Returning from my study trip (and having recently enjoyed Bristol Mayfest and the Brighton Fringe) I felt it would be a nice way to start June to visit some of the Glasgow West End Festival goings on. This is is an annual event which is now in its eighteenth year, offering a huge range of events, talks, music recitals, plays and other activities, many of which are free.
The Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church is somewhere I have wandered past many times and peeked up at from Byres Road but I had never been in. They are open most weekends during the Festival, so do go and see this building if you can; what windows! There are several Cottier windows and also one designed by William Morris. I have never seen stained glass sunflowers before; beautiful. The roof is quite spectacular as well, the whole church is actually modelled on the Sainte Chapelle in Paris.
For lunch we popped into Waitrose and purchased some suitably sunny snacks, and sat in the Kibble Palace under the heat of the glass enjoying some Mediterranean themed sustenance. Saturday had moments of extreme sun with some scattered showers, so the Kibble was full of happy, dry people. We went for a nice wander around the west end conservation area, admiring the beautiful bay windows and detailed ironwork en route to Rio Café where the Partick Monkeys were playing. I had not seen them before and as fans of ska we were happily dancing along to tunes old and new (take a peek at their songs on their soundcloud ).
On Sunday we visited the Gibson Street Gala, which is a community event where part of the roads are closed off and made traffic free for the day. I was pleased that they had a nice day for this, another glorious Glaswegian sunny day, just the thing for a street party. One of the great things about the Gibson Street Gala is that it has so many activities for young and old, but also (for those of an architectural persuasion) that you can have a sneak peek at what tenement back courts could all be like as GOW residential backcourt opened up their gardens for the day offering tea from Tchai Ovna, relaxing music and interesting “half hour art” sculptures.
St. Silas Church was giving away fairtrade coffee and also running fairground games, with some atmospheric singing and piano accompaniment inside the church (which also has some rather wonderful stained glass, what a treat.)
As you can see from the photograph I took from the top of Gibson Street hill, we were not the only ones out enjoying the day!
One of the many things I like about living in the city is that some libraries are open on a Sunday, this weekend was particularly busy at Hillhead as Mairi Hedderwick was doing two talks, one for children (and the young at heart) on the Katie Morag books and one on the art of travel writing. I have always enjoyed her style so it was nice to meet her and hear stories of her travels around the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, with a little “behind the scenes” insight into how she prepares those beautiful illustrations. There are quite a few author events on during the festival, detailed at http://www.westendfestival.co.uk/events.
The Granny Would Be Proud” craft and vintage fair was on at Hillhead Bookclub, with bargains and one off pieces to be found. I was taken aback by the beauty of this building, as the ceiling is quite something to behold (the mezzanine means you can get quite close to it). This was another “why have I not been here before” moment as it is a place which has a lot of events (many specifically for the Festival) and offers an interesting selection of food and drink in a rather wonderful category A listed former cinema setting.
This was only the first weekend of the festival, many other delights await for the rest of the month!
Sources of information for this blog post:
- Gibson Street Gala 2013 Programme of Events
- Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church welcome guides
- Scottish Cinemas- Hillhead Picture Salon http://www.scottishcinemas.org.uk/glasgow/hillheadsalon/
- West End Festival 2013 programme available online at http://www.westendfestival.co.uk/
Cafe’s with character in Glasgow… a short but pretty post pondering architecture and cafés.
Queens Café, 530 Victoria Road, Glasgow has lovely art deco style glass and some interesting interior fittings (and does its own ice cream). This is a Southside beauty.
University Café, 87 Byres Road, is a Glasgow institution… great folding seats, certificates adorning the walls from all sorts of awards and lovely Italian goodies to enjoy.
Tchai Ovna, Otago Lane, Glasgow is perhaps the ultimate place to go for tea, poetry and arts events; enjoy the eclectic atmosphere of the Lane (perhaps also go to the wonderful second hand bookshop nearby) and have loose leaf tea from all around the world or try one of the delicious home cooked dishes (with vegetarian specials). It is a lovely little hide-away, overlooking the River Kelvin.
Siempre Bicycle Café, 162 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow is a relatively new café which is next to Kelvin Hall subway. A little gem of a café which welcomes cyclists (hooks and places to hang your bike are provided, along with a huge selection of funky bike supplies from the latest fashions to the “must have” techny gear). The café is in the ground floor of a tenement and there is even a small hatch off the subway lane if you are in a hurry.
éSo four suggestions for a little creative diversion 🙂
Sometimes one would like a quiet space. In Glasgow this is easy, the old nickname for the City is “Dear Green Place” due to the number of parks and gardens within the City boundary so you are never far from a little but of nature. I recently took my camera to the Necropolis (Victorian “City of the Dead” where all the great and good were buried), which some might say is a little bit of a strange way to pass the time, but a wander around this cemetery is far from dismal or spooky as it has some fascinating architectural monuments and wonderful views over the city. If you are lucky you may even run into some of the resident deer, though they were proving to be a little elusive on my visit! I love the care and attention to detail seen in the architectural and monumental masonry, there are some delicate inscriptions and bold columns carved with everything from Greek acanthus leaves to Egyptian eyes.
There is a lot of information on the Glasgow Necropolis in the Glasgow City Council Necropolis Heritage Trail, and the Friends of the Necropolis website. You can often pick up paper versions of the heritage trail from nearby public libraries (try GOMA Library in Queen Street within the City Centre, after a nosey at the art upstairs), or the Tourist Information Centre (now located on Buchanan Street).
When you are finished your wander around the Necropolis, a pleasant place to sit is the Zen Garden designed in 1993 by Yasutaro Tanaka. It sits in the grounds of the Saint Mungo Museum of religious life which houses a fascinating collection of paintings and objects from all over the world and celebrates the diversity of Glasgow’s cultural heritage and population. One can even take tea in the zen garden on a sunny day, as there is a restful cafe in the museum.