A Clydesider in Edinburgh – Glasgow 2014

Now that many of the competitions are over or nearing conclusion, the thoughts of the Team are turning towards making the very most of their experience in Scotland.  This has included shopping (for a surprisingly wide range of eclectic items), spending nights in the hot spots of the City, and of doing a tour to Edinburgh.

There was some apprehension amongst my fellow Volunteers about driving to Edinburgh on the Friday of the opening of the Festival Fringe, but my recent experiences of negotiating my way around the nether regions of Glasgow had filled me with enough confidence to give it a go.  I’m fairly familiar with one route into Edinburgh, to the house of some friends, hard won knowledge from several roundabout trips over the years, but that is hardly a tourist hot spot, so it was a combination of following my nose, and allowing the onboard sat nav to make occasional suggestions, that led to a spot on the Royal Mile where I could stop long enough to let out my passengers.

Their main objective was to visit a Scotch Whiskey museum while absorbing the general feel of the city, and thought that a couple of hours would be enough.  I had tried to explain what the Festival would be like, and what would be happening in the streets, but I could see that they I hadn’t convinced them that they might need more time.

In Glasgow, it is the people not wearing a Games lanyard around their necks who are the odd ones out.  In Edinburgh, I was most definitely a curiosity.  Even taking off my accreditation, I still stuck out like a sore thumb in my red and grey get up.  It is a measure of how unremarkable I have grown to find this uniform that I simply out stared the people who paused to look at me while I was waiting in the line at the bank machine in Hanover Street.  The Games marked car also attracted some attention when I parked it for a short while (the cost of parking there precludes anything but a brief respite), but I didn’t benefit from the indulgence and kindness of other drivers that I have experienced in Glasgow on the many occasions I’ve found myself in the wrong lane.  Despite the fact that the Diving competition is being held in the City, Glasgow 2014 didn’t seem to have made much impression in Edinburgh.

The street theatre my Team saw in the Royal Mile made a big impression on them.  There is everything going on in the street, they said.  We didn’t have enough time…… but there’s not much here about the Commonwealth Games, is there?

Another Medal for Mozambique is on the Way

2014-07-31 06.35.27The big news of the day is Mozambique is on track to win another medal – in Women’s Boxing.   Maria Machongua in the Women’s Light 57-60kg category is sure to get something; one more round will determine which colour.  There are only three girls in the team here in Glasgow, and two of them will have won medals.  I will forbear from making a politically feminist remark at this juncture.  …….  Go Girls!

There was a lot of excitement when the team got back in the car after the bout.  But it was all go last night; no time for hanging about at the SECC, but straight off to Hampden Park for some athletics.

It was my first trip there; I managed to get to the traffic jam around the stadium with no trouble, and if I had managed to work out where I was in relation to it (broadly is it to the East of me, or to the West) my passengers might have thought that I had navigated perfectly when we arrived at the right entrance entirely by chance and just at the moment I was about to start apologising for getting lost.  You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to spot a sports venue of that size when you’re so close to it!

I can’t let the dinner I had at the Village last night pass unremarked; a perfect exemplar of Scottish canteen: chilli con carne, roast potatoes with mixed corn and green beans.  The alternative was a beefburger in a bread roll, with roast potatoes……

In the Neighbourhood – Glasgow 2014

2014-07-29 11.30.49I don’t think I had ever been to the East End of Glasgow until I attended the Volunteer Orientation event at the Emirates Arena earlier this year.  I still don’t know very much about it, other than the immediate environs of Dalmarnock station, my commuting hub for the last couple of weeks.

The Athletes’ Village is the centre of a massive regeneration area, including newly built houses, which will both social and private homes after the Games have finished.  There is a mixture of terraced houses and low rise flats as well as a building that will be a care home for elderly and disabled people.  The development, the size of some multiple of football pitches that I cannot recall (suffice to say it takes a good 20 minutes brisk walk from to get from one end to the other) will be finished off, with the installation of kitchens and the filling in of party walls which have been left open between pairs of terraced houses, once the athletes vacate the Village on August 6.

I have only seen pictures of what was here before – elderly factories and Victorian tenement blocks.  Some were very unhappy to see so much demolished and swept away, and there were protests and occupations in the run up to some phases of the demolition.  And now the Village and the necessary transport hub bringing thousands of people in and out of it every day, are surrounded by a high security fence.  But there are people living in houses just across the street.

This is the view from the houses across the road from one of the vehicle entrances on the south side of the Village: athletes walking to and fro, cars dropping off and picking up, roaming TV crews trying to catch vox pop interviews on the hoof; security staff and armed police standing by.

Most days when I have arrived for my shift, or on my multiple walks in and out, I have seen residents leaning on their garden gates, watching the world go by.  There is one elderly lady who takes her morning coffee, and chats with passers-by while still in her dressing gown.  The residents have endured all the noise and dirt of the demolition, of construction, and now are kept away from crossing their own road by security cordons and thousands of people in uniforms of various hues.

A couple of days ago I asked one of the garden gate ladies what she thought of it all, assuming that it must all feel like a bit of a nuisance to her.  ‘Aw no’ she said.  ‘Ut’s great.  Naebdy ivver kem doon here afore.  Noo there’s somethin tae watch all the time.’

Enough said.

%d bloggers like this: