Top Ten Favourite Places in Glasgow

After giving a shout out to my favourite places in Belfast, it seemed only fair that my second home, Glasgow, got the same treatment. So, without further ado, here are my top ten places in Glasgow to eat, drink and be merry:

 

  1. The Hidden Lane Tea Room

Just in case I haven’t made it clear enough in previous posts, I love tea – and afternoon tea from gorgeous vintage crockery, in an adorably quaint shop tucked in the corner of The Hidden Lane is my idea of the best afternoon ever. As the name suggests, this fabulous little tea room is all too easy to miss if you don’t know where to look – but now you do!

 

The Hidden Lane Tea Room, The Hidden Lane (Argyle Court) 1103 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8ND.

 

  1. Cup/Gin 71

Classy tea room by day, fabulous gin bar by night – whoever thought of this, I’m still jealous it wasn’t my idea. I love that at night the appeal of the tea room is maintained, yet given a cheeky twist, by serving gin cocktails in teapots. Both the gin and tea menus are impressively varied, and the food is great! Plus, the little West End Cup café is perfect for brunch/lunch and a good long life chat.

Breakfast, brunch and lunch at Cup Tea Room, 311 Byres Road, Glasgow, G12 8UQ.

 

Cup Tea Lounge/Gin 71, 71 Renfield Street, Glasgow, G2 1LP.

 

  1. Mother India’s Cafe

I love tapas style food, having little tastes of a few dishes rather than just one, and, if you take friends who like to share, it’s a really sociable way of dining. Mother India’s so-popular-you-have-to-queue-down-the-street Café, little sister to their main restaurants, does Indian cuisine tapas-style exceptionally well. With tapas, I know some people fear that they will go hungry, but I can assure you this will not be a problem. Their tapas sizes are generous, and the service is so quick, if you want to add to your order midway through the meal, they whip up extra dishes in minutes. The dishes are inexpensive, and the atmosphere cosy and informal, making this the perfect spot for a casual dinner.

Mother India’s Café, 1355 Argyll Street, Glasgow, G3 8AD.

 

  1. Ox and Finch

This is another restaurant that lends itself to sharing, but is that little bit classier. With the menu divided into snacks, ‘raw, cured and cold’, seafood, vegetables, meat and (of course) dessert. You can pick one of each and go for a decadent, European banquet, but if you’re not feeling quite that ambitious, I would recommend choosing a few dishes to share (4-6 between two people). The menu is interesting and varied, and the dishes really fresh and tasty, complemented by the light, airy interior of the restaurant. It strikes a balance between rustic, wholesome eating, and fine dining, which makes for a really lovely, leisurely lunch.

Ox and Finch, 920 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G3 7TF.

 

  1. Brel

Moules Frites. That is all.

Actually, it’s not. Brel has a fabulous selection of homely, satisfying, bistro-style dishes, from Mac ‘n’ Cheese to burgers to seafood linguine, but the main reason Brel is on my Glasgow top ten is the mussels. If you like seafood, you gotta get them. To. Die. For.

Brel, Ashton Lane, Glasgow, G12 8SJ.

 

  1. Juice Garden

When you have something of a weakness for brunching, the issue that cake is kind of bad for you becomes a problem. Juice Garden delivers guilt free brunch, lunch and juice that actually tastes really good. (Even if it’s not quite as good as cake…)

Juice Garden, 223 Byres Road, Glasgow, G12 8UD and 23 Renfield Street, Glasgow, G2 5AH.

 

  1. West End Wandering

This one might seem like a bit of a cheat, since I have also included specific places within the West End, but let me explain – one of the things I love about Glasgow’s West End is that you can wander around, see some really lovely sights, and, of course, get your people watching fix. So, what I mean by this one is the outdoors of the West End, including Kelvingrove Park and the Botanic Gardens, as well as many other picturesque spots where you can wander, and contemplate life and people.

Sunshine and rainbows in the Botanic Gardens, Glasgow, G12 OUE.

 

When it SNOWED in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow, G12 8NR.

  1. The Gallery of Modern Art

This is my top choice of Glasgow’s many museums and art galleries mainly due to a personal preference for contemporary art. The gallery hosts a wide range of exhibitions, often thought provoking and challenging, and the building, as well as having an impressive exterior, is open, airy and minimalist, allowing each exhibition to be displayed sensitively, to its full impact.

Gallery of Modern Art, Royal Exchange Square, G1 3AH. Image from peoplemakeglasgow.com.

 

  1. Citizens Theatre

After seventy years, having gained international respect and admiration, with many notable actors gracing its boards, including Sean Bean, Piers Brosnan, and the late Alan Rickman, the Citizens Theatre shows no signs of getting too big for its boots, and remains Glasgow’s people’s theatre. Over the years, it has built a strong reputation for presenting both contemporary re-workings of classic plays and new Scottish drama, and it retains a personal, hands-on approach, with backstage workshop facilities, allowing for in-house creation of costumes and sets. The Citizens also stays true to its name by keeping ticket prices relatively low, to avoid alienating those of us without a lot of cash to spare, as well as including Sign Language interpreted, captioned and audio-described performances in their programmes. The Citizens can be relied on to put on good, honest theatre, without the pomp and circumstance that, for me, sometimes takes away from performances in bigger, grander venues, and, in this stripped back setting, the drama does not disappoint.

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Citizens Theatre, 119 Gorbals Street, Glasgow, G5 9DS.

 

  1. Òran Mór

Last but not least, the Òran Mór is, in my (not particularly cool) opinion, one of Glasgow’s coolest venues. It attracts a really wide range of people, managing to accommodate both casual diners and drinkers, and people dolled up for the night, meaning it makes for great people watching, and a relaxed, yet stylish atmosphere. The bar staff are really friendly, and happy to recommend a drink from their impressive selection – at Òran Mór, your whisky tastes will be understood and satisfied, even if you’re not sure you are a whisky type! Plus, the venue plays host to regular ‘A Play, A Pie and A Pint’ events, meaning you can get lunchtime theatre, and a hearty pub lunch complete with pint, for £10-15 – a bargain, and another excellent concept I wish I had come up with.

Òran Mór, 731 Great Western Road, Glasgow, G12 8QX. Image from flickr.com.

 

 

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On People Watch nominated for The Liebster Award!

I am really excited to have been nominated for The Liebster Award, because it is a lovely way of showing support for other bloggers, specifically small bloggers! It’s all too easy to get disheartened as a small blogger compared to those with terrifyingly massive followings, so I think it’s important for us little bloggers to look out for each other!

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The rules of The Liebster Award are:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions they have asked you.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers who have less than 1000 followers (and let them know they have been nominated through social media.)
  • Think of 11 questions to ask them.

Thank you so much to Shona for the nomination, I do really appreciate it (and am not just saying that because them’s the rules!) Here are my answers to your questions!

1. What inspired you to start blogging?

People! When I first started blogging, my inspiration came from my love of people watching, and creating imaginary back-stories for people, but as the blog has evolved, it has expanded to include my thoughts on people and human interaction more generally, as well as people watching in the sense of reviewing theatre, cinema, and any other artsy things that take my fancy!

2. If you could create your own blogger event what brands would you want to be there?

Inspirational writers and authors, (my top author pick would be Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) for writing motivation and to spark interesting conversations, and local food & drinks traders, to fuel blogger bonding, and support small businesses. It would be the ultimate book-nerd-meets-foodie event, with an inspiring and relaxed atmosphere.

3. What do you use to take your photos?

My iPhone, and I usually edit using Afterlight – maybe one day I’ll invest in a fancy camera, but at the moment the budget wont stretch that far!

4. If you aren’t full time: would you ever become a full time blogger? If you are: do you enjoy it?

As much as I love writing my blog, for me it’s a hobby, so I’m not looking to become full time – I’d love to write full time, but not solely for one blog.

5. How do you get the motivation to blog?

For me, the obvious motivation to blog is that I love writing, and my blog is a space where I can write about things that interest me (and hopefully you, dear reader!) However, my motivation tends to ebb when I’m short of ideas, so I always keep a notebook with me to jot down ideas that come to me at random times. This means that I always have a list of things I want to write about at hand, which usually helps to avoid the dreaded writer’s block, and keeps me motivated.

6. What’s your go to snack?

If I’m feeling healthy, pineapple and cereal bars, if not, to the biscuit tin I go…

7. Are you more a savoury or sweet person?

Definitely sweet!

8. Where is one place in the world you’ve always wanted to travel to?

Canada – I have a few friends who have been relatively recently, who have made me very jealous with their photos and stories, so it’s next on my (very long!) list of places to go!

9. What one song sums up your 2015?

‘Shut up and dance with me’, by Walk the Moon

This song sums up my attitude to life – don’t talk, just dance.

10. How do people react when you tell them you blog? Friends, family and strangers.

In general, friends and strangers tend to be interested or even impressed, but my family don’t really get it!

11. Where do you hope to be at the end of 2016?

I’m not sure I want to try and predict the end of 2016, as I have a feeling it’s going to be a crazy year, with lots of new possibilities, but my main priority will be completing my degree, and finding, if not my dream job, at least a stepping stone in the right direction, that allows me to work with words!

 

Now for my nominations – as us little bloggers don’t tend to have a follower count on our websites, I have based the ‘under-1000 followers’ rule on Twitter following. Here are 11 fabulous little blogs you should definitely check out:

 

  1. lipstickandloathing.com
  2. vivalafancy.com
  3. andshemade.co.uk
  4. littleyellowbutterflies.com
  5. perladiaries.com
  6. sherbet-aurora.co.uk
  7. booksandbeauty.co.uk
  8. bloggerandthegeek.com
  9. fayeelizabethsmith.wordpress.com
  10. tea-books-eyeliner.com
  11. whimsicalfawn.com

 

And here are my questions for you! I’m looking forward to reading your answers!

  1. What or who inspires you?
  2. If you could be an animal what would you choose?
  3. Introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between?
  4. Tea or coffee?
  5. Favourite place you have visited and why?
  6. Favourite fictional character and why?
  7. Last book you read? Rating out of 10?
  8. What are you most afraid of?
  9. What is your biggest pet peeve?
  10. When you meet someone new, what is the first thing you notice?
  11. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

 

Top Ten Favourite Places in Belfast

This list is made up of hangouts in Belfast that I always come back to, from cafés to bars, to my personal favourites of the city’s tourist attractions, so that if you’re visiting, you can tell people you did cultural things … Continue reading

There’s no place like home – but what happens when you have more than one?

What exactly does ‘home’ mean? Where you were born? Where you grew up? Where you live now? Whether for university, work, or because you have loved ones living in different places, many of us have more than one base, and, for me, having two home cities means that home is much more about people than places. On the one hand, I could say that Belfast is my home – this is where I grew up, where my family live, and where myself and my best friends from school, who have all dispersed to different places, gather and catch up whenever we can. However, on the other hand, I no longer live in Belfast, and have firmly established a new base in Glasgow, with a whole new set of wonderful friends, some of whom I now consider family. As previously mentioned in my ‘Reflections on 2015’, my list of reasons to love Glasgow and never leave is growing, so it’s starting to feel more and more like home. Having my two bases relatively close together means I travel between the two fairly regularly, and I have found that there are both perks and downsides to having multiple bases. I suspect a few of these might be familiar to those of you with more than one place to call home!

 

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Image from Pinterest

 

You’re always missing someone.

Having two homes means I have two sets of favourite people, who I often wish were all in the same place at the same time. While this can be tough, it also means that I make the most of the time I get to catch up with friends and family when we are in the same place, and I do really appreciate the people who matter most to me.

 

You understand the difference between a ‘typical’ person of a place, and stereotyping.

Stereotypes tend to arise from observations and exaggerations of people who don’t know a place well, and thus are inaccurate (and often derogatory), but having lived in more than one place, I have noticed that people who live in close proximity tend to share similar mannerisms, turns of phrase and style choices. This obviously doesn’t mean that all the people from a particular place are the same, it just means that people are part of what characterises a place. Just one example of this is in expressions unique to places. Both Glasgwegians, and ‘Belfastians’, as my siblings and I like to refer to ourselves, have some brilliant sayings. People outside Northern Ireland are unlikely to know what a ‘melter’ is, but it’s just too good not to use, even if it’s met with blank faces. Equally, the first time I heard the Glaswegian expression ‘face like a melted wellie’ I gleefully stored it up until the next possible opportunity to casually slip it into conversation. (Read excitedly used it inappropriately).

 

You know which of your homes is the superior for your favourite activities.

For me, Glasgow wins on clubs, but is missing Belfast’s late-night coffee shops. Brunches and bars are a close call between the two – I can recommend excellent choices for cocktails or pancakes in both cities. (Oops it seems my favourite activities revolve around food and drink…) I shall be following this up with guides to some of my favourite haunts in both cities very soon!

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Sinnamon, in Belfast, is one of my favourite places for late night coffee and life chats…

 

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… but Glasgow’s Gin 71 has a pretty fabulous menu. And cocktails in teapots.  

 

It always takes a few days to adjust when you move from one place to another.

After a few weeks with my very loud, crazy and lovable family, my flat seems strangely quiet, and I don’t think I will ever be able to break the habit of cooking enough food for a small army, no matter how long I live on my own. But on the plus side, there’s always enough to feed visitors!

 

You are likely to have a serious case of wanderlust.

Living between two places means you can’t help but notice similarities and differences between them, and personally, drawing comparisons between the different places that I have lived in and visited only makes me want to discover, explore and compare more adventures, places and people. If anyone needs me I’ll be at the airport…

 

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – brilliant acting carries a suspiciously familiar plot, and why you should be asking; “Who is Rey?”

When I tell people that I love Star Wars, they tend to be surprised. For whatever reason, I don’t seem to give off Star Wars fan vibes. This is not because I don’t have other nerdy tendencies – I very much do. I suspect  it is surprising quite simply because I am not a man. I am in fact, in a lot of ways, a very girly girl. (I am currently wearing a fluffy pink jumper and coral nail polish.) And Star Wars is generally considered a ‘boy thing’. So when, for the first time, a female character was introduced into the legendary series who is not present primarily as an object of male desire, I was more than a little excited. Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, is not paraded in a bikini like Princess Leia, nor is she a ‘Damsel in Distress’ type, like Padmé, whom Anakin Skywalker is obsessed with saving (although he is not exactly a traditional knight in shining armour). By contrast, Rey is fiercely independent, proving on several occasions throughout the film that she does not need rescuing by the male characters. She holds her own alongside the men as a pilot, and with a lightsaber, and is apparently able to command the Force without Jedi training.

 

I was impressed by the acting in The Force Awakens, particularly Ridley’s, who not only portrays Rey as a seriously badass, force-sensitive female character, but also reveals genuine emotion in her. She shows fear, she shows anger, she is moved to tears – and Ridley does not allow this to make the character appear weak. What is so brilliant about Ridley’s performance, and why I believe she will resonate particularly with female Star Wars fans, is that she keeps Rey feminine, retaining emotion and drama, without undermining her strength. Rey’s sensitivity is shown to be not a feminine weakness, but rather a strength that allows her to use the Force intuitively, to show brilliant resourcefulness, and to show not only compassion for other characters, but also to perceive their weaknesses, helping her to defeat her rival, Kylo Ren (born Ben, to Han Solo and Leia Organa, played by Adam Driver). Ultimately, Ridley as Rey sends a strong message that femininity is not a weakness, but a strength.

 

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Daisy Ridley as Rey.

It is the acting in The Force Awakens that carries the film – notably, alongside Ridley, John Boyega gives a funny and heart-warming performance as Finn, the Stormtrooper-turned-Resistance-Fighter, and Harrison Ford stays true to Han Solo’s lovable rogue space-cowboy character. However, while the acting of Episode VII surpasses that of the previous Star Wars instalments, and much as Ridley has inspired me to sing the film’s praises, I have to say that, for me, this latest instalment is not in keeping with the Star Wars ethos that we know and love. The film is missing the quiet wisdom and life lessons from the old Jedi, particularly Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and has given way to the commercialised atmosphere that has become all too familiar in today’s cinema. The plotlines are, unfortunately, not particularly original. There is something a little too familiar about a dysfunctional father-son relationship, culminating in a confrontation on a perilous walkway, and a giant weapon which the good guys destroy by targeting its weak point.

 

Unlike the tense, dramatic struggle between good and evil in the earlier films, this one falls short. The motivation behind each side’s, and indeed each individual’s, actions is not explained, to the extent that, in terms of plot, this instalment could be described as a Hollywood-ised mishmash of the previous films, relying on (admittedly impressive) special effects, and the fondness and appreciation fans have for the previous storylines. I want to stress that I did enjoy the film, and I commend the actors for carrying the weight of such an immense franchise, and Disney for introducing a proudly independent and intriguing female character. Nonetheless, the thought provoking originality, and depth of understanding of human relationships, of George Lucas’ first six films, sadly, is not reached in The Force Awakens.

 

What might save this film is that it has left a number of interesting questions unanswered. Who exactly is Rey – a descendant of one of our favourite Jedi? Or a random Force-sensitive hero? (Personally, I’m betting on her being Luke’s daughter). Is Finn Force-sensitive, and is it the Force awakening that results in his defying the First Order? Now that the Force has been awakened, can anyone and everyone use it? Or do you have to be born with it? I am hoping that in Episode VIII, the answers to such questions will be so mind-blowingly good that fan theorists fail to guess them, which would redeem Episode VII as a necessary prequel. However, this also builds Episode VIII up for a potentially massive fall, and if it doesn’t live up to expectations, I suspect that fans, including myself, will be sorely disappointed.

Reflections on 2015

2015, for me, seems to have passed almost scarily quickly. It just doesn’t feel like a full year has gone by since last January, and so, to metaphorically press pause on the beginning of 2016, and in the spirit of thinking … Continue reading