November 27, 2007
There is nothing like a personal tour guide when the rain pours down on a city, and Iain graciously taxied us around on Thursday, November 1. In the morning, we met Mary and Iain’s daughter Fiona for a tour around the Kelvin Grove Museum in Glasgow. Should you visit it, these are the highlights:
1. The temporary exhibit on Kylie Minogue’s wardrobe! Okay, I’m not sure this qualifies as one of the highlights, but it was very flashy, and Allen and I saw that Kylie Minogue is far more famous than Americans (or perhaps just we) know.
2. The Highland Funeral. This painting depicts a dreary, somber day in the Highlands. It hangs in the gallery with the paintings of The Colourists, a group of Scottish painters who studied in France and brought color and light to Scottish painting, in stark contrast to the dark, realistic Highland Funeral.
3. The Dali painting. The museum was once mocked for its purchase of this strange crucifixion painting by a painter known as Salvador Dali – oh wait, look! It’s worth millions. At one point vandals slashed the painting in several spots, and though it was carefully restored, you can still see the patches if you catch it in the right light.
4. Charles Rennie Mackintosh has an entire room devoted to him, filled with furnishings, table decoration, and wall hangings from the teahouses and other rooms he designed. A few of his motifs include ladies and roses, and his rose designs are so distinctive that their form is now referred to as Glasgow Style.
5. Another temporary exhibition rounds out what I took away from the museum visit – that of Quentin Blake’s original sketches and illustrations. For those of you unsure of who Quentin Blake is, go to your local library and check out all of Roald Dahl’s books and enjoy the pictures along with the whimsical tales. One I remember as being particularly amusing in its illustrations is George’s Marvelous Medicine.
After lunch at the Kelvin Grove Museum, we drove up the hill to Glasgow University. Allen’s mom did an exchange there when she was in college, which is how she met Mary and Iain more than 30 years ago. We stomped around campus under umbrellas, peeking in to the chapel, the cloister, the Great Hall, and the Huntarian Museum, which showcases the personal collection of one of Glasgow University’s most famous graduates. Upstairs in the Huntarian Museum were several interesting hands-on exhibits.
The rain intensified as we cruised across town to St. Mungo’s Cathedral, an impressive soot-blackened edifice with a backdrop of dark tombs against the sky at Glasgow’s Necropolis. The Necropolis, modeled after the Pere Lachaise Cemetary in Paris, lines a nearby horizon with eery spires and mausoleums. St. Mungo’s Cathedral surprised me (as most cathedrals do) by the sheer expanse of space inside. No matter how big a cathedral looks to me from the outside, when I step inside I am always amazed by the amount of space it encloses.
Across the street from the cathedral, we visited Provand’s Lordship, the oldest house in Glasgow. The house is filled with historical furnishings, and coupled with the low, low doorways, visitors can really feel as if they’re in a home from centuries ago. (Wouldn’t it before effective if I could just remember how old it was? Or if I bothered to look it up?) Out back is a small, well-groomed herb garden that grows plants people would have used for medicinal purposes when the house was first erected.
After a very successful day touristing, we all sat down to another one of Mary’s delicious dinners. First we enjoyed a tomato lentil soup with oatcakes. The main course was lamb with a choice of toppings. I put one of each on my plate to try them all: mint, mustard, and red currant jelly. The taste of each was unique, and for the remainder of the lamb, I dipped my bites alternately in one of the three toppings. Who needs to choose? For dessert (or pudding!), we ate peaches and ice cream. Everything was delicious, and we enjoyed a cup of tea and leftover Halloween treats before heading up for a good sleep.