Sunday, November 20, 2011

WEEKEND IN PICTURES: The Sound of Settling

Oh, man. What a concert...I went to see Death Cab For Cutie in concert at Glasgow's O2 Academy; I have loved Death Cab For Cutie for about 10 years now but only managed to see them live for the first time ever last night. It was one of the best concerts I have been to for a long time - they are such talented musicians live! I especially loved the duelling drums on We Looked Liked Giants - both Jason, the drummer - and Ben, the lead singer - totally rocked out for a good solid 5 minutes on their own individual drum sets.

They even finished the night with Transatlanticism (one of my favourite songs and albums).

Whilst they played one of their other songs from Transatlanticism (A Lack of Colour), I heard a girl behind me say to her friend, "I LOVE THIS SONG! I first heard it when I was 14!!"

You guys? That album came out in 2003. And I was 24 at the time.

I suddenly felt so old. Yet, I don't feel it. I don't think I look it. And I certainly don't act it. Those adults that we all talk about? I'm not one of them, am I?

And then said girl screeched, "Ben is SO FUCKING HOT!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE HIM!!!!!!!!"

And then I thought to myself, "yeah, I guess I am an adult now 'cause that youthful enthusiasm for lusting after rock stars seems to have deflated when you get older and wiser and damn, if indie rock legends like Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore can't work it after 27 years of marriage, well then, count me out."

I'll take a decent, down-to-earth, intelligent, thoughtful, respectful and kind dude over Ben Gibbard anyway (if such a thing exists in Glasgow?!) Although, apparently poor Ben Gibbard is also divorcing Zooey Deschanel too. What is the world of indie rock coming to!?

Besides rocking out with tweenagers and their parents last night at the concert, during the day I partook in one of my new favourite weekend past times: cycling out to Clydebank with my friend, Claire.

Bike parking at the canal in Clydebank

enroute with father and son ahead

Claire - geared up and ready to go!

This time, however, I took my tank of a Dutch bike, as it would be able to withstand the broken glass that seems to populate the route. Besides, it was a beautiful day to leisurely pedal along the banks of the canal, gossiping with one of the most brilliant Weegies around.

Clydebank, despite what you may have heard/read, isn't that bad. In fact, it's pretty awesome. They even have a Costa Coffee - which, by Scottish standards - is pretty cosmopolitan.

Cycling out to Clydebank even makes the torturous activity, known as "shopping", more tolerable; knowing that - at the very least - you won't be stuck in traffic and afterwards, you can hop on your bike and cycle home. Seriously, I am suspicious of anyone who claims to love shopping; what's the allure!? Online shopping/ browsing, doesn't count, obviously; I love nothing more than doing my essential shopping (food, books, Nespresso coffee) and then having it delivered directly to my work. Now that is progress.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Some of the best weekends I've had in Glasgow, are the ones where you're without plans or direction and then suddenly, you find yourself out on the town with near-strangers, having an awesome time; a true testament to the friendliness of weegies and most folks that live here. Indeed, even this morning, I was struggling with my bike lock at the grocery store, and a lovely older man came over and helped me unlock it (it's gone a bit rusty and tends to stick when unlocking). I've had countless friendly run-ins with the locals.

On Friday night, a woman from my work was leaving and so, to celebrate, we had a couple drinks at our work. Which then turned into a couple more drinks with more colleagues at a local pub. Which then turned into ending the night by eating at an AMAZING Malaysian-Chinese restaurant: Asia Style. Seriously. How have I lived in Glasgow for almost six years and have never eaten here?! And really, I have no excuse when they're open until 2.30am - it was almost like being back home in Toronto, in Chinatown!

Ohmygawd. That is spicy Kang Kung with shrimp (or, "king prawn", if you're of the British persuasion). Side order of coconut rice. AMAZING! Albeit spicy but you know me, I'm a pro when it comes to eating.

Some work colleagues had congee (advertised as porridge on the menu. Hey, this is Scotland; we love our porridge). Not pictured: Malaysian pancakes 'cause we inhaled them too quickly. Highly recommended.

To burn off all the Malaysian/ Chinese food I inhaled on the previous night, I cycled out to Lennoxtown on Saturday to visit my friend, Erica, who had surgery on her right ear. Poor Erica has had more surgery than most people I know (apart from my best friend in Toronto, Bob - a.k.a. Coco/ Cocobaby/Bombo/ Seymourbeast - who has had countless chemo/ bone-breaking operations than I care to recall and bitch hasn't even had cosmetic surgery! yet). Anyway. Every time I cycle out to and around Lennoxtown, I am endlessly blown-away by the scenery and reminded just how luck Erica (and her husband, Mike) are to live out that way.

This is one of my favourite stretches of road on the way out to Lennoxtown. On a good day you can see Ben Nevis (I think?) in the distance.


What a place, eh? Not pictured? The highland cows I saw roaming by the road. Damn. Next time.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Regardless of whatever they're selling, every word of this video is true and my personal anthem. Maybe it should be yours too?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

What a beautiful (and all too rare) weekend in Glasgow; both yesterday and today were those sunny, crisp but cool winter days that are so commonplace, back in Toronto. I love those bright and cold winter days where you finally pull your scarf, gloves and tuque out of storage and bundle up before heading outside.

Yesterday my friend, Claire, and I had every intention of setting off early to cycle along the Kelvin river to Bowling. I arrived at Claire's flat in Queen's Cross in the morning and after adjusting Claire's bike and a strong cup of coffee, we headed off into the sunny winter day. Not even 15 minutes into our ride along the canal and I got the Dreaded But All Too Ubiquitous Back Wheel Puncture.

For the last two weeks, you see, I have been riding around with a large gash in my back wheel - which most likely occurred whilst I cycled through the Clyde Tunnel (a.k.a. Rape City) early one morning on my way to an appointment. As such, I've had to do about 3 puncture repairs in the last two weeks, as stray pebbles and broken glass (which seem to proliferate the streets of Glasgow), worked their way through the huge slash in my tire and pop my inner tube. Luckily we were only in Maryhill, so we pushed our bikes all the way along Byres Road - where I spotted Grant Morrison (the famous Scottish comic book writer) and his wife - to West End Cycles, where I finally caved and got a brand-new back wheel tire right then and there (normally I'd buy such a thing online). The dude in West End Cycles was so nice - not to mention knowledgeable - and swapped my back tire in a mere 5 minutes. Unbelievable.

And then we were off! As we made our way back to the canal, Claire took me on a cycling tour of the area she grew up in (Knightswood) and regaled me with hilarious stories from her childhood.

As we cycled along the canal pathway to Clydebank - avoiding the pot holes - I couldn't help but feel optimistic; cycling in Glasgow (and to an extent, Scotland) has such potential! If Glasgow Council only invested a little bit more and took more of an initiative into creating proper cycling infrastructure within the city, we could have such great cycling routes - and not just token second-class cycle paths. It is entirely possible to cycle to grocery store (as Claire and I did) and get your weekly shopping and cycle home. Next time, however, I think I'll do it on my Dutch bike and not my practical (but lovely) road bike.

Speaking of cycling infrastructure, one thing that I hear over and over again from people who wish to cycle in Glasgow is, "I would love to but I would be terrified of riding a bike on the road!" And you know what? I can understand their fear because it would seem to me, that an otherwise decent person, completely transforms into a raging abusive beast when they get behind a car wheel. Why is that? However, I refuse to be intimated off the road and you know, this is EUROPE, after all; deal with bikes, people. To a ride a bike is one of the most simple and beautiful pleasures I can think of. Also, the more people who cycle, the more motorists and the city will have to accommodate; strength in numbers!

Anyway, we never did make it to Bowling because once in Cyldebank, we were distracted by cake, coffee and gossip. After stocking up on some groceries (again, next time I'll need to take my tank of a Dutch bike), we headed back home. Seriously. What a civilised way to do your shopping - along the canal, away from cars, catching up with a friend while you experience the cool winter air. Heaven.

And again, today was crisp and cool - without a cloud in the sky - so I took the opportunity to go for a run.

Through Kelvingrove Park

Honestly, how can you not love Glasgow when it's sunny out?! On days like today, I am reminded over and over again why I love this city and its people.

As I was out running today, I realised that I'm often running in other aspects as well - whether it be away from something (a predictable and unconvincing life in Toronto) or towards something (an attempt at happiness and control over my own life). I guess I've gotten pretty good at running. I'm not entirely sure why but I've never been one for planning ahead and indeed, I've often lived my life (especially in the last 6 years), as if each day were my last. Obviously this has its positive aspects but also a lot of detrimental effects too (I can't imagine what or where I'll be in one year; I'm totally shit at saving money and would rather blow it all travelling; I'm way too enthusiastic about mundane things and that makes me inherently unhip).

Anyway, at one point I stopped running and looked up. I saw a wee Scottish thistle engraved in the street lamp above and was totally blown away. How on earth have I lived here for 6 years and failed to notice?! See what happens when you stop running and look up?

I also made a wee pal along my route.

You often see this around Glasgow - tuques, hats, mittens and the odd baby sock that has been accidentally dropped/ left behind by its owner - only to be picked up by a stranger and placed on the nearest fence/ pole. I can't recall seeing this whilst I lived in Toronto, but maybe I was too busy running away to notice?