Posted by: ramblinrobert | March 31, 2012

Hiking at Gunsight Rock

Indian WarriorI started hearing about Gunsight Rock at Hood Mountain on North Bay hiking Meetups last summer. Last week I had time to join one of those groups to climb to the top. While a relatively short hike–only seven miles–it was a 2,000 foot climb to get there. So, it was a great hike for some good exercise in only a few hours. It was a fun second hike with this Meetup group (Sonoma County Wanderers) and I enjoyed talking with others. Often on hikes we discuss books that are relevant to the conversation. I’ve recommended books before, but this time had one recommended to me.

But, a really cool discovery was a kind of wildflower that I’ve never seen before. Common name is Indian Warrior, and it is a beauty! Interestingly, it is a hemiparasite, meaning it can grow on its own but will opportunistically parasatize the roots of some plants. One of those plants is manzanita, which is in abundance at the elevation we were hiking, so I expect these flowers were parasitizing the manzanita. I’ve included a few pictures here of the hike and the flower. I especially like the pictures of manzanita and madrone, because the previous nights’ rain gave their smooth bark a lovely sheen. The recent rains had also rejuvenated the bryophytes, so they were beautiful, too. Views can be spectacular from here on a clear day, I was told. But, this day, they were limited. Although we could see to San Francisco Bay, about 30 miles away, on a clear day you can see San Francisco itself.

I consider myself incredibly blessed to live in the beautiful Bay Area and to have the opportunity to go hiking in such surroundings.

Posted by: ramblinrobert | October 18, 2011

A ride up memory lane

[Written several weeks ago, but just finished today.]

Sacramento’s best asset, by far, is the American River Parkway. This morning was cool with a slight breeze blowing up river as I rode through the CSUS campus and picked up the bike trail at the Guy West Bridge. (The first photo here is from the bridge.) I’m in Sacramento visiting my parents and had just dropped off their car for repairs and was heading back to their home in Carmichael. I figured the best way to do this shuttle was to bicycle back on the Parkway bicycle trail. I couldn’t have picked a better way to do the shuttle or a better morning to do the ride.

Along the way, I saw walkers, fishermen, joggers, a high-school cross-country team, exercise cyclists, bicycle commuters on their way to work and dog walkers. Every one of them brought back memories of my times on the trail. If there is any place for which I have a sense of place, this is it. I must have smiled the whole way, greeting others as I rode.

Let me tell a few stories. The fisherman reminded me of paddling this river with Pepper, shortly before she died. Friends Bob & Kitty wanted to paddle the lower portion of the river and I had just purchased a sit-on top kayak so Pepper could go paddling with me. We had a lovely day. I’ve run and walked both sides of the river in that area, but very little looked familiar. The river simply looks quite different when you’re in it, looking up at the levees that block city views in most places.

Further up the trail, I passed the drinking fountain where I had stopped innumerable times to drink and splash water on my neck during a run. Many of those runs were on Thursday nights with my pizza and beer run group. We would go out and get in a long run of 12-15 miles, then go for pizza and beer. It was a fun group, going to many weekend races together, sometimes helping each other through our first marathons, sometimes just going out for a fun 10k or 10 mile run somewhere.  The pack of high-school girls and high-school boys running along the river reminded me of running with my own high-school cross-country team members, years before the Parkway was even there.

I’ve also ridden this trail by bicycle many times. The first was 39 years ago, when I had moved back to Sacramento after college. The trail–then just 12 miles long–had just opened and my father and I rode to the trail, took it to downtown Sacramento, then rode back to their home in Carmichael. In later years I would ride the bike trail with Sierra Club groups, friends Craig & Kitty and on Eppie’s Great Race days with Dennis and Mark.

The early morning sun was beautiful behind the clouds and I had a lovely ride. Later in the day, when the car repair was completed, I hopped back on my bicycle and rode back to town. By then, it was a bit over 90 degrees, so I just burned off a quick 10 or so miles to get it over with. But, that too was a reminder of the times I’ve been on the trail and it was good sweatin’ weather. Since the ride back to Sacramento was heading downstream, I figure I got a ride down memory lane, too.

Posted by: ramblinrobert | August 8, 2010

A bit of East Bay history

One of the things with which we in the East Bay are blessed is a very large regional park system. I had the chance this weekend to visit one of the newer parks, Pleasanton Ridge, for the first time. This area has quite a bit of colorful history. I first started bicycle riding through the area about 30 years ago, sometimes passing through Sunol, where I was this weekend. But the history goes back much further than that. The most famous landmark of the area Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | July 26, 2010

Rock City, geocaching and alien pods

This past weekend my friend Allison’s regular potluck group had our monthly potluck–plus a few day’s worth of additional meals–at Mt. Diablo State Park. The food was great, as usual, with my contribution coming mostly from the garden. My Friday potluck contribution was pesto made from homegrown basil, and Saturday’s scrambled vegetable dish was made from all homegrown veggies: tree collards, two varieties of string beans and two varieties of summer squash. Conversation wasn’t quite as intense as our regular potlucks, since we had all weekend to mellow out and enjoy the warm weather and beautiful outdoors.

But, this trip wasn’t just about food and conversation. Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | June 30, 2010

Burning Lamb

What a difference a word makes. Burning Lamb is a play on the name Burning Man, and the two could hardly be more different experiences. While fire is an element common to both, Burning Lamb is a celebration of Sierra Nevada cultural history. Circa the 1920s, Wheeler Sheep Camp was a sheepherding station in the Sierra National Forest at Kyburz Flat, north of Truckee. Basque sheepherders would head out into the mountains and were supplied from this location. Lamb stew and hearty Basque breads were a key part of their diet. The Burning Lamb celebration Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 16, 2010

Getting started

In Miami I met Marion, one of the other trip participants, while we were waiting in line to check in, so we got a head start on getting acquainted. Our flight on AeroGal to Guayaquil in Ecuador was uneventful, distinguished by the fact that, on this relatively short flight compared to my American Airlines cross-country flight, they provided a meal. American airlines simply don’t take care of their passengers the way they used to, so it was nice to be treated to a meal.

Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 9, 2010

I need your help!

One of the challenges with creativity is imposing constraints then working within those constraints, for example a literary form such as a three-act play or a sonnet. Weavers may stick to a particular form, such as tapestry or tartan plaids. Painters may stick to a color palette limited in tone, or to a realistic, impressionistic or abstract style. Photographers my limit themselves to black and white. In all cases, the challenge is to bring out the best work you can, focusing on what is available within those constraints. (Here are some interesting comments on constraints in poetry, by fellow blogger Janis Freegard.)

One of the small, but interesting, constraints I work with as a photographer is the shape of the header in this blog. The requirements are very specific; header images are limited to 736 pixels wide by 229 pixels high. A less obvious constraint is that there are tabs (e.g., “About ramblin’ and Robert”) that impose into the photo area, so there can be nothing in the image that is critical  along its lower left edge, because it would be obscured. When I’m traveling, I’m always looking for images that will fit well within this unusually wide and short format.  Selected images must  capture the essence of a place and be aesthetically pleasing within the constraints of the header. Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 7, 2010

Cast and crew

Now that I’m back home, I’m trying to catch up on a million things and also trying to get my photos in order so I can make a few posts about the trip itself. Given my penchant for taking pictures of people, that’s where I started my editing. I was lucky to get good photos of everyone, in fact TWO good photos of everyone on the trip, plus the naturalists and the captain. I like having multiple pictures of each person, as sometimes I was able to capture quite different sides of the same person.

In order, I have pictures of my fellow travelers, the two naturalists, the captain and most of the crew. Enjoy the portraits. I’ll get the iguanas and boobies up soon!

Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | March 19, 2010

I hope I see a blue-footed booby

One of the delights of knowing an artist with a sense of humor is the playful creativity that accompanies day to day events. Isabelle didn’t just give me a going away card, she made one. I’ll let the card’s humor speak for itself. (And, yes, she did paint her toenails blue! It’s not just a drawing.)

Posted by: ramblinrobert | March 18, 2010

A scientist’s pilgrimage

Soon, I’ll be going to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. This opportunity came up a few months ago and I thought this would be a good time to make my pilgrimage.

The Galapagos Islands are, of course, where Charles Darwin made observations about  wildlife and geology from which he later developed his ideas about evolution, which now stands as the unifying cornerstone of all biological sciences. Thus, for a scientist, at least this scientist, visiting the Galapagos Islands is making a pilgrimage to both honor Darwin and to learn more about these fascinating islands and their wildlife.

Others make their pilgrimages to religious cities: Muslims to Mecca, Christians to Bethlehem, Jews to Jerusalem. But, for me, the best pilgrimage I can make is to the Galapagos Islands. I’m looking forward to it.

Posted by: ramblinrobert | February 19, 2010

Wander doodling

We have had lots of rain the past month, with more on the way. So, last Saturday’s break from the rain was a welcome respite. With uncanny good luck, my friend Isabelle had scheduled a Sierra Club ‘wandering doodlers’ hike that day near Yountville. Our party was small: Isabelle, myself and two of her artist friends, so conversation was pleasant and personal. The others are all artists and had their pencils and paints and used their time to draw and paint. They are also better at getting their blog posts written, so their comments (and artwork!) from the day are already online. See Susan’s post and Isabelle’s post. I’m even the subject of one sketch, a first for me!

Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 6, 2009

Scottish Country Dancing in North Carolina

Last September I heard of Scottish Country Dancing (SCD) for the first time and I’ve been taking a weekly class ever since. I’ve learned over time that the best way to travel is to meet people who share my interests. So, when I started planning my long-awaited trip to explore North Carolina I looked into dancing there. It turns out that the day I flew into Charlotte, there was a SCD gala in the area, due to the local Loch Norman Scottish Games taking place that weekend. I went to the gala to observe, hoping to meet some people and learn about dancing in the area.

The end of the grand march, with the first four-couple set.

The end of the grand march, with the first four-couple set.

This turned out to be a great beginning to my trip. I met many people, from Georgia, North Carolina and Massachusetts. I was invited to dance with them the following day at the games and did so with relish. Later in the week, joined by a fellow dancer from Berkeley, I danced in the little town of Hot Springs in the mountains near Tennessee. The next day, I rejoined my new friends from the Charlotte area, dancing with the Shelby group. I had a great time and expect to dance with them again. The SCD community is small–I met people who know both of my beginners’ class instructors in California. This turned out to be a great way to meet people and learn about life in North Carolina. For those interested in SCD in this area, visit the Carolinas Branch website.

Posted by: ramblinrobert | November 13, 2008

Guatemalan weaving

Santa Perfitt Jimenz weaving with her backstrap loom.

Santa Perfitt Jimenz weaving with her backstrap loom.

As readers of this blog know, I have a big interest in weaving. It was enough to get me to Scotland and it may be enough to get me to Guatemala. Recently, a friend forwarded me information about a new exhibit at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley on Guatemalan weaving, and about a demonstration of traditional Guatemalan backstrap weaving. I went, of course. Seeing this weaving has inspired me to think that my next big ramble may be to Guatemala, where I can see both weaving and Mayan ruins. I want to share with you three things from that exhibit: backstrap weaving, ikat weaving and a very cool optical illusion. Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | October 5, 2008

A whale of a trip

A few years ago, one of my friends said that we in the Bay Area live in paradise. It’s close to the truth, including a wide variety of opportunities for outdoor recreation and seeing wildlife. One wildlife experience that I’ve heard about for years is taking whale-watching trips off the coast. I have watched from coastal cliffs as California grey whales make their annual migration up and down the coast. But, until now, I haven’t taken a whale-watching boat trip. This isn’t the grey whale season, so I learned that we were in search of humpback whales.

Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | September 16, 2008

Scotland reprise

The name of this blog reflects the influence of a song, The Edinburgh Rambler. This is a rewrite of an old song, The Manchester Rambler, written by Ewan MacColl in the 1930s. It was rewritten by Ed Miller, a Scot, to reflect the same issues, access to the outdoors on private property, but set in his native Scotland instead of England. There’s a line in the refrain that caught my attention: “I may be a wage slave on Monday, but I am a free man on Sunday.” This aptly captures my conflict between my need to work and my dreams and desires to do other things.

Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | June 28, 2008

The canoe crew

It gives me great pleasure to take photos while on group trips. Over the years, I find myself taking fewer pictures of where I am and more of who I am with. This trip was especially nice for this, because everyone, children and adults, let me take their pictures without restraint. As you can see, some even posed enthusiastically. Following are portrait shots of everyone on the trip. To them, I say thanks for a wonderful time on the river. Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | June 28, 2008

Farewells and I decide I like the wind

The last day was relaxing and a little bittersweet. People always seem to linger around after a group trip, not wanting to say goodbye, not wanting it to end. I certainly felt this. But, the last day had some rewards. Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | June 28, 2008

The Wind Tunnel of Love

OK, so everyone else called it The Wind Tunnel. But, this is such a friendly and supportive group that, for us, I think it deserves to be called The Wind Tunnel of Love.

We were all up early, had a light breakfast, packed the canoes and were on the water shortly after 7:30 am. Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | June 28, 2008

A wet tradition for layover day

Tuesday was our layover day at Basin Creek. This gave people a chance to relax and do what they wanted. So, people took off for part of the day following their individual interests: hiking, rock collecting, reading, and swimming. But, among this trip’s traditions is a climb up to the waterfall. It’s actually the second waterfall, since there is one that drops down right to where the campsite was. This sounds like a long hike to get there, but it actually is only about a 100 yard trip up the canyon to the waterfall. What makes the trip interesting and fun is that it is not an easy 100 yard walk. Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | June 28, 2008

Long day on the water

To make our layover camping spot, we had to put in a long second day on the water. After breakfast we broke camp, packed the canoes and headed out. After a couple hours of paddling we took a break at a lovely sandy beach with a nice swimming area. Entertainment was provided by swimmers, jumpers and divers, the latter two taking advantage of a good rock next to a good-sized hole in the water. Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | June 28, 2008

A new water adventure

About six months ago, my friend Enid asked me to join her on a canoing trip on the Eel River. At the time I was preoccupied with getting ready for Scotland, and the Scotland trip was going to wipe out most of my paid time off, so I begged off. But, after coming home from Scotland, I decided a “local” trip (only a few hours drive away) to try canoing would be fun. I recalculated my time off and figured I’d have exactly the four days needed, so signed up for the trip. Now I could try canoing and compare it to my other waterborne experiences: kayaking, rafting and sailing. Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 31, 2008

Seeing things

Often I “see things” when I’m out cruising around with a camera: patterns, colors, shapes, something interesting, beautiful or funny. This is a collection of pictures I took that caught my eye for one reason or another. Expect no commentary, as it is just the image that matters, not time, nor place, nor subject. Enjoy. (Click individual images to see a larger version.) Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 31, 2008

Harris Tapestry Project

One of the things I left Scotland with was a belief that Scots have a real sense of place in their country. Each region has its own unique charm and beauty that seems to tie people to it. The Isle of Harris, isolated, rugged and sparsely populated, is no exception. Gillian Scott-Forrest organized the Harris Tapestry Project to celebrate the millennium in 2000. Their goal was to celebrate Harris’ recent history, that is the past 1000 years, by creating a series of tapestries, each focused on a different region of Harris and with a different historical theme. Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 26, 2008

Pictures of my tour buddies

Without fanfare or ado, here are some shots of the people on my tour. Some are group shots but most are individual portraits, which I enjoy taking. Since many of the people on the trip are weavers, if you see them wearing a beautiful scarf or suit, it’s something they made themselves.

Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 26, 2008

Two contemporary tapestry artists

The trip provided good contrasts for weaving–traditional vs. tapestry; old tapestry vs. contemporary tapestry. We visited two contemporary tapestry artists and, although they both do somewhat abstract scenes, their styles do differ. In addition, their methods of working differ.

We first visited Joan Baxter, who lives in a small town along the North Sea, Brora. Actually, she and her husband live on a seven acre nature preserve Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 26, 2008

Orkney Accordian & Fiddle Club

One Wednesday we were in Orkney, the night the Orkney Accordian & Fiddle Club meets for its weekly rehearsal. The music was definitely Scottish, but with a few more waltzes and a couple polkas. I think they were picking up the Scandinavian influence. Before they started rehearsal I was wandering around the small harbor across the street and found a plaque with a seafarer’s bit of wisdom (see below). Then I found the hotel and enjoyed the music. This was a delight and the CD I got that night is one of my favorites from the trip. Fortunately, they didn’t mind my taking pictures while they were rehearsing, so I can share the experience with you.

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 26, 2008

Snapshots and snap shots

First the snapshots: I started adding photos to the site with the Urban agriculture and foxes posting. In case you haven’t been checking the older postings, I’ve been adding photos to those, too. The titles of the postings have been edited to indicate ones that I’ve added photos to. More to come. Enjoy.

Now, some snap shots, aka short takes, aka quick observations about Scotland and my experience there: Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 18, 2008

Beltane pictures

Beltane was such a spectacle of light and color that I’ve got too many pictures to add to my previous posting. So, I’ll put them here. Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 15, 2008

Modern weaving at Lochcarron Mill

While in the Borders region the tour group also stopped at a high-speed modern mill. It was fascinating to this factory-tour nut, as we got to walk thru the mill and pretty much see the entire process of weaving from dyeing yarn to quality control of finished fabric. I’ll walk you thru an abbreviated weaving process so you get the idea. Forgive me if this gets a little nerdy, but weaving is a fascinating process and the high-speed mill is really amazing. Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 10, 2008

Edinburgh: One classic tourist photo, one rare treat

Our tour group made a brief stop in Edinburgh. We were there just for an afternoon and part of a morning. I was fine with this, as I planned to return and spend a few days on my own after the tour, and our time there gave me a chance to orient myself to the city.

There is something that many, if not most, tourists do in Edinburgh. Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 9, 2008

Urban agriculture and foxes (with pictures!)

While on the tour bus on Wednesday, I peered thru some trees and saw what looked like a row of sheds. Having read that allotment gardens often have gardeners’ tool sheds, I guessed that I’d found an allotment garden in Edinburgh. Next morning, Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 2, 2008

Beltane…and home

Wednesday began with rain, gave sunshine most of the day, then ended with a late rain about 11 pm. I know because I was on Calton Hill celebrating Beltane with thousands of others. I arrived early and enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the City of Edinburgh to the west. The castle was silhouetted against a pink and blue sky and the city lights slowly came to light. To the north Read More…

Wednesday I left the hostel and found the second hostel where I would spend the next two nights. It was raining, so I opted for an overview of the city with two bus tours covering different parts of the city. I left the second tour mid-way and headed out on foot, starting at the new Scottish Parliament Building. The architecture is controversial, with a very modern design contrasting sharply with the Holyrood Palace across the street.

Less controversial is Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 2, 2008

Exploring new and old in Falkirk (pictures added)

I was up early on Tuesday, sharing breakfast with a few “stragglers” from the tour who didn’t have 6 a.m. flights like the others. With great anticipation, I headed out to Falkirk to see The Wheel, one of the reasons I came to Scotland. After a stop at the hostel Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 2, 2008

Tying up the trip with tapestry

Our last day on the tour was a short drive from Ft. William (where, the day before, we were treated to the rare privelege of seeing Ben Nevis, Britian’s tallest mountain, in full glory without its usual cloud cover) to Glasgow. We traveled via Glencoe and Loch Lomond, two lovely spots worth exploring on another visit. Our final visit was to Glasgow’s Pollak Country Park, home of the Pollak House, the Burrell Collection, and a small herd of Highland cattle. The cattle are appealing with Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 1, 2008

A whale of a rescue story (picture added)

We came back to South Harris after visiting Scalpay and seeing the double width loom. My group was dropped at our guest house and we saw a quite a ruckus in the cove next to the house. I walked over and saw a team of rescuers in dry suits setting up gear to rescue a beached Minke whale. The approximately two-ton whale Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | May 1, 2008

Harris Tweed, a dyeing and a dying industry

When we were at Paisley, we learned the full life cycle of the Paisley shawl industry, from inception to final death of the industry. On Lewis and Harris, we saw an industry that is declining and dying. Like Paisley cottage weaving, Harris Tweed weaving is a cottage industry. But, except for Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 30, 2008

Harris Tweed, peat heat and remote white sand beaches

We ferried to Stornaway on Lewis then headed west across the windswept peat lands to Gearrannan Blackhouse Village. (Don’t ask me what “blackhouse” means. Our tour guide wasn’t sure where the name came from.) This area has been inhabited for thousands of years and this village, with its thatched-roof stone houses, was inhabited until 1974. The village is on the western edge of Scotland, with thousands of miles of Atlantic Ocean separating it from North America.

In its later years, that is the mid-20th century, the village was home to Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 30, 2008

Connecting to the Internet, part 2

Or, maybe, I should say NOT connecting to the Internet. Since my last posting, we traveled much of the Isle of Lewis and Harris, then returned by way of Ft. William and Glencoe. Connecting to the Internet from the Outer Hebrides is possible but difficult. The guest house Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 25, 2008

Connecting to the Internet

One of the challenges here is connecting to the Internet. I’ve used a few paid Internet connections, but the best place to check email and write my blog is at libraries. My hat is off to the libraries here. They provide free access to visitors–all you have to do is fill out a short form, show some ID and you get a login account and password. So far I’ve used the libraries in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Kirkwall and, now, Ullapool. A special note should be made of the Kirkwall library. It was the first public library in Great Britain, founded in 1683. How’s that for a historical contrast: 1683 to the Internet?

Gotta go to pick up my ferry ticket and cruise town here a bit before the ferry sails. Hope you are all well.

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 25, 2008

Rugged highlands

Yesterday we were all on the bus by 7 am and on our way from Kirkwall back to St. Margaret’s Hope to catch the first ferry back to the Scottish mainland. We then wound our way thru the north and northwest of Scotland. This land is ruggedly beautiful. Given the ancient ages of the mountains, they’ve eroded away over the millenia–the tallest mountain in Great Britain, Ben Nevis, is on our itinerary in a few days but it is “only” about 3,500 feet. But, these mountains rise right up from sea level and, Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 25, 2008

Urban agriculture….finally! (pictures added)

[Click thumbnail images to see larger images.]

I’ve been trying to find people here who grow some of the own food in cities, that is, my fellow urban farmers. Because much of this is in private yards, I can’t get into the yards to see what people are doing. This is also early in their growing season. From what people have told me at gardening centers and botanic gardens, there is little winter gardening here, as it is too cold. But, yesterday as I was wandering around, I got a whiff of manure and my pace picked up. I found what looked to be Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 24, 2008

If this is Tuesday it must be Orkney (pictures added)

[Click thumbnail images to see full-sized images.]

We are covering a lot of ground here and are in the rural areas with less Internet access, so my postings will be a mixup of time and space. We arrived late Monday on the ferry from northern Scotland (Gills Bay) to Orkney (St. Margaret’s Hope). Yesterday and today we’ve been on Orkney (actually an archipelago of islands). This place is loaded with history. Yesterday (Tuesday) we Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 22, 2008

A trip to Borders (not the bookstore)

Thursday, Apr 17,  we left Glasgow and headed to the country. Specifically, we headed southeast into the Borders region. This area is notable for it’s sheep and for many nurseries with their greenhouses for growing plants, mostly plants for urban garden centers. We saw lots of Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 22, 2008

More textiles industry in Paisley (picture added)

After the Paisley Museum, we made two more stops in Paisley related to textiles. We had lunch at the Sma’ Shot Cottage, a restored weavers cottage. (A “sma’ shot” is a technical weaving term I won’t explain here.) Not all weaving was done with the complicated Jacquard looms. The Paisley weaving industry got its start literally as a cottage industry. Typically, a small cottage would Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 18, 2008

Remember Paisley prints? (pictures added)

[Click on thumbnail images to see larger image.]

Paisley prints were popular in the 60’s (or was it the 70’s?). You remember them (at least those of you my age!); they are the colorful and complex teardrop patterned prints. Wednesday, we visited Paisley Scotland, namesake of the pattern and learned their history. The history of this pattern goes back Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 18, 2008

An Irish session in Scotland? (pictures added)

Tuesday night several of us piled into a couple of cabs and went to the Arlington, a pub. Our trip leader, Nadine, is a fiddler (among her many talents) and in previous trips had met some musicians who like to play Irish music. She met up with them at the pub, where they played and the rest of us Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 18, 2008

Some Stirling tapestry (pictures added)

[Click on any image to see larger image. Note that third and fourth images are closeups of the second image.]

Tuesday, our first day as a group, we headed off to Stirling Castle, one of Scotland’s two best known fortresses. The history tour was interesting, but most fascinating was the tapestry work going on. There is a set of tapestries called the Unicorn Tapestries, now housed at the Metrolopolitan Museum in New York. I’ve seen pictures of them before and they are intricate, albeit somewhat faded and dull in color. That’s the way I thought Medieval tapestries were originally. But today Read More…

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 16, 2008

Strangers in the night

Sometimes staying in a hostel you meet interesting people, like Tim, mentioned in my “Coffee in the morning” post yesterday. But, sometimes it can be just a little wierd. Last night I went to sleep about 11:30, having the four-bed room to myself. Sometime in the night I vaguely heard someone come in and noticed he had put himself to bed. I don’t know what time it was. I was up about 6:15 to get some breakfast and meet with the tour group. While I was in the bathroom shaving, I heard my roommate get up and looked out to see him in his overcoat walking out. I never said hello over even got a good look at him. He apparently just needed a place to crash for the night so came in, crashed in his street clothes and left early. You have to allow for all sorts of things in hostels, but I’m looking forward to having my own room tonight at the hotel.

Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 15, 2008

…and beer at night (photos added)

[Note: Click on thumbnail images to see larger images.]

After about 6-8 miles of walking around the city yesterday, I relished stopping in the hostel’s cafe, kicking up my feet and having a beer. I didn’t do everything I’d hoped, but had a great walk to and around the Botanic Garden

(see my favorite VERY colorful shot from one of the greenhouses), then had a chicken pesto crepe for lunch on Bryes Road (second photo), which reminded me very much of Shattuck Ave in Berkeley. The University of Glasgow is adjacent to it, and there were bookshops, lots of places to eat and even a subway stop where I caught the tiny train into central Glasgow. Walked through downtown streets overflowing with people, then along the River Clyde, taking pictures of buildings and bridges. The bridges and buildings are an interesting contrast of very old and very new. After a quick stop at the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery before they closed, I stopped in Kelvingrove Park on my way back to the hostel and got my best photo of the day, juxtaposing the city’s old and new. When I figure out how to post it here, I’ll do so. In the meantime, I won’t spoil the picture by trying to describe it.

Last night (after the beer) I went to the Heritage Hotel, about a 15 minute walk from here, and met the tour group for dessert and our get acquainted meeting. Today we take off for Stirling, then back here to Glasgow, where I’ll be staying at the Heritage the next few nights. I’m looking forward to getting out of the city a little bit and seeing something new.

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