Above Scotland exhibition at the Lighthouse

There's an interesting exhibition on at The Lighthouse called Above Scotland.

Above Scotland exhibition at The Lighthouse

Designed by Architecture and Design Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, it's a selection of aerial photographs each with their own magnifying glass.

Above Scotland exhibition at The Lighthouse

I liked the photos and the way the whole thing was set out. Here's the Tay Bridge up close.

Above Scotland exhibition at The Lighthouse

If you're not into architecture you can use it for a bit of amateur dentistry.

What Presence: The Rock Photography of Harry Papadopolous

There's a great exhibition on at Street Level Photoworks in King St, showing the rock photographs of Harry Papadopolous. It's a huge selection of atmospheric photos, really out of the ordinary in style and subject as far as music photography goes. Also, the Lovely Photos of Edwyn Collins-quotient is very high.

Harry was born in Helensburgh and became staff photographer for Sounds magazine. His friendship with fellows Scots in bands like Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and The Bluebells led to an archive of great candid photos like this one.

Aztec Camera by Harry Papadopolous

The whole exhibition really sums up the spirit of the early 80s - handmade haircuts, dodgy jumpers, charity shop chic which somehow came together to be cool. The exhibition is on until 25 February so catch it while you can.

World War Z film set

For the past week or so Glasgow city centre has been turned into Philadelphia for the filming of World War Z, starring Brad Pitt.

The Daily News

It's strange to see Glasgow's streets full of yellow taxis, newstands and even a hot dog vendor in George Square.

World War Z film set

It has been causing a lot of excitement (not every day Brad comes to town) and lots of people are around to have a look and take photos. There's a Flickr group collecting them.

Don't Walk

According to the steward I was speaking to, not every is happy about the disruption it's causing, but I thought it was great. It's funny how a single sign can make you feel like you're in another country.

Do Not Block / The Corinthian

Brad has finished his bit now but filming is carrying on until Wednesday next week. It's definitely worth going in for a look if you haven't seen it already.

Herb Lester's Glasgow companion

Herb Lester, makers of the coolest maps around have come up trumps again with their guide to Glasgow. In one beautifully-designed sheet, Glasgow's best bits, well-known and hidden, are picked out by Glaswegian connoisseurs. I suggested a few of my favourite places for it and can vouch for it being a very valuable asset for anyone visiting this fine city.

Herb Lester's Glasgow map

The maps are available from the Herb Lester website and in Glasgow, from the Maisonette and Monorail among others. In the time it has taken to write this they're on to their next map - a beautiful guide to Untamed London in partnership with Caught By The River . Like the others it's a breath of fresh air.

Current reading

Here's my reading for the year so far. Past: The Celestial Cafe by Stuart Murdoch. Present: Nileism: The Strange Course of the Blue Nile by Allan Brown. Future: It's Lovely To Be Here: The Touring Diaries of a Scottish Gent by James Yorkston.

Together they're a good Scottish musical trio. The Celestial Cafe collects short pieces of writing previously published on the Belle & Sebastian website in one book. It covers a few years from 2002-06, dipping in and out of different tours and albums, showing life on the road and at home. I absolutely loved it and was sorry when it ended. The writing is lovely, really warm and funny, like someone talking to you. It's good if you're a B&S fan but is more of a love poem to Glasgow than a warts and all rock biog.

The last chapter of The Celestial Cafe is called "Tinseltown In The Rain" which leads nicely into Nileism. The Blue Nile are a huge band in a small way. Also based in Glasgow, they released four albums over twenty years and made few personal appearances but their music was so distinct and atmospheric that they attracted a huge reputation and a devoted following. "A riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a raincoat", as it says in the book.

Only one member of the band was interviewed for the book (the band's singer, Paul Buchanan) so it reads more like a standard rock biography than an intimate memoir. As one of the devoted few I'm looking forward to reading more about them. I'm only a few pages in at the moment so the enigma remains.

Finally, I've sneakily dipped into It's Lovely To Be Here: The Touring Diaries of a Scottish Gent and it seems very good, full of James Yorkston's tales of life on the road (and in Fife) with the Fence Collective. I'm looking forward to reading more as I like these kind of books - a little glimpse into someone else's life, a bonus if it's musical.

If any of you can recommend other music biographies I'd love to add them to my reading list.

Young's Interesting Books, Glasgow

Young's Interesting Books is a great second-hand bookshop in Skirving Street on Glasgow's south side. We visited on Saturday when it was exactly one year old. The photo above shows a book on Cornish windmills mingling with "Touchers" the history of Queen's Park Bowling Club. Nice.

Young's Interesting Books, Glasgow

As the name suggests, it's full of interesting books. A really nice selection of classics and curios - kids books, rare books, sci fi, you name it, it's in there. It's a bit like a smaller version of Voltaire & Rousseau (the best bookshop ever) in Otago Lane.

Young's Interesting Books, Glasgow

A rousing northern soul soundtrack enhanced the browsing experience. Thanks to Southside Happenings (Glasgow's premiere southside blog) for the tip.


Supermercado, the rocking new retail adventure from the Made in the Shade gals officially opens today at the Barras. It's been open for a few weeks now, but there's a special party today with special crafty treats, musical entertainment and hot peas. Don't miss it!

One Way Pendulum poster by Marc Baines

One Way Pendulum is the choice for this month's Monorail Film Club.

A 1964 gem from Woodfall Films it sounds like a vintage slice of celluloid nuttiness involving Jonathan Miller, Peggy Mount, Eric Sykes and other Great British characters. My friend Marc Baines has picked it and even drew a poster for the occasion, bless him. It is showing at 7.30 on Sunday 26 September in the GFT.

Bungalow Cafe, Glasgow

Young people working with Fairbridge in Glasgow have created a Classic Cafe Calendar. It features some of my favourites haunts like Boni's, Tomasso's, The Bungalow Cafe, The Queen's Cafe, The Val D'Oro plus others I can't identify (Jaconelli's?). It was all done as part of a photography project, the results of which can also be seen on Flickr.

It costs £9.99 and is available here.

Tinyment by Finch and Fouracre

Tinyments are tiny, perfect models of Glasgow tenements, made by Finch and Fouracre. Made from nickel silver, they're supplied flat, ready to be clicked into place.

Tenement model kits by Finch and Fouracre

They also make red and blonde sandstone tenements kits which require a bit more assembly. You can get them from the Finch and Fouracre shop or from their Etsy store. My only complaint is that there's only one variety. It would be great to see them in different shapes and sizes, just like the real ones, so you could build a wee Glasgow street.

Wil from Ghost School in the Sunday Herald

Nation in a scuzzy notebook, is a great interview with Wil from Ghost School in this week's Sunday Herald. His sketches look amazing and it's great to hear the stories behind them. And I even get a wee mention, which was a nice surprise. Wil has put it all online so you can read it if you go large on Flickr (page 1, page 2).


We had a day out at Whitelee Windfarm today, Europe's largest onshore windfarm. It's 20 minutes or so outside Glasgow on Fenwick Moor, a bleak foreboding place now transformed into an extraordinary visitor attraction. The moor was a mix of farm land, blanket bog and commercial forest but now it's home to 140 wind turbines with paths winding through them. It's a really striking landscape - awe-inspiring to be up close and personal with these gentle giants.

Turbine 54

Since opening in September it has been completely mobbed, and today (beautifully sunny) it was full of walkers, runners and cyclists, shattering some myths about Scots and exercise. There's a visitor centre run by Glasgow Science Centre which tells you all about windpower and renewable energy. You can even build your own windfarm and plant toy turbines in a model landscape. It gave me a lot to think about and will end up on Nothing To See Here when I've got more time to write.

Whitelee Windfam at sunset

The visitor centre closes at the end of November and opens again in Spring. More photos on Flickr.

The Glasgow Cookery Book

The Glasgow Cookery Book has just been reissued, hooray. With over 1,000 recipes, it has fed families in Glasgow and beyond for almost 100 years, becoming a traditional present for newlyweds and those leaving home.

There are 25 chapters going from Appetisers and Soups, through Meat and Offal, Poultry and Game to Hot Puddings, Ices, Baking and Confectionery plus other useful things like Sauces, Preserves and even Winemaking. Alongside the main recipes there are reference guides like a cookery glossary, a chart showing different cuts of meat, and handy measures. It really is invaluable.

It was originally produced as a cookery textbook by The Glasgow & West of Scotland College of Domestic Science which became Queen's College, Glasgow, now part of Glasgow Caledonian University. So legions of Scottish homemakers have learnt from it. Most Scots would have been raised on this sort of fare, but cookery has changed so much that the recipes are now quite hard to find. There's nothing fancy in it at all, but it's all good food.

First published in 1910, the last edition was in 1975 and has been out of print ever since. I worked at Glasgow Caledonian University from 1994-2003 and spent part of that time working with colleagues to try and get it back into print. It was a great job as I got to sit with the cookery lecturers and work through revisions to the book. I learnt so much about food and loved listening to them talk.

Even 10 years ago there was a real demand for it, as people wanted to eat the food their granny used to make - steak pie, Scotch broth, pancakes - that sort of thing. For various reasons it didn't get published at that time and it's great to see it in the flesh at last. The new edition, by Waverley Books, who also publish Maw Broon's Cook Book, is a real triumph. It has been a labour of love for GCU staff (especially my old boss John Powles and the Research Collections team) and former students of 'The Dough School' who made sure that the recipes still suit modern tastes and modern kitchens.

I'm going to christen mine by making a chocolate cake just like the one my gran used to make. One lick of chocolate butter icing can send me back 30 years. Yum. On sale at Amazon and other good bookshops.

Titan Crane, Clydebank

Today, I went up the Titan Crane in Clydebank. It's the oldest of 13 Titan cranes left in the world (5 of them are on the Clyde) and was built by Sir William Arrol, who was also responsible for the Forth Rail Bridge and Tower Bridge. It opened in 2007 as a tourist attraction and has proved popular as the Clyde is such a big part of the heritage around here.

Crane legs

It's good fun going up a crane. There's a lift, so it's no bother and provided you don't mind walking about on a bit of mesh at 150ft, the views are fantastic.

Emergency telephone

The views on the ground were also interesting, as the crane is the only remaining part of John Brown's shipyard. It had a role in building the Lusitania, Queen Mary and the QE2. The surrounding area is in different states of redevelopment. Beside the ticket office there a range of new Poundbury-esque developments but towards the crane there is only rubble and odd fragments of the shipyards. It feels very transitional.

The visitor centre at the crane is really nicely done. It tells you what you need to know, with lots of big wow engineering facts, but it's not dull or overdone. And the tickets are really nice. Good job all round. It closes for the winter on 5 October so if you fancy it, get along there.

Voltaire & Rousseau by Wil Freeborn

Glasgow's Otago Lane, home of Voltaire and Rousseau and Tchai Ovna, is under threat from proposed development. If the application is granted four blocks of flats and six commercial units will be added at the end of the lane. I can't picture how they'd fit them on, but if permission is granted Tchai Ovna would have to close and the character of the lane would change completely.

There was a great feature about Voltaire & Rousseau in the Sunday Herald last week, showing how much it means to some people. It's only a small part of Glasgow in the great scheme of things but if it matters to you check out the Save Otago Lane website and get involved.

Picture by Wil at Ghost School.


I went for a walk at lunchtime today and fell over this - the word 'Taurus', in one of the kerbstones on Robertson St near the river Clyde. I kept going onto the Broomielaw, looking for other random words but couldn't see any.

Anyone know what it's all about? I hope it's not something dead boring like the name of the company that made it. The dot at the end is just chewing gum, by the way. It made me look twice.

The relics of St Valentine, Blessed St John Duns Scotus, Glasgow border=

Right, I swear the Valentine's stuff will stop soon but today's post is a bit different. I went for a walk today and did something I've meant to do for years - go and see the relics of St Valentine that are rather surprisingly sitting in a church in Glasgow's Gorbals. The whole story is over at Nothing To See Here.

Feel Fuzzy map tags

I was at Made in the Shade again yesterday and have a new favourite stall, Feel Fuzzy. They sell delightful things made from old children's books and games, plus some other bits and pieces (like very handy gift tags) made from vintage paper products. It reminded me of Lark and all their lovely things.

I also got a button bag from Asking for Trouble (for my niece, to keep her crafting things in), a notebook covered in vintage embroidery from Leah Halliday and some more of Clare Nicolson's lavender birdies because I can't resist them. Overall, I was a bit disappointed because some of the stalls I liked last time weren't there. Still, it's a grand day out and it's on again today from 12-5 at The Lighthouse.


Good news. Dear departed Hitherto, Glasgow's fabbest shop has risen from the ashes and returned as Narrative. It opens tonight in the CCA on Sauchiehall Street and will be trading for a few weeks until Christmas. Open til 7 most nights, it's a great place for fabulous artistic goodness and unique Christmas pressies.

Cassette purses by Librarian Barbarian

More from Made in the Shade. First up, this fantastic purse made from an old cassette tape by the stellar Librarian Barbarian. The tapes are split down the middle and turned into a sturdy purse. In the spirit of recycling, the tape is turned into brooches that are also for sale, as were some bags made from records. Lovely stuff.


Next, the wonderful work of Clare Nicolson who makes a number of delightful things, like cards, cushions and lavender birdies. I was going to buy one of these but got it free in my lucky bag. Result! It looks great and smells superb.

Knitted R2-D2

I went to Made in the Shade on Saturday, which is a showcase for local crafty types at The Lighthouse. I was hoping to do a bit of Christmas shopping but ending up buying more for myself. First up, little R2-D2 here, made by Ding Dong Designs. They specialise in knitted finger puppets and have a great selection of Muppets, Beatles, and cartoon characters. The Star Wars ones were the most popular and had sold out in around half and hour.

Barney the Owl

I also got this little fella, now called Barney but can't remember the name of the people who made it. Anyone? I'll blog the rest later in the week when hopefully my computer is behaving itself better than it is tonight.

As promised, the video of Robert "Do you know how they make veal?" Buchanan being interviewed by Stuart "Belle and Sebastian" Murdoch at the GFT showing of That Sinking Feeling is now on YouTube (not embeddable, grrrr). If you imagine the opposite of Inside the Actor's Studio this is probably it. It looks like a very good-humoured evening. Did anyone go?

Also from the GFT, David "The Wire" Simon doing a Q&A in September 2008. Haven't watched it as I'm stuck at the start of series 2.

That sinking feeling, Bill Forsyth's first feature film from 1980 is showing at the GFT this Sunday, as part of the Monorail Film Club. From the newsletter:

Bill Forsyth's iconic first feature film, set in a fictitious town called Glasgow, lays down a winning, slightly awkward style which paved the way, only one year later for the much better known Gregory's Girl. That Sinking Feeling, which has a very similar cast to Gregory's Girl, is perhaps slightly clunkier, but is still a brilliant document of a late 70s / early 80s Glasgow which already looks very different to the city we now know. But it's still raining and the character types are familiar enough - Ronnie (Robert Buchanan) and his pals are on the lookout for a brilliant scam to get rich quick, only to hit upon the idea of stealing 90 stainless steel sinks. It sounds slightly unplotted and gauche, and really it is, but somehow it totters forward with brilliant performances and excellent dialogue, into something completely life-affirming and magical.

That Sinking Feeling was selected by Dep Downie from Monorail Music and will be followed by a conversation between actor, Robert Buchanan and Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian.

And I'm going to miss it because I'm in Bournemouth. I could just cry. I saw it years ago and remember it exactly as described, unlikely to win any oscars but still wonderful. Robert Buchanan went on to play Andy in Gregory's Girl, (Gregory's daft mate who goes on about moving to Caracas). I'd love to hear what he's got to say and I'm sure Stuart Murdoch will bring something to the table to as B&S often seem to channel the spirit of Gregory's Girl. Would be great if someone could record it (the interview I mean, not the film). If you're going, enjoy.


Yesterday we went to Gourock to see the QE2 make her last trip on the Clyde. After this she's going to Dubai to become a hotel. It was brilliant, quite emotional really, as there was such a good turnout. The best thing about it was the flotilla of little ships that came to say goodbye. There was one CalMac ferry plus various tug boats, yachts, dinghies, rowing boats, canoes and jet-skis, like the entire naval kingdom had turned out.

The view from Dumbarton Rock

As we were on a run with the weather and the old enjoying ourselves we crossed over the Erskine Bridge and climbed up Dumbarton Rock. 577 steps up a big volcanic plug to get a glorious view each way down the Clyde. On days like this Scotland is hard to beat.

Jim Lambie floor

Forever Changes, an exhibition by Jim Lambie is showing at GOMA (Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art) until Monday 29 September. I love his patterned floors, intricately made from coloured tape. This one is black and white and swirly for a change, in a Bridget Riley stylee. The big hall in GOMA is a really beautiful space as it is, they look great together. So if you've not been, get in there before it closes next week. I feel like I haven't taken quite enough photos of it so might need another trip.

Voltaire & Rousseau

There's a wee piece on Voltaire & Rousseau, my favourite bookshop on Nothing To See Here. I spent a lot of time in there as an English student, sometimes buying great works of literature, sometimes buying dusty old books because I liked the cover. It also gets the credit for introducing me to M. Sasek after finding This is London there for 50p.

I heard some sad news at the weekend - Hitherto, the lovely shop at the back of Tinderbox on Ingram Street is closing down. The full story is on their website. Hopefully it's just temporary but at the moment the future is uncertain and they need everyone's help. The last time I was in there it was jam packed with fantastic stuff that you can't get anywhere else (paper Moomins!) and what's even better is a lot of it comes from local artists, particularly students. They've also been kind enough to stock my postcards and badges and sell quite a pile. So get in there while you still can, snap up some goodies and help Hitherto bounce back soon.

RW Stevens & Co, Glasgow

I took advantage of the intermittent good weather to snap R W Stevens & Co, an traditional tailors on Glasgow's South Side. It's a wonderful time capsule of school uniforms, Brownie and Cub paraphernalia plus kilts and sporrans and all that jazz. It's hardly changed since opening in 1950 and is still family-owned and run. So much great typography concentrated into one small area.

RW Stevens & Co, Glasgow

More in the Flickr set.

Got a bit of sad news today from audiac - Glasgow's RAFA Club is closing this weekend. An anonymous-looking little place off Woodlands Road, it's an indie mecca, hosting characterful club nights within its quirky walls. Certainly I used to go there back in the day, first to Good Foot, then Twister and some club that Alan Horne (of Postcard) ran for a while, amongst others. It's a brilliant venue. There's a ballroom downstairs that has a huge Mod target printed on the ceiling and a mural of fighter planes down one wall. Pictures of the Queen everywhere. Were there Airfix models hanging from the ceiling or is that the drink talking? The dancefloor was just big enough and it was dingy in a sort of atmospheric way. The booze was cheap and the (ex-RAF) bar staff were lovely. They'd make you a hot toddy when it got cold. It was weird going in (wasn't there something odd like you had to buy a raffle ticket to get in?); indie kids shuffling past the veterans but everyone got along fine. My favourite memory was turning up early one night to find that the charity danceathon in aid of Childline was overrunning. There were lots of 12-year old in leotards jumping about while the bowlies lined up on the stairs. It was that kind of place.

If you'd like to pay your last respects National Pop League are doing their Little League night there on Friday. Somebody get some photos, will ya? As a musical tribute, here's a song that really reminds me of going there:

This used to be a Good Foot favourite, although it's more baroque pop than northern soul. That was one of the great things about growing up in Glasgow. These clubs provided such a great musical education and there were lots of blurred lines between different tastes and genres. And good influences beget good bands which explains why Glasgow's produced so many of them. I hope the old place gets a good send off tomorrow.

George Square helter skelter

Glasgow's George Square is looking great for Christmas. We were out last night for the Radiance Festival, (widely Flickrd) where there are lots of light installations around the city centre and finished with a trip to George Square which was full of lights of a non-artistic kind. I like them best. Even better than the Helter Skelter is the Old Tyme Brooklyn Cakewalk, a big shoogly walkway that pumps out organ music while you wobble about. It's here for Winterfest, a series of festivals covering Radiance, St Andrew's Day (on Friday), Christmas and Hogmanay. Happy holidays.

Belle & Sebastian 2008 Glasgow calendar

Belle & Sebastian have made a great 2008 calendar featuring all their favourite places in Glasgow. They've chosen well - some of my favourite places are in there too, like the Queen's Cafe on Victoria Rd with its wonderful ice cream cone window display and that great little 1930s street in the Transport Museum. It's a picture of the real Glasgow, not the tourist version and brings together a great city and a great band. Yours for £10 from the B&S Shop.

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