Friday, August 12th–Glasgow, Strathclyde

Mediocre weather; meeting a podcaster I've listened to for a long time for coffee; Glasgow Green & the World Pipe Band Championships Grade 1 qualifying rounds; St Mungo's museum of religion; camera trouble or lens trouble?; Jessop's cameras again; the Mackenzie Caledonian pipe band; looking for good, fat pens; lunch at Yates'; an afternoon off; getting past the the late afternoon performance of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show the musical" at the King's Theatre; dinner in the hotel; street racing noises?

Novotel Glasgow Centre



Today was a pretty pleasant day in spite of the unpleasant weather most of the day, occasionally ranging to fairly nasty.

It was grey, cloudy and windy with a fine drizzle when I left about 8:45 for the walk over to the coffee shop where I was going to meet my podcaster friend, Simon. At one point it was so windy that I had to pull the hood of my sweatshirt up over my cap and tie the hood loosely to keep from losing the cap. Somehow I had written down the wrong address for the coffee shop and walked right past it and had to call Simon when I got to the corner where I thought the place was supposed to be. I've enjoyed Simon's podcast since 2008 and he's as nice a guy in person as he is on the podcast. I have to confess, though, that I sometimes find his accent a bit hard to understand, live and on the podcast.

When I first met Simon five years ago, his parents still owned the music store which had been the basis for Simon's podcast but they retired a few years ago. Simon said that they're really enjoying it. In addition to doing his podcast, Simon also performs and is the man behind Hands up for Trad which supports traditional Scottish music and musicians throughout Scotland.

Part of the reason it's been difficult to get together with Simon this week is that his kids are out on summer vacation and his family is preparing to leave for Ireland this weekend for a huge music festival in Ennis, the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann, with concerts, workshops & lectures, and competitions. His kids are competing there, which means that they already won here in Scotland to be able to advance to the next level of competition.

It was great to see Simon again, to actually meet one of the people I've been listening to regularly for years. Simon brought one of his own CDs for me, and just gave it to me when he didn't have change for the 20 I had. And he bought me my soft cider as well. Thanks, Simon!

I didn't have any trouble walking over to the Glasgow Green and finding the box office where I could pick up my two day pass, the ticket for today's event, and the ticket for tomorrow. It was rather fun walking in, since there were pipe bands warming up and practicing all over the place. Things were a bit confusing, though, since besides the main area where the Grade 1 bands were doing their march, strathspey, reel qualifying rounds to qualify to move on to the main competition tomorrow there was another area with bands performing also.

I was right, at least about the MSR competitions. The bands competing today apparently had to select from a specific list of certain preset combinations of tunes, so several in the short time I was there played the same set of tunes.

I only lasted for six bands, or a bit over an hour. It was a miserable day to be at an outdoor event. The weather could actually have been worse–it could have been raining heavily instead of just the nasty, persistent drizzle.

I caught a cab from the Green for the short ride up the hill to St Mungo's museum of religion, which I like quite a bit. Even though it's smaller than the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin it's very well done and a great place to visit. I enjoyed the small special exhibit on angels as well.

I had planned on having lunch in the museum's very nice café, which I enjoyed on my last visit five years ago, and then to visit the Cathedral which I haven't done this trip but all of a sudden I had problems with my camera. I turned the camera off to change the battery, and when I turned it on again it said the lens wasn't attached to the camera. I continued to get the same message no matter how many times I detached and reattached the lens, so I decided I'd just walk on back to the camera store where I was yesterday and have them take a look before having lunch somewhere on the way back here to my hotel.

When I was at the store the guy who helped me did some simple diagnostics. One of their lenses worked with my camera, and my lens didn't work with their camera. The problem may have had something to do with the weather and the lens getting damp and it might sort itself out as the lens dries out, but I didn't want to wait that long and be without a real camera again, so I bought a new lens with an even better and longer range zoom lens. This one came with a hood for the lens which is supposed to provide a bit of shade and might even keep it from getting so wet I have to keep wiping it off whenever I want to take a picture.

When I came out of the store a pipe band, the Mackenzie Caledonian pipe band was playing near there before wandering off to play at George Square at 2 PM. They had their latest CD for sale, so I bought one.

I also stopped at the stationery store near Jessop's, the camera place, to see if I could find a couple of pens that are the fatness I prefer to keep my hand from hurting as they do when I use a thin stick pen for more than a few minutes. Not only did I find a nice, comfortable and inexpensive pen but they had a couple of 128 GB flash drives which I also bought.

I wanted to have lunch at Lauders, the first pub I went to here in Glasgow five years ago, but they have very few smaller tables and they were all occupied. I don't mind standing at the bar to have a pint, but I prefer to sit down when I eat. I kept on going up Sauciehall Street, figuring that I could always eat at the international buffet again or continue on past my corner and see what else there was, but I stopped at a place called Yates', a much more modern and very nice and comfortable place with lots of tables, for a very good lunch and pint.

I was pretty damp and chilly when I got back. I decided to just hang out here in my room until around 7 PM and then see if I could eat dinner at the Griffin. While I was here I started reviewing my arrangements & plans for Edinburgh. The hotel where I'll be staying, the Cityzoomz, is quite centrally located, so much so that the street it's on is only open to taxis and buses from 8 AM to 8 PM, but there is an unloading spot right outside their door. So, although I can't stop and unload my rental car there before returning it, I can return the car and take a cab from there, which can let me off right at the hotel.

I actually made even better plans than I had remembered. Instead of having to go all the way out to the Enterprise location at the airport to pickup my car, I only need to catch a cab to the Glasgow city center location (I just figured out why I had the wrong street address for the coffee shop where I was meeting Simon–I had written down the street number for the Enterprise location instead) which is only a 10 minute ride away. And instead of having to go out to the Edinburgh airport to return the car and take a cab in from there, I only need to take it to the Waverley Station location, which is again only a 10 to 15 minute cab ride from the hotel.

I have a ticket for the 10 PM Edinburgh Tattoo on Saturday the 20th. Why so late? Because that's the show they have fireworks after. I wanted to see what else was going on, and maybe take a tour out of town, so before dinner I started looking online. Not only is the Tattoo going on, so is the world famous Edinburgh International Festival and the equally famous and even larger Festival Fringe.

I had thought about detouring up to Stirling on the way to Edinburgh instead of just taking the most direct route, the M 8, which is only an hour's drive from here. Instead I bought a ticket for a day tour from Edinburgh over to Stirling and Loch Lomond and back next Tuesday.

That left me Sunday late afternoon or evening, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoon to early evening if I wanted to see about getting tickets for any of the Festival or Fringe events, and I did: Monday 1:45 PM, a cappella music; Tuesday all day, tour to Loch Lomond and Stirling and back; Wednesday 2:30 PM another a cappella concert; Thursday 8:30 PM Edinburgh Renaissance Band; Friday 11 AM Emerson string quartet; Saturday 6:15 PM (one hour) India Flamenco; Saturday 10 PM the Tattoo.

I still have plenty of time to explore Edinburgh and go to the museums and churches, including all day next Sunday, before I fly to London on Monday 8/22.

I headed on out a bit after 7 PM this evening, hoping I'd be able to eat over at the Griffin. Unfortunately, however, the late afternoon performance of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" the musical had just finished at the King's Theatre around the corner–which was made it rather amusing to see all the people who had dressed up appropriately for the show, but also meant that hundreds of people were also looking for somewhere to eat. I saw the crowd waiting to get into the Griffin, and just came back here to the hotel and had a very good meal in the hotel's very nice bar instead.

One of the few complaints I have about this hotel isn't so much about the hotel itself as the location in Glasgow's city center. Every night I've been amazed at how often I can hear jerks on loud motorcycles racing around town. Tonight is no exception. I hope the noise doesn't keep me from getting some sleep. I have my small USB-powered fan and my noise generator running to help block some of the street noise out, and they usually help quite a bit.

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