Forever Student Tips #01: Getting Involved

Wise words from Alisa on life in Glasgow

Student Tours Scotland presents a new regular feature from Alisa, our resident Canadian living in Glasgow.

--------------------------------------

Hey Guys, for those of you who don't know me, I am the Canadian perma-student that Gary from Student Tours Scotland likes to call out on tours. I was asked if I would write a column and I thought it might be helpful to write out stuff I learned on my semester in Glasgow.

Roughly two years ago, I did half a year abroad in California, and half in Glasgow. Glasgow was by far the best. This city has everything you could ever want from an exchange - awesome pub nights, one pound drinks, great shopping, beautiful sceneries, and of course - our favourite tour guide- Gary from Student Tours Scotland (note from Gary - I did not pay Alisa to say this).

So for my first post I want to give you all the best piece of advice I can think of, which is to get involved! Do everything you possibly can while you're here. There is absolutely no reason you should ever be sitting bored in your dorms because there is always something going on here. Meet new people, check out local places, and go on trips - whether they are with Student Tours Scotland, or you arrange a group by yourselves, some of my best memories are on Sunday trips around the country.

I'll go into more detail in my later posts, but as always, if any of you have any questions you can feel free to add me to Facebook. In the meantime, I hope you are all loving your Glasgow experience so far.

Life After Erasmus #002: Life in Glasgow

Robin Graham is back with some thoughts on living in Glasgow

It's been a while since Robin wrote a blog for us, so here he is with a new one.

In the past couple of years, I have made so many friends who have come to study their ERASMUS exchange in Glasgow. I did this because I spent time abroad and I just wanted to be with people who could just understand exactly what it was like. I didn’t expect there to be many differences between my exchange and theirs, but there were.

I lived in France, one of the most culturally enriched places on Earth, whereas they came to Scotland, where I believed to be culturally redundant in terms of interesting places to be. However, I knew their game, as Glasgow has one of the best night life and music scenes this side of the Channel.

What I did notice though, was the exchange students hunger for learning about our culture, something which perplexed me! In my time abroad, I travelled a lot and spent no time learning about France, and solely about countries from where I had friends. Everyone seemed to share a similar distaste to the French people and to some extent their culture, but in Glasgow… The exchange students love it!
“Dae ye want some Irn Bru?” is a phrase which I will never tire of hearing in an accent mixed between Scottish, Spanish and Indian when my friend Victor asks. Hearing a Dutch guy say “aye” in a somewhat South African sounding accent when I ask him if he wants a beer, will always makes me smile. All these things; somehow make me a little bit more proud to say that I’m Scottish, and it’s the foreigners teaching me.

There is a typically grey view of Glasgow which people who don’t know the city tend to see. But it is within our mundane culture that there is comfort and warmth. Leaving our doors unlocked because we trust our neighbours, acknowledging those old people who walk past us, asking a stranger how their day is going when they serve you at Sainsbury’s. These are all things which make Glasgow truly amazing and welcoming as a city to study your ERASMUS in.

However, don’t come here and not go out, sitting skyping with your amazing friends at home who will still be there when you return. Go out and get to know this vibrant city, with the amazing people who you’re here with.

Lena Points #10: The Hanging Tree, Househill Park, Glasgow

Househill Park's Dark Past

Lena is back and this week she is pointing at something particularly cool in Glasgow's South West. Each week Student Tours Scotland heads out in deepest Glasgow with our resident pointer, Lena and uncover something hidden. This week she is in Househill Park in Househillwood. This park is rather large and has a few cool hidden gems - some of the which will feature in future blog posts.

The tree in the image is locally known as, 'The Hanging Tree' or the 'Witches Tree'. There is a chain and shackle attached to the top of the mid section. This rusty device is rumoured to be connected to the witches and monks of the area from before it was home to Miss Cranstons House. Sadly this house has gone and all traces of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's involvement here have vanished too. 

There are rumours that this tree and others (which have sadly gone) were used to hang witches in the area. The tree itself and the chain hanging from it really need some attention from Glasgow City Council. Student Tours Scotland hopes to include this area on a new walk up the Levern Water Walkway. Hopefully we can launch this tour in 2013.

The People of Glasgow VS George Square

Makeover Time for Glasgow's Centre

While Student Tours Scotland finds it sad that George Square is getting all the attention from Glasgow City Council and other areas are being neglected (Springburn Burgh Halls, Kelvingrove Park Band Stand, Queen's Park Band Stand, Springburn Park Winter Gardens to name four that are doing the rounds on Twitter) - it is time for a change here.

Glasgow and George Square go hand in hand - especially for tourists. It is often a place that many, if not most, visitors will pass through. It makes the list of Glasgow City Council parks and gardens (of which there are around 110 at last count) and even has it's own green Glasgow Park sign. Despite this it's rather lacking in green space. As Glasgow's centre it really should have a better existence than the 'red square' it has become. It's the laughing stock of the Glasgow Parks. Glasgow Green, with it's fields of lush grass mocks it from the south, Springburn Park with it's dizzy heights and rockery laughs from the north; Victoria Park speaks lowly of it from through the ages through its historic sites from the west and Hogganfield Park with it's expansive loch scorns from the east. In all comparisons, its a very weak place.

And yet, Glaswegians hold it so dear. It's the centre of the world for most of Glasgow. Many a fond memories is recalled beginning from the Square. Student Tours Scotland frequently passes through it and even uses it as a meeting place in the summer months. It needs a better existence than what it has.

In Janaury 2013 Glasgow City Council unvieled the six proposed development plans for George Square. Student Tours Scotland has had a look at all six and to be honest, they all seem a little, meh. The first five contain poor attempts to relocate the statues and number six almost seems like it's pushing the boat out too far. Number 1 stuns the imagination with a crazy water mirror which would no doubt become the source of ridicule over the years; Number 2 is so hard to focus on it boggles the mind; three is a little too quirky; four has the cool Oak Grove around the cenotaph, five appears to have resolved Glasgow City Councils hatred for the Sighthill Park Stone Circle by moving it to George Square and six appears to be sponsored by Big Brother.

Number 6 is our stand out favourite. The statues are no where to be found, which although sad, is better than placing them in a pointless jail cell like in Number 5's 'Monument Grove' - I'm not sure Robert Burns is that happy with getting up close and personal with so many guys. The statues could be used better elsewhere - the Walter Scott obelisk would look awesome in St. Enoch Square. 

Only time will tell if Glasgow City Council will make a good solid decision on this one. Whatever the outcome, change in George Square is welcome, let's just hope the rest of Glasgow won't be forgotten afterwards.

A New Plan for Tourism in Rutherglen, Scotland?

2013 - Time for a Change in the Burgh

I come from Rutherglen. It's a town on the outskirts of Glasgow in Scotland. Between 1975 and 1996 it was even a part of the City of Glasgow. There are those that said Glasgow was bad for Rutherglen. Sure enough, during that period we lost our town hall but we also had a museum, a bustling main street and a tourist walking trail. It was in the late 1980's and early 1990's that the Rutherglen Heritage Trail was produced by Glasgow District Council. It featured a route plan through the Burgh portion of Rutherglen town. Taking the intrepid explorer around the heart of our wee 'Ruggie' - as the we locals call it - you passed statues, parks and buildings all dear to the Rugloanians who live here. Sadly, parts of this route are now gone, buildings demolished, park land lost. The Town Hall however has reopened and in many ways the schools and roads are much improved. However there is much still to do to regain our Royal title in more than just name. 

Rutherglen Public Park, over the course of a hundred years has been reduced to a small bike track, with an care home, Rutherglen Health Centre and some social housing now occuping the remainder. Nearby Overtoun Park itself is lacking in features - meaning few folk will choose to visit unless they live here already. The remaining tenemental housing in Farme Cross, Burgh, Clincarthill and Bankhead is in dire need of looking after and the green spaces all around need more care and attention. The proud folk of Blairbeth love their open field but in the recent downpour of 2012 it is clear to see it needs more regular attention. The burn flowing through the Spittal Green Space is a hidden gem but few know it even exists. There is a clear need to clean up the waterway and pond in Quigleys and Bankhead. Fernhill Park could use more regular maintenance and the Cathkin Woods near the boundary with East Kilbride region are often left to be overgrown before being carelessly mown. 

It would be nice if South Lanarkshire Council put more thought into it's care for Rutherglen, but as it seems, perhaps it is too close to Glasgow to be cared about. There are few monuments worth visiting outside of Rutherglen Burgh Area and hardly anything quite like the public art seen in Farme Cross elsewhere in the town's areas. The new developments at Cathkin and Fernhill are nice and pretty but there is also something rather generic about the whole thing. 

Student Tours Scotland proposes a return to local government in the town of Rutherglen. It could be used as a test example before rolling it out to other needy towns like Girvan, Sanquhar, Lanark, Cumbernauld and Motherwell to name but a few. Heritage Trails around all the areas would give something exciting for people to do if they chose to visit them. Unique shopping areas could attract local business. There are countless good examples of towns improving themselves around Europe. Perhaps it's time Rutherglen looked after itself?

Lena Points #9: Sighthill Park, Glasgow North

Getting Out and About in Glasgow

Student Tours Scotland is proud to present Lena in all her pointy glory. It's a new year and with 2013 we start with Lena pointing at one of the lesser known of Glasgow parks. Sighthill Park is a favourite of Student Tours Scotland due to it's size and the fact that it conceals a stone circle at it's summit. It was created in 1982 and was the largest Glasgow Park created since Victorian times. The large area is due for redevelopment in the future and will most likely see the size of the parked halved. So long as the stone circle and the canal paths are preserved then Student Tours Scotland welcomes change to this area of Glasgow. It rarely gets much attention from tourists or Glaswegians unless they are passing through or live nearby. It's especially awesome on a frosty morning, like this one Lena is featured in. So next time you see some snow falling, you know where to head - Sighthill Park in North Glasgow.

Springburn Winter Gardens in Glasgow

Springburn Park Winter Gardens

Saving Glasgow's Built Heritage

In December 2012, Student Tours Scotland was shocked at Glasgow City Council's swift demolition of Springburn Burgh Halls. This historic building has stood empy and neglected for decades. It was a great building. It was sad to see a lack of care or attention given to this monument. North Glasgow sorely needs reasons for tourism. Springburn is full of them. In the late 1980's and early 1990's, the then Glasgow District Council produced a series of Heritage Trails. One such trail was the Springburn Hertiage Trail (Student Tours Scotland has a photocopy courtesy of the University of Strathclyde Archives Service). This guide took the avid explorer around Sighthill and Springburn passing by the many monuments to the powerful history of this section of Glasgow.

Sadly, since the 1990's, it would appear that Glasgow City Council no longer cares for this important part of it's city. Glasgow needs tourism - it has so much to offer. It is sad to see that only that which is in the precious heart of the city (Glasgow City Centre and Merchant City) seems to matter any more. 

In recent years Glasgow has sat by as the following have vanished from our city (often quietly):

 - Glasgow Green Train Station shell (Calton)

 - Tenement block (Bridgeton)

 - Coliseum Building (Laurieston)

 - Tenements Blocks (Dalmarnock)

 - Alexander Thompson Church (Blythswood Hill)

Countless other monuments to the past are vanishing every year. We cannot allow this to keep happening. It is for this reason that Student Tours Scotland has thrown it's support behind the campaign to save Sighthill Park Stone Circle and we will continue to run tours to this great location.

However recently it has come to our attention that the old Winter Gardens in Springburn Park are potentially also at risk of demolition. Although recently featured in the Springburn Park Heritage Trail (2011), they may never see restoration. It would seem Glasgow City Council once more are sitting idily by while another monument rusts. Perhaps it is time to rerun the "Adopt a Monument" scheme from the late 20th Century where businesses and places helped fund restoring parts of the city.

Hopefully this is a passing trend. There are a great number of places in Glasgow worth saving, will Glasgow City Council stand up and take notice? Student Tours Scotland certainly hopes so.

Happy New Year 2013 from Student Tours Scotland

Welcome to 2013 folks - prepare for the experience

So 2012 was a great year for us at Student Tours Scotland. We took you on tours all across Glasgow and Scotland. From the dizzy heights of Conic Hill at Loch Lomond (where we were all thoroughly soaked) to island hopping across the Isle of Bute, Cumbrae and Arran - we really did it all.

You might think we are all toured out. Well you would be wrong. 2013 is going to be an awesome year for Student Tours Scotland so get signed up to our great trips and walks as soon as you can.

See you out in Scotland folks!