Added on Friday 20 Feb 2009
Our Christmas festivities continued well into January this year, which was very pleasant, mainly because I had an awful lot of catching up to do. I found myself celebrating my December birthday at the end of January, when I went along with Eleanor, Jackie, Maggie, Joan and Linda to the new restaurant, La Vita Spuntini, on Byres Road.
It's been great having lots of friends along to Jim's gigs and I caught up with the Rosemount Gang, Val, Margaret and Rosemary, when they came along to Jim's gig 'Three Men with Guitars', at Woodend Bowling and Tennis Club. It was a great night and what a fanastic venue. Lovely to see Issi Todd through from Portobello and enjoyed hearing Scott MacDonald and Jay Brown, who were the other two acts. We were also treated to some fine percussion and whistle from Charlie Carruthers, we had previously spotted him one night at Tchai-Ovna. Great musician and quite a character. Jim will be back playing at Woodend on 6th March when he is supporting Andi Neate.
We also had fun at Jinty McGuinty's when Jim played at there Sunday Acoustic Sessions a couple of weeks back. Ann, Frances, Jackie and Alex all came along and great that Nick managed through from Lanarkshire. We met him at the festival in Colonsay last year - a very talented musician, everyone enjoyed listening to him playing the flute and the fascinating cittern.
We had another good night out at Partick Folk Club where Rod Paterson was the special guest. Fantastic rendition of some well known Burn's songs and also sang some that I had never heard of. His rendition of Auld Lang Syne was amazing and the cockaleekie soup was pretty good too. Mick West continues to do a great job, both with his cooking and singing.
We had some more musical outings during Celtic Connections including a trip to ABC so see the fabulous Kris Drever, John McCusker, Boo Hewerdine and the gang but the highlight has to be the Jamaican Burn's Night at The Old Fruitmarket. (You can see some of the photographs in Jim's photodiary) We went along with Jim's friend, Graham McIntosh; sampled the jerk haggis and goat stew and then a fine evening of entertainment with lots of weel kent local folk including escapees from BMX Bandits and Teenage Fanclub. It was great seeing the great Edwyn Collins back on stage and unbelievable to be at a Sly and Robbie Gig. We danced for five hours solid. What a night! Bumped into Gill Maxwell, Director of Scottish Music Centre, who was also knocked out by the show.
Another enjoyable event was going along to see Jim perform at the Danny Kyle Open Stage. All the acts were very good - I'd forgotten just how good the atmosphere is at the Open Stage events; every seat taken and a very enthusiuastic audience. a Jim thoroughly enjoyed the experience and is now looking forward to being the special guest of Mary Kathleen Burke on Celtic Music Radio - listen in Sunday 22nd February, 7 - 9 p.m. 1530 AM (www.celticmusicradio.net)
It's fantastic that Celtic Connections was such a success, given the current, dire economic climate - read some of the reviews. Also challenging penny pinching trends, is the Glasgow Film Festival - just drawing to a close with show upon show sold out. We went along to catch one of their Mexican themed films, Mexican Shiva, at the Glasgow Film Theatre, it was great and never saw the cinema more packed. We were invited along to a Mexican After Show Party down in the Merchant City in the Brunswick Hotel Penthouse. Very cool with waiters in masks, characters from one of the films but can't remember the name, serving up roof burning jalepenos, natchos and tequila. Nice to meet the very charming and efficient, Emma Dunipace, who works with the marketing department also Allison Gardner, Festival Director, looking pretty stunning and delighted with the success of the festival. We also met Lor Hill, who has promised that she will send me some of the photographs she was taking as for once we were out without the camera.
Another outing I very much enjoyed recently was a trip to the wonderful Pinxto's in Partick. I went along with a couple of my Clydebank College buddies, Marie Graham and Maureen O'Neill, and we had a great catch up over some delicious tapas. Also had a wee chat with owner, Allan Mawn, who is very excited about the new cafe/ bar he is opening next door to Pinxto's. Nice to hear of a new enterprise - in contrast to the gloom and doom trends. Maybe Roy Beers (our dining and drinking expert) and I will get along to the opening?
We (me and Roy), caught up at Cafe Cherubini at Kelvinbride, a week or two ago, where Mark di Lucca was in seventh heaven as he has, at last, got his drinks licence so you no longer need to 'bring your own bottle'. However, he still offers the very efficient service, whereby you phone in your order before you arrive. An especially good idea if you are part of a large party.(0141 334 8894)
Roy recommends that our next outing we go for lunch to Paradiso, so will look forward to that. Another place that I am keen to try out is the Banana Leaf in Yorkhill and the children like the sound of that so need to make some plans. We attempted to go for an early dinner to Tony Macaroni's at the bottom of Byres Road but it was closed so ended up at The Esquire House, a favourite destination for Ryan and Caitlin because kids are given crayons and a colouring books so all ended happily.
We had a fun filled night at OranMor with some members of our Discussion Forum It's amazing how friendly everyone was - they can be pretty argumentative in cyberland. However, all united in their affection for the West End.
It was particularly nice seeing a little bit of snow recently and Jim and I had a lovely wander around the Botanics, although, my preference is to walk in the park and Jim likes to head into the orchid house. Afterwards we had lovely coffee and cake in The Mannequin coffee shop on Queen Margaret Drive.
Sometimes it's nice to have a little outing on your own and I enjoyed searching out the bargains when I went along to the Say No to Plastic retro and vintage sale at OranMor and had a wee chat with Heather Suttie, who did a great job organising the event. Some of the stalls were super and lots of lovely bargains to be had, although, a few sellers seemed a wee bit reluctant to part with their highly priced goodies.
I've also enjoyed a few interesting jaunts down to Partick, picking up some of my usual finds in Handbags and Gladrags. I also had a great time checking out a fantastic new shop in Keith Street, The Bead Company. It's an amazing place with beautiful beads of every hue. The layout of the shop is spectacular and the staff are very friendly and helpful. There are also some fabulous courses if you fancy some jewellery making.
Eunice Whyte's very classy establishment on Dumbarton Road is another shop well worth a visit. She has some amazing cashmeres on sale and a great range of alpaca cardis, jackets and coats. I enjoyed a very long blether as we know lots of places and people in common. Afterwards I met up with Anne and we headed to Rio's for a lazy afternoon over coffees and I tucked into their amazing Eggs Florentine.
I had another jaunt into Rio's to meet up with John Deery, the very affable, young Irish musician, who runs The Quiet Riot Acoustic Night at The Drawing Room. John is also a very talented artist and, at least for the time being, quite a Westender. He's now joined some of the fine company in our Local Characters.
Also destined for that particular route is Gerry Carruthers, whom I went along to meet at Glasgow University, however, he was delayed so will need to reshedule. However, wasn't a wasted trip as I haven't been up at the University for quite some time so I took the opportunity to to investigate the newish Fraser Building, a decided improvement on the old refectory. I bumped into Frances Rickus so we had lunch together and chose a seat with a lovely outlook across University Avenue to the old part of the University. Afterwards I went for a wander around The Hunterian - you never tire of those lovely Whistler's - and then I bought Jim some of his favourite Colourist postcards before heading home.
I've also been down at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum a lot recently. Mostly accompanied by Ryan, however, he remains more impressed by the tiny wee cats and baby giraffes on sale in the shop than Roger the famous baby elephant. I like to point out to the children my brother Roger's name on the In Memorium wall - Roger McColgan Young. He worked as a technician in the Art Gallery for a long time and he died in 2003. It's somehow very comforting seeing his name there, engraved on the wall and I somehow think that he would have been proud.
Lately we've seen a lot of family and had a visit from Jim's sister Anne and her three children through from Edinburgh. Also Jim's mum and dad are very staunch fans at their son's gigs. I'm hoping we will manage down to Dunoon soon to see our new grand-niece, Kayla.
We've got a bit of travelling lined up as Jim is playing down in Moniaive and in the summer in London. So lots of excitement. We are also looking forward to the West End Festival and popped along to The White House to meet Michael Dale, Festival Director last night. Should be another briliant event this year. However, a bit off yet.
Something I am looking forward to is going along to OranMor to see Carol Kidd and JJ Gilmour on 28th March. Should be brilliant.
I've got a busy day tomorrow so off to bed now. If it's dry we're heading up the Kilpatrick Hills and then in the evening going out with Les Gals to celebrate Eleanor's birthday at Cail Bruich. Happy Birthday Eleanor and Anne - two of my favourite Aquarians.
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