Added on Friday 30 Mar 2012
Blue skies in Glasgow
What a lovely spell of weather we've been having. After a long and dreary winter the recent blues skies have been a delight. Glasgow West End's parks have been mobbed and the pavement cafes doing a brisk trade. Looks as though we are set for a few more days of sunshine before the temperature drops but I hope it won't be too dreich as I'm off to Arran with the kids during the Easter break.
I've been out and about a lot over the past month or so and feeling much better after a rotten start to the year. One of the main highlights of last month was Jim's CD Launch The Innocent at Brel. It was a brilliant night with the band in fine form and friends, family and fans turning out in force, although next time I think we'll need a bigger venue as it was a bit of a crush. Jim's been delighted with the response to the CD with lots of positive reviews and air play. It's now on sale at CD Baby, Amazon and ITunes. You can find out more at songsbyjimbyrne.com.
The sunshine certainly entices you out of doors and I've been along at the allotment catching up with all the other plotters after their winter hibernation. We had a lovely picnic there the other day with John, Ryan and Brandon. The youngsters had great fun helping me weed and they also dug a huge hole in the ground! Caitlin didn't join us as she was away running in Sainsbury's run for Sports Relief with Joanne and Elle. Well done girls. Even seven year old Elle ran three miles.
I am more in strolling mode and had a pleasant walk though a very busy Kelvingrove with Dawn Murray. We were joined by her spaniel and Paul and David, who are busy creating a website for Dawn's salon Richardson Murray, which has had a makeover and been reincarnated as Westend Hair.
I had a longer hike down to Finnieston, from Great Western Road, via Kelvinbridge and Kelvin Way and met up with Roy Beers and John. It was ages since I'd been down in The Hidden Lane and we enjoyed afternoon tea in The Hidden Lane Cafe. I looked in on Pete Gillies at Gillies Glass and gave him a bit of a fright as I missed the step at his doorway and landed full length on the floor. Thankfully I didn't smash any of his wonderful creations. I particularly like his above-the-door panels. Great idea for Glasgow tenements.>h4>Meeting friends in West End places
I've had plenty of opportunity to hang out in cafes and restaurants in the West End and enjoyed catching up with John Rae at Ecco 808 in Crow Road, where we sat outside in the sunshine putting the world to rights and demolishing some excellent apple tart with cream. It's always fun chatting with John so I'll be looking forward to his next trip home.
Jim and I also had an interesting chat with Dougie Baird and Iain McGuinness, when we met up in Zizzi's, Cresswell Lane. These two Clydebank lads, who already have quite a few accomplishments under their belts, have teamed up to build a new travel website. I'll be watching out for the launch and keeping an eye on future developments. Good luck, lads.
John and I had delicious lunch in Little Italy and last week-end we had dinner downtown in Dino's with Lynn. Earlier in the day Lynn and I went along to the first glasgow art show at The Thistle Hotel, where there was an amazing amount and range of art on display. Afterwards we caught Jim Byrne and The Blackwoods playing at LOVEMusic - the fabulous wee independent music store in Dundas Street, who are stocking Jim's CD.
Further west I went along with Michael, Gail, Drew, Ryan and John for dinner in the Milton Inn, Nr Dumbarton, a week or so ago. A very popular carvery style diner, where the food can only be described as an amazing deal. No wonder it's so popular - I met half of Old Kilpatrick there so that was a bonus.
Another fun February outing was when a gang of us went along to The Chip to celebrate Eleanor's birthday. The meal was delicious and we spent a long leisurely afternoon in the restaurant. I was back in The Chip to meet Martin Gray a few days later on the 29th February, a date that sticks in your head, to have my photograph taken for the new mural by Michael Lacey. It was pleasant catching up with Martin, whom I hadn't seen for ages, and as I was early I took the opportunity to browse and buy in some of the local shops and then hang out people watching in the lane.
I particularly enjoyed a trip into George Mewes, Cheese Shop and also a chat I had with a charming lady outside The Chip. I had to do a wee online story for my Creative Writing Course at Uni and no better place to write about than the West End.
I've been enjoying the course very much and can't believe that's classes finished for the first year, although, still writing to be done. It's given me a real lift meeting so many new and very talented people and I've been reading a huge variety of different styles of prose and poetry.
Some of the students are also involved with the Scottish Writers' Centre at the CCA and I went along with Maggie Graham to a talk by Jacqueline Smith, their chairperson, on writing and meditation. I have little trouble drifting into a trance and I felt like a million dollars after the event. The Scottish Writers Centre has a fantastic programme of events lined up - well worth checking out.
Maggie and I also chummed up for some of the Aye Write events at The Mitchell including Colm Toibin, who entertained a capacity crowd with typical Irish charm. My favourite event at the festival was The Grand Central Hotel, where we heard all about the history of the hotel as well as its recent restoration to its former glory. I was very impressed by Lawrie Nicol, the general manager, who spoke with such enthusiasim and knowledge about the hotel and her route to her current post. The book is fantastic and has many fascinating photographs of the many stars and characters associated with the hotel, including Roy Rodgers and Trigger, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope and a young Marianne Faithful. It made an excellent Mother's Day gift for Jim's mum.
Another Glasgow festival that was a big success was Mark Buckland's Margins Book and Music Festival and Jim and I went along to OranMor to see Alasdair Gray, in his usual fine fettle, perform Fleck along with a most salubrious array of readers including Zoe Strachan, Louise Welsh and Rodge Glass.
Jim and I had a particularly enjoyable evening when Jane and Tom Fairnie came through from Edinburgh to visit us. Jim and Tom played some music and storytelling was also very much on the agenda - I don't remember laughing so much for ages. Lovely guests. We'll catch up again when Jim plays Foakies in Edinburgh in a few weeks.
Stephanie also came to visit and we had a great auld gab then my niece Aileen came the other day with her new baby, Erin, so that was a super treat. She's an adorable wee girl.
Back in the West End I've been popping into some of the shops and was very tickled when Alan at Not Now Cato showed me a pair of gorgeous lace up ankle boots that had been owned by Twiggy! I've been doing a wee round of Glasgow Vintage and Retro Shops and bought a lovely lace blouse in Handbags and Gladrags, for a song. Circa Vintage is looking particularly enticing at the moment and I was talking to some new students at the University, who are thrilled to have found it. I also took a run into Retro in Otago Street where I spotted a wonderful cherry red suede bag. They have some wonderful 50's dresses, very sharp and slinky and an amazing selection of designer shoes.
I had a look in Jordana, a rather spectacular florists that specialises in events and weddings, near the Byres Road end of Great Western Road, The shop should do well as, despite the downturn in the economy, weddings seem to be more popular than ever. I'll be looking forward to the summer when there will be yet another Venditozzi wedding party.
We had a wee party through in Edinburgh, when we all went along for Andrew's seventh birthday and Jim and I had a belated jaunt through to the great city for his 50th birthday. We stayed over for a couple of nights and took in some of the delights of the capital including the fabulous Cadell Exhibition at the Dean Gallery. We also visited the Portrait Gallery and the Georgian House, very touristy. We even took a run out to South Queensferry, where we sat for ages over brunch at Orocco Pier. It was very plesant reading the Sunday papers and looking out over the Forth Rail Bridge. We crossed the Forth then drove back home via Sitrling. Very pleasant. You can see some more photographs in Jim's Photo Diary
Now I am getting set for an Easter excursion to Arran with the kids and my sons and Gail. I'll be leaving Jim in perfect peace for a few days so he'll have an opportunity to play with his new recording equipment.
Before that we're off to see Gallagher and Lyle on Saturday night at The Pavilion Theatre. See Gig Guide for Details