A Travellerspoint blog


Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

overcast 15 °C

Today started out sunny ... by now you can predict how this will end ... yes, with rain. But not right away!

I have been very tired these days. Although I sleep, it doesn’t seem to be a restful, rejuvenating sleep.
Anyway, got up had breakfast (from 7:00 to 8:30 here) and went back to my room. Once again I was reading and fell asleep!
I guess I am needing these naps ...

Got ready and went out around noon to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum ... just down the street from my small hotel.
Wow! What a place! I was there for the rest of the afternoon and only saw part of one floor, (Natural history of Scotland), and some of the paintings. There were several of the original(?) paintings there of the Impressionist era! (My favourite period). Monet, Matisse, Gaugin, Cezanne and Dali. There was even a Van Gogh, and a Picasso, plus a couple of Rembrandts, and many others. These were not the most famous paintings we are familiar with by these artists, but originals nonetheless, and you could go right up to them ... take pictures ... I was really delightfully surprised. Hours passed ...

Shortly before 5:00 pm some staff people started walking around saying that it was closing and to move out ...
I couldn’t believe that a) I had been there that long, and b) that I had so much more to see! Just as I was coming out of one gallery I looked down into the big open middle part of another gallery ... and there was a plane (a Spitfire) suspended from the ceiling! I missed that whole area! My Dad would have really been interested in that, as he flew in those when he was in the RCAF during the war. I will definitely have to make a point of continuing my exploration of that (free!) museum on my next visit to Glasgow.

When I exited the museum it was raining, of course! I was hungry, so I went into the first restaurant I saw. I had some grilled cod and a dessert. It was fine, but not spectacular.
I whipped into a grocery store to get some snacks for the plane tomorrow.
Will get up at 5:00 am, and have a taxi coming at 6 am to take me to the airport. My flight is at 8:30 am. First to Toronto, then on Friday morning to Edmonton.
It’s been fun writing this blog, and it will certainly serve to remind me of the things I’ve seen and done on this excursion.
See you soon!

Posted by Laura Walking 13:20 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Rothesay to Wemyss Bay to Glasgow

Travel day

semi-overcast 16 °C

Today dawned a little cloudy, but there was blue sky too ... even some sun!
I give up describing the weather here, because by the time I’ve finished writing the sentence, it has already changed!

Had a great last breakfast (porridge today!) and got my things together. I had gotten most of my things ready last night, but had those last minute things to tuck in. There are ferries every 40 minutes or so. It arrives, cars and people and get off, different cars and people get on, and away she goes again. The turn around time is probably less than 20 minutes. They do it so often, they have their routine very well-rehearsed. Having said that, even though I had to check out of my guest house/ hotel, I was not in any panic to catch any particular ferry. My train time on the other side in Wemyss Bay, was also open-ended, so any train going in the direction of Glasgow would be fine. It was a pretty low stress travel day!
So after dragging my suitcase once again down the winding road into the centre of town, I even had time to nip into a gift shop while I was waiting for the ferry to get there.

These ferries are large. Probably not as large as the ones crossing to Vancouver Island for instance, but they are car ferries, so they are substantial boats! They have large (enclosed) lounge areas at the front and back of the passenger area, with comfortable seating and tables and so on. There is a little concession store where you can buy coffee and snacks and even souvenirs! It started to rain (of course!) when we were crossing. I was sitting at the very front in a comfortable chair with a table. I tried to take pictures, but as soon as the rain started really coming down, the windows were too wet to see through them.
Once at the other side, the walkway up to the train platform is covered as well, so we don’t have to go outside at all.
Got on the train to Glasgow and got here about 2 pm. The sun was out by then and I was getting really warm ... walking to my hotel, which was more or less uphill from Central Station. Dragging my suitcase and wearing my backpack, I had flashbacks to parts of the walk! The parts where your nose is almost touching the ground!

Anyway, I made it!
I was able to check in at about 2:30 ... and as I had been snacking on the train ... I wasn’t anxious to go out right away to have a meal. I was reading one of the books I had bought the other day at the book store in Rothesay - a book of short stories - and I promptly fell asleep!
Later I decided to walk back the way I had come here from the station, as I had seen a couple of restaurants that looked good. So I went back about 5:30 and had an “Oklahoma chicken burger” at Steak and Cherry’s. It was very good!
That was the extent of my evening!
I’ll have to make a plan for some things to do here tomorrow ... Thursday I am on a plane back to Canada early in the morning.

Posted by Laura Walking 13:07 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Rothesay - Day 4

Hop On Hop Off Bus /Rothesay Castle /Bute Museum

sunny 15 °C

Well this morning looked a bit more promising, weather-wise. There was blue sky and some sun, so that was fine.

I had a very good rest day yesterday. Since this is in fact my last full day here, if I’m going to see any of the things I mentioned a couple of days ago, then I must do it today! So last night I made a bit of a plan. The Hop On Hop Off bus tour has several starting times and the complete tour of the island takes 90 minutes. I decided that if I were to get on the first tour which starts at 10:30, it would finish around noon, still giving me plenty of time to look around at some of the other things I am interested in seeing.

Breakfast here is from 8:15 to 9:15, which would give me plenty of time to get ready and walk down to the centre of town by 10:30. I managed to get down there and get on the big red double-decker bus ... I was the only passenger! I was already seated at the front of the upper deck, (the front of the upper deck is covered, thus protecting the passengers from wind and rain!), when at the last minute an elderly couple (from Southampton) got on and came up and joined me. They were also on vacation, and were lovely to talk with.
The tour around the island was very good. The island is only about 15 miles long, but has so many nooks and crannies it seems much larger. Initially I thought about hiking on some of the established walking paths, but realize I would not have had enough time to to that. It would take several days to cover it all, and with this crazy and unpredictable weather, I would rather see it from above (in the bus, on the road, I mean). Not only that but there was a commentary by our bus driver, Paul, that told us more than you would ever learn by just driving around or walking around on your own. Lots of beautiful stately old Victorian homes. Many are still the summer homes of the wealthy from Glasgow, but unfortunately many others have fallen into disrepair and look rather run down. The gardens around 90% of the homes are beautifully lush and overflowing with flowers. Must be all the rain!

After the tour, I had a bite to eat and went into a cute book store. Big mistake! I could have spent hours in there! I bought a couple of books - what on earth was I thinking?! Now I have to somehow fit them into my suitcase! Fortunately they’re softcovers! (Like that makes a difference!)
Even though I love books, I got out of there quickly!

Next I went to Rothesay Castle. It’s right up the street from the centre of town. I’m an English Heritage member, so admission was free for me. It is a grand old castle. Much of it still standing, with information boards here and there. There was also a short video that told of some of the history. Apparently way back ... the Shetland and Orkney Islands, all the way over to Greenland were under Norwegian or Danish control. Norway wanted more control over Scotland and periodically they fought over the Isle of Bute and the Isle of Man. They were seen as gateways into Scotland, particularly the former, which Norway desperately wanted. The Norwegians were defeated on land and at sea by the Scots, however the Hebrides remained in Norwegian hands. Eventually in 1266, all of the Hebrides and the Isle of Man were formally ceded to Scotland for a lump sum of 4,000 marks and a small annual payment. There was a marriage between the son and daughter of the two ruling parties and centuries of war and strife were put to an end. The two countries are still friendly to this day. (That’s the abridged version!)

The water in the harbour actually used to be right up close to the castle, which is now sitting in the middle of town. It still has a moat (with water in it!). There is scaffolding around parts of it, as there always seem to be many restoration projects underway. While I was at the castle the clouds opened up and we had a little downpour for a few minutes. I was inside for that!
After that, I went to the Bute Museum which is just behind the castle. It was very interesting. Full of local history about the Waverley, the ferry docks, and the role they played in WWII. Famous local people and their accomplishments, various buildings, fires, rebuilding projects, etc. There was also a Natural History area where the local animal life was on display. Lots of taxidermy on display: small animals like otters, weasels, mink ... and birds, frogs, all kinds of things. There was another downpour while I was in the museum! I lucked out by being inside for both of these showers!

I also found out about Canada Hill today. Apparently a lot of people from Bute emigrated to Canada before and after WWII. At the top of Canada Hill there are apparently magnificent views of the island, the harbour, and the ocean. When people were leaving on big ships, their relatives would go up the hill and watch the ships leave, bound for Canada. They would wave goodbye, probably never to see their relatives again.

It was a busy day today, and tomorrow will also be a busy travel day ... ending in Glasgow.

Posted by Laura Walking 12:50 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Rothesay - Day 3


storm 12 °C

Well today dawned dark and gloomy. Nothing new in this part of the world! It was quite cool and stormy as well, for most of the day.
It started out raining and continued this cycle of rain, wind, and very brief periods of sun, all day.

I basically stayed in all day, writing this blog, (several entries) trying to catch up! And dealing with a few things. I seem to be having some eye issues.
Out of the blue on Thursday, the day after the Orkney trip, I started to experience some blurred (or obscured) vision in my left eye - like I’m looking through a dirty screen. Or like looking through bugs squashed on a windshield. These floaty things are in a semi-circle around the outside of my visual field. At first I thought my glasses were just dirty, but when I took them off it didn’t make any difference ... and I realized all of this “distraction” was actually IN my eye. There is nothing visible in the eye itself, looking at it. And no pain at all. My main concern is that not getting this looked at immediately will somehow render it permanent. Perhaps it will be anyway, as “floaties” often are.
Anyway, I will take care of it immediately when I get back.

I was happy to be inside today just reading and writing ... a real rest day.
Outside the wind was blowing the rain sideways ... right onto my sea-facing window ... and it became quite drafty and cool in my room!
I broke out the heavy sweater which kept me cozy, and made a cup of tea! Maybe I’m turning Scottish!

Since tomorrow is my last full day here, I will have to get out and see some of the things I mentioned yesterday.
I hope it’s a nicer weather day than today ...

Posted by Laura Walking 14:01 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Rothesay - Day 2

Walking around ...

semi-overcast 14 °C

Today is Saturday and I’m hoping there are some things open in the centre of town.

Yesterday, during my few hours of “quiet time” in my room - besides watching the ferry go back and forth all afternoon ... I basically dumped out my suitcase and sorted out the walking clothes and things that needed to be washed and repacked the rest. On each trip, I also seem to accumulate an extraordinary number of brochures from various places, explaining events in the area and things to see, etc. They eventually become heavy, and take up a lot of room! I sorted through some of those as well. I had “googled” laundry services in Rothesay and up came “Fresh and Press” (I’m not kidding!) on Main Street very close to the harbour.

So, after a delicious breakfast, I packed up my backpack with my laundry and headed to the centre of town - about a 15-minute walk down the winding road along the harbour. By the way, there are palm trees growing along this winding promenade! Before finding the Fresh and Press however, there were a couple of things I wanted to see on the way. I had my camera, and the sun was out at the moment, so why not!

Here’s a bit of information about the history of Rothesay, and the Isle of Bute. Around the turn of the century, (not this one, the previous one!) in the late 1890s, early 1900s, the Isle of Bute was a very popular summer vacationing spot. More recently called Scotland’s Madeira! It was easy to get to from Glasgow, and was serviced at that time by paddle steamers. The most notable of which was called the Waverley. “Waverley is one of the world’s greatest historic ships — the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world — magnificently restored with towering funnels, timber decks and gleaming varnish and brass. You can see and hear the mighty steam engines as they propel the paddles that take Waverley majestically through the sea.”
I have seen many notices around town about fund-raising plans to refurbish this historic steamer - it sounds like it has already been successfully completed! Unfortunately this was not the boat that brought us here to Bute yesterday. The published schedule of Waverley’s sailing season indicates she is further north at this time.
Bute was the summer playground of the wealthy and was a very busy, bustling place. Remember the grand old Victorian homes I mentioned ... they belonged to some very prominent people of the day. From the pictures I saw at the Discovery Centre, the streets and the docks were absolutely packed with holiday goers! Hundreds, perhaps thousands more people than I’ve seen during my entire trip! The streets had horse-drawn trams and taxis waiting for passengers and their families to disembark from the paddle steamer and take them to their holiday home, or to the lavish hotels and summer resorts that dotted the area at the time.

Rothesay Castle (largely in ruins now) is a prominent landmark here, and dates back to the 11th Century. One brochure says: “It’s a miracle that Rothesay Castle has survived - it was attacked not once but twice by a rampaging army of Norsemen. But the castle proved to be a tough old place and today you can see its grand great hall, moat and immense circular curtain wall, which is unique in Scotland.”
There are numerous parks and many walks around the area, one of them leading up to Canada Hill for magnificent views. (I don’t know the history behind why it was so named ... but I will certainly find out!).

Another prominent and spectacular sight to see here is called Mount Stuart. This is “Britain’s most spectacular Victorian Gothic house, and is the architectural fantasy of the 3rd Marquess of Bute and his architect Sir Robert Rowand Anderson.” The pictures in the tourist brochure certainly look impressive, the interiors stunning. Mount Stuart is the seat of the Stuart’s of Bute, direct descendants of King Robert the Bruce. The family has been on the Isle of Bute for more than 700 years and on the site where Mount Stuart stands for almost three centuries. There are parks and gardens around the estate with picnic areas, a cafe, rooms for special events, etc.

Right near where passengers embark and disembark from the ferry, there is an old Victorian building whose sign says, “Public Conveniences”.
In other words, bathrooms! I had been reading about the fantastic restoration of this “Listed” building - meaning it’s now classified as a Historical Landmark. “The most impressive surviving late Victorian public convenience in Scotland, if not Britain.” “Commissioned by Rothesay Harbour Trust in 1899 during Rothesay’s hey-day as a holiday resort, the gents lavatory, a most unusual survivor of the Victorian era, was always intended to impress.” “The interior is magnificent with walls entirely clad in decorative ceramic tiles, ornately patterned in rows. The floors are designed with ceramic mosaic, with the crest of the Royal Burgh of Rothesay at the entrance.”
It was 40 pence to go in. The men’s side (no men were in there!) consists of 14 urinals against two walls, another six stand in the centre of the room. Each one made out of imitation white marble with ornate (imitation) dark green St. Anne’s marble at the top. Three glass-sided tanks or cisterns decorated with similar green imitation marble feed water to the urinals through shining copper pipes. There were also nine cubicles with doors, to complete the room. In Victorian days, similar provisions were not always provided for women, so with the restoration of this building, modern lavatories for women were improved and/or added.
The originals were manufactured from a particular pottery recipe called “Fireclay”. This is an extremely robust material ideally suited for very large pieces such as these. The Twyford family has been continuously making pottery for eight generations since the 1680’s, but it was Mr T.W. Twyford who began making the fireclay pieces in 1890. The urinals in Rothesay were some of his earliest production. He gave his fireclay the trademark of “ADAMANT”, which was printed on each urinal. The very fact that the urinals are still in use is testimony to the strength and quality of the materials and craftsmanship of the Twyford product. Fireclay products are still manufactured to this day.
I know it was a bathroom, but it was really a beautiful work of art.

Yes, I finally did make it to the Fresh and Press! The very helpful and accommodating woman who runs the place was very patient. She showed me what to do, and I got my clothes going. While waiting the 45 minutes for them to wash, I went to a coffee shop. At the assigned time I went back to the Fresh and Press and transferred things to the dryer. This time it was a shorter cycle, so I walked down the street. No sooner had I turned the corner than it started to rain. I quickly went back to wait inside. A few minutes later the rain had stopped and people were out walking around again! I’m not sure I could ever get used to such fickle weather switching on and off as often as you change your shoes!
As I was returning from the Fresh and Press with a backpack full of much nicer and definitely “fresher” smelling clothes, I saw a Hop On Hop Off bus waiting at the bus stand. I was pretty surprised to see it. I didn’t think Rothesay or this island was big enough for that sort of tour - but looking online later, I think I may take advantage of it; seeing the whole island in an hour and a half. I couldn’t do that on foot.

I hope this has given you a little bit of information about where I am at the moment, and a few of the things I might be seeing!
I will visit some of these sites tomorrow or Monday.

Posted by Laura Walking 07:58 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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