Things to do in Glasgow when you’ve only got £30 left in the bank

I don’t know where the money goes. Well, if I sat down and thought about it I would, like that £160 at Ikea, and the £70 on those patent leather brogues by Ash, and the Aveda facial at JDH, and ever increasing weekly shop from Sainsbury’s online (can someone tell me how a week’s worth of groceries plus delivery fee can cost close to £100?).

So now I’ve got £30 burning a hole in my pocket, and it’s Saturday, so here’s what I’m considering:

Blowing it all at Brutti Ma Buoni at the Brunswick hotel – I always get the same thing every time I go there, but honestly, nothing is better than the brutti bread with olive tapenade, mozzarella, and a lake of olive oil, and washing it down with a glass of cava. Plus, they have the best homemade cheesecake in the `verse.

Doing the museum thing – Buoyed by my experience of Haptic at the Lighthouse, I’m thinking of broadening my cultural horizons elsewhere. Haptic, which is all about the sense of touch, allows you to feel the materials used in the objects displayed. The Lighthouse now costs £3 to enter (though there is free entry on Saturdays), and I wonder, do you have to pay the entry fee if you just want to go to the gift shop? With all the Marimekko, Vitra, and an entire wall of design books, it’s possibly the best museum giftshop in Glasgow. Today I’ll be turning my attention to the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, where there’s an exhibit of work by Glasgow’s own Jim Lambie (who was shortlisted for the 2005 Turner Prize). GOMA still has free entry, but they are recommending a small donation now. After visiting the exhibition, be sure to go down to the public library in the basement and check out some DVDs. They seem to specialise in art house, classics, and European and Japanese horror.

Take a walk along the Clyde – There’s a lovely path that goes through Glasgow Green which is quiet and picturesque. A great, easy way to get some exercise.

Go to the cinema – It seems a shame to hide away indoors in the dark on a sunny day like today, but inevitably, it will start raining, so why not pop in and see Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day? Frances McDormand is always brilliant, and I’ve been in love with Lee Pace ever since I saw him in the Canadian television series Wonder Falls.

Drink outside – There's something about drinking alcohol in the sun that makes it seem almost wholesome. Most places are doing outdoor seating at the moment, so have a cocktail in the sun. Glasgow wasn’t really designed for outdoor seating, so some places work better than others, but most of the restaraunts and pubs in the Merchant city have nice areas dedicated to it, and of course Ashton Lane in the West End is ideal.

Have a picnic – make the most of the sunshine and head to the Botanic Gardens, where you can sit in the sun and eat potato salad, or whatever it is people pack in picnic baskets. Stock up on foodie lunch supplies at Peckhams, Kember & Jones, or if you are feeling really wealthy, Heart Buchanan. Then wander among the trees and get an education – many of the trees in the Botanics display information about the type of tree and its significance in British history and folklore. The Botanic Gardens are a great place to explore too, as there are many hidden nooks and crannies everywhere. Plus, the West End is pretty good for stargazing, if you're into that kind of thing - last time I was at the Botanic Gardens I think I saw Stuart Murdoch, oddly dressed and grinning at some woman's baby.


See Woo

What is shirataki? What’s underneath the leathery skin of a dragon fruit? Is there any end to the types of bean curd/meat substitutes one can buy? All these questions and more are answered at See Woo, Glasgow’s Oriental megastore.

Located just off Saracen St in Possil, See Woo is a giant warehouse full of Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and um, Polish products that every kitchen needs. There are isles and isles of sauces, noodles, meats, fish, bean curd, and the best part, frozen foods. There’s also a bakery and a fresh seafood counter. You can even get dishes, woks, rice cookers, and giant burlap sacks full of rice. Okay, so maybe the latter isn’t that useful unless you own your very own Chinese restaurant, but there is so much at See Woo, just browsing is an experience in itself.

My husband and I went today (taking the 75 bus from Hope Street, as we don’t have a car), and managed to get away with spending only £50. That’s because we didn’t buy the case of Tiger beer for £24 – next time, maybe. Highlights from today’s trip:

  • Brown rice noodles – this ought to get me an extra gold star in the low GL column
  • Dragon fruit – the soft white flesh can be scooped out and eaten with homemade sorbet (I made some with mango and Cointreau)
  • Shirataki – another low GL purchase, these thin white noodles are made from an Asian yam
  • Glutinous rice balls with peanut or sesame filling – roll these in sesame seeds for a yummy chewy dessert
The only question that didn’t get answered for me was who would eat vegetarian intestine? Speaking as a vegetarian, intestine is not one of those items that I miss from my meat eating days. Perhaps I just never gave it a chance.


Nice ice baby

I think about ice a lot. I do; it’s an American thing. Where I come from, we drink everything with ice apart from beer, which we drink from mugs we keep in the freezer.

So you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I was thinking about ice recently, and remembering the trays we had in the 70s – they were metal and had a removable partition that came out of the tray with the pull of a lever and released the cubes. Ice cubes were left lying in the tray, loose and ready to go, as if by magic. Pull lever, release ice. None of the frostbite associated with prying ice loose from rubber trays, none of the breakages associated with plastic trays. Just simple, old fashioned, mechanical ingenuity.

Captivated by memories of my ice-filled youth, and too poor to buy one of those giant fridge-freezers with an icemaker attachment, I searched the web for those metal ice trays. They are available to buy on Amazon, for a very reasonable £5 each. I bought 4 of them, because my need is great.

I tested them out, and the results were substantial blocks of ice, each one as pleasingly craggy as a chunk of quartz. I broke out the whisky (I know, I know, but see above, re: ice in everything) and made myself a drink. The cubes didn’t dissolve within seconds, as is the case with what normally passes as ice these days. When I drank, I got that satisfying chink you hear when people drink highballs in Dallas or Hart to Hart, or some similarly sophisticated night-time drama.

Yes, they have made all my ice dreams come true. Now if only I could get my husband to stop pretending that ice cube trays need to be washed between every use. Just refill them, okay? And stop putting them in the sink as if you are actually going to wash them.


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