342: Glasgow

OS Explorer map 342, Glasgow: Paisley, Rutherglen & Kirkintilloch – I have visited this map before starting this blog, but do not own the map. Visited for this post 5th January 2018. (Our video of the ASNC Trip is on YouTube on the ASNC Society’s channel – the section corresponding to this blog post runs from the beginning of the video to 2:10)

The previous post had my carful of people leave the Sainsbury’s in Hamilton, on the very last leg of our journey up to Glasgow to meet up with everyone else for the ASNaC Trip to Argyll. Of the seventeen people who’d be congregating in Glasgow for that trip, six were in the car I was driving, four others drove up in another car from Wales, and the others were coming by train or flight. Everyone except the other carful was to meet at Glasgow Central station at 2pm.

I should probably have known that it wouldn’t be easy to find somewhere convenient near the station to sit in the car and wait, but I did not do that thinking, and so we moved slowly around the roads of central Glasgow for twenty minutes looking for somewhere to stop, eventually going into a multi-storey parking garage near the station. There Vesper was dispatched to walk into the train station and meet up with the others. Indeed everyone but one was there as planned, and the other soon arrived. The ASNC Trip had begun! Vesper came back from the station having met everyone else, and brought The Unsuspecting back with her so that the car would be full; we left then for our first destination, Govan Old Parish Church, while the others who had met up in the station took the subway, led by The Frosty-Haired, our one Glasgow local.

At the church all seventeen of us met up for the first time, as the last carful of four had arrived, Tragic Sacrifice having driven all the way from Swansea before 2pm. The church was in fact usually closed in winter, but they had been very nice and offered to open just for us, so, after some time in a car park wondering at the faces painted on a building over the river, [1] we were met by someone who let us in and even offered us tea! Further wonderfulness happened when the fellow in question told me that he follows the ASNaC meme page.

The reason for our going to Govan – the church itself is Victorian and not at all ASNaCky – is that they have a very nice collection of early medieval stone carving, some being carved crosses, some hogback stones. I’m not the most knowledgeable about such things myself, but I believe hogback stones are a Norse or Norse-influenced thing, and were probably grave markers of some kind. So yes, the stones and things were there, as was the large stone coffin associated with their saint, Constantine. People wandered around and looked at the things.

After a while I collected everyone together in one corner and entered schoolteacher mode as I counted them and explained what was going to happen for the rest of the day – it turned out that it’s probably a good thing that I’m not a schoolteacher, as I counted, found the right number, started talking, only for Alcove Gremlin to turn up from the toilets, at which point I realised that I’d counted myself twice.

Anyway, we’d soon be leaving to drive to the hostel where we’d be staying for the next two nights, on Loch Awe, near Kilmartin, and the plan for the first day’s dinner was for us to buy a large stack of pizzas and oven them once we got there. Before we could leave, the pizzas and breakfast food had to be bought, and Alcove Gremlin had to collect the hire car she’d be driving. Therefore Erithacus, Vesper and I went off to a nearby Sainsbury’s, while Tragic Sacrifice dropped off Alcove Gremlin at the car hire place to collect the hire car. As we were driving away, an angry Glaswegian lady verbally abused Tragic Sacrifice’s car for some reason.

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Vesper with our shopping for seventeen!

While at the Sainsbury’s, we got a phonecall: minor tragedy had struck as Alcove Gremlin had left her passport, which she needed to collect the car, in the car I was driving. Therefore after getting some petrol we went to the car hire place to deliver this to her. We then proceeded back to the car park of Govan Old Church, soon to be joined by Alcove Gremlin in her shiny new hire car, and by everyone else, who after a little more time in the church, had found a nearby café to sit in with warm drinks.

We all piled into the cars, somehow managing to fit everyone and all their stuff in. Now, we had something of an issue with the number of car seats, which caused some problems. Tragic Sacrifice, who drove up from Wales with three others in her car had quite sensibly assumed that as I knew four people were coming up in her car, she would only be driving four people around Scotland. I, however, had assumed when asking her whether she would be willing to drive on the trip, that her car could take five people. This was not the case; the car in question only had four seats (and four seatbelts). We were seventeen people on the trip, and the other two cars had five and seven seats respectively, so this meant that we were one short.

Unfortunately, this misunderstanding wasn’t cleared up as we were getting into the cars – when Tragic Sacrifice said that she wasn’t expecting to take five, I managed only to understand that having five people in that small car would be uncomfortable rather than actually greater than the number of seats, and so said something to the effect of “well, you’ll just have to squeeze in”. And so The Converter ended up squeezing into the middle of the back seat, without even a seatbelt. Urgh. We then, of course, drove off, hopefully to meet at our hostel in two and a half hours or so, at about 8pm. This was not to be. (From here onwards we’re not technically in this map area anymore, but we didn’t stop anywhere that would count for a new map until we got to the hostel, and the tale of the journey there needs to be told…)

After about half an hour of driving, a little past Dumbarton, Erithacus, sitting in my front passenger seat, and I were discussing the five of them having squeezed into Tragic Sacrifice’s car, and at this point finally realised that we might have pushed them into a car with too few seats and that this was really very unsafe and a bad thing to do. After some initial worried musing, we called them and found out that this was in fact the case, and so we asked them to stop at the petrol station they were at. We turned around, and went back and met them. There a plan was bashed out in order to make the rest of the journey without people not having proper car seats. I drove to Dumbarton station, where Erithacus got on a train to Oban, and then came back to the petrol station. Chief Necromancer got out of Tragic Sacrifice’s car and waited for me to come back, while that car, now only carrying four, drove off on its way. And then I returned and collected Chief Necromancer, and after a brief entry into Starbucks where I bought some crisps and used their toilet, we were on our way.

However. This was not the end of the tale of misfortune that was our journey to our hostel. After a little more driving, when we were going along the A82 having just reached Loch Lomond, in came a call from The Converter: Tragic Sacrifice’s car had broken down on the A83, and they needed us to look up the number for their recovery agency so that they could call them. I turned off the A82 at a roundabout [2] and we stopped and duly looked this up and sent it to them. Being rather concerned, we planned to stop when we saw them and see how they were doing, as they were about half an hour ahead of us due to our train station stop.

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A rather blurry picture of Tragic Sacrifice’s car Merida, about to be loaded onto the recovery vehicle.

About forty minutes later we found them, on a section of the A83 that was under a temporary speed limit of 30mph due to roadworks. (Precisely, here.) It was raining and dark, and the four of them were standing looking thoroughly cold and sodden on the other side of the barrier (which was presumably there to prevent cars falling off the road down the slope). We overshot them initially and stopped in a convenient car park slightly further along, which Google Maps informs me is for the “Rest and Be Thankful Commemorative Stone” and the “Rest and be Thankful Catering Van” – neither were apparent in the dark. There we talked to them on the phone again, and it was decided that while there wasn’t much we could do, Millicent, being something of a masochist, would swap out with The Wanderer, taking her place waiting by the side of the road for the recovery lorry. We drove back to the car, did this swapping of passengers, and the recovery lorry arrived just in time for me to take the above picture of it before we drove off.

We didn’t stop again until we reached the hostel, which will be told of in the next post, but Tragic Sacrifice and her heroic crew were loaded into the recovery lorry while their car was put on the back of it, and endured the one and a half hour drive to the hostel in that vehicle. It was thus that Tragic Sacrifice earned her name – the rest of the trip enjoyed amazingly good weather for the west coast of Scotland (see note 3 to this post), and I finally managed to break my three-time curse of driving into ditches every time I drive to Scotland; [3] it was later decided that this good fortune must have been due to Tragic Sacrifice’s noble sacrifice of having her car break down – she had to go home the next day and so, alas, did not get to stay for most of the trip.

Previous visits

The first time that I visited Glasgow was, I believe, in 2003, on the trip to the Highlands that I was taken on by Lovely Uncle and his family, which featured, for example, in my Fort William post. We stayed somewhere on the Black Isle, but on the way up we stopped for the night in Glasgow and stayed with some relatives of theirs. No pictures or video were taken there, and I don’t remember much about this stop other than the fact it happened, and that the relatives in question, whom I didn’t know, gave me some sort of curry that had severe enough chilli in it that I suffered a little. I recall having both a glass of juice and one of milk by my plate, and then being concerned that the juice was going to curdle the milk inside me. I perhaps was not the most sensible eight-year-old. [3]

I also went to Glasgow in summer 2016, on that trip between Lindisfarne and Iona, walking some of the way, known as the Holy Island Trek, which has probably become very familiar to readers of this blog by now. At the very end of the trip, as we were taking a few days over our trip back to England, Millicent, Vesper and I stopped for a while in Glasgow, indeed to look at the very same Govan Stones featured above. Our annal, the collaborative diary we kept on that trip, reads:

Drove on to Govan. Found somewhere to park before wandering for a bit, first trying to find the church, then trying to find the entrance. Eventually entered where an old Govaner school teacher took us on a tour of the church with many additional stories. [Millicent, who wrote this section] was particularly impressed by the scale of the hogback stones. Having gone round Govan Old Parish Church, we went to a nearby Subway for lunch which was bemusing for the amount of choice. Then went to a shop to buy stuff for breakfast the next day.

The shop in question was an Iceland, I recall, and I think it was the first time I’d been in one of those, or at least the first time in many years. I remember being pleasantly surprised by their very reasonably priced frozen lobsters. (Not that we bought one, we were camping…) From there, we got back in the car, and proceeded southwards, our next stop being Lockerbie!

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In Govan Church in 2016

Perceptive readers may have noticed that everywhere I took people on this ASNC Trip (except Carnasserie Castle at the end) was somewhere I’d been before with Vesper and Millicent on the Holy Island Trek. This was admittedly possibly not the most imaginative way to plan a group trip, but I suppose I just did it because I knew the things were good, and how to get to them, and things like that.

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[1] To tell events more fully, my carful arrived at Govan and were slightly surprised to find a huge car park by the river, because when Vesper, Millicent and I had been in 2016, we couldn’t find one and parked on the road. I had also told the driver of the other car that there was no good parking nearby, so we called and informed them of the new situation. However, when I went to scout towards the church, I found that it had its own parking, which was much more convenient, so I walked back to the others and the car, and just as we were driving away to go to the church car park, the final carful arrived, and then followed us there.

[2] I think that roundabout was this one, the junction of the A82 with the A818 to Helensburgh. We turned left off the A818 into a little car park or something while we looked up the phone number, and I then managed to turn out of it in the wrong direction, and so had to turn around later…

[3] Also featured in the Fort William post was my trip to Scotland in 2013 with the Dearest Progenitors and another cousin. On this trip we also passed through Glasgow on the way up further north – for some reason the navigation device we were using directed us through the streets of central Glasgow on our way to Fort William, which was an unnecessary experience. We didn’t stop there.

5 thoughts on “342: Glasgow

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