Added on Monday 14 Jul 2008
My feet have hardly touched the ground this past month - it's been a rollercoaster. Loads on with the West End Festival, even although I didn't manage to get along to all of the programme events that I had ticked, including some in the following West End Festival Reviews. Still, we got off to a pretty good start and had a lovely time at the Allotments Open Day, on the 14th July - a lovely sunshiny day. We enjoyed chatting with lots of enthusastic visitors and showing off our bountiful plot, which was unusually weed-free for the event. Jim and I also went along to St Luke's Greek Church, where we stocked up with all sorts of delicious baklava and other Mediterranean delicacies.
Thankfully, the weather held up for the Mardi Gras Parade and Street Party on the Sunday and it was a good day, if you could cope with the crowds and high spirits.(You can see some of the photos in Jim's photodiary).
Jim and I were dead lucky to grab a table outside Little Italy, where we were able to sit back in comfort and observe the goings on.
We met up with loads of our friends and it was good to catch Maggie Graham and Douglas - congrats on yet another grandchild. I was particularly happy to bump into young Mikaelis Papamikial before he took off for a year in Quebec. Also good to have a chat with old friends, Marie and Spoff MacLean, from Bowling. We were a bit lazy and didn't get to see too much of the action but Sub-City Sounds in Lilybank Gardens seemed to be a big hit and we met Davie Wilson on his way up to check out the action. One sure-fire hit at the featival was Dave Anderson and his band had the crowd in raptures as they joined in with the band to belt out tunes like 'Gloria'.
I always enjoy the Gibson Street Gala, and this year was no exception. I had a smashing day out there with my two sons and grandson, Ryan. We sat back and relaxed and listened to the entertainment and enjoyed our al fresco lunch courtesy of Louis' Grill. I particularly enjoyed the calm vibe, which was created at the GOW triangle and caught up with Eric and Morna, in their backcourt - transformed into a very cool Zen-like area for the occasion. The perfect setting for lots of laid back activities and attractive stalls - I particularly liked the beautiful handmade jewellery and appetising, organic sourdough bread.
Afterwards, we took a hike down to The Mela in Kelvingrove, where despite the rain, there was a huge turnout of people enjoying the vibrant atmosphere at this great multi-cultural event. Ryan enjoyed trying out the rides and bouncy castle and I picked up a couple of bargains at one of the many, colourful stalls.
We saw loads of familiar faces and I had a wee chat with Nas Aksi having a day off from her busy restaurateur's career and also caught up with Michael Dale, looking pretty relaxed, despite his demanding role of Festival Director.
He has to be congratulated on all his hard work and there were some great developments at this year's festival, including the participation of some great new venues such as The Drawing Room, who put on an impressive array of events. The Hidden Lane Cafe was another establishment which threw itself wholeheartedly into the spirit of the festival and so successful were their Lazy Sundays, acoustic music afternoons, that these are set to continue on a regular basis from 20th July.
The Hidden Lane is an absolutely charming little cafe tucked away in a cobbled lane just off Argyle Street. Home to some of Glasgow's most talented artisans, including the jeweller Shona Fidgett, it's the perfect location for Gill Millar's 'diverse collection of artists, creative people and a wonderful caf? gallery'.
Apart from the lazy sundays, this tranquil little spot provides the back drop for some interesting activity including the poets, Aidan Mceoin and Jim Fergusons', Groovy Tuesdays. Jim and I took a run into the cafe to find out what this was all about and enjoyed a very convivial evening among some very friendly poets and their admirers.
Mick, from Acoustic Butterfly, organises the Lazy Sundays at the cafe and is also the man behind the great Open Mike nights every Tuesday evening at Rio's in Hyndland Street. Jim has performed there a few times as he hones his acoustic performing skills and we had a good night out there recently with Jim's mum and Val and Graham.
Since Jim returned from his songwriting trip to Italy the house has been reverberting with non-stop guitar playing and he's producing new songs like nobody's business. You can hear some of them on his myspace. He's getting all set to perform at different festivals throughout Scotland including Colonsay Folk Festival Sept 2008 and Linlithgow Folk Festival
The guitar now comes almost everywhere with us and certainly when we go to visit Graham, Joan, Alison and Louise, who have moved nearby. Great opportunity for Jim and Graham to jam together, whilst Joan and I chat about her childhood In Skye and enjoy the childrens' high jinks. Very relaxing and enjoyable.
I've also been seeing a lot of my buddy and partner in crime, Roy Beers, and we are working hard on a project, all to be revealed soon, and researching new restaurants and cafes in the West End. We then discuss these at length in all our favourite places. Nice work if you can get it! We particularly enjoy Ecco, in Crow Road's Italian Brunch and we are also very easily enticed into Cafe Cherubini.
Roy and I had a delicious meal at Kama Sutra and he went along with Maggs to try out the tapas at Torres, where they were very favourably impressed. Both Kama Sutra and Torres are offering brilliant deals through our Restaurant Reservation Service.
Roy and I have both popped into have a look at Serge in Ashton Lane, above Brel, tiny, lovely little intimate restaurant, which can draw on Brel's larger menu.
Should be fun to go along and try out their Wine Tasting and Dinner on Monday 28th July, 7pm, where wine boffin Ross Buchanan from inverarity Wines will tell all about some wonderful wines produced from little known grape varieties. Apart from the wine and two course meal - I'm told that it will be a night full of surprises! (£20 a head).
Serge is certainly a very attractive little restaurant and one of the many new places popping up around the West End. Just noticed another new place yesterday, Atrio, 192 Byres Road, where Bonhams was. Need to check it out.
Roy fills you in on all the developments in his latest Drinking and Dining Feature
Jim and I have ventured away from the West End for some excursions through Edinburgh this month. We went along to Nicola's Confirmation in Curry, where and met up with all the Byrne Family. We bought her a lovely present from Hilling and Boo in Hyndland - very attractive shop with really nice staff.
We went for a train ride back to Edinburgh again two Sundays ago and had a lovely day out wandering along Rose Street and the Royal Mile. We had a delicious Italian meal in Bella Italia and made plans for our holiday in Orkney and talked about some trips to Folk Music Festivals, where Jim will start trying out his new musical style.
One of our highlights this month was a trip to the Edinburgh Film Festival for the Premier of Marianna Palka's film 'Good Dick', which was absolutely brilliant and I can't thank Basia and John enough for inviting us along. It was a super day out from start to finish, great fun to go on a Polish style excursion, with sandwiches and Cava served on the bus through from Glasgow to Edinburgh. Before the film we had a big get-together with the stars and producers of the film, and visitors from Glasgow, Paisley, California and Poland. Then after the film we trotted along in the rain to Jimmy Chung's, off Lothian Road, for a Chinese Banquet buffet-style.
It was inspirational to listen to the young producers and stars of the film talk about their commitment to the project and how they combined their skills to create and develop this fantastic project. A very unusual film showing some outstanding talent - as acknowledged by Sundance Film Festival, where Marianna won a special award for writing, directing and starring in the film. Her partner and co-star, Jason Ritter, grandson of that old cowpoke Tex Ritter, is no slouch either and his performance was outstanding. I hope that all involved will continue to receive recognition for their achievement in putting together such a great film.
Another little trip I had away from the West End took me down to Roseneath with my friend Ann to visit her caravan. A lovely drive, taking in the three Lochs, Lomond, Loch Long and the Gareloch, and a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. We are going to have a wee excursion there during the summer with Ann's great nieces and nephew and Ryan. Should be fun!
We've seen a lot of friends recently at happy and sad occasions and had a long overdue visit from Issi and Davie Wilson, then caught up with The Wilson Family again at Grassroots, where we went along for Kerry's graduation meal. Good to see Marianne down from Aberdeen - hope you'll keep up those reviews for our Gig Guide.
We were also invited along to Hyndland to Sylvia and Gerry Rossi's, both delighted that their children, Nadia and Luciano, have successfully graduated. Needless to say, more musical collaboration ensued between the lads and Sylvia and I enjoyed a good chinwag about her long holiday in Portugal and how much she is liking her new job. We hope to go along with them soon to catch Anna Sheard performing with Snow Goose and Jim has been issued an invitation to play a tune or two on Gerry's show on Celtic Music Radio
It was also great to catch up with Katrina and Jim Bowes and Katrina's mum Mae and I very much enjoyed having lunch with them at Hotel du Van, where we had a beautiful meal. Pity young Michael is currently in Nepal, before he starts studying as a postgraduate at Cornell University, as he would have enjoyed hearing all about Emily Galletly, one of his former-schoolmate's plans to move to a new job as Assistanty Sommalier at Gleneagles. Good luck, Emily, sounds like a great opportunity. Long time since Michael was featured on the site as (a young Westender). Jamie Riley is also still working away with the great team at Hotel du Vin and he too stopped at our table to say 'hello'. All in all it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
However, Sadly all the get-togethers were not happy occasions this month and I had a couple of funerals to attend. Firstly, Kate Figg's funeral at Cardross' Kate was a colleague at Glasgow Caledonian University and also a lecturer at Clydebank College. My cousin Desmond McColgan also died and I went along with Jim and my brothers to his funeral at Lourdes in Cardonald. Both of the funerals were very beautiful and emotional. Neither Kate nor Desmond, were very old and both had suffered difficult illnesses so very sad - my heart goes out to their partners and their children.
Bereavements certainly put a lot of stuff into perspective and make you appreciate the good things in your life and value those who are near and dear and take pleasure from all the little things.
I've been enjoying my usual little jaunts around the West End and enjoyed a wee blether with Denise Mina, who was dining at Heart Buchanan on Byres Road, whilst busy working on her latest book. No surprise to hear that her great play, 'A Drunk Woman Looks At The Thistle', by far the best entertainment so far at Oranmor's Play, Pie and Pint, is all set for inclusion in the Edinburgh Festival. (Assembly Rooms, George Street, Thursday 31st July - Sunday 24th August). I also keep bumping into Alasdair Gray, who is enjoying completing his artwork at OranMor - looks as though that task may take quite some time. I've still to read his latest novel 'Old Men in Love - maybe a good choice for some holiday reading.
Jim and I have been out cycling quite a lot lately and usually head for the cycle track on the canal but have also been taking short runs along to Byres Road. The other day we stopped off for a coffee in Jellyhill in Hyndland and had a wee browse in the Book Shop and a look in at Daniel's Shoe Shop, where there is a great sale on. Andrew, the manager is still busy performing in musical theatre and, among other things, up to his eyes in 42nd Street at the moment.
Jim is waiting for me to go out for a bicycle ride so better take advantage while it is dry. He has a gig tonight at Nice 'n' Sleazy with his band Loris and then looks like full steam ahead trying out his new solo, acoustic material.
Lots of new stuff on the site including: