Last week we headed on over to Glasgow for the evening to see Scottish singer Rachel Sermanni at Oran Mor. What a lovely way to end the week! Rachel is a young singer-songwriter and I heard her on the radio last week being talked about as ‘the next KT Tunstall or Amy MacDonald’. Her voice is beautiful, and her songs are lovely, in a slightly eccentric kind of way. Recommended. The two support acts (the singer from Randolph’s Leap, and a guy who sings under the name Beerjacket) were both good too, as was the curry from Ashoka where we went beforehand.
I did take my camera, and meant to take pictures of the gig. It would probably have helped if I hadn’t left the memory card behind at home.
Over the weekend HD’s parents were staying, so we were out and about a bit with them. On Friday we went to the Falkirk Wheel (his dad is a retired engineer and had read about it in his journals but never seen it), and then on Saturday while I was marking (boo!) they explored Stirling Castle with HD. Saturday evening though we took them to a brilliant gig, Spiers and Boden (from Bellowhead) at the Tolbooth in Stirling. It was a great concert, we all really enjoyed it. Here’s a taster of what they sound like here on YouTube.
Yesterday we had a trip out to Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life. For a non-engineer, it was still pretty interesting, and the engineers among us enjoyed it too.
The in-laws left this morning, but my folks arrive tomorrow, so there will hopefully be more adventures to be had (if I ever finish the marking, argh).
No weekly weigh-in this week. The weighing had got a bit out of synch so I only weighed myself last Thursday; I’m trying to get back to Monday weigh-ins so will miss out today and start again next week. Which will hopefully give me a bit of time to repair the damage from meals out, whoops!
It’s a Friday park photo again! 🙂 I liked the reflection of the sky and clouds in the little pond (you can also see the big pond in the background). It was even clearer a few seconds before I took this, but then a duck swam through it (couldn’t they see I was there with my camera!?).
We were up in the west end yesterday evening, a bit early and had a few minutes to kill so we had a quick wander around the Kibble Palace. It’s such a cool building, and a dream for the photographer!
On the way home we were almost at the station when HD suggested we go to the Arches (a venue near the station) as he had read in the Metro that there was a gig on by Eliza Carthy. So we did, we ate there first (I’m still full, and still a bit bewildered about the kedgeree risotto which apparently has fish in it at lunchtime but not in the evening menu – whatever, it didn’t have fish and it was delicious), and then went to the gig in the basement. Upstairs was another gig, by a band called Ladytron, who were very loud, but Eliza folked out in style and it was a fantastic gig. Which is more than can be said for my photos! I’ve posted this link up on facebook already, but anyway for the uninitiated here is Eliza doing what she does best: Mr Magnifico.
27th February 2011:
Here’s a sight to make the soul soar – crocuses in Queen’s Park. The reading in church today was from Matthew (“consider the lilies of the field …. not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed as one of these”). Whenever I hear or read that verse I always picture crocuses.
26th February 2011:
On Friday a friend of HD’s from York came to stay as the two of them were planning on going to a
nerd’s model railway convention at the SECC on Saturday. I arranged to meet them after a few hours, so had a lovely walk along the Clyde Walkway. I do like Glasgow.
25th February 2011:
To continue the arty theme of the last few days, on Friday evening we went to a concert and blessing celebrating the centenary of St Bride’s Church in Bothwell, out east of Glasgow heading towards Motherwell (ish). The reason we went was that our friend Richard, who is an artist, had been commissioned to produce a significant artwork for the occasion, of which this is part. There are 6 large paintings now prominently displayed in the entrance hall to the church, and are really very impressive indeed. It was great to see the end result having heard so much about the process of planning and creating the work (I think Richard was just pleased it was finished at last!). We know such talented people. The concert was fun, it was by the local amateur Philharmonic Choir and included a number of pieces that I have sung myself in choirs in the dim and distant past (including opening with Vivaldi “Gloria” – I told HD afterwards he had NO idea the effort required for me to listen and not just sing along, as that’s really good fun to sing). It was in aid of the Poor Clare Monastery, and sisters from the monastery were present, but behind a screen as they apparently have minimal contact with the outside world. I love the photo of the sisters on that link, some of them look really cheeky!
Last night saw me at the Old Fruitmarket (my favourite Glasgow venue) for my must-see Celtic Connections gig of this year, Romanian gypsy band Taraf de Haidouks (well in Romanian they’re Taraful Haiducilor, but I think their record company or promoters thought that non-Romanians wouldn’t be able to cope with that and Taraf de Haidouks would be easier). A friend from London had accidentally seen them at a concert years ago and raved about them, and I’ve wanted to see them ever since but this was my first opportunity. They were well worth the wait! Incredible musicians, across the generations, and they made it look so easy. Sadly from where I was standing the only person I couldn’t see was the clarinet player, but I can say that whatever he looked like, his playing was amazing and he was doing stuff that I’d certainly never be able to manage on the instrument-of-the-gods! Actually they all were just incredible at what they did – the cymbalom player reminded me of Animal from the Muppets, he was bashing away on it like there was no tomorrow, such incredible skill and speed. And I loved the older generation – the guy on the right in the photo had the most incredible voice, actually he reminded me of a Mafia don, a Godfather-type in his dignity and just standing there quietly taking it all in whilst surrounded by such frenzied music. I went on my own as although HD had a ticket, he wasn’t feeling well (self-inflicted, you can imagine how sympathetic (!) I’ve been), and I have to admit it probably wasn’t the most soothing music if you were feeling a bit fragile. But I’m buzzing that I’ve seen them at last. I miss Romania.
As with Wednesday’s gig, the support act were also brilliant. Mama Rosin are a 3 piece Cajun band from that well-known Cajun heartland of, er, Switzerland, and I loved their music and infectious energy – another band well worth checking out. It’s the first time I have seen rock’n’roll triangle (and there’s yet another sentence I never ever quite imagined writing on my blog!).
Last week I met up with a number of friends to see Shooglenifty at the Old Fruitmarket. I worked out this is now the 5th time I’ve seen them (also this year and 2 years ago at Celtic Connections at the same venue, and in the mid-late 90s I saw them at WOMAD when it was at Reading and also at the Swan in Stockwell). They are just one of my favourite live bands. Here are a couple of YouTube vids of the band from earlier this year to give you a taster.
The fiddle player Angus has always seemed to be the lead figure of the band, and really does have quite a mesmerising stage presence (as well as being an amazing player). I thought after the gig that more than pretty much any other musician I’ve seen his fiddle seems to be an extension of the man himself rather than a separate instrument. I think the mandolin player too (a guy called Luke from Tasmania – he’s the guy in the giant flares) is similar, though in a much more understated way. Anyway – enjoy, and see them live if you can!
Our newest, shiniest nephew was born at 11.45 this morning (8lbs 8oz, what a chubster!).
And this afternoon HD heard that he has got a temp job, just for a couple of months, and not in Scotland so there will be a bit of commuting and separation going on, but it’s a couple of months of not dealing with the Jobseekers’ Allowance people and takes a bit of the financial pressure off us both (particularly as I still don’t know when my own job is going to start – Disclosure Scotland (the criminal record checking people) are taking as long as they’re taking).
We are now on our 3rd glass of champagne of the evening 🙂
In other news, we managed to get out to a concert last night with a couple of friends from church, marking the opening of this year’s Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival at the Fruitmarket. The concert was called “Music Like a Vitamin” (there isn’t a direct link, but you can probably find it from the festival link). HD was only able to come for the final hour so missed all but the final act and a bit (he was driving back from his job interview). The line-up was James Yorkston and Adrian Crowley singing the songs of Daniel Johnstone (whoever he is) first (they were a bit shambolic but not in a bad way), then Emma Pollock and her band (a bit rocky and bangy-crashy for my liking, oh I sound like my dad – she had a great voice though, I’d like to hear her doing folk music as I think it would suit her voice better), then Karine Polwart (the act we’d gone to see), and then Alasdair Roberts (who I didn’t know but really liked – kind of folky, kind of surreal, and bizarrely he reminded me a bit of Kenny Everett), and then finally they all came back on stage to do a couple of songs. Actually the final two songs were my favourite bit, they were just extraordinary. We all felt that we’d have preferred it if perhaps there were fewer acts and they could have done longer sets (they all did 35 min sets with 15 min breaks between) as it felt a bit bitty. But it was a good night, and good for us to get out and have a life 🙂
Our gig last night was to the O2 Academy in Glasgow to see Aussie band The Cat Empire, with support from Paprika Balcanicus. What a fantastic night that was! I’d seen Paprika Balkanicus before, they were one of my highlights from WOMAD last year, and HD had seen The Cat Empire at WOMAD a few years ago and introduced me to their music once we started going out, but I’d not seen them live before. I think the audience consisted of every single Aussie from within a 75 mile radius, plus us two! I kind of suspected that from the start, but the queue in the ladies confirmed it – what venue full of Brits would have such a chatty loo queue?!
Paprika Balkanicus are from Romania (violinist), Serbia (accordion & guitar) and Slovenia (bass), and play traditional Balkan music, very energetic and they had us all up dancing. They also joined TCE for the final song of their set (apart from the encores – which managed to include a bit of “Billie Jean” amongst all their other stuff). TCE are quite difficult to describe – think jazz, think brassy, think salsa, think reggae, add in a dash of prog rock occasionally, and then imagine a bunch of Aussies just out there having a great time playing really fun, infectious music. Actually we had one of their songs as our first dance at our wedding reception (possibly a clue that we’re not always the world’s most conventional couple: dancing to a song called “Miserere”!!!!) (it worked really well, the only problem from my perspective was that it is over 6 minutes long, which is an awful long time to be dancing with everyone looking at you!). Sadly they didn’t play that one, but they did play quite a few I recognised, as well as some of their new stuff.
Both bands definitely recommended if you ever get the chance. Though I was almost deaf by the end as TCE are very very very loud!
Yesterday evening I got the chance to go to a free concert by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in the Old Fruitmarket. It was free as they were recording for a programme to be broadcast at some point in the future on Radio 3’s Hear and Now. I must admit I did enjoy it – considering I have a music degree I hardly ever go to “classical” concerts, and the music particularly by Louis Andriesson was beautiful.
The main draw though was the second half, where the orchestra was live accompanying a short film (just under half an hour) by Peter Greenaway. I’m not a fan of Greenaway, it’s all far too pretentious and inaccessible for me, but it was kind of interesting I suppose if pseudy nudity is your thing. HD would have loved it (not that he’s particularly into pseudy nudity, but he does like Peter Greenaway) – too bad he was in that other cultural hotspot, Newport, this weekend.
We do actually have some Peter Greenaway DVDs on our wedding list (I didn’t add them!). I have got my revenge though with the pink snowglobe photo frames, which are hilarious!
I know I sound like a stuck record, but it really is boiling here. Fortunately lower temperatures are forecast for later this week, though I’m not sure I like the sound of the (and I quote, translated obviously) “violent storms, gales and even hail” that are set to accompany the drop in temperature. It’s just one extreme or the other. I’m madly handwashing everything at the moment and hopefully it will all dry before the violent storms arrive.
The fireworks last night were a bit odd. I only caught the last 10 minutes of them, they were part of a stage show which featured dancers climbing ladders and men with no shirts posturing and looking anguished, to a soundtrack that was a cross between Jean Michel Jarre and expansive classical film music if you know what I mean. And then when it finished they started clearing the stage while playing excessively loud German heavy metal. Which made a bit of a change I suppose.
Tomorrow is my last full day here. I’ve finished all my Sibiu interviews, and have a couple at the end of the week once I’ve (temporarily) moved. I’ll be back in Cluj for a couple of days, staying at the school, and have one interview there and one in the town where I used to live years ago when I was an English teacher (in an office which is in the same street as where I lived, so that will be a real trip down memory lane, I’ve not been there for 11 years!). Then on Saturday I get up at stupid o’clock to fly to Bucharest, then have an all-day wait there before flying to Moldova in the evening. After tomorrow I’m not sure what internet access will be like – I doubt I’ll be lucky enough to have a good internet cafe like this 2 minutes from my flat any more, sadly. Depending on when the new people turn up to take over my little flat (they arrive the day I move out) I may have time to kill in the internet cafe on Wednesday before getting the bus, but I don’t know. I wonder if I’ll get twitchy if I can’t use the internet so much.
Groan. It’s *so* hot.