Category Archives: Scotland

What to do in Scotland; attractions in Scotland and the best places to visit in Scotland.

Walking Over the Skye Bridge

The main activity which I wanted to do when I stayed in Kyle of Lochalsh overnight was to walk over the Skye Bridge. I had planned to do this on the afternoon of my arrival in Kyle of Lochalsh. However there was a three hour delay in my train journey from Stirling, meaning that I arrived in Kyle in the late afternoon and it was raining. As I wanted to walk over the Skye Bridge in the daylight, and hopefully dry weather, I postponed the walk until the following morning, crossing my fingers for a sunny, dry morning.

My wish was granted. It wasn’t wall-to-wall sunshine. I could see what looked like rain clouds in the distance, but it stayed dry for my walk.

The Skye Bridge is located just over one mile from Kyle of Lochalsh, but there is a good pavement to the bridge and on both sides of the bridge.

There’s a 40mph speed limit over the bridge, but I thought that some drivers were doing well above that speed. I had to take care when crossing the road to take photos from both sides of the bridge,

The first section of the Skye Bridge is from the mainland to the small island of Eilan Ban.

Kyleakin Lighthouse lies under the Skye Bridge.

I recommend a walk over Skye Bridge, but you should try to avoid peak times, as I imagine that traffic can be rather heavy then. You’ll enjoy the walk more if the traffic is lighter.

Review of Di Maggio’s West End Glasgow

There are several Di Maggio’s Italian restaurants in the Glasgow area. I’d previously eaten at the one in Royal Exchange Square, next to the Gallery of Modern Art, many years ago.

Last Saturday, I met our son Simon in Glasgow for lunch. We planned to go the Indian Cottage Indian in Dumbarton Road for lunch. However that restaurant had closed down. This prompted us to have a wander up Byers Road in search of an alternative venue for lunch.

We spotted a sign for Di Maggio’s West End in Ruthven Lane and decided to go to have a look at the menu. I was doubtful that I’d choose to eat there, as I remember the menu at Di Maggio’s in Royal Exchange Square being a bit pricey for me. I’d set a limit of £10 per person for lunch that day, given that lunch at the Indian Cottage was priced at £6 last time that I was there a few months ago.

Fortunately, Di Maggio’s West End were running a Summer Spectacular Menu, which offered a main course and a starter for £10. Unlike many of the lunch offers we had seen in other restaurants in the Byers Road area, the offer was available at lunch time on a Saturday.

We were seated a booth for four people, which meant that we had plenty of space. The interior was nicely done. Unusually for a set menu, there was a wide choice of both starters and main courses.

We decided to share starters of warmed goat’s cheese salad and nachos.

Simon had the pepperoni pizza as a main.

I opted for the verdi pizza.

Neither of us could manage to finish our pizzas, so I requested a take away box.

I thought that the food was beautifully presented and prepared, using quality ingredients. There was a pleasant ambience and the service was good. It was excellent value for money at £10 per person for two courses.

The Summer Spectacular offer at Di Maggio’s runs until 30 September 2018. It’s available all day from Sunday to Thursday and until 5pm on Friday and Saturday. But it’s not on offer at the Theatreland or Royal Exchange restaurants.

St Vigeans Stones & Museum in Arbroath

There was free entry to St Vigeans Museum of Carved Stones in Arbroath during the  Doors Open Days weekend in Angus, in eastern Scotland.

Although I’ve visited St Arbroath many times, but I’d never been to St Vigeans before. The first thing that you seen when your drive into the village is the red church on the mound. There is free on street parking and a large car park at the end of the road by the church hall.

As I arrived during a dry spell on a showery day, I thought that I should have a walk up to church, where there were some interesting gravestones.

The museum is housed a terraced cottage in the main street.

I didn’t have sufficient interest or time, as I was heading to an art workshop at Hospitalfield, to read all the information about the carved stones, but I was impressed by the quality of the workmanship.

The St Vigeans Carved Stones Museum is usually only open by appointment. The next open day is Saturday 29 September 2018.

Les Impromptues: A Breath of Fresh Air Outdoor Dance Performance at Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival

The reasons why I visited Dumfries and Galloway, in south west Scotland, during May 2018 was to attend the Spring Fling open art studios event. But one event in the concurrent Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival which caught my eye was the Breath of Fresh Air outdoor dance performance by Les Impromptues.

The first two venues for the performance, Mull of Galloway and Logan Botanic Garden, particularly appealed to me.

I checked directions to the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse on Google ‘Maps. The estimated journey time from Barholm Accommodation was one hour. But I had made the mistake of entering the the nearby village of Drumore as the destination. In fact the /Mull of Galloway Lighthouse is a further 15 minute drive along a single track road.

The performance at the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse was due to start at 11am. I arrived the car park just before 11am and it was a few minutes walk to the lighthouse. When I arrived at the lighthouse I couldn’t see any sign of the dancers. I wondered if I had missed the performance. a Few minutes later, I spotted one of the dancers, recognising the costume from the publicity shots. I asked her and she told me that the performance would start in a few minutes.

Sure enough, a bit later, the three dancers appeared, clutching fishing nets.

I immediately recognised the dance style as being Margaret Morris style. I’ve read a fair bit about Margaret Morris at the Fergusson Gallery in Perth, as the Scottish colourist painter JD Fergusson was Morris’ partner.

It was wonderful to see a live outdoor dance performance.

I left as soon as the performance was finished to ensure that I would be at the next venue,  Logan Botanic Garden, in plenty of time.

Well, given that the performance at the Mull of Galloway had been fantastic, I run out of superlatives to describe Les Impromptues: A Breath of Fresh Air performance at Logan Botanic Garden.

It started off around the fish pond.

Then the dancers moved down to an open grassy space.

Towards the end of the performance, the dancers invited some audience members to participate. I was chosen. Unfortunately, I felt that I couldn’t let myself by totally free. Not because I cared how I looked to the audience. The reasons for my caution were  that the dancer had bare feet, while I had on trekking shoes, so I was afraid that I might stand on her toes. I was also a bit guarded in my arm movements, in case I slapped her in the face.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the Breath of Fresh Air outdoor dance performance by Les Impromptues was one of the best live performances which I have ever seen.

Thornielee in the Tweed Valley Forest Park in the Scottish Borders

I went for a walk at Thornielee in the Tweed Valley Forest Park near Peebles in late Autumn.

There’s a free car park a few hundred metres uphill from the main road. Close to the car park there are a couple of very solid picnic benches were I had a coffee from my flask.

There’s a sculpture next to the benches.

The colours were wonderful, a mix of deciduous trees on which the leaves had turned and larch (a conifer which is deciduous).

There are various paths which you can follow.

As it was quite muddy, I mainly stuck to the road constructed for the timber felling equipment to access the forest. There’s a locked gate preventing cars from driving up the road. There was another picnic bench off the road.

Thornielee seems to be very popular with locals walking their dogs. I had an exuberant Boxer pup jump on the picnic table when I was sitting there.

Climbing the Water Tower at The Lighthouse Glasgow

The Lighthouse in Glasgow was designed by Rennie Mackintosh as the HQ for the Glasgow Herald newspaper. It is now a Centre for Design and Architecture.

Although I’vevisited The Lighthouse many times to see art exhibitions. I hadn’t climbed the former Water Tower . I was really glad that I finally got around to doing it.

As you ascend the helical staircase, there are drawings of the building’s design.

I must admit that I did feel a bit out of breath by the time I reached the viewing platform. I was fortunate to have the place to myself.

If you’re in Glasgow, I recommend a trek up the former Water Tower at The Lighthouse for some good views over the city.

Crawick Multiverse in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

I’ve been keen to visit Crawick Multiverse for ages. It’s a former open cast coal mine which has been landscaped by Charles Jencks on the themes of astronomy, space and cosmology.

It’s free to enter Crawick Multiverse. Unfortunately, there was no shade in the car park. I visited on a warm Friday morning in late May, arriving soon after the opening time of 10am, in the hope that there wouldn’t be many other visitors around.

I spent quite a bit of time at the Cosmic Collisions installation.

The Sun Amphitheatre is pretty impressive. You approach it along a boulder bordered path.

A sun flare/earth shield mosaic lies at the centre of the amphitheatre.

The Multiverse represents all the universes.

The carvings on the stones symbolising individual universes.

You get a good view of the peaks of the Andromeda and Milky Way from the Multiverse.

I ate my picnic at the peak of the Milky Way Galaxy spiral. It was so sunny that I sat in the shade of one of standing stones.

The Omphalos depicts the centre of the world.

There were only three other visitors during my time at Crawick Multiverse. I was glad about this as I believe that it made my visit all the more atmospheric.

Hospitalfield Open Weekend

Hospitalfield is a centre for contemporary art located in the Angus coastal town of Arbroath. It’s somewhere that I’d been wanting to visit for ages. My opportunity presented itself during the Summer Festival Open Weekend in 2018.

I was attracted to the Free Drawing School and the free garden and house tours. I also wanted to see the two pieces of work commissioned for the event.

I decided to go to Arbroath on the Friday, as there was a free drawing workshop from 2-4pm, and then the Opening Reception from 5.30-8pm.

Hospitalfield is a grand building, perhaps even a little more imposing on a rather grey day.

There were a couple of carved seats by white climbing roses.

As soon as I walked into Hospitalfield, I was impressed by the grandeur of the entrance hall and the lovely flower arrangement.

The drawing workshop was led by Fergus Tibbs. It was really good, we made collages with dried flowers and leaves from the garden which had been pressed by Fergus. The class took place in a converted shed in the garden.

At the Reception, I had a good look around the garden and the recent art works.

The garden was really beautiful.  Although, I believe it is going to be redesigned in the near future.

The installation ;The Venny, the Jumps’ in the garden by Mary Redmond, which had been commissioned for an Open Weekend earlier in the year, didn’t appeal to me.

The polished silver corrugated steel, orange and yellow blocks and purple painted bamboo sticks, looked alien in the garden.

I wasn’t that keen on the ‘Extensa suite’ mural by France-Lise McGurn either.

But I did love Zoe Paul’s ‘wild work, man and fish’ installation in the Studio. The first room was laid out in restaurant style, with lots of floral arrangements. The walls were adorned with drawings of figures and ceramics plates.

The second room had a head fountain, two black ceramic whippets and various ceramics pots, which, to me, appeared more like sculptures than pots.

The following day, I went on a house tour, which was really interesting. My favourite room was the one with various botanic wood carvings on the ceiling.

In the afternoon, I attended another of Fergus’ art workshops. As it was a better day weather wise, it took place in the garden. The workshop was again on a botanic theme. Fergus had brought home made charcoal, which was like lumps of coal. It was very different to draw with, compared to commercial sticks of charcoal. There’s a photo of Fergus below.

I really enjoyed my visit to Hospitalfield. I found the garden enchanting and the free art workshops were great.

There are several open weekends at Hospitalfield throughout the year, so if you’d like to visit check out the next one on their website.

Review of The Steam Packet Inn, Isle of Whithorn

I stayed at The Steam Packet Inn in Isle of Whithorn in Dumfries and Galloway on a Sunday night during the last weekend in May 2018. I paid £30 including breakfast, for sole occupancy of a triple room on the eBookers website. It was clearly stated in the hotel description that the room was located at the back of the hotel, with no harbour view. The harbour view rooms were all already booked. I thought that the consolation for no view would be that I wouldn’t hear any external noise.

Upon arrival in the village of Isle of Whithorn (which is not an island), I checked in at bar in The Steam Packet Inn. It was really hard to unlock the door of room 5.

The room was lovely and cool, as it was in the mid 20 degrees celsius outside. The room was very old fashioned, but spacious. I missed having a desk area at which to work. Both the chest of drawers and the small table on which the TV sat where too high to use as a desk.

The bathroom was large. There were plenty of nice toiletries.

I was very keen to get online, as I’d had no mobile phone or broadband signal all day. However the WiFi signal in my room wasn’t strong enough. I assume that’s because there must’ve have been so many bar and restaurant customers connected to the WiFi, as I heard the notifications ping on my mobile phone around 11pm, the time at which the pub closed.

I was pretty tired after a long day attending a couple of outdoor dance performances at the Dumfries Arts Festival and visiting several studios on the Spring Fling. I was almost asleep when there was a lot of noise at the back of the hotel, which I assume was staff moving beer barrels. After that racket, I had a reasonable night’s sleep. The mattress was a bit soft for my taste. But I rarely sleep really well away from home.

I appreciated the generous supply of tea, coffee, drinking chocolate, small milk pots, bottled water and biscuits in the room.

Breakfast was served in the lower restaurant, which has views over the harbour.

It’s a characterful room, adorned with work of local artists.

I opted for the vegetarian breakfast, which was good.

I thought that at £30 a night including breakfast that The Steam Packet Inn Isle of Whithorn offered good value for a night during a Bank Holiday weekend. The breakfast was good. But it was annoying being disturbed by beer barrel noise and not being able to get online.

Click here to check availability and price at The Steam Packet Inn Isle of Whithorn.

Raqib Shaw | Reinventing the Old Masters at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Raqib Shaw’s Reinventing the Old Masters exhibition is on at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art until 28 October 2018.

Much of Shaw’s art is inspired by the Old Masters. In the photo below, you can see Lucas Cranach’s An Allegory of Melancholy on the left, and Raqib Shaw’s take in his Allegory of Melancholy.

I have to say that I was  really impressed with intricacy of the work, and colours of the enamel paints used to create the works. To illustrate this, there are two close-ups of the work below under the photo of the whole work.

The golden light streaming into the top of Kashmir Danae is dazzling.

I attending the June Drawing Room art workshop which was held in the Raqib Shaw exhibition rooms. I was so transfixed by the art, that I didn’t really concentrate of trying to create my own piece inspired by the exhibition.

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is open daily from 10am to 5pam. It’s free to see Raqib Shaw| Reinventing the Old Masters exhibition.