Posts Tagged ‘football’

Visit to Glamis Castle and Promotion!

April 24, 2017

On our visit to Alyth, after our delightful stay at Tigh Na Leigh, we headed for the historic Glamis Castle. The castle and the Thane of Glamis (pr Glams) is referred to in Shakespeare’s play MacBeth but the bard’s story is set in the 11th century and the castle was not built until much later. However, you will still be told that Duncan was indeed murdered in Glamis Castle, such is the longevity of myth. Glamis is not one of Scotland’s strongly fortified castles, it’s more of a grand house, property of a range of aristocrats over the centuries. The extensive gardens are certainly worth visiting, starting with a riverside walk. On our visit, the trees were just coming into bud and some of the rhododendrons were bursting into flower. We passed this bridge, with its elegant railings (photo below) on the way into a path leading into the woods.

IMG_1434

Railings on a riverside walk bridge at Glamis Castle (Click to enlarge)

There are some huge trees in the woods and many of them are multi-limbed, and look as if they might consist of more than one tree. There are certainly some very elegant shapes to be seen amongst the trees. In the photo below, the sunlight on the hump-backed tree trunk enhanced the smoothness of its shape and I like the shadows on the trunk. The footpath is wide in the woods and the trees are spread out, so it’s an enjoyable walk with plenty of light.

IMG_1435

Trees at Glamis Castle

At the end of the woods, is the Italian Garden (good photos) which is enclosed by thick hedges and contains a number of statues, as well as “two pleached alleys of beech” shown in the photo below. Pleached is a new word to me and it means that the branches of the trees are interwoven. As you walk through this alley and look up at the entangled branches, they have  a surreal quality, like an abstract sculpture.

IMG_1441

Pleached alley of beech at Glamis Castle

As you approach the front of the castle, you can view the original castle and the wings and turrets built by successive owners. I don’t find it a very attractive building, as it’s rather squat and there are too many turrets but I’m probably in a minority here. I do of course like the stonework but there is no mention of the people who actually built the castle.

IMG_1444

Glamis Castle front

Just outside the castle, there is a modern sculpture of Macbeth’s three witches, sitting around their cauldron, chanting “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble”, although you have to listen carefully to hear it. The sculptures (photo below) were made from fallen trees on the castle’s estate.

IMG_1447

The three witches outside Glamis Castle

We went on the tour of the castle but you can’t take photographs. However, you can see many interior pictures of the rooms – many ornately decorated and furnished, here. The tour is informative and you get to see a mixture of the old and the modern. As the late Queen Mother stayed here often as a child, there is a lot of emphasis on royalty near the end of the tour. As this is of little interest to me, I concentrated on the décor.

You might be wondering why Promotion! is in the title of this post. Those people who have had an email from me will know that the strapline at the end of the message and my signature is “It’s hard tae be a Hibee”. My older son and I are long suffering season ticket holders at Easter Road in Edinburgh, home of Hibernian FC and for the last 3 years, we have endured the humiliation of being in the 2nd tier of Scottish football (aka soccer). This all changed just over a week ago, when we were promoted back to the top division. At the end of the game, Joy was not so much unconfined but beside herself. There was what some people might describe as a religious experience as 17,000 Hibees (as we are known) sang out “Sunshine on Leith”. This rather dirge-like song by The Proclaimers (fellow Hibees) contains a rousing chorus, with “Sunshine on Leith” as the key part. This is because the football ground is in Leith (good photos), a suburb of Edinburgh – and yes – the sun really did shine on Leith as we sang. So, when I use my season ticket (below) next season, we’ll be back.

Scan_20170423

My season ticket

 

 

Trip to Madrid: Prado Museum, architecture and Santiago Bernabeu

October 13, 2014

Last week, my pal Roger and I flew to Madrid for 5 days – to see the city and to go to the football match between Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. Madrid is a stunning centre of European Culture and also a lovely city to walk around. In terms of culture, pride of place goes to the world famous Prado Museum. The Prado is more than just an art gallery, as it is housed in a very impressive building, surrounded by tall trees and well kept gardens. Inside, it is a succession of halls which contain some of the most important works of art in the world. You can’t successfully get round the Prado in one day, or if you do, you are not likely to remember what you’ve seen. We did part of the Prado in 2 x 1 hour sessions, and there was much, much more which we did not see. In the first hour, we concentrated on Spanish painting and in particular, Velazquez (See photo of his statue below – taken on my mobile phone). The Velazquez paintings cover a range of topics, including some religious works, but it was the portraits and images of the king and queen of Spain on horseback that most impressed. One outstanding work, in terms its amazing detail is of Queen Isobel on horseback. If you click on this link, you will see the amount of work that Velazquez must have put into the painting e.g. the intricate detail of the queen’s dress. Another famous Velazquez work is The Drinkers, or The Triumph of Bacchus  and if you click on the link to see the picture in detail, you will see how the artist has captured the slightly inebriated faces of the men brilliantly. On the return visit, we focussed on Rubens e.g. the intriguing and beautiful The Three Graces and El Greco e.g. Caballero anciano. Again, if you click on the link and see the detail in the ruff and the man’s beard, you cannot but be mightily impressed. A good tip here is to book online and doing this, we avoided what looked like up to an hour’s queuing.

Statue of Velazquez outside the Prado Museum, Madrid

Statue of Velazquez outside the Prado Museum, Madrid

Madrid is also a city of architecturally outstanding buildings. When you walk around the main part of the city, you come across grand plazas, surrounded by huge buildings, often with statues on the top. Walking up the wide street of the Gran Via towards the city centre, looking up to your left, you see the Banco de Bilbao V A building, with the two Quadriga on top. The Quadriga is a Spanish word meaning a chariot drawn by four horses. This is what it looks like from across the road (taken on my mobile).

BBVA Bank with 2 Quadriga on top

BBVA Bank with 2 Quadriga on top

A second example of grand architecture in Madrid is the Plaza Major, which is right in the heart of the city. This large square, which reminded me immediately of St Mark’s Square in Venice (click for 360 view on this site), is a large open space, surrounded by elegant looking apartments and lined with cafes. There is an imposing statue of King Philip II on horseback and this dominates the square – a clear message in 1616 to the locals about respecting the monarchy. The photos below show the square and the statue.

Plaza Mayor Madrid

Plaza Mayor Madrid

Philip II King of Spain

Philip II King of Spain

There are many, many more visually attractive buildings in Madrid, such as The Royal Palace and next to it, the Gothic Almudena Cathedral, which was built on the site of a former mosque. It is highly decorative inside, with one room containing intricate mosaics. The photos below show the Royal Palace and an example of superb metallurgy in the cathedral.

 

Almudena Cathedral Madrid

The Royal Palace, Madrid

Silver metallurgy in Almudena Cathedral, Madrid

Silver metallurgy in Almudena Cathedral, Madrid

The sporting highlight of our visit to Madrid was to go the football (aka soccer) game on the Sunday night, between Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. We got the metro to the magnificent Santiago Bernabeu stadium. The stadium holds 81,000 people and there were 78,000 on the night we went. The atmosphere inside the stadium is one of pulsing noise, enthusiastic songs yelled out by the Ultras – a large group of flag waving zealots, loud cheers (Real Madrid score) and whistles (a RM player is fouled). The football – featuring some of the best players in the world, indeed Christiano Ronaldo, who is arguably the best player in the world at the moment – was of a very high quality. The leader of the orchestra was Luka Modrich some of whose passes, struck with the outside of his right boot, were sublime. He split open the Bilbao defence on a number of occasions with consummate skill and apparent ease. The game finished 5-0 to RM, so wasn’t a great contest between 2 evenly matched teams, and our tickets were expensive, but this was an experience that will be reflected on for many years.

Barcelona: Football, Gaudi, Maritime Museum; and October poem

October 12, 2013

I had a great trip to Barcelona, that fine European city, with its long straight main streets set out in a grid, and its myriad back streets, with the buildings so close together that people could almost shake hands with their neighbours across their balconies. These balconies are a ubiquitous feature of the city (see Photos 1 and 2 – taken with a small camera, so not the usual quality) and there are many different shapes and designs. It’s a city for walking around and taking a turn off the main streets as often as you can. How else will you find a hammock shop?

The main purpose of the visit was for my pal Roger and me to see the famous FC Barcelona play football (aka soccer) in the amazing Nou Camp Stadium. This is a once in a lifetime experience for most people, so it is worth spending a fair bit of money to get a good seat. When you first go into the stadium – which holds 95,000 people when full – you are amazed by its size and brightness. The game we saw did not start until 10pm, and this is another new experience, certainly for people in the UK and many other countries. We were not disappointed as we saw some of the best players in the world now – Neymar, Fabregas, Pedro and Tello – and some of the best players of all time – Xavi and Iniesta. Unfortunately, the world’s best and best known footballer, Lionel Messi, was injured, and did not play.The level of skill and the movement of the players was way beyond the level which Roger and I see when watching our own team Hibernian FC, aka The HIbs or The Hibees but it was also much better than any football to be witnessed in the UK or in most of Europe. All in all, a unique and unforgettable experience, especially as we had seats very close to the pitch.

I’m sure that for many, many people, the main reason for visiting Barcelona is to see the various buildings and structures designed by Antoni Gaudi. The first visit was to the Palau Guell (see Photo 3 for the exterior) which is a good introduction to Gaudi’s extravagant designs and it has a magnificent interior. The largest and most famous of Gaudi’s work is the still to be completed Sagrida Familia. This amazingly complex building was started in 1882 and is expected to be finished in the next 20 years. It is like something that you have never seen before. The outside of the building has, in some respects, the shapes and structures of other cathedrals but when you look at some of the spires, you see Gaudi’s unusual designs. (See photos 4-6). It is a very good idea to book online if you are visiting as there are extremely long queues throughout the year. Gaudi’s cathedral is not to everyone’s taste and you have to decide for yourself  whether you like aspects of the architecture. Another of Gaudi’s sites which is very worth while visiting is the Cascada situated in the extensive Ciutadella Park. Here you see another example of Gaudi’s extravagant mind with a waterfall running down the front of an ornately decorated building – it’s a stunning sight.

We also visited the Maritime Museum. Unfortunately, my wee camera gave up the ghost at this point, so photos, but the website shows the truly magnificent galley ship which was rowed – mainly by slaves. One interesting feature is that you can see inside the bottom of the ship where sailors worked in very cramped conditions. If you were going back in time to this ship, you’d want to be an officer. It has a very ornate bow and stern. You can also get an excellent 3 course lunch, including a beer or wine, for 10 Euros – great value.

So, back from 23-25 degrees in Barcelona to 10 degrees (feels like 7) and a stiff northerly wind in Dunbar. I turned my poetry calendar to Thursday 10 October and found a poem entitled “October” by X.J. Kennedy. Around here, many of the trees are turning to their autumnal colours. The poem begins “Flat-tired, the years sets out roadside flares” and later “Trees’ signals od distress/Turn more flamboyantly demonstrative”. Impressive imagery.

Barcelona balconies

Barcelona balconies

Barcelona balconies

Barcelona balconies

Palau Güell

Palau Güell

La Sagrida Familia

La Sagrida Familia

La Sagrida Familia

La Sagrida Familia

La Sagrida Familia

La Sagrida Familia