A bit of a pilgrimage

In late 1996, the Metropolitan Museum held a major retrospective exhibition of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s works, and we fell in love. It was clear that we would have to go to Glasgow to see more one day, and today was the day.

Glasgow is a quick train ride from Edinburgh, and we once again were blessed with lovely sunny skies. Our touring took place on a double-decker tourist bus, which will explain the quality of the photographs. Not only was the bus usually in motion, but that motion caused us to wish for gloves, wool hats and blankets. However, no sacrifice is too great in the cause of reportage.

Our brief and admittedly limited view of the city led us to conclude that Glasgow might suffer from a lack of city planning or conservancy movements. We do understand that there was heavy bombing during the war, and that use had to be made of the areas once occupied by shipyards, but perhaps a more united front could have been presented architecturally. And then again, perhaps there is a reason why no one actually asks for our opinion on these matters.

So here is a mélange of Glasgow scenes, including major municipal buildings, modern museums and sporting venues, and other civic structures on the banks of the River Clyde.

Of historical interest was the Tenement Museum House, reminiscent of the New York City version, but much more liveable. The last tenant of this flat died in 1975, but nothing much had changed there from the turn of the last century. The contents were saved and preserved, and still has lighting by gaslight in the hallway. Not half-bad!

And then there was our Rennie Mackintosh experience. We dined at the restored Willow Tea Rooms, which reopened in 1983, 80 years after their original debut. The tearoom on the mezzanine is lovely, but we chose the “Room de Luxe,” a more exclusive ladies’ room on the next floor. While it is a restoration, much is original and the effect was lovely. The food was also quite comforting. We had some confusion when the soup of the day was described as “vegetable broth,” envisioning some clear stock. But now, this soup was more like Scotch Broth, one of our favorites, but minus the lamb. Add to that a welsh rarebit, baked potato, cloutie dumpling, and caramel apple tart, and it was a delicious lunch.

The next floor up was more of a men’s domain, called the Billiard Room. It’s more of an exhibit space now, but with many CRM touches, which carry through the front of the building, now a gift shop. Sigh. Wonderful.

Our last stop was his architectural masterpiece, the Glasgow School of Art. Sadly, it was badly damaged by fire last year, but is being reconstructed. Hope we get to see it once it is finished.

All in all, a very good day in Glasgow. But nice as it was, we were happy to return to our home in Edinburgh. It seems more like ‘our’ city…

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