Added on Thursday 13 Mar 2008
Despite the atrocious weather I've been out and about a fair bit - in fact it's been a particularly busy and enjoyable month. This last week has been an absolute pleasure and makes you feel very privileged to be living in Glasgow. I've had a great time at the Aye Write Festival and so far I've been along to two of the events. I went along to listen to three of Glasgow's most successful writers reading extracts from their books and talking about their work - Louise Welsh, Janice Galloway and Anne Donovan - it was a pleasure to listen to what they had to say. All three women are gloriously talented, funny and entertaining and thanks to them I am now lining up my reading for my next holiday with Anne Donovan's 'Being Emily', 'Clara' by Janice Galloway and Louise Welsh's latest 'The Bullet Trick'.
I was back in The Mitchell, the heart of the festival, the next evening, when I went along with Rosemary Venditozzi to hear Kathleen Turner talk about her book 'Send Yourself Roses: my life, love and leading roles.' What an absolute Hollywood Goddess - she had the audience enthralled if she was back again next week I would go back for more. A very spirited and interesting speaker with Janice Forsyth in great form as the presenter; a particularly enjoyable night out.
Definitely worthwhile making the effort to venture into the stormy night as another treat was having a meal in The Drawing Room in Sauchiehall Street. Rosemary and I were very cosily ensconced in a window seat with a nice view of the rain battered Kelvingrove Art Gallery. I had intended trying out the tapas but opted for the rack of lamb with garlic runner beans and spuds and it was delicious. Rosemary loved her creamy chicken dish - we were both too full up for the sticky toffee pudding that we had in mind for afters. I think that The Drawing Room may soon be joining the restaurants that are on our Glasgow Restaurant Reservations
Recently I enjoyed a lovely evening out with the Venditozzis at young Rosemary's 40th birthday party, where it was great to meet up with all the gang. Including Luisa home from Milan, Michael over from New Hampshire and Dominic and Zoe down from Dundee - to mention but a few! Well done Zoe on completing your first novel, good luck to Anthony about to set off for New Zealand and Happy Birthday, Rosemary.
Another literary event I enjoyed was the first of a new series at OranMor, A Playwright, A Play and A Pint. I went along with Sylvia Rossi to this unusual performance where the first playwright to be interviewed was Louise Welsh, she must now think I am a groupie - and why not? Clare English from BBC Radio Scotland discussed with Louise her play, 'The Importance of Being Alfred?, part of the Play, Pie and Pint series at OranMor, and excerpts from the play were performed. Listen out for it on the radio as it was very absorbing to hear about the dynamics between the playwright and the actors and also learn something about what makes a writer tick. Watch out for this event at OranMor - I'll definitely be going along to the event on 25th with Denise Mina.
I also went with Sylvia to see Hephaistos, the play by Chris Dolan, as part of the Play, Pie and Pint series at OranMor. Gerry Rossi, Sylvia's husband composed the music for this ambitious piece of theatre, which was rivetting stuff for a lunchtime audience. The after play discussion was also very enjoyable as we found ourselves surrounded by Glasgow's literati and glitterati when we had a coffee after the show.
I now find myself in awe of Libby McArthur (Gina Rossi in River City) - if she decides to move on from that role she could pursue a very successful career as a critic as her views on the play were pretty engrossing. I'm sure I spotted Archie, her risen from the dead husband (on the tele that is), hanging onto every word.
Every so often it comes home to you as to just what a small world it is as it turns out that Libby's and Sylvia and Gerry's children went to school together hence the reason that Rossi was chosen as the surname for her character in the television soap. We also had a wee natter with the very affable, yet so smart, Chris Dolan, author of the play. I'm lining them all up for my local characters section.
Back in the real world with my family, I've been on my usual trips down to Old Kilpatrick and went along to see our latest member of the family, Freya O'Neill, my new grand-niece. Then Jim and I had a lovely time at a party over in Cardonald, where my cousin Desmond McColgan and his wife Cathie celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary.
I've also been having some new experiences and John, Ryan and myself went along to the Botanics to the Hillhead Children's Garden to get involved in some of their springtime planting. John Hancox soon got us fixed up with the necessary equipment and before long we were joined by a gang of kids all busy planting bulbs. Great fun! The garden is such a good idea - we will be back along first sunny day.
I also took Ryan on his first outing to the Cinema when we went along to see 'Polar Bear' at the Grosvenor - he was thrilled to bits and the only downside for me was that he wanted to sit in the very front row. Afterwards we had a great time in The Sentry Box - the fabulous toy shop in Great George Street, where I bought some animal figures the same as we had seen in the film. Then met John for lunch at Baguette Express in Byres Road, a smashing place for a swift and tasty sandwich - recommended by Roy Beers. I also tried out another fairly new eaterie at the bottom of Byres Road - Cabbages and Kings, nice and spacious and very relaxed with tempting home made soup and cakes - recommended by Linda Keenan.
I had a very enjoyable time catching up with young Michael Bowes at everyone's favourite cafe/deli Sonny & Vitos - we had a delicious lunch then I stocked up on some homebaked delicacies for our tea. After leaving Michael, I popped into some of the great shops in Park Road, JKJ Jewellers to say 'hi' to the delightful Judith Kenny and also had a look in Doll - one of the most attractive new shops in the City.
Afterwards I caught up with Roy Beers for coffee in Cherubini and heard all the latest lowdown about the Drinking and Dining Scene in Glasgow's West End. I had eaten and drank so much myself that I walked along University Avenue and paid a visit to Maggie Graham in her lovely new flat in a great spot overlooking the avenue and Byres Road.
A couple of days later I was back along in that territory, when I went to meet Frances Rickus for lunch at Glasgow University and a peep at the Mature Students' Association, where Frances has been been very pro-active in the refurbishment programme. You can read all about this in her Mature Student's Diary. Whilst back in this neck of the woods I called into Christo's Gallery to see what Louise Burns was up to in this fantastic gallery and gift shop.
On Mother's Day we met up with Jim's Mum and Dad and went along to Paperino's for some fine Italian fare. The restaurant is very lively and relaxed and was doing a roaring trade and we had a happy time amongst the throng of diners. Congratulations to Sandro Giovanazzi of La Parmigiana winning The Best Italian Restaurant Award at the inaugural Scottish Restaurant Awards 2008.
I've had a couple of lunch dates in Booly Mardy's, where I caught up with Jackie and also Basia, who had a high time of it on the red carpet at the Sundance Film Festival where her daughter Marianna Palk was the youngest director to pick up an award. You are an absolute star, Marianna.
We'll catch up again with Basia on Monday 17th when Jim's band Loris will play at OranMor at a fundraising event in aid of Basia and John's involvement in the Cuba Cycle Challenge. Should be a good night and we will have the Old Kilpatrick gang visiting the West End for the occasion.
Jim's been busy with the band making a new recording, he's been out at gigs in The Liquid Ship and Nice 'n' Sleezy and was also interviewed on Sunny Govan Radio. You can listen to some of his songs the Loris website and Jim's myspace.
Apart from all the nightlife I've been making a good attempt at introducing a fitness regime into my life. A bit blustery for the gym and sadly due to the bad weather the allotment has been neglected but I have been going swimming at Scotstoun Leisure Centre and we've had a few family outings there as well. Ryan, about to be four in a week or so, has taken to swimming like a duck to water and this is now his favourite activity so it means that I am splashing about in the childrens' pool as well as building up the number of lengths of the baths that I swim.
We introduced him to the pool recently when we went on a short trip to Southport and there was a pool at the hotel we stayed at - Scarisbrick Hotel. We were only there for one night but managed to fit in quite a lot on our first trip to Merseyside - and were almost blown away on Southport Beach and then on our return journey we had a similar experience at Morecambe. Blustery weather but we had great fun and got rid of some cobwebs on our beachcombing venture. In particular, it was really nice to visit Trish Thorburn, one of the O'Donnell clan from Clydebank, who has got a thriving little cafe in Southport, Sue's Pantry. Great to catch up with Trisha and her Aunt Annie, whom I visited in 1965 in London. A lively 80 year old, she is doing a fine job working away in the cafe.
Apart from all these outings I've been very busy on the website and have recently added a new feature on Sonny & Vitos, I've also been busy creating a feature on
On my way down Byres Road I called in to see David Howat at Pattison & Sim for a wee natter and he assures me that house prices in the West End are not dropping. I also called in to have a look at the new Street Wear Shop - with the very snazzy name of Zip-Code - should appeal to the youngsters and the Vans fans.
Another super shop, not long opened in the West End is Hilly & Boo on Hyndland Road, where I had a chat with Elaine McKay about this new venture. Certainly a place to head if you are on the look out for a gift - or a wee treat for yourself. Lots of unusual cards and bits and bobs and lovely ranges like Crabtree and Evelyn and those irresistible Yankee Candles.
I am still busy pulling together information for our Glasgow Weddings section on the site so if you are a photographer, florist, kiltmaker, or baker please get in touch and if you are the bride then find out about your £ 50 gift from Debenhams.
There's stacks of new stuff up on the site including: