Quite possibly the best music venue…
…so follow’em: @Thebarrowlands
Turning 21 is to be celebrated – especially when you’ve been entertaining the masses for over the last two decades. An excellent host, 21 years on the Arches continues to throw the most fabulous, unmissable events month-after-month.
If you haven’t enjoyed any of their festivities, where have you been? Thankfully, it’s not too late to crawl from under that rock and discover the many wonderful revelries on offer.
Whether it’s enthralling club nights and gigs, exhibitions or performances of every variety, it’s all waiting for you. And if you dare to get involved, you can channel your inner artist and try out a new idea in front of an audience at an upcoming scratch night or take your chances at the interactive Alien Wars. Not for the faint of heart; you have been warned.
Arches Live – so much to experience
From 18 – 29 September Arches Live will be showcasing innovative and intriguing new work by Scotland’s emerging artists. This year’s festival is bigger, better and bolder – and not to be missed. With over 30 performances to choose from in a two-week span, there’s something for everyone, myself included.
There’s so much to choose from but the shows that have sparked my curiosity include:
Victoria Bianchi’s God Loves A Trier, exploring our ability (or lack of) to see things through to the end; Fire Into Song, featuring the talents of Cara Berger, Victoria Beesley and Vanessa Coffey that introduces a female Prometheus and promises to be different each night – and the voyeuristic Minotaur/Monitor . Calum MacAskill’s short, thought provoking experience gives insight into the life of the half human, half bull. ‘Live feed’ begins at 6pm.
If you’re taking in a few shows, you may want to consider getting a festival pass (£32/26) or a day pass (£18/12).
So go on discover, dance and be merry.
Calling all dudes, mistaken millionaires and bowling legends – get yourself to Lebowskis.
And with cult movie names like The Gutter Ball, The Toe, The Nihilist and my favourite
The Da Fino (a perfect fusion of coffee, cinnamon and vanilla) – how can we resist this rich and satisfying treat? We don’t. We abide.
Every taste and then some
There’s something for every taste, whether you’re more of a traditionalist sticking to your basic vodka, coffee liqueur and light cream variety or the more adventuresome who takes The Dude’s favourite drink with a twist of mint, espresso, whiskey or even (gasp) Buckfast!
Not just a pretty caucasian
But Lebowski’s isn’t just a nod to film about a charismatic slacker or creamy tasting ‘caucasians’ – in fact the food is equally as fantastic and the friendly staff are top notch with not a single dressing gown in sight.
So what are you waiting for? Whether you’ve seen the film or not, go on – abide and try out the perfect White Russian made in a variety of enticing and imaginative ways.
Merchant City Festival awaits you…
The Big Man arrives on Ingram Street…
How exciting! The Merchant City Festival is now only a few weeks away. 300 eclectic events will unfold between 25 – 29 July, everything from street art, music, workshops, film, food, design and more – really something for every taste.
So with so much to see and do, I’ve already been looking through the hundreds of alluring events and picking my favourites.
One stands alone
But there’s one that literally stands above all others.
Sure there’s a few self-proclaimed ‘big men’ in Glasgow but there is only one Big Man Walking – a larger than life blue puppet who will make his way through Glasgow’s city-centre on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 July. And even though we’ve already met, I am looking forward to reuniting with my eight-metre high friend Big Man Walking.
He’s hard to miss – in fact; he’s unmissable so make sure you get out to see this impressive giant during the festivities. We’ll certainly be enjoying this and many of the other events on offer – and of course hoping for some well-deserved sunshine.
My last Big Man encounter in Bute in 2009
441 Sauciehall Street is a long way down from Queen Street Station – at least for my friend from Stirling. And as we walk further into the unknown I can tell she’s getting a little worried. Just where am I taking us anyhow? And then we spot Nankusa and all is right with the world.
We escape the gritty street to an oasis of sleek wood panel walls, beautiful surroundings and warm welcoming lighting.
A menu of unending choice
This Japanese restaurant has a menu to lose yourself in – noodles, soup, sushi and exotic specialities. The staff are lovely and knowledgeable. Admittedly even with all the choice I initially opt for very safe and similar sushi dishes – with a gentle smile the waiter suggests a more adventurous choice. And I’m glad he does.
We order an assortment of starters and relax in our soothing surroundings – a million miles from the chaos of Sauchiehall Street on a Saturday night.
Beautiful food – bursting with flavour
The beautifully presented food arrives and it tastes equally delicious. The vegetarian spring rolls are crisp and dry; there’s no greasy aftertaste, the flawless endame beans are salty and moreish and the scrumptious fishcakes are quite frankly like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. But all of this is a mere wake up for our taste buds in anticipation for the main dishes.
I pop the perfectly sized Maki Mono Sushi into my mouth and I’m instantly treated to an explosion of flavour perfectly combining succulent fish, rice, seaweed and wasabi spice. The more I eat the more intense the flavour, filling ever sense. Simply exquisite.
My friend opts for the Ebi Chilli Noodles – which she claims is a clear winner. Of course the only way to truly determine the champion dish is to return to sample more delectable delicacies – which is exactly what we promise to do. And at around £8 for a main dish and starters at £3.50, this won’t break the bank.
Detox never tasted so delicious
Nankusa is the name for the seven edible wild herbs of spring and ancient beliefs allege that they remove evil from the body and prevent illness. I don’t know whether this is true, but with a stomach full of yummy food I’m ready to believe.
The Hidden Lanes Festival revealed…
One of many fantastic musical offerings
Exploring the colourful lanes
The Hidden Lanes Tea Room – a reason to come back
Away from busy shops and the commotion, tucked in on Blackfriar’s Street, is the wonderful and welcoming café/pub Babbity Bowsters.
I often walk past this intriguing wee pub and have been particularly drawn in on Saturday afternoons when I could spot – through their large windows – a group of jovial violinist and fiddlers playing. It looked like a fantastically good time.
And so when a friend from abroad was in town and we were looking for a social spot to catch up in without having to scream over blaring music, Babbity’s was the perfect place.
Here we could unwind in natural light pouring in through grand windows and comfortable surroundings. With exception to Saturday afternoons the pub is a music-free zone. Relaxed but far from boring, it’s refreshingly simple surroundings make you instantly feel at ease.
Still in the heart of the Merchant City, it offers hearty Scottish fair like haggis and cullen skink. And if you’re looking something more formal, try their Franco-Scots restaurant Schottische upstairs where dinner is served Tuesday – Saturday from 6.30pm.
Take shelter in this Merchant City gem
The rain has returned and so it’s only right that you take shelter inside. And if that shelter happens to be a cosy dwelling with great food, excellent staff and a relaxed feel, then look no further than Babbity’s. It’s the perfect place to lose track of time over a good book, chat effortlessly will friends and, on Saturday afternoon, enjoy a bit of local folk music.
Everything you need to be happy
If the sun does make a return, you can also enjoy your dinner, drinks and easily heard discussions in their lovely beer garden. And if you’re an out-of-towner looking for a place to stay, they also have six en-suite bedrooms.
Really everything you could possibly need at your fingertips. So why not give it a go.
Wonder awaits you inside
The outside of the building looks pretty functional but the foyer is a wonderful kitsch combination of life size elephants and bards. Shakespeare and Burns never looked better off set by shocking pink walls.
The grand Victorian auditorium is a wonderful contrast; step back in time to an impressive surroundings offering up balconies and private boxes at the side of the stage adorned in magnificent golds and red.
And don’t forget to look way up to admire the elevated domed ceiling. Despite its magnitude– the Citz still manages to be an intimate welcoming space rather than vast and overpowering.
On with the show
It’s one of those amazing venues that naturally exudes energy and excitement. I’m in my seat still trying to take it all in when the curtains open to reveal a very simple set. A lone man sits on his 69th birthday contemplating a recording he made about his life when he was 39.
And even though I am totally absorbed in the performance – I can’t help but realise that this man and I are caught in parallel activities. I listen to him review a recording of his life as I am set to review a part of my life that he is now part of. In 30 years will I reflect on this blog, remembering this moment? Possibly. And just what will I think of my younger self?
Theatre with charm
As the second oldest operational theatre in the UK, with an electric programme of events, classes and workshops, the Citz is a must see. Go for the experience but remember to appreciate the magical surroundings – because these walls talk so listen.