Monday, May 07, 2007

Walk On The Waterfront

It's amazing the difference a little sun and some fresh air can make to one's demeanour.

Leading up to the weekend, the last seven days or so of Glasgow weather had been uncommonly good. So good, that I'd forced myself to take advantage by prying my body from the PC and getting out for a proper stroll each lunchtime.

My route of choice was generally along the banks of the River Clyde. An area which has long been underutilised but is now finally being restored to it's rightful place at the heart of the city.

Many years ago, Glasgow was known as the Second City Of The Empire. A title earned by the shipyards of the Clyde, and the trade routes ploughed by the products of those yards, upon which were built a vibrant centre of engineering and commerce.

Now the shipyards are mostly gone, and after decades of neglect there is finally a drive to rebuild the waterfront as a commercial, residential, and leisure zone.

So good was the weather that I decided to snap a couple of pictures on my phone. The quality isn't great but I liked how much of Glasgow past-and-present I managed to cram into a couple of frames.

River Clyde From South Bank
This is the view from the riverside in front of the new 'media village' where BBC Scotland, and Scottish Media Group have their HQs. Crossing the river is the new 'squinty bridge', behind which are some swanky new apartments at Lancefield Quay, and beyond that the new International Financial Services District, in which offices are racing up.

To the left of the bridge is the City Inn hotel - a relatively new arrival on the scene, complete with riverside terrace cafe-bar. I was sorely tempted to pop in for a drink, but knew I wouldn't make it back for post-lunch work if I did!

The squat building to the left of the City Inn is the North Rotunda. Formerly part of a tunnel system under the river, it's now a Japanese restaurant and, yes, casino!

Overshadowing the lot is the Finnieston Crane, which can be better viewed below.

River Clyde From Squinty Bridge

This picture was taken from the squinty bridge. The Finnieston Crane fairly stands out!

It was originally used for lowering engines and boilers into the hulls of newly constructed vessels, later it loaded the locomotives produced at the four rail works in the Springburn area of the city, where my maternal gran lived.

I'm sure I was once told it was maintained during the Cold War due to it's ability to offload main battle tanks from freighters. That may be nonsense however!

The funny curved building beyond the crane is the Armadillo - the concert hall venue within the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, where K was strutting her stuff to Justin Timberlake on Saturday night. Though he was performing in one of the more cavernous halls.

The shiny glass building is the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Much more interesting is the Glasgow Tower on the opposite bank. This is part of the Glasgow Science Centre complex and is the tallest building in the world capable of rotating the entire structure 360 degrees.

At least it can when it works, which isn't as often as most people would expect!

In the distance, further downstream, can be seen the distant cranes of the surviving shipyards.

I really liked this juxtaposition of the old and the new Glasgows. The industrial heritage, alongside the tourism, entertainment, and media industries.

On my way back to the office, I passed three girls of university age, who were chatting in Spanish as they paused to admire the landmarks along the waterfront.

I was reminded of myself and K holidaying in Barcelona, and it reinforced the opinion I had already formed, that sometimes it's easy to miss what is right under your nose. So many people fail to appreciate what's on offer.

I love having the tranquility of the riverside so close to where I work, and it's great to have the chance to appreciate it with some unusually benign spring weather.

Selfishly it did occur to me that as redevelopment continues apace, the relative tranquility will disappear, as more restaurants, bars, and hotels supplement the booming office and residential developments.

That's the price of progress, and if it gives the river back to the city, it's likely to be worth paying. For now, I'm happy to grab whatever opportunities I can to make the most of the current setting while it lasts.

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