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.

 

 

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…

 

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

Thoughts at the airport

Being what you might call an unfortunate combination of a “nervous flyer” (read “terrified and panicky”), and fairly frequent traveller, I have developed a number of coping mechanisms to get me through the stressful experience of airports and planes. One … Continue reading

Oxford Part 2: The Queen’s English, café people watching, and moving to Paris

Working in the Dictionaries department at OUP has allowed me to release my inner language geek, and this, as well as wandering around Oxford, has made me think about how interesting accents are. Living in Glasgow, I have become used … Continue reading

‘Ripples on the Pond’ Review: subtle feminism?

Using the Glasgow Women’s Library’s 21 Revolutions series as a springboard, ‘Ripples on the Pond’ is an exhibition from Glasgow Museum’s collection, including painting, print, photography and film, exclusively by women. What I expected from this exhibition was a hard-core, … Continue reading

People Watching on the Subway – fifth-wheeling, shoe-studying, and terrible fake tan

Public transport is one of my favourite places to people watch. Being on a bus, train or plane puts you in close proximity to strangers, with no obligation to talk to them. Over the past couple of days, making use of Glasgow’s subway on my adventures, I have encountered a variety of people, and I want to share some of my favourites.

On one journey, I found myself seated in between two couples. Initially, my inward reaction was: “Well, this is a tad awkward.” However, the contrast between the two couples was so entertaining that I forgot about my fifth-wheeling in my shameless eavesdropping. Couple One are best described as cute. They were snuggled close together, holding hands, chatting and giggling quietly. They both looked dressed up, so I’d say it was date night for them. Couple Two, however, were having an in depth debate about the nature of God and what He means to people, including discussions about whether He is good, if people should think of Him as having an image, and whether the gods of different religions are actually all the same God. Like I said, brilliant contrast, totally worth the awkwardness.

As well as couples, another type of people I tend to notice on the subway are parents and children. Yesterday, I saw a girl who literally looked like a miniature version of her Mum, helped by the fact that they were wearing similar, slightly eccentric clothes. There are two things I love about kids on the subway. The first is how excited they get, making faces in the windows, counting the stations, reading the signs aloud to make sure everyone around them knows how clever they are. The second is that they don’t do what almost all adults do, and avoid eye contact at all costs. Kids smile and chat away quite happily, while adults awkwardly study the advertising or their shoes. (Speaking of shoes, my flatmate and I decided retail therapy was a great idea, and ended up with the same shoes. It’s totally justified, in fact, I’d say it’s a kindness to other people, because when we wear them together, people on the subway will have something fun to look at.)

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The matching shoes

A couple of days ago, I found myself on the subway when schools had just finished, and three girls caught my attention. One of them was wearing particularly awful fake tan, and smudged bright red lipstick, and this, coupled with her black hair and fringe gave her an unfortunate resemblance to Mini Mouse. (No judgements, we’ve all made questionable fashion/make up choices) She was sitting beside another girl, also with an interesting fake tan job, but less extreme make up and a severe ponytail. As they got onto the train, this second girl pushed the third girl into the seat opposite her, put her foot up on her lap, and demanded she tie her shoelace. To my surprise, the third girl only hesitated slightly before tying the lace. In Mini’s defence, she didn’t join in with Ponytail, and I think tried to diffuse the situation by talking non-stop for the rest of the journey. At the time, I have to admit, I thought it was all quite funny, especially when I overheard someone else on the subway mutter:

“…and that is why I do not want to have kids in Glasgow.”

However, almost immediately after getting off the train, I wished I had said something. As previously mentioned, the British adult avoidance of eye contact on public transport meant that, apart from a few disapproving looks, no one reacted to a schoolgirl was being humiliated by her classmate. While the girls at my school were more bitchy, less obnoxious than Ponytail, I can relate to the third girl’s predicament. I remember very clearly trying to please and impress the “popular” girls at school, and also very clearly my realisation shortly afterwards that, actually, I didn’t care what they thought of me. I wish I had stopped the girl tying Ponytail’s shoelace, and pointed out that she didn’t have anything to prove, to her, or any other “Queen Bee” type, but I’m pretty sure she’s already on her way to that epiphany. For one thing, she was already doing better than me at that stage, since she hadn’t succumbed to the terrible fake tan trend.

Kirsty x

About Face and A Pint of Science

As promised, I began my adventures round Glasgow yesterday, and made not one, but two fun discoveries: ‘About Face’, a photography exhibition by Maud Sulter in Hillhead Library, and the Pint of Science Festival, which is essentially combining informal talks … Continue reading