Where Chennette visits Glasgow, and ends her vacation. And the vacation blogging.
There’s always a football match going on in Glasgow. Loads of people crowding into and singing on the Metro. Chanting and drumming on the streets. Kilts, tams and red wigs flowing around and almost overtaking the tourists. And visibly increased police presence. Every day. Well, every time I arrive in Glasgow anyway. That’s how it was the first time I ever visited the city four years ago, and that’s how it was this time. I didn’t spend that much time on the streets, but on the Metro from the train station to my hosts, at every stop I could hear the rumblings and the singing. I know it’s not really every day, but it was a throwback to my first visit, when we realised how the city and its people could be overtaken by this preparing-for-a-match atmosphere. It can be an invigorating experience, but you just hope it’s not a Celtic vs Rangers match…
I was visiting Jeff and Tamara; Jeff who was in my kitchen in Edinburgh (along with 10 others, including Jess and Ewe) and Tamara who was around the corner on the same floor. Since the friendship with Jeff is firmly rooted in that kitchen – it’s where conversations started about food and progress onward – and he and Tamara have that common interest as well, you can expect that there’s some food talk in this visit, never fear. Last year I was treated to saffron couscous, Bosnian sausage crepes, lamb tagine, Thai coconut chicken soup and homemade scones, a Jeff specialty. This year was just as interesting and hopefully inspiring.
The slogan in the title is taken from a campaign launched in 2004, “aimed at repositioning the city as a cosmopolitan, European destination as well as a modern, dynamic location for inward investment and tourism”. I’ve seen alot of online debate about the veracity of such an advertisement for the city but I am just a tourist. I won’t enter into the fray. Glasgow definitely has styles…styles of architechture, sometimes quite contrastingly styled buildings immediately next to each other. But definitely, styles. I can’t speak to the commerce element, but in terms of art and culture, and food, there is a lot to offer. Who can beat free lawn-bowling? Now that is style!
The Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery has an excellent collection of European art and exhibits about Scotland and the Scots. Free to the public. I was a little bemused by the strange phrasing on many of the informative signs, until I realised that they were also hanging well below my eye-level, and I put 2 and 2 together. Ahhhhh. I’m smart sometimes, you know, it just takes a while. The Museum has put a lot of excellent effort into catering for the younger visitors. Explanations that are gearded for children’s inquiring and quirky minds and interactive displays in almost every room (and not just the annoying loud electronic types either, there was a very cool exhibit where you could pull out drawers to see what implements and paint materials centuries old artists would have used). Since it was that time in July, there were even children using the computer in the Scotland Identity and Symbols exhibit to demonstrate their knowledge of Harry Potter. I did take some pictures of the exhibits, but I have to admit I spent more time just enjoying the galleries visually. And the commentary and observations made by ourselves. There are organ recitals daily and for a lunch time break, we walked outside and across the road to the bowling greens. Rolling heavy round things across a green expanse, trying to hit each other (the balls…no real physical violence here), walking barefoot on the grass and trying to figure out the rules by ourselves, all the while being laughed at I’m sure by the pros. It’s a good thing no one was bowling in the lanes on the other sides of us, as we weren’t always on target. Sometimes far from it…
I also made it out to the Pollok Country Park to visit the Burrell Collection and walk through the gardens of the Pollok Estate. The Pollok House is also an exhibit, but not free. The Burrell Collection was gifted to the City of Glasgow by Sir William Burrell and his wife:
“William Burrell had been an art collector since his teens, and the collection is made up of a vast array of works of all periods and from all over the world.
You can wander round important collections of medieval art, tapestries, alabasters, stained glass and English oak furniture, European paintings, including works by Degas and Cézanne, an important collection of Islamic art, and modern sculpture including works by Epstein and Rodin. Children will be fascinated by the works from days of long ago -we have a fine collection of works from ancient China, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Architectural features from the collection have been integrated into the structure of the building -you can walk under arches built for medieval lords and ladies. There are also reconstructions of rooms from Sir William’s home, furnished in gothic style with items from the collection.”
It is really an incredible and somewhat eclectic display, but because of the vastness of the collection, it is very well organised and laid out, just like a regular museum. Which makes it all the more astounding when you realise that one person collected all of this.
While we only walked past the Pollok House, we explored in detail the demonstration gardens attached to the house, where I saw purple cauliflower, and courgettes and squash of all kinds growing on the ground. Onions, potatoes, peas, apples…the variety was as impressive as the Burrell Collection. We got to walk past stables, with a laughing horse, and Highland Coos in the fields. The old Pollok Beech in a dark forested area. It is an interesting place to visit, the Pollok Estate. You get a complete musuem and art gallery on the grounds, as well as a little botanical garden and a forest walk. Only a short train ride from the city centre.
Of course, Glasgow also has its Botanic Gardens in the city, which I visited last year, and quite enjoyed, especially since they had a greenhouse with tropical economic plants – I think that was the name – with sugar cane, cocoa, bananas… There are some more views of the city from my visit last year on Flickr.
And now to the food…
My hosts Jeff and Tamara cook a lot. A lot. Of course, you wonder why I stress that, since I am allegedly a foodie who cooks. After all I blog about food and cooking. But between the time I “returned” from Barbados in May, and my vacation in the end of July, I didn’t do much cooking. I barely bought groceries, since I was never in my flat for more than 3 or 4 days at a time. And my cooking desires were hampered either by thoughts that I hadn’t yet unpacked from Barbados, or the knowledge that I should be preparing to move again (still in Guyana, but to a new flat). So by the time I got to Glasgow, the most cooking I had done were those 2 occasions the week before in Edinburgh with Jess (where I burned the sugar!!). As I watched them shop (organic shops and halaal butcher) and plan and cook, I had the strongest feeling that my cooking skills were rusting away in comparison. But the feeling didn’t last too long…as I managed to attempt to make some dhal and doubles, with kingfish steaks (the last being the most successful) for the last dinner in Glasgow and by the time I returned to Trinidad and Guyana, I was cooking again (Alton Brown burgers, some bread making etc). Maybe I was inspired by the cooking once again with friends who I used to share a kitchen with (Jess and Jeff), or maybe I was just reminded of the joys of cooking, even if by myself. In Glasgow I was served:
Mint-Lamb Burgers – served with mango salsa and baked sweet potato/squash chips
Salmon hotpot, served over brown rice (Wagamama cookbook)
Pineapple-watermelon-coriander juice (also Wagamama)
Mango Lassi, homemade icecream and breads, with good coffee and a variety of teas. All these were homemade, and the only contribution I can claim is breading the chicken and assembling some sandwiches. And of course participation as a diner!
We did go out to dinner once to Mother India, an Indian tapas-style restaurant that is incredibly popular, small, and doesn’t take bookings. So on any given night, you’ll be sure to find people lining up out in the street waiting for a table. And yet, sitting at your table, you don’t really get a rushed feeling. The food is good and service is fairly quick. Which was good, because we were headed to The Simpsons Movie. Since it’s tapas, the 3 of us ordered about 6 dishes – some rice; chicken amchar; chicken dosa with dhal; lamb karahi; sag paneer; and something else, possibly a pakora together with naan. I liked all the items and was not disapppointed. (Halal meats) I loved the lamb karahi – it was everything I wanted out of the Khushi’s dish – and the chicken amchar had that lovely mango pickle flavour that I hated 10 years ago and now adore). We ended with some soothing masala chai and then off to The Simpsons.
My time in Glasgow had a little bit of everything…Blockbuster Summer Movies (also saw Transformers), Art, Food (lots of it) Shopping and Games. Apart from the lawn bowling (which I won the first time, and not the 2nd time), we also played Scrabble (some wins, some losses) and Scattergories. All made for some great quality time. And not so great sleep, but who needs sleep on a vacation. That’s what work is for.
Glasgow 2007 Flickr set.
This is part of What I did on my Vacation (July 2007).
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