Hooray, it’s September again! That can only mean… European Heritage Days. For the first two Scottish weekends I went to East Renfrewshire, and Inverclyde.
A late start on weekend one meant there was only time to see two buildings, but they were fascinating. It is amazing that even though some building are technically open most of the time and you would be most welcome to visit, it is often not until an official “event” invites us to wander around that we take up that offer. Got a First Glasgow all day city ticket and headed out to Giffnock.
Giffnock and Newlands synagogue offered a welcoming tour including an explanation of not only the building but the history of the Jewish religion in the West of Scotland. The twenty two stained glass windows actually came from Queens Park synagogue in Glasgow. Each one depicts important events within the Jewish calendar and has been dedicated to families of individuals who donated them and allowed them to be installed in Giffnock. I found it particularly interesting to see the wooden board in the entrance way which was engraved and painted with family names, a light bulb beside the name invites members of the congregation to bear that person in mind. The huge Torah scrolls were beautifully engraved, our guide told us how they were read. The inner calligrapher in me can only begin to imagine just how long it must take to hand write such documents, such careful devotion! Upstairs one could see a stunning close up view of the stained glass, it reminded me a little of Coats Observatory in Paisley in a way, as there were many stars and planets and such lush vivid colours to be seen.
Next on the list was a little further up the same road, Giffnock United Reform Church. I had never been here either, Giffnock is not a place on my usual route so it was good to go and explore a new area. The church is a 1930’s property, from the outside you can see its front facade with painted stonework and an inviting banner…inside it was a beautifully quiet space with a quite mesmerising rose window. From the decorative needlework panels created by the congregation one can tell that the building is well loved and well used, each pillar in the nave was adorned with a stitched scene illustrating a particular parable or tale from the Bible. Some had quotes from different sections of text, others were abstract or depicting an image which accompanied a favourite quotation, each individually designed and hand stitched. The light was flooding in through the windows and creating a nice glow on the wooden pews and beautiful roof to accompany our tour; so peaceful with the organ lightly playing in the background.
As it was nearing the end of the Doors Open Day we did not have time to go to other places,but made a mental note of others to go and see. A little further up the road is a new supermarket called “Whole Foods” which sells organic produce, and had picnic tables outside. It was actually very warm for a September day, we sat outside and had a picnic after a wander around the store (it is quite differently laid out from most supermarkets, and the outside is all timber cladding with community information and cycle routes displayed.. not really Doors Open Day related but in the spirit of urban wandering we had a nosey http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/giffnock ). Their “dog park” amused me.