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.
architectural cycling sightseeing!
Day 27 of day 30, a day of cycling sightseeing combining art, architecture, digital photos and cycling. I went to see the Glasgow architectural masterpiece which is Scotland Street School. This is a wonderful and free tourist attraction, easily accessible from the city centre via cycle routes from Bells Bridge, and also subway (it is opposite Shields Road station). It is not your ordinary school, it was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and is fitted as a museum with class room s from various periods (Victorian to 1960’s).
There are wonderful architectural details, typical of Mackintosh, with nature inspired motifs, vibrant colours and Locharbriggs red sandstone.
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Cycling is so much fun in Bristol, even despite some of the crazy hills! It is seen to be the norm here, it is not unusual and as I said in a previous post I feel like a proper Bristolian now I’m on my bike and exploring the city. Someone even asked me for directions yesterday, I must look like a local now 🙂
Some of the many reasons why cycling here is so much fun:
- there are cycle lanes on most roads
- traffic lights have a “cycle” light as well
- the provision of cycle racks is plentiful (and they are all well used, sometimes you have to go elsewhere to find one, which could be annoying but as a visitor it actually lifts my heart)
- dropped kerbs are everywhere, useful not just for cyclists but for those with limited mobility and with push chairs; less obstacles to overcome
- shared bike and pedestrian routes seem to be the norm and are well signposted
- there is a bike culture (there is a bike cafe, I have seen numerous bike shops and repair centres and even specialist shops)
- people use bikes for everything.. yesterday I saw someone who appeared to be moving house from the level of what they were carrying (full panniers, guitar on back, basket on front, bag over handlebars), and also someone who appeared to be making some sort of protest carrying a billboard on their back making a comment about something (they whizzed past me so quickly I did not actually get to see what they were about!)
- the provision of cycle tracks and traffic free paths is extensive
- there are cycle events (I saw bike tag yesterday and there is a “biggest bike ride” planned in June, which has been running for 20 years)
- even pop up events have cycle parking (or so it seemed in Queens Square, where there is a food and drink event in huge tents)
- cyclists are friendly and smiley people here and people of all ages and backgrounds are out and about with friends and family
- Sustrans HQ is here (an added “nice little sustainable transportation fact”)
“Bring bring”.. my bike bell toots with joy.
I think it is time to go off on some cycling explorations, camera and sketchbook in pannier 🙂
I took these photos in Bristol and London, I am not entirely sure what the wrapped bike is for (perhaps an advert) but now that the sun is ever so slightly peeking over the horizon it’s definitely time to metaphorically unwrap it and get back on my bike on a more regular basis. I love it in Bristol as there are so many cyclists, it is a great way to see the city and I feel like a proper Bristolian when I am out on my bike.
Cafe’s with character in Glasgow… a short but pretty post pondering architecture and cafés.
Queens Café, 530 Victoria Road, Glasgow has lovely art deco style glass and some interesting interior fittings (and does its own ice cream). This is a Southside beauty.
University Café, 87 Byres Road, is a Glasgow institution… great folding seats, certificates adorning the walls from all sorts of awards and lovely Italian goodies to enjoy.
Tchai Ovna, Otago Lane, Glasgow is perhaps the ultimate place to go for tea, poetry and arts events; enjoy the eclectic atmosphere of the Lane (perhaps also go to the wonderful second hand bookshop nearby) and have loose leaf tea from all around the world or try one of the delicious home cooked dishes (with vegetarian specials). It is a lovely little hide-away, overlooking the River Kelvin.
Siempre Bicycle Café, 162 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow is a relatively new café which is next to Kelvin Hall subway. A little gem of a café which welcomes cyclists (hooks and places to hang your bike are provided, along with a huge selection of funky bike supplies from the latest fashions to the “must have” techny gear). The café is in the ground floor of a tenement and there is even a small hatch off the subway lane if you are in a hurry.
éSo four suggestions for a little creative diversion 🙂