Category Archives: Scotland

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

Holmwood House Glasgow

Holmwood House in the south of Glasgow was designed in the 1850s by the Scottish architect Alexander ‘Greek Thomson for the Couper family, who owned a nearby mill. Holmwood was acquired by the National Trust for Scotland in1994 . Prior to that it had been used as a Catholic primary school.

There’s a lot of work still to be done in the house to return it to its original state.

The bay window in the parlour is lovely.

holmwood house glasgow parlour bay window exterior

It affords an expansive view of the garden from inside.

holmwood house glasgow parlour bay window

The dining room is where the Greek influence is most evident. There’s a frieze with scenes from Homer’s Iliad

holmwood house glasgow dining room frieze

holmwood house glasgow dining room frieze detail

On one side of the black marble fireplace, some of the original stencil work has been exposed.

According to my guide, the National Trust plan to commission wallpaper with this design.

holmwood house glasgow dining room stencil close up

I loved the cupola. The obscure glass between the caryatids (stone carvings of draped female figures supporting the dome) has stars etched on it.

I enjoyed my visit to Holmwwood House. The volunteer guides were very welcoming and knowledgeable. It was good to be shown around initially, and then be able to wander round at my own pace to take photos.

Greenbank Garden Glasgow

Greenbank Garden, owned by the National Trust for Scotland, lies in the Clarkston area in the south of Glasgow.

I’m not sure who owns Greenbank House, but it wasn’t open to visitors.

greenbank house

The ‘Green Man’ sculpture, which symbolises rebirth, was commissioned to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Holmwood House and Garden.

Greenbank Garden Glasgow green man close up

I assume that the nearby bench was part of that commission.

Greenbank Garden Glasgow silver floral bench

I also liked the green metal bench. Greenbank Garden was pretty busy on the day which I visited. But there were still lot of peaceful corners in which to sit.

Greenbank Garden Glasgow bench

The large elephant shaped bush was cute.

elephant hedge at greenbank garden glasgow1

Continuing the animal theme. there was a lamb sculpture sitting in the few remaining daffodils.

Greenbank Garden Glasgow lamb sculpture

The lion’s stretched out front paws were huge.

Greenbank Garden Glasgow lion sculpture

The sundial was in a strategic position.

greenbank garden Glasgow6

Greenbank Garden Glasgow sundial1

I don’t believe that my photos do justice to Greenbank Garden. The variety and colours of the various trees, plants and flowers aren’t fully evident.

Greenbank Garden Glasgow4

Greenbank Garden Glasgow spring garden

Greenbank Garden Glasgow3

Greenbank Garden Glasgow pond

Unfortunately, the fountain section of the garden was closed during my visit.

There’s a woodland walk around the perimeter of Greenbank Garden.

I liked the fact that Greeenbank Garden is open until dusk,. The cafe and shop close at 5pm, but there is access to the toilets until the garden closes..

Review of the Potting Shed Edinburgh

I paid £26 for a Travelzoo voucher for a three course meal for two people at the Potting Shed in Edinburgh.

We ate at the Potting Shed on a Monday evening. It was quiet when we arrived at 7pm. By 8pm it was busier; mainly with customers drinking from the selection of craft beers.

The interior is a bit makeshift, sacking on the roof and various garden implements hanging from the ceiling and walls.

the potting shed edinburgh interior

When I phoned to book a table, I was advised that there wouldn’t be a full menu that evening. Once I established that there would be at least three choices for each course, I proceeded with the booking.

When we arrived there was no note of my booking. Our son Gary ordered a beer described as chocolately. When the beer arrived it looked more like lager, so he queried if it was the correct order. A couple of minutes later the correct beer appeared.

I started with Scallops, which were very tasty, But I would have liked more salad as an accompaniment.

the potting shed edinburgh scallops starter

You had to search under the salad to find the few blobs of Goat’s Cheese Mousse in Gary’s starter.

the potting shed edinburgh goats cheese mousse starter

My Sea Bass and Mussel main course was good, but again I’d have liked more vegetable to balance the dish.

the potting shed edinburgh sea bass

The addition of bacon topping and cheese sauce meant that Gary’s Venison stuffed with Haggis ended up as right mismash of flavours.

the potting shed edinburgh venison stuffed with haggis main couse

As I hadn’t found the meal filling, I opted for the Cheese Board as dessert. It was a wise choice, as I was able to share it with Gary. I’d have liked more crackers for the amount of cheese served.

the potting shed edinburgh cheese board

Gary’s Churros with chocolate sauce were over sweet.

the potting shed edinburgh churros

When I went to pay for the drink I was charged the wrong amount. Between no trace of the booking, the incorrect beer being brought to the table and the the mistake in the bill, I found the service to be poor. There appeared to be plenty of staff on duty. Perhaps giving each member of staff defined duties, instead of everyone mucking in would lead to improved customer service?

Overall, we didn’t enjoy the food. The ingredients were of good quality, but the small servings, the lack of vegetables and some weird flavour combinations didn’t work for us.

Our issues with the food could be rectified by offering customers a bread basket, serving more vegetables, sticking to simpler flavours and using less sugar in the Churros. None of these suggestions would cost much.

Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools 2016 at the Scottish National Gallery Edinburgh

You can see the Tesco Art Competition for Schools 2016 exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh until 27 October 2016.

I was impressed by several of the entries. I thought the standard of the artworks was as good as many that I’ve seen in exhibitions by professional artists.

Below are my four favourites pieces on the trees theme.

Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools 2016 tree trunks

Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools 2016 reflections

Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools 2016 trees

Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools 2016 owl

I loved the horse below; the expression is perfect and the tangled blue mane is eye catching.

Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools 2016 horse

The individual rain clouds above the riders made me laugh.

horses at Tesco Bank Art competition for schools

The pensive portrait below is an ideal subject for the darkness and light theme.

Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools 2016 5

The style of the animals featured below is reminiscent of cave paintings.

Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools 2016 group entry

The circus themed group entry captures the excitement of the show.

Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools 2016

The Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools 2016 exhibition will move to the Borders General Hospital, Melrose from 1 November 2016–26 February 2017 and then head north to the Eden Court Theatre, Inverness from 3 March–27 April 2017.

Jupiter Artland near Edinburgh

I visited Jupiter Artland on 14 May, the opening day for the 2016 season. This contemporary art venue, mainly an outdoor sculpture park, is situated close to Edinburgh. It’s a private collection which is open to the public. The arts works were commissioned by the owners, Robert and Nicky Wilson.

An admission fee is charged which funds educational arts-related projects.

You drive past Charles Jenck’s Life Mounds en-route to the car park. I was already familiar his work as I’d seen ‘Landform’ outside the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, and an exhibition about his ‘Garden of Cosmic Speculation and ‘Crawick Multiverse’ at the Garden Museum in London.

Live Mounds by Charles Jencks at Jupiter Artland

Live Mounds by Charles Jencks at Jupiter Artland2

Live Mounds by Charles Jencks at Jupiter Artland1

As I drove closer to the car park, there was a rather garish large sculpture which resembled a fairground ride. On closer inspection, I grew to like ‘Love Bomb’ by Marc Quinn.

Love Bomb at Jupiter Artland1

I loved ‘From Here to Ear v20’ by Celeste Boursier-Mougenot which features zebra finches ‘playing’ electric guitars.

From Here to Ear v20 by Celeste Boursier-Mougenot at Jupiter Artland near Edinburgh

From Here to Ear v20 by Celeste Boursier-Mougenot at Jupiter Artland near Edinburgh

‘A Forest’ by Jim Lambie adorns the rear wall of the steading.

A Forest by Jim Lambie at Jupiter Artland

A Forest by Jim Lambie at Jupiter Artland1

Helen Chadwick’s ‘Piss Flowers’ are arranged on the grass by the cafe. The flowers display the patterns formed in snow by warm urine.

Piss Flowers at Jupiter Artland

Piss Flowers by Helen Chadwick at Jupiter Artland near Edinburg

‘Firmament’ by Antony Gormley was inspired by an old star map.

Firmament by Antony Gormley

Firmament by Antony Gormley at Jupiter Artland

I found Cornelia Parker’s ‘Landscape with Gun and Tree’ to be quite chilling. The gun was so large, that I could imagine a shot from it causing a lot of damage.

Landscapte with a Tree and a Gun by Cornelia Parker at Jupiter Artland

‘Over Here’ by Shane Waltener is a silvery web woven in a similar fashion to Shetland Lace.

Over Here by Shane Weltener at Jupiter Artland

Over Here by Shane Waltener at Jupiter Artland near Edinburgh1

There are three pieces by Ian Hamilton Finlay in Jupiter Artland.

‘Only Connect’ an arched bridge constructed of limestone from Northumberland.

Only Connect by Ian Hamilton Finlay at Jupiter Artland near Edinburgh

‘Xth Muse’ is a bust of Sappho, an ancient Greek female poet.

Xth Muse at Jupiter Artland

Close to Sappho is the ‘Temple of Apollo’.

Temple of Apollo at Jupiter Artland

Laura Ford’s ‘Weeping Grils’ are five figures carved from wax. You can’t see their faces, but their body language suggests childhood tantrums. I was almost expecting one of the girls to stamp her feet.

Weeping Girls at Jupiter Artland1

Weeping Girls by Laura Ford at Jupiter Artland near Edinburgh

Weeping Girls at Jupiter Artland

I thought that Jupiter Artland was fantastic. It feels as though all the artists have taken on the brief of creating pieces which work really well in the rural landscape.

A Stroll Around Dunblane, Scotland

I was hoping to have a stop for a walk as I drove from Dundee to Stirling, But it was such a murky, wet day that I thought I’d end up driving straight to my hotel, the Premier Inn Stirling City Centre. However, as I approached Dunblane, a few miles north of Stirling, the skies began to brighten so I decided to go into Dunblane.

There’s a free car park next to Dunblane Cathedral.

dunblane cathedral

The cathedral’s bell tower dates back to the 11th century.

dunblane cathedral clock tower

Local hero, the tennis player Andy Murray’s marriage to Kim Sears took place at Dunblane Cathedral in April 2015.

dunbland cathedral1

If you walk back towards the roundabout at the end of the High Street, you’ll see the Andy Murray gold post box. It was painted to celebrate Andy’s Gold medal win in tennis at the London 2012 Olympics.

andy murry gold post box dunblane high st

I managed a short walk along the nearby river before dark. There are a couple of footbridges, so you can do a circular walk taking in Laighhill Park and the War Memorial.

dunblane war memorial

Cosima von Bonin – ‘Who’s Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea’ at the Gallery of Modern Art Glasgow

The ‘Who’s Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea’ installation in the Main Hall at Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow is on show until 7 August 2016.

As soon as you enter there’s a large birdlike soft toy, which reminded me of Buzby, the star of British Telecom’s TV ads in the 1980s, sitting astride an enormous missile.

Cosima von Bonin - Who's Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea at Gallery of Modern Art Glasgow9

An orange lobster was draped on what looked like table legs.

Cosima von Bonin - Who's Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea at Gallery of Modern Art Glasgow8

The bottom section of the octopus’ eight tentacles looked as though they were claws made of glass.

Cosima von Bonin - Who's Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea at Gallery of Modern Art Glasgow7

I wondered what the two structures sitting on a high swing were. I thought that they looked a bit like wide mouths with a brown interior and no teeth. When I looked at the Gallery of Modern Art website there was a photo of the structures interior which revealed that they had eyes, making them look more like some kind of shellfish.

Cosima von Bonin - Who's Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea at Gallery of Modern Art Glasgow11

I wasn’t sure what the creature the black form leaning on the red dog represented.

Cosima von Bonin - Who's Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea at Gallery of Modern Art Glasgow3

The fabric piece on the right, with the green and blue background, looked like a public service ad encouraging people to put litter in bins.

Cosima von Bonin - Who's Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea at Gallery of Modern Art Glasgow


The brown lobster below looked pretty comfy on the padded blue sun chair.

Cosima von Bonin - Who's Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea at Gallery of Modern Art Glasgow10

Review of Premier Inn Edinburgh Central Lauriston Place

I stayed at the Premier Inn Edinburgh Central Lauriston Place on a Monday night in early November 2015. It cost £29 on the non-refundable Premier Saver rate, booked two months in advance. It’s unusual to find such low rates on a weekday night at a Premier Inn in Edinburgh, I assume that’s because it was low season.

premier inn edinburgh central lauriston place exterior

The Premier Inn Edinburgh Central Lauriston Place is in a great location. It only takes a few minutes to walk to the Grassmarket, the National Museum for Scotland and the Meadows. It’s around 15 minutes to walk to Edinburgh Waverley railway station.

You can get a reduced rate at a couple of fairly nearby multi storey car parks, at a cost of £12 for 24 hours. This is a big reduction, as my Dad told me he paid £23 at one of these car parks for around 7 hours. There’s pay and display parking from 8.30am to 6.30pm in the street opposite the hotel. It costs £2.40 per hour, with a maximum stay of four hours. As i planned to depart after the morning rush hour, I brought my car at 6.30pm and paid £2 to park until 9.20 the following morning.

The receptionists were very friendly. My room looked towards some traditional flats. There was a bit of traffic noise when the window was open, but I didn’t hear any exterior noise once I closed the window.

premier inn edinburgh central lauriston place view from bedroom

The room had air-con, which would be useful in the Summer, as I thought that the room was pretty warm for early November. The room was on the small side compared to most Premier Inns at which I’ve stayed at previously. The room was in pristine condition. It even had fluffy towels.

premier inn edinburgh central lauriston place

I didn’t try the free WiFi, as I prefer to set up my own WiFi hotspot as long as I have enough data left on my monthly contract. This is for two reasons, in most cities I get a faster signal through tethering, and I don’t have to give any personal details to register for the accommodation WiFi.

I was very happy with the standard of my room at the Premier Inn Edinburgh Central Lauriston Place. If you manage to find a room here for under £30 a night, it’s good value for money.

Wood Sculptures on Back Walk in Stirling

Weather permitting, I always have a wander on Back Walk when I visit the city of Stirling in central Scotland. During my recent visit, I took a different path, down to the right, just after passing the Commonwealth Graves. This route was a short cut to the Smith Art Gallery and Museum.

I was really glad that I walked that way, as there were several wood sculptures by the path. The first was a post box. An information board explained that Stirling once had a disproportionately large postal service due to the local printing industry despatching their products.

wood post box sculpture back walk stirling

Opposite the post box was ‘The Archer and the Deer’. I could only spot the archer, but maybe the deer was partially obscured in woodland below.  The information board explained that hunting was once popular in this area.

back walk stirling the archer and the deer wood scupture

Near the bottom of the path was a row of sculptures. However, I couldn’t see any information about these scupltures.

back walk stirling scultpures

At the front there was a rather apprehensive looking man.

wood sculpture of man on back walk stirling

The creature behind the man looked like gargoyles which I’ve seen on cathedral roofs.

back walk stirling wood scultpure1

I wasn’t sure if the unicorn’s horn was supposed to consist only of a large screw, or if the wooden horn had either fallen, or been pulled, off.

back walk stilring unicorn wood sculpture

The fox below looked like it was having a good stretch.

back walk stirling wood sculpture

I met a dog walker, whom I asked about the wood sculptures. He told me that they were pretty recent.

When I returned home I did an online search to find out about the sculptures. I found an article on Stirling Council’s website. Evidently, the sculptures were created in March 2015 by three chainsaw carvers using wood from unsafe trees which had been felled by the Ranger and Woodland services. The article said that the sculptures were based on local stories, but there was no further detail of these stories.

British Art Show 8 in Edinburgh

The British Art Show 8 is in Edinburgh until 8 May 2016. It’s spread over three venues; the Rice Talbot Gallery at the University of Edinburgh, Inverleith House in the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art One.

I visited the exhibits at the National Gallery.

I loved the ‘Diagrams of Love: Marriage of Eyes‘ rug by Lender.

Diagrams of Love Marriage of Eyes by Lender British Art Show 8 Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Edinburgh

The rug is used in the performance of the ‘Children of the Mantic Stain‘ by Northern Ballet. You can watch a video clip of the ballet.

Diagrams of Love Marriage of Eyes by Lenderat British Art Show 8

The ‘Feed Me‘ flim by Rachel MacLean is featured on the British Art Show 8 poster outside the Scottish National Gallery of Art. It’s a rather disturbing blend of fairytale, horror movies and TV talent shows depicting the sexualisation of children and the infantilism of adults.

british art show 8 poster

The sculptures by Magali Reus were inspired by interior mechanism of locks.

Sculptures by Magazine Reus at British Art Show 8 at Scottish National Gallery of Art Edinburgh

The ‘Dodo‘ installation by Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin charts the changes in the coastline of San Carlos in Mexico brought about by the filming of the ‘Catch 22’ movie in that location. I liked the projection of the blades of a turbine onto a screen.

‘The ‘Kipper and the Corpse’ by Stuart Whipps is composed of parts of a Mini built at Longbridge in 1979, laid out on pages of the Sun newspaper dating from that year. The car will be rebuilt during the final stop of the British Art Show in Southampton later this year.

Parts of Mini made at Longbridge in 1979, exhibit at British Art Show 8

Below are my two favourite paintings from the collection by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

twice done at biritsh art show 8

‘The Twice Done’

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, British Art Show 8

‘A Radical Under Beechwood’

Mikhal Karikis ‘Children of Unquiet’ is an intriguing film about a former geothermal power station and the now deserted adjacent worker’s accommodation in Italy. The sounds produced by the geysers and the water in the factory’s pipes are reproduced by children playing around the site.