Glasgow School of Art, West End Festival, Shops and Dining Out

Life has been hectic lately and I’ve been trying to get a chance to sit down and write my newsletter. Now I have so much to say that I don’t know where to start but it seems appropriate to begin by saying how sad and shocked everyone was by the fire at Glasgow School of Art on Friday, 23rd May.

art school cyclesFire at Glasgow School of Art

The Art School is one of Glasgow’s most iconic buildings and the main showpiece among Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s legacy to the city. The fire appears to have been caused by a projector catching fire in the basement and flames swiftly engulfed much of the building. The fire-fighters did a magnificient job, no one was injured and much of the building and the contents have been saved, but the fabulous library has been destroyed and also students’ degree work has been lost.
Updates from GSA and details of The Big Give Support Fund

Muriel Gray reports fully on the ‘beloved building’, which is bruised and battered but not destroyed, and praises the heroic actions of the firemen.

Jim and I love to go along to the degree show at GSA and we were planning on going this year. A couple of weeks back we were invited to a Reception at the Art School, the first major event at the Reid Building. Unfortunately the event coincided with our flight home from Crete. Alan Horn, who is now the Director of Development at the Art School, kindly invited Jim and I to the event, and also along to see the new building and have a coffee with the students – I was delighted to bump into Alan at the launch of this year’s West End Festival as I hadn’t seen him since he worked on the refurbishment of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum a number of years back – but our meeting will be postponed for now as the staff, and the students, at the Art School are totally devastated.

Many people have been in touch to offer support, including financial support, and donations can be made at:

Our Holiday in Crete

On some happier notes: Jim and I had a lovely holiday in Crete. We had great fun exploring some of the island and we lapped up those lovely blue skies. I wrote a wee feature about our trip Crete.

West End Festival. 2014

The West End Festival will be here soon. A few weeks back we went along to the launch, and now it’s just around the corner, kicking off on 1st June. It’s looking bigger and better than ever and I’ll be updating and highlighting some of the most interesting events. It all kicks off on 1st June with The Gibson Street Gala and on the same day Katie Morag Highland Games and The West End Dog Show, at North Kelvin Meadow.

The West End Festival Mardi Gras Parade will take place on Sunday 8th June, leaving the Botanics at 3 p.m. and heading down Byres Road to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Hope to see you there.

kei miller aye writeAye Write Festival

I had a great time at this year’s Aye Write Festival. I enjoyed meeting up with Mary Irvine, especially when we had our little escorted adventure behind the scenes at The Mitchell because Mary couldn’t manage the stairs. Very interesting.

I really enjoyed The Commonwealth Writers and went along to two events. Kei Millar and Tendai Huchu, were the stars for me. Very emotional readings. We also met up with Allan and Julie Wilson and Peter McNally in Lebowski’s before heading along to see Tom Leonard talk about his translation of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage, and show scenes from the play. It was a shame that Tam Dean Burn wasn’t able to be there as advertised but Leonard is fantastic with Glaswegian charisma to spare.

The reflection on Muriel Spark and the place of Creative Writing was also very interesting – the panel at the event consisted of Meaghan Delahunt, Zoe Strachan and Alan Taylor with Willey Maley as the host.

Prior to going along to Creative Writing Classes, I wasn’t aware that the activity of writing was so political and contentious. However, I tend to think that putting people in boxes doesn’t work. I really enjoyed all Alan Taylor’s anecdotes about Muriel Spark but didn’t agree with his suggestion that reading lists shape the students’ views and approach to writing. I suppose this is the aim, but the limitations are immense. You can’t really assume that students only read, absorb and admire the writers they are introduced to on their course. In my case, starting at the age of sixty-five, I had already read pretty extensively, as would have all of the other students, a number of whom were English Literature Graduates. I remain eclectic in my tastes, and still go along to Creative Writing Classes at the Centre for Open Studies at the University of Glasgow. I like many of the recommended texts but not all. However, I feel that I am learning all the time and in many ways these classes are more directive than on the M.Litt. Mainly I enjoy listening to the views of the other students and the ideas put forward by our marvelous tutor Alan McMunnigall. The chat in the pub after class is also fun – and informative. 🙂

allan cameronReading Events

I’ve been along again to some of the Albany events which showcases the work of students on the course. Issi came along with me and she was impressed by Samina, Stephen, Joe and the usual suspects, Brian Hamill and Frankie Gault.

I heard the two guys read again at the STUC May Day Celebrations and it was also good to hear stories by Ed Kelly and Alastair Christofferson. John Slaven organised a brilliant day – starting with a cycle, then a soul music disco where Mickey Rooney was one of the brilliant DJ’s. Then afterwards the readings – excellent.

I also went along with Gillian and Stephanie to Vagabond Voices at the CCA in Sauchiehall Street, where Chris Dolan was the charming host (hope to get along to see his play featuring David Haymen at the Edinburgh Festival) at the launch of Things Written Randomly in Doubt by Allan Cameron.

It was a small but enthusiastic gathering with a lot of the discussion veering towards Referendum issues. After the readings I had a wee chat with Allan and tapped him on the arm as she was leaving and remarked that his views had persuaded her to vote YES. Funnily enough much the same thing happened when we went to see Lesley Riddoch launch of her book, Blossom. Maybe the politicians should reel in more of the literati to take their campaign up a gear.

We also had a blether with the writer, Peter Gilmour, who is a friend of Steph’s.

mcgarrys ashton laneDining Out and Catching Up

There have been some nice sunny days and I’ve enjoyed meeting up with friends in various West End locations. I had lunch with Gillian in Ecco 808, Crow Road, which just gets better and better. I also met Steph again when we went along to try out The Hyndland Fox, 43 Clarence Drive. It’s a very attractive restaurant with a few tables outside – it was a beautiful day and we were lucky enough to grab one. It was only the second day of opening and they were looking for feedback. It seemed a bit odd that they didn’t serve sandwiches but I had a fantastic mango and ham salad.

I had a great day out when I met up with my McGarry cousins, Margaret, Liz and Anne, for lunch in The Ubiquitous Chip. They are a lively crew and I enjoyed all the jokes and chat. Hope to see them again before too long.

It was also good to catch up with Jackie and Rena in Cafe Alba at Kelvinbridge, where we all had some of their lovely savoury tarts and salad, and I had a very enjoyable lunch with Margaret and Roisin Brady in Tinto Tapas. I always enjoy catching up with the Rosemount Gang and it was lovely seeing Rosemary Venditozzi when she visited this week with her gorgeous wee granddaughter Allegra O’Neill.

ryan footballJohn and Ryan came along to Tinto Tapas and we shared a delicious selection of tapas. Ryan benefited from some of Roisin’s football coaching tips and has been practising ever since. Jim, John and I went along to see him play for Old Kilpatrick Boys’ Club last week, when they had a game against Partick Thistle Girl’s Team, the girls were a bit older and much bigger but the boys beat them 5.0. They don’t win all the time, of course, It’s a hard game but we spend a lot of time practising.

We are in the Botanics and Kelvingrove Park a lot and also took a run up to Mugdock. We usually manage to fit in a coffee or lunch a long the way and Ryan, John and I have recently enjoyed the fare and great atmosphere in Little Italy and Zizzi’s in Cresswell Lane.

It’s fantastic to see Matilda’s opening at the top of Byres Road, on the old Heart Buchanan site; I’m sure the patisserie owned by veteran chef Ian McMasters, will prove very popular.


Apart from our trip to Crete, there have been a lot of holidays. Ryan and I went along to Yorkhill Easter Egg Run . It’s amazing how many bikers come along to support the event.

Jim and I got caught up in a huge traffic jam on the holiday Monday, when we decided to go to Loch Lomond, so rather than go on up the loch we cut into Balloch to Lomond Shores and enjoyed some lunch in the sun looking over to the Maid of the Loch. It was very nice running into Mary and Dougie Wilkinson, out for the day with their family.

image4 hoodie West End Shops

I love our West End Shops: I picked up same great designer cards in Janet and John. I always enjoy a browse in Nancy Smillie’s and I treated myself to a fabulous pair of turquoise and green earrings from the Nancy Smillie Jewellery Studio for my holiday.

The Hoodie Shop, De Courcy’s one of Glasgow’s coolest shops, has got a fantastic new range of women’s casual tops and dresses for summer and you’ll also love their quirky Glasgow style mugs. They’d make super for mementos for Commonwealth Games visitors to the city. Allan Richardson’s Glasgow paintings and prints would also make great souvenirs or perhaps Capture the History of the Clyde Coast

diamond brooch marie curieYou’ll be amazed at the Unique One Off Solid 18kt Yellow Gold and Diamond Brooch Designed and Made By Blair and Sheridan. Now available for auction from McTears. 100% of proceeds go directly to Marie Curie.
Details of auction at McTears

It’s a pity we don’t have more book shops in the West End but it’s easy to wile away and hour or so in Caledonia Bookshop on Great Western Road. Also check out Hyndland Bookshop, 143 Hyndland Road.

I was particularly delighted to chat with the owners, Mabel and Ludmilla, when I popped in to Casseopia, now moved to larger premises at 165 Hyndland Road. I’ve known the girls for a number of years since they worked in Munro the Chemist and good to see them making such a go of their gift boutique. Well worth a visit.

michael simonsGigs

I haven’t been to many gigs lately but hope to make up for that at the West End Festival. Also tomorrow night I’ll be heading along to Tchai Ovna to catch Michael Simons with Jim as his guest. Really looking forward to it as we’ll be accompanied by our friends Chris and Paul Del Balso, on a visit to Scotland from New York.

Loads of new stuff on the site, including:

Much more and continuously updated: What’s New and What’s On

West End Festival Parade 8th June 2014
Trip to Koutouloufari, Crete.

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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