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.

 

 

Family: Who says we can’t choose them?

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Image from Pinterest, quote from Disney’s Lilo and Stitch

Most of us use our Christmas break to spend time with family, some who you’ve missed for months or even the whole year, and can’t wait to catch up with, others who, if you were being totally honest, you don’t really want to see but feel like you should. Why do you? Most people simply answer, ‘Because they’re family’. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Don’t get me wrong – if you have elderly relatives who are likely to be lonely, they will appreciate your company, but if this is your reasoning, a visit once a year is not going to stop this loneliness, so I would assume, if you’re seeing someone out of kindness and fondness, rather than a sense of family Christmas duty, you will have a relationship with them, and would see them fairly regularly anyway.

The type of people I’m talking about are your superficial aunt, who doesn’t give you the time of day unless she wants a picture or some gossip to share with her ladies-who-lunch club. Or the cousin who can’t hold a conversation because they are apparently incapable of listening to any voice other than their own. These are not terrible crimes. But if you had friends who behaved like them, how long would you remain friends? To me, family loyalty trumps any other kind – say something even slightly negative about any of my brothers or sisters and I am highly likely to jump down your throat – but I know that (even if they wouldn’t admit it) they would all do the same for me. Relationships, whether family or otherwise, have to be maintained, and they have to work both ways. As much as I love and appreciate the family members I am close to, I am entirely unconvinced by the idea of unconditional love for all family.

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Image from Pinterest

I have also realised that I have gradually and selectively added to the people I consider family; friends I count among my (admittedly numerous) siblings, role models and surrogate aunts and uncles I have found in teachers and friends of my parents. At what point does an unrelated friend reach the status of family? Here are my top five things I have found are common to all my relationships with my (extra and selected blood-related) family members:

  1. Trust. You trust them with your random, at times odd thoughts and questions about life, and they are fully aware that you might be certifiably insane, but they love you anyway. For me personally, this one is really important, because I don’t trust many people – if I trust you, you have made it into the inner circle, and, if you don’t already, I will work hard to make sure you know you can trust me.
  2. Conversation, or silence, is never awkward between you. Sometimes you talk for hours about anything and everything, other times you’re happy to be quiet together, watching movies or crap TV, or listening to music, without worrying that you need to fill the silence.
  3. You can be mean to each other, and know the other wont be offended, (although they will often dramatically protest that they are mortally wounded by your insinuation) but if anyone actually hurts them, you will plot their downfall together. By extension, this also means you automatically hate everyone they hate. Even if you haven’t met them.
  4. You become an accepted member of their actual family, and find that you know as much about their crazy relatives as you do about your own.
  5. You feel like you have known them forever. This might be because, as with biological siblings, you grew up together, and have witnessed all of one another’s questionable choices in dates, fashion, music, and anything else you could possibly have got wrong. You know all of each other’s secrets, so it’s in both of your best interests to keep them, and each other, close. This could also apply to a relatively new friend, who has become a fundamental extra family member to the extent that you are unsure who you went to in a crisis, or phoned to relate your latest ridiculous escapade before you met them.

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Instead of guilt tripping yourself into going to yet another extended family lunch, or visiting your dreaded Aunt Beatrice, choose your family. Surround yourself with your favourite people, whether that is your family, your friends, or a mixture of the two, and enjoy their company, whether it’s Christmas or any other time of the year.

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

Things I Have Learnt About Dancers

Having been dancing various styles for pretty much as long as I can remember, I have, unsurprisingly, encountered many dancers, and I have found that we are a particular breed of person. We all have our personal quirks, but there are some things that most, if not all, of us can relate to. So, here are eight things to give you an insight into our particular kind of crazy.

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Images from Pinterest

  1. We like attention. Many dancers can be shy, or socially awkward in a normal situation, but don’t be fooled. Dancing for an audience is a rare time when it’s socially acceptable to show off, when we lose the self-consciousness because we’re loving life. When we’re on stage, we want you to come and watch, and will appreciate the support.
  2. We like to be at the front. Whether in class or on stage, there are some dancers who establish ‘their place’ at the front, there are others who coyly shy away at the back, but the moment they are asked to move forward by a teacher, their smile says it all.
  3. We are often perfectionists. In terms of our own dancing, we are always trying to improve, and we have high standards. From teaching dance, I’ve realised that our own choreography becomes our baby. People doing it wrong is really frustrating, and seeing it danced the way we intended is magical, so forgive us for being pedantic about the little details, both in dancing and in life in general.
  4. We have a tendency to move, stand or sit in odd ways, without realising how strange it looks to other people. Walking/running on tip-toe happens a lot, as does absent minded stretching. Don’t worry – we’re actually very comfortable, even if it doesn’t look like it.
  5. We will crack most, if not all of our body parts at least once a day, probably without realising. Sorry not sorry.
  6. When we tell you we dance, and you perform a terrible parody (for example, for Ballet a twirl with inverted gorilla arms, for Irish an odd bouncy shuffle, usually accompanied by an attempt at an Irish accent), we will want to scream “point your toes”, and correct all of your woeful technique. But we wont. We’ll smile politely, and let you continue to think a) you’re hilarious, or b) you could have been a dancer if only you’d been given the chance.
  7. When we hear music, we tend to choreograph. If we’re alone, we’ll dance, if not, it happens in our heads, so if we look distracted, that’s probably why.
  8. Whatever real person career we end up in, we will always secretly (or not so secretly) think of ourselves as dancers.