Glasgow West End: I’ve got a good feeling about Spring
It’s been a good year so far and as per usual I’ve been out and about and enjoying our wonderful city. No doubt about it, Glasgow is great. There’s so much going on and it’s great to see new businesses cropping up in the West End. Just yesterday I popped into QM Eye Opticians, the latest addition to the great row of shops on Queen Margaret Drive. It’s an excellent destination if you are a vintage or retro fan, or just fancy some great quality eyewear.
Whilst in the vicinity I could not resist picking up some lovely wool at The Yarn Cake, Anja is always very helpful and apart from the excellent choice of yarn, you can always try out some cake or go along to a class.
The good news for both the business community and locals is that the road works that have been going on for sometime are due to be completed very soon but in the meanwhile – they are all open for business and the road isn’t actually closed. I finished off my little sortie to North Kelvinside in Smile cafe – I feel it my duty to try out their new sandwiches – so I had a Mantera: focaccia with salad, tuna and ham. Super tasty.
Another addition to the West End is the wonderful Le Chalet Beaumartin. I went along to last week with my friend Margaret and we had a lovely time. If you fancy something different, convivial and very tasty then you should definitely try out the raclette – absolutely delicious.
Apart from my enjoyable visit to Le Chalel Beaumartin, I had a very nice lunch in Booly Mardy’s , when I met two friends up from Ayr. It’s very relaxing sitting in a booth, the presentation of the food is excellent and I had the most impressive BLT ever, complete with a wee cup of soup and a bowl of chips. I’ve always liked this place in Vinicombe Street but it’s getting even better. Taylor, the waitress, was very pleasant and if you’re in the mood you can always have a cocktail.
My festive period was somewhat extended and it was lovely meeting up with friends over lunch, dinner or afternoon tea. A particular highlight was seeing the Athanasopoulou family, here on holiday from Athens; we had a great catchup and lovely dinner at Zizzi’s and enjoyed sitting out on the balcony of the beautiful Princes Square.
I found myself back in Princes Square when I had lunch with Anne, Frances and also Aileen, Roisin and the kids Tilly and Jude, who were visiting from London, This time we were on the lower level at D’Arcys – unbeknownst to me a favourite spot for families. The kids had an amazing time running around and sitting on the stairs of the events spot. A handy tip if you’re in town with wee weans as really they find it hard to sit still for long.
I also enjoyed a leisurely afternoon with Gillian at Hotel du Vin at One Devonshire. The main lounge has been closed for refurbishment so I must go back and check it out as I suspect it will be amazing.
Another day Frances and I met for lunch at Patisserie Valerie in West Nile Street. We’d had a coffee in the cafe when we were in Aberdeen and were very impressed and the cafe in Glasgow is even better – much more spacious. It’s popular so be prepared to wait a short while for a table if you haven’t booked.
Finally, I had our usual festive/cum my birthday get-together with the Rosemount gang and it was lovely to see Val, Margaret and Rosemary. We returned once more to Tony Macaroni’s, Byres Road. The food is great and if you get there early there’s a great pre-theatre deal. The ladies were in fine form and as per usual we talked for Scotland.
There were celebrations galore in Glasgow for our Bard but we found ourselves at The Lucky Break in Clydebank, for a night of laughter and song. We certainly had a good time, Jimmy, Jim’s dad came along and we met new folk and caught up with some old buddies. There was no holding back on the humour and the rafters of the snooker club fairly roared. Jim played a spot, which I always enjoy, and he has been so busy writing and recording that the performing has taken a back seat so good to see him back on the stage once again.
We went along to Alasdair Gray ‘s amazing exhibition, From the Personal to the Universal, at Kelvingrove. It ends on 22nd February so you can just catch it.
We also went to The Drygate Craft Brewery, in the East End to an exhibition by Masters students at Glasgow School of Art. The exhibition was fascinating and what a brilliant space. We were particularly interested in Marianne Wilson’s work – she is an absolute rising star and we’ll be back at to see more of her work at AlgoRthym on 26th February, which is a serious of musical and film events part of Glasgow Film Festival.
We all loved the new Electric Garden light display at the Botanics, organised by the West End Festival. Jim, Caitlin, Ryan and I all went along and it was magical. Particularly beautiful as the snow was still lying. This new winter festival was a major success attracting more than 15,000 visitors and the last week-end completely sold out. We can now look forward to the 20th West End Festival in June.
In town at the moment we have Glasgow Film Festival looking good I dipped my toe in the water last week when I went along to see the fantastic film X + Y, you can catch it next week at both the GFT and The Grosvenor. This afternoon I’ll also be haring down to the GFT to see While We’re Young. The festival is bound to be a huge success so don’t miss out. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Maurice O’Brian’s William McIlvanney documentary on 23rd February – Living With Words. The film festival runs until 1st March.
In April we can look forward to Aye Write, Glasgow’s Book Festival to look forward to – it runs from the 17th until 25th April. It really has something for everyone and prior to the main event you should check out Wee Write and the Family Fun Day at The Mitchell on 7th March.
Shopping in Glasgow West End
The quirky blue Police Box on Great Western Road near the entrance to the Botanics, where you’ve been able to pick up a coffee as you past, is now also selling Indian Street Food – and it’s delicious. Courtesy of Java Coffee Glasgow .
When on the topic of iconic Glasgow images, it’s also worth pointing out that you can pick up some of Allan Richardson’s fabulous art work online. Also at Janet and John Janet and John in De Courcy’s, where you will find an amazing range of gifts, jewellery and knitwear created by Scottish Craftspeople.
Also in De Courcy’s you’ll find the Eclectic Revival, particularly fascinating for anyone with a yen for retro and vintage. You’ll absolutely love the amazing rose quartz and silver jewellery.
The Hoodie Stop – is not to be missed. One of the brightest and most attractive shops in Glasgow – their bags are brilliant; the kids will love their brightly coloured satchels. Definitely the place to go if you are looking for something different or have the desire to design something then they’ll help you with your commission.
The Nancy Smillie Shop is always on my mind when I have a present to buy and I’ve yet to be stumped. There’s always something new and I could have resold my lovely tweed scarf over and over – never had so many compliments. At the moment they have a super sofa bed sale.
Also along at Kelvinbridge you’ll find Nancy Smillie Jewellery Studio and if you are thinking of pushing the boat out this Spring. Blair and Sheridan can design your wedding, engagement or eternity rings. You can also speak to them about updating existing jewellery. Every piece of jewellery is unique.
Shona Fidgett is someone else to bear in mind if you are thinking of purchasing or commissioning a piece of jewellery. Every piece is ‘handmade, special and unique.’
The best place to head if you love Sheila Fleet jewellery is Stevenson Jewellers, Byres Road.
You’ll also love beautiful silver handcrafted jewellery designed and crafted by Mo McQuillan
I was very sad to see Handbags and Gladrags closing. I’ll miss the shop as well as Maxine, Michael and Gina and hope that everything goes well for them.
I’ve been very lucky in The Glasgow Vintage Co at Kelvinbridge, where I’ve picked up a couple of lovely cashmere cardigans. Good to hear that their shop in the East Village, New York (East Village of NYC, 331 East 9th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues), New York, NY, 10003. ) is doing very well. If you make a trip don’t forget to say hello from me. 🙂
I thoroughly enjoyed the Raymond Carver event, which I went along to last week. It’s always very enjoyable meeting up with my Creative Writing buddies and I was privileged to be accompanied by Mary Irvine and Ciara MacLaverty.
Jim and I went along recently to the Helensburgh Writer’s Group at Mary’s invitation and we had great fun composing a song, with group members writing the lyrics and Jim the tune ‘Shadows on the Clyde’
I’m also planning to get along to Literary Lunchtimes – the new spring programme has just been launched.
Sadly, Kathleen O’Rourke, a very talented writer and great person passed away last month. Linda Jackson wrote a lovely tribute to Kathleen. She’ll be much missed.
I’m honoured to have added Glasgow Writer Glasgow Writer Bernard MacLaverty to my list of Glasgow Writers and recently enjoyed a fascinating chat with him about his work.
I am now working on a piece on Malcolm Lochhead, embroidery artist and textile designer so watch out for this new addition to my Glasgow Characters – coming soon.
We’ve had our usual jaunts to Kelvingrove and the Botanics and we had a very chilly stroll along to Bingham’s Pond with Ryan, Ashlyn, Kayla and Andrew, when the girls came to visit from Dunoon.
Jim, Ryan and I also had a brilliant day out on Troon beach – with the football. Good to stretch our legs and we enjoyed our tea in Blueberry’s Bakery and Coffee Shop.
New on the Website
Fabulous new childcare classes at Bricks4Kidz children have loads of fun building unique creations and playing games using LEGO® bricks.
You’ll also enjoy some great shots of Kelvingrove Park and Kelvinbridge, and more, in: Jim’s Photodiary
Celtic Connections 2015 , photography and reviews by Pauline Keightley.
Fiona Alderman blogging from the Salignac Foundation, Rural France.
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Have a lovely Spring.
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