Mar 31st, 2016
I decided to put my reporting day for this week off until tomorrow and have a day in town. The Celts exhibition is on in Edinburgh at the moment, and as I missed seeing it when it was on in London last year, I thought I would make the effort and go and see it with J (who lives in Glasgow). It is a bit of an onerous trip getting to Edinburgh from Lochgoilhead. In order to get there at some reasonable hour you have to catch the 7:10am from Arrochar. Then there is a change in Dumbarton (trying to avoid Queen Street which is in chaos with alterations at the moment) and another train crawling along through the central belt, stopping at every place you have ever heard of (and some you haven’t – in some cases twice), finally getting in at 9:50. They also charge £57 for an on-peak ticket which is a bit of a joke as the Dumbarton leg was mobbed (I was lucky to get a seat) and has no tables, no catering, no first class and (bizarrely) no litter bins.
Anyway, the first part of the journey (which is actually the West Highland line to Fort William and Mallaig) is extremely spectacular. It runs right along the side of Loch Long, and then along the coast, so first there is a transition from real Highland mountains and lochs to seaside with oyster catchers and many herons (I saw five on one small mudflat so the pickings here must be good) and then another change to the rather blah scenery of the suburban belt. It is hard to say exactly where the Highlands ‘stop’ on this route, I am inclined to reckon it is just before you get to Helensburgh.
My brother refused to come to see Celts because it is in the (to quote) “midden city, full of tacky rock shops and massage parlours, capital in name only”, but actually the exhibition was very good and he would have enjoyed it. I’m very interested in how the mysterious world of tribes and Druids blended into the Roman Empire and was then transformed via the Christian Church into the modern world, and as this was basically the subject of the exhibition, I was basically right at home. There were some great artefacts on display as well – some of the torcs would have been worth a fortune in gold alone, not even allowing for their historical value. I was especially taken with the story of the guy who went out for a first go with his metal detector and found a horde of more than 12 gold torcs – makes you wonder what he did for an encore.
I left J taking a look at the Thistle Chapel in St Giles’ cathedral – which is also well worth seeing, and caught the train home via a quick trip to the M&S food hall for some fruit for me, prawns for the cats, and whisky for R who is being kind enough to pick me up from Helensburgh.