More fun with mum and dad, this time on a very damp and miserable day we took a drive up into the Trossachs for a trip on the Loch Katrine steamer.
It was a beautiful craft, and great scenery even if we were cooped up indoors for most of the trip.
We treated ourselves to a long lesiurely lunch at the delightful Inn at Kippen once we had finished. Where the food was generally fantastic and the atmosphere perfect for a rainy afternoon.
We are just back from checking out on of the newest editions to Glasgow’s dining scene – a pan African ‘cabaret’ number called Camflava, tucked discretely in the Pollockshaws area of the south side.
While they are still finding their feet a little, and there wasn’t any cabaret to be seen, the food was fantastic and the staff very enthusiastic.The place did suffer from the usual Glasgow bugbear of being far too large and I suspect unless it is packed to the gills it will always feel a little souless.
On to the food, with our household of 3+1 all in attendance we shared fried plantain, ribs and chicken wings for starters which were all delicious. The main courses that followed were equally as good. Pete’s Black Bean & Pumpkin stew was thankfully tasty as it was the only vegetarian main on the menu. The rest of us tucked into grilled fish, a great chicken casserole type dish and the intriguing Ndolé – a beef dish made using shrimp paste and bitter leaves that was certainly an acquired taste!
Glasgow seems to be experiencing a mini boom in African cuisine (about time) with an Abyssian restaurant called the Queen of Sheba soon to be opening next door to our favourite haunt Asia Style.
We made the first of many jaunts across to Edinburgh over the festival season to sample some of the Edinburgh Internation Film Festival. Unfortunately most of the films we wanted to see were sold out, so we killed time playing hopscotch in front of the castle and trying the rather expensive (but pretty good) dumplings at Chop Chop
We did manage to catch the quite surreal but fairly entertaining low budget flick ‘Modern Love is Automatic’, late in the evening to justify our trip.
The mountain goats have been pretty quiet this year with leader of the heard Niall Iain lame. Chhay, Marja and I did manage a rather pathetic stroll near Loch Fyne, all to justify an extravagant lunch at the expensive-but as good as we had been told-Loch Fyne Oyster Bar!
We had a lovely day last month at Troon – the delightful haunt of the Glasgow well to do and all things golf on the Ayrshire coast. Chhay had recovered from her recent skin irritation, the sun was out and we had a cheeky mid week day off. Our focus was lunch at the pointy end of our favourite fishmonger – MacCallums of Troon.
Their Oyster Bar and Wee Hurrie are located right out at the end of the still busy working harbour and marina so we had worked up an appetite by the time we arrived. Sttled into the slightly posher oyster bar resplendent with America’s Cup memorabilia we were served fantastic oysters, fresh fish and a slightly overcooked lobster in a very convival atmosphere.
Once sated we wandered back along the foreshore, before popping into the well stocked charity shops that populate the main street where I picked up the design classic Olivetti Lettera 22 portable typewriter (see above) for the princely sum of Â£4.50. Look out for more old skool posts from me now!
We spent a fantastic few days visiting Liverpool for the first time at the end of November. Mersyside has the honour of being the European City of Culture this year so there was plenty of things to take in.
We started things off in epic fashion on Thursday night with local lads Echo & the Bunnymen returning and playing Ocean Rain with the accompaniment of a full symphony orchestra. The Bunnymen played a straight up set first off, which was difficult to get into as we were up in the rafters of the totally anonymous (but appropriately named) Echo Arena. Once the orchestra came on the atmosphere was electric, closely matching the magic of their set at Connect last year for personal impact.
On Friday we tootled about the wonderfully intricate ropewalks areas hunting down abandoned brick warehouses and back lane bars. We also checked out a few of the art Biennial installations (including Ai Wei Weiâ€™s spider and the immaculately detailed extension to the Bluecoat gallery) wandered pasted the modernist catholic metropolitan cathedral (Above) and down the road to its equally grandiose Anglican sibling (top). After a late lunch and a few bottles of wine too many at crazy Keith’s in suburban Lark Lane, Claire joined us off the Glasgow train and we met a friend of a friend for some illegal noodles at the intriguing Static Gallery with the friendly staff from ShedKM, which lead to a small tour of some of Liverpoolâ€™s finer drinking establishments as evidenced by the cheery faces below!
After a long sleep in on Saturday we wandered through the eerie mist that had descended on the city to view the somewhat unfocused Le Corbusier exhibition in the crypt of the Metropolitan Cathedral. On the way we chalked up visits to a couple more interesting Art Biennial installations including Atelier Bow Wowâ€™s Rockslide performance space.
That evening we attended to unofficial closing party for the Independent Biennial a wacky space themed poetry cum electro performance with great sets from wave if your really there and we have band who are both worth looking out for if you fancy a boogie.
Sunday morning we squeezed in a quick visit to the fantastic FACT which included a curiously disturbing noise art installation, as well as an installation of Yoko Onoâ€™s ladders in the evocative bombed out ruins of St Lukeâ€™s church, before we hopped back on the train totally knackered but thoroughly entertained.
At the end of October we combined work, travel and family with a quick little jaunt down to Hadrian’s Wall in the north of England.
In particular we visited Housesteads Roman Fort, the new visitor experience for which should be keeping me occupied for the forseable future. We met my cousin Celia escaping from her purgatory in Leeds for the day, and despite the less than appealing weather managed to get up the hill to the fort itself.
The fort was a little underwhelming (definitely in need of its new facilities), apart from the uk’s best preserved roman loos (top) but we had a great lunch from a local pub, with an amazing selection of pies on the menu, and the whin sill scenery (above) was stunning if a little less dramatic than the Scottish highlands.
We snuck down to London for the first time in over year at the end of July, to see friends, catch the tail end of the London Festival of Architecture, visit a few galleries and generally see London in summer for the first time.
It was a great weekend, we popped by the just opened Serpentine Pavillion by Frank Gehry (above), although we couldn’t get in because of a fancy pants party, as well spending a fantastic half a day in the Psycho Buildings exhibition at the awesomely brutalist Hayward Gallery. I suppose it was to be expected given our profession but the artists interpreting architecture lent itself to some absolutely brilliant pieces in my opinion – including a spooky dolls house city by Rachael Whiteread a surreal frozen explosion by the Cubans Los Carpinteros and the chance to paddle about on the roof of the gallery courtesy of Gelitin’s Normally, Proceeding and unrestricted without title (below)
We caught up with old friends and farewelled some too, there aren’t many Australians left it seems. We had time to more fully explore the east end of the city wandering about the hipster paradised of Hoxton & Shoreditch, getting our fill of vietnamese (as we can’t find any in Glasgow) and trying out the eco-friendly Waterhouse – which in it’s suitable obscure location served up excellent fare although I was skeptical about prawns flown in from Thailand irrespective of the sustainability of their production.
We are in the middle of a busy 6 weeks, and currently are broadbandless at home (not such a bad thing for a household that spends 8 hours a day in front of a screen anyway) so I’ve been a bit lax with the updating.
Reaching back into the end of June our friend Howe visited for a weekend from Copenhagen (via Saigon via Adelaide via Malaysia), unfortunately he lucked out with the weather so we ducked showers all weekend but still managed to catch a fair bit of stuff.
After a late night repast at favourite haunt Pintxos on the Friday night after he arrived we did our usual customised walking tour on the Saturday – including taking in the excellent Haptic exhibition at the Lighthouse, and dinner at Malaysian Chinese gem Rumours.
Sunday we made yet another attempt at getting to Pitlochry to visit Scotland’s smallest distillery, however a late start and some poor weather saw us turn back at Loch Tay. An overly long diversion took us to the Falkirk Wheel (above)for the first time – faintly disappointing in a typical Millenium Lottery Funding sort of way.
As Chhay & and I have somehow managed to keep each other entertained, annoyed or otherwise occupied for approximately the last eight years, we dumped our surrogate child Claire for a weekend on the Ardnamurchan peninsula.
We had a pleasant drive up on the Friday night stopping at the very elegant Kilcamb Lodge for a somewhat surprisingly fancy supper.
We were based in Acharacle which was an unpreposessing town at the edge of the peninsula. The surrounding countryside however was absolutely magnificent. Quite depopulated with hidden coves and bays and the odd sandy beach to surprise.
There was even the wildlife promised by the tourist people – chhay spotted badgers, hawks and multitude of deer.
We trekked out to the very end of the peninsula – which also happens to be the westernmost mainland point on Great Britain, alsthough the islands sitting just offshore don’t give you a great sense of achievement. Having satifies our extremism we hopped on a ferry for an afternoon in the very picturesque Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.(below)
On our last day we did a big loop up to the gritty ‘gateway to the isles’, Mallaig – a proper fishing town, with a proper somewhat stinky harbour. The road up however was breathtaking – starting with beautiful harbours complete with ruined castles, and hidden yachts, follwed by clear aqua water backed by snow topped mountains, more beaches and views out to the small isles of Eigg, Rum and Rhu with the brooding presence of the Isle of Skye in the background.
I spent most of my time over the whole weekend wildly speculating on boat purchases, as every turn revealed yet another brilliant opportuinity for sailing. I think a six month trip up the west coast of Scotland may be the fitting way to finish our time here so if anyone want to join in a couple of years just let me know!