/ Scotland2016

Saturday, tea with Mackintosh

OK, when did I last have a rant? Must be time for another one! Glasgow buses quite rightly protect the driver by insisting on exact fare and so the driver carries no cash nor has access to the safe box into which your ticket fares are deposited. Great idea. Well it would be if they published the bus fares so you could have the exact cash ready prepared. Not difficult, especially when there is a Day Rider ticket which is a flat fare and allows as many bus journeys as you want. Not just Glasgow, almost no bus companies post details of their fares structure on the web (or if they do I haven't found them). Trains are generally very good in this respect but for tourists it is very difficult to gauge bus prices.

So we turn up at the bus stop this morning with a chunk of change but discover we don't have enough for two Day Rider (or whatever they're called) tickets and just have enough for two returns. The bus driver smiles as I point out the irony of a correct fare system where it is impossible to know in advance just what the correct fare might be.

Still all this is is diffused by our new friend. A little elderly local lady was waiting at the bus stop and engaged us in conversation. She then sat next to us in the bus and we'd got a fairly detailed biography in the 30 mins or so it took to reach the city centre. Glaswegians seem to consist of two completely separate tribes, the dour and the loquacious.

First port of call is Glasgow Girlguiding shop. Just! The street is closed off because a very large crane is moving a very large container to the top of one of the buildings. There is pedestrian access but it appears to stop short of our destination. No, we can pass the "Pedestrian Route" sign ushering us across the road and slip into the shop so Liz can photograph a Senior Section archive display. On leaving we notice the crane's load above or heads, not too far away. We also noticed that everyone else is much further away, including the hard-hat wearing site workers. Not time to linger, methinks.

On to the Willow Tea Rooms for lunch. Much of Mackintosh's earlier work was based on Tea Rooms in Glasgow. The Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street were the first that he completely designed, in 1903. Sadly, after the owner Kate Cranston retired from the tea room business in 1919 the building got used for many other purposes but in 1983 it was reopened as a tea room and the famous Room de Luxe was remodeled back into a facsimile of the earlier era. So as well looking round a lovely little Mackintosh museum we got chance to take Tea, and a nice scrambled egg lunch in elegant and historic surroundings.

We should have seen taken heed of the omen. On our way to the Museum Of Modern Art it started snowing. Not much but definitely snow! It was telling us, don't go to the MOMA. And quite right too. Many people reckon that you know you are old because you don't relate to the music of the day. I used to think that a better yardstick was not relating to the comedy of the day. I now know for sure that Liz and I certainly don't relate to the art of the day! Much was very abstract and required significant effort on behalf of the viewer to exercise some power of telepathy to try and glean any inkling of what on earth might have been going through the artist's mind at the time of inception and then to use that insight to imagine what idea the work was trying to convey. Whilst the phrase "utter bollocks" might seem a little harsh, it would have been interesting to have met one of the many artists represented there and hear them defend the charge.

Due to wasting our time trying to wring some element of meaning out of the MOMA it was too late to have any time at another museum but my Good Beer Guide suggested a local pub might have a folk music afternoon on a Saturday, so of f we went to the Babbity Bowster. Like every Glasgow pub we'd been into it was crowded (we'd actually entered about twice as many pubs as we'd stopped at in the city because they were all so busy we couldn't find anywhere to sit). The folk group was just a bunch of people rehearsing in as pub. That is to say, they were playing for their own enjoyment not necessarily for an audience and so were, as such groups tend to be, excellent. Trouble was there were a lot of them (at least 18) in a tiny crowded pub. After a slow pint and half a dozen songs we decided it was just too darn hot.

Too early for dinner, too late for museums, must be pub time again. Once again the Real Ale Guide was our guide and led us to The Laurieston a little walk away across the river. The reason? The pub is a heritage pub because it is a wonderful example of an unspoiled traditional architected pub of the period. The period in this particular case being the 1960s! A circular bar, split into two rooms, a wooden floored public bar and a smaller carpeted lounge. Formica everywhere, fixed two-tier red Formica tables defined the bar's layout and a vintage glass Warm Pies cabinet atop the Formica bar top screamed back to the days when the Beatles new single would have been the juke box choice. A wonderful pub, that has appeared in a Ewan McGregor film and Fratellis video. Just like the Willow Tea Rooms, living history.

All clouds supposedly have silver linings. On our way to the MOMA we spotted a pizza restaurant and good it was too. Quite a walk back from The Laurieston but not too far from our bus stop so perfect for dinner.