Kat, over at Diary Of A Flutter Kat came up with a novel new linky party, where we unashamedly get to be nosey about where our bloggy friends live.  This is the first round, and we had the following questions:

1) Tell us about your home:
Where do you live; (town, state, country that is – obviously not your street address!!)  what is it like e.g. do you live by the beach or a lake or in the desert etc…, is it famous for anything in particular (e.g. industry), and maybe what is the climate like etc… 

2) What are the houses like in your area. Apartment style, Joined, Semi-detached, Detached etc… 

3) What are some of your favourite places to visit or favourite things to do in about your town/city.

4) How do most people travel around your town/city? E.g. subway, bus, bike, what are the most popular styles of car. 

5) Is there a type of food that would be quintessential to where you live? E.g. a famous local produce etc…

So I’m sure you’re not sitting on the edge of your seats here… but never mind, here’s my answers anyway!

1)  I live in the east end of Glasgow, which is on the western end of the Central Belt of Scotland:

On the map above you can just about see Belfast, in the lower left hand corner, where I’m originally from.  A Belfast boy met a Glasgow girl in Germany, they married and had their girl in Belfast, and moved with her all over the world, and now their girl lives in Glasgow and they live in… Blackpool.  Oh well!

Glasgow seemed to start from a religious site in the 6th century, adding a cathedral in somewhere around the 10th century, followed by a university (the rivals to mine, boo hiss ;o) ) in the 15th century, and then in the 18th and 19th centuries developed as a major port for Trans-Atlantic trade.  With the industrial revolution, it embraced engineering and manufacturing, especially ship building.  It is the largest city in Scotland, and the 3rd largest in the UK.  While the City of Glasgow council area has around 600,000 people, the whole area has about 2.3 million people living in it (about 2/5 of the population of Scotland).

Despite the population density, Glasgow actually means ‘dear green place’, and as well as many parks in the city, in less than an hour from the city centre, you can find yourself on the shores of Loch Lomond, on the beach down the Ayrshire coast, or up a hill in the Trossachs.  We have been European City Of Culture, we’re a UNESCO city of music, have great music and comedy festivals, and so many venues to see things it’s ridiculous (did you know, for example, that Oasis were first ‘spotted’ here?)

Alas, Glasgow does not rejoice in a balmy climate, it gets very cold in the winter, with an average temp of 1 C (and a record low of -17 C), and at an average high of 19 C in the middle of summer, it’s not like we’re breaking the palm trees out ;o)  Our rainfall would be plenty to float a few boats too.  Oh well, that’s what keeps it green, right?!

Snowy tree in front of Glasgow Tenement building, Crow Road

2) Around me there is a mixture of red sandstone tenements, flats and terraced houses circa the mid 80’s and some really nasty 60’s concrete council flats and high rises.  The tenements (well, the ones in the west end) look fab, have wonderful high ceilings and gloriously big rooms, which in the old days would have housed about 10 times as many people as they do now!  They also have draughty sash windows and are a nightmare to heat, but lets not go there ;o)  I live in a converted flat in what used to be the Labour Exchange building, and I get high ceilings, but modernish-sized rooms.

Just down the road from me is ‘The Cross’ where 5 streets meet, and which has recently enjoyed a lick of paint thanks to the redevelopment work we’re getting prior to the Commonwealth Games setting up camp just along the road in 2014.  My great great grandfather used to sit with his friends for a smoke and a chat under the ‘umbrella’ when trams went all ways around it, and one couldn’t just saunter up the pavement to it!

3)  Living just a mile from the edge of the city centre and the Merchant City, I’m rather spoiled with things to do in town.  I also work right smack dab in the middle of the city centre, so there’s probably a few things I don’t appreciate as much as I should, such as this scene a couple of hundred yards from the office:

When I get spare time with my camera, and the weather is good (these 2 occurrences rarely coincide), I enjoy going to the Necropolis behind the main Cathedral.  Now I know most of you wouldn’t exactly see it as being a good time, going to a graveyard, but people, this is a graveyard on steroids.  It’s like the most giant ‘after death pissing contest’ you have ever seen in your life!  Hundreds of rich merchants, academics and various other members of the ‘great and the good’ of Glasgow in the 18th, 19th and early 20th century are buried here, and the edifices created in their memory are quite something to behold.  They also have quite nice gardens:

Up in the west end, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was recently renovated, and is truly a fun day out, I mean, where else can you see a Spitfire buzzing an elephant and a giraffe, a dog made out of wellies, and a ceiling full of gurning heads?

 Much nearer to home is the People’s Palace, another amazing hodge podge of a museum, but this one is entirely dedicated to Glasgow life.  There is a history of the city, with exhibits of everything from a traditional tenement flat to shops to the slightly more hair raising famous criminals section!  This happens to be right alongside Billy Connolly’s famous banana shoes, but I’m sure there’s nothing in that…  My gran’s neighbour, who recently passed away, was responsible, with his wife, for providing a lot of the display items from the traditional tenement, as well as having been heavily involved in the Glasgow 1955 project, where camera clubs across the city took photos of Glasgow life for an exhibition.

 4)  We’re really rather lucky that in Glasgow the town planners truly rocked the public transport system.  Strathclyde Passenger Transport covers buses, high level trains, low level trains (where the trains run underground through the city centre, but above ground outside that), the subway (affectionately known as the Clockwork Orange because our underground line is circular and the trains are bright orange) and ferries (which cover the Clyde estuary area).  Because of this vast range of options, my commute to work, door to door, takes a grand total of 10 minutes, or 25 minutes if I walk directly (it’s about a mile and a half), or 40 minutes when I walk back via my friend’s house (about 2 ¼ miles)

 In addition to the public transport, they have finally finished the M74, which runs from the border at Carlisle up to Glasgow (and which I can remember them starting to build in the mid 80s, after years of interminable roadworks on trips up to see my gran and papa, and which wasn’t actually finished, for the first phase until the year after I went to uni in 1998)  Now that phase 2 has been completed, I can hop on the motorway in 5 minutes and be straight on the road to the west coast, or heading round to the M8 to hit the east coast, or heading up to the A80/M80 north, or even just following it to its logical conclusion where it meets the M6 to head south.  Right enough, even before they finished it a few months ago, I was still pretty close to these things, it’s just even handier now!

As far as types of cars, the UK tends to mainline smaller cars, and in the city, between the challenges of parking in streets full of flats which were built long before cars were even dreamt up, and the great public transport system, there’s not a huge number of people in the are I live in that have them.  Those that do tend to favour the ‘compact’ models like the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio or VW Golf.

5) Ahhh, food… I think most people in the UK would tell you that Glasgow is synonymous with such delicacies as the deep fried mars bar, deep fried pizza, deep fried burger and battered sausage (are you spotting a theme here?)  As a city it is seriously unhealthy, but fried food aside, it does have some quite good restaurants, although come a Friday morning in the office you’ll frequently find workers tucking into a bacon buttie with square sausage, fried egg and tattie scone…  Come Friday night, the less discerning inhabitants are also to be found tucking into a locally brewed can of Tennents lager (and no doubt any other night of the week too!)

On a broader scale, Scotland is famous for haggis, neeps and tatties, shortbread, tablet and that little tipple favoured by many around the world, whisky.  Although there is a distillery just down the road from me in the Gorbals, it is a grain, rather than single malt distillery, as are the others in the city.  The nearest ‘proper’ distillery is just north of the city at Glengoyne, handily near the West Highland Way, should one feel the need for a little fortification while walking it!