Transition

Hi everybody!  Glasgowgal has moved to Brisbane, for 6 months starting now, ending July 2012.

Please follow our adventures Down Under at www.brisbanebabe.wordpress.com.

 

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Winter Weather (Glasgow)

The weather in Glasgow has taken a turn toward winter.  Umbrellas (and rain pants) were everywhere once the rain, snow and sleet set in.

Early in the Glasgow visit, glasgowgal purchased a well-constructed umbrella from some nice ladies at M & S, as a gift to G.  The M & S ladies solemnly promised glasgowgal that this umbrella was a “good choice” as it was the “only umbrella in Glasgow guaranteed to nae go backward.”

Glasgowgal and G braved the weather for a walking trip to the Glasgow Cathedral.  The intensely beautiful medieval church was consecrated in 1197 and houses an incredible collection of stained glass (See www.glasgowcathedrawl.org.uk/about).

Glasgowgal also visited the Necropolis, which overlooks Glasgow itself and is the final resting place for many famous Glaswegians.  Here is a view of the Cathedral from the top of the Necropolis.

In the days after our cathedral walk, Glasgowgal suffered bouts of hail and, eventually, high winds that some classified as a “hurricane”.   Glasgowgal stayed inside, and added snow to her blog, as well as this page featuring Highland cows https://glasgowgal.wordpress.com/highland-cows/.

In the end, one of G’s reputedly indestructible umbrellas turned backward (but not the M & S one).

Glasgowgal is happy to be blogging from safe inside her flat, with a fleece blanket and a  bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup.

So, until next time, enjoy the wintery views,

and,

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Travel by Train (London)

Glasgowgal loves to travel by train.  The train is usually comfortable, and can be a bit of an adventure.

From Glasgow to London, glasgowgal enjoyed first class train service courtesy of Virgin’s weekend upgrade special.  The crisps were flavourful.  The spring water was cooled in an exclusive fridge.  The chairs were comfortable and spacious, and all had views of the countryside whizzing by.  It was so civilized.

The hum of the on-time train was only interrupted by the dulcet tones of an announcer telling us there was still “plenty of room” in the unreserved coach in economy, called Coach E, in case anyone was dissatisfied with their assigned seat.

In London, travelling by tube was polite and well-organized.

After two whirlwind days in London, glasgowgal and pals walked back to London Euston to catch their economy ride home. [On weekdays, an upgrade to first class is prohibitively priced.] Advance seat bookings were not accepted upon inquiry at the ticket counter.  No platform number was listed on our tickets.

Looking around Euston station, thousands of frustrated travellers appeared to be eyeing the overhead digital display boards.  Each person seemed to have two or three children in tow, all armed with more luggage than they could manage alone.  People were sweaty and anxious, their eyes were red and tired.  Glasgowgal thought, there is no way everyone here is waiting for the train back to Glasgow. 

Nonetheless, glasgowgal and pals prepared a plan, just in case all five thousand people were planning to board the service to Glasgow.

Travelling Wilburys offered to hold the luggage, leaving glasgowgal free to run to the platform, once it was announced.  Glasgowgal was charged with locating the unreserved coach and finding four forward facing seats in it, preferably close by to oneanother.  Pals would follow as closely as they could.  No problem, glasgowgal thought, there was plenty of space in Coach E on the ride here.

Ten minutes later, the overhead board flickered, almost imperceptibly.  Platform 12 appeared for the London-Glasgow service. The five thousand waiting passengers heaved, as if they were a single entity.  They exhaled and, after the breath,  glasgowgal heard their unified voice say “Platform 12”.

The stampede started immediately. Glasgowgal ran as quickly as she could.  Experienced travellers tried to block or trip her with their wheeled luggage.  Glasgowgal wove between doors and barriers, taking care not to trample anyone.

A girl of about 9, (we will call her Cecily) fell onto the concrete floor, her pink roller bag beside her as she clutched her ankle in pain.  Cecily cried out “Mummy!”.  Her mother, who was farther ahead in the massive crowd, turned around briefly, assessed the situation and the number of people advancing toward Coach E, and bellowed “Get up!!”.  A kinder woman stopped with Cecily and helped her to her feet.  (The kinder woman probably rode to Glasgow on the floor of the train’s washroom.)

Glasgowgal was swept forward in the tidal crowd when a gentleman shoved her ahead using his briefcase.  Fending him off was more difficult than a territorial duel with this friendly creature, encountered on a subsequent adventure down a B road in Scotland.

Breathless, glasgowgal arrived at Coach E and sat in the first set of  four forward facing seats she saw.  Arms out broadly, glasgowgal had to stand eye to eye with the gentleman behind her (the one who had just tried to fell her on the concrete platform).  He inquired whether the rest of her party was nearby, or was she purporting to “save the seats?” (The man had no one with him.  Glasgowgal assumes he also wanted to save the seats.)   At just that moment, Travelling Wilburys alighted the carriage and glasgowgal said, desperately pointing, “Those are my parents, right there.”

Within a minute Coach E was full.  Five minutes later all unreserved seats on the train were taken.  Ten or fifteen people stood in each washroom enclosure, with others sitting between trains, on the floor.  No one offered them any crisps.  There was no cooler of spring water.  A sign apologized that there would be no wireless internet on this particular service.  The conductor stopped checking people’s tickets, afraid of rebuke.  Glasgowgal and pals stayed seated throughout, frightened that the frothing masses might take their seats by force if left unoccupied.

On the way off the train, glasgowgal spotted Cecily, smiling, her ankle iced and elevated on the edge of a coveted set of four table seats, presumably snagged by her quick-moving mother.

We arrived back in Glasgow four and a half hours later, grateful to have found seats in Coach E.

Until next time,

always have a plan,

and

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Debunking the Beach (France)

Glasgowgal expected her time in France to be filled with endless fresh croissants, delectable assorted cheeses and even more assorted white wine.  It was.

Here, glasgowgal and pals enjoyed sunny lunch on a beachside elevation.

The food was enjoyed amidst good conversation, long walks and swimming in the pool.

The adventure met all of glasgowgal’s expectations.

But France also held secrets.

The country has miles of beautiful beaches, like this one near surf capital Hossegor.

On the beach, every  100 metres or so, are large concrete instalments.   These bunkers were constructed by the German army during their occupation of France in World War
II.   The bunkers are imposing, and so solid that they look as though they could still be used for military purposes.   Although this beach never saw the bloodbaths of similar nearby battlegrounds, the concrete remembers violent times.

Since then, surfers and skateboarders have taken the beach back.

Some bunkers make outlooks to gauge early morning swell.

Owners walk their dogs along the dunes in the early morning.  Afternoons, the dogs (and owners) watch surfing competitions.

The bunkers are adorned with bright graffiti.  They sink into the sand, which seems to soften them.


Some perfect waves help complete the picture.

So, until next time,

Enjoy shared, peaceful moments,

and take time to kiss a fish.

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The Monument (London)

After nearly two days of dizzying London sightseeing, glasgowgal and pals spotted the Monument.  The Monument was built to commemorate the Great Fire of London, which raged for more than three whole days, leaving a path that destroyed “the greater part of the City.”.

The Monument was built between 1671 and 1677.  Sir Christopher Wren, architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral, designed it, along with Dr. Robert Hooke.  On top sits a copper urn containing stylized flames.

Inside the Doric column is a cantilevered stone staircase of 311 steps.  Although the City of London has just now completed the first repairs to the Monument in over 100 years, the prospect of climbing the Monument remains mildly terrifying.  (Before you suggest that glasgowgal is a ‘fraidy cat, when did you last climb to the top of a tall building constructed in the 1670s, that had been left essentially unmaintained in the meanwhile?)

After paying our admission fee, we blithely started up the stairs, confident in our abilities.  All went well until, at stair 290 or so, we heard terrible shrieking from above.  A young boy (we’ll call him Archibald to protect his identity), was running out into a sort of window at the side of the staircase, then crying out, and running back in.   His parent had entirely lost control and was wildly trying to grab a piece of him as he streaked past.  His younger (and braver) sister was trying, at the same time, to descend the monument by crawling down. (At age three descending the Monument alone is probably ill-advised, even if you are braver than your big brother.)  Archie was screaming about how he was afraid of heights.

Glasgowgal considered that there was a fair chance that Archie would fall into the staircase, knocking glasgowgal down with him.  Or, glasgowgal might trip on the fast-moving toddler making a no-holds-barred descent. Glasgowgal’s heart moved into overdrive and terror overtook her.  She felt like screaming and running around erratically with Archie, holding hands while commiserating over a shared phobia of being trapped inside a  tall stone column with no near exit.

But, glasgowgal is an adult.  So, she bottled up her terror and continued to the summit, being careful not to make eye contact with Archie, and cleverly sidestepping his charming wee sister.

The summit was amazing.  Glasgowgal managed to snap this frightened photo before turning to the relative comfort of the stairwell again.

Archie was making his way down rather slowly, all the while with running dialogue about how he was scared of heights, and so everyone would have to wait for him.  Since the stairs are quite narrow, our group opted to go very slowly, and to offer words of encouragement to Archie as he overcame his fear.  Glasgowgal was secretly glad to be moving slowly, so that no one would notice her shaking legs.

At the bottom, B received a certificate commemorating his climb of the Monument. B has no difficulty with heights.  The remaining members of the group were not recognized in this official fashion.  (Glasgowgal saw Archie grinning, high fiving people he did not even appear to know, and proudly waving his certificate at anyone who would look.)  B has kindly offered to share his certificate with glasgowgal, g and the whole of the travelling wilburys.

So, until next time, keep climbing and you will reach the summit, eventually.

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London Calling

Glasgowgal travelled to London for a recent weekend adventure.  The big bright city did not disappoint.

Travelling by double decker city bus and tube, the group fit more into two days than is usually advisable.  [Glasgowgal was felled by a croupy illness while trying to recover from the London madness, making this blog entry late.]

Arriving at London Euston, the sunshine helped us search out Hotel Russell, which looks onto bustling Russell Square, also home to part of London University’s campus.

A tube ride down to Piccadilly Circus later, we were in thick of it.  The Circus was lively and, probably thanks to ubiquitous CCTV, we managed to avoid being pick-pocketed.

We took a stroll down to Buckingham Palace, excited to see the flag flying.  We asked if Liz and Phil might want to take afternoon tea with their Canadian friends.  Rebuffed, we continued on to Westminster, taking in the Abbey, then parliament and, over a sun-drenched river, Big Ben.

A short tube ride to Earl’s Court later, we revisited the pub where B & A first met, over thirty years ago.  The pub’s decor has been re-done (and not to advantage), but the original bar stools remain, as does the true romance.

We had to ask a flirtatious couple to move aside for a moment so that glasgowgal could capture an image of B & A in the pub doorway.

A few blocks away are “The Mansions”, where B lived for a while when he worked in London.  The building has wonderful smiling cherubs on its exterior.  Local real estate ads confirm that a flat can still be rented there, for a tidy sum.

Glasgowgal checked in on the Privy Council, to make sure justice is being done.

The next day, St. Paul’s Cathedral was majestic, its gilded dome ceiling reverberating with angelic voices.

We ventured out to Smithfields Market, where unwanted wives were traded along with sides of beef in the not too distant past.  William Wallace was dragged there to be drawn and quartered.

After lunch, we took in London Bridge and Tower Bridge.  We climbed the Monument, an experience which will form its own blog entry, as will our viewing of the Queen’s Life Guard’s Sunday morning change.  Oxford Street (great!), Harrods (ugh, crowded), Moorfields Eye Hospital and Old Bailey rounded out a fantastic weekend away.

Oh, and A met (a wax statue of) Michael Caine.

Glasgowgal is still recovering from the excitement.

So, until next time,

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La Dolce Vita

Readers will recall that glasgowgal had no luck (despite her legitimate monster film pedigree and pale complexion) being cast in Brad Pitt’s World War Z film, shot partly in Glasgow.  Undaunted, glasgowgal and pals travelled to Italy, in search of a photo op with Pitt’s reputed friend Clooney.

The group quickly gave up on any serious efforts to meet celebrities or be cast in a film, settling instead for days out on the sunny lake by boat, plates of fish, pizza and pasta, fresh cheese with tomatos, wine and just the right amount of gelato.

For two nights glasgowgal lived at Hotel Miralago in Cernobbio. While there she enjoyed the local market, and particularly the fragrant, sumptuous italian white grapes.

One day we took the breezy boat to Bellagio, the next we walked through a wonderful hillside garden path, ending at the very swish Villa Este.

There are lots of villas along the shores of the lake. Any one of them may belong to Clooney, but glasgowgal will not give away the location of his vacation haunt.  Instead, here is the villa glasgowgal will purchase when she becomes famous.  Of course, you will all be invited to visit.

The next two nights were spent along the lake in relaxing Moltrasio, where your Italian grandmother (or someone very like her) prepared branzino with olives and tomatoes for a perfect dinner.

A highlight was swimming in Lake Como itself. The group all swam, including the fashionable gent photographed below, and a nice guy from Boston.

To top off the trip, we spent a day in historic Como, including viewing the Duomo.  While there, we put the the ‘fun’ back in funicular, and achieved our original goal of photographing (a photograph) of Clooney.

Now, back to Glasgow to recuperate.  The Italy visit was a dream come true.

Until next time, raise a glass,

and try a new path to your intended destination.

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