I removed myself from home again this week. I went to Glasgow this time. Version 4 of my Change of Scene routine.
It is another place (like Aberdeen last week) with memories jumping out at me from every corner. I lived there for 17 years. I got married there. My son was born there.
Like Aberdeen, for me it is now a mixture of the old and familiar, with the new and strange. This was exemplified by my arrival at Queen Street Station. I used it twice a day during the working week for about 3 years. Familiar. It has just emerged from a major renovation project. New.
The visit brought plenty positives without me having to make much effort. This was a relief after the first half of my week.
I used an electronic ticket on the new ScotRail app for the first time. It worked! The trains were on schedule too!
I stayed in an Apex Hotel for the first time. I got a last minute deal the night before I left. It was excellent. Their way of tackling breakfast safely was too revert to table service rather than a buffet. It was one of the best breakfasts I have had recently, and I enjoyed a chat with the dining room manager about that challenges they face in delivering service under the safety regime.
Staffing shortages seem to be their biggest, and while Brexit plays its part, she told me quite a few new staff members have not been able to adjust to the new ways and left.
The weather was gorgeous – in fact too nice to be on a city centre escape. I should have been by the sea or up a hill. I am not complaining obviously. It is unusual to have such good weather here at the end of August.
Seeing the massive increase in Covid cases in Scotland this week, I had wondered about whether to stay at home this week. Just because I am able to go away does not mean it is a smart move. My train was quiet, and I was only on it for 12 minutes each way (my car was at a park & ride just outside the city). The hotel’s protocols were excellent. It was the same where I ate dinner, and in the two pubs I visited – sitting outside.
That dinner was very positive indeed. A pizza, tiramisu, espresso, a glass of red and wee grappa. It hit the spot. Cafe Antipasti on Sauchiehall Street if you are interested.
Après dinner was positive too. I had a quick beer in Nico’s. It may be the first time I have been there since 1989, but not much has changed. I was 40 years older than anyone else, but what the hell.
Then I wondered if the Baby Grand is still there. Yup, and another quick beer.
In a city where pubs come and go like fashion statements, I was amazed.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2021