Exploring the Wilds of Scotland

While our building’s courtyard is very nice, it’s a little boring sometimes. Other times, it’s a bit too exciting. The seagulls apparently object to Raksha hanging out there during their breeding season, and so a couple months ago, particularly at night, they started making a lot of noise and swooping at us whenever we went out. They never got close enough to be a threat, but Raksha now has a somewhat reasonable fear of flying dinosaurs, and gets nervous every time she hears them.

Ah, the joys of island living.

So we periodically go to a nearby park. Well, I say park. What I actually mean is one of those areas under and around a highway on-ramp where there’s a lot of grass and some trees. It’s surprisingly pretty there, with surprisingly little litter, and the seagulls apparently don’t object to our use of the place.

This image shows Raksha in a field near a highway overpass. The bottom half of the image is green and tan grass, with a few golden flowers, and Raksha. She is a mid-sized mix of German Shepard and Husky. You can see her black fur and tail, her pointy black ears, her white cheeks and eyebrows, and her black eyes and nose. She is waiting for me to throw a pebble for her to chase. Above and behind her is the highway overpass, with a few very tall street lights near it. Some trees are visible in the background.

The Beast lurks in the grass. She would like me to throw something for her.


The image shows Raksha coming closer. She is a mid-sized mix of German Shepard and Husky, with black fur, white cheeks and eyebrows, and some white on her chest and legs. her ears are visible as white triangles with black outlines. She is in a field of green and tan grass with some golden flowers and two concrete highway overpasses and some trees in the background.

The Beast feels that I am not throwing the pebble in my hand fast enough. She approaches, jaws open, to scare me into doing her bidding.


The image shows Raksha approaching. She appears to be having fun. She is panting a little, has one paw lifted up, mid-stride. Her cheeks and eyebrows are white, her eyes and most of the rest of her is black. Her ears are two white triangles with black outlines. The field is green and tan with golden flowers. An overpass and some trees loom in the background.

The Beast approaches. I must now throw something, or face certain doom.


The same scene - tan and green field with yellow flowers and looming overpass. The dog is now mid-leap, facing away from the camera as she bounces after a thrown pebble. Her fur is black, and her ears are two black triangles as she bounds through the tall grass.

The Beast Sproingeth. Now that I have, finally, thrown a pebble for her, she will bounce around in the field looking for it until she gives up, and comes back to demand I do it again. I use pebbles because she never brings back the things I throw.

In her youth, Raksha’s favorite pastime was chasing stones thrown into tall grass. She can’t dolphin around looking for them as much as she used to, but she still enjoys it, and it’s nice to live in a place where I can provide that for her again, now that she’s an old lady.

The image shows a Scottish thistle. The leaves are very spiky. The floweriug is a ball of spikes maybe an inch or two in diameter, with a bright purple tuft at the top. It is a more imposing flower than any of the thistles I encountered in the United States

Feuch an cluaran, suaicheantas nan Albannach


The image shows a thistle plant, with spiky leaves and flowers, topped by purple tufts. Behind it is another plant with light yellow flowers.

Dh ’fhaodadh tu seo a chleachdadh mar chluba.

Urban living really is more pleasant when one has access to even a little pocket of “wilderness”. I’ve even seen a fox in this spot!

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  1. billseymour says

    I was in Glasgow back in November. I had some meetings to attend in Belfast; and this geek thought it would be Really Cool to make the whole trip on the surface, so I got one of the cheap rooms on the Queen Mary 2 for both directions across the Pond.

    I had lots of spare time both before and after the meetings, so I rode various trains around Great Britain all the way to Wick eventually ending up at the Queen Street station. I spent the night in a hotel just around the corner then took the bus to Cairnryan where I caught the ferry to Northern Ireland.

    The day I arrived, there was a big protest in (IIRC) George’s Square, I think in favor of Scotish independence.

  2. says

    There were a number of those. I went to some – nice people, drumming, pamphlets.

    Oh, the Before Times. They were nice…

  3. says

    The only drumming group whose name I remember off the top of my head was Sheboom. There were a bunch more at the big march, but I don’t remember their names.

    @Crip Dyke – we aim to please 🙂

  4. mailliw says

    Aye. I believe I’ve mentioned it before. Why?

    My sister lived in Glasgow for many years. I enjoyed visiting a lot.

  5. says

    @mailiw – Gotcha. I like the city a lot, though I’ve had limited opportunity to explore. Shockingly, when we decided to move here over a year ago, we weren’t anticipating the biggest pandemic and global lockdown in a century.

    @WMDKitty – snoot boop delivered. She was confused, but happy for the attention.

  6. blf says

    Glasgow. The first time I ever visited, for a day or two, I thought, “what a dump — “LA albeit with Scottish accents.” (The elevated motorways are one example of why the comparison to Los Angles sprang to mind.) The second(?) time I visited was for the first(?)-ever Celtic Connections traditional music festival for the entire week(-ish). That gave me a chance to explore the city and acknowledge it’s actually a nicer place than my initial impression (albeit fecking cold).

  7. says

    The line I heard when we got here was that it’s a beautiful city if you don’t look at the ground. There’s a bit of a trash problem, to be sure, and the homelessness feels similar to Boston. There are definitely things to improve.

    I love the weather, honestly. It’s been lovely to have such a cool summer, and the winter was warmer than any I’ve experienced outside the tropics, even accounting for global warming. I missed the snow, though, and the darkness took some getting used to. Ocean currents are pretty trippy.

    Tegan is… less enthusiastic about the temperature. I think the adjustment would have been better without a global calamity right as we were starting to find likely jobs.

    Haven’t left the house much since March, and there are hundreds of people applying for pretty much every job we look at. It’s not a good situation to be dealing with unfamiliar/uncomfortable weather.

  8. mailliw says

    There is some magnificent architecture in Glasgow, in the West End in particular.

    Then there’s the strong artistic tradition, part of the art school in Glasgow was designed by Art Nouveau genius Charles Rennie Mackintosh. There are several other buildings and interiors designed by Mackintosh around the city. His house in Helensburgh is well worth a visit.

    Then there is Glasgow’s pround tradition of industry and political activism, where I see many parallel’s with my home town of Newcastle upon Tyne. As in Newcastle the traditional industries of mining, shipbuilding and engineering have disappeared.

    But oh boy, it rains a lot in the west of Scotland. Though when the sun comes out you can get some wonderful weather – and from the centre of Glasgow it’s only a short train ride to Loch Lomond.

    There are the religious divisions in the city, which are similar to those in Northern Ireland and reflected in the football clubs – Celtic are Catholic and Rangers are traditionally Protestant. A friend of mine from the area was once confronted by a group of Rangers supporters who asked him if he was a Catholic or a Protestant. He replied “I’m an atheist”; “Yes, but are you a Catholic or a Protestant atheist?” – at which point he took the wise decision of running away.

  9. StevoR says

    @ mailliw : Wonder how they’d have responded if he’ d said he was a Jewish atheist ..?

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