I think the expression on this bull’s face says it all really.  Rain, rain and more rain today.  But let’s take the positives as the cricketers always insist on saying.

Today we let the train take the strain and left Bessie, sulking quietly, near the station at Balloch, a few miles away from the campsite at Loch Lomond.  The suburban train took about three-quarters of an hour to get to Glasgow Charing Cross and the view from the windows was not exactly inspiring along the way. Never mind, we were heading for The Glasgow School of Art, the inspiration of a young architect named Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who had won a competition to design a new building for the School in the dying years of the 19th century.

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We wanted to book the tour (the only way to see the interior) but there wasn’t a space until 3pm so needed something else to fill the time.  The answer was the famous  Willow Tea Rooms in Sauchiehall Street, designed by Mackintosh for Miss Cranston, who was the doyenne of  several fashionable tea rooms in Glasgow.  Unfortunately, not a lot remains of Mackintosh’s original and the ground floor is given over to a jewellers, with large ‘closing down’ signs everywhere.  Undeterred we climbed the staircase to the gallery the basic design of which is pretty much unchanged.


The Salon de Luxe is on the next floor but there was a photoshoot of some kind going on up there so it was out of bounds.  We took the advice of the waitress, however, and went up to take a look anyway.  The original stained glass doors are magnificent but it was tricky to see inside the room.



We had decided on afternoon tea which handily, as it was actually lunchtime, was served all day.  I don’t know what Miss Cranston would have thought of that.  It consisted of a three tier cake stand with sandwiches on the lower tier, scones in the middle and cakes of your choice on the top.


Yes, that giant meringue was all mine – a speciality of the house:


Coming out of the tea rooms, it was still raining but it was now time to take the tour of the Art School.  The tours are undertaken by students and ours was lovely.  She took us up many flights of steps and in the corridors and around nearly every corner an art student would rush past carrying giant canvases etc.  Unfortunately, no photos were allowed but I have found this one of the library, a magnificent room:


An excellent tour and how I wish I was one of those lucky students.  There were lovely original touches everywhere – even the door plates:


We left the Art School clutching some Mackintosh books from the shop and decided to get a taxi to Kelvingrove Art Gallery – it was still raining.


It closed at 5pm but just enough time to see the collection of Scottish Colourists there.  They were a loose group of artists who admired the French Impressionists of the time.

Berneval by S J Peploe

Berneval by S J Peploe

The central space of the gallery was, rather oddly, dominated by a wartime Spitfire suspended from the ceiling.

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We had just got to the Mackintosh room when we were reminded pointedly by one of the staff that it was 5pm and closing time so we left reluctantly.

A typical Mackintosh stained glass panel

A typical Mackintosh stained glass panel

We caught the train back to Balloch and were relieved to see dear old Bessie patiently waiting for us by the station.  Somehow it had seemed an act of betrayal to leave her behind.

Back at the campsite I am pleased to say that at last the rain has stopped and the evening shows promise.  Perhaps the banks of Loch Lomond might once again be bonny tomorrow…