Sara Bee Makes A Change, Michael Jackson style

Slovenia's Finest Enters the Music Scene

One of the benefits to Student Tours Scotland is that I get to meet some amazing folk from around the world. Five years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Sara Petrovčič from Maribor, Slovenia. She studied at Glasgow Caledonian University for one semester and recently came back to Glasgow to catch up. She recently launched herself as Sara Bee singing some great songs and covers. You should check her out and give her songs a listen. Here is the Michael Jackson cover of 'Man on the Mirror' that is currently doing the rounds online.

Photo from http://sarapetrovcic.com/ 

Citizens Rose Garden, Laurieston Glasgow

Gorbals Healthy Living Network Retakes the South Side

Student Tours Scotland had one of those weird moments today when you meet someone fantastic in Glasgow. Generally I meet someone was great but fantastic is rare. These people are everywhere in the city but they are always so busy being fantastic that you never get to meet them.

The Gorbals is a massive area south of the River Clyde in Glasgow consisting historically of five areas: Gorbals Village; Hutchiesontown; Laurieston, Tradeston and Kingston as well as more recently including the so-called New Gorbals. Sadly, since the post-war madness of demolishing old buildings it is also an area lacking in population. Thankfully Glasgow City Council have seen sense and have given the go-ahead to a large scale regeneration of this historic area. 

Tucked away in a forgotten corner of Laurieston just off Gorbals Street and Bedford Lane lies one of Glasgow's lesser known parks - the Citizens Rose Garden. Facing the Citizens Theatre, it lies in the heart of Laurieston. Four large tower blocks loomed over it on each side - only one of these remains. All around it diggers, machines of various size and many different people in hard hats mill around in the ruined shells of the community. Sadly the park had fallen into disrepair.

Over the past few months as my Number 21 First Bus passed through the area I noticed that the park was undergoing a transformation. Every day some little change was slowly bring life back into this small garden. Today as my bus passed from Glasgow City Centre to Rutherglen I noticed two people working tirelessly to cultivate the area. I got off the bus to investigate.

I'm glad I put my journey on hold as meeting Sarah and her colleague from the Gorbals Healthy Living Network (GHLN - www.ghln.co.uk) was a treat. Sarah explained that, with the help of Glasgow City Council she was gathering support from many folk from various different backgrounds. Together they were bringing this park as well as an area of Oatlands (in the neighbouring area of Glasgow) and the Gorbals Rose Garden back to life.

It's fantastic to see such dedicated people bringing life to an area that, although it may only have around five years left before it is engulfed in the Laurieston Redevelopment, badly needs it.

I hope they realise just how much of a difference they are making and urge you all to stop by and say howdy and lend your support.

Where Are They Now? #003: Helle (Denmark)

Volume THREEof our regular feature on the Student Tours Scotland blog. This weeks Where are they now takes us to Copenhagen in Denmark. Enjoy!

Student Tours Scotland (STS): Thanks for being one of our first Where Are They Now interview. It's been around four years since you started studying in Glasgow, Scotland. Introduce yourself for us: name, where you are from and one random fact about yourself.

Helle: Helle from Denmark. I'm 27 years old and live in Copenhagen. I enjoy travelling - backpacking, meeting people, partying, sports, my job, having visitors from all over the world... everything that involves people really. - And FOOD!

STS: What do you miss the most about Glasgow and Scotland?

Helle: The amazing nature (islands), castles, people and humour. AND - the great, very creative names of pubs: "Filthy Mc Nasty's", "Bad Ass", "Dirty Dicks", etc.

STS: What one place in Scotland was your favourite?

Helle: Hard one... City-wise I loved Glasgow because of its variety in people, party possibilities, mix of old beautiful buildings and newer relatively rough, cold ones, and that it was easy to go 'treasure hunting' - finding new hidden, funny, weird places.

STS: Do you think it's important to get out and about in Glasgow and Scotland when you study here?

Helle: Of course! - not a question!

STS: But enough about Scotland. What are you doing with yourself now?

Helle: Just handed in my masters thesis in Culture, Organisation & Leadership (specifically: Event Management). Going to defend it orally this month. Now I'm working with Volcano Concepts on a big b2b event project in São Paulo.

STS: Have you been back in Scotland since you first left?

Helle: Yes, once. Visiting friends.

STS: If you could offer any one piece of survival advice to someone about to study in Scotland what would it be?

Helle: Hmm, survival advice. Make sure to drink enough beer...(?!) and MEET PEOPLE!

STS: Cheers for taking the time to chat with us Helle. All the best.

Lena Points #3: Mona Lisa with Irn Bru

A Modern Day Work of Art in Glasgow

Glasgow is a city of many wonders. Student Tours Scotland has teamed up with resident French-Glaswegian, Lena Kolbe to bring you a weekly (almost) feature on our blog called Lena Points. It's really quite simple. Each week Lena points at something cool, weird or wonderful in Glasgow and Student Tours Scotland explains what it is and why it's awesome. 

This week Lena has pointed at an awesome work of art in the Anderston East district of the City Centre near the River Clyde International Financial Services District (IFSD) and the M8 Motorway. Anderston is a district split in two thanks to the M8 Motorway that plowed through Glasgow in the 1960's. Pockets of life still exist but sadly some parts have fallen into dis-repair. This awesome series of art works cover an unused building and features this portrait of the famous Mona Lisa with a can of Scotland's number one soft drink, 'Irn Bru'. She looks like she is smiling so one can only assume that Irn Bru has finally brought a grin to the sad face after all these years.

If you have anything you would personally like Lena to point at in Glasgow then get in touch.

Rob Pappas - “Just Don’t Die” (A Student Tours Scotland Inspired Music Video)

Rob Pappas - Californian Superstar of Student Tours Scotland

On every Student Tours Scotland day trip and walk we understand that there is only so much control you can exert over an individual before they ultimately do their own thing. We don't like to restrict what you do on tour. We only ask one thing - that you do your best not to do something so stupid that you kill yourself. We think this is easy to ask. It's not that hard. Try not o jump off a castle ruin in Kirkcaldy, Fife; don't chase the sheep in Oban; try not to hunt for Nessie without a boat at Loch Ness. These really should be simple requests.

Apparently in 2012 I uttered the phrase, "Just Don't Die" one too many times and it became a bit of an in-joke. So much so that Rob Pappas, one of our resident American students from Glasgow Caledonian University and Long Beach, California took it upon himself to make a music video and rap song with his friend Ryan Yamaguchi.

Inspired by the Glasgow Neds (youths of a certain predisposition for the rest of you); my personal love of Irn Bru and all things Glasgow, Rob and Ryan have created this awesome and at the same time questionable rap video. Please watch and show some support to these budding young artistes

I think you better not quit the day job though Rob!

Walking the Canal

Forth and Clyde Canal: Glasgow Branch

Student Tours Scotland has had a great success this summer with it's program of FREE Glasgow Walks. Last week we took a stroll along a part of the city that often remains hidden: The Forth and Clyde Canal. The water body runs from the West at two places: one at Temple and leaving it at the East at Lambhill and Milton. However a branch leaves the main canal at Maryhill and runs all the way to the north of the City Centre at Spiers Wharf.

We had a small band of students from Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Strathclyde on our tour. As we set off from GoMA on Queens Street we quickly discovered that the weather would turn on us. Always prepared, we were not about to let the rain ruin our day out. Student Tours Scotland firmly believes that if you let the weather dictate when you tour in Glasgow then you will, quite honestly, see nothing.

Spiers Wharf is just north of the City Centre near Sighthill Park and behind Cowcaddens. Passing under the M8 Motroway you approach a large pool area in the branch canal. The views across the city are quite astonishing. To think that thousands of motorists pass this area every day and probably have no idea is actually rather sad. Leaving the basin and walking up towards Hamiltonhill, our students marvelled at the transformed custom house and whisky bond warehouses - now home to a range of uses including accommodation. The area has a peaceful feel - completely different to that of the city centre not far away.

Lovely little house boats dot the canal at this junction and from here to Firhill Basin the canal is home to a nice wee curious family of swans and many ducks. The little brown tufted swans followed their parents everywhere - sadly thinking we had some bread - which we had not the hindsight to bring with us.

Watching people fish at Firhill and passing under the Rennie Macintosh bridges at Ruchill give a strange sense of calm in an area of the city that can often get rather lively at night time. We were following an old Heritage Trail route from the early 1990's when Glasgow City Council was still Glasgow District Council. Sadly the booklet is out of print but you can find a copy to look at in the University of Strathclyde Archives. 

The canal really is full of surprises with great views; sleeping foxes, many birds, fishermen and much more. Perhaps the greatest surprise is the locks at Maryhill and Temple. You just cannot prepare yourself for the sight of these ancient and listed monuments as you walk along the waterway. Thankfully the canal is still used. Every day boats, runners, walkers and cyclists use the banka nd pathways - showing that this forgotten part of Glasgow is still very much in use. 

Hogganfield Loch and Park

Glasgow's Hidden Loch

Glasgow has a lot of parks, gardens and green spaces and Student Tours Scotland wants to show off them all. One of the best is Hogganfield Park as it also is home to a large loch of the same name. We hada small wee group of only four on this tour but we took off from Glasgow City Centre with high hopes. The weather was stunning as the sun was shining. This is pretty rare in Glasgow, even in summer. By the time we got to Riddrie in the North East of the city we were ready to get out and explore. 

What hits you initially is the sheer number of birds everywhere. The island in the middle of Hogganfield Loch is truly one of Glasgow's hidden gems. It's no longer accessible and is a bird sanctuary. There are so many swans, gulls and geese here that you just can't keep track of who just ate the bread you threw. They coexist in some weird harmony.

Walking around here is a joy, especially in the sunshine. Our wee crew really enjoyed themselves. The loch is extensive and the grasslands around it are incredible. The whole area is one of Glasgow's seven Local Nature Reserves (LNR). Nearby there is also the Cardowan Moss Local Nature Reserve (LNR). We took a short break here but didn't have enough time to really explore the place. There were several small ponds but everyone really just wanted another ice cream from the van at Hogganfield Park so we headed back.

If you get a chance to head up there on a sunny day in Glasgow then I really recommend it.