I’m feeling a bit lazy, so you’re only getting one entry for the final two days. Well, that and I didn’t do much on my final day in Glasgow apart from meet old friends and spend an excessive time in an airport, but we’ll get to that. On the Sunday I woke up, seriously tired, and headed out to explore the edges of the highlands and a few of the more interesting tourist spots in the sticks around Glasgow.
This did, of course, mean waking up quite insanely early, and being a bit on the lethargic side already after two consecutive nights of gigging, I must have made for a quiet and uninspired passenger for the first hour or two. Not that I could sleep, not with Andy Murray on the radio, getting a good kicking as it turned out, but then Federer was good even by his standards. The first stop was Stirling Castle, an old defense against the British, possibly the Romans too, and a barracks for soldiers before they headed off to fight Napoleon, too. Outside it’s pretty much a standard castle, with a decent sized moat and lots of cannons pointing down the hills, but inside it’s seriously impressive.
The main hall is almost entirely reconstructed, but has five huge fireplaces and big ornate windows that must have passed for ancient luxury. The wooden beams in the ceiling were great. The gardens below the castle have shapes carved into the grass, while you can hunt around and find all the little corners with strange pasts, like the pit bathrooms, or the tiny hidden garden where a former king once tossed an enemies body.
Next up was a quick stop off at another castle – we didn’t even go in, but it looked pretty impressive – followed by a cruise down to Loch Lomond, where the water had turned to crackling ice under the pebbles. Apparently there’ more water in Scottish Lochs than the North Sea (I don’t know how they worked that one out, but anyway), and there did seem to be little waves lapping up against the shore (just the wind, of course, but strange).
Our last stop was Glengoyne distillery, which in truth is a slightly less impressive version of the Jameson distillery in Dublin, but its in a nice location at the bottom of a natural spring stream coming out of the hill, and the samples were good. We didn’t have the chance to sample the really expensive (fifty year old) stuff, but then it does come in at several hundred pounds a bottle.
As you can probably imagine, by the time I got round to covering the last gig of the weekend on the Sunday night, I was pretty exhausted. It was a 15th anniversary celebration for Chemikal Underground, who are a local label who signed Mogwai and Arab Strap in their early days. They have a few good acts now, too, especially the Phantom Band, whose front man is half Freddie Mercury (in terms of persona, sadly) and half eccentric performer ala Dick Valentine. All in it was both hilarious and impressive (I’d add a review link, but getjealous seem to have taken away the capacity to link to stuff for some reason edit – link facility re-added: Chemikal Underground review).
The next morning I got up early to meet Calum and Stewart, two friends from Korea, for breakfast. Stewart’s on his way out of Glasgow, and Calum’s still working on his masters thesis. Only an hour to catch up, but hey, it’s better than nothing, and those two always make me smile. Sadly the rest of the day didn’t, though my meeting with a woman from a venue called ‘The Arches’ was interesting. They’re introducing a whole load of bizarre community theatre, plays for two people held in multi-storey car parks, plays revolving around dinner parties, that kind of stuff. The bad part was 6 hours in an airport, after my flight back was delayed. When it’s all free, though, I guess you can’t complain!
There’s definitely something a bit special about getting a press trip – it feels like someone values your writing to the point to which they’re prepared to pay a small fortune to have you promote them, which is a nice feeling.
It was manic, though, so getting home was a nice feeling, too.
Until next time,