Gallus Glasgow C: Curry

Some years ago, my husband visited Delhi on business. He was invited to his host’s home for dinner, and when the forthcoming dessert was described John said “That sounds like gulab jamun.” Astonishment! How could he possibly know that? Well, he had eaten it in restaurants at home – again, this caused surprise. We had Indian restaurants in Glasgow? How many – maybe three? “Sometimes three per street” came the reply. And here is the proof – I give you C for Curry, but also C for Candleriggs* with its three Indian restaurants, Dahkin, Dhabba and KoolBa. (Some of the delicious food from Koolba is illustrated above.) And if you turn the corner onto Trongate, there’s another C right there: Charcoals.

You can’t beat a Glasgow curry – don’t visit without trying one! That wouldn’t be gallus.

*Candleriggs was historically the area of the old city of Glasgow where candle-makers plied their trade.

Tomorrow we have a double D. I’m not talking lingerie or Donald Duck, but one of those is half way there….

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2013: the best bits

Annual Review 2013

2013 was my first year of retirement so you would think that I would have had more time for blogging. Not so! I’m shocked to find that my last post here was back in October, and I am still no nearer my original aim of using this blog to write up past travel adventures. My excuse is that retirement has been very busy – I’m not going out to work everyday, but I have got involved in many new projects which take up my energies. I think some blogging resolutions for 2014 are called for, but in the meantime, here are my highlights of 2013.

Travel

Our spring holiday this year was to Amsterdam, our favourite city since we honeymooned there in 1981. In the summer we toured New England and, for the second year in a row, our autumn holiday was dictated by Leonard Cohen’s tour schedule: Dublin. You can see what I wrote about those (quite a lot) by following the links. At the beginning of the year, I was also good at writing up days out in Scotland; less so towards the end – I have a stack of photographs waiting to go on the blog. Resolution number 1: run through these in a short series of Scottish Snapshots. Resolution number 2: blog more regularly – it’s much easier to do when the memories are fresh.

Can I name a highlight for 2013? Difficult, but I did enjoy visiting Hildene in Vermont and would dearly love to have this view at the end of my garden.

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Hildene, Manchester VT

Glasgow restaurants

In last year’s review, I toyed with the notion of reviewing restaurants, or at least writing a post on The Great Glasgow Curry. Hmm, given that I’m not keeping up with the travel posts I think I’ll abandon those ideas. However, I do like to emphasise what a great collection of restaurants Glasgow has – this year we ate out, by my calculations, 58 times in 38 different places. In 2011 and 2012, our most common choices of cuisine were Italian, Indian and Chinese but this year Chinese has been kicked out of the top three by “Modern Scottish”. I’m not sure how I would define that, and maybe some of the restaurants I classed that way wouldn’t agree, but I think it’s something like using local ingredients with influences from European (or beyond) cooking styles. (One of my favourites, which does proudly proclaim itself as Scottish, is Ingram Wynd.) Many other nationalities were also represented in our dining choices, including Greek, Turkish, French and Spanish – the latter including our find of the year, Malaga Tapas which knocks spots off the competition. It’s off our usual beaten track (West End and City Centre) but is worth going a bit further afield for. Curry’s still my favourite food though!

Culture

Not being tied to the 9-to-5 has its cultural advantages. A new pleasure this year has been attending A Play, a Pie and a Pint, which is exactly as described in the title and a lovely way to spend a couple of hours at lunchtime. In December, it morphs into A Play a Pie and a Panto, which follows all the pantomime traditions but is definitely not for children (too rude and sweary!) This year we attended the last performance, after which they auctioned off some of the props and costumes for charity. Is it significant for this year’s Independence Referendum that a cut-out figure of Alex Salmond raised about ten times more than one of Alistair Darling? And no-one in the room was prepared to bid for the mural of the royal family.

I also got to do lots of bookish things that I wouldn’t have time for previously such as volunteering at Aye Write! (Glasgow’s Book Festival), joining a book group and attending events at the wondrous Glasgow Women’s Library (where I also volunteer.)

Other than that, we have done the usual mix of exhibitions, theatre, film, dance and, above all, music. The classical highlight was the Dunedin Consort’s performance of The Messiah which took place in Kelvingrove Museum. We’ve been to concerts there before and it’s a great venue – the music just soars. Looking over the list of 15 or so gigs we went to, I’m struggling to find anything new – they were mostly old favourites such as Lene Lovich, last seen by me in Leeds University Union c1979, Alison Moyet, Nick Cave and Billy Bragg. However, in a year with a Leonard Cohen concert in it, there can only be one cultural highlight for me.

2014

So what of 2014? In last year’s review I made the following resolutions:

  • Keep active and find useful things to do, whether paid or voluntary. Yes, I’ve done that.
  • Keep writing in the hope of improving, and organising the presentation of that writing better. I planned to rationalise my online presence, but I still have four blogs and it’s still too many. I’ve already made a couple of resolutions above about writing more often. I’ll add to that – Resolution number 3: get back to the original purpose of this blog to record, mainly for my own benefit, previous travels – perhaps the A-Z Challenge in April would help with that? I’ll need to start soon though – lots of old photos to look out.
  • Keep travelling and enjoying myself! Goes without saying!

A happy 2014 to everyone.

2012: the best bits

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It’s been a funny old year. After working in the same place for two decades, I’ve now left two jobs within a few months of each other, experiencing both the sadness of closing down a much-loved library and the exhaustion of commuting to Edinburgh every day for a temporary contract at the Scottish Agricultural College. While I was there, SAC changed its name and I rather liked its new slogan, shown above. As 2013 dawns I’m not sure what the future will bring so I will hold to the idea of “pastures new”.

Travel

When I wrote last year’s review this blog had only been going since the summer: in 2012, all my holidays and days out have been lovingly preserved on it, so I’m not going to go over them all again here. I’ll cut straight to my best trip of 2012: Berlin. It was our second visit, and I think you always feel more relaxed when you already know a city and can mix familiar experiences with new ones. The hotel we picked, Circus, was excellent and in an area with lots of interesting cafés and restaurants, but the highlight, and the real reason we went, was seeing Leonard Cohen. The city was amazing, he was amazing – I won’t bore you any further because it’s all in my Berlin posts.

Glasgow restaurants

I don’t blog about restaurants in my home city as I go along, but I include a roundup in my annual review. Last year I had eaten in 35 different ones; this year that has gone up to 40. As before, my favourite cuisines turned out to be Italian (8 restaurants, 15 total visits), Indian (8/13) and Oriental (mainly Chinese but including Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese – also 8/13). The reason, apart from delicious food obviously, is that these three always offer me good vegetarian choices. Many other restaurants just have one or two dishes available and / or the chefs think that vegetarian = bland. The most fashionable dish at the moment seems to be risotto – some are very good, but if I never eat another one I won’t be sorry.

Can I choose a favourite restaurant? Not easy, but I’ll try. Of the Italians, the one I visited most (4 times) was last year’s favourite, Amarone which this year won two Glasgow Restaurant Awards. However, I discovered, thanks to a friend’s birthday celebration, Celino’s on Alexandra Parade. It’s a tiny restaurant and deli with great food, a great atmosphere and very friendly staff. I’m going to make it my Italian of 2012.

For Indian, I’m torn as usual, because there are so many good ones to choose from. I’ve had a blog post on the Great Glasgow Curry simmering in my head for a while, but it has never made it onto the page – yet. One I have already written about is KoolBa, which I reviewed a couple of years ago for Taste of Glasgow. It’s still one of my favourites, and I’ve been there 3 times this year, but, like my Italian, my Indian of 2013 is also a new discovery for me. Charcoals on Renfield Street was first recommended by a visitor to Glasgow, and I couldn’t believe I had missed it for so long. (The website is down at the moment so I’ve linked to its 5pm.co page.) It’s quite small and unprepossessing looking from the outside, but the food is very good and nothing is too much trouble for the staff. Charcoals was Best in Glasgow at this year’s Scottish Curry Awards, so I’m not alone in my opinion.

Finally, Chinese food. Strangely, I haven’t been to last year’s favourite, Dragon-I, at all. The most visited (4 times, including Hogmanay) was our local, Amber on Byres Road, which is a serviceable Cantonese restaurant – and doesn’t seem to have a website. This sort of place is being overtaken by a wave of more sophisticated restaurants, of which Dragon-I was a forerunner and my new favourite is the latest addition. Annoyingly, the website for Lychee Oriental is also inaccessible at the moment so I’ve again used a 5pm.co entry. I am writing this on my tablet, and all attempts at searching for the restaurant reach a trial site for mobiles with no way through to the proper site – why not guys? Still I won’t hold it against them. The food, the presentation and the staff are all lovely. Lychee Oriental won Best Newcomer at the Glasgow Restaurant Awards and was voted the Greatest Little Place in Glasgow on Facebook. It’s also my best Chinese and best overall Glasgow restaurant of 2012. Ta da!

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Culture

This is one area that my commute really affected in the latter part of the year. I was getting home too late to go to anything mid-week and I didn’t have the energy to plan for the weekend. We still managed 16 music events from classical to – oh well, I could go on with a list, but you know I’m not going to get past Leonard Cohen don’t you? He would be my gig of the year, any year. I’m surprised, though, at how little theatre we saw – which probably explains the lack of visits to Dragon-I too, because it’s right opposite the Theatre Royal. There was one outstanding dramatic event – Alan Cumming’s (almost) one-man version of Macbeth, set in a psychiatric unit with all the characters channelled through one patient. It was an awesome feat of memory, the best portrayal of vulnerability I have ever seen on stage and such a nuanced performance that it was never in doubt which character was being represented. If it wasn’t for Leonard, Alan Cumming would definitely be my cultural icon of the year, but he’s a close-run second.

2013

As I said at the beginning, my job has ended and I’m looking for pastures new. Perhaps I will have more time for travelling and blogging? I would like to use this blog for its original purpose, to write up holidays of the past as a record for myself, and maybe I should consider expanding its scope to cover restaurant reviews and similar? I enjoy writing and now have four blogs (the other three are all library or book-related in some way). Although there were good reasons at the time for starting them all individually, this is now too many. I’ve also diversified into Pinterest and Storify so I really need to simplify my online presence. I’ve made a start by gathering them all together at flavors.me but more needs to be done. So my resolutions for the year are:

Keep active and find useful things to do, whether paid or voluntary.
Keep writing in the hope of improving, and organising the presentation of that writing better.
Keep travelling and enjoying myself!

Happy New Year.

Stirling: where we stayed and where we ate

We’ve just spent two nights at the Stirling Highland Hotel. This was built in the 1850s as the city’s High School and didn’t become a hotel until the 1990s so, although the building is historic, the rooms and facilities are modern and comfortable. The location is excellent – at the bottom of the hill leading up to the Castle – and it has reasonable parking, which is not common in Stirling. The school connection is maintained in the names of the restaurant (Scholar’s) and bar (the Headmaster’s Study). We only used the former for breakfast – it’s a buffet, but I discovered on the second day that veggie sausages were available on request, which pleased me greatly. We had lunch in the bar the day we arrived – we were the only people there, and because the surroundings were so cosy we felt very much at home. However, it was quite pricy for what we had – ok, you’ve spotted the wine I’m sure, but even so £33 seemed a lot for that, a sandwich, a baked potato and two coffees. Overall, though, we were happy with our choice of hotel and would probably go back if we stayed in Stirling again.

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I was really keen to have a curry on our first night, especially after checking Trip Advisor and finding that an Indian restaurant was number one in Stirling.

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Green Gates was untypical both in decor (a converted Georgian townhouse) and menu, which was quite short. However, everything was freshly cooked to order and, because dishes came in two sizes, you could order several small ones and sample a good variety. It was all delicious, but the stand out for us was Punjabi Channa Mushroom Masala which was exquisitely spiced. Service was slow to start with – our starters took a while to arrive – but was always friendly and picked up speed later. Value was excellent – two starters, three small mains, one dessert and four beers for about £45. I would definitely come back here.

The second night, we decided to eat Italian. Mamma Mia was directly opposite the hotel and, as it was pouring with rain, we decided to look no further. It was a friendly place, the interior looked very like a genuine neighbourhood restaurant in Italy, and the food (the Christmas menu at £27.95 for three courses) was excellent. After a bottle of wine and complimentary limoncellos with the bill, we didn’t have to worry about having too far to stagger home to bed either.

Stirling is a great place for a short break. There’s a lot to do, especially if you’re interested in history, which we knew already. However, because it’s somewhere we would normally go on a day trip we didn’t know much about the restaurants available, but there seems to be a good range and plenty more places I would like to try on future visits.

Glasgow Orchid Fair

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This weekend sees the 15th Glasgow Orchid Fair which takes place in the Kibble Palace (above) at the Botanic Gardens. We visited this morning, and it’s on again tomorrow if you want to see it (entrance is free). Dealers from all over the country come to sell their wares but, as we don’t have a good record when it comes to green fingers, we just looked and took photographs:

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The Botanics themselves looked very colourful too with the Spring planting:

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Afterwards, we had lunch in Oran Mor, the bar / restaurant / concert venue at the top of Byres Road. The burgers (both veggie and non-veggie) are recommended. We were joined for beers (their own brew) by a friend from Edinburgh, Lynn Corrigan, who was over from Edinburgh to see the orchids too. Although Lynn is a librarian, we work in different fields and I might never have met her if not for Twitter. Never let it be said that virtual social networks get in the way of “real-life” ones. In my view they expand the potential for meeting new people. As they say on Twitter – #win!

Perth by night: where to stay and where to eat

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For our long weekend in Perth we chose the Sunbank House Hotel, as shown above. It’s across the river from the centre but it only takes a few minutes to walk in – always essential for us because we don’t want to have to drive to dinner. The Sunbank is number one on Trip Advisor for Perth and we certainly found it very comfortable, and enjoyed our breakfasts too. The staff member who welcomed us was extremely friendly and helpful and gave us lots of tips about what to do and where to eat, so we felt really at home. At £304 for four nights we thought this was good value for the standard.

We were astonished at how quiet Perth was when we went out to eat on Friday night. In Glasgow, the place is usually heaving. However, we soon discovered that everyone was inside all the restaurants we had been recommended! Walking slightly further out from the centre we went into Tabla which we discovered when we got back was number two on Trip Advisor, so we chose well. It’s an Indian, but because the owners are from South India, the menu was not just standard curries. We shared a dosa and some lentil patties to start, then had paneer tikka and a mixed vegetable dish with rice, a garlic nan and a couple of pints of Cobra. It was delicious and all freshly made – you have to wait about 20 minutes for the dosa because they make the pancake from scratch. Coming from Glasgow, we consider ourselves curry connoisseurs and this was up there with the best. Highly recommended and all for just under £50.

Almost next door to Tabla is a Thai restaurant, the Mae-Ping. It looked interesting and, like Tabla, well occupied but not full so we thought we’d have a good chance of getting in and would try it on Saturday evening. This decision was affirmed by Trip Advisor (9 in Perth) and our friend in the hotel who said it was owned by people from Thailand and therefore more authentic than the other Thai restaurant in town. Again, we were happy with our choice though wouldn’t put it in the same rank as Tabla. We had mixed vegetarian starters, some of which were a bit heavy on the batter, then I had a vegetarian red curry and John had a duck dish. Both were meant to be hot but seemed quite mild to us, though they were delicious. Again, the bill came to under £50 and this included a bottle of wine and jasmine tea, which we thought was a real bargain.

One of the restaurants we were recommended and couldn’t get into on Friday was Sante, so we made a reservation for Sunday night. It’s number 3 on Trip Advisor and I’m told the rib-eye steak was delicious (whisper it, “better than the Chip”). I had the vegetarian assiette, mixed vegetable tapas, which was nice but unexciting compared to other places I’ve had tapas, so I wouldn’t rate this place as highly as the others we have visited, or not for vegetarians at least. For two courses, wine and coffee we paid just over £60, so a little more expensive too. But the olives on arrival and the complimentary bread and oil were nice touches.

On Monday, our final evening, we had rather over-eaten at lunchtime and decided to go out a bit later just for one course. We went to Breizh, another of the restaurants that were very full on Friday. Its owners are from Brittany and it specialises in crepes, or galettes. We each had one and, being easily influenced, followed the suggestion on the menu to pair them with imported Breton cider, and very pleased with it we were too. With a couple of coffees, this came to £31, so our cheapest dinner, but a lot less (deliberately) to eat.

Overall, we have been very impressed with the range and standard of the restaurants in Perth, but if I had to choose my favourite, it would definitely be Tabla.

To finish, here are a few shots of Perth by night – the riverside, St John’s Church, the Salutation Hotel and the Concert Hall:

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Tomorrow, it’s back home, then back to work on Wednesday after a lovely break.

2011: the best bits

I started this blog mid-way through 2011, really as a travel diary for myself which I hoped to complete retrospectively, so that I had a record of the great holidays we have had. We have thousands of photographs which we never look at and I think if I blog the edited highlights I am much more likely to revisit past travels. It hasn’t really happened that way – I’ve only done one retrospective post! However, as well as blogging my main holiday, I have been writing up the days out we have had in Glasgow and around, which wasn’t my original intention, but it’s still travel, even if not very far, and I also hope that if other people stumble on this it might show them what a great place Scotland, and particularly Glasgow, is to visit. Although, I hope of course that many of them know that already!

So here are my highlights of 2011.

Travel: We spent three weeks in the summer touring Georgia, the Carolinas and a wee bit of Tennessee. That has all been chronicled here but, pre-blog, we also had a week in Amsterdam in the spring. Amsterdam is a very special place for us as we first went there on honeymoon in 1981. It doesn’t therefore take a mathematical genius to work out that we were back this time for our 30th anniversary. Instead of going to a hotel, as we have done in the past, we stayed in the Prinx Apartments which was an excellent decision – a lovely place and very handy for the Rijksmuseum. You can read my review on Trip Advisor if interested. Prinx is the middle building below and our apartment was behind the three windows on the first floor:

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We had four short UK breaks as well – I’ve written about the more recent ones, to Grasmere in the Lake District and to Fife, but Kelso and Moffat pre-dated the blog. The latter was lovely, the former less so – but that’s a whole other story! So what was my favourite travel destination for 2011? Has to be Amsterdam, I just love it.

Glasgow restaurants: As well as eating out on our travels, we also eat out in our home city A LOT! I’ve calculated that in 2011 we ate in 35 different Glasgow restaurants, some more than once. Of those, seven were Indian, seven were Italian and six were Chinese or oriental fusion. My favourite foods are therefore quite obvious, although the fact that all are veggie friendly probably influences the choices. As for favourite restaurants, that’s really hard. Glasgow has an excellent reputation for curries and has been UK Curry Capital several times, so it’s difficult to get a bad Indian meal. My favourite always seems to be the last one I visited, which at the moment is the Shish Mahal in Kelvinbridge where we had a delicious banquet to send off a friend who was emigrating. The Shish has been a legend since the 60s and was where, allegedly, chicken tikka masala was invented. For Italian, I like Amarone which is part of a chain, but doesn’t feel like it. We often go for a pre-theatre before the concert hall and their menu changes regularly which is good for veggies – it means I’m not stuck with the same choice all the time. The Chinese-style restaurant we go to most is Dragon-I, and for similar reasons – it’s very handy for the Theatre Royal. They don’t change their menu quite so often, but the food is delicious, the restaurant is extremely stylish and the staff are lovely. I’m going to leave it at that; I can’t possibly choose one favourite restaurant.

Concerts and gigs: We went to six classical concerts and sixteen gigs (four as part of Celtic Connections). Of the former, my top choice would be the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus performing Mozart’s Requiem, which made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I think my favourite gig was Jools Holland in Amsterdam – we’ve seen him at the Armadillo in Glasgow, which is quite a formal setting. The Paradiso (just round the corner from our apartment, another plus point for it) is much more intimate and we were able to stand very near the stage. All the usual suspects were with him, including the fabulous Ruby Turner, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It seems you either love Jools or hate him – I think he’s great, and that the rather bumbling persona he has on TV is a front. He seems much more in command live. Looking over the list of artists we saw at home, I am struck by how many strong, female performers are around just now. John’s highlight would undoubtedly be Tori Amos or PJ Harvey, but I can’t choose between Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Anna Calvi and Lisa Hannigan. All great. The venue we went to most often was Oran Mor, a converted church on Byres Road, which is small but perfectly formed – and best of all, about 10 minutes’ walk from our house! So I’m not picking a favourite artist, but I’ll make Oran Mor my favourite venue.

Other culture: What else can I think of? Many visits to museums and galleries, six ballet or dance events, three plays, three Aye Write! events. Not everything was in Glasgow – I think my favourite thing (whispers) was actually in Edinburgh: the Blackadder exhibition I wrote about three or four posts ago.

So that was my year. I have never done a review like this before, so it will be interesting to look back in future years and compare and contrast what we have been up to. And it’s all about to start up again – the Celtic Connections and Aye Write! Festivals are not too far off and, as I am writing this, John is attempting, not terribly successfully, to book flights for our summer holidays. Those pesky Olympics getting in the way!

Watch this space.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

There’s not much open in Glasgow on Boxing Day, so we spent a happy hour or so wandering through the Kibble Palace and hothouses at Glasgow Botanic Gardens.

Kibble Palace:

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Hothouses, including Orchid House:

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We then had a great lunch in Oran Mor, a converted church diagonally opposite the gardens which is now a pub / restaurant / venue. Three huge haddock and chips for the omnivores and a melt-in-your mouth stuffed aubergine for the veggie (me). The entrance looks very festive at the moment:

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Doors Open Glasgow, 18 September 2011

So, day two of Doors Open and, in contrast to yesterday, a lovely sunny afternoon. I’d planned a route with seven sites, but in the end we only managed five. We had to fit lunch and cake in, you see!

We set off walking from home and called in at Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church. Like yesterday’s visits, this is somewhere I have walked past hundreds of times but never gone in.

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If you think the outline looks familiar, it might be because it reminds you of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris – the plans for the church (completed 1876) were modelled on it.

An interlude for lunch then followed. Wudon Noodle Bar on Great Western Road was perfect – quick, friendly service and tasty food. We shared edamame beans to start then I had veggie noodles. Scrumptious – it’s not the number five Glasgow restaurant on Trip Advisor for nothing then.

Stop two was the Red Hackle Building on Otago Street, the former headquarters of Hepburn and Ross whisky company:

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Red Hackle was one of their blends. The building is now a carpet shop, but you can still see the heraldic ceiling and the frieze of famous Scots painted for Mr Hepburn by Alex McGregor in 1952.

Next up – Lansdowne Parish Church (1863). You can see its spire in this view of Great Western Road (the nearer spire is St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral).

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Off all the churches we saw over the weekend, this was the only dilapidated one – a charitable trust has been set up for its restoration. You can get an idea of its potential magnificence by going up to the balcony:

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A couple of stops on the subway took us to the next church, St Andrew’s Cathedral, which, in contrast, was the most splendid. Originally built in 1816, it has recently been renovated and is light, airy and magnificently decorated. It also boasts Peter Howson’s portrait of St John Ogilvie. The lighting made this hard to photograph without glare, but I’ve included the picture anyway.

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Finally, we went to Sloans. This has been a Glasgow institution since 1828 – three floors of venues: pub, tearoom and ballroom. Again, I’ve passed the entrance many times without going in, but this time I was a little disappointed. The ingredients are all there: vaulted ceilings, marble fireplaces and stained glass, and you get the impression that the layout hasn’t changed much over the years so it’s quite atmospheric, but it seemed quite shabby and in need of some tlc to restore it to its former glory. I did like this ceiling though, and the tiling on the Argyll Arcade entrance.

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So that was our day – apart from the cup of tea and cake before we wended our weary way home. We saw some of the best of Glasgow, but we also saw the worst. There was an Old Firm match today and we were unfortunate enough to share a subway carriage with two foul-mouthed, bigoted “fans” singing sectarian songs. I exclaimed many times over the weekend about how lucky we are to live in such an amazing place, and I refuse to let boneheads like that spoil it. I hope nobody else does either.

A grand day out in Glasgow

You can be a traveller in your home city, right? As my blog tagline is “Writing about my favourite places” Glasgow certainly qualifies. For our first weekend back we were looking for something to do to make us feel as if we might still be on holiday, so I turned to Glasgow Museums for inspiration. The British Art Show is on, but only until 21st August so I would recommend rushing along to see it. It only happens every 5 years and the only other port of call left is Plymouth (from 17th September). In Glasgow, the exhibition is spread over three venues but we only had time to do two today. GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art) is housed in a neo-classical building which used to be Stirling’s Library. The library moved out when GoMA moved in, but has now moved back into the basement. One feature you might notice, other than the typically dreich Glagow weather, is the statue with its nifty headgear:

20110807-184909.jpg The traffic cone on Wellington’s head is a Glasgow tradition, I don’t think anyone even bothers to remove it now as it returns so quickly. However, I have never seen the hat on top of the traffic cone before!

20110807-191350.jpg The other venue we visited was the CCA (Centre for Contemporary Art) and in between we fitted in lunch in Amarone, one of my favourite city centre restaurants. It’s part of a larger group, but doesn’t feel like a chain restaurant. It’s near the Subway and the Concert Hall so perfect for pre-theatres, the menu for which varies quite a bit and always has more than one choice for veggies. This was the first time I’ve been at lunchtime and it was just as good. My highlight was the sweet potato and cauliflower soup with gorgonzola cream. Yummy. Saves cooking tonight too. Now for the culture bit. We really enjoyed the exhibition. Highlights included portraits by Alasdair Gray which were spread over both venues. I liked the twin portraits of May in GoMA, one showing her fully clothed in an armchair and the other naked in an imaginary armchair. I also liked George Shaw’s enamel paintings of the Coventry council estate he grew up in because they could easily have been Glasgow. Most fascinating were the films. I walked into one by Elizabeth Price (GoMA) called User Group Disco and the first word I saw on screen was taxonomy. It was all about classification and categorising objects, in an imaginary Hall of Sculptures, that were similar but different. The objects whirled about on screen to music (warning, to a headache-inducing point if you are vulnerable): some were decorative and some were functional (kitchen implements for instance) and I think the point was that they could all be classified as art if we chose. It appealed to the librarian side of me anyway. The other film we enjoyed was at the CCA – though as it lasted 24 hours we only saw a small part of it. The Clock, by Christian Marclay, consists of thousands of excerpts from films which show clocks, watches and characters reacting to a particular time of day. It is synchronised to the actual time and you could set your watch by it. I was amazed by the amount of research that must have gone into this. We watched for about 20 minutes from 3.15pm and I lost count of the number of film clips used. I don’t know if this is a particularly rich time of day or if other time periods also feature so much in films. There was everything from Mary Poppins to James Bond and, even more amazing, as well as the time some of the action coincided. For example, Mary Poppins raised her umbrella to fly away and the very next clip also had someone floating through the air. I’m lost in amazement and wished we’d had time to see more. I highly recommend this exhibition and hope to make it to the third venue next weekend.