Our drive from Hadrian’s Wall up to Glasgow went pretty smoothly – I didn’t get lost and it barely rained on us. The transition from England to Scotland consisted of a “Welcome to Scotland” sign along the motorway and a series of “yeeha’s” in the car before we entered a time of mourning as we realised we won’t be back in England again. During our OE some 18 years ago we were told Glasgow wasn’t worth a visit. This time I was looking forward to seeing this apparently dreadful city first hand. Yes the roads, other than the motorway, are in terrible condition, as bad as any I have seen in this trip, and the inner city apartments look ugly from outside but I have to say the city itself looks magnificent. There is a good mix of Victorian Era, Edwardian, and modern buildings; and lovely paved pedestrian roads.

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On Tuesday after Daniel and Amy finished homeschool we went to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. This had a good mix of natural history; armoury and swords, Scottish History, paintings, and they even had a giant piped organ which someone played every now and again. In some ways it was similar to the Bristol Museum but overall I think it was fresher and more interesting. I really enjoyed looking at a series on the smallest or largest whatever. Here is a photo of a very large crab and also the museum building:

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The next day we were off to yet another museum, this time Glasgow’s Riverside Museum. You can tell you have been to too many museums when at the start your visit you are more excited about sampling the museum’s café Mocha than seeing the actual exhibits or when the kids say they would rather stay home and do Numeracy Project Math. We spent a couple of hours looking around which were enjoyable and educational. The highlights to me were the old cable car, the display on Gurney steam drag, and a display on Sir Clive Sinclair’s innovations.

Here are some rats between cable car carriages:

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The Gurney Steam Drag is an early steam-powered carriage. Gurney designed a number of steam-powered vehicles between 1825-1829 in an effort to commercialise a steam road transportation business. Some designs planned for passengers to sit near the dangerous steam boilers but public apprehension to be so close to steam boilers lead Gurney to design the steam drag which would pull a passenger carriage. Several of these were designed and proved successful. Disaster struck however while Gurney was away in London getting spare parts when one of his drags in Glasgow, which he had locked away with instructions for it not to be touched, exploded injuring two people (who had taken it for a joy-ride). The remains of this drag are on display at the museum.

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The bad publicity surrounding this explosion coupled with anti-machinery sentiments; and then, a law was passed establishing a toll on steam carriages effectively drove him out of business. For further details you may like to read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldsworthy_Gurney

I recognised the Sinclair name of course because of the highly successful ZX81 computer of which more than 1.5 million units were sold between 1981 and 1985. In case you are interested in this old-time friend read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZX81. On display also was Sinclair’s C5 battery electric vehicle which was a battery-assisted tricycle with a top speed of 24 km/hr. It sold for just £399 but was a commercial disaster, selling only around 12,000 units! I am not sure why I can’t find my photos of the ZX81. Instead I will include some other photos below from the museum:

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The sun finally came out on Thursday so as soon as I got home from my run the rest of the school day was cancelled and we dashed out the door. I had been waiting for a fine day so we could walk around central Glasgow city. It had only taken about 35 minutes to run into the city and back so I knew we could manage the walk into town, much to the disgust of the kids. First here is a photo of me in the car park just back from my run. No I didn’t take the car!

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We found our way to George Street and to George Square, both named after George Washington, nar just kidding, King George III.

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Now I this isn’t George but whoever it is is quite a popular resting place:

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Near George Square:

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The end goal of our trip was to visit Hamleys toy shop but the test the kids had to pass before they could do that was to let Karen and I spend half-an-hour looking around the Galley of Modern Art. Approaching the art gallery we noticed people painting the pavement and found that it was an activity, probably aimed at school holiday kids, that we could join in. Daniel and Amy had a ball working on their expressions of modern art while Karen and I sat at a nearby café enjoying Lattes in the sun. It wasn’t like we had abandoned them; we could see them at all times. Here are the works of art, first Daniel’s:

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Now Amy’s:
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We had spent perhaps an hour at the footsteps of the art gallery but not gone through the doorway so we dragged the kids inside and briefly looked around. Evidently it used to be a library, according to a lady from Dunedin whom I had spoken to in the coffee shop. I can never get my head around modern art and agree with Daniel’s statement today that art appears to have de-evolved from magnificent art work to modern stuff where you can get a can and have a car run over it and then call it art! Nonetheless I found the bike below, “Tabernas Desert Run”,  interesting. This guy, Starling, rode across the Tabernas Desert on this fuel cell powered electric bike which was driven by a 900 watt electric motor powered by a portable Nexa fuel cell. The fuel cell produces up to 1200 watts of power using just compressed bottled hydrogen and oxygen from the desert air.

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The highlights to me today, apart from the coffee, were the simple things, walking around the streets looking briefly at the shop windows (without going in) and listening to the street performers. In the sun this place looks and feels great … At last we made it to the St Enoch Shopping Centre where Hamleys was and the kids enjoyed running around looking and playing with the toys.

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A crazy guy from Costa Coffee:

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Walking our way back we encountered a clothing shop which beckoned us in. We wanted to find Amy a dress-jacket to replace her too-small-ski-jacket and also long-pants to replace her outgrown ones. This sort of shop is not Daniel’s favourite so he pretended to be a mannequin which I feel he is pretty good at doing. It is really amazing seeing him still and not talking:

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The net result of the shopping was a pair of jeans but no jacket so much to Daniel’s grief we decided we would return to the shops after school on the next day, Friday. Incidentally why do you say “a pair of jeans” why you only buy one item? I guess that’s a question for google next time I am online. The next day Karen took Daniel to the Doctors in the morning and then after lunch we all went shopping again and didn’t reach home until after 6pm. Needless to say we were all worn out and Daniel thought it had been the worst day of his life. Amy on the other hand was ecstatic with her new outfit and the thought that she looked like the Baroness in G.I. Joe (she hasn’t seen the movie but Daniel has several times and doesn’t stop talking about it).

The cycle continues. Saturday we finished packing our bags, loaded the car, cleaned the apartment and then set off on our way back south toward Dumfries.

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(Week 21: Saturday 7 July – Saturday 14th July 2012)