After a productive morning’s work I decided that I would take a little jaunt around town, trying out some new and old favourites… an experimental day.
I headed to Babu Bombay Street Kitchen, which is a delightful place full of special Indian street food (and Maaza, a wonderfully pungent mango flavoured drink, which goes down well with dhal and brings back happy memories of India). I got a lovely take away selection, veg dish of the day and dhal of the day, with tamarind carrot and a roti. I also used my Swipii card, which is a new Glasgow card which ‘redefines loyalty’ (you use it every time you go to the places which have signed up, and instead of 20 different cards for 20 different places, everything is stored on your little key fob (or your app on our phone), and it give you things you might actually want like ‘learn hindi words’, cookery lessons, free tea/ coffee and even starring in a film!) I am a sucker for these things, I used to love my student snap fax, but this particular scheme seems both useful and friendly, given that I actually do use quite a few of the places on their list (I’m never going to get my nails done, or buy a comic book, but I do love my Indian food, and supporting local places).
I was taking this to my hard working husband, who was volunteering at the Glasgow Real Ale festival, and what is the best way to go from Blythswood to Briggait? Bike! “But Alison, you didn’t bring your bike in today?” I may hear you say… well, that meant I did not have to cycle up the hill and also meant I could try out the new Glasbikes! I don’t know what they are called, everyone I saw seemed to say a Glasgow Boris Bike, but I had registered for the scheme when I had chatted to the guys at the Glasgow bike show in April, and this was the first time I had got a chance to try one in real life.
I saw 2 people cycling away from the stand in Wellington Street just as I got there, I was worried that there would be none left (but had I glanced at my app beforehand, I would have known the number of bikes available, no need to stress about that). After an initial fumble with the lock it was easy enough, all you do is hold your card against the reader (or use the app on your phone to scan the bike’s QR code), it then gives you the number to unlock the bike lock and away you go!
I am not used to 3 gear bikes, my own bike is a comfort hybrid with 15 gears, which I love to bits even though it is a little heavy. These bikes are quite light and go with ease, the seats are easy to adjust if you need to, and they come with a stand (I have never got round to putting one on my own bike, so it was kind of a novelty for me when I stopped to be able to use that). I was off to the Briggait which is pretty easy to get to from Wellington Street, so only a little ride to test it, but great fun. It was only when I reached a more busy area that I realised that I did not have a helmet. A mixture of panic and ‘oh, how European I am’ flew through my mind (I have been attuned to too many ‘bike helmet saved my life’ type articles on TV, yet have also spent time in cities like Ghent or Amsterdam where cycling is totally normal and everyone rides without a helmet). I did feel like a tourist in my own town…especially as the bike bell and gears were so different from my own (turning wheel bike bell, and gears like I imagine are on a motorbike).
The bikes are quite new to the city, I actually felt like a little bit of a tourist attraction myself as when I was stopped at traffic lights I could hear people going “oh, there’s one of they new bikes” (sic), someone even took a photo of me at the lights. Weird!
At the Briggait my lunch was warmly received; if you have free time this weekend, do go and visit Glasgow’s first real ale festival in 18 years, it is a dramatic architectural setting and a great range of beers, ciders and perry (soft drinks and food are also available). It is called the giraffe (pronounced Gee-Raff, given the initials Glasgow Real Ale Festival- G: RAF). The general verdict of the bikes ranged from curiosity to ‘yes I have signed up’.. several folk were quite fascinated by the concept of Glasgow’s latest form of transportation, and a few volunteers had even travelled in on the bikes earlier that day. The fact that the basket did not move when you turned the wheel also seemed to be a source of amusement.
I sipped my Maaza and enjoyed my meal and lots of chat.. then headed to Queen Street to drop off my bike (same check out process, with the opportunity to leave a comment, should you wish).
After a whole 5 minutes of cycling I of course deserved a little refreshment (well, it was more to fuel my afternoon’s work actually, but I thought I would go to Tempo Tea Bar, another Swipii place, and try the seasonal special Copacababa- a mango and passion fruit tea with mango bubbles. mmmmmango!).
Happy holidays! I loved the umbrella touch. Back to work now… happily sipping a piece of tropical drink, after a nice few hours of tourism in my own town.