This weekend was Doors Open Day in Glasgow, so today we took a quick walk to New Victoria Gardens in Pollokshields, local allotments (though lots of the plotholders are also growing flowers). As usual with these things I got serious allotment envy – when we move one of the things we want to do is put our name down for an allotment (the house we’re hoping to buy doesn’t have a big enough garden to be able to support a veg plot). The gardens were lovely, a real oasis.
Today I had a wee thesis break (which turned into a rather longer break thanks to a bit of a nap this afternoon- more proof, as if any were needed, that I am indeed my father’s daughter) as this weekend is Doors Open Day in Glasgow (yes I know fellow pedants, it should technically be Doors Open Weekend, but Doors Open Day it apparently is). Down south, certainly in London, this weekend is Open House too, so it seems that throughout the land the great and good are visiting places that aren’t usually open to them to poke around for free and have a look and enjoy a bit of our local heritage.
The last couple of years I’ve been out of town for Doors Open Day(s), so have twice missed a local landmark I was really keen to see. This year we finally made it, just a few minutes away we had a tour of Govanhill Baths. This local swimming pool closed in 2001, and has been closed ever since, but there’s a wonderful community group (the Govanhill Baths Community Trust) which is working on raising funds to get it open again for the community. The guy who was showing us round remembered teaching his kids to swim there, and was involved in the occupation when the baths first closed – a group of locals occupied the baths from March to August that year, supported by lots of locals, but they were eventually evicted by rather heavy-handed police and since then they have been working to get the pools open again.
It was fascinating wandering round and seeing little features. The baths were built around the start of the First World War and provided a fantastic service to what was at the time (still is in parts) a very crowded and deprived area. As well as the swimming pools, Turkish bath etc they also had a section with baths which was used by those members of the community who didn’t have a bath or shower in their own flat. The thing which shocked me most was that in 2001, when the baths closed, the 2001 census showed that there were still 400+ properties in the area which still didn’t have a bath. Having worked in a nearby area for a while now and visited people in their homes I’m sadly not surprised by that figure – this is something of which we as a society should be ashamed, and I’m glad to give the Community Trust a big plug as they try to do their little bit to improve our area.
After our trip to the baths we met a couple of friends for lunch, and then headed off to our other Doors Open Day destination, this time our local allotments (getting collared on the way by the one stall on the farmers’ market that hadn’t quite packed up and getting a very delicious tasting of some wonderful veg and cheese into the bargain). When we got to the allotments we discovered that they were only opening for Doors Open Day tomorrow and not today, but as we stood there looking silly the allotment secretary happened to walk past so we had a bit of a chat and he told us to go in and look round anyway. Which we did. We stopped by his allotment and put our name down on the waiting list for an allotment, though as the waiting list is around 100 already I’m sure we’ll be long gone before any allotment comes up. It was good though to see a little oasis of green and another community facility which I’d be really happy to support.
I’ll finish with a picture I took at the end of the Govanhill Baths trip. They had a little room with kids’ art, and I found this brilliant papier mache fish which I thought was fantastic!