Added on Thursday 15 Jan 2009
We had a mighty busy time over Christmas and New Year and the festivites appear to be continuing. I've still not managed to get together with Rosemary, Val and Margaret for our annual get-together. Rena kindly had the usual suspects, Eleanor, Joan, Jackie and Linda over to the South Side at Chrimas but we're meetingup again on Sunday for my belated birthday celebration at La Vita Spuntini on Byres Road.
Roy Beers has been whetting my appetite, writing about all the new places opening in the West End. He's another person that I have still to have a festive celebration with - that's in the diary for tomorrow. However, we won't be checking out any of the new eateries just yet as we are having withdrawal symptoms from Cherubini, so we'll be doing our catching up there. Although, Roy says that it will be too cold for his favourite Caprese Salad so it'll be Minestrone on the menu.
Jim and I are also heading along to the West End this evening - it's his birthday so we are going to The Grosvenor to see Slumdog Millionaire and then see what other birthday treats he fancies. We had a lovely time in Ashton Lane recently when we went along to see Jim King and Mary Kathleen Burke at the Sunday Afternoon Acoustic Session in Jinty McGuinty's, where Alexander Murray is doing a great job organising and contributing to the entertainment. You can see a couple of photographs in Jim's photodiary - he'll be playing there on the afternoon of 1st February.
I thought that I was busy before but his new acoustic music career has drawn me into a wider circle - not complaining! it's very enjoyable and interesting encountering so many talented individuals. We met up with Mary Kathleen Burke again at the Butterfly and Pig, where she was playing on the same bill as Jim. Good luck to Mary at Celtic Connections. We were in fine company as Issi, Davie, Val, Mary and Rena and Jimmy (Jim's mum and dad all came along) and we were also joined by Ciaran Dorris and some of his gang, Stephanie, Paul and Andrew. Ciaran, as well as being a musician, is a presenter on Celtic Music Radio and he invited me along to his show for the Dorris Island Experience. This is where you go on an imaginery trip and choose some of your favourite tracks, books and a luxury item to take with you plus select a person you would like to dine with on your last night on this Hebridean Island.
I had a bit of a bother with so many decisions to make as I'm a person who likes my stuff at hand but it was only a bit of a laugh. My special guest was Denise Mina, as I am a huge fan and although we've met a few times I've always felt that I would like to spend more time with her as apart from being an amazing writer she is great fun. Of course, I would take my husband's new cd with me so that was an easy decision. You can listen to some of the album on his myspace. I've also been enjoying listening to Kris Drever, and will be off to see him in Celtic Connections and at the Magnum, Irvine with John McCusker and Roddy Woomble. Although a trip to Cuba is, unfortunately, not on the cards, I think I would have a problem leaving the Buena Vista Social Club Carnegie Hall Concert behind as that has been my favourite cd this Christmastime.
Thanks to Ciaran for inviting me onto his show, it was fun, especially all the people emailing in from far flung places like Nashville and Edinburgh! I also had an actual trip recently as Jim and I went over to Ireland for a few days before Christmas. It was marvellous seeing all my relatives in Donegal, catching up and enjoying the craic. We managed to fit in a trip to Derry, where Jim played a gig at The Halo Cafe. He'll be back performing there in May and will also play some gigs around Inishowen in collaboration with Chris Ward, a Geordie who lives in Northern Ireland.
Jim and Chris got together for a jam and made some plans for their mini-tour whilst I caught up with my friend Rosemary. Time was short but we also managed a fleeting visit to see Nina Quigley and I am trying to encourage her to send me some of her award winning poems to put up on the site.
We stayed at The Inishowen Gateway Hotel, overlooking The White Strand on Lough Swilly at the outskirts of Buncrana. Very quiet at this time of the year but extremely comfortable and relaxing with a great spa and pool. We appreciated a little indulgence before Christmas enjoying the full Irish breakfasts, with soda bread and the unbeatable Irish hospitality.
I was back in time to celebrate my birthday, which included going along to The Accies at Anniesland to see Martin Stephenson and the Daintees. He was joined by Helen McCookerybook and The Moonshiners and it was a brilliant gig. Alan Hendry excels himself in putting on these very relaxed Sound in the Suburbs gigs showcasing highly talented performers and Jim is chuffed to be included at the '3 men with guitars' gig on Saturday 17th January.
My other birthday treat was going with Jim to see 'White Christmas' at the GFT and then round the corner to Glasgow Art School to see the Two Alasdair's Exhibition - Alasdair Gray and Alasdair Taylor. Very interesting exhibition and the Art School is worth a visit at any time - you tend to forget just how fantastic this building is.
We had a lovely Christmas: on Christmas Eve we took Ryan and Caitlin to visit the McGreevys and the children (our two plus Rae, Alice and Cal) were fit to burst with excitement when Santa came to the door. We thought that he may have had a wee drink as when he left he had a shot on Cal's scooter, which was in the garden.
We spent Christmas morning with my family, first of all going to see my sons, Michael and John, and the children then my brother John, then Liam and Drew. In the evening Jim and I had Christmas dinner with the Wilsons - it was fantastic and Davie excelled himself producing the Sisters' Restaurant's vegetarian Christmas menu. Delicious!
Afterwards we spent the evening playing Charades, which causes me some problems, as I am good at getting the answers but pretty hopeless at thinking up and acting out the questions.
Boxing Day was another lovely day as we visited my niece, Danielle and her husband Ciaran, in Old Kilpatrick and we saw my other brother Danny, Aileen, Anne and my great-nieces Sarah, Eve and Freya.
I had a lot of plans for the rest of the week including entertaining the O'Donnell Family including Maureen, who was home from Nimes, but I was laid low with some virus or 'flu type illness so had to postpone. Instead I was forced to loll about and learn a lot about what happens on day time tele.
I recovered in time for New Year and we brought in the Bells with Jim's mum and dad down in Clydebank and his brother John and family up from Newcastle. It was back to the Byrne's on New Year's Day when more of Jim's family, Anne, Scott and their children came through from Edinburgh.
In the evening Jim had a gig in The Ettrick, Old Kilpatrick, and we had such a laugh with all our friends from the village. Johnny Russell did a great job in organising the gig, especially as he had played the Hogmanay Gig at The Drovers up Loch Lomondside. Jim had a smashing time performing as he was joined by a little troop of percussionists, including Jamie from Clannan an Drumma on the djembe. We enjoyed catching up with Dougie, Margo, Danny, my cousin Sandra and Jim Durning and seeing all the familiar faces. You can see some of them photographs on myspace.
We were back in the West End for another evening of musical entertainment, when Jim played at one of the Free Candy Sessions at The Liquid Ship, Anne and Jack came along with Christopher, home from Rome and Maureen also came to the gig. It's always good to see Dochan MacMillan and we enjoyed seeing Patrick Bullen, Davie Boyle and Hercules Mandarin.
The weather has been pretty grey and grim but Ryan and I have had a few day time excursions to the Botanics. We were also back at the swingpark at Kelvingrove and took in some culture en route when we popped into see Mike Blair's 'World in at Flash', Photographic Exhibition at Offshore. Absolutely wonderful! I loved the photograph of 'the gossips' in India and the snowy scenes in Glencoe. It finishes on 30th January so I hope to get back for another wee look.
Jim came along with Ryan and I to the Transport Museum but I think he was a bit put out because Ryan was convinced that he had beaten him when they had a shot at the Car Racing Game. I'm now looking forward to taking Ryan to The Big Garden Birdwatch at Kelvingrove 24/25th January.
I'll need to find a space in a very busy diary to do some work as Celtic Connections starts tomorrow 16th January and Jim has some gigs that I don't want to miss. Homecoming Scotland is set to take off with the celebration of Rabbie Burns' 250th Anniversary - including Burns Illuminated. I have to meet up with Gerry Carruther's, expert on the Bard, so that I can add him to our local characters - I have some buddies to catch up with.
I have two features to write for The Scene and The Glasgow News and I am waiting to learn more about Aye Write Book Festival 2009 and Glasgow Film Festival an will have some plans to make around those. Also need to check out the shops and see what's happening regarding the sales.
In the meantime we're off to the flicks.
Lots of new stuff up on the website - What's New Including: