Pictorial blethers

By blethers

Back where I began

It's all go this week. I may never recover ... Friend Di had asked me the other day if I fancied a jolly in Glasgow, where I could be useful  in showing her how to reach locations that she will soon be needing to go and helping her time her visits, and we'd agreed that rather than be wildly early we'd meet at the ferry after 11ses. In the event I was out rather sooner than this so that we could drive round by Sandbank to see a large Saga cruise ship, the Spirit of Adventure, moored in the Holy Loch, where she loomed taller and more dominating than ever the USN Site One base ship did. We whizzed into the parking area at the ferry right on the dot of 11.10am...

Rather than faff around trying to park in the West End of Glasgow, we'd decided to use the park'n'ride at Shields Road Subway station - finding it meant a swift tour of Di's pre-Dunoon days on the South Side, a foreign land to a West End girl who suffered from motion sickness on a tram in these pre-Clyde Tunnel days. However, it worked well after we'd found the station and we were soon at Kelvinbridge  and walking along the riverside walkway to Kelvingrove Park.

Her first location was near Lord Roberts' statue - a well-known viewpoint/meeting place on the hill dominated by Park Circus, where I used to take my lunch on nice days when I began teaching in nearby Woodside School, looking over the University and the park which had featured in my life from the start of secondary school till I left Glasgow. It was warm and sunny and full of students sunning themselves on the grass as we marched back down the hill and headed for Byres Road, Centre of the Known Universe to the young me, for a spot of lunch. This involved passing my old school, Hillhead High School - and, two streets further on, its Primary School, now moved to a modern building. We found a tiny shop selling piping hot falafels with a little pot of garlicky dressing, and sat in the window scoffing them, before trekking up the next hill - Glasgow is built on drumlins - towards Hyndland.

The top of this particular hill contained the quiet streets where the wee me learned to ride a small orange two-wheeler before I was five, past the little fenced-in park which was only for the use of all houses who could see it from a window and which was also a place my mother liked to bring her small daughters of an afternoon on the basis that my grandparents' flat overlooked it from the kitchen. This was where I learned my first French, from a mother with a daughter with whom I played: "Camille - veux-tu faire pi-pi?" Our destination was St Bride's Church, Hyndland Road, opposite the terminus of the number 10 tram that I used to get to school and the small row of shops where I used to be sent for messages as a child. (I hated going for potatoes; the grocer would take your message bag and tip the loose spuds in, and woe betide me if I didn't ensure that the old bit of newspaper inside wasn't spread out to line the bag...)

We sussed out the parking spaces around the church and that was it. Mission accomplished. We headed back to Byres Road by a different route just because we could, and got the subway from Hillhead back to the car. 

It was utterly strange to walk through my earlier life like this, noting the changes and feeling discombobulated by them. We didn't walk more than three miles, but it felt much further - something to do with moving between areas, with walking what would usually be done by bus or tram. 

Photo is of my old secondary school, Hillhead High, a butterfly-shaped building that used to have open corridors when I was there; they've been filled in with windows now, boringly. The trees are bigger, but the bricks are as red as ever, and the girls' entrance gate is just to the right of the first of the white signs. This is the road I walked along every school day for 6 years.

Oh - I did something new today too: Di took me into Aldi in Greenock - or was it Port Glasgow? - on the way to the ferry. They fair whizz you through the checkouts. Quite terrifying.

Exciting day, huh?

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