Karie Bookish Dot Net

Category Archives: Architecture

Bricking It

Wall behind the Hunterian Art Gallery and most likely part of the Glasgow University Campus

I have a real weakness for old bricks. They come in all sorts of colours depending upon where they were made; they can be handmade or marked with the manufacturer’s insignia; and they tell stories. We have too many brick photos to mention.  Thankfully my partner understands why I always just need one more photo of an old wall, a bricked-up window or even just an unusual pattern.

Magic Tricks and Music Halls

Yesterday I found a new favourite place in Glasgow. Walking into Tam Shepard’s Trick Shop is like walking into another world, another era. The shop could have been straight out of the 1930s – except for the Obama masks and the nu-rave-esque wigs. It is a place where the owner will start a Victor Borge routine when he learns you are from Denmark, where a shop assistant will disappear through a hole in the floor, you can choose between twenty different kinds of fake moustaches, and tiny kids stare with much fascination at plastic spiders. Tam Shepard’s Trick Shop is a family-run business and it has been going since the 1880s. You can see faded music hall posters bearing the names of ancestors and old photos of dishy dames performing magic tricks. “That’s my great-grandma,” the woman behind the counter informed me.

Glasgow has a very proud music hall tradition, actually, and tomorrow we are off to The Britannia Panopticon Music Hall for a steam punk craft show. The Panopticon is the oldest surviving music hall in Britain – the place where Stan Laurel of Laurel & Hardy made his stage debut, no less, and where a young Cary Grant performed while he was still Archie Leach – and it is a beautiful, almost derelict building. The Panopticon Trust has been trying to save the building for about a decade now but it is still fragile. For more information (and a bit of singing), this youtube clip from the AyeWrite literary festival features Judith Bowers, local historian and secretary of the Panopticon Trust, talking about the music hall. If you are local and you have never been, you can visit the building during the Glasgow Doors Open days in September.

Finally,  I recently subscribed to My Vintage Vogue which is a tumblr feed featuring glamorous photo shoots from the Vogue archives. And I refuse to believe there has ever been a woman quite as beautiful as Cyd Charisse..

Friday Linkage And Such

Ooooh, nice location and a suitable size! I also like that it hasn’t been refurbished beyond recognition (I have a particular bone to pick with developers putting Poggenpohl-knock-off kitchens into Victorian properties).  Shame about the price, of course.

A few months ago David and I went to see the Swedish vampire film, Let the Right One In. It was more art-house than Hammer house and unsurprisingly it is set for a US remake so people do not have to endure subtitles or pale Swedish boys with bowl haircuts. While most aspects of the US remake fills me with dread – the director made Cloverfield and ambiguous gender portrayals are becoming significantly less ambiguous – I found it really interesting to watch the casting tapes of the three girls up for the lead which io9 posted recently. I know which girl I prefer but I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts. Also, do not miss the discussion on io9.

Psychotic Letters From Men was a recent MeFi find. Normally I would cast it a cursory glance, move on and not mention it here, but the site did remind me of the time I received letters from a blog reader who was convinced that a) I had an artificial limb and b) this was the biggest turn-on in the world for the guy. No wonder I let my old blog die a very quiet death..

Finally, Advanced Style cheered me up. It really proves that style ain’t no age-thing.


The Jewish Quarter, Kraków, Poland, March 2009

Letter from Krakow

Dear everybody,

I am typing this entry in the lobby of our Art Deco hotel in my bare feet. It has been raining all day and, just as I moved to Scotland without an umbrella and still do not own a pair of wellies, I cheerfully wore my comfy (not rainproof) sneakers to rainy Krakow. I also only packed three pairs of socks. I have already changed twice today, so I’m not quite sure how tomorrow is going to work out. I hope it will be drier.

Also? I had been singing New Lanark Aran wool’s praises in recent weeks and refuted any claims of its dye bleeding. I currently have a red-striped forehead where my newly-knitted New Lanark beanie in red has been resting. What do you mean I should’ve washed and blocked it before leaving? You sound as though I’m a patient sort of person!

Krakow, then. To me, it feels like a Copenhagen which has been through hardship and war (which Krakow has, of course). The same architectural feel, but very run-down in most places. A beautiful, proud but tired place. We visited the old Jewish Quarter today which affected me on a personal level (a long-lost branch of my family tree is Jewish) – particularly as somebody has drawn white ghostly figures on abandoned houses. I felt decidedly twitchy and we left for more carefree ventures. Tomorrow we intend on tracking down some Art Noveau stained glass, eat more pierogi (yum!) and just maybe take in a church or two before heading home to Glasgow and dry socks.

And I’ve bought the first Christmas present of the year. Score!


It is times like these that I wished I smoked. Tough decisions to make and it is (unsurprisingly) tough to make them. I knit to relax and (again, unsurprisingly) I have finished a hat within two days.

So, let’s distract myself with interesting links. It usually works..

+ Unusual Architecture does what it says on the tin. I rather like Poland’s Crooked House and am in love with the Kansas City Public Library.

+ A Map of the Galaxy’s Most-Travelled Space Port Stations. As someone points out in the comments: “A word of advice: do not use the restroom at the Eagle Nebula station. I know it means you’ll just have to hold it for 30,000 years until you reach Carina, but trust me, you’ll be glad you did.”

+ A really interesting grid: Human Variation – The Height/Weight Photographic Grid. I’m particularly intrigued to see how I’d look if I followed my doctor’s advice..

+ Libraries’ surprising Special Collections.

+ And, finally, a soul-destroying link: The Waste Land .. LOLCat-style. I don’t even find it funny, but if you are of a less serious disposition than me you might find some sort of enjoyment in “fonician in teh whirlpoolz,  spinny/ spinny fortunes’ wheel. / in teh fonician, ponder ur fate!” Grrr..

+ Finally, finally: foxes on trampolines. Just because.

On the Town

13Oh, my Glasgow. She is pretty even if we do not see the sun all that often and it rains a great deal. She is pretty.

We went into town today, to the Lighthouse (not as in Virginia Woolf, but as in The Lighthouse, the Scottish centre for architecture, design and urbanity).

Other Half wanted to see the Donna Wilson exhibition as he went to art school with her. We also fancied some free books.

In the end, we got away with eleven free books on a number of topics: food design, twentieth century architecture, re-imagining Scottish cities etc. Some very cool, interesting and useful stuff. I somehow also managed to buy a book on the Wiener Werkstätte because I’m a sucker for early twentieth-century design. Ahh..

Che Camille is not far from The Lighthouse. I like the place a lot and right now it feels like one of Glasgow’s best-kept secrets. It won’t stay that way. The boutique/design workshop takes up most of the upper floor of one of the many Victorian buildings lining the shopping street – and getting up there to see what they have done with the space would be enough of a reason, but they are also featuring fabulous, quirky clothes/furniture from young designers. I cannot afford anything (except tiny handknits which I obviously prefer to create myself), but I do surreptitiously feed off the fantastic sense of synergy created by its owner, Camille.

Tomorrow Other Half and I will be off to Che Camille’s Clothes Swap/Customise Yr Clothes workshop. Should be fun.

16(this is the staircase in the Lighthouse Tower. pretty, no?)

Thank you for your advice on what to do when the knitting mojo just isn’t there. I have finished one sleeve of my grey jumper and will embark on the other tonight. I just think I hate knitting sleeves, to be honest. Then I’ll be knitting the collar which is the bit which really interests me with this jumper.

I have two different types of collars in mind. One is an asymmetrical bow-like construct (vaguely reminiscent of half-a-fan neckwarmer (thank you, mooncalf, for the lovely example) for which I have no pattern plus I’ll have to turn the construction around ninety degrees. I’m either going mad or am stretching my knitting abilities. Possibly both). The other idea revolves around a tube-like construct which I could attach with buttons. The latter is not half as elegant as the former but will not involve me trying to reverse engineer an unknown pattern and then turn it on its side.

Le sigh.

Next time I’m making a jumper, I’ll use a pattern.

The Balance Shall Tip in the Favour of Culture

krakowBeing of a fairly decadent, yet thrifty, disposition, we are going on a short holiday in March. Thrifty? We are going to Krakow in southern Poland – a city which is supposedly gorgeous, very Old Europe and still affordable. Decadent? We are going to stay in an art deco hotel for the duration of our stay. Don’t say we don’t know how to indulge ourselves whilst remaining within budget.

As we are only going to be in Krakow for a very short time, I don’t expect we’ll get around to seeing all that many sights. We are both slightly intrigued by the famous Wieliczka salt mines but they will probably have to wait for another holiday. I’m mainly looking forward to seeing a lot of beautiful Central European architecture (I’m thinking Krakow will be as picturesque as Prague but significantly less spoiled by fast-food chains) and eating pierogi.

Speaking of Old Europe and beautiful buildings, we watched In Bruges last night. At first I struggled a bit with the strong Irish accents, but when my ear finally tuned in, I relished a dark, funny and very smart film. I didn’t even mind Colin Farrell all that much which is saying something.

On needles? I ripped back my delicate lace shawl, have begun a lovely colourful shawl and have almost finished a little cardigan for my nephew-due-in-March. I am also working on my jumper and am getting close to a point where I have to make design decisions. O-er!

Structures Lost and Found

Two links:

Abandoned Russian Lighthouses – a series of crumbling structures in beautiful natural surroundings. Add a healthy dollop of poverty and tragedy:

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the unattended automatic lighthouses did [the] job for some time, but after some time they collapsed too. Mostly as a result of the hunt for the metals like copper and other stuff which were performed by the looters. They didn’t care or maybe even didn’t know the meaning of the “Radioactive Danger” sign and ignored them, breaking in and destroying the equipment.

The Linguistic Diversity of Europe – an interesting, if brief, look at how the linguistic landscape (literally!) may have looked as long as six millennia ago. Ringe makes a good case for how he constructs it (as we have very little, if any, hands-on evidence, obviously) and the comments are interesting too. I’m a sucker for (Proto-)Indo-European linguistic archaeology, anyhow even if that makes me sound vaguely geeky.

Tuesday Linkage

I may be in the throes of female hormones, so here are some calming links.

+ Smugopedia: “Smugopedia is a collection of slightly controversial opinions about a variety of subjects. We offer you the chance to buy a fleeting sense of self-satisfaction at the small cost of alienating your friends and loved ones.”

+ It’s Not You, It’s Your Books: Literary dealbreakers. I once dated a guy who had a shelf of Oprah-esque self-help books. I’m not saying that’s why I broke up with him.. but we only lasted a week after that discovery.

+ Pretty staircases. Note that the URL is NSFW but the content is very, very SFW. This is my personal favourite (first photo).

+ A Field Guide to Ten Most Common Frontmen Styles. My favourite frontman happens to be a cross between no. 6 and no. 10. Hmm.

+ The Lost Tribes of Green Sahara. Beautiful photography.

+ Sarah Palin is Your New.. What? Many people have opinions on just what who Palin is. I quite like “..Hail Mary” and “Faustian Bargain” but my absolute favourite is “Star Wars: Episodes I – III Plus The Clone Wars”. Heh.

Addendum: Booker Shortlist.