Monday, 29 November 2010

Glasgow, Scotland

Street Architecture  GJC_IMG_2-0510

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and made its name from the industries on the River Clyde from trans Atlantic trade to shipbuilding and associated engineering.

The two photos from the last post of Newcastle Central Station were taken while I was waiting for the train to Glasgow.  As with a lot of places in the UK, there is a historical rivalry between counties and cities which these days is usually evident between sporting teams such as Yorkshire / Lancashire, Manchester / Liverpool and Newcastle / Sunderland. In Scotland though, I feel that the stakes are a little higher as Edinburgh and Glasgow seem to want to fight for pre-eminence with each resident thinking that their city is best. Most tourists prefer Edinburgh but as my family originally came from Glasgow and my Mother worked here early in her life, I seem to have an affiliation with the place. I usually try to visit the city once during the winter time.

Today (6th November) I had a plan to cover a few sights in the east end but despite a glorious sunny ride up the east coast to Edinburgh, I had to change my plan as the skies grew dark with threatening rain clouds on the outskirts of Glasgow at Motherwell. The schedule for the day was mainly outdoors, so a hurried look through the leaflets I had provided me with some quick alternatives to stay dry.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in 1868 near Glasgow Cathedral and after a good education, rare to this city at the time, decided that he was going to become an architect. In 1890, his name became well known in these circles when he won an award for classical architecture. At the time Glasgow was a dismal place and he decided to create his own identity by giving back something to the city. He basically  designed a series of individual building projects all over the city in his unique style most of which are open to the public. He wanted to use classical designs that he had learned about but develop something Scottish and unique looking to the future. Not only did he oversee the building construction but he created the whole concept by designing the furniture as well. By doing this, he successfully created a Mackintosh brand. These days the floodgates have opened even further as his popularity is renowned outside Glasgow thanks to the jewellery range.

I left Glasgow Central station and made my way to the north west side of the city, taking photo 1 on the way, past the temporary exhibition space Maclellan Galleries with reference on the door to the nearest tourist site....

Walk this way  GJC_IMG_2-0467

.. and arrived at my first destination just around the corner with some unusual street architecture in place.

Lamp  GJC_IMG_2-0474

The Glasgow School of Art was Charles Rennie Macintosh's second last building and as he was running out of time, he was now wanting to leave legacies behind. Unfortunately he was only given a budget of £14,000 as the authorities wanted a simple building, so he could only complete a quarter of the building. Little did they know that he had greater plans for upstairs later.

Grand door  GJC_IMG_2-0498

My 1 hour tour started at 12 midday but unfortunately I was not allowed to take any interior photos due to it being a working Art school involving copyright rules and with this in mind, i'll give you as brief overview. Mackintosh plays architectural tricks on the mind by building a structure with an ancient English Arts and Craft roof with a mixture of Japanese influenced contemporary fittings, hanging ceilings, false supporting beams, adjacent dark and light spaces, inverting ideas such as reaching the top of the stairs, instead of being a place of brightness, it was almost dungeon like, then walking along a corridor, we entered a white Pavilion where the light brightened up the place.... Inspiration for the Art students of the day. One such idea on the staircase was Glasgow marble which was essentially polished concrete, an idea used 60 years later.  The library was his masterpiece... totally made of wood with numerous un supporting posts, it is thought to represent a forest with the central area being a clearing in the forest. The wood idea is thought to come from the process that books are made out of paper from trees from the forest. To give you an insight, heres a google images link to the library and other images plus exterior views.

Across the street, there was a different take on Art showing a Glasgow pastime and things important to them !!

Say something  GJC_IMG_2-0499

After a few exterior photographs... in the rain, it was time to go for lunch and seeing I was on a themed day, I would visit another of Mackintosh's buildings.........

Storm in a teacup  GJC_IMG_2-0521

The price of the Chilli beef swung it for me whereas I've only ever paid more for a cup of tea at Babbington tea rooms, Spanish steps in Rome !!  To be fair, the teapot came with extra water and tea strainer and despite thinking that there's only so much tea that you can drink.... the spicyness of the Chilli made sure I drank it all !!
On arrival, I expected the real posh Mackintosh chairs at the front of the shop upstairs from the Jewellers.

Mackintosh Cafe GJC_IMG_2-0530

.... but when I was asked if I had a reservation.... err no...  I had to sit with the majority of the diners in the more simple surroundings to the rear. See if you spot the rear of the tea rooms by the chair design. I wasn't going to miss an opportunity like this as I was a paying customer so I managed to find an excuse to go to the toilet upstairs and quickly photograph something of the front tea room without being caught by the waitress. It wasn't quite the picture I wanted as the tall seats were to the side of the room.

After lunch I walked to Cowcaddens underground station to take the train to the west end of the city...

Underground station GJC_IMG_2-0534

The system, known as the subway, was opened in 1896 and is the third oldest in the world. It is a simple circular line around the city with the two railway tracks for identification and directional purposes being known as the inner and outer circle. The trains have a round cross section and are quite are low in height making it impossible to stand anywhere else except the middle of the train. They are usually of a certain bright colour and with the circular shape of the the network, it is sometimes known as the "Clockwork Orange". However the one I got today advertised Scottish poet Robert Burns...

Burns Coach  GJC_IMG_2-0615_edited-1

My next destination was Kelvingrove Art gallery and Museum. It was a long time since I was last here as I didn't find the exhibits very interesting at the time.

Monochrome Museum  GJC_IMG_2-0597

The museum was opened in 1901 and it was decided by the council to close it for a few years for a re - fit and to make it more user friendly. It re-opened in 2006 after three years closure and a total spend of just under £28 million pounds. As the weather wasn't great today, this was an ideal opportunity to see an indoor building I saw once many years ago.

Ceiling GJC_IMG_2-0582 (1)

Lighting GJC_IMG_2-0586


Stairs  GJC_IMG_2-0581_edited-1

Even today, after all the re-fitting work I seemed more fascinated by the building than some of it's exhibits.....

GJC_IMG_2-0561 (1)
Keep of my bottle, or I'll give you a "Glasgow Kiss" !!!

two with a birds eye view
Eventually, I exhausted the building and myself with it's size and it was time to leave, so it was back over a bridge...

Lamp, Kelvin bridge  GJC_IMG_2-0602

..that had some lights on it, a quick look at the Autumn tinged Glasgow University building.....

University  GJC_IMG_2-0604

... and then to join fellow travellers on the subway back into to the city centre...

The Tube  GJC_IMG_2-0614

Glasgow is famous for having two shopping areas, Argyle Street and Sauchiehall Street (where I was earlier in the day), linked together by a third street shown below. Most are standard UK stores but there are a few exceptions to the rule that make shopping interesting to those who like that sort of thing.

Floodlit GJC_IMG_2-0650_edited-1

Lastly, as the shops were now closing and my train was at 6pm (incidentally you may remember that I photographed my train also on the last post ), I used up some of my time in the tourist information centre looking for future ideas !!. As with most souvenir shops in Scotland, the merchandise on sale as you may have seen previously in my "Tyndrum and Loch Awe 1 - Power station" post is embarrassing.

The Loch Ness monster is a long way from home here so it is time to leave for the station and say goodbye to this distant colourful friend...

Colourful Character  GJC_IMG_2-0620
... playing you a farewell tune !

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Post 50. The birth & early journey of a blog ... & J_on_tour !

Sunrise in NewcastleGJC_ IMG_0448
The dawn of J_on_tour.... Newcastle Central Station

I always intended that my blog should be mainly pictorial and a little mysterious but as the journey has progressed, so the text has increased and my character is more prominent. Although 50 posts is not a great achievement, I didn't think that you would be travelling with me after 11 posts, comments from 4 people and 1 follower. I am still here !

I do not intend to depart from the current format but thought that this was an excuse to share more of the place where I live and come from every 50 posts. I'm sure you'll allow me that privilege at these intervals as I feel that I am hiding something away from you !!

This post however, is a one off and I aim to involve my fellow travellers on this occasion that have helped me on my journey both around the UK in pictures and around the world in another form.

Exit  GJC_IMG_0626

Despite being inspired by my parents to travel to local picturesque places, Scotland and The Lake District when I was younger, my travels started when I could afford my first train ticket to Durham. (My interest in trains started as a child in the local park where "class 37 diesels" passed by on coal trains, we all ran to the fence to watch them go by at the bottom of the bank. These freight engines worked summer holiday specials from Scarborough and Blackpool and it was an opportunity to ride behind them.)  I incorporated this with a tour of the historic city with my camera on most occasions. The distance increased to York, Leeds and Edinburgh in the first instance and later to all parts of the UK with accommodation in Wales, Scotland and Devon.

Travelling Nostalgia  GJC_IMG_0666

Later, when I could afford my own car,  I was able to re-visit teenage youth group things by learning the basics of hillwalking from a friend and eventually spent a large amount of time in The English Lake District and to a lesser extent North Wales. Although I have always loved and read maps from the back seat of my parents car from the age of 7, this was another opportunity to combine hillwalking with tourism and photography.

My first flight was a prize won in a local department store with the destination being the caribbean island of Aruba. This was the forerunner of travels that took me into another dimension for a while which included South West England and I was a frequent flyer on EasyJet. To give you an indication of the frequency, it is not often that a budget airline in the UK gives a credit voucher away towards another flight. In this period I was able to sample a lot of European destinations and got to know the cabin crew very well !!

Although I had used computers for a while, my interactive internet journey only began when I didn't feel comfortable with a Hotel in Weymouth and so I joined Trip advisor. I had to think up an on - line name for the site and J_on_tour1 was born. Soon after, I was "helped" into the digital photography age by my southwestern friend and later recorded my pictorial travels on social media with humorous captions.

One weekend at work during June, I had a discussion with primrosepatch ( special thanks .... because otherwise I wouldn't be here ) about other internet sites not being a great platform for this who in turn wanted ideas about taking better exposures and photographs. My big concern was that I am not a great photographer in my eyes, I am not a world travelling tourist, I am not a hillwalker in the extreme but I was a hybrid mixture of all three. The following day, with a great deal of help and mentoring, I published my first post. As I said earlier, it was a difficult start and it wasn't until the london post of number 13 that a few followers started to join and I was comfortable being myself in the process. There was a greater interest shown in my hill walking exploits to the English Lake District and Scotland. The variety of the journey continues through winter to places that might be unexpected........

That's enough about me.......

I had been thinking about what to do for a 50th or 100th post when an idea came to me, when out of the blue, 'Wind' thanked me with an award... how shocked was I when I saw where I was put on the list..

Photographis: Best Virtual Friend Award

It made me think that I didn't come on to blogger to blog but I came to interact and make friends. Prior to this I was inspired to reply to every comment.... something I have done since the end of September (usually for the 2nd most recent post, the day after I publish the latest post).

The journey of the first 50 posts has included three people that I have interacted with most and in no particular order are ... Wind @ graphis-artwork who is not just an amazing artist but an outstanding photographer. Adrian @ adriansimages who I think seems to have the most in common with what I try to do and visit the places I know. Having said all that, I think Adrian would prefer himself as more of a photographer and myself as more of a tourist !! I found cranberrymorning by accident on a Yorkshire profile page and soon discovered that there was more variety to "following" than I thought. At first I didn't expect to follow, but after a while, there were a few more things of interest that cropped up.

Headlight GJC_IMG_1057_2 (1)
Add caption

Two more people in the the top 5 that deserve a mention are Mahon @ redcat-albumart who as you can see from the above photo and his link inspires me with his photographs .......and felisa @ gaspar y familia who writes an inspirational blog that I don't always understand as it can be time consuming and miss something in the translation but respect for her following of my blog and the numerous comments.

I discovered a tourist group through photographer rafael lam by a subscribed post and as a result a travel conversationalist lily riani, award winning lonely planet photographer rizalenio and recent addition to my list.... traveling hawk & travelling on a budget with Debbie

Other people of note in the photographic area are
cimpoaca laurentiu,
sciarada @ anima mundi,
Farm chick @ its a small town life
luzia's art who is also an artist
Berit @ bare builder (beritsfoto)

I would like to thank the small group of walkers that I follow. You are a very patient group of people and even though some of you don't comment on my pages much, I know that you follow me. A special mention to Mike @ northern pies who has a unique sense of humour and as you will see from the link was the donator of my first blog prize.

Sheep snood GJC_IMG_0931 (1)

I have to include variety bloggers from the other side of the Atlantic who I have accidently come across through subscribed posts sweet virginia breeze who I currently follow in RSS, mountain lyon and vickilanemysteries.

It is impossible to mention everyone who I have just started travelling with or those who I am not sure are still with me on the journey but I would just like to promote them as seen on the right hand side of the page .... The other people who have previously commented on my pages that I cannot miss out  are -

synflame, petrus @ rambler, Vania @ be my guest in rio and kae lani who i follow in RSS.

Lastly, as many longer term readers might guess, I look forward to having some fun with george the lad !

This has been a rather unexpected journey meeting and travelling with new friends as I begin my journey. Enough of sentimental talk now  &

May the journey continue...............

Station sunrise GJC_IMG_0451 (1)
This side Edinburgh/ Glasgow, other side York/London.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Masham, Yorkshire - (2) The town

Tree in the square GJC_IMG_0411

Masham is a small historic market town in the lower part of Wensleydale standing near the River Ure. It is pronounced "Massam" coming from the name Maessa's Ham which was a the Anglo Saxon homestead (Ham) of the man Maessa.

Although the Romans lived here, It was more noted for inhabitants in Saxon times and then later when the Viking raiders came in 900 AD. Apart from burning the town and starting again with their own identity, they did bring an industry to the town for which it is still famous today ... sheep farming.

Coat of Arms GJC_IMG_0260

The market place has a nice mixture of Georgian houses and was the scene for sheep trading. The first market charter was granted in 1250 AD and still continues today on a much smaller scale during September.
In modern times it is probably more famous as the centre of brewing with Theakstons and The Black Sheep Brewery within walking distance of each other.

Lamp and leaves GJC_IMG_0268

We arrived back at the square from our walk and some of the group seemed a little exhausted due to the acceleration at the end. The walk leader, who had booked a meal at 6pm, seemed worried about the time constantly and wanted to squeeze a tea /coffee shop break in as well at 4.30pm !

Tea room GJC_IMG_0407

The group split into two and I joined the half  that just wanted a seat until closing time and didn't include the walk leader !!! Apologies to him !

Autumn House GJC_IMG_0433

At 5pm it was time to leave the tea shop as it was closing and have a very quick 1 hour tour around the market square.

Pharmacy GJC_IMG_0405 (1)

Vicarage GJC_IMG_0413
The Vicarage

Approach GJC_IMG_0415 (1)

Four of us decided to have a look in the church yard and subsequently inside the church before we were also kicked out of there !! ... at closing time.

Door GJC_IMG_0416
Norman door

Aisle GJC_IMG_0421

Despite the building having a small amount of Saxon stonework, St Mary's church is mainly of Norman architecture that had later 15th century work modifications.

Pillar architecture GJC_IMG_0422

St Mary's GJC_IMG_0418

Windows GJC_IMG_0419

We were reminded at this point that the church was closing and it was time to think about the next phase of the day..... or rather evening

Street Lamp GJC_IMG_0429

My driver thought it best to go down the stairs to the car park, change out of the muddy boots and bring the car up to the square for a quick exit after the meal...

Car park steps GJC_IMG_0253

17 of the party were booked into The Bay Horse in the smallest room possible for dinner. Anyone wishing to leave the table to go to a certain smaller room had to disturb half of the diners in the process. The other problem was that although the food was cooked fresh, it was extremely slow trying to serve 17 people and the whole experience took two hours. On the other hand, we were thankful that the walk leader didn't choose the other Pub !!.....

Evening entertainment GJC_IMG_0256
In Masham ??!! ,   no, I don't believe it either.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Masham, Yorkshire - (1) The walk

Masham Church GJC_IMG_0406

Masham is a historic market town which lies in the lower parts of Wensleydale in North Yorkshire.

This is a story about a walk leader, a path that wasn't at times and my hungry stomach that was !!!

Following the Grassington walk ( 30th August post), I decided that it would be a good idea to join the Yorkshire walking group for a slightly nearer location. My friend who organised the Richmond day out and was team manager for the sandcastle competition in Scarborough suggested that we travel from Newcastle in one car. He managed to fill two cars to travel south for the walk .... what a great organiser.
The first thing that struck me about Masham was the benevolent good will gesture from the local council... is this too good to be true....

Donation GJC_IMG_0431
Looks like a well used slot machine or .... under selling Yorkshire

Once we had agreed on a car parking price .... after the shared petrol money was agreed, we headed for the meeting point in the market square. There were quite a few of us to "control" and I was suitably told told off by the walk leader as he thought I was wandering off to take photographs which included part of the walk, Now I know that I have you all on my side as you want to see a few photos of the town but as a teaser for a part two of Masham and payback time for the walk leader, I now present you with the next photo.....

Walk leader GJC_IMG_0266
Masham fashion !!

The walk leader decided to stand on the steps of the market cross and proceed to gain our attention and restrain us from talking to people we hadn't seen for a few months. I wasn't sure if it was an entertainment act that involved singing, dancing or just selling something... hope it was nothing red !! As he had researched the walk previously, it was worrying to see him in this attire as the word MUD came into my head.

Off for a walk GJC_IMG_0283

We set off across fields on our 9.5 mile  (15 km ) walk following a river for most of the first half.

Hackfall wood was bought by John Aislabie in 1731 for the price of £906. He had made a name for himself by landscaping an estate and creating brick follies at the nearby Fountains Abbey now owned by the National Trust. This was another opportunity for him to do something similar that got a mention in a travel guide written by William Wordsworth of all people. As the centuries passed, Hackfall became a little overgrown with some footpaths falling into disrepair by the 20th century and it was only during the 1980's that two preservation societies saved the area from obscurity.

The entrance to the wood seemed as if we were stepping back into Albion or Hobbit country from Lord of the Rings as we waited our fate following the pleasant apologetic sign but no less worrying one. We had walked quite a way by this point and were allowed a short break here but not enough for lunch.

Branch GJC_IMG_0293

I had enough time to photograph a sample of Hobbit country before we set off on one of the muddiest forest paths I have seen in a long time. We went deeper into the forest.....

In the forest GJC_IMG_0308 (1)

Angled tree GJC_IMG_0339

Possibly.....The hunger was starting to set in badly and anything that I saw seemed appealing !!....

Magic mushroom GJC_IMG_0310

Bark GJC_IMG_0377
Anything is tasty when hungry !!

Eventually we were treated to ... not food, but a view of the river with Masham church in the distance

River view GJC_IMG_0321

Folly arch GJC_IMG_0331
John Aislabie's house or hobby ?

At long last we arrived at the designated lunch stop. This was designed and constructed by William Aislabie who was the son of John around 1767 and was intended as a banqueting hall. The building called the ruin at Mowbray point has a classic front with Gothic windows whereas on the other side, a ruined arch is the main feature overlooking a ravine where ....we enjoyed lunch.

Forest accommodation GJC_IMG_0350
Closed for banquets and ...... lunch

The building is owned and maintained by an interesting building preservation society called The Landmark Trust who rent the building out as a holiday home. As it was a self catering facility, there was a time restriction where we could only walk in the garden between 11am and 3pm.  I wasn't allowed outside the garden gate so I have to rely for the first time on another source to demonstrate the full picture.....

After lunch, we left the wood and the path developed into a lane if that's what you would like to call it...

Muddy reflection GJC_IMG_0383_2

.... and about an hour, our thoughts turned to afternoon tea as we passed Swinton Park Hotel, but as we had been experiencing some soft, brown, wet countryside underfoot, I thought that we might not be welcome......

Closed GJC_IMG_0393
With those boots...... "Keep out"

Lastly, as we thought more about the food that we were going to have in Masham that evening, an animal of some unusual description decided that it was going to get there before us.......

Cowsheep GJC_IMG_0389
Is it a sheep or a cow, looks more like an overfed hybrid !

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