Clyde Football Club and Rutherglen: A Homecoming

Rutherglen and Clyde FC

Football is often joked to be the number one 'religion' in Glasgow and the West of Scotland. However there is a lot of truth in the statement. There are countless teams in and around the city. One team close the heart of many south side Glaswegians and especially in the neighbouring (and bordering) town of Rutherglen, is Clyde FC. Founded originally in Bridgeton they moved across the River Clyde and made their prominent home in Shawfield Stadium in the Shawfield district of the Royal Burgh of Rutherglen.

This historic team have been important in the history of football in Glasgow and Scotland. For much of the past two decades Clyde FC have left south east Glasgow and been based in North Lanarkshire. With the lease on their current stadium about to expire they had been rumoured to move elsewhere. Recently it has emerged they are thinking of moving back to Rutherglen. As a Rugloanian and a Glaswegian, Student Tours Scotland strongly supports this move as it will bring a great tourism resource back to the Royal Burgh of Rutherglen. It would also be a great boost for the local Rutherglen team, Glencairn FC. 

We'll be following this news closely over the next month and so should you. For tourism in Glasgow and it's surroundings to really take off we need to play off all our strengths. The history and passion associated with Clyde FC is just one more positive thing that Rutherglen can offer. Hopefully the deal will be sealed and Clyde and Rutherglen can take their futures into their own hands, together.

Castlemilk Woodlands or The Case of the Missing Glasgow Park Signs

Stolen and Missing Glasgow Park Signs

In Glasgow and Rutherglen there are a lot of parks. So many that nearly every corner leads to a new green space. Glasgow alone has over 100 parks and gardens. Some are mighty like the expansive Pollok Country Park in the South West of the city (the largest urban city park in Europe). Others are tiny like the Millenium Suite in Govanhill and Carmmunock Village Green in the south.

Regardless of size, Glasgow and South Lanarkshire take their parks seriously. Glasgow is known as the 'dear green place' due to it's abundance of greenery. Glasgow City Council mark each of their parks, schools, cemeteries, walkways, play areas and more with a rectangular green sign featuring the council logo and the name of the park. Sadly many of these are badly damaged or graffiti ridden. Even worst is the fact that a number of signs appear to be missing entirely. 

Cowlairs Park in Glasgow North, a mere shadow of it's former self, has no signage at present beyond that on Google Maps. Bridgeton Park in the South East features some cool industrial art in the form of a stone circle but it also has no clear markings. Both Budhill Park and Barrachnie Park in Glasgow East have had their signs removed recently as well.

Why is this happening? Is it all down to drunken antics where someone desperately needs to have the Bridgeton Park sign proudly displayed above their door? Could it be a conspiracy where sign collecting aliens are slowly stealing our signage? A more sinister (and highly likely) reason could be scrap metal thefts. Recently the Gorbals Rose Garden burial ground had it's showpiece metal art rose destroyed in a failed bid to sell it for scrap. It is now beyond repair. 

A lighter side of the story however emerged this week at the Castlemilk/ Fernhill border between Glasgow and Rutherglen. There is a place of legend in this region. They call it, the 'Hole in the Wall'. It's a literal break in the boundary where wayward travellers from Fernhill, Rutherglen can enter the woodlands of Castlemilk, Glasgow. On one side of Fernhill Road the bus stops proudly display Glasgow City Council logos. On the other side, South Lanarkshire Council logos. This is no mans land. The local youths also despise one another - for the simple reason of differences in locations.

On Thursday 23 August 2012 (a mere five days ago) Glasgow City Council erected another 'Castlemilk Woodlands' sign in the area (a project to promote the woodlands and Castlemilk Park has been ongoing here - signs for the park have sprouted up too). Fernhill Road at the 'Hole in the Wall' is perhaps not the best choice for a sign like this. It's almost like it was taunting the Fernhill folk. I gave it until the weekend before it vanished. Surprisingly I was wrong, however somewhere between 0700 hours and 1800 hours on Monday 27 August 2012, the 'Castlemilk Woodlands' sign on Fernhill Road was gone (along with one of the supporting poles). 

It's still a sad state of affairs but perhaps Glasgow City Council and South Lanarkshire Council will think twice before doing such a move again. Even the Tormusk Road entrance to Castlemilk at Fernhill Road does not display a 'Welcome to Glasgow' sign (one of the only boundaries in the city not to). 

But fear not wary traveller. There are plenty more signs for the woodlands and the park in Castlemilk. The area is very historic and worth exploring. Just don't mention Fernhill when you do.

Lena Points #4: Kings Court, St. Enoch

A Hidden Gem in Glasgow, St. Enoch

Lena points here at something quite special in Glasgow. Student Tours Scotland likes to find the cool wee hidden places around Glasgow and show them off. This is Kings Court, which lies off King Street in the St. Enoch area of Glasgow just south of the City Centre.

The St. Enoch Shopping Centre lies nearby and is built on the site of the old St. Enoch Hotel and St. Enoch Train Station. Only the Subway Station remains. The old train station was one of Glasgow's finest and sadly was cut by the ill-advised Beeching Report cuts of the 1960's. 

The old train line still partly runs over Saltmarket and Kings Street and the tunnels under it have been converted into various uses. King Court is one of these. It's a series of small shops with a bar/ restuarant in the middle. There are some really awesome little gems here like Mr. Bens vintage shop and the studio for rehearsing as well as the bar Mono itself.

It's open every day of the week and well worth checking out. After all, why would Lena point at it if it wasn't interesting?

London 2012: Or What it Means to be British

Scotland and Team GB in the 2012 Olympiad

So it's over. It's all over. After two weeks of riveting television and updates on twitter, I am left with no more Olympics. It was gone too fast. Seeing Team GB pick up so many medals was tearjerking and heartwarming but  mostly it was something truly special. The highlight of course being Greg Rutherford take the Long Jump - he is a fellow ginger after all.

But it's left a strange feeling inside, one I have always had but never truly embraced. I am proud to be British. There are so many opportunities coming out for London 2012 to actually start making these things work the way they should. Both sides of the independence debate need to move fast to achieve anything in the zeitgiest.

In 1938 Glasgow, Scotland was host to the Empire Exhibition. It was a showcase in Bellahouston Park of everything that makes Britain awesome. Our fantastic empire which covered one third of the world was at it's peak and the Second World War was another year away. After the depths of the depression this exhibition would bring back that spirit that so often made Britain great. Glasgow was it's home and it really was fantastic - or so I have been told. 

So what happened? Well quite frankly the empire fell apart and now we are left with the following: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which make up the bulk of the UK. That's not quite it though. There is also the Isle of Man, plus the Channel Islands of Guernsey, Alderney and Jersey. Even that isn't it all however. Across the world are 14 places (mostly islands) currently acting as Overseas Territories of the UK. Among these the Cayman Islands and two others competed as olympic teams in 2012. It would appear that this United Kingdom is not as United as it should be.

I would love to see closer ties and links with our fractured empire. Why go to Spain when we could visit the Falkland Islands? Why struggle with French when you could visit Gibraltar? Instead we have 14 territories and 3 crown colonies costing the UK millions each year; a not so united Northern Ireland; the north of England with no representation at all; poor wee Wales and little ol' Scotland.

Any break with the UK as a whole would not essentially  stop us being British. The island we live on is Great Britain, that won't change. With so much history at stake I would hate to see an Irish or American style end to our British-ness. Our past should be as respected as our future.

Well done Team GB - well done Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Here's to Team GB in 2016 in Rio.

Where Are They Now? #004: Riku (Finland)

Welcome to another 'Where are they now' blog entry. This time we visit Finland to catch up with Riku.

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

Riku: Riku Niemi, from Finland and I love road cycling.

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

Riku: People, accent, bad weather, pub's and £1 drinks in the Wednesday nights, Cheap flights to Europe, Tesco and the river.

STS: What one place in Scotland was your favourite?

Riku: Edinburgh was really nice, old town feeling in the big city.

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

Riku: It's really important, because easily you just focus on studying and don't get to know the city or Scotland at all. If you get a chance, feel Scotland and Glasgow, there is better possibility to come back in holidays or just feel positive about the country.

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

Riku: I'm studying my masters in the University of Eastern Finland, working occasionally in the TeliaSonera sales. I'm new dad, my son born on march and that is awesome!

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

Riku: Not yet, I hope i will get a possibility in the future

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

Riku: Forget spoken english. Open your mind to the scottish accent.

STS: Some sound advice from Finland. Thanks Riku. Congratulations on your new born son!

Working with KAPLAN International College Edinburgh

Walking Tours of Edinburgh

Over July and August 2012, Student Tours Scotland has had the pleasure of working with KAPLAN International College in Edinburgh to run a series of weekly walking tours of Scotland's capital. We've scaled the dizzy heights of Calton Hill; taken on the ups and downs of the Grassmarket and old town; skirted all over the New Town and even followed a path along the Water of Leith Walkway and into Deans Village. 

Our walks have been great and we have gotten to meet a fantastic range of students from all over the world (including our first ever student from San Marino today). All these English Language students have shown a great interest in Scotland and have loved our guides stories. 

We still have another three weeks left of summer in Edinburgh and can't wait for some more awesome walks. Hopefully we'll see you on one of them!