26 Feb 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful

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snowdrops: a sure sign of spring

 At last, it’s the end of February, the snowdrops are flirting defiantly in the wind and, as the daylight sneaks past late afternoon and the first glimpses of crocus colour emerge across our parks and gardens, it’s official; spring is unmistakably on its way.

 It’s been a rather strange winter in many ways: that early, unseasonable snow before Christmas, followed by raw, grey days of piercing cold, interspersed with the odd, mild sunny mid day where, even at the end of January, the soft buzz of a brave bee nudging out of hibernation was audible amongst the clamour of the blackbirds and starlings.

 In other respects it has also been a bleak period of predictable economic downturn and pessimism about the impending cuts and their impact on all aspects of the community.  But we mustn’t overlook our recent victory over the forest fiasco: insignificant, perhaps, in comparison with the devastation about to hit our public services, but vital in terms of preserving access to our great outdoors and a positive example of the impact of public anger, if channelled effectively.

 And, while forward thinking in the autumn –  viz. dark nights and  Christmas decorations in September – usually has some  some kind of depressive element, planning to get back outdoors and  make the most of lighter evenings is essentially more uplifting, even if it is throwing it down and blowing a gale outside.

 Talking of which, a few days in Glasgow last week, sadly coincided with some typical Wegie weather and didn’t provide any opportunities to get out on the hills, not even the “wee hills” surrounding the city (make sure you invest in the Harvey map, Glasgow and Popular Hills, as it gives good information on the Kilpatricks, Campsies and Arrochar Alps, as well as public transport options).  But, with a bit more time on my hands, the inclement conditions did at least present the chance for a winter reconnoitre round some of the city’s cafes.

Boot and Bike recommends: 

Cherry and Heather • http://cherryandheather.co.uk 7 North Gower Street, +44 (0)141 427 0272 – a tiny jewel of a deli/cafe hidden away in Ibrox, but just a stone’s throw from the Glasgow Climbing Centre on Paisley Road West.    

The Left Bank –   http://www.theleftbank.co.uk/ 33-35 Gibson Street (virtually next door to Gear Bikes) +44 (0)141 339 5969 – and its sister cafe/bar, The Two Figs –   http://www.thetwofigs.co.uk/ 5 & 9 Byres Road, +44 (0)141 334 7277 – at the Kelvinhall end of Byers Road.

heron on the watch in Kelvingrove

So, along with spotting a heron in Kelvingrove Park, sampling some decent coffee, scoffing calorific cakes and enjoying the friendly humour were the highlights of a short, but welcome break.

 And one final reason to be cheerful, as the calendar turns to the first month of spring: harmonising with the return to British Summer Time, ScotRail resumes its extra service on the West Highland Line on March 26.  So, with the additional train from Oban back to Glasgow, calling at Arrochar at 18.02 on Saturdays, you’ll again have plenty of time to take a day trip out of the city on this great little railway, fitting  in The Cobbler, and/or one of its neighbours, without having to wait around too long for the only return train.  Of course, if you prefer recovering in the pub for a little longer, you can still catch the last train back at 20.08.

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