My normal weeks of motorways and a campsite have been replaced by air corridors and a hotel room. Most Fridays I will fly back to Southampton and most Sundays complete the return journey to Glasgow. And it is mostly this way because if entertaining the kids is not on my schedule for a weekend I will have some further options. One of those options is to work the weekend. This assignment had a long list of milestones with a limited time to achieve them - and so I accepted the offer to work through the weekend whenever it was offered. If spending day after day in an office environment without a break did little to inspire me to write - I suspect it has pleased the managers of my bank account.
|In the sky every week|
A busy man's time does seem short - and I can hardly believe I have been living a working life in Scotland for almost four months. My ear has adapted to the rhythm of a Glaswegian dialect and although I am not saying aye instead of yes or looking after my weens instead of my kids - I can say that conversing with a Scot now is no bother and rarely do I need to request a repeat of what just came out of a hen's vocal chords.
I had been getting on well with a Zimbabwean lady I had met on the internet dating site. We would meet up for a meal and a chat and take a drive whenever I had some free time on the weekend. Like myself the Zimbabwean lady was one for being busy - she had her work and her studies and her children and her church and her politics. And there was one weekend when I had no work and nor did I have the children - and so I suggested she take a break and enjoy a weekend in Glasgow.
In Glasgow exists a square that attracts those who would enjoy sitting down with a newspaper to read or a picnic to eat. A retreat within a manic city. A place to reflect and relax perhaps for a few minutes before rushing back to finish a busy shift in a city office. And there is some irony here since it is named after King George the Third, whose reign covered the great Battle of Trafalgar in which Nelson decided to attack a line of ships at a right angle rather than at a parallel - the result being a victory that firmly established Britain as the world's leading naval power. George Square presents a pleasant site and the room I booked in the Millenium hotel had a grand view over the entirety of the square.
|The Millenium hotel from across George Square|
Compared to the budget room in the loft that I regularly use, this hotel was a bit of luxury. The room was large and nicely aired and the bed had one of those memory mattresses that nicely relaxes a body's aching muscles. And there must have been plenty of aching leg muscles in Glasgow on this weekend. I heard the helicopter hovering above and a crowd that cheered on the athletes whizzing by at a speed to awaken a speed camera's optical flash. Glasgow was host to the British National Road racing championship and here we were with a commanding view on the second floor of a hotel.
|British National Cycle Championship|
I have always enjoyed the cycling sport and could have spent the day cheering on the velo masters - but I had a lady to entertain. It is a rare thing for a lady not to enjoy a day shopping - and the Zimbabwean was not disappointed by Glasgow's rich retail offerings. There is no point to earning the money if there is no will to be spending it and thus a good few hours was given to the shopping aisles and the markets. After many hours we returned to the hotel to relieve our arms from the weight of all those shopping bags. There would be no rest for this nomad however. It is a splendid thing to have fallen for an African princess and I always enjoy being in her company. So much grace and so much style. The princess does however need the respect of royalty and I was quickly dispatched to hunt down something nice for lunch. Thankfully there was a superb take out store a few blocks away from the hotel, and thankfully the princess approved the presented meal.
Next on the agenda was a bus tour. Our route was somewhat altered from the standard due to the bike race and the roads it blocked. It was however an enjoyable tour of Glasgow and well worth the ten pounds handed over for the ticket. Glasgow has many museums and they are all free to enter. The bus tour will stop at these museums and you can hop off, visit the museum and wait for the next bus for your return. Great value and the bus commentator discussed the history and significance of many of the buildings and attractions. The bus was the open top variety - and our commentator determined the definition of optimism to be, indeed, an open topped bus in Glasgow.
I had made some friends at the place where I worked. Two of them invited me to a day of hiking. Ben Lomond would be my second Munro. A Munro is any Scottish mountain over 3000 feet and Ben Lomond was to be my second one climbed. A few years past I had climbed Ben Nevis - the highest mountain in the UK and that was a particularly hard march. Unfortunately the only view I was rewarded with was that of a cloud's innards. Ben Lomond was a different experience. The sky was blue and the air was hot. Ben Lomond is 3,196 feet high and is the most southerly Munro, lying within the Ben Lomond National Memorial Park.
My friend Gary picked Marcia and myself up at 8.00 am on a Saturday morning and we drove to the mountain to commence the hike. We parked the car at the entrance to the tourist path in Rowardennan. The mountain is only an hour's drive from Glasgow and is one of the most climbed of the Munros in Scotland. It took us a good six hours to complete the ascent. We had been trekking a good three hours or so and were sure we were close to the summit. We stopped for some fluid and a bite. Gary had recently purchased a new GPS and I asked him to tell me what our altitude was. He said it read 400 so it must be wrong. I said nothing as I had guessed he had the settings to metric and we were at 400 meters high, only half way up the mountain. One thing I have learnt from mountain hiking is never to ask anyone passing on the descent how far there is to go - but Marcia did just that and I did feel some sympathy for my hiking friends when the descending hiker informed them we were only half way there indeed.
So it was a hot day and the climbing a good test for the legs but certainly the views at the top were spectacular. The skies were so clear that even the summit of Ben Nevis was visible on the horizon.
And this ends my update and I hope you enjoyed reading this little opening into this nomad's life in Scotland. This assignment is coming to a close and next week I am taking a well earned vacation. The children will be with me and a week will be spent in Devon at a Haven resort. More to follow on this one.
Peace to All.