Last Snows of Winter


IT SEEMS as if winter has lasted six months but although almost all the trees are still stark and bare there’s a feeling that the landscape is at last about to burst into spring. In Scotland snow lies on the tops and in gullies on distant hills, in the pattern you get when you pour double cream over a pudding. On lower ground in the Midland Valley it lies in random swathes, as if snow showers had been localised over particular slopes. I don’t think this was due to overall snowfall melting in patches because some of the slopes that have retained snow are – if I’d got my bearings right – south-facing.

On the calm waters of a loch, a few anglers are fishing from rowing boats. It looks like a clip from a ‘Discover Scotland’ commercial and I’m surprised that it can look so wild and open in the country between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

St Andrews in the Square

We’re in a Glasgow for a wedding in the airy nave of St Andrews in the Square, restored to its 18th century splendour a few years ago. Bonnie Prince Charlie saw this church being built in 1745 when his army camped here on their retreat from their failed invasion of England.

At that time ‘tobacco barons’ were bringing wealth into the city and this is reflected in the confident elegance of the church with its Corinthian capitals.

As we took a taxi back to Central station I was saying that I would have liked to have seen this interior with the light flooding in on a sunny day but the taxi driver told me that he’d been to a summer wedding there; it was the first time he’d worn a kilt and he found that it got very warm in there when the sun gets out. Another taxi drive explained that the sun gets out on only one day of the year in Glasgow, so that’s not such a problem for the venue.

Unfortunately this turned to be a white wedding with snow falling all morning. Barbara and I were hoping to have some time to explore the city but we hadn’t brought our fell-walking waterproofs, so we’re going to have to return to do that.

From our apartment on Glassford Street, I started drawing the building opposite but just as I got to the most interesting bit – the ornate shop-front of the Blane Valley bar – I had to break off. From our first floor window across the street I was seeing the building in 3 point, or rather 4 point, perspective, as I was looking both up, down and sideways on it, but I tried to straighten up what I was actually seeing into an architectural elevation. If I’d had time I would have gone on to add the next building, Coral Bookmakers.

East Coast

These days, it can prove to be a bit of an adventure getting my mum to the co-op once a week so I insisted that, if she was going to travel with us, we should take the through train (there are two a day from Wakefield right through to Glasgow) and, for the first time ever, go for the roomier seats and the complimentary light refreshments of First Class. I could get used to it and I want to try it again soon!

There’s no restaurant car on the East Coast route and the chefs are given the weekend off but even so the highlight of the return journey for me was lunch, served at our table from the limited weekend menu. Eating a vegetable curry as I watch the wild coast of Northumbria going by comes pretty close to the perfect dining experience!

Link: St Andrews in the Square