Friday, 27 May 2011

Hidden Gems in Glasgow

I used to live in Glasgow.  My first teaching job was in the city and I moved there in 1991 knowing no-one and nothing about the place. 

I rented the cheapest bedsit I could find - £135 a month rings a bell - which was infested with cockroaches and mice.  Sounds pretty dire, but the bedsit was one small room in a huge tenement flat that I shared with the best bunch of people you could ever wish to meet.  We were all of a similar age, and had all either moved to the city to start our first jobs or to escape from parents! 

Having moved to a city I didn't know, I could have been incredibly lonely.  Instead I was very lucky to be able to thoroughly enjoy the thrill of living in a fantastic city with a great group of friends to show me all the best bits.

Needless to say, I moved out of the bedsit as soon as my 6 month contract was up - the mice I could cope with (although the piles of poo behind the microwave were a bit gross!) but the cockroaches were something else.  I bought a lovely, small flat on the South Side, near to my friends, who were all moving out of the bedsits as soon as they could afford to as well.  As a result, it was only the city centre and the South Side that I really got to know, and the West End remained a complete unknown.

Having said that, one of my very best friends lives in the West End and I was staying with her on Monday night.  I had a couple of hours to kill before she finished work, so took the opportunity to explore the famous Byres Road. 

I love the Glasgow subway - or the Clockwork Orange is it's known locally.  It's so simple - you either go on the inner or outer circle depending on whether you're travelling clockwise or anti-clockwise.

Getting off the subway at Kelvinhall I walked along Byres Road to Hillhead.  There's a fantastic new eatery near Kelvinhall station called The Chocolate Emporium and, being a total chocoholic, I found myself sucked inside.  Highly recommended, excellent, friendly service and a crepe to die for!

The service at the next two places I visited couldn't have been more of a contrast - I was staggered at the extreme rudeness from the woman serving in the Oxfam shop, who barely glanced at me as I bought a ball of wool, but instead continued her loud conversation with someone else. 

In another shop I overheard unbelievable conversations between the owner and two separate customers enquiring about having some jewellery repaired.  She was so rude and abrupt with these women, implying that they were stupid to be unable to make these simple repairs themselves.  Absolutely incredible.  I am very tempted to name the shop, but as it's an independently owned shop I feel it would be disloyal!

I had done a little homework beforehand, and made a point of visiting some of the more interesting spots on the wee lanes to the side of Byres Road.

This shop, Relics, was my favourite - full of all kinds of antiques, junk and bits & pieces. 

I spent ages looking around, and couldn't resist buying some old maps printed on linen...

... and these amazing magazines printed in 1940.

They have instructions for making all kinds of things.  Ideas about what constitutes a hobby have changed somewhat since then - look at this reader's letter!

and this is fascinating!

Just around the corner from Relics, hidden away down another back street I found the most amazing place - Ruthven Mews - an arcade full of shops specialising in antiques and interiors.  I didn't take any photos there, but you can get the idea from their website.

So why was I in Glasgow?  To see my hero in concert...

 ... and he was awesome!


  1. Love it!! What a fantastic post! I love your description of your first home (away from parents), the amazing Relics and your fabulous finds....but the end... such a mega surprise..and as you say an awesome one!! Prince Charming!!
    Ali x

  2. I think you can never trully appreciate a city when you are living in it. As you say, you tend to only get to know the part where you live. (I know I did exactly the same with my first bedsit in Edinburgh) It's good to have the opportunity to explore new areas, and you obviously put your few spare hours to good use.
    The bengal lights made me giggle - how times have changed indeed!


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