Review of 2016

January 1, 2017

The summary of my ever diminishing blog posts for 2016 (and some other things that I haven’t posted but which would be worth noting)… as ever please note this is only to help me remember things I really don’t know why anyone else would be interested.  Previously 200920102011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

The blog originally included a lot more about what I did or thought, now it is mainly ‘reviews’ of books read and only really so that I can look back and be prompted which one is which since in general I read fast paced thrillers which are more or less the same… go figure :-/


MOVIES (cinema)

Events (anything significant to remember)

  • 24 Aug:  Lewis first day at Nursery
  • 3 Nov: Rachel born

Cycling (new to 2016 now I have Garmin and record things)

  • 2016 totals:
    247 rides
    126 hours
    1415.5 miles
    41,270 ft gainRides worth recording:
  • 11 Sept:  Pedal for Scotland Glasgow to Edinburgh
    — 45miles — 3hr 25 (moving time) — 4hr 17 (total time)
    — 1600 ft gained — 13mph average speed — 30mph fastest speed

BOOKS read this year….


  • March: Center Parks (just us)
  • April: Center Parks (Cheung clan)
  • April: Crieff Hydro
  • July: Isle of Lewis

Other Highlights:

  • Jan: Car was stolen
  • Feb: Got a new car
  • March: Danar 40!
  • April: lots of Holidays
  • July: last ever CLAN Gathering
  • July: Michael’s Wedding
  • Sept: Pedal for Scotland
  • Nov: Daughter born !
  • Dec: Danar moved from iPhone to Android :-0

Youtube uploads:

Running Totals:

  • 2009 – 23 books – 6 Movies – 4 gigs/events
  • 2010 – 33 books – 13 Movies – 10 gigs/events – 6 meals – 4 holidays
  • 2011 – 18 books – 2 Movies – 3 gigs/events – 1 meals – 3 holidays
  • 2012 – 16 books – 7 Movies – 3 gigs/events – 3 meals – 4 holidays
  • 2013 – 8 books – 2 Movies – 0 gigs/events – 1 meals – 2 holidays – 1 Son
  • 2014 – 1 books – 3 Movies – 2 gigs/events – 4 holidays
  • 2015 – 18 books – 2 Movies – 2 gigs/events – 3 holidays – 6 videos
  • 2016 – 34 books – 2 Movies – 1 events – 4 holidays – 4 videos – 1 daughter

Review of 2015

December 31, 2015

Previously: 200920102011, 2012, 2013, 2014.   Now for the summary of my ever diminishing blog posts for 2015 (this is becoming just a place to note down books and movies)… as ever please note this is only to help me remember things I really don’t know why anyone else would be interested:

MOVIES (cinema)

Gigs, Events & Theater

  • Jan: Scripture Union weekend (my first)
  • July: CLAN (in Largs)

BOOKS read this year….


  • March: Ribby Hall
  • Aug: Isle of Lewis
  • Sept: Crieff Hydro

Other Highlights:

  • Jan: Weekend in Dunoon celebrating Ross’s 40th
  • April: Son turned 2, talks, sings, likes to sleep beside me, is great fun!
  • May: Got the garden fixed up
  • July: 2 Year of Cycling to Work
  • August: Started Gaelic Saturday club – trying to learn a new language
  • Sept: 2 Years of condensed 4 day week to have Monday’s with Lewis

Youtube uploads:

Running Totals:

  • 2009 – 23 books – 6 Movies – 4 gigs/events
  • 2010 – 33 books – 13 Movies – 10 gigs/events – 6 meals – 4 holidays
  • 2011 – 18 books – 2 Movies – 3 gigs/events – 1 meals – 3 holidays
  • 2012 – 16 books – 7 Movies – 3 gigs/events – 3 meals – 4 holidays
  • 2013 – 8 books – 2 Movies – 0 gigs/events – 1 meals – 2 holidays – 1 Son
  • 2014 – 1 books – 3 Movies – 2 gigs/events – 4 holidays
  • 2015 – 18 books – 2 Movies – 2 gigs/events – 3 holidays – 6 videos

Theater: Wicked

May 20, 2014

I love live shows!  From a school production to a KISS stadium show, I just love the act of humans coming together to create something at a specific time and place.  No matter how rehearsed and managed a live show is each time it is performed it is unique.  Last Wednesday I was reminded just how much I love live shows by going to see Wicked in the Kings Theater, Glasgow.

Wicked posterWe bought these tickets over a year ago, and to be honest I wasn’t that bothered about seeing this particular show.  I knew it was the back story of the Witches of Oz, but other than that I hadn’t paid much attention to Wicked in all the years it has existed on Broadway and around the world.  But I do like live shows!

The Kings is an excellent theater and when you take your seats the stage curtain is a map of Oz with a glowing Emerald City at its center, above the stage is a massive mechanical dragon since the whole story could be said to take place in flashback inside the “Clock of the Time Dragon”.

From the opening number it was obvious that a big part of the evening would be the sound.  I know a little bit about sound engineering (really not being modest – just a little bit) enough to be aware of how technically difficult theater sound can be.  The sound at Wicked was unbelievable!  The balance between orchestra and actors was perfect, not a single line or note was missed, the music was powerful when needed or simple, quiet and unobtrusive, the performances from everyone on stage, and behind the scenes was incredible.

Having ignored this musical never thinking I would see it I was intrigued by how exactly it would fit into the plot of the Wizard of Oz, I thought that it was very cleverly woven together with that story, so intertwined that now that we know the story of Wicked, the Wizard of Oz makes a lot more sense.  It is (sort of like) watching Fight Club once you know the big twist at the end – the same story but you can see it from a totally different point of view.

Wicked was fantastic.  Brilliantly performed, staged and produced.  A very good night out!


Review of 2012

January 2, 2013

Following reviews of 2011, 2010, and 2009… here is the summary of my blog posts this year… please note this is only to help me remember things I really don’t know why anyone else would be interested:


MOVIES (cinema)

Movies (home, but for some reason significant)

RESTAURANTS, blogged about (I don’t blog about every restaurant anymore)…

BOOKS read this year….


  • April: Blair Atholl
  • July: CLANkidz
  • September: Lagos, Portugal
  • October: Rochester trip for Mark’s wedding, (it was a short trip but still a bit of a holiday)

Other Highlights:

Running Totals:

  • 2009 – 23 books – 6 Movies – 4 gigs
  • 2010 – 33 books – 13 Movies – 10 gigs – 6 restaurants – 4 holidays
  • 2011 – 18 books – 2 Movies – 3 gigs – 1 restaurants – 3 holidays
  • 2012 – 16 books – 7 Movies – 3 gigs – 3 restaurants – 4 holidays

food: The Ivy Bar (now known as Distill)

November 24, 2012

update 14/12/2012: now known as Distill (probably a name change brought on by this lot)


This is my favourite restaurant in Glasgow!

Tonight D and I went along, and shared a beef burger and Felafel burger, they were both absolutely fantastic!  I’m not sure what spiced up the beef burger but every mouthful was a delight.  The burgers were served with chips and side salad but really just saying that doesn’t do it justice.  The chips were hand cut and perfectly fried, salty and not the slightest bit greasy or overdone.  The ‘side salad’ was an exciting mix of leaves, beet, peas, etc.  and just enough to add to the disk and not overpower it.  While the burgers were more than adequate we decided to try a pudding simply for the sake of completeness and went for sticky toffy pudding – this was the best sticky toffee pudding I have ever tasted perhaps with the exception of the Downe’s Sticky Toffy pudding that I must try again just to make sure :-)

I do think the Ivy doesn’t have the most welcoming entrance (from Argyle Street) , with big heavy dark doors, and once in at first it appears to be a bar.  But as you move through to the back (or come in the other door from Kelvingrove Street) the small restaurant areas is very comfortable with dark lighting and chill/funky music at a decent level but not distractingly loud.

All that aside, the reason I discovered this place was a recommendation from the guys at The Good Spirit Company because this bar boasts around 100 different Rums and has staff who know what they are talking about when it comes to Rum!

Tonight, I started with a Cuban classic cocktail “El Presidente” (made with Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, which is a fantastic rum on its own!).  At the end of the meal I asked for some advice on another rum to have, had a short conversation for the waiter to figure out what I have tried and enjoyed, then he brought three bottles over to discuss and choose from. I was very very pleased with the Foursquare 66 I ended up with – straight to the top of my wish list of Rums to buy!

movie: The Angels’ Share

June 15, 2012

I’m not a big fan of Ken Loach style ‘social drama’ but with this movie, as the Independent review said “There is violence and deprivation but, for once, Loach provides a way out.”  The plot (and no spoilers will happen in this review) revolves around Robbie, who narrowly escapes jail because he is about to become a father and instead is given community service.  However Robbie’s resolution to turn his life around for the sake of his son isn’t easy when his partner’s father is a hard man who doesn’t want him around and that isn’t the only person literally after his blood.

Robbie is helped out by a Whisky loving social worker (excellently played by John Henshaw) who gives him a chance and introduces him to the world of Whiskey tasting.  From there the question is whether Robbie and his palls can find an escape from their circumstances.

Loach is quoted as saying there is a serious subtext to the film “At a time when youth unemployment has reached record levels, youngsters such as Robbie are being written off.”  However the subtext that struck me much more was the social division within different areas of Glasgow that was shown when Robbie and his girlfriend are offered a flat in the West End which is ‘a million miles away’ from the crashing with mates that he has been doing up till then.

But cinema is about entertainment and this movie had more laughs than shocks.  The Angel’s Share is being compared with classic Ealing Comedies such as Whiskey Galore, the Ladykillers and the Lavender Hill Mob and I really think this is one that will stand the test of time and be a pleasure to watch again and again.  There are some scenes of violence near the begining and a lot of swearing (certificate 15 is a bit surprising IMHO), but the clever story, slapstick humour and heartwarming comradeship shines through and makes this a very special story.

I’m not sure I’ve said this before about any film, but I kind of hope there is a sequel because I want to know what happens to these characters.

Food: Ivy Bar Glasgow

March 10, 2012

playing catchup here since we went to the Ivy last Saturday, but better late than never:  the Ivy Bar (as it seems to be called, rather than ‘the Ivy’)  is on the corner of Argyle Street and Kelvingrove Street … in Finnieston – which seems to be the up and coming area of Glasgow for trendy bars and restaurants. It has been recommended to me various times now as the best selection of Rums in Glasgow. It turns out they claim to have the largest selection of Rum outside of London with around 90 different varieties on offer.  However, lets start with the meal.

We really didn’t know what to expect of the place as it looks like a very modern bar with a restaurant section towards the back and I’m not sure what their focus is on – food or drink.  The menu content was basically chicken, steak, burgers & fish and chips, but obviously described in a nice, fashionable way…”Beer battered coley fillet and chips with mushy peas, lemon and tartare” for example.  However when the food did arrived we were very pleased with the standard of everything on offer.  D had a steak while I had the fish(above), both dishes were superb and not too extortionate and we shared a gorgeous sticky-toffee-pudding to finish.

We both had cocktails with our meal a Mai Tai:
Angostura Bitters, Myers Jamaican rum, Appleton’s V/X Jamaican rum, Santa Teresa Orange Venezuelan rhum, raisins, fresh pineapple, salted caramel, house orgeat and fresh lime juice
and an El Presidente:
Diplimatico Exclusiva Venezuelan rum, Carpano Antica vermouth, Merlet triple sec, house grenadine

Towards the end of the meal I finally made my way to the bar to ask for a recommended Rum.  This process started by me telling them of a few that I liked and then I had a sniff of a few bottles.  The nicest smelling turned out to be £12/shot, so I had to miss that out this time around but instead had its 12 year old cousin “XM Millennium” Rum from Guyana.  Which I discovered when I got home was the same rum I selected as my favourite at the rum tasting last year!

Suffice to say I can highly recommend the Ivy’s food, selection of Rums, friendly service and knowledgeable bar staff who will help you find just the right Rum for you!

movie: Casablanca

February 13, 2012

Casablanca, probably one of the greatest films ever made.  Certainly one of the most recognisable, most frequently quoted and often miss-quoted movies ever made.  Yes “Here’s looking at you kid“, “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine” and “We‘ll always have Paris.”  all appear as do several “play it” but never can the words “play it again Sam” be heard in this film.

D and I went to see this in one of our favorite cinemas, The Grosvenor in Ashton Lane and even splashed out for one of the comfy sofas at the back.  I’ve seen the move several times, but never at a cinema and first of all I’ll mention in passing a couple of problems.  Firstly, the sound volume was a bit low and in particular the DJ in the Loft bar above the cinema could be heard through out the performance.  Secondly it was extremely hot.  Eventually it was so uncomfortable that I popped out to the foyer and mentioned these two things to the staff and was told that they would pass this on the the projectionist.  Also, they said that as the movie is in mono the sound is only coming out of the front speakers so the sound is not at the normal standard.  However, given that very shortly after returning to my seat it was noticeably cooler and louder.  Thank you Grosvenor!

This old movie is showing at the Grosvenor this week because of valentines day, which I didn’t really get at first as I’ve always thought of it as a war-movie, but of course it is one of the great love stories of classic Hollywood.  Released in 1942, like much of the output of Hollywood at the time, the movie also serves as war propaganda showing the Germans as evil, strutting, bullies even in this more or less neutral country.

I think it is useful when watching Casablanca now to have a little knowledge about how Morocco, being a French colony came under the control of the pro-Axis Vichy regime when France was invaded by Germany.  Therefore it was nominally on the side of Germany, although an active resistance movement operated and (key to the plot) it formed part of a route out of Europe.

What is perhaps most surprising about Casablanca is just how funny it is.  Yes it is a story of resistance during WW2, and yes it is a story of love, a broken heart, love re-found and sacrificial love.  However, there are so many throw away lines that might raise a smile when watching this movie at home cause a cinema audience to laugh at the shared experience.  Here are just a few:

Captain Renault: What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.

Ilsa: How nice, you remembered. But of course, that was the day the Germans marched into Paris.
Rick: Not an easy day to forget.
Ilsa: No.
Rick: I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.

Captain Renault: Carl, see that Major Strasser gets a good table, one close to the ladies.
Carl: I have already given him the best, knowing he is German and would take it anyway.

Yvonne: Where were you last night?
Rick: That’s so long ago, I don’t remember.
Yvonne: Will I see you tonight?
Rick: I never make plans that far ahead.


Review of 2011

January 1, 2012

That time of year again to have a look over what I’ve blogged about and review what the year has been like ( see 2010, and 2009)


MOVIES watched at the cinema…

RESTAURANTS, blogged about…

BOOKS read this year….


Feb: honeymoon in Barbados

July: we did a wee tour of England, visiting relatives in Coventry then having a few days in Yorkshire and the Lakes.

August:  CLANkidz not always seen as a holiday, but still it isn’t ‘work’ and it is in St Andrews so I think it counts

Other Highlights:

Feb: I got Married, D’ moved into my small flat and we began our married life of bliss.  The reality is that it is difficult to find a balance in everything when married, it hasn’t been easy but it has been a lot of fun.
Also, in Feb, as mentioned we went to Barbados and I found a new interest – Rum!
Oct: Put my flat in Woodlands on the market and it sold within three weeks
Nov: After looking at a lot of places we bought a house in Scotstoun
Dec: Moved into the new house, filled it up with clutter immediately, then had Christmas parties.  What a good month!

buying a house

November 29, 2011

Time to reflect on the house hunting process that took most of September and October this year.  Using sites like  and estate agents own sites we spent a lot of time looking for anything in our price range with the right number of rooms and in any of the areas we decided to look in.

Deciding the areas was the most difficult part of all this.  We needed to be south of the Clyde or close to the Clyde tunnel for Danar to get to work.  South side would be more tricky for me to get to work being either bus or car and underground, while some of the houses North of the river were close to the rail line that would take me straight to the office in about 15min.

With these criteria we started to give over our weekends to driving at break-neck speed across the city to quickly look around people’s homes trying to find interesting things to say – often all I came up with was “that’s a good size”.  The map here shows all (I think) of the places we viewed with the red ‘x’ (difficult to see I know) marking where we have ended up,

We saw some nice houses, a lot not-so-nice, some wrecks and some fairly sad places that were obviously someone very old had died recently.  We viewed a new town house called river-view that you couldn’t see the river from, and a house with plastic floor and wall decor.  We looked at new-builds and older properties.  Detached, semidetached, bungalows, conversions, anything…

In this process, we saw only one property that we put in a ‘note-of-interest’ only to be told that it had already gone under offer.  This was disappointing and we did keep phoning up that estate agent to ask if things had fallen through, just in case – is that wrong?

However, on Tue 4th Oct when we accepted an offer on our flat and it all became a lot more real. Two days later we had three viewings arranged, one of which we thought was OK and probably worth a second viewing.  The next day we found out that property was actually going to closing – so we decided to put in a bid, did some negotiating and got it.  The rest as they say is history…