24 May 2014

Glasgow School of Art

We were exploring a cemetery with family graves up on a hill above Glasgow  near the Gallowgate when we saw the smoke. 
In the town centre.
'I hope its not my house' said my sister

Later we drove into town to do some shopping on Sauchiehall Street and discovered that the Glasgow School of Art was on fire.

It is a stunning building, a centre piece of the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and a working building where many people I know did their art degrees. I visited it over 12 years ago and took the tour around the famous library. I always remember seeing students using beautiful Mackintosh chairs to stand on while hanging works on a wall.  I wasnt a museum but somewhere living and vibrant but also a work of art in its own right.

It seems the fire started in the basement and that the building is mostly saved. But the damage inside must be massive. A couple of hours later when we passed again it was still burning and the firemen were still on ladders soaking it from giant hoses.  I don't think the library has survived.

22 May 2014

Delicious Scottish food

When I arrived in Glasgow I got a message from an old friend who spends most of the year in Brazil. She said she would be passing through Glasgow Queen Street station and could we meet?
I was so excited at the idea of seeing her after about 4 years absence that I went down there and waited, and waited,  only after half an hour realising that the ' thu' in her message meant Thursday! 
So I am off there again today!

But I had a good time in the town centre anyway, shopping and looking at all the amazing buildings
Headed straight for Greggs the baker for an empire biscuit - the ones with cherries on top
Watched a handsome highland piper
 Here is the street scene.....as you see the sun does shine in Glasgow and people sit outside drinking in cafes
 There was a chill wind so I had on a borrowed coat from my niece but there were plenty of brave Scottish biddies in tee shirts or vests.

Came home on the wee shoogle..... the Glasgow metro which is small and intimate and cosy
The sky was intense blue and it was quite hard to see in front of me as the light in Scotland is so bright and clear
Later in the evening we went for a wonderful curry in Akbar's, a famous restaurant which started in Bradford
 I have never seen a Naan mountain before. That is my gorgeous niece hiding behind it - hope she doesn't mind appearing here!   Thank you both for such a fabulous dinner. I dream of curry when I am in Catalunya.

21 May 2014

Arrival in Scotland

The Catalan Way is on the road for the next couple of months.

I am travelling around the UK visiting family and friends before arriving in Cornwall and celebrating The Feast of Saint John in Penzance. Otherwise known as Golowan!  Midsummer is  a big celebration in Catalunya too and also centres on the  feast day of Sant Joan but I thought it would be lovely this year to have it in the UK. And there will be several Catalans coming over too. But more on that later!

I have slipped behind with posting - not from lack of ideas but time has suddenly speeded up and I don't like the feeling of trying to catch up so I am going to just start where I am, right now.

Which, today is Glasgow

 I arrived yesterday at Prestwick airport and as always was surprised by the emotional impact of landing in Scotland. I haven't lived here since 1980 - 34 years - but I still get a feeling of fullness in my chest when I arrive whether by train, car or plane.  I worked in the airport cafe when I was 16 but it is totally unrecognisable now.  I like this feeling of things changing - when you stay in one place it happens slowly but as soon as you move away it seems to speed up.  I say I like it but sometimes I am not so sure - change means excitement but also loss and I need to feel the balance is right between change and stability otherwise I start to lose my footing.  This visit there will be a lot of change to take in - including storm damage in Penzance, my friends new home in Norfolk and my Cornish cabin with no animals beside me

There is always a feeling of coming home when I arrive in Scotland.

Home.  What does that mean?   There are so many off pat answers but I am still exploring it.  Wouldn't it be nice to really feel that home is wherever you put your hat?  

I always enjoy the first moments of speaking English and not having to think before I open my mouth. When the man at the sweetie counter said "See you later" I felt something different than when people call out "Hasta luego"  but I don't really understand why.

Troon station with its new translation into Gaelic which seems odd as noone there speaks it. We are not in the Highlands - it's Ayrshire!
 Glasgow Central station is impressive as always.  A metallic palace.  Opened in 1879 and now a listed building.
You don't see so many women wearing headscarves as you used to when I was young
These tiles are a little reminder of Barcelona, as you walk out of the station
There was a chill wind out on the street while I waited for my sister to come and pick me up. Weather and where to live - that is yet another interesting line of thought.   How much does the weather really matter and why was it fine for me when I lived here and now I seem to be all soft and weak and want sunshine? 

I am in the afterweek of my birthday and as always it makes me think too much about age, time and change
Add to that the strong sensations of returning to my birth country and also that I am to travel for a month and you will see that I need perhaps a large whisky, a hot curry and an evening of playing cards with my niece. which is exactly what I have to look forward to this evening! 

See you later!

14 May 2014

Tren dels Llacs

Last weekend we took the Tren dels Llacs from Lleida to Pobla de Segur in the Pyranees. It leaves at 10.30 am and so we stayed overnight in Lleida
It is a trip I have wanted to do for years and finally it happened. You can go during the week but it is an ordinary train and there is no time to stop at the other end. On Saturdays they run a tourist train - it's a beautiful old one with compartments - and you have a few hours to explore Pobla de Segur
It wasn't expensive, 27 euros return for each person, and they took great care of everyone with free gifts, a couple of funny men who moved through the carriages making people laugh (not me of course - too British!)  and a stop-off on the way home for a glass of wine and a pastry with escalivada.

I took a lot of photos and here are some of them - including the train toilet which was very wonderful compared to the ones we have now. 
Modern trains have tiny toilets
electronic locks on the doors giving you no sense of privacy or security
you often can't find how to flush it

and the actual toilet no longer gives you the pleasing feeling of the tracks thundering by straight down the hole

There is a view from the window - which you can open!!!  See above.
Anyway, enough about the toilet, though I did like it - here is the corridor. It is a proper one making you squeeze your tummy in to let anyone past

And you can stand there with the window open and gaze out

When you go between carriages there are those lovely inbetween wobbly bits where again you can see the tracks rushing by
Right, now we get to the reason for the trains name - The Lakeland Train

We passed through tunnels and crossed bridges and passed numerous lakes

 At Pobla de Segur there was a reception committee with a trumpet.
The doors opened inwards which made it feel better when hanging out the window - I love windows that open - who changed them in modern trains?
 On the way back we sat in the restaurant car - yes they have that too - and watched it all again but from the other direction
Lovely day, lovely trip and I would highly recommend it. 
If you would like to learn more about the Tren dels Llacs and a lot more about the history of the line then take a look here.  I first heard about the train on the web site Iberian Nature which is also well worth a look.