Sunday, October 5, 2008

I think I'll go for a walk outside...

I'm not sure if I've ever been angrier at myself than I was today, when I ventured out on a spectacularly bright and sunny Glasgow Sunday, and didn't bring my camera. When I got to the end of the road and realized it, I debated for a moment turning around to go back for it, but decided not to, that there couldn't be that much worth taking pictures of. And I continued on without it and now I hate myself for it.

It was such a beautiful day that I decided to take a walk with my iPod (having made a fresh "A Walk In the Park" mix) in Kelvingrove Park, a wonderful park that sits inbetween my flat and campus, and is just so green, and filled with statues, bowling greens, duck pond, playgrounds, skate ramps, football pitches, hill, benches, fountains, and views. It's marvelous. And on a day like today, a day that's so sunny and clear and not too cold, after days of rain and wind, the park was packed. The skatebowl was full, the playgrounds were full, there were people, all types of people, taking walks, men and boys playing (very muddy) football, dogs running around, ultimate frisbee games going on... as if the entire West End of Glasgow was out in force. I had thrown some school work in my bag, and found an empty picnic table, where I sat and did work in the sunshine for an hour.

Finally hitting my limit for work (and feeling the urge to keep walking for both the walking and the grocery shopping I needed to do, and knowing that I had to get it all done since I'm meeting the girls for half-priced fajita night at Driftwood this evening), I packed it in and kept going through the park, getting to the top of the hill. And there was the moment and view that slayed me. For on top of the hill, not only do you have a spectacular view of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and of campus, but you can see straight into the distance to the hills in the west that are the very tippy base of the start of the Highlands (or at least they are in my head). It was one of those moments that even if I'd had a camera, it wouldn't have done it justice. Total 3x5 moment. Guess you had to be there.

So I finished walking through the park, down to the road again, and meandered around through the West End. It was that nice a day -- the kind where you just want to roam aimlessly through a neighborhood. And the West End on a glorious day like today comes out in full force. Sidewalk cafes and pubs and restaurants, everyone sitting outside and taking in the sunshine, because here, you never know when you're going to get it again. I made my way to Great Western Road and to the Spanish/Mexican/American food store, that sells a bizarre (and really expensive) mix of Latin American food, soul food, Indian food, and then... Smuckers. And A&W Root Beer. And Betty Crocker cake mixes and frosting (much to my dismay though, no Funfetti, or I would I have been all over that). I picked up a couple things there (like black beans) that I haven't been able to find anywhere else (but £1.30 for one can of bean, seriously?) and things that I wouldn't have thought that I could find, but once I saw them, knew I couldn't live without. Like Old Bay. Finding it has made me happier than finding just about anything else food-related in Scotland.

From there, I kept going down GWR back toward Byres, so I could do the rest of my meager shopping at (gulp) Iceland. And as I'm walking past some of the Halal stores, I notice one has produce out front, and they have plantains. And then I get more excited maybe than I did when I saw the Old Bay. So I went inside and quickly learned that clearly, I have been doing all my shopping at the wrong places. Because this store has everything -- cilantro, rice, beans, olives, pita, spices, everything that I like to eat -- for so, so, so much cheaper than the normal grocery stores. And they actually have real rice, which has been a struggle to find other than Uncle Ben's (I'm not even exaggerating). Don't even get me started on finding fresh cilantro.

And so I stocked up on a few things there. A block later, saw another similar type store, only an African one, but with a ton more cheap produce outside. So I picked up some things, walked into the store, and went into the underworld.

This little store was one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. Inside, it was dimly lit, with a low ceiling, that had all these elaborate paintings of flowers all over it. On top of that, vines were draped. All across the ceiling. And hanging from the vines? Wigs. And hairpieces. The shelves were lined with both African knock-offs of Western products, and then some other strange things, like whole, cured fishes in piles in a milk crate on the floor. Behind the cash register sat a man not from Africa, but apparently from Middle Earth. He was shaped vaguely like Jabba the Hut, and had this huge round face (white, not black), with full bushy beard, lion mane of yellow hair, and then robes on. I couldn't decide if he was straight out of Lord of the Rings (which I have neither read nor seen) or if he was one of Bowser's minions. Or possibly a combination of the two. He arbitrarily charged for plastic bags (and then upped the price from 10p to 20p when the guy in front of me mouthed off about it -- thank God I brought my own) and was smoking. Just sitting there, in a store, smoking. The guy in front of me questioned him on this too, to which he said, "It's my store, I can smoke if I want." But I can't complain -- I snagged four lemons, another plantain, three huge oranges, and three pomegranates for only £3.75. And he complimented my bag.

So I kept walking down Great Western Road, and when I walked by Cooper's, I realized it was after 3pm, which was when the Spurs-Hull City match was starting. I poked my head in to see if it was on one of the big screens, assuming it would be usurped for Chelsea or Liverpool or Man City, and realized that all of the Premiership games were second fiddle today because Rangers-St. Mirren was on. So I've been in the UK for three weeks now and only seen one half of one Spurs game. Also, I still haven't quite worked out my Glaswegian football loyalties. I realize that logic and Catholicism dictate that I support Celtic, but it seems like everyone supports Rangers, and that's where I seem to feel a draw. So for now, I'll remain neutral.

And then I kept walking, finally turning off GWR onto Byres. I popped into Iceland for the remainder of my groceries. And stopped at the cash machine. And the it was home.

Total walking distance: 3.5 miles. All in a day's shopping.

It is almost fajita time!

Below are some photos, albeit not mine, of the lovely Kelvingrove Park. Any pictures where you don't see the sun, picture the sun. Because it is just an amazing weather day today.

DISCLAIMER: not mine. I apologize a thousand times over to whoever took these pictures and posted them on Flickr, as clearly I have stolen them.




























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1 Comments:

At October 12, 2008 at 5:21 AM , Blogger happy bunny said...

first, i love that you boosted someone's flickr pictures to make up for the fact that you so blatantly FAILED your loyal glasgorican readership.

second, "Total 3x5 moment. Guess you had to be there." didn't have a camera by your side this time? hopin' you would see the world with both your eyes? classic!

third, i was very much anticipating your tale of descending into the underworld of the eclectic "african" shop to involve voodoo dolls. perhaps you overlooked them as you were distracted by the wigs and other random bits. the next time you stock up on the dirt cheap produce, please look hard! and provide photographic evidence if at all possible.

many thanks!

 

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