“Rive Gauche” usually refers to the Paris of an earlier era: The Paris of artists, writers and philosophers, Colette, Gertrude Stein, Henri Matisse, Jean-Paul Sartre…. and dozens of members of the great artistic community in Paris. There is a sense of bohemianism, creativity, modernism, it is left of the river Seine, around the Boulevard Saint-Germain, St Michel, rue de Rennes… the architecture is 19th century, a bit of “Belle Epoque”, it nice to wander around this area slowly as if time had stopped, to seat at a terrace and enjoy an expresso and why not a “gauloise” (cigarette in blue packet from a time when smoking was fashionable and not terribly bad for your health). I have spent many good moments walking around that area… stopping at a bookshop and buying for 10 francs an old paper book to read during my travels….
Well I live in the “Rive Gauche” in Glasgow… its a lovely neighbourhood around Kelvinbridge, on the West side of the Clyde river, at the bottom of a crescent from last century (wait actually from the century before…) the town houses are tall and fair and the large windows overlook the pleasure gardens where children run, students pretend to study and the grown up seat, in the fair weather of a summer day drinking a glass of continental wine, having a blather.
We all meet up at the resident garden bbq and marvel at the fact it is not raining this time and the children are now so tall. We all know each other and call each other by name when meeting on the way to work or play. We all have been there for ever and every so often, a family who have overgrown their flat wait patiently for someone to vacate a larger property instead of moving on because they love it so much…. so and so are moving to Nr “down the crescent”. We moved “up” to the top of the crescent at some point.
Its a great place to be, a little heaven right in the centre of the great town that Glasgow has become when it got fed up of being “a dear green place”.
When I open the shutters (yes we have internal shutters in our flat, a Victorian luxury) the first thing I see it the great Spire of Lansdowne Parish Church. When I close them at night, it is still there almost like if it is looking over me, with sometimes the moon as a great circle just above. Every time I remember this wee song I used to sing as a child about the “sur un clocher la lune comme un point sur un i” (on a spire the moon like a dot on the i”. Wikipedia says that “A spire is a tapering conical or tall pyramidal structure on the top of a building, particularly a church tower” and ours is very very tall. You can see it miles away. Its quite handy really, no need for a Sat Nav to get home just find the Spire. The story says that it collapsed once and had to be rebuilt. The story also says that the church was built by Honeyman and Keepie the architect office where the great Charles Rennie Mackintosh started his career. It can promise you, the Lansdowne Parish Church is not “Glasgow Style” by any stretch of the imagination. Very gothic indeed, with beautiful stained glasses and stone carvings. I say church but not a church any more, in the process of becoming a theatre, how handy, my very own theatre just around the corner, 200 meters from my front door.
But the one not to miss is the sleeping beauty tower of the University. Just walk down the road towards the bridge and there it stands in the background, you can catch very beautiful sunset there if you only time it right. Another gothic marvel, just it was not built in gothic time, only a bit of revival from the 1880’s when all the rich folks of Glasgow used to be my neighbours and they needed a University grand enough for their off springs.
It is a beautiful building though and most of the local students are rushing there first thing in the morning for a quick class before they pour in the local cafes for a late and a pastry or seat on the grass in Kelvingrove for some revision time… I once studied there, my graduation was grand, actually more than that. The Harry Potter type, black robes procession following the professors in their “all sort of colours” gowns, a lot of Latin chanting and then a quick cup of champaign in the Quadrant before rushing out to lunch in one of the fashionable West-end restaurants, that is worth staying for 4 years for this kind of graduation.
But back to my crescent. If you have to put your name down on a waiting list… this would be the one to be on. This is a place for a lifetime of good times, lovely houses in blond stone, quiet sundays away from the traffic of the main road, yearly calendar of summer bbq, bonfire nights and Christmas carols evening with jolly neighbours. I love the laughter of the children playing on the pavements as I used to do when I was little. It is much fun to see them setting shop by their front door tol collect pennies. I bough two chewing gums pellets on sunday for £0.20 I think it was a good deal. I like seeing them draw in chalk on the road, bunches of flowers and hearts and funny men… I like hearing the sound of the piano playing next door and greeting my neighbour when he seats on his front step with his glass of wine.
Really I do love Paris ! but who wants to travel to Paris when you have your very own “Rive Gauche” at home.
Do you love your neighbourhood?
If you love my neighbourhood and would like to enjoy my greeting cards see above, please visit my shop on Etsy The Lansdowne House (www.etsy.com) or email me firstname.lastname@example.org . They are blanks for you to use for any occasion and are available in packs of 4 (4 different designs)