Added on Wednesday 12 Aug 2009
I don't know how often I've been ticked off lately for not updating my diary so apologies for being so tardy. It's been rather hectic lately and apart from all the usual West End goings on, we've been away quite a lot. At the end of June we went to Friar's Carse in Dumfries for a few days to a Songwriting Workshop, beautiful place and lovely people with plenty of laughter and lots of music. The event was run by the fabulous threesome, Martin Stephenson, Helen McCookerybook and Scott McDonald, all of whom we had met before. It was very enjoyable as the weather was great so lots of inspiration amid the beautiful surroundings and a real friendly crowd - great fun was had by all. Doesn't mean that I am taking up guitar lessons though!
Jim and I took in a few tourist attractions on our return journey visiting Rabbie Burn's home at Ellisland Farm and Drumlanrig Castle, where there was a great Farmers' Market taking place. We picked up some wonderful plants for next to nothing and had a pleasant stroll round the castle groands and gardens. We then drove home through Ayrshire (although I don't think we planned that!) and stopped off at Ayr for an ice cream and a stroll along the beach.
We were off on more travels at the beginning of July when we spent five days in London, where we stayed with my friend Alex and his wife Mary in their beautiful home in Blackheath. Jim had a few gigs there and we had a brilliant time at What's Cookin' in Leytonstone, when he supported Southern Tenant Folk Union. A brilliant night, especially enjoyable because our friends Elaine and John made it along. It was also great fun at The Icarus Club in Hithers' Green, where we met lots of really nice folk. Jim has been asked to come back down and play at one of the big shows they put on three times a year so we will be planning another trip to the Big Smoke in the Springtime. He wrote a wee blog about our trip.
On the trip we managed to do quite a lot of touristy things and became big fans of the Docklands Light Railway - we also particularly enjoyed a sail up the Thames from Greenwich to Waterloo. We had a picnic on Kings Road, Chelsea, an old stomping ground from my youth and also had a prowl around Soho, Covent Garden, Notting Hill and Kensington Church Street. Very interesting.
Back on our home ground I've been catching up with lots of people. I hadn't seem David Howat for ages so was delighted to accept his invitation to lunch at Glasgow Art Club, one of the treasures of our city. He had also invited the artist Muriel Barclay along and I was very interested to meet her. One of her fantastic paintings has pride of place in the drawing room at the Club. I was also pleased to be introduced to Lord MacFarlane of Bearsden (Norman Somerville Macfarlane) as his name had come up so often when we were following the refurbishment at Kelvingrove as he was chair of the trustees for the refurbishment appeal.
For a few weeks there seems to have been a sort of art theme in my life as on my way home from Glasgow Art Club I met the Glasgow artist, and my old neighbour in Hillhead, Ken Palmer and we had a great gab at the top of Byres Road. Next day I was introduced to Sue Biazotti when I went along to Winston's to have my hair cut. I really love her work and had a look at it lately in the new gallery in Byres Road. Winston is privileged to have some of her paintings adorning his walls.
Also at the top of Byres Raad, I went along to have a wee meeting with Colin Beattie, proprietor of OranMor. Good to see Colin and hear all his news including an artistic project he is working on for the new Partick Railway Station. I went back to OranMor for another catch up with Jason so waiting for some updates regarding events there. Although, I already have the lowdown about The Electrics 21st Anniversary Gig on 14th November - should be a brilliant night.
Despite having lots of fun and outings, this past wee while has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Jim had a great time playing at Mugdock Festival, where he played on the main stage on both days of the festival. I was also pretty involved in the promotion so recently both of us have had a lot of contact with Erne Parkin, the Festival Director. We were both absolutely shocked to hear of Erne's very sudden death and we went along to his funeral two weeks ago.
Known locally as 'Mr Milngavie', a man who had a huge capacity for life and laughter, he is going to leave a major gap as he not only performed with his band 'The Cross Border Band' but was the main organiser of The Place, Milngavie Folk Club, and involved in many different artistic projects throughout the city. Very, very sad for his wife and four sons and friends like Mike Simon, with whom he had played for thirty years or more.
Erne set a great example of how to enjoy life and he put into it every bit as much as he got out of it. Generous with his time and praise he always made you feel good. Another wee lesson could be taken from an event that we went along to in Waterstone's recently, where Grace Maxwell and Edwyn Collins had invited people along for the launch of Grace's book about 'Falling and Laughing', which is about their life together, Edwyn's catastrophic illness and amazing recovery. It was a brilliant event and they are an astonishing pair - it was a most enjoyable and humbling experience hearing Grace talk about what they had been through with interceptions and songs from the very brave and hugely talented Edwyn. They are a totally inspiring pair and we would not have missed it for anything.
Another Glasgow girl for whom I have tremendous admiration is Marianna Palka, fresh from her success last year at the Sundance and Edinburgh Film Festivals with her award winning movie 'Good Dick', she has returned from California to make a film with Peter Mullan about Glasgow Gangs. I met up with her mum, and my good friend, Basia Palka, for lunch at Booly Mardy's and heard all about Marianna's return to Glasgow for this project. I am sure it is destined to be another major success.
I've been hanging out a lot with friends old and new and have was introduced to Gregg Imlah of Innis & Gunn when I went along for lunch with him and Roy Beers at my favourite Sonny & Vito's. We have a bit of a mutual admiration society between Innis & Gunn and the website so watch out for their logo and some information appearing on the site.
I've been along to another of my favourite destinations with 'Les Gals', Eleanor, Joan, Rena and Jackie, and have had a few delcious meals at Rossano's, Crow Road, Anniesland. As a special treat Jim and I took our visitors from Holland, Rini and Jan, there for our last night out together. What a treat that turned out to be. Quite a wee party ensued - an extension of Amanda's 40th birthday celebrations. Happy Birthday, Amanda!
We had such a good time with Rini and Jan when they were here. Not only were they delightful company but a very positive influence because they encouraged us to become tourists in our own country and we went with them on some lovly outings: to Balmaha, The Trossachs and Edinburgh, where we even went on the Horrible Histories Coach Tour. You can see some of the snaps on Jim's August Photo Diary.
We were invited along to Henderson's of Edinburgh for lunch - what a fantastic place with excellent vegetarian food and a brilliant entertainment programme. I very much enjoyed meeting Oliver and Peter Henderson and baby Amily and Christina Alepi, a charming young Greek woman, showed me around 'Unspoken Lines' - Joyce Gunn Cairns wonderful exhibition in their gallery. They have some fabulous events on during the Edinburgh Festival including 'Breakfast with Burns' with John Cairney and Alicia Devine's 'Loving Burns'. We will try to get back through to the Festival over the next week or two as we have our eye on a some of the events, including those at Hendersons.
There are festivals galore in our lives at the moment and we had an excellent time at the Lomond Festival, where Jim performed at the Open Stage. Nice to have so many friends and relatives come along from all airts and pairts. My cousins from the southside even made it along:-) Also Stephanie, Paul, Lynn, Sammy Horner (who was also performing in the festival) and their gang, Jim's mum and dad and all the waifs and strays from our family. Great fun!
Coming up we have a trip to Innerleithen, Linlithgow, at both the Canal and Folk Festival, and then we will be back down at Moniaive, where Jim is playing at The Guitar Festival. If anyone has a cheap camper van for sale then give us a shout.
Not so far out of town, we had another wee trip down to Old Kilpatrick for another fundraising evening for The Butterfly Memorium Garden, Jan and Rini came along and Kenton and John (ist), who had come up from Sheffield to play some gigs pending the release of their new single. As per usual my brothers and extended family were out in force and 'the visitors' were made very welcome and had a great time. Very nice that John made it along via Trinidad and good to see Maggie (McGarry) Schwartz - home from Austria for a holiday.
Back in the West End the musicians got another chance to strut their stuff when we had a wee unplugged party at The Hidden Lane Cafe, who reopened early for the gig after their summer break. We had some very important guests in the audience including Professor Gordon, Joan mackenzie and her partner Iain Mitchell, the Acoustic Collective guys and Gill and the delightful Laura. It was brilliant that Dinny made it along with Andy Quinn and her performance was splendid. Ciaran and Stephanie popped in but some confusion ensued, however, we caught up with them later in Byres Road for our regular Sunday night catch up.
We had another great night out at Partick Folk Club, where there was an open mic event with an astonishing variety of acts and the usual brilliant atmosphere. I particularly enjoyed Bill Adair and you could never tire of listening to the amazing Mick West. Watch out for Jim Malcolm at Partick Folk Club on Friday 28th August.
I went along with Ryan to Partick Fayre, which was very enjoyable but a rather wet day. I've been out and about a lot with the kids during the school holidsys and we had super fun at the Queen's Cross Church in Maryhill at the Mackintosh Art Project. If you haven't visited this church you don't know what you are missing. It's absolutely beautiful and lots of activities and events. Not too far away is the Queens Cross Adventure Park and after Caitlin and Ryan had spent a couple of hours honing their artistic skills we then had a picnic in the park. Caitlin wrote a wee blog about it.
We've also had a few trips to the Botanics, Kelvingrove and the Western Baths and lots of fun at the allotment, where we have a prize crop of some very peculiar elongated, gnarly potatoes - they taste super - and four different types of onion. I am loath to mention the millions of weeds but trying to view these as a challenge.
We had a brilliant time along at the allotment with the McGreevys, who worked very hard and were suitably impressed by our giant teasles. They deservedly went home with a bagful of produce. However, not before we had a party back in our house, where three year old Cal revealed himself to be the world's most enthusiastic drummer. Aided and abetted by Alice and Rae, who were also very keen percussionists.
Jim and I had a smashing night out when we went along to see The Wilders and afterwards we tried out the newish restaurant on Byres Road, Tony Macaroni; both the band and the food were superb. The tickets were courtesy of a competition on Celtic Music Radio and we were also lucky enough to win tickets for The Grand Ole Opry on 30th August so looking forward to going along to see our buddy Dochan MacMillan play with The Ballachullish Hellhounds also The Carlton Jug Band, The Dirt and Bad, Bad Men.
I've had a few jaunts into Heart Buchanans and Booly Mardy's, where I had coffee with Gill Maxwell one blowy afternoon. Jim has become a big fan of Cafe Cinnamon on Byres Road and we've been planning to check out Velvet Elvis, Alan Mawn's latest venture in Partick. Seems impossible to find the time for everything and life is full of ups and downs and there have been both happy and sad occasions to attend. I went to my friend Linda's mum, Annie Keenan's funeral, which was very moving and Jim and I had a lovely time at Marianne Wilson's 21st birthday party. Happy birthday, Marianne. Hope you liked the very cool photograph Jim took of you and how impressive was that dolly mixture birthday cake?
I've also been checking out the West End shops and was very lucky to acquire a beautiful set of drawers in the sale at Nancy Smillie's in Cresswell Lane; this shop just gets better and better. Another West End shop that I love is The Bead Shop and I am delighted to have been asked to judge their jewellery making competition in the fine company of Bethsy Gray of Starry Starry Night and Councillor Aileen Colleran. You're not too late to submit an entry!
We spent a pleasant afternoon down in The Drawing Room, when Jim and I went along with Matthew. Lots happening down there and following on the success of their theatre and dinner events during the West End Festival, they have a whole new programme on offer.
Lots of new additions to the site recently, including: