Scottish Cycle Museum

The Scottish Cycle Museum at Drumlanrig Castle has had a makeover. It was good before, but now it's even better.

Scottish Cycle Museum

Drumlanrig is close to Keir Mill, where Kirkpatrick Macmillan invented the first pedal-driven bicycle in 1842. This small museum in the stableyard celebrates everything that's good on two wheels.

Scottish Cycle Museum

Drumlanrig has beautiful gardens, a great adventure playground and a good cafe. The cycle museum is an added bonus and if that wasn't enough, there are some Andy Goldsworthy sculptures around the grounds which we've never yet managed to find. There's always a good reason to go back for another look.

The National Wool Museum

Wool, it's great stuff, as the National Wool Museum in Wales shows. I visited it on the way to the Do Lectures (with thanks to Russell for the lift). What a lovely place. Set up in one of the few remaining Welsh woollen mills in the Teifi valley it's a nice mixture of the historical and technical with the modern and the beautiful.

The photo at the top shows a temporary exhibition of contemporary woollen designs, including Donna Wilson's lovely little creatures. There's a lot of great stuff around, particularly as it's National Wool Week.

The National Wool Museum

There are some great displays of vintage woollen fashions (the 60s stuff is particularly fine) and great cabinets full of Welsh tapestry blankets from the National Flat Textile Collection - how grand.

The National Wool Museum

In a building across the way the looms still clatter away with an enormous racket, weaving the most fantastic geometric fabrics.

Highly recommended if you're down that way.

The Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright

Another visit to The Stewartry Museum in Kirkcudbright, to check it hadn't changed. Thankfully, it hadn't. It's a small, Victorian museum collecting the flora, fauna and found objects of the local area (known as 'The Stewartry'). Everything is crammed in there - birds, fish, animals, fossils, war posters, lighthouse lenses, butter churns, turnip scythes. You name it, it's in there.

The Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright

Taking pictures in museums (with permission of course) is always a tricky thing. I spent ages taking pictures from every angle to avoid the glare but in the end, my favourites were these outtakes, reflections and all. More photos of The Stewartry Museum on Flickr.

The Musgrave Collection, Eastbourne

I've had a go at describing the indescribable - The Musgrave Collection in Eastbourne is unique and marvelous in a strange, compelling way. It's a museum created and curated by 94 year-old George Musgrave, which ranks amongst the oddest I've ever visited. The whole story is on Nothing To See Here.

No 39 to St Helens

We had the pleasure of visiting the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum at Lathalmond (near Dunfermline in Fife) on Sunday. It's not very well advertised - I only heard about it from Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust, which itself is a well-kept secret.

For a small charge you can come and wander about the sheds, seeing buses of all shapes and sizes. The old single deckers are beautiful things, all graceful and curvaceous. The signs and lettering are generally beautiful.

The luggage altar

You can worship at the altar of luggage, and work out which place in Scotland has the funniest name. Yetts of Muckhart? Auchtertool? Halfway?

Bus pin-up

And ogle the bus pin-ups. Phwoar.

It's quite a big place, set in an old RAF base and as part of the admission price you get a tour of the estate on an old double-decker. The opening hours are quite restricted but they're having an open weekend on 15-16 August (this Saturday and Sunday) and I would heartily recommend a visit.

Tobermory tatties

It's that time of year where we're gradually working our way through local parks and museums. So yesterday we visited Summerlee, Museum of Industrial Life in Coatbridge. It's just reopened after a big renovation and is a fantastic place to wander about. There's one big building full of industrial things and old-timey displays showing what life used to be like in this bit of North Lanarkshire. I learnt a lot about mining, pig iron and sweet-making. There's a lot of nice old packaging on display.

1960s house

Outside, you can ride an old Glasgow tram round to some old miners' cottages kitted out for different decades. It's really nicely done. The 1960s house was my favourite.


Then there's an old coal mine you can poke about it and some rusty engines that are always good for found type. I took lots of photos and really recommend it, especially as it's free (apart from the tram ride) and open all year round.

Yes Museum

More London photos (almost done), this time from the The Museum of Brands and Packaging, Robert Opie's wonderful collection of familiar household items through the years. It's inconveniently situated in Notting Hill but as we'd had a long morning traipsing round big museums that were too busy to see anything in, it was nice to be in a wee museum where you could see everything. It's a jolly wee place, crammed full of stuff. There's no real commentary apart from the objects themselves, themed into date, subject or product order at various stages. I took about a million photos as there was something good in pretty much every case. Full selection here.

It's funny how the merest glimpse of a product can take you back decades. For me it was the sight of Mackintosh's Toffee Cup which I used to love. Seeing it through the glass I was instantly transported back to childhood, going to the paper shop to buy one, unwrapping the thin foil and biting into it. The toffee was really light and thin and would make giant toffee deathslides when you took a bite. It was more delicate than a Cadbury's Caramel so I used to kid myself that I was quite refined eating one, probably with a can of Top Deck to wash it down. Similarly the sight of Mackintosh's Week-End evoked a rollercoaster of emotion. The joy that someone had brought your mum chocolates, and the disappointment of them turning out to be Week-Ends. They were a strange assortment with too many non-chocolates - weird nougaty things and dodgy toffees. It's like they were booby-trapped.

Peek Freans pom-poms

Anyway, there's some really wonderful stuff in there, just ripe for ripping off.


Well worth a visit.

Gladstone Court Museum, Biggar

After the great fish and chips we sampled more of Biggar's delights. For a small place there's an awful lot going on. There are six museums, so we tried Gladstone Court first. It's a lovely little place - a recreation of a Victorian shopping street made from bits and pieces reclaimed from Biggar's actual high street. It's educational (great for schools) and full of local interest but also lovely to wander round no matter how old you are or where you're from. There's an old photographic studio, a bank, library, print shop, school, a bootmakers and lots more - see pictures. The nice thing about it is Biggar's modern-day high street is very well-preserved. It pretty much has one of every sort of shop you need and they're all family businesses handed down from generation to generation, so it feels like the right place to have a little treasure like this.

The Bakelite Museum, Somerset

There's a report of our visit to The Bakelite Museum in Williton, Somerset on Nothing To See Here. Probably the best museum ever. Photos on Flickr as usual.

The Radar Museum, RAF Neatishead, Norfolk

Another plug for Nothing To See Here, this time the Radar Museum in Norfolk which may be of interest to military historians/Cold War enthusiasts/Dr. Strangelove fans.

Gulls, Auks, Terns and Skuas

Ever since I railed about Kelvingrove Museum and Art Galleries being redeveloped and left lacking I've been on the hunt for something to replace the things-in-glass-cases mecca of my childhood. It's inevitable that with two kids (boys particularly) we spend a lot of time in museums - they're warm, they're free and on a good day they're interesting. So I've become something of a connoisseur over the past few months and am developing an obsession with stuffed animals, those fusty old charts showing the ages of man and museum labels. So much so that I've collected them all in an I Heart Museums Flickr set.

Before reporting back on this week's find I'll start with an old dispatch from the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh which deserves full marks for top class museumy-ness. It's a beautiful building for a start - stern and airy at the same time. And it's full of really interesting stuff which is mostly left on its own the way it should be (there are nods to interactivity at the Museum of Scotland end). The highlight for me was the Hall of British Birds - a spectacular time capsule of 1970s design - all hessian, earth colours and round corners. I sent some photos to Ace Jet 170 for Found Type Friday and he describes the Clarendon signage as "like a beautiful curvaceous woman". It looks like this is being gradually modernised too so enjoy it while you can. As there's currently a Pixar: 20 years of animation exhibition on there's an extra reason to go sooner rather than later.

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