Saturday, 13 September 2008

A Grand Day Out

There are some compensations to turning 60 - it's not all greying hair and teeth falling out, failing eyesight and getting measured for a zimmer frame (don't be cheeky - in my case it's only the grey hair!) here in Scotland we "Senoir Citizens" also get free bus travel and cheap-rate rail fares. With that in mind we were up with the larks yesterday and setting off for a trip "Doon The Watter", which is a term we use in Glasgow for going on a ferry trip across the Firth of Clyde to either Dunoon or Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. These two destinations were extremely popular around the turn of the 20th century up until about the 1960's when the advent of cheap air travel to Spain and the Balearic Islands turned these resorts into sad decline. Rothesay is, however, still a favourite place for us to visit. We went there on our honeymoon in 1971, and have been going back every year since. This is a view from the ferry top deck overlooking the tiny marina towards the town frontage:

After walking around the town to re-aquaint ourselves with our favourite haunts we headed out along the shore towards Bogany Point at the entrance to Rothesay Bay. It was out there that I came across this small boathouse jutting out from a cleft in the rocks and surrounded by gorse bushes and trees:
Pencil in Moleskine sketchbook, 19x14cm: Starting with some tentative marks testing my mood for drawing, I quickly realise I'm feeling bullish and get steamed in! Moleskines, however, have a life of their own - so here's my "Tip of the Day": Instead of just opening the sketchbook and starting to draw it's a good idea first to wrap the the elasticated band around the end of the book or it will conjure an escape from your hands and concertina out till it lands at your feet! Right, that bad boy goes back in the bag and out comes a spiral-bound ingress sketchbook and my box of pastels. Time for colour:

Pastels on Ingres paper, 30x25cm: "Boathouse"; Apart from the eminently suitability of the subject for pastelling I was attracted by the colouring with it's slated grey tiled roof, those painted blue slatted gates, and the corner of a bright orange plastic upturned boat.

We continued on our walk over Canada Hill and back down into the town where we slaked our thirst with cold pints of beer and dinner in a small family-run restaurant which offered us an excellent fish pie made entirely from local catches. Then it was back on the last ferry and heading home tired but happy. This shot was taken as we gently sailed back across the Firth with the sun going down over Toward Point and the hills of Bute Island:

It was unusual for the water to be as calm as this and the scene reminded me of a song my father used to sing by Robert Wilson, which goes like this:

"At hush of eventide/ O'er the hills beyond the Clyde/ I go roaming to my haven/ Down in the glen".

The words and music were by Harry Gordon & Tommy Connor, and was typical tartan Scottish pap, but I loved it. Still do. You should hear me sing it after a few - I can bring the house down. Literally!

Then it was onto the train and heading back to Glasgow as darkness deepened. This lady with extraordinary straight white hair sat in the seat in front and to the right of me occassionally turning to speak to her companion, so this sketch was made over about a half-hour period from momentary glimpses as she turned to her left to speak:

With her severely cut bob haircut and dark set eyes she looked striking but a bit fearsome too!


my croft said...

I think the coldest I have ever been was that August day when I sailed to Bute.

Thanks for bringing back fond memories of my first (of 2) visits to Glasgow.

daviddrawsandpaints said...

August?!!! That was the height of summer!!!! You can just imagine what January would be like! Aye we're a hardy lot here in Scotland - naething worn under the kilt and only hairy chests tae keep us warm!
(not me, of course - I'm just a skinny whelp! I need fur-lined baffies even in June!)
You need to let me know when you intend a third visit Melanie :o)

my croft said...

I wasn't the only frail blossom unprepared for the "brisk" island crossing. I was desperate for gloves, and the first place I stumbled across after landing had a shop window full of 'em. How they chortled (me as well) watching me try to unclench my chapp'd fingers.

It will be awhile before I can jaunt about at length (family rsponsibilites and what not). Which is a shame, I really enjoy Glasgow and am eager to see more of Scotland -- as much as can be seen from beneath several layers of wooly balmaccan. I shall live vicariously through my ether buddies in the mean time.

Melinda said...

Lovely work! It does sound like a grand day and the bay looks very Mediterranean.

I, too, enjoy the old songs. I looked up "Down in the Glen" and had a listen at I found a link to another oldie that is one of my favorites. It's called "Silver Threads Among the Gold" by Will Oakland, Edison Records. If you'd like to hear it, this link has the whole song. Your reference to gray hair made me think of it. Gee, 60 doesn't seem that old.

daviddrawsandpaints said...

A frail blossom indeed Melanie!

You've got to be pulling my leg Melinda (don't pull too hard or I'll be needing a hip replacement sooner rather than later!) - "Silver Threads...." makes me feel absolutely ancient. 60 is the new 40 don't you know. At least that's what I am telling everybody. You can tell I'm not quite taking to this "Auld Age" thingy. In my own mind I'm still only a boy. And my wife says I still act it!

Shaun said...

To my mind one and all must go through this.
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