Added on Thursday 20 Oct 2011
Things seem to be moving along at a frantic pace and I've hardly caught my breath since Autumn arrived. I've started an exciting new venture and been catching up with lots of people, going on trips and spending a lot of time with the kids as there have been so many school holidays.
I was disappointed to miss a lot of great gigs in September, when I was housebound with a nasty virus so I missed some of Jim's gigs including events that I had been looking forward to such as Folk On The Boat, Live@Troon and Linlithgow Folk Festival.
However, I've been making up for it ever since and was fully recovered in time to see Jim Byrne and The Blackwoods (Dinny and Dr Tim Drysdale), play at the opening of a new West End live music venue, The Roxy 171. Jim was delighted to have Dochan MacMillan of The Ballachullish Hellhounds join him on banjo and it's always a treat to catch Chris Rodger, another act on the bill.
We had another great night up in Milngavie when The Blackwoods were the headline act at Parkin's Place.
Last month we found ourselves venturing much further than Milngavie and Jim and I took the train to York. He had been asked to do a web development presentation for an organisation there and as neither of us had ever visited the city before, we decided to have a wee break. We had high expectations as it is such a popular tourist destination and we were certainly not disappointed. What a wonderful place.
Three days can't do it justice but we managed to take in quite a lot and particularly enjoyed a bus tour, which let us get our bearings and seeing all the main attractions. We hopped off and on quite a few times and wandered along the narrow lanes. We also spent a lot of time at Yorkminster, which is just incredible. It was lovely browsing in the shops and markets and there was a great buzz as the York Food and Drink Festival was on. I loved some of the shops and Mulberry Hall is, without doubt, the most beautiful china shop I've ever set foot in. We had a very civilized lunch in their colosally twee tea room.
We also landed very lucky with our hotel, Hedley House, we had booked a double room but were given a nice wee suite. Great for the price and very handy for the centre.
A couple of weeks later we had another out of town excursion, this time with the entire Byrne Clan, twenty one of us, including ten children. We took Caitlin and Ryan along and we all had a great time at Tower Farm in Cocksburnpath. It was a good opportunity to visit more places that we had never been before and we enjoyed a trip into Eyemouth and Jim and I also drove down to Seahouses in Northumberland so a very interesting week-end.
I have been out and about quite a bit in the West End. I've had Ryan a lot because of the school holidays and we went along together to check out the newly refurbished Hunterian Museum. It is looking splendid. I've always been fascinated by the ancient Roman stones from the Antonine Wall. In particular I get excited about those found in Old Kilpatrick. The displays are fantastic and I agree with Charlotte Higgins that it is very refreshing and effective to have no added interactive displays or other gimmicks. Mind you, Ryan, was less keen on the ancient monuments but delighted with William Hunter’s anatomical and pathological specimens. In particular he was very taken by a hand with a hideous tumour.
The University is proving to be a much more regular haunt than usual as I am back there once again at a Creative Writing Course. I am completely out of my comfort zone but enjoying it very much and it's a privilege to be back in the environment.
I blame John Dingwall for my impulsive application as he spoke so enthusiastically about the course which he completed last year, when we met a few months back. I met John again recently in Tinderbox and he reassured me that he was also a bit mesmerised at the outset, so I will remain in positive mode. :)
I've enjoyed quite a few jaunts along Great Western Road for a wander around the West End Shops. Nancy Smillie's is looking particularly attractive as they gear up for Christmas and something I really appreciate about her shops is that some of the designers of the goods also work on the premises. The jewellery ranges are amazing and Genna Miller is one of a few young designers whose unique ranges you will find both at the Jewellery Studio at Kelvinbridge and in the Nancy Smillie Shop, Cresswell Lane. I couldn't resist some beautiful purple glass globe earrings designed by Owen, and they didn't break the bank.
Whilst in Cresswell Lane I took a trip upstairs in De Courcy's and enjoyed a wee chat with Allan at Not Now Cato, vintage and retro shop. Business is picking up now the students are back and stylish youngsters are flocking to the shop. Also some well known cool dudes such as recent customer Phil Jupitus.
Across the passageway Justine at Just for You is ensuring that fashionable women on a budget can go to the ball. When I was there one lady was trying on an incredible black ball gown and looking a million dollars. Definitely worth checking out this shop if you are looking for an ultra stylish bargain.
Made in the Shade is probably one of the most attractive shops in Glasgow with a super range of quirky designs. Definitely the place to go if you are looking for something that bit different.
I caught up with the usual suspects, Joan, Jackie, Eleanor, Rena and Maggie in Ashton Lane, when we went along for Sunday Lunch at The Chip a few weeks back. The food there is invariably delicious and the atmosphere is great. We happily blethered the afternoon away.
I also enjoyed lunch with Lindsay Hendry at Velvet Elvis a couple of weeks back and a coffee with Amanda Hope at Stravaigin 2. It's always interesting to hear about all the developments at the different West End restaurants so I enjoyed learning about the goings on at Criterion and also Stravaigin's latest venture with their resurrection of The Cleikum Club. I didn't manage along to the inaugural event but hopefully I'll make the next event.
Down in the city centre Frances and I had afternoon tea in Stewart's Victorian Tea Room in Glassford Street. The sandwiches, scones and cakes were scrumptious and their chandelier is amazing. A perfect setting for an extended chinwag.
Ryan, John and I have also had a few wee dining out experiences. We invariably enjoy Dino's in Sauchiehall Street, Cafe Cosmo at the GFT and Ryan and I also had a leisurely afternoon coffee, well he had an iced drink, in Ecco 808, Il Cafe in Crow Road. He thought his ship had come in as we found two Pokemon Books in St Margaret's Hospice Charity Shop next door.
We picked up another great bargain when we bought a beautiful antique wardrobe in Partick, in the second hand furniture shop in Vine Street. It's looking very fine in John's bedroom.
Yesterday I took a run into Cafe Cherubini, which is also looking very smart. It was fun catching up with Mark di Lucca and some plans could be brewing for a musical event with Jim Byrne and The Blackwoods. I'll keep you posted.
I always enjoy a run along to Kelvinbridge and I had a laugh with Mark and Jim at Galletly and Tubbs and caught up on all their latest news. Still some bargains to be had in their sale. I stocked up on some deli products at Roots and Fruits and then had a wee chat with Claire at Flounce
There's lots of stuff in my diary for the next couple of weeks: we're looking forward to seeing Kerry Wilson, home from New Zealand and also celebrating Davie's birthday. I'm planning to get along to the Polish Club to hear Basia Palka and Martin Stepek - Poetry at the Polish Club this Sunday and I'm off down to Balloch on Friday to visit Lucillia Weir and then dine with Les Gals at Eleanor's in the evening. Thank heavens for the Berocca!
I've got lots of stuff in my diary and hope to catch: The Moonshiners playing in Cardross and Jim Byrne and The Blackwoods who will be at The Vagabond Club on 18th November. And Also watch out for double bill with Mark Geary and Mick Hargan at Cottiers on 30th October and last chance ever to see From The Cradle to The Grave
There's lots of new stuff up on the site: