50% Bank Holiday
DUNBLANE - EDINBURGH
Increasingly I don't know when public holidays are. Companies tend, more and more, to choose their own days off. Public Sector often let you choose from your allowance and foreign companies may make you work to their countries holiday regime. Locally, Edinburgh schools take different holidays from Glasgow Schools. Being self-employed also brings it's own question of when to take holidays. Yesterday's bank holiday seemed to find 50% of people in Scotland off. The client I met was working a half day as I was.
I had a pleasant ride back from Dunblane albeit into the wind, but as it was only 50 miles, took just 3 hours. The open central area around Stirling allows views west to Ben Lomond but soon you are skirting south and then east along the Ochil hills, just a left turn away from the road to Dundee. I headed toward Dunfermline via Saline on increasingly quiet roads before fumbling around to try and find the bike route for the bridge. Bike route signs are too small for safe decisions in my opinion and positioned as if you are working at a pedestrian pace. Warning signs for motorists regards road-crossing cyclists could also be clearer and the ramp up to bridge level, with no run up was a challenge for me, a fit cyclist on a light bike. I say all this as there was definite cycle traffic on the bridge - a heartening experience, having to say hello 10 times on the crossing. I jumped a B road from Dalmeny to near the airport and then was paced home by cars.
Posted by stupot at 11:21 PM Monday 31 May
I was in Glasgow last week during my west coast retreat - a few meetings and a design talk by Marque - part of the Long Lunch series put on by Andy Neely and Rusty Spiller. I had time to kill and needed to eat so headed for Stereo for some vegan magic (the Calzone and Ice Cream Sundae could be my desert island food if it wasn't for Gandolfi's crab linguine). I realised that I was in the old Daily Record print works - a Mackintosh building - and was about to head up to my old haunt, the Glasgow School of Art. His building's aren't ten-a-penny so it's nice to still have a link to the west of Scotland's modernist maestro. Damn, that lecture theatre is uncomfortable (read: good design).
Posted by stupot at 05:57 PM Sunday 30 May
Summer arrives on cue
Having watched Arran for over a week, in glorious sunshine, I couldn't not go over. I'd shied away on Tuesday with work guilt but the drawing in question was finished so I headed to Ardrossan for the 9.45 crossing. I stand by May being the best time of year in Scotland and this year has been no different. When we got off the ferry in Brodick the wind was uncomfortably blustery though - I headed to the grocers for cashew nuts and lucozade and passed a couple I'd talked to on the ferry - "it's pretty windy, eh?" - an old woman who didn't reveal her face pitched in: "a north wind" she said. I passed her a short while later "unusual to get a north wind" I said - she just cackled with her back still turned in.
Saturday saw the start of summer with a lie on the beach at North Berwick, the FA cup final in a pub and back to Leith for tea after an ale outside in the setting sun. I stood outside at one point and from a small gathering in some of the new flats, the tranquil 'Sunshine on Leith' by the proclaimers could be heard. I do not hide my admiration for the Proclaimers which is possibly the East Lothian side of me making itself known. Throw the R away has always been my favourite Proclaimers song - and these two different versions, 20 years apart show what fame and riders can do to you. There's the ziggy-stardust version and the who-ate-all-the-pies version. Funny that now the general consensus would not be that in the recent version they look flabby, but that in the earlier version they look malnurished.
Posted by stupot at 12:54 PM Wednesday 19 May
"I'm gonna send that guy a douche bag in the mail"
Posted by stupot at 02:24 PM Tuesday 11 May
Liberals killed apathy?
It has been a very modern election - American even - what with the TV debates. I personally found them dry and consistently uninspiring: bad suits and a firm lack of passion. The lamp-posters which this year were not allowed until the final week could tell us a lot about the parties. The Lib dems do not appear on this post - have they been sabotaged? On most other sites they were way at the top. The Greens have a simple party slogan on thin substrate and secured with twine. The Tories do not even name a party here - quite the opposite from the party centric advertising in the Conservative strong hold of Hexham, at the weekend. The Scottish Socialist party get to the point with a red star and Labour hang on to the 1997 over-design which appears to put the emphasis more on voting than the party or candidate.
Posted by stupot at 02:22 PM Wednesday 5 May
We visited Hexham on Sunday - an old market town with traditional brick buildings and the odd flash of Sandstone. It's also an area with a surplus of archaeology - like in Orkney, you stupidly become blazé about what incredible sites surround you. After Hexham we drove into the Toon and on my way back from Gateshead stopped to pen the famous bridge that appears on Newcastle Brown Ale bottles and also in Sydney Harbour. Fulmars or small gulls or whatever they were (loud, white, webbed feet) perched below me on the columns and windowsills of the buildings beneath the bridge, which act as an incredibly accurate man-made cliffs, guano lining the street below.
Posted by stupot at 02:18 PM Tuesday 4 May
Some people are more aware of direction than others. Some people can't read a map or tell you where North is even when they're standing outside on a sunny day. I am one of the people who works it out in almost every new situation, location: office, house, midway through a train journey - even on the ferry on the way back from Orkney (when we had boarded late, in the dark, sleeping in a windowless berth) as soon as I lay my head down I knew north was basically in the direction of the shower.
Usually I can't understand why others would not want to know - which begs the question why I need to know. Certainly - It's usually unnecessary. Direction, or rather orientation, is not something I think much about - like making coffee in the morning or drawing or riding a bike - it's something that, despite initially requiring much thought, just gets done now on auto-pilot. It's a skill of sorts (all be it an irresistible impulse) which, many years from now in a peculiar hostage situation in South America may prove to be useful.
Posted by stupot at 12:01 PM Tuesday 4 May
Why you shouldn't succumb to fashion
"What's the name of the Gateshead multistorey?" I ask Laura. "I don't know" she says - "I just know it as the 'Get Carter' car park." A lot of people say the same about Trinity Square, the prominent brutalist structure behind the Tyne Bridge. The site has been Tescos for quite a while now and demolition can be only a matter of months away (they've been saying that for 3 years) so I walked over the bridge from the University in a quite excited frame of mind. The reality is a bit different: Gateshead is not a rich place (The Barbican works well, for example, but isn't it remarkable that so many of these buildings were tested in poorer areas) and you wonder if a high street with a rash of pawn shops benifits from a gap site with an aeriated concrete block shadowing out the sun for yet another three years. I found it mildly depressing on what was a relatively nice day but then there is no life crawling on it - I do think that the cafe on top was a great idea - I would have gladly gone there for a look at the North sea and the Toon. When it was built people thought motor cars were a good idea and concrete was a suitable material for the cladding as well as structures in the north. Hindsight was not available. A bit like getting the public to bang a load of E's in the early nineties and waiting until sometime in around 20 years to see what the effect is.
Posted by stupot at 09:22 AM Tuesday 4 May