Glasgow day 1 (New Year’s Eve)

Here we are almost at mid-March and I still haven’t posted about our New Year’s trip to Glasgow. Bad blogger! I shall at least partially rectify that now with an account of our first day there (we arrived the evening before but only went out to eat and back to our accommodation, so nothing really to tell there, especially since I did not take a photo of the food).

So, New Year’s Eve. We woke up to rain, rain rain, so the decision was made to go to a museum for the day. The forecast said that it would clear up in time for the evening’s festivities, so that was alright. After breakfast and showers, K headed into town to pick up our tickets for the street party that night and some food for the next day while Jan and I set out for a wander through Kelvingrove Park  – which our accommodation was right beside.

On reaching our destination (the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, pictured below) we discovered that it was closed that day – although the website had claimed it was open!

Glasgow6

Instead, we headed to the Hunterian Museum, which is located the University of Glasgow.

How pretty do these pillars look all lit up?

We entered the stairwell that leads up to the museum and discovered a robing room. My university didn’t have one of those! (It didn’t look this pretty either. *Sigh*)

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Glasgow University

The first exhibition we saw was about the Antonine Wall, which was very interesting to me. It was the more northern and less famous version of Hadrian’s Wall (which of course is located in “my” part of England). The Antonine Wall was mainly turf and was abandoned relatively quickly, so not much remains. We then saw some stuffed animals in cases, an exhibition about Lord Kelvin (he of the temperature scale) and a medical exhibition, that was fascinating and slightly creepy. Some photos of the inside of the museum (plus one looking out the window, trying to be artistic):

When the museum closed we decided to head back to the apartment for a drink and to warm up before heading out for dinner. As promised, the rain had stopped by the time we went back out (hey, the weather forecast got something right!). We ate at Mother India’s Café on K’s recommendation – and I can now officially say she was right, it was amazing! No photos though… I was too busy stuffing my face.
Curry done, it was on to the Ashton Lane Street Party.

The food at the stands outside smelled delicious, but we didn’t sample any because we were so full of curry! We did enjoy drinks from a few of the bars though – interesting ciders on offer! Ashton Lane is a cute little street, and thanks to being ticketed it wasn’t too crowded. The Irish pub was pretty full, but for the most part you could actually get to the bars to buy your drinks, and the toilet queues weren’t too insane – no worse than an average night out. Overall, I can recommend paying the fee for the sake of a nice night away from the idiots who are just out to get drunk. However, a note to sponsor Heineken (not that anyone there will ever read this): THROWING YOUR HUGE INFLATABLE BALLS AROUND AT MIDNIGHT WAS A BLOODY STUPID IDEA!! They were actually quite heavy and they hurt! Not cool! Grrr.

The fireworks were nice though:

(Don’t try to take photos of fireworks though chains of lights… it does not work!).

And that was the end of day 1! Day 2 involved sun, a cemetery and lots of walking. Hopefully it won’t take me another 2.5 months to get round to posting about it…

 

The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

Another book review post, so soon after the last one… sorry about that. There will be quite a few of them over the next few months while I complete the 2014 Summer Reading Challenge. I’ve already read 5 books for it, but I’m only just getting round to writing my second review…

I read this book for the category “Read two books with antonyms in the title”, which is worth 30 points (review of a book with “birth” in the title to follow).

book2The plot:
Today is Christmas Eve. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved“.

When their drug-addict parents both die within a few days of each other, instead of notifying the authorities, 15-year-old Marnie and 12-year-old Nelly decide to bury them in the back garden. If anyone asks, they’ll say they’ve gone to Turkey… after all, it’s not the first time Izzy and Gene have gone on holiday leaving their daughters to fend for themselves. And if they tell the truth, they’ll be taken into care and probably separated. If they can only keep up the pretence for a year, until Marnie turns 16 and can become her sister’s legal guardian, everything will be alright! Lonely old neighbour, Lennie, who is still mourning the loss of his lover, comes to suspect that the girls are not telling the truth. Assuming that their parents have abandoned them, he takes them in, providing the only love that the two have ever known. Over time, the three become something like a family. But soon enough, the sisters’ friends, teachers and the authorities starting asking tougher and tougher questions, and maintaining the lie becomes more and more difficult…

The story, which is set on a housing estate in Glasgow, is told alternately from the viewpoint’s of Marnie, Nelly and Lennie.

My review:
I loved this book! Yes, the author does tend to rely quite a bit on coincidences to keep the plot going, especially towards the end (would that person really have just happened to turn up there at just that moment?), but I enjoyed the book enough to suspend belief on those few points. And I can definitely imagine many of the events in the book happening on a rough council estate anywhere in the UK (I can’t comment on Glasgow specifically, having never actually been thre!).  Sometimes, books written from different perspectives can be confusing and annoying, but in this case I thought O’Donnell did a good job of getting each character’s voice right, and I was able to relate to all of them. Being a book about teenagers (Nelly turns 30 during the story), there is, of course, an element of coming of age, and both girls change during the course of the novel. Polar opposites at the start, world weary and cynical Marnie starts to soften and realise that there are people who are about her and can be trusted, while Nelly, who starts off as a vulnerable and slightly odd child, grows up and learns to look out for herself a bit more. The book is brutally honest, disturbing, sad and fairly morbid at times, but parts of it actually managed to make me smile. Marnie is such a character and her way of describing things is occasionally brilliant (or “pure dead brilliant, as the Glaswegians would say). If you have a problem with bad language, drug taking (and selling), underage sex and (married!) adults sleeping with minors this is not the book for you. Otherwise, I highly recommend it. For a first novel, this is excellent and I can’t wait to see what Lisa O’Donnell comes up with next. Oh, I should probably also add… the part where they bury the dad’s body is pretty graphic (think fluids!) so if you’ve got  a weak stomach, this book may not be for you…