CHEAP & CHEERFUL INDULGE SOME CHEAP CHUCKLES By Daniel Sloss, comedian Everyone loves to laugh. FACT. Whether it be at puns, dirty jokes, slapstick or people claiming that Justin Bieber is a good musician with talent. We like to laugh. Which is why The Stand Comedy Club’s £2 Red Raw nights are brilliant. Eight new comics, a great host and a brilliant headliner. It’s a complete bargain. Most of the best Scottish comedian started at Red Raw why not go see a legend before he or she knows it? Red Raw, The Stand, Edinburgh, Mondays; The Stand, Glasgow, Tuesdays.

QUAFF SOME VINO Wine tasting: incredibly pretentious pass-time for the tweed-wearing classes, or a good excuse to swallow as much alcohol as possible? Either way, you can find out yourself for very low cost. In Edinburgh WoodWinters Wines and Whiskies (91 Newington Road, 667 2760) holds tasting sessions starting from only £5. For Glasgow wine-lovers, visit Cross Stobs Bottle Shop (2 Grahamston Road, Barrhead, 881 7194) for their £5 wine-tasting nights. Complete a form online ( or phone to book your place. (Barbara Adams)

BUY A BARGAIN BOX SET Seeing some miserable sods being put through the emotional wringer can be the perfect way to cheer yourself up. Season one of HBO’s latest epic In Treatment (£19.99) is, like the best therapy, well worth the investment. Gabriel Byrne plays charming shrink Dr Paul Weston, who helps a variety of lost souls including a suicidal gymnast, tormented fighter pilot and warring couple. There’s more low-cost sit-down pleasures to be had with the first three series of the Johnny Vegas comedy Ideal (£11.91), while you can also reach for the stars for less than a tenner c/o Prof Brian Cox with his Wonders of the Solar System (£8.49). (Brian Donaldson) All prices from

BE MOVED BY A B-MOVIE While the Edinburgh Zombie Club may appear biased towards one particular breed of monster movie, there’s more to it than meets the rotting eye. The Club exists to appreciate all manner of cult and b-movie delights, and is based in the subterranean lair that is rock bar The Banshee Labyrinth’s back room cinema (29-35 Niddry Street). The next event to be held on Wed 26 Jan will be a swords and sorcery double bill. All events are free. (Niki Boyle)


If you were taken down at Scrabble or Monopoly by your auntie this Christmas you might want to get in some early practice for next year. Glasgow’s Primordial group meets in the city’s West End every week to play some grown-up games that require high-level tactical thinking ( Also in Glasgow, the Go-Club meets on Thursdays at Tchai-Ovna (Otago Street) to play the ancient Chinese game of Go. In the capital, The University of Edinburgh Card & Board Game Society is open to non-students and meets on Tuesday nights at Meadows Bar (Buccleuch Street), while Edinburgh Backgammon meets several times a month at Out of the Blue (32-36 Dalmeny Street). See backgammon for exact dates. (Barbara Adams)


Put the lid back on that jar of Beluga caviar, there's no need to go breaking the bank to get a good feed. There are dozens of great lunch deals in Glasgow and Edinburgh. In Glasgow, Operetta (58 Waterloo Street) has an extensive takeaway menu including a soup and sandwich combo for under £3. For a sit-down lunch, Lucky 7 Canteen (166 Bath Street) has a ‘No Frills No Fuss’ mantra and notoriously good food at crazy prices starters cost £3 and mains £4. The top Glasgow restaurants also offer lunch deals, such as The Grill Room at the Square (29 Royal Exchange Square), whose £15.50 for two courses plus coffee lets budget diners enjoy excellent food in a classy setting. In Edinburgh, our new favourite lunch deal can be

found at The Baked Potato Shop (56 Cockburn Street), where a vegetarian-friendly soup, sandwich and crisps combo costs only £3.20. For sit-down lunching, there’s a host of curry joints that offer lunch for under a fiver, including Imans (4-6 Lochrin Buildings), the Mosque Kitchen (50 Potterrow) and Ann Purna (45 St Patrick’s Square) the latter offering three courses for an astounding £4.95. For something a bit fancier, the Tower Restaurant (1 Chambers Street) offers views across the city while you settle down to a set-menu lunch for £14.95, while two of Leith’s Michelin-starred establishments The Kitchin (78 Commercial Street) and The Plumed Horse (50–54 Henderson Street) offer three courses for around £25. (Jay Thundercliffe and Niki Boyle)

RE-DISCOVER THE LIBRARY Libraries are free, cosy and soothingly quiet. In Edinburgh, try and attend The Big Book Group Bash on Mon 24 Jan (Central Library, George 1V Bridge) where you can hear both poetry and prose read by selection of authors. Glasgow-dwellers can head to The Mitchell Library (North Street) to view Mr Jackson's Toy Theatres (until 28 Jan), which exhibits an archive of hand-coloured theatres, scenery and characters. (Barbara Adams)

HAVE A PARTY By Tina Warren, organiser of Club Noir Fancy dress costs you nothing and creates a memorable and fun night. Give people a theme if they're struggling 80s, burlesque, porn stars. Guests to be DJs and bring a CD. Everyone to bring a bottle of booze that's been gathering dust then convert these into a punch with berry cordial and lemonade. Alcoholic jellies yum. Cava cocktails feel special. Kids party food instead of sophisticated nibbles. Finally, bring out the tea and toast at midnight to rejuvenate everyone.

MARVEL AT NATURE At this bleak time of year it is easy to assume, forlornly, that nature is lying dormant too. Lindsay Gemmell from Glasgow's Pollok Park (2060 Pollokshaws Road) and Sandra Donnelly from the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden (Inverleith Row) both passed on some helpful facts about general things to watch out for in nature at this time of year. ‘The shoots of crocuses and snowdrops are the first flowers to start showing signs of life this month,’ says Donnelly. ‘And there are a few winter interest trees flourishing such as Witch Hazels and the Chinese

Flowering Plum Tree. Animals which are still prowling around on land include roe deer, foxes and squirrels,

whereas on water you can keep an eye out for mallard ducks and

king fishers. There are quite a few birds about feeding:

thrushes, blackbirds and blue tits which you can check out on your own or at the Botanic Gardens on 29 & 30 January when the

biggest bird survey in the world will take place.’

There’s also activity in Glasgow, says Gemmell. ‘A large grey heron has recently

attached himself to Pollok House so you can see him being fed sardines

everyday if you go soon!’ (Barbara Adams)

See and-cheerful for many more

cheap or free suggestions including: museum

exhibits, the best book groups, library events, keep-fit activities, and

hot new magazines, as well

as suggestions from Johnny McKnight, Che Camille, Taz

Buckfaster and Claude Speed of

American Men.