Life in Glasgow appears to be exceptionally similar to life everywhere else and on the basis that you really don’t want to know that I am reduced to washing the duvets et cetera I thought I might take you my daily walk through the Botanics.
I live about 400 yards from the Botanic Gardens and although I have stayed in this house for 41 years I have never visited the Botanics regularly. It’s a place to take visitors, to show off the glories of the Kibble Palace, to stick my fingers into man-eating plants and to invite friends to sit on “our” bench. Of course, some benches now have other notices! And some jokes!
So it’s been one of the many delights of the “lockdown” that I am now visiting every day. For non-West Enders, the first part of the garden is, like most Botanical Gardens, laid out with greenhouses, open spaces and the usual memorial seats. There are sections set aside for a chronological history of plants, flowers for bee pollination (with the actual beehives), two very sturdy and challenging play areas for children, a Herb Garden, World Roses and their uses et cetera. My preferred route is to move on from this area and down to the River Kelvin which is still flowing fast and free with all the winter’s rain. Over hundreds of years it has cut a huge gorge out of the cliffs within the gardens and standing by the river looking at the great sandstone bluffs towering above it is hard to believe that I am in what used to be the second city in the Empire. For the static among you (!), the River Kelvin continues north on “The Kelvin Way” to join up with “The West Highland Way” of which I am sure you have heard. The river flows south out through Kelvingrove and then out into the River Clyde. Of course, in these enlightened days, everything is joined up for walkers and I can actually boast that I have walked ‘The Clyde Way’ from Lanark to ‘The Kelvin Way’, to the ‘West Highland Way’ (to Fort William) and on up ‘The Great Glen Way’ to Inverness. At about 250 miles it is not quite ‘The South West Coastal Path’ but it’s a good stretch!
But what is so delightful now is to notice something small changing every day. The magnolia buds are just a little more open, and with the current sunshine the horse chestnut sticky buds are emerging. The crocuses are blown and the tête-à-tête have not been very good this year (neither have mine!). There’s a heady whiff of garlic down along the arboretum and complete strangers are stopping (across 2 metres) to give short but informative talks. One structural engineer from Leeds pointed out the extraordinarily skilful stone- work of the Queen Margaret Road bridge as it curves across the river. I’ve never noticed that before.
The squirrels, who wax fat on the peanuts of generations of grandparents and their grandchildren, are running round in circles wondering where ‘where on earth did I store that nut?’ I noticed that someone had left shredded carrots for them this morning. I like the information boards! Half the population think its dumbing down while the other half say ‘so that’s what they thingies are!’ The pigeons are attempting to mate (with very little success at the moment) while the river is alive with ducks and if you look closely a few herons.
I have noticed differences in social interaction. I find that I recognise people by their dogs or their yellow wellies and that families, children, dogs, and the elderly all say “good morning” and often stop to chat across our 2 metres. But the young, with headphones and Lycra, need some persuasion to actually say “good morning” and tend to blank me as they race past measuring their “steps” and their timing. I have also noticed that as we come back to the main entrance, where there are inevitably more people, that the social interaction stops! And as soon as we’re in the busy streets it stops altogether! I shall write a paper for the Royal, Imperial, Philosophical or something Society!
I have introduced my two kittens (I have four cats altogether – sorry about that!) to the glories of technology and their microchips have been memorised by the cat-flap so they can get in and out of the house when they wish. They are ecstatic!
Since I live on a busy road I have gone to enormous trouble and expense to surround my small garden with netting and two new gates to keep the cats off the road. They have watched all the innovations with great glee and then found their own way out! Grrrrrr!
I’ll finish off with the Glasgow Coat of Arms from the main entrance – ‘Let Glasgow Flourish’.
Amen to that and to us all,
PS all the photos were taken on an iPhone, on Sunday, 29th March