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Spring should be here!

Added on Wednesday 31 Mar 2010

February

It's lovely to see the sun shining, even though the hills are still covered in snow, both the Campsies and the Kilpatrick Hills, I can see them from my window. It's been a very long winter - so far only snowdrops blooming and not a daffodil in sight.

I have made a few trips along to the allotment but did not achieve much as the ground is so hard and cold. Five year old Ryan came along on our last jaunt there, where he was highly entertained by a very bold fox, which kept slinking around. Cheeky thing even pinched the wipes out of my bag. Still our neighbouring plotter came of worse, it ran off with one of her shoes!

Rio's Cafe

Photo: kibble palace. We've also had a few excursions to the Botanics but mostly we've been spending time indoors. I've wiled away a few afternoons in Rio's in Hyndland Street, and met Stephanie there for some cappuccinos and a great gab. You meet lots of interesting people in this popular West End cafe and I also had a chat with Sebastian from Heart Buchanan, Mark Robb, DJ extraordinaire, Paul from Rio's who gave me all the lowdown on the entertainment there including The Blas Collective.

Another day I shared a platter in Rio's with The Bluesbunny - just perfect for a cold, cold day. I had a wee blether with the very affable Ed, who also works there and I also ran into my old friend Jo Linley, and we had a bit of a chinwag. Notwithstanding the fact that we had completely put the world to rights the week before in JJ's, round the corner on Dumbarton Road.

Folk, Blues and Beyond, Acoustic Music Festival

Along with Dochan MacMillan (of The Ballachulish Hellhounds - watch out for soon to be released CD). I've been busy trying to co-ordinate along with the Folk, Blues and Beyond, Acoustic Music Festival, which will again this year be part of the West Festival so I've been popping along to The White House at Dowanhill to keep Michael Dale informed of my progress. Venues taking part will include: The Liquid Ship, Jinty McGuinty's, The Aragon, Rio's and also delighted to have Tchai Ovna and Cafe Cherubini on board. Should be another great event with lots of talented performers and a wide variety of musical styles.

Photo: ann morgan at the ettrick.Can't Catch The Butterfly

Our other major musical project is also shaping up and Jim has been putting the final touches to 'Can't Catch the Butterfly' - the charity single in support of the Erskine Bridge anti-suicide project in Old Kilpatrick. Johnny Russell and Sharon Campbell, who run the Open Mic in The Ettrick in Old Kilpatrick came up to our house to add some backing vocals, alongside Dinny, and it's sounding superb.

We also had a visit from Ann Morgan, the driving force behind the project, and I am planning to take a run down some Monday, when lots of volunteers are getting together to create a Butterfly Garden at the Saltings in Old Kilpatrick. This will be a lovely contemplative place for people to visit and wander in the wild flower meadow.

The launch of 'Can't Catch the Butterfly' will take place at The Ettrick on the evening of 3rd May and, weather permitting, there will be a picnic at the Butterfly Garden in the afternoon. So hoping all our friends will make it along, including Issi and Davey Wilson, whose daughter Marianne has designed the loved CD cover.

Catching up with friends and culinary treats

I caught up with other friends from the village recently and it was great to see the Templeman's and hear all about their new wee grandson Jamie and also catch up with Lisa and hear all the latest news about Cirkis Dance Costumes.

We were also invited round to the Bowes and it was really lovely to see Michael, home from his studies at Cornell University, and hear all Katrina and Jim's news. I think they had raided Mellis' cheesemonger in Kelvinbridge - but we weren't complaining.

Jim and I have enjoyed a few good nights out and it was great to meet up with Margaret and John Rae. We had a really lovely meal at Rossano's over a rare old blether and, of course, it's always a treat to catch up with Rossano, Amanda and Marco as well.

Other culinary pleasures have included an outing to Two Fat Ladies, where I went along with the usual suspects, Joan, Jackie, Linda, Rena and Janet, to celebrate Eleanor's birthday. The food was absolutely delicious and very nice catching up with the gang.

Glasgow Film Festival

Photo: glasgow film festival. Also in February we had another great Glasgow Film Festival. Jim and I had a very enjoyable time at the launch in the GFT and I had a wee jaunt back there with Frances, when we went along to see one of the Carey Grant films, North by Northwest. We really enjoyed it, although, that wasn't the plan, we had been heading to see 'New York I Love You', however, Allan Hunter (co-director of the Festival, alongside Allison Garner) came along to explain that the film was still wending its way to Glasgow but was stuck in Nashville. Least I think it was Nashville, definitely somewhere in the USA.

Jim and I went along to see Crazy Heart and really enjoyed that - a well deserved oscar for Jeff Bridges. However, some of my plans went awry - I had planned to take Ryan to see Ponyo but he opted instead for Alvin and the Chipmunks - we met up with John afterwards for pizza in Dino's in Sauchiehall Street so turned into a nice family day out. This year we didn't get invited to all the parties and the closing event like we did last year but I'm not in the huff. Maybe just down to a change of personnel and the charming Ms Emma Dunnipace, now at Scottish Youth Theatre, has lots of enticing stuff going on there - including The Ugly Duckling. I'll be hoping to catch that over Easter.

Haiti Fundraiser at Kelvinside Hillhead Church

Photo: haiti fundraiser. We're still making it along to some great gigs and had a very enjoyable time round at Kelvinside Hillhead Church at a fundraising event for Haiti, organised by the incredibly talented Lynda McMinn. Some other talented performers from RSAMD and church members contributed to the event plus Jim and one of my favourite local musicians Larry Guild

March

I met up again with my old uni days friends at Aye Write 2010 when we went along to hear Eleanor and Gwynith Nair talk about their book 'Murder and Morality in Modern Britain: The Story of Madeleine Smith'. I had great plans for Aye Write and very much enjoyed the day I spent down at The Mitchell, when I caught up with Maggie Graham and met her friends Brian Whittingham and Donal McLaughlin (all three winners of the Robert Louis Stevenson Award) and main players in the Scottish Writing Centre. Maggie wrote a review about Aye Write. I also went to see Willy Maley on Irvine Welsh and Ian Mitchell talking about his new book, however, my plans for further visits during the festival had to be cancelled as I was laid up with another chest infection.

Rosie Cheeks

Photo: rosie cheeks. Once I got out and about again I went along to meet David Howat at Glasgow Art Club for lunch. Always good to see David and GAC is such a unique place. We were joined by Rosie Brown, the young owner of the lovely new baby boutique Rosie Cheeks at 415 Great Western Road (Tel: 0141 237 4407). Ryan and I went along to see the shop and it's really gorgeous. Great place to buy those baby presents and beautiful things you need for the nursery. (Also very handy for Peace and Jam, who sell designer clothes for kids.)

Chilly and cheery outings

Afterwards Ryan and I popped in to say hello to Annmarie in Sonny and Vito's and then we had a great time playing football in Kelvingrove Park - I like to be the goalie, less running about. Afterwards we had a wander along Univesity Avenue and up Byres Road to The Sentry Box in Great George Street. Ryan spent his pocket money and bought his big sister a present. Lovely atmosphere in this great toy shop. Fairly gives you a lift to see so may happy weans.

John, Ryan and I also had an outing down to Scotstoun Swimming Pool and had a lot of fun but mighty chilly coming back outside to the, still very wintry, cold weather. We'll wait till the sun is shining for our next visit, unless we are going in the car.

Music, music, music

I've also been having more outings to musical events and Jim and I really enjoyed seeing The Keiran Goss Trio at the Old Fruitmarket. I also had a cappuccino and a fascinating blether with Keiran at Cranberry's in the Merchant City.

Photo: the dirt at the grand ole opry. We had a super time at The Grand Ole Opry, where we went to see The Dirt with Robert Clyne. Also good to catch up with Paul Tasker, who gave Jim loads of great information about setting up a record company, he was there with his partner in crime Iona Macdonald, together they form Jim McAteer whom I've heard loads about but yet to see.

Jim has been playing at more far flung places and we had a jaunt through to Falkirk to the Folk Club and he also played at Leith Folk Club supporting Sonny Condell. We had a brilliant time at The Wee Folk Club in Edinburgh and he also enjoyed performing at Glenfarg Folk Club, although, we had a very hazardous journey back home in a blizzard. Still would be good to make it back up for their Glenfarg Festival in April.

We've had lots of musical goings on in the house and among the talented crew that have popped in are Larry Guild, Scott MacDonald and Chris Barratt - why will I not be surprised if some of these guys feature on Jim's next CD.

Photo: the studio. Glasgow West End - De Courcy's Cresswell Lane

Back in the West End I've been catching up with what's going down and enjoyed a coffee with Maggie Graham in the Atrium, looking bright and sunshiny under its new ownership. Maggie persuaded me that it was about time I had a wander upstairs to the refurbished De Courcy's Arcade in Cresswell Lane.

I'm in the habit of popping into Nancy Smillie's to see my friend Basia Palka and, of course, it's the perfect place for a browse, so I went along one day and then afterwards popped into the Arcade. It was fun hearing all about what Liz McKelvie in The Studio had been up to - her amazing Glasgow Style furniture and antique home accessories look amazing in her larger shop. I was also very taken by Shirley Sampson's 'Velvet Tigers' boutique, which has to be seen to be believed. Shirley designs and makes bespoke clothing, corsetry and accessories and she invites you to 're-imagine yourself'. I'm tempted!

The other new shops include 'Just for You' - which buys and sells designer clothes and accessories and where you're sure to find a good deal. Justina McLaughlin, the owner, seems to have just the flair required for this business and I enjoyed hearing all about her exciting plans for the shop.

I also liked 'Not Now, Cato' - a rather zany retro and vintage shop with loads of great stock for men and women. I had a peep into 'Made In The Shade' with crafts and designs by young Glaswegian designers. 'Rachael Albert' has some lovely handmade clothing and accessories for women and children. So great to see a very varied group of interesting new shops in the West End.

I'll need to go back and that will be no chore - I spent just a bit too long in Velvet Tigers to get a full handle on the other shops but De Courcy's is definitely looking up.

Another newish shop I investigated is The Glasgow Vintage Co on Great Western Road. Next to Roots and Fruits, some of you have no doubt spotted their lovely vintage shop sign. It's a great space and owned by the nice guy who has the retro shop Watermelon just along the road. I bought Jim a new hat - wee bit pricey but he liked it.

So heigh ho it's now supposedly Springtime! Need to be thinking about getting back to he allotment but before then Winter will have to disappear.

Also time to spruce up the house and Kathy Sharp, my good friend from KAS Interior Decorators was the very person to give me some sound and useful advice. In return she enjoyed some of my homemade soup.

I have an overdue date with Roy Beers so we are going to get together for some of the delicious brunch they serve in Ecco in Crow Road. Prior to meeting up with Roy, I popped into to say hello to David and Sandra Ianucci, hear their news and take away some of their addictive homemade lasagne

Roy has also suggested that I pop into 'The Flavour' next to Strawberry Fields on Great Western Road. It certainly sounds very enticing - and healthy. Also handy for The Coachhouse Trust Shop, so I could catch up with my buddy Arthur McGough. That's a plan!.

Photo: campogrande. What's new on the site

There's loads of new stuff up on the website and it's been particularly nice having another blogger, Tanya Starret. I'm thoroughly enjoying her Campogrande: Bed and Breakfast Diary, the story of the business she is building in Umbria with her husband David.

I'm also delighted to have Roisin Brady updating us on her West Side Story from Texas

We've also added Ken Palmer's Painting Archive to the site

In addition:

Plus lots more to see in our What's New and What's On

Happy Easter everyone!