Scotland: Day 5
On my final day in Glasgow, and alas my final day in Scotland, I got straight up, tossed a handful of dirty clothes into my now very rumpled suitcase and was out the door like a shot. Not only was I moving hotels, but I had a rather busy morning in store including a long wander round the West End, a stop into a delightful shop, and a quick crisscross of the unimaginably charming University of Glasgow.
But first it was straight into a cab to head over to the Blythswood Square. I'd stopped in the night before with Jim Hamilton and Ross Hunter of Graven Images for a pint, and now I was set to move in, if only for a night. Graven Images did the interiors of the hotel, which just opened at the end of last year, and my favorite bits are the Harris tweed chairs in the dining room. There's quite a bit of Harris tweed in the hotel, and another dominant motif is Scottish auto racing and the building used to be home to the Royal Scottish Auto Club. Rare is the hotel that manages to marry the old and the new without feeling like pastiche. The Blythswood fills the bill while still offering a bit of hotel flash.
I rather liked the Glasgow Toile with its cheeky graphics. Another good bit is a fabric and wallpaper covered with moths. I took a handful of the little badges they'd had made up and immediately stuck one on my daypack.
After my pop into Timorous Beasties I was off again, this time on foot down the Great Western Road. I jogged left into the neighborhoods after about a half mile in search of Kelvingrove Park. I missed by a bit, but did wind up at the University of Glasgow. I decided that I'd pop into the Mackintosh House (a recreation of the house Charles Rennie and his wife, and fellow Glasgow School of Art bohemian, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh lived in just a road up), which is attached to the University's Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery.
Macleod hails from the Hebrides (islands off the northwest coast of Scotland and home of Harris tweed) and told me about the lineage of boat builders in his family, his penchant for fresh seafood, and the about-face his architecture career has taken since opening the restaurant. He also recalled with some fondness a trip to San Francisco and noted that if he had to tip his hat to any restaurants as a guiding light for his own, it would be Swan's Oyster Depot here in the City by the Bay.
I noshed on a trio of crab cakes as Macleod described his design, which manages to squeeze 55 seats into 750 square feet of space while still having a bar, kitchen, and service area. All told it was a great spot, and one I'd return to in a heartbeat the next time I'm in town. As it happens Macleod is just months from opening a new joint down the block called Table 11. Keep your eyes peeled, Glaswegians.
A quick cab ride and I was back at the Blythswood where I met up with Gordon Moag of Glasgow Culture and Sport to have a look at the various incarnations of the Museum of Transport. The old building, just opposite the Kelvingrove Art Museum, has shut down and is awaiting a new space to be completed in the middle of 2011. The architect for the new Riverside Museum: good old Zaha Hadid.
Granted, it's hard to say how the whole thing will come together, but Hadid's form, a wavy ripple that heads straight for the water, is a fitting evocation of the River Clyde, which is just yards behind it. I also rather liked the peaked, glass facade which faces back toward the city and seems to be some kind of abstracted skyline.
Other high profile buildings we walked past as we headed downstream include the Clyde Auditorium concert hall by Sir Norman Foster (archly dubbed The Armadillo), a new headquarters for the BBC Scotland by David Chipperfield (interior by Graven Images), the Glasgow Science Center by Building Design Partnership and a pair of bridges which the local wags have named the Squiggly Bridge and the Squinty Bridge respectively.
We parted ways on a sunny Friday afternoon and I headed back to the Blythswood for a drink, dinner, another stellar whisky--Bowmore 15!!!--and a plate of cheese. I reposed for a moment and then wandered off to the Center for Contemporary Arts for a concert. There I met up with Mary Knox of the Lighthouse and between her friends and me we managed to stay out too late, drink too much, wander over the the bustling Glasgow club Nice N Sleazy. I got to bed far too late and had an early flight to London the next morning. Ah the life of an honorary Scot!