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Tucked away in a quiet street of the Merchant City, the Gandolfi is an oasis of sorts for me on my occasional, often solitary trips to my old home town. When I lived in Glasgow, I never went to the Gandolfi though I had vaguely heard of it. We rarely ventured as far east in the city back then. Not that it’s very far east. But our lives were lived in the west of the West End. The Merchant City is the part of Glasgow just east of George Square, the city's heart. The streets are wide, many are splendidly...

Friends come to stay. We set out to walk along the river. Footsteps matching. Talking. Grey skies ease to blue by early afternoon. Snatches of sun. Chill wind.  The river is busy. Eights of rowers slide past, sleek white craft, oars dipping, rising, spooning the water in unison. Let’s hear it for the girls. Can’t help but hear the girls! Coxes shriek instructions. Crews respond. Nervous birds take flight. Ducks tread water near the edge, unbothered. Seen it all before. The river is high from rainy days upstream. Brown, glossy, swift. The towpath busy with walkers, runners, bike riders, young and...

Re-reading my ‘Morning Pages’ – a little splurge of writing I try to do each day -  I came across an entry about ten days ago.  I was just washing up the dishes after putting some bannocks (thick, gritty, farl-shaped oatcakes) in the oven and making a 3-day pot of lentil soup when it struck me that the little tasks of daily living are sometimes a haven. This followed days of being anxious about not getting down to anything, not working something out, letting time slip through my hands, not doing any writing. Those days are tough – the images of new books...

Dear Australia I wanted to let you know that we’re weeping too. Of course, it’s not like it is for you. It's not because the smoke is getting in our eyes, not because a familiar world is burning up around us, not because our communities, histories and wildlife are being incinerated on our doorsteps. No, it’s not like that for us. But we are weeping inside on your behalf because the tragedy seems so huge and so scary, because we feel connected with you though your people speak our language with funny accents, often joke at our expense and beat us...