Category Archives: Glasgow

Welcome to Glasgow

We are absolutely loving People Make Glasgow’s fabulous video celebrating the city as the host of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Haven’t seen it yet?  Take a look, it will totally make your day! And go on – get out and see glorious Glasgow during the Games.

Babbity Bowster Brilliance

Away from  busy shops and the commotion, tucked in on Blackfriar’s Street,  is the wonderful and welcoming café/pub Babbity Bowsters.

Babbity Bowsters pub - fiddles on Saturday afternoon, GlasgowI often walk past this intriguing wee pub and have been particularly drawn in on Saturday afternoons when I could spot – through their large windows – a group of jovial violinist and fiddlers playing.  It looked like a fantastically good time.

Welcoming surroundings

And so when a friend from abroad was in town and we were looking for a social spot to catch up in without having to scream over blaring music, Babbity’s was the perfect place.

Here we could unwind in natural light pouring in through grand windows and comfortable surroundings.  With exception to Saturday afternoons the pub is a music-free zone.  Relaxed but far from boring, it’s refreshingly simple surroundings make you instantly feel at ease.

Still in the heart of the Merchant City, it offers hearty Scottish fair like haggis and cullen skink.  And if you’re looking something more formal, try their Franco-Scots restaurant Schottische upstairs where dinner is served Tuesday – Saturday from 6.30pm.

Take shelter in this Merchant City gem

The rain has returned and so it’s only right that you take shelter inside.  And if that shelter happens to be a cosy dwelling with great food, excellent staff and a relaxed feel, then look no further than Babbity’s.  It’s the perfect place to lose track of time over a good book, chat effortlessly will friends and, on Saturday afternoon, enjoy a bit of local folk music.

Everything you need to be happy

If the sun does make a return, you can also enjoy your dinner, drinks and easily heard discussions in their lovely beer garden.  And if you’re an out-of-towner looking for a place to stay, they also have six en-suite bedrooms.

Really everything you could possibly need at your fingertips.  So why not give it a go.

– T

Join in the Virginia Gallery Jubilation

Virginia gallery, GlasgowGlasgow is a maze of side streets and hidden gems – and the Virginia Gallery is a real find.

Under the exotic boutique Luke & Jack  the 18+ venue specialises in and celebrates erotic art.   But if you’re thinking smut – don’t be so prudish.

This wonderful little gallery showcases  intriguing and interesting works that other galleries might shy away from – and has thankfully taken root and flourished.

Regal, raunchy, wonderful queens

Whatever you think about Queen Elizabeth II, Virginia’s latest exhibit 60 years, 60 Artists is definitely worth a look.  It showcases the  talents and interpretations of 60 artists for the Queen’s 60 year reign.  Themed on ‘queen’ in all its many facets – works are daring and dynamic.  Some like the much-hyped crowned nude porn star Le Majestié d’Issac Jones stirs obvious controversy – but there’s others that create a much deeper impression.

A stitch in time for Queen Quentin

Julie Robertson's Quentin Crisp cross-stitchThe queen theme has inspired a variety of eclectic images of the flamboyant  writer Quentin Crisp, portrayed with flair and depth in cross-stitch by artist Julie Robertson – icecream delight without a single calorie.

Another favourite is artist Yiannis Roussakis’ life size image of a regal Edwardian looking Queen (history’s not my strong point) in a London Underground tunnel for the Jubilee Line.  The contrast between the two worlds is truly memorable – a perfect fusion of the Matrix and Doctor Who.

Go on, be amused

This imaginative and inspiring exhibition looks at queens from a variety of thought provoking angles – some that just might make you smile.  On until the 30 June, it’s is not to be missed.

The Virginia Gallery is a wonderful space with an ever growing programme of events.   I can’t wait to see what they’ll have in store for the Merchant City Festival and Glasgay. Watch that space.

– B

Let’s cut to the cake

It’s 2:00pm  – well past lunchtime.  Lack of food starts to affect any ability to make decisions.  After wandering aimlessly we meander down Cresswell Lane where we are rescued by Rudis.

Cool and inviting, we happily go in, collapse into our seats and survey the menu.  Toasties, panini’s salads, sharing platters are all there for the eating – and that’s exactly what we do.

Cakes galore

Delightful and delicious cakes at Rudis But it’s the amazing selection of cake that truly lures me in – my squeals of delight send my boys running to investigate.

Banana and Pecan, Chocolate and Beetroot, Victoria Sandwich, Carrot and Pistachio all crying out to be devoured.  And who are we to say no to delightful sweet treats – especially when it’s going so quickly.

Our huge slices of cake are delivered to our table and silence follows.  Mouths are moving but only to demolish the moist, sweet and gooey deliciousness.

Not just a pretty cake

But Rudis isn’t just about wonderful cakes, it’s a relaxed, welcoming space offering fantastically priced food ( £3-5 for lunch dishes) with equally helpful staff.  And after 6:00pm you can Bring Your Own bottle.  Sweet never tasted better.

– B

One for the (hairy) lads…

Sometimes a picture just says it better.

Charilie - the MoHair Dog, Glasgow

If you’re a dude in need of a haircut, look no further than MoHair on King Street in Glasgow.  These guys know hair – and they want you to look your best.  They also happen to love good music; the chat isn’t bad either.

And if you’re lucky, you just might get to meet this charming furry fellow.  Hair satisfaction, great tunes and a cool canine.

What’s not to love?

– T

Neighbourly love and the prefect brew

In life it’s not too much to ask for nice neighbours and a decent cuppa.

Artisan Roast, Gibson Street, GlasgowDuring the last long weekend, I found myself biking from Edinburgh to Glasgow.  Yes, for fun.

And besides actually surviving the three day cycle back, another highlight was discovering Artisan Roast – the lovely wee coffee hub and friendly neighbour of Gears Bike Shop in Glasgow.

Warm welcomes and perfect roasts

Delish soup and hearty Bread at Artisan Roast,GlasgowThis welcoming café on Gibson Street serves up the freshest and most fantastic food, sourced locally and prepared right there.

Their hearty soups and breads are heavenly – as are the surroundings with trumpeting angels and church pew seats.   And as the name suggests, they specialise in the art of the perfect roast.  Bottom line, they understand and appreciate coffee.

Even if coffee’s not your thing, go!

Not a coffee lover?  Then try one of their totally delightful hot chocolates – perfectly prepared and available in unusual but extraordinary flavours like lavender.  And what’s not to love about a place that serves scrumptious scones the size of your head.

Time well spent

This quirky, cosy space brimming with friendly staff is the ideal place to savour amazing smells, flavours and simply unwind.  And if it takes your fancy – try out one of their board games.

So this long weekend I’ll be giving the bicycle trek a miss to relax in AR’s inviting surroundings with the perfectly prepared cuppa.  Big sigh bliss.

– T

Silent Sunday – 22 April

Guitar have the blues (when you want it to rock)?  Check out
Strung Out Guitars 

Tune up at Strung Out Guitars Glasgow

I would bike 500 miles *

Perhaps over the Easter break you had the luxury of a long four-day weekend.  Perhaps you enjoyed long lie-ins; lazy afternoons or possibly reignited your love affair with chocolate.

I did none of these things.

Why?  Because I was on a bike.   In Edinburgh.  And the only way back to Glasgow was to get on said bike and peddle.

Beautiful views- Edinburgh to GlasgowMy 55 mile adventure started at the Gear Bikes shop on Gibson Street in Glasgow, where I handed ‘Joe the Bike Guy’ around £35 for three days on wheels.

Admittedly the prospect of cycling from Edinburgh to Glasgow for three days consecutively filled my body with dread.  I could only hope that my natural padding would protect my bottom.

It didn’t.

Discovering new and wonderful things – and fantastic views

Our eight-bike convoy of varying abilities  assembled in Edinburgh and wheeled nearly 20 miles per day along the canal, biking between four – six hours each day before collapsing each night at our hotel.

On day two my weary legs and fragile arse recoiled at the sight of the tortuous seat  but amazingly by day three I got into a flow, fortified my posterior and actually began to enjoy the freedom of two wheels.

Falkirk wheel in actionAnd I saw a heck of a lot of stuff that I otherwise wouldn’t have.  Cool stuff like the fascinating Falkirk Wheel and the eerie 600 metre long Falkirk Tunnel.

Beautiful stuff like sunset in Linlithgow, miles and miles of extraordinary scenery and boats of all shapes on the canal.

Old stuff like the Linlithgow Palace and aqueducts.

Cutest duck in the worldAnd other random but totally wonderful stuff like the sweetest and possibly shyest duck. Ever.

Start early, take breaks – make one of them at the pub

By day three I’m filled with accomplishment as I bike along the canal with Glasgow on the horizon.  I’ve conquered 55 miles and my fear of birds.  If I can do it, anyone can.

But if you’d rather try something a little less full on, rent bikes for half-day from friendly Joe and head east for about an hour until you reach the lovely Stables Pub and Brewery.  Treat yourself to  lunch, lounge by the canal and if you’re lucky, soak up some sunshine and get aquainted with a timid feathered-friend.

Top tips from a (non) pro

Do it with a group – helps if some are bike enthusiast to cheer you on, pick you up and dust you off.

Start early and take short rest breaks.  Lots of breaks.  If at all possible, make one of these breaks a stop at the pub for a SINGLE celebratory drink – then back on the bike pronto!

Put your fastest in the lead, you’re slowest in the centre and the mid-range riders at the back – this isn’t a science but it works and keeps a constant pace.  Mind over matter, your bottom will get use to and triumph over the callous seat.

Albert Einstein  supposedly came up with the theory of relativity while riding his bike.  And while I didn’t have any metaphysic epiphanies, when this moving body was gliding along all seemed right with the world.

– T

*Ok, so really only 55 miles. But after three days on a bike your arse may feel like it’s done 500. 

Willy Wonka eat your sweet heart out

The brightly coloured sofas and trays of perfectly formed chocolates instantly catch my eye. This is isn’t your average place; it’s the extraordinary No 1 Chocolate Factory in Glasgow.

Head to the back for the full chocolate experience – indulge in making, decorating and of course eating chocolate.  And that’s exactly what we do.

Chocolate 101 – apparently anything goes

My son and I look the part in our chef’s hats and aprons – and we’re ready for business.  We spend the best part of an hour playing with chocolate.  And what an absolutely fantastic time.

Chocolate pictureWe begin by decorating our plastic moulds; I carefully detail my dinosaur’s eyes, mouth, spikes and a tail with white chocolate.

My son opts for a slightly different approach splodging as much milk chocolate as possible into both the top and bottom of his pig mould masterpiece.

Once our first layer sets, even more chocolate is poured in then we click the mould shut and give it a good shake to spread the delicious mixture around.

Next up we try our hand at decorating a chocolate bar with what else – more chocolate, followed by sweetie goodies.   For our final chocolate design feat we create a 3D type picture formed from yet more chocolate and chocolate play doh.

Admiring my hand-crafted chocolate creations and my beaming chocolate infused boy, I can’t help but feel it’s £13 well-spent.  And truthfully I’m not sure who had more fun.

Get messy…or not

Dark chocolate cheesecake delightsBe warned, this isn’t for the faint of heart.

You will get your hands dirty and chocolate will ooze and gush everywhere – but in the most delightful of ways.

But for any of you who can’t bring yourself to muck in, there’s plenty of room to relax in the cafe and simply savour soup, a tasty panini or one of their many, many delicious cakes – the dark chocolate cheesecake is not to be missed.

-B

February 29 – seize the (extra) day

Celebrate the people in your life, not fanfare and fandangos but time together – that’s what I’ll do with my precious extra day on 29 February.

Leap into something new

I’ll explore places I wouldn’t normally be drawn to like A1 Comics , a cavernous shop on Parnie Street full-to-the-brim with poseable action figures whose names I can’t pronounce and comics boasting  impossible, impractical busty women. My sons will check out the merchandise and admire the helpful staff who are old and cool enough to impress my eight and 11 year old.

Eat to your heart’s delight

Delicious cakes at Carluccio'sThen I’ll slip away from the dusty comic cavern to the fresh, bright lights of the recently opened Carluccios for lunch with friends.

There I’ll rejuvenate my soul with a glass or two of prosecco and choose from a fantastic selection of Italian dishes prepared to perfection.  Not forgetting to wander round the delicatessen to buy enormous, delicious cakes for later on.

Savour time with those you love most

Camera at Merchant City Camera ShopThe afternoon will leisurely unfold in the comforts of the company of my wonderful man and an exhibition at GoMA – followed by a poke around the Merchant City Camera shop . This wonderful wee shop has an impressive collection of camera equipment and beautiful vintage cameras, some that need a little coaxing to create pictures – but magical none-the-less.

Whatever you do – don’t cook!

The evening will bring friends and family together over food, memories and drink.  And Mother India take-away means fuss-free flavourful delights in the cosy comforts of home.

An extra day to savour and enjoy time with the people you love; there is nothing better.  The 29 February only comes once every four years so make the most of it  and do something different, delicious and delightful.

– B