- Alistair Braidwood
The Gentle Guide to Scotland: A Review of Anne Ward’s Nothing To See Here…
There are two weighty tomes by Scottish literary legends sitting on my bedside table at the moment; namely Iain Banks’ Stonemouth and Irvine Welsh’s Skagboys, and there will be reviews of both of those books in the coming weeks, but often small is beautiful, and I have to draw your attention to a book that I picked up while buying music I can’t afford in Mono recently.
It’s called Nothing To See Here by Anne Ward, and it is an absolute delight. Basically a guide to the quirky, quaint and curious corners of Scotland, Ward’s book takes you on the roads less travelled; literally, as the first entry is on the B7076/B7078 road that runs between Hamilton and Gretna and which I know very well as it was my road of choice when I used to go and visit my Granny in Annan in the 1990s. Running parrellel to the M8/A74, it is a forgotten piece of road so deserted and beautifully desolate in places that you could pretend to be in your own road movie. You could also safely push your car to its limits. When I say safely, I mean you wouldn’t be caught as there are no cameras and few police patrols. Actually the road surface is falling apart so probably not actually that safe, but a joy nevertheless.
Other attractions that the book highlights include Carfin Lourdes Grotto, The Italian Chapel on Orkney, The Hamilton Toy Museum in Callander, Little Sparta in Dunsyre, Lanarkshire (where they also make a fine blue cheese), The Tunnocks Factory in Uddingston, Pennan in Morayshire (location of Local Hero), the Samye Ling Tibetan Centre and Monastery in Eskdalemuir, Storybook Glen at Maryculter in Aberdeenshire and many more. I’m going to use it as a guide to travel around Scotland this summer when I have a spare weekend or two, and I think everyone, no matter where in the country, will find something to fascinate them and make them want to visit.
Here’s a couple of clips that feature attractions from the book. The first is a place which featured on Scots Whay Hae! ages ago, the Sharmanka Gallery at Trongate 103 near Glasgow Cross. This is just one of their exhibits, The Master and Margarita, inspired by Bulgakov’s novel of the same name:
Then there is this clip from someone’s ‘Art Safari’ in Dumfries which takes in the Glenkiln Sculpture Park, a place you can find works by Rodin and Henry Moore amongst others:
Nothing To See Here suggests lots and lots for us to do, and is just a wonderful guide to places that will life your heart and mind. I suggest you grab a copy and take a road trip or two.
By the by, John got in touch to say that he would prefer it if I used left hand justification for these posts. I think he may have a point so I’m going to give it a go, but if you have thoughts or preferences then let me know. I’m easily swayed…