasgow, Scotland

Saturday, January 23, 2010

This evening, my blog theme is Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Lighthouse in Glasgow. First, however, will address other topical matters of the day:

Glasgow Weather: Dry and mild. As I write this I am witnessing a stunning and vibrant sunset.

Glasgow Ancestry: Just posted information to my separate blog on the Sommerville family from information obtained at Glasgow's Necropolis.

Tours of Scotland: Finalising formalities with a hotel on Isle of Skye re a group tour for September.

Website: Just completed re-vamping two of the older web pages. More to follow!

Mackintosh Architecture: This evening's theme is the Lighthouse in Mitchell Lane which dates from 1893-1895. Was previously known as the Glasgow Herald Building and is now a centre for architecture and design with a section on Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The image above shows the helical staircase (126 steps) leading to the top of the tower where there is a viewpoint affording magnificent views across the city of Glasgow.



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Birds Eye View of Central Glasgow, Scotland

Friday, January 22, 2010

Today, I am posting an interesting video showing the central Glasgow skyline. Before addressing that I was kept busy:

  • Glasgow Weather: Mild, overcast but dry. Not bad for time of year.
  • Family History: Posted information on Aitken ancestry to my separate Glasgow Ancestry blog.
  • Scotland Tours: (1) Finalised a quote and itinerary for a small group tour for Spanish speakers. (2) Responded to enquiry from Scandinavia for a Scotland Whisky Tour to include Cambeltown and Islay. (3) Various other admin actions on other work in progress re tours.
  • Received enquiry in from an internship placing from Europe.Looks interesting.
The video clip below (and image above) show interesting views of Glasgow city centre taken from atop the Lighthouse, a Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed building which was originally used by a newspaper company (the Glasgow Herald) but is now a centre for architecture and design. To get the views I had to climb 126 steps of the helical staircase, useful exercise which burned up a few calories! For the less energetic there is a lift to a different viewing platform which is closed in by glass.



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Visit Glasgow City Chambers, Glasgow, Scotland

Thursday, January 21, 2010

This morning I joined in an escorted tour of Glasgow City Chambers (Town Hall) in order to get a better understanding of the interior decor and design of this important building which was built 1883-1888. This proved of great interest. A truly sumptuous building reflecting the grandeur and confidence of the late Victoria era.

  • Architect was William Young, a London based architect born in Paisley and trained in Glasgow.
  • Original budget was GBP150,000 compared to final cost of GBP578,232.
  • The first four to six feet of the external wall are of red Aberdeenshire granite.
  • Entrance arch was influenced by the historical arch of Constantine in Rome.

This is the ground floor. The ceilings are decorated with mosaic tiles. Altogether some 1.5m tiles were laid in the ceilings and domes. The pillars are made from grey Aberdeen granite, hand-polished red Scottish granite and topped with dark green marble in Ionic style.

This is the Council Chamber with 79 seats for the Councillors. Decoration is primarily Spanish mahogany. Meetings are held at six weekly intervals.

Lord Provost's Chair. This was donated by Queen Victoria in 1888.

Fire place in Council Chamber.

Glasgow coat of arms.

Banqueting Hall. The chandeliers date from 1885 when they were known as "electroliers".

Wedgwood feature in Upper Gallery.

Video clip of Upper Gallery which features portraits of former Lord Provosts (Mayors) of the City of Glasgow.



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Comet Steamboat, Port Glasgow, Scotland

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The theme of my blog posting this evening is a pioneering steamboat (above) built in Port Glasgow in 1811-1812. Before focusing on this particular topic I will first address daily developments:

Scotland Tours: Made progress with a range of tours under review including a self-drive tour of the British Isles and a Rennie Mackintosh walking tour of Glasgow. Discovered its extremely difficult to get a rental car for one way, Belfast to Dublin. Only one company will do it!

Glasgow Weather: Mild, overcast and dry. About right for this time of year.

Glasgow Genealogy: Posted information to my Glasgow Ancestry blog on Stewart family history from information at Glasgow's Necropolis.

Catswhiskerstours website: Just completed a new page for Glasgow. Waiting for this and another Scotland tour page to go live.

Blogging: My Scottish Country Dance post of Jan 16th 2010 was well received by the local branch. They have put in a link to the post from their website.

Steamboat Comet: Port Glasgow is best known as the birthplace of the first steam passenger vessel which was developed by Henry Bell, a semi-literate stone-mason. The Comet was built by John Wood & Co and was launched July 24th 1812. The vessel provided passenger services between Glasgow, Greenock and Helensburgh on the river Clyde. John Wood, the builder was born 1745, became a carpenter and then purchased his own ship yard in 1781. He died Nov 22nd 1811 leaving his son to oversee the launch of the Comet on July 24th 1812.

The vessel shown in the video clip below is a replica and is evidently in a deteriorating state of repair. If this continues there will be a need for a replica of the replica! Why not establish a shipbuilding museum in Port Glasgow and take the vessel under cover? There is plenty of space, and much marine heritage and history to record in this area.



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Visit Port Glasgow, Scotland

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This evening, the theme of my blog posting is Port Glasgow. However, first I will address other daily developments, viz:

Glasgow Weather: Mild, dry and overcast. Virtually all the snow and ice has gone-for the time being!

Scotland Tours: Very positive developments: Two new enquiries, one of which looks quite promising. Also received confirmation of a somewhat unusual faith group Whisky Tour for next month.

Glasgow Genealogy: Posted information to my separate Glasgow Ancestry blog on the Lyall family which suffered a very high incidence of infant mortality, even by the standards of Victorian times.

Port Glasgow: This is tonight's blog theme. Hitherto, I have only ever passed through Port Glasgow en route between Greenock and somewhere else. However, after visiting the place and undertaking some research it transpires to have some fascinating history and architecture. Historically, Port Glasgow was connected with the Maxwell family which owned close by Newark Castle. A port was developed in the late 17th century as the Clyde was then too shallow to facilitate movement of large ships upstream to Glasgow. Then a shipbuilding industry began which grew and prospered and still lingers on to this day, albeit a shadow if its former self. The following images with supporting narrative will help the reader gain an appreciation of this town.

This is the early 19th century, Port Glasgow Town Buildings. Refer also video clip at foot of this post.

Port Glasgow War Memorial.

St. Andrew's Port Glasgow. (Church of Scotland)

Replica of the Comet, a very early (1812) steamboat which provided a passenger service on the Clyde.

Moribund shipyard.
A waterlogged soccer pitch, which only the seagulls can play.

The following two images show Port Glasgow's only remaining functioning shipyard, Fergusons.

These stakes are the remnants of timber ponds which are a relic of the (wooden) shipbuilding industry. They were used to store imported timber.

This is Newark Castle which originated as a 15th century Tower House.
Video no 1 shows a redundant ship building facility with cranes.

Video no 2 shows the impressive Town Buildings.

video video


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Visit Newark Castle, Scotland

Monday, January 18, 2010

This evening, the theme of my posting is Newark Castle which I will address in greater detail later. Firstly, here is an update on today:

Glasgow Weather: Temperature in high single digits (centigrade) with no rain and a blue sky. Good conditions for cycling and photographs. However, temperature has dropped to freezing this evening.

Today's Outing in Glasgow: Through the unusual medium of a Google Alert, I connected with a local Glasgow Tour Guide who I met for coffee and provisionally arranged for her to assist a client I have who is seeking a Charles Rennie Mackintosh themed walking tour of Glasgow. Coinciding with this meeting, I paid a visit to Glasgow's Necropolis where I learned more about the local Heritage Trail and undertook some ancestry research. Encountered one Victorian family memorial which lists the deaths of six children of which five died under the age of eight years. A sad reflection on the high rate of infant mortality at the time, even the wealthy were not immune to the very poor public health conditions prevailing in Glasgow at the time.

Cycling in Glasgow: Whenever possible I cycle on my various trips. This activity highlights the deteriorating state of the roads in Glasgow, particularly the rising incidence of deep potholes, no doubt aggravated by the extreme cold weather of late. Road surface conditions in Glasgow are increasingly dangerous for cyclists-and probably serve to damage quite a few car suspensions as well!

Scotland Tour Arranging: Quite a lot of activity, viz:
  • Arranging hotels for a group tour of Scotland later this year.
  • Re-arranging a private Scotland tour to accommodate an extra guest
  • Helping client with a Glasgow Mackintosh Tour (as adverted to above).
  • Corresponding with a Japanese client re a Whisky Tour.
  • Liaising with a group of veteran car drivers who wish to tour Scotland this summer.
Newark Castle, Port Glasgow: This is an imposing 600 year old castle located on the banks of the Clyde at Port Glasgow and arranged around three sides of a courtyard. The castle was originally built for one George Maxwell around 1484. The Maxwells were a powerful local family related to royalty and it known that King James IV visited on various occasions.

Newark started as a Tower House, was redesigned in renaissance style in 1597 and fell into disrepair in the 18th and 19th centuries. To save the building from demolition it was taken into State (Government) care in 1909 and is now managed by Historic Scotland.

Well worth a visit if in the area. Good views of the Clyde.



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Visit Port Glasgow Timber Ponds, Scotland

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Today's blog theme is the unique timber ponds at Port Glasgow. However, before focusing on this piece of history, will first discuss other topics, viz:

Swan Image: An opportunity taken this morning. Swans can be aggressive or shy, so I was pleased to get close to this specimen on the Clyde.

Glasgow Weather: Dry and relatively warm with temperature at plus 6 or 8 centigrade. Most of the snow and ice has gone.

Tour Bookings: Quite busy. Interestingly, received an enquiry for a small group tour following a personal recommendation from guests dating back to a tour which I provided in 2007.

Blogging: Received favourable comment on details of a local war memorial posted to my Glasgow Ancestry blog. Have plans to post information on another war memorial- a task which takes considerable time due to the extensive lists of casualties. Today, I posted information on Motion family history obtained from an 1852 grave stone in Port Glasgow.

Port Glasgow Timber Ponds: This morning I motored down to Port Glasgow to explore a unique part of Scotland's industrial history. From time to time I provide day tours from cruise ships moored at Greenock and when driving along the A8 road have always been intrigued by the rows of wooden poles sticking out of the River Clyde between Langbank and Port Glasgow. Having researched the matter, it transpires that the wooden poles date from the 18th century when shipbuilding on the Clyde began in earnest in turn triggering a huge demand for timber. The timber was imported from North America in specially designed vessels fitted with bow doors. The imported wood was discharged into the Clyde and stored in the timber ponds until need for ship construction. The seawater environment both seasoned and preserved the logs. This timber trade declined due to a combination of (a) dredging of the Clyde which provided a deep water access to Glasgow and (b) switch from wooded to iron ship construction. Last wooden ship was built on the Clyde in 1859.

The rectangular timber ponds extend for 2.5 miles from Newark Castle to Langbank and consist of poles over 6 feet ( 2 metres) tall.

This research led me to discover a useful cycle path/walkway along the Clyde the existence of which I was previously unaware.

video video video


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Scottish Country Dance Winter Ball, Glasgow, Scotland

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Today, the focus of my posting is on Scottish Country Dancing following my attendance last night at the Glasgow Branch's Winter Ball at Erskine Bridge Hotel.

Scottish Country Dancing dates back to the 18th century and should not be confused with Highland Dancing. During evolution of this type of dancing certain French influences were absorbed such as the square formation of the quadrille and ballroom etiquette.

The country dance is performed by a group of couples, usually consisting of four couples, positioned adjacent to each other in two parallel lines with gentleman facing ladies. In the course of a typical dance participants will interact with others on the floor, hence the 'social' aspect. There are three main types of country dance: long wise, round-the-room-, and square.

Scottish Country Dancing has a following around the world.

At the Glasgow Branch Winter Ball, some 20 dances were performed and music was provided by the Ian Muir Sound. Overall, an enjoyable evening. Some short video clips of the dancing can be found below.

NB: Subsequent to this posting, Google has ceased supporting videos on blogs. However, a video clip of the Ball can be found on You Tube here.

video video video video video


posted by Catswhiskers @ 3:28 AM  2 comments


Anonymous Patrick Murray said...

Well Nigel, that was quick – We’re only just starting to recover from last night - It’s really great to see your results while events are still whirling around our minds (and bodies). As you know, we’ve been dancing with Marion for some time now, and it was great that you agreed to join us on this occasion, making your contribution, all be it not necessarily in a dancing sense. However, we look forward to seeing you on the floor next time!!! I’ll email the link to your Blog around my contacts in the Glasgow Branch. Your input is very much appreciated.

January 16, 2010  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

well done Nigel - it was a terrific evening - super music excellent dancing and pleasant company. Good to relive it on your blog site.

January 17, 2010  

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Hamilton Old Parish Church, Scotland

Friday, January 15, 2010

Today, my theme is a fantastic architectural find I recently made at Hamilton. Before addressing that here is a news summary for today.

Scotland Tour Enquiries: Rolling in-whisky tours, self-drive and prehistory. Its nice to be busy! Also deposits now paid on two tours for 2010 so I have been working away on the formalities.

Scotland Fishing News: Announced via the media that the River Tay has suffered a major salmon population reverse as a consequence of which the authorities are asking anglers to throw back catches to conserve stocks. Cause of the problem seems to be shortfall in fish migrating into the river from the sea.

Glasgow Weather: Dull and overcast but with temperature creeping up to about 6-8 centigrade. Thaw in process.

Glasgow Ancestry Blog: Posted information on one Peter Lawrence,a highly regarded 19th century sculptor who has a grand memorial in Glasgow's Necropolis.

Hamilton Old Parish Church: Hamilton is an old town which may date back to the 1320s. The name could be a corruption of Homildon in Northumberland, England from whence came the 14th century landowner, Walter Fitzgilbert. This building should be of great interest to fans of Scottish architecture, viz:

  • A Georgian era building designed by William Adam in 1734.
  • Roof timbers appear to have come from old Man of War sailing ship as they contain lead shot. Contains embroidery by Hannah Frew Paterson, glass windows by Anita Pate and a stained glass memorial window by John Stevenson.
This building is a chance 'new find' by me and at some time I will visit the interior as the building is open to the public. The burial ground contains old memorial stones erected by the Duke of Hamilton, seemingly for his servants.


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Netherton Cross, Hamilton, Scotland

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Today, my theme is an early medieval cross at Hamilton. Before commenting on the cross will review today's activities:

Glasgow Weather: Light, but persistent snowfall most of the day with temperature at zero centigrade. Not ideal conditions for travelling around and taking photographs.

Glasgow Ancestry: Posted to my separate blog information on one John Houldsworth, a member of Glasgow's 19th century elite who came from very modest orgins in northern England to become a wealthy businessman and Provost (Mayor) of Anderston (now part of Glasgow). An amazing journey considering the rigid class system at the time.

Scotland Tours: Working on four itineraries including two Speyside Whisky Tours.

Travels and Photographs: Notwithstanding the weather (or because of it) I decided to go off to the town of Hamilton to view the 10th/11th century Nertherton Cross located at the Old Parish Church of Hamilton which itself is a magnificent building. I find these old crosses fascinating. There are examples at Dunning (Perthshire), Paisley Abbey (Barochan Cross) Barrhead (Arthurlie Cross) and of course at Govan. In fact the Netherton Cross is deemed to be from the 'Govan School'. Although badly weathered the key features of the cross are:
  • The front features human and animal features, a spiral boss between two panels of geometric carving and an area of interlace.
  • The rear shows a squatting human and a boss with with two bands radiating from it.
  • Various hollows on the cross, particularly below the arms, may be the result of knife (sword?) sharpening activity.
  • The sides feature human and animal figures, interlace and chevrons.
The carvings and images may well have represented symbols, statements or even propaganda which were of significance to the people of the day who were mostly illiterate.

It would be nice to see this stone removed indoors or protected in some way. Otherwise, the sandstone will continue to erode and the carvings lost to future generations.



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Maryhill Locks, Glasgow, Scotland

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

This evening, my blog theme is the somewhat obscure Maryhill Locks (Forth & Clyde Canal) in Glasgow. However, will first address other daily developments, viz:

  • Glasgow Weather: Mildish (maybe 4 or 5 degrees C) with melt of the snow and ice evident. We are having a relatively mild experience compared to parts of England and Wales which have received heavy snow falls. As an interesting aside, I note from press report that Glenfiddich Whisky Distillery in the Scottish Highlands is contemplating relocating millions of gallons of whisky stored in casks in three of its warehouses the roofs of which have suffered damage from the unprecedented snowfall.
  • Scotland Tours: Re-worked a private tour itinerary at request of clients. Hopefully, this can now be firmed up. Another client sent over flight details realtive to an agreed tour.
  • Website: Finalised a new web page for my Catswhiskerstours website. Now waiting for web manager to complete process.
  • Glasgow Ancestry blog: Posted information on Victorian entrepreneur, William Dunn who was at the forefront of the industrial development of West of Scotland.
  • Maryhill Locks: Main theme of this evening's blog posting.This is a fascinating part of Glasgow's industrial history. This flight of five locks allows the Forth & Clyde Canal (opened 1790) to drop from Maryhill in Glasgow to the valley of the River Kelvin. After many years of decline, this run of locks was refurbished and re-opened on June 25th 1988. I have clients from last year who have expressed interest in cycling along the Canal this year, all the way to Edinburgh which should prove an interesting experience. I hope to join them.
Video clip below shows the Maryhill Locks.



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Curling at Lake of Menteith, Scotland

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Today proved very rewarding.

Weather: Daytime temperature rose to about 4 degrees C with no precipitation.

Scotland Tours: Received confirmation of an ancestry tour in June. Had to decline a Charles Rennie Mackintosh tour due to prior commitment.

Scotland Genealogy: Posted information on McGavin to my separate GlasgowAncestry blog.

Day Tour: Today, I availed of a little jaunt out to Lake of Menteith, about 1 hour from Glasgow in the Trossachs. Prime purpose was to view curling on the frozen lake, which is a once in 20/30 year event in turn due to the extreme cold weather we have experienced of late which froze the water to a thickness of 5-7 inches. Some folks walked over the ice to the Inchmahome Priory but I could not be tempted.

The curling authorities had hoped to hold a 'bonspiel' on the lake but, sadly, this has to be cancelled due to Health & Safety considerations. Bonspiel is an old Scots word meaning tournament between households but has been adopted by curlers as the name for a Grand Match.

Despite lack of official backing, a contingent of curlers did turn up and provided some interesting entertainment. This is the first time I had ever witnessed such an event. Also present was a detachment of local police ( for what purpose is not clear) and a large media detachment including the BBC with TV facilities.

Curling in process

Dancing on Ice? Well, sort of.

Curling stones ready for action.

Lake view showing folks walking over to Inchmahome.

Curling stones and brush.

Interesting scenic view. This shows a red jacketed person walking on the ice with Beinn Dearg in the background.

Curling in process.

Here are some video clips of the curling. See also this video posted to my You Tube account.




posted by Catswhiskers @ 9:08 AM  1 comments


Anonymous Scotland said...

Ideally the bonspeil should have been organised for last week when the ice at Lake Monteith was much thicker as the thinning ice and warnings from the Health & Safety Brigade meant todays spectacle was not as good as it could have been.

January 12, 2010  

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Glasgow Architecture, Scotland

Monday, January 11, 2010

Today, I am digressing from a stream of weather related postings to focus on a work by Alexander Greek Thomson. However, before going into the architecture detail I will first provide a daily update.

Glasgow Weather: Today has witnessed some relief from the severe cold of late. Daytime temperature has moved into positive territory, our water pipes have unfrozen and some of the ice has melted. However, there are no sunny uplands on the immediate horizon, in fact we may get a snowstorm tomorrow.

Scotland Tours: Worked on a couple tours, one Speyside Whisky Tour for a group from London and one family group Ancestry Tour. Latter now confirmed. Also had an enquiry in for a combined Scotland-Ireland tour.

Alexander 'Greek' Thomson Architecture: Just by way of a brief introduction, Thomson was a renowned Glaswegian architect of the 19th century who took his inspiration from the architecture of ancient Greece. He left a large legacy of his work in and around Glasgow. My main, Catswhiskerstours website has a page dedicated to Thomson. Today, I am focusing on just one example of Thomson's work, namely the Grecian Buildings in Sauchiehall Street which date from 1867-68.This building was originally designed as a warehouse. As there was no Grecian precedent for warehouses, Thomson had to innovate with a result that displayed new forms in an old spirit.

The Grecian Buildings shown below now form the Centre for Contemporary Arts.



posted by Catswhiskers @ 9:07 AM  0 comments


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Scotland Winter Garden

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Today's activities can be partitioned into three sections:

Scotland Tour Arranging

Attended to detail of two tours, one medium size group and one small/private. One further (self-drive) tour to attend to later this evening

Glasgow Weather

We benefited from some relief in that temperatures in Glasgow lifted a little and our frozen pipes started to work again around midday. So far so good, but we are certainly not out of the woods yet.

Photo Activities

Nearby is a heritage property called Greenbank House attached to which is a renowned garden. which I visit from time to time.Today, there was scheduled to be a Winter Flower and Foliage Walk at the garden but, upon arrival, there was a notice cancelling the event due to the adverse weather conditions. However, I still managed to walk around the garden and take some photographs. Nearby there were some Highland Cattle and, in another field, sheep and horses, which also provided some photo opps.

Here are the sheep and horses availing of some hay. No doubt very welcome in the snowy conditions.

Highland Cow munching away on winter feed. These animals are very passive and docile which is just as well because their horns could do some damage.

This is Greenbank House covered in a layer of snow. The building dates from the 18th century and was built from wealth generated from tobacco and slave trading.

The following images and video all relate to the walled garden at Greenbank. have to admit there was little evidence of flowers and foliage so maybe it was just as well the walk was cancelled.

This is "Foam", a female water nymph.

The following two pics cover just a part of the thirty different enclosures at Greenbank.

This water pump is obviously frozen as there is normally a stream of water flowing from the spout.

Here is a video of the garden in winter. Not overly exciting but no doubt there is activity under the blanket of snow. The garden contains 100 varieties of Bergenias and 350 types of daffodil plus phlox and much more. Its fascinating to watch the progress of this garden over its annual cycle. Next scheduled event is Feb 13th- seed sowing and propagating.



posted by Catswhiskers @ 8:05 AM  0 comments


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Ice Cold in Glasgow, Scotland

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Today, proved very interesting. Continuance of the bitterly cold weather prompted me to cycle off down to Glasgow City to photograph the iced up River Clyde. We are currently experiencing an unusual, extreme weather event producing effects and scenery which I have never before witnessed in Scotland.

On returning home, I tied up some loose ends on a couple of tours I have in the pipeline; one ancestry tour and one round Scotland group tour.

Reverting to my morning sojourn in Glasgow, the various images and videos are explained below.

Red on White. This is the paddle steamer, 'Waverley' iced up at its mooring near the Science Centre.

This shows the iced up Clyde just outside the BBC building.

More red on white! A red jacketed couple out for a stroll with the Squinty Bridge in the background.

This is the new, snow covered, Squiggly Bridge. Glaswegians dream up some interesting unofficial bridge names!

This shot was taken looking upstream towards Glasgow's East End. Appears to be sunset but was actually taken about 11.00am.

Seagulls on a patch of iced up Clyde.

Footbridge over the Clyde.

I had not before noticed this interesting monument on the bank of the Clyde. It is actually a memorial to volunteers from Britain who gave their lives during the Spanish civil war of which 65 emanated from Glasgow. The legend underneath reads " Better to die on your feet than live forever on your knees". Can't argue with that!

Icicles under a bridge.
Ice floes against a bridge.

Here is a collection of interesting video shots. First clip was taken near the City Centre. Second Clip shows the Armadillo Conference Centre, Finnieston Crane, Squinty Bridge, BBC building, Science Centre and Tower, the Waverley, the frozen over Clyde with a glimpse of the Tall Ship. Third video covers similar sites as no 2 albeit from a different viewpoint.
video video video


posted by Catswhiskers @ 8:20 AM  1 comments


Blogger Dame Anne said...

thank you for sharing those videos, many people of Scottish blood here in the states are very concerned about both people and animals in this brutal Artic climate. The Hudson River flowing from north of Albany NY to the Harbor of New York City is frozen over and the iceboats are out here in the Hudson Valley. The largest and oldest Ice boat the Jack Frost built in the 1800's is a three masted boat that can reach up to 80mph on the ice today.

January 10, 2010  

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Trip to Mains Castle, East Kilbride, Scotland

Friday, January 08, 2010

In Glasgow, like the rest of the country, we remain gripped in a vicious cold spell. This morning I was somewhat despondent as the area was covered by freezing fog, conditions obviously not conducive to travelling and photos. However, I hung on till the afternoon by which time the outdoors was transformed into sunny skies, albeit with temperature still below zero.

After lunch I ventured out to photograph Mains Castle at East Kilbride in the West of Scotland. This building is actually located on the edge of a local heritage park incorporating an artificial 16 acre loch (lake) which is home to usual array of waterfowl (swans, ducks, etc.). About 95 pct of the water surface is frozen over leaving just a tiny area of fresh water for the birds which are obviously suffering from the cold spell but I did notice a kind couple providing some relief with a loaf of bread.

Here are a couple of images of Mains Castle which dates from the 15th century and is actually a private home following extensive restoration. The castle features five floors, a great hall, minstrels gallery, a vault and ramparts on top. Originally connected with the powerful Comyn family it is rumoured that Mary Queen of Scots may have spent a night there. Looks very picturesque against background of blue sky and snow covered landscape.

Here are some kind folks feeding the birds with castle in the background.

This video shows the frozen loch (lake) and castle. Evidently, some brave souls have walked across the ice!



posted by Catswhiskers @ 8:43 AM  0 comments


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Frozen Glasgow Tour, Scotland

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Today in Glasgow, we experienced a continuation of the unusual combination of bitter cold coupled with blue skies and sunshine, ideal conditions for photography but not much else. According to weather experts, these conditions are a once in 20 or 30 year event and are likely to continue for a week or so yet.

I decided to visit the Necropolis (city of the Dead) again to complete my portfolio of images for upcoming new web page. Cycling conditions were 'OK'. On the way I crossed the River Clyde which I noticed is progressively freezing up, to the discomfort of the resident swans and other water birds. This was my first experience of the Clyde with a covering of ice. If the weather forecast is correct, the ice may well extend and thicken in course of the next few days.

On reaching the snowbound Necropolis the photo conditions were just fine, albeit quite cold. As I was taking a video a very friendly Robin came up close and perched on my bike handle and very kindly stayed for a photo shoot. A robin is very apposite because the bird ( as represented by St. Serf's pet robin) forms an integral part of the official arms of the City of Glasgow.

Here is an aspect of the Necropolis taken this afternoon.This burial ground dates from the late 1830s and houses the remains of Glasgow's high status and wealthy elite of the 19th century resulting in many grand and elaborate memorials.

Here is the friendly Robin adverted to above.

Swans standing on the frozen Clyde.

This video clip shows the progressive icing up of the Clyde.


posted by Catswhiskers @ 8:34 AM  0 comments


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Busby Glen, Scotland in Winter

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Big Freeze continues in the British Isles with no relief in sight. Scotland is particularly hard hit with temperatures predicted to reach minus 20 centigrade in the Highlands over next few days. These Siberian conditions have a silver lining in (a) affording some unusual photo opps and (b) at Lake of Menteith a Bonspiel (curling event) is to be held for the first time in 30 years.

Despite having to juggle many other priorities I managed to get on my bike this afternoon to visit Busby Glen Park. This is where a deep gorge has been cut by the White Cart (river). Although very peaceful and scenic today, this area was a hive of industrial activity in the late 18th and 19th centuries with the river being used to power various textile mills which employed hundreds of men, women and children. Remains of cotton mills and associated water engineering works can still be seen. Because of the dense woodland a better view of the river and Glen can be obtained in winter, so my visit was timely in this regard.

Below are provided some images and videos of the Glen in deepest winter.

video video


posted by Catswhiskers @ 11:00 AM  0 comments


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Glasgow Park in Scottish Winter

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The extreme cold weather continues in Scotland. This is now a once in 30 year perhaps once in 100 year event which is causing a range of problems across a wide sphere spanning roads, trains, schools, fuel deliveries, frozen pipes and even treacherous walking on the frozen pavements (sidewalks).

Today, there was a plus side in that overnight Glasgow had a light deposit of snow subsequent to which we had the benefit of bright sunshine and blue skies-a great combination for photographs!

I had not planned to venture out today but I could not resist the photo opportunities adverted to above so I took off to nearby, Rouken Glen where I obtained the portfolio of images provided below.

In past times Rouken Glen was an industrial area but is now a public park amenity with golf course and is very popular with local residents and their dogs.

Here is a shot of a waterfall with frozen lake to the left.

This is, in fact another waterfall, although difficult to see through the frozen trees.

River scene

Iced up branches
Shadows on the walkway.

More frozen branches
A lone tree in the park
This video shows the unhappy group of waterfowl occupying an ever decreasing area of non-frozen water on the boating pond.



posted by Catswhiskers @ 9:30 AM  1 comments


OpenID idea15 said...

I find it very strange to see Rouken Glen in anything but bright sunshine!

January 05, 2010  

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Glasgow's Southern Necropolis in Winter

Monday, January 04, 2010

Today, the big freeze continued. This is proving the coldest winter in Britain since 1981.

Because of time constraints, aggravated by the weather, I took the soft option and went off by car to explore Glasgow's Southern Necropolis which contains the remains of some 250,000 people.

The paths in the Necropolis were hard packed snow and very treacherous. However, I managed to follow most of the Heritage Trail which entails the memorials to some of the more celebrated of the deceased, covering about half the 31 in the official Trail. These are detailed below.

Robert Paterson and Family

James Goldie
Franciscan Benefactors

James Salmon

Alexander 'Greek' Thomson (Architect)

The white Lady
Allan Glen
George Geddes and Family
Lieutenant Robert Alexander Bogue MC

John Robertson

Dr Nathaniel Paterson DD

Thomas Bollen Seath
360 degree video clip of the Necropolis



posted by Catswhiskers @ 12:36 PM  0 comments


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Paisley, Scotland in Winter

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Another bitterly cold day in Scotland. Temperatures in the Highlands were as low as minus 17 centigrade. This extreme cold is, perhaps, a once in 20 year event.

The sub zero temperature was offset by sunshine and clear blue skies so I resolved to cycle over to Paisley to obtain some images. Paisley has a long history but is often overlooked by tourists and visitors which is a pity because there is much to see and experience here. The bitter cold added an extra dimension as people were moving at a slower pace. Pedestrians were forced onto the roads because the pavements (sidewalks) were covered in compacted ice and extremely unsafe. We are really not prepared for this sort of weather.

Paisley is best know for (a) its 12th century Abbey and (b) former textile industry which powered the town's prosperity in the 19th and early 20th centuries and gave rise to the Paisley pattern.

This image shows a square in the centre of town. The image is deceptive because it fails to reveal that the entire surface is covered in pack ice and almost impossible to traverse whilst standing up!

Here is Paisley Abbey basking in the winter sunshine. It is believed (but not proven) that William Wallace aka 'Braveheart' was educated here.

Another view of the Abbey.

This is the 19th century Town Hall financed by the Clark family's textile wealth.

Patterned ice on the White Cart River.

This is one of the former textile mills, known as the Anchor Mills. Now refurbished as part residential and part business premises.

The frozen White Cart Water (river) near to the Anchor Mills.

Another aspect of Anchor Mills with trademark/logo on the railings.

Overall, a productive morning in the bitter cold. Even the brakes on my bike froze!
I would like to provide more tours around Paisley but, sadly, there is only modest demand.


posted by Catswhiskers @ 6:42 AM  0 comments


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Glasgow Green, Scotland in Winter

Saturday, January 02, 2010

This morning, Glasgow remained gripped in the maw of a harsh winter. The sky was overcast, temperature at or below zero together with intermittent snow storms. On the plus side, being a public holiday, the roads were incredibly quiet. Not surprisingly, I returned home very cold and wet due to penetration of the wet snow through gloves and footwear.

I decided to set off on my bike to visit Glasgow Green, a historic working class area near the centre of Glasgow and close to the River Clyde. Most of the time I was taking photographs during a snow storm, a feature which obviously impacts on the quality of the images.

Here is Nelson's Monument approached from the City end of the park.

A close up of the Doulton Fountain, the largest terracotta fountain in the world which dates from 1888. At this time Britain's global empire was at its zenith and the various carvings depict scenes and stereotypes from the empire. Refer also video clip at foot of this post.

Here is a view of the Doulton Fountain with the Peoples Palace in the background. The Peoples Palace and Winter Gardens date from 1898 on historic Glasgow Green and were established for the benefit of the industrial workers of Glasgow's East End. Today, the building is primarily a social history museum.

Tour bus-still running despite the inclement weather.

This was the Templeton Carpet Factory, an Italian inspired design based on the Doge's Palace in Venice. Now a Business Centre.

This strange assemblage of metal posts were originally set up for the drying of clothes. Glasgow Green was the site of traditional 'Scotch Washing' which entailed tramping washing in large tubs, a practice superseded by the wash house.However, Glasgow Green continued to be used for bleaching linens in the sun well into the 20th century.

There is a long tradition of rowing on the Clyde. The following two images show sculling in process.

Here is a video of the Doulton Fountain. Bear in mind snow conditions.



posted by Catswhiskers @ 6:00 AM  1 comments


Blogger Erica Henley said...

Thank you so much for the delightful tour of Glasgow Green in January.

We will be travelling from Australia to Europe & UK in Nov/Dec/Jan 2010.

Of particular interest to us is the Doulton Fountain designed by Arthur Ernest Pearce - my husband's great grandfather.

We plan to travel throughout Uk seeking his works in churches, museums & parks.

Kind regards from hot & humid Brisbane
Erica Henley

February 13, 2010  

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View from Duncarnock Fort, Glasgow, Scotland

Friday, January 01, 2010

Today, New Year's Day, with weather very cold but clear, I decided to re-visit a favourite site, namely Duncarnock Fort, near Barrhead, Glasgow. I cycle over and the journey took about one hour. Being a holiday,the roads were eerily quiet, which was nice. However, last lap was via an untreated country lane the surface of which consisted of compacted snow and ice. I got there without mishap but was less lucky on the return trip when I came off and suffered some minor cuts and bruises.

The main purpose in visiting this site is the elevation and views over Glasgow City To the Campsie Fells and even Ben Lomond. Because the sun was very low in the sky, I was able to obtain a 360 degree video clip which I have posted to my You Tube account.

Inquisitive sheep atop Duncarnock Hill

Minor road near to Duncarnock which has not been treated and is essentially comprises compacted snow and ice. About one mile from here my bike fell away from under me on a patch of pure ice.

View of Duncarnock Hill ( 204m) upon which is located Duncarnock Fort. This has never been excavated but probably dates from the Iron-Age, about 2000 years ago, and may have been occupied into the early Christian period up until the 8th century AD. The site benefits from natural defences.

A frozen over Glanderston Dam. In 1842 this dam burst its banks and nine people were drowned.

View of Eaglesham Moor with with wind farm on the horizon. This is the largest wind farm in Europe.

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

Overall, a worthwhile trip despite the tumble!


posted by Catswhiskers @ 6:57 AM  0 comments


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