Added on Sunday 22 May 2011
I've been out and about so much recently that my feet have hardly touched the ground. A few weeks back Spring arrived with a lovely spell of sunny days and I was prompted into a sudden burst of activity. There's nothing like a bit of sunshine on your back to make walking and even working so much more pleasant. I've been very busy taking in the pleasures of our parks and green places and working at the allotment. I may have been a bit over ambitious as some of the plants are now looking rather bedraggled after our recent rainy spell. Still, it can't last. It better not or we'll have no corn this year.
Jim and I have had a few very enjoyable runs in the car, taking advantage of the return of the light nights. We had a lovely jaunt up to The Trossachs, which is always glorious. We also went to Ayr, where it was very strange to see such crowded beaches at this time of the year. On the way home we stopped at Elliot's Terrace and Restaurant for some very nice fish and chips.
When the weather picks up again we're planning another wee jaunt to the Campsies and intend stopping off at the recently refurbished Swan Inn
Back in the West End I've been busy helping to organise this year's Folk Blues and Beyond, acoustic music festival, which kicks off on Sunday 22nd May and will be on until 29th May. The festival is running in conjunction with Partick Folk Festival (27th - 29th May, St Peter's Church Hall, Chancellor Street). It really has something for all musical tastes with very talented musicians performing Americana, Roots, Blues, Jazz, Folk Music and more. Come along to some of the participating Partick venues, The Criterion, The Lismore and The Rio Cafe - joining forces to help 'Keep Partick Weird'.
The Doghouse Roses kick off tonight (Sunday 22nd May) at The Criterion and Jim Byrne plays there on 28th May. Tomorrow, Monday 23rd you can catch The Nearly Men in The Rio Cafe and on 24th Mike and Ewan will be running an Open Mic at The Lismore.
I had a lovely time recently at another festival, the first Southside Film Festival. I went along with Roisin Brady and Jim to see Sergio Casci's film 'American Cousins' at The Shed. We absolutely loved the film and also enjoyed a wee chat with Sergio and Karen O'Hare, the Festival Director, beforehand. Roisin has written a great feature on her interview with Sergio: "Fish Frying, Wind Surfing and Vampires.
I also loved the film JIG and Katrina and I were enthralled when we went along to see this at the GFT a couple of weeks back. It certainly added to the atmosphere having so many very glamourous Irish Dancing enthusiasts in the cinema.
Another Irish event came to town in the shape of Donegal Live. The first time this has come to Glasgow, it took place down in the Merchant City and it was very lively and extremely busy. I went along with John and Ryan and we hung out for a wee while but it was such a lovely day we decided to go to Glasgow Green and have a picnic. I had forgotten just what a lovely park this is and slap bang in the middle of the city. Afterwards we wandered along to see the result of the refurbishment at St Andrew's Cathedral and we were blown away. It is absolutely beautiful. We also had a quick look round the Howson Exhibition next door. I intend going back soon to see the Italian Cloister Garden, which had not yet opened when we were there.
There has been plenty going on in Glasgow's West End too and I went along with John, Caitlin and Ryan to the Sunday market that we now have in Ashton Lane. Lots of lovely wee stalls with cup cakes, jewellery, vintage and some very tasty food. I hope that it proves popular and who knows before we know it we could have a continuation all the way over to Cresswell Lane.
I haven't yet managed along but it's great to see that Cottier's Theatre back in operation once more. No doubt the venue will be a major attraction at this year's West End Festival, which kicks off on Friday 3rd June and runs until Sunday 26th June. Shaping up to be another great event - watch out for some highlights on the site.
You can also expect some West End Gigs at this year's Glasgow Jazz Festival.
One event I enjoyed very much was Tom Leonard peforming his poetry at the STUC as part of Glasgow's Friends of May Day. He really is an incredibly talented and likeable man and it was also a good opportunity to catch up with Issi and Davie Wilson. Also very nice to run into Mickey Rooney of the Glasgow band The Primevals that Jim played with a long time ago.
We had another wee get together with friends when we caught up with Mary K. Burke and Paul and Ciaran Dorris and gang at The Park Bar. Stephanie Greene on holiday in Glasgow from Ohio was the main attraction and we also met Linda and Roy, down from Aberfeldy and Rosemary.
Jim and I also caught up with Old Kilpatrick folk and Jim's mum and dad, when we went down to the Bowling Club, where Jim was playing at a fundraiser for St Margaret's Hospice. It was a pretty unusual event but very entertaining with the longest and best raffle ever. I think every single person must have left with a prize.
Lately I've had the opportunity to try out some different restaurants. I went along with 'Les Gals', or as Joan calls us 'The Golden Gurrils' to Guy's in the Merchant City to celebrate Rena's retirement. It is an absolutely lovely restaurant and everyone enjoyed their meal and the cocktails.
I had lunch with Roy Beers at Pakistani Cafe at the bottom of Byres Road and we both loved the food. Roy is a big fan and although the restaurant has hardly opened he had already been three times. The menu is very varied and tantalising and for lunch you can choose from assorted Asian light bite options or select small portions from the evening menu. I'll definitely go back.
Frances and I went along to Pinxto for the launch of their new menu and no doubt it was very tasty. We had quite a few wee nibbles and then went next door to Criterionand shared a pizza and caught up with a blether in a comfy booth.
I also had a lot of catching up to do with John Dingwall, whom I've been trying to pin down for a wee while to join my local characters on the website. I've known John since the 80s and have followed his career in the music media with some interest, however, when we met for a chat in Tinderbox I discovered that I didn't even know the half of it. Watch out for forthcoming feature.
Another interesting man in the music business is Ken Campbell of The Ideal Band, I heard all about his exciting plans for musical events in Glasgow over coffee in Zizzi's in Cresswell Lane. We had a very long chat and looks like there will be plenty of opportunity to put our heads together again at a future date.
I couldn't leave the lane without visiting some of the shops and I enjoyed a wee browse and bough some gifts in Nancy Smillie's, including a beautiful scarf with a vivid butterfly design. I also got some of their fantastic wee Scottish cards. I love the one of the fairy dancing and shouting 'Heugh!'.
I popped into De Courcy's and had a chat with Liz McElvie in The Studio. I also went upstairs to check out Not Now Cato's great line in retro and have a chat with Justina at 'Just...For You' - attracting a lot of women to Cresswell Lane for some bargain retail therapy.
I've not been to as many gigs as usual lately but I did very much enjoy seeing Christy Moore at the Royal Concert Hall when I went along with John. The man sitting behind me knew every word of every song, lucky for me he was tuneful and clearly having a really wonderful time.
I was also delighted to see Outi Karhula-Smith perform at the Honours Recitals, B.A. Music Course, Strathclyde University, in the City Halls. She was absolutely awesome. It was also good to see Gerry Rossi, who runs the course but sorry to hear that despite the fact that this course has demonstrated great success and turned out some wonderful musicians, it is yet again under threat.
We had a great night out down in Irvine when Jim and his band played at the Irvine Folk Club. This was their first public performance and they were thrilled by the very positive response. It was a very pleasant surprise to have Erin. K. Hill along for the gig.
As usual I've been popping up and down to Old Kilpatrick and Jim and I had a lovely time at Sharon and Johnny's helping with the recording of Pauline's new song. I've also seen a lot of my family and had lunch with my brother, Drew, John, Caitlin and Ryan in the beer garden at The Glen Lusset and also been to see my other brother, Liam. I was particularly delighted to visit Danielle, my niece, and Ciaran, who have a new wee baby girl, Sian. Her three big sisters are absolutely delighted and very adamant that they didn't want a wee brother.