Scotland Adventures 5 and supermarket miscellany

Today we took the train into Glasgow center and walked around aimlessly for a while until my mother felt like having a coffee: we stopped at Caffé Nero, a popular chain with decent coffee and several quite silly very sweet drinks. After this, emerging from an alley containing a melancholy street clarinetist and a clothing store whose window displayed hundreds of old sweatshop sewing machines, we found ourselves conveniently located by the Gallery of Modern Art. I quite enjoyed myself, but I don’t think the rest of my family likes modern art as much as I do. There was a lovely black-acrylic-as-lineart-over-watercolor arist; a colorful-powerful-ladies-and-lively-sculpture artist; and a man who was obsessed with the French Revolution and did very nice slick graphics and wordplay. Those were my favorites, anyway.

We lunched at an Andalusian tapas restaurant (the food was so very good) and then took the metro to Kelvinhall and immediately ran into a marching band with drums and fife, which we followed into Kelvingrove Park, and walked along the Kelvin to Kelvingrove Museum of Art and Other Stuff. On the lawn in the sunshine a lot of people were playing some kind of bocce-like bowling game that my brother said might be called blackbowl? Well, we went in and it was a super excellent museum! I was expecting a boring classical sort of collection, but it had all kinds of art from different parts of the world and–o wonder of wonders–an exhibit on the history of violence against women. It was the emptiest exhibit in the entire museum, but it’s certainly not their fault.

After this we went back to downtown to visit the necropolis at the cathedral, which stands on an impressive hill overlooking the city, bristling with obelisks and clusters of mausolea and statues. At the very top stands a monument, possibly to all Protestant reformers. It was a bit unclear. The entire day it was sunny, and the sunlight was beginning to turn red at this point, painting the tombstones, columns, and little bushes growing out of them in lovely vivid color.

We walked back to the center of downtown with sore feet to a little Indian restaurant with stunning chicken tikka, and here I sit with leftover biryani comfortably reclining in the refrigerator for tomorrow’s breakfast.

A few days ago Dave took us to the grocery store and I noted some differences. The most ridiculous thing is how much meat the Brits eat: there was easily three or four times as much meat in the frozen section–in the form of sausage rolls, meat pies, et c–as in the States. And then there was another aisle lined on one side entirely with refrigerated meat. I was never able to figure out why it’s so ubiquitous, since at least in Scotland there are many kinds of wonderful vegetables, but Dave and his family become strangely fanatical about meat whenever it is [erroneously] mentioned that I am vegetarian.

My father was more surprised than I to find out that ‘biscuit’ does not translate literally as ‘cookie’ when we got some biscuits for appetizery cheesy purposes. They were the most biscuity cracker’s I’ve ever eaten, and I wish they made more like them in the US. Biscuits are delicious. Oatcakes, however, are terrible in the UK because they are not sweet. Just vaguely salty, dry, and extremely bland, and I’m not entirely sure under what circumstances one is supposed to eat them. There was also some debate on why Mars Bars do not exist in the US, since Mars Corp is clearly alive and well (what do you think those Ms stand for?). I was disappointed to find that they’re essentially 3 Musketeers with caramel in. No word as of yet on how they get the surprise into Kinder Eggs.

Essentially they have a lot of the same things in different brands, but there’s an entire aisle for alcoholic drinks. And then another one. Huzzah for a low drinking age! The last thing I’d like to say here is that the United States really needs to get on selling bags of chewy toffee in convenience stores. Toffee is delicious and I never get to eat it.