Last of the Summer: Glasgow West End

ardkinglas-woodland-225x300Summer is coming to an end but I’ve had a super time with some fascinating day trips, lots of visitors and plenty of opportunities to wander in the West End. The weather has been lovely so we’ve made good use of the Botanics and Kelvingrove Park and Ryan has been attempting, without much success, to teach his gran some football tricks.

Some day trips

One beautiful day Jim and I drove round  Loch Lomondside up to Arrochar and on to Loch Fyne. We stopped for lunch in the famous Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, picked up some lovely Scottish delicacies before heading to Ardkinglas Tree Trail, for a bit of a hike and to check out the tallest tree in Britain. It’s a beautiful place and a fantastic walk.  I’m now hoping to check out some other great tree trails, including just along the road at the Botanics.

kelpiesWe had another great day out when we went with Jim’s dad, Jimmy, Ryan and my son, John, through to Falkirk to see the Kelpies. The largest equine statues in the world were created by the sculptor Andy Scott. They are very dramatic and we enjoyed strolling around the area admiring the imposing Clydesdales. Afterwards we headed into Falkirk for Sunday lunch at The Graeme Hotel – lovely food, particularly pleasant staff and very reasonable – good choice if you don’t mind the giant television screens and the football.  Ryan was in seventh heaven because Manchester City were playing.

ashlyn ryan kayla loch lomondIt was lovely spending sometime with Ashlyn and Kayla, my great nieces from Dunoon. We went for a picnic to Loch Lomond with their dad, Andrew, and John.  It was a perfect sunny day and fun relaxing beside the water. Afterwards the kids enjoyed a browse in their favourite RSPB shop at Lomond Shores.

Eating Out in The West End

A few weeks back Ryan and I went along to meet Rena, her mum, Dot, and friend Wilma, for a delicious al fresco lunch at the Botanics Cafe.  Great sandwiches, soup and lovely staff.  Afterwards we enjoyed a stroll in the park – which was absolutely mobbed with everyone out enjoying the sunshine.

We also had a lovely meal in Tinto Tapas in Hyndland Street, where we met our friends Margaret and John Rae. We hadn’t seen each other for ages so we had plenty of catching up to do. As ever they were great company.

Politics in Glasgow

sean issi davieDuring the run up to the Referendum Glasgow took on a completely different character.  There were a lot of political events including protests about the Gaza and then the Yes campaigners were out in force, having the time of their lives in George Square and Buchanan Street.

I ran into my friends Issi and Davie at one of the Gaza protests and my nephew Sean also came through from Edinburgh. Afterwards we met my sister in law, Anne, and kids, Andrew and Nicola, and we had a very tasty vegan lunch at Mono in King Street.  It was lovely to spend some time with the Robertsons, Mono was absolutely buzzing and an extra treat was bumping into Lala Manning, one of my old neighbours from Hillhead.

clem referendum cafeThe area of Glasgow around Trongate is absolutely fascinating, with great retro shops and lovely cafes.  I particularly like ‘Lost and Found’, 21 Trongate – i enjoyed browsing and admiring their retro home accessories, clothes and furniture. I went back another day to check out The Referendum Cafe, in the Saltmarket, set up so that people with different views on Scottish Independence could come together and discuss the issues in a calm and comfortable atmosphere.  The minute I stepped in the door I was greeted by Clem, a young Welsh woman, busy making a big pot of soup.

Back in George Square things were much livelier, and no-one in Glasgow, could ever have believed that the outcome would be anything other than a Yes. There were a lot of disappointed people but they certainly had a great time before the vote.  There was music, dancing and children playing and running around. I was particularly delighted to catch my friends Crawford Smith, with his band Howlin’ Radio, and Calum Rae, encouraging the crowd to sing along with the song he composed for the Referendum.

crawford callum raeLots of people came to Scotland for the Referendum including press from the UK and around the world.  One of the myths that has sprung up is about how much the Scots hate the English, which is absolute nonsense. My friend Mary came up for the event from London and we spent an evening in George Square with a very joyful multinational crowd, including lots of Irish and English.  

Now the Referendum has taken place, Scotland is still in waiting for changes that were promised from Westminster. We are also waiting for the appointment of our new First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.  Somehow I don’t think that things are going to settle down – not whilst Scotland has the most politically engaged population in Europe.

Entertaining and going out

lynne weddingApart from Mary we have had lots of other visitors.  It was great to see my brother-in-law Alastair, who was home on a surprise trip from Canada. I’ve had quite a few guests for lunch, including Ann Anderson, Anne Gritton, Mary Irvine and Jackie Gulstad – so I’ve been busy making salads and soup and have enjoyed the great company and chats.

I’ve also caught up with some of my relatives when Jim and I went to Clydebank to celebrate Catherine, and my cousin, Graeme’s 30th wedding anniversary.

We had a lovely time at Cottiers at Lynne and Gareth’s wedding.  It’s a spectacular venue and it was a great affair.

West End Wanders

I’ve had my usual wanders around the West End and bought a fabulous Masai jacket in Jasmine, Hyndland Street . I picked up a super bargain of a retro French navy top in Handbags and Gladrags – had a laugh with Maxine and then relaxed in the sunshine in the back court at Cafe Siempre.

ashton-lane21-213x300Another day I had a pleasant browse in De Courcy’s, Cresswell Lane, admiring the new selection of bags and tee shirts in The Hoodie Stop. I bought some presents in Nancy Smillie Shop – ably assisted by Basia, I chose some beautiful pearl earrings by designer Lindsay McDowall for my sister Catherine’s birthday. And for my brother, Danny, I bought some very stylish pens shaped like golf clubs.
It’s also great to see Alan’s Art–Alan Richardson’s great posters of iconic Glasgow buildings doing so well in Janet and John.

It was a lovely surprise bumping into my old friend Maureen O’Neill in Partick and we enjoyed a coffee and a great catch up at Patiserrie Francoise on Byres Road.

Literary Events

Ryan has been up to visit a lot and we had a lovely afternoon at Scotstoun Swimming Pool but I have missed quite a lot of events lately as I caught a virus, which then developed into a nasty chest infection.  A panicky trip to Drumchapel Hospital, NHS 24, and the doctor fixed me up with some amoxycillan, so thankfully I am now on the mend.

I did manage to catch up with my friends from my creative writing class at the launch of thi wurd – I wrote a review.  I start back at class next week so looking forward to seeing Gillian, Brian, Samina and all the gang.

chris-dolan-muse-1-oct My creative writing class starts back tomorrow night and on Wednesday, 1st October,  I am planning a trip down to St Louis in Partick to catch Chris Dolan at their wee literary festival.  It will also be good to see Linda Jackson, the best host possible – and no doubt she will treat us to a song, accompanied by our good friend Graham MacIntosh.

I’m also looking forward to a trip up to Aberdeen, when Frances and I are going to visit Doreen, another childhood friend from Old Kilpatrick.

Jim has been busy creating some masterpieces with his band Bearpit Brothers and was also delighted to have a song (Lay With Me), which he co-wrote with Marti Pellow, included in his new album Boulevard of Life

I’ve also been very busy adding to the website so lots to see on our What’s New



The Great Scottish Run

Sweet for Addicts, The Course

Souness, by Alan Bissett, The Tron

Creative Writing Classes Glasgow University

Mary Irvine’s Blog, The End of Summer

Glasgoes Poetic Glasgow Poetry Festival

Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

James Christie Writer’s Blog



McTears Art for Africa: Starchild Charity
Summertime in Glasgow and The Commonwealth Games

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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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