Monday, 20 January 2014

Historic Queen's Park, Glasgow

The forecast was for sunshine so I decided to walk around Queen's Park at lunchtime. The park is a short walk from my office in Mount Florida. I was accompanied by a colleague.

Designed by Sir Joseph Paxton

The park dates from 1857 and was laid out by the world renowned Sir Joseph Paxton. He designed the Crystal Palace in London and Glasgow's Botanic Gardens. The park is called after Mary, Queen of Scots and not Queen Victoria, as is commonly thought by many people. It was opened on 11th September, 1862, the year of Queen Victoria's Silver Jubilee.

Battle of Langside

Queen's Park was the site of the sixteenth century Battle of Langside and a large circle of stones at the highest point of the park is believed to be the remnants of an encampment which formed an important military position in the Battle.

Remains of emcampment from the Battle of Langside
On 13 May 1568, Mary Queen of Scots made a last desperate bid to keep her throne and her army faced the forces of the Earl of Moray. They met in battle at the village of Langside, now part of Glasgow.
Mary's army was defeated when Moray unleashed his cavalry and Mary escaped with her closest supporters.She rode from Langside to the Solway Firth.
Execution of Mary Queen of Scots
Mary turned to her cousin Elizabeth I of England for aid hoping that Elizabeth would help restore her to her throne. She was to be bitterly disappointed. She would spend the next 18 years in captivity in England. She was executed on  8 February 1587,in the great hall of Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire.
Today the park is much quieter than it must have been during the Battle.
The Glasshouse
We accessed the Park by an entrance behind the old Victoria Hospital building and made a fleeting visit to the Glasshouse. The Glasshouse was built in 1905 by Simpson and Farmer of Partick, Glasgow and is a Category 'B ' building. They also built the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow.
Glasshouse, Queen's Park
 There are tropical plants, reptiles and and fish in the Glasshouse.
Pond in the Glasshouse
Some Reptiles
In the Park Itself
The park is too big to walk through in a lunch hour, so we walked through the south side of it.
The paths were hard-packed and suitable for mountain-bike riding. A small pair of eyes were watching us as we walked along - those of a Grey Squirrel.
Grey Squirrel watching
There were a number of Squirrels in the park as well as a variety of birds. Some of the paths got a bit muddy but fortunately our footwear proved up to the task of preventing us falling.
View of Glasgow City
At the highest point in the walk we got some good views of the City before making out way back to the office.
The sky became cloudy and the sun disappeared but we had had an enjoyable hour's walk.
Further Information
Queen's Park
520 Langside Road
Queen's Park
Opening Times The park is open from Dawn till Dusk daily.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

After the Rain - Signs of Spring

After the heavy rain and floods in December, the weather has been much drier and very mild for this time of the year.
I took a reading with my digital thermometer at 15.35 and the temperature was 46.4F or 8C. This is very mild and it was so warm that I could get away with wearing a thin jacket with 40grams Primaloft insulation. Normally I would not wear this until late March to late September. I did not need to wear gloves or a hat. 
Temperature at 46.4F
I only understand Fahrenheit temperatures and not Centigrade ones, except that freezing point is 32F. If I have to convert temperatures from Centigrade to Fahrenheit and vice versa in my head, I use the methods below:
Fahrenheit to Celsius - subtract thirty, then halve
Celsius to Fahrenheit - double, then add thirty
This gives a fairly accurate result.
Water Levels
Around the Christmas period the water on the ponds in South Lanarkshire had flowed over onto adjacent land. Normally this land is not covered by water unless there has been a sustained period of heavy rain.
Wet ground after flood water has receded
In the photograph above, the floodwater had covered most of the ground up to the tree in the right foreground. It had receded and was ground was back to its usual state.
Flood water has receded
Signs of Spring
Hazel tree catkins
A Hazel tree caught our eye as we were walking from the bird pond above. The male catkins were well developed and had the creamy/yellow colour which they have in the Spring. The mild weather probably caused them to be so advanced for late January.  
Hazel tree
Most fungi is seen in the Autumn, but there are still some types of fungi visible throughout the year.
Trametes ochracea
Trametes ochracea
Trametes ochracea fungi grows on standing and fallen dead wood of deciduous trees, in particular beeches and oaks. They look nice and colourful.

If the weather continues to be so mild, the Snowdrops will soon be visible and then the Daffodils and Tulips will follow.

It is also getting lighter at night and in the mornings and my daily commute to Glasgow and back will soon be in daylight, rather than in darkness.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Pictures on a Train

My train journey to work from Motherwell to Mount Florida in Glasgow involves changing trains at Newton (Cambuslang). Occasionally the train I catch is one which originally operated between Helensburgh in Argyll and Bute to Airdrie in North Lanarkshire, before the line was extended to Edinburgh a few years ago.

Helensburgh is a 'posh' place and birthplace of the late actress Deborah Kerr and television inventor, John Logie Baird. Airdrie is a town which was populated by many Scottish Highlanders in the 19th and early 20th centuries in search of work. Most of my ancestors came from the Highlands to live in Motherwell and Glasgow, but some went to live in Airdrie.

Perhaps the cultured residents of these two towns appreciate art because the former Helensburgh/Airdrie trains have some lovely artwork displayed on their walls.

Peoples' Palace, Glasgow
Clyde from Gourock
Comet Steamship
Wemyss Bay Station
Pictures from a distance
I was familiar with all the views except for the Comet steamboat and decided to look into its history. The PS Comet was built for Henry Bell who was a hotel and baths owner in Helensburgh, and began as a passenger service on 15 August 1812 on the River Clyde between Glasgow and Greenock. It was the first commercially successful steamboat service in Europe.

In September 1819 the Comet ran a service to Oban and Fort William and on 13 December 1820 she was shipwrecked in strong currents at Craignish Point near Oban, with Bell on board. One of the engines ended its working days in a Greenock brewery, and is now in The Science Museum in London.

Travelling by train does have its advantages, sometimes!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Flood Damage at Baron's Haugh, Motherwell

The RSPB nature reserve at Baron's Haugh in Motherwell rarely escapes any flood damage due to its proximity to the River Clyde. Today we went on a walk through the reserve to assess the extent of the damage.

Causeway Hide

The Causeway hide was flooded with waist-deep water.

Causeway Hide
Phoenix Hide

Being higher up, the Phoenix hide usually escapes being flooded but the adjacent River Clyde had burst its banks and damaged the steps to the hide.

Phoenix Hide
The damage does not seem too bad until the steps are climbed and the damage to the top step is revealed.

Damage to top step of the Phoenix Hide
Footpath Damage


Centenery Hide

This showed the remains of debris left when it had been flooded, but the water had receded. The steps to the hide had been badly damaged a few years ago and were repaired to such a high standard that they were relatively undamaged.

Steps to the Centenery hide
Dirt left by floodwater in the Centenary hide
Centenery Hide

On the way to Carbarns, the field was flooded.

Field at Carbarns flooded
Carbarns flooding
Carbarns usually has a large flooded area which remains in the summer which can be seen in the top of the photograph above. Theflooding in the foreground only occurs during the winter.

Other Damage

Damaged noticeboard

The path at the Chestnut Walk was blocked by trees which had fallen in the severe gales. The extent of the flooding can be seen by the debris left on one of the trees.

There is much work to be done at the reserve to clear up the damage.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Flooding on Rivers Clyde and Avon, Lanarkshire

With the weather being so bad we decided to stay in the local area rather than risk getting caught up in any travel chaos and went for a walk along the Rivers Avon and Clyde.

Normally this is a fairly pleasant walk or cycle, but today involved jumping over large puddles, climbing over high fences and running across a main dual carriageway. The reason for this was the flooding in the area.

This was quite extensive with the water level reaching three feet in some places and required fishing waders to walk through. As neither of us possess fishing waders, it was easier to find an alternative route.

Flooding on cycle path at Smithycroft
Flooding is quite common during the winter but usually you can wade through it wearing normal walking boots, but not at the moment!

Where Rivers Clyde and Avon meet
At one point in the walk, where the Rivers Clyde and Avon meet  - the water level was very high and the path under the Clyde Bridge, joining the main towns of Motherwell and Hamilton, was flooded.

Flooding on path under the Clyde Bridge
Taking a short detour to the main Motherwell Road and crossing the dual carriageway seemed the best option so we had to run across to the central reservation, climb over the barrier and run to the other side. Fortunately, no police cars were in the area!

Fashionable Dog!

Fashionable dog!
In Strathclyde Park we saw a small Long-haired Chihuahua wearing an Adidas hoodie! According to his owners, these are very fashionable and are known by the brand name, Adidog! I managed to get a photo of the wee fella modelling his red hoodie as shown above. What a wee cutie!

Flooding on motorway underpass between Motherwell and Hamilton
Flooded Underpass Again!

The underpass between Motherwell and Hamilton is always flooded when there is a period of prolonged rain. From the photo above it can be seen that the path is not level and this is the cause of water gathering on one side, as well as there being no drainage. The water was waist high so a dingy would have come in handy!

Commonwealth Games

With the Commonwealth games only a few months away, one wonders if the local council is going to fix this, as the path will be used by a large number of people. I suppose we will have to wait and see. The triathlon will be held in Strathclyde Park so we will go down to watch the action as it unfolds.

Goosander on the River Clyde

On the River Clyde, adjacent to the footbridge between Motherwell and Hamilton, we saw a pair of Goosander. Goosander are usually shy birds and keep well away from areas where many people pass through. As the underpass above was flooded and the footbridge was the only access to it, the area was quiet and so the Goosander probably thought it was safe to swim in the area.

Male Goosander

Male and female Goosander

Goosander are the largest of the sawbills. I took some photographs with my video camera as I can zoom in close, although the resulting photographs are never the best quality. The top photograph above shows a close-up of the male and the hooked end to his bill. This is used for catching fish as the bill has sharp serrations.

The bottom photograph shows the male and female. The female has brown markings as opposed to the black of the male.

It had been another eventful day.

Thursday, 2 January 2014


When the Jehovah's Witnesses came to my door and asked me if I would like to live in Paradise, I replied I already had lived in Paradise. Paradise to me is a small island off the West coast of Scotland - Arran.

Arran is a 1.05 hour train journey to Ardrossan and an hour's ferry crossing to Brodick. This island is very dear to me as my ancestors came from crofting communities in the mid 18th century to find work in the heavy engineering industries in Glasgow and Motherwell.

I have been thinking of Arranas I recover from a virus. Unusually, for me I have been laid low with fever and shivering, but hopefully it will go away soon. Here are some photographs of Arran:

Beinn Nuis

Goat Fell

Looking down from Goat Fell

From Goatfell can be seen the islands of Cumbrae

The ferry home

Goatfell in the largest mountain on Arran. It is quite a hard climb but some fit people can run up the hill and back!