I was at university in Glasgow during and after its time as city of culture, and I have spent the years since as a southern ambassador, trying to break down stereotypes of the place and allow people to see this wonderful city for what it is, with the best nightlife in Britain and some of the most stunning scenery on its doorstep.
WHAT DO YOU MISS WHEN YOU’RE AWAY?
The train journey up. Once past Manchester, the escarpments and hills of the Lakes take over and I’m reminded of how much more beautiful it gets the farther north we go. Some of my dearest friends live here and every night is a big night when we visit. The biggest is Saturday at the Sub Club (0141 248 4600; www.subclub.co.uk) on Jamaica Street. More than 20 years with the same DJs and still the greatest club on Earth.
WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU DO WHEN YOU RETURN?
Walk about the city centre and around the station and enjoy the feeling of being back.
WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE TO STAY?
The Belhaven (339 3222; www.belhavenhotel.com; doubles from £72), converted from a 15-room town house and a stone’s throw from the Botanic Gardens. Alternatively, drive a short way out of the city to Inverarnan, on the banks of Loch Lomond, where you can stay at the eccentric old Drovers Inn (01301 704234; www.thedroversinn.co.uk;from £65), supposedly haunted and cluttered with arcane paraphernalia.
WHERE WOULD YOU MEET FRIENDS FOR A DRINK?
Ashton Lane, just off Byres Road, in Glasgow’s hip and studenty West End. My favourites are the Ubiquitous Chip (334 5007;www.ubiquitouschip.co.uk), with its vast array of whiskies, and Vodka Wodka (341 0669; www.vodkawodka.co.uk) The Grosvenor café is the place for sharing stories and nursing morning-after headaches over a Glasgow fry up, complete with Lorne sausage, black pudding and a tattie scone.
I tend to head to the Left Bank (339 5969; www.theleftbank.co.uk) on Gibson Street. It’s all local and seasonal produce wherever possible, served with style and charm.
AND FOR DINNER?
The aforementioned Ubiquitous Chip with its menu of the finest in Scottish food, surrounded by an outlandish indoor garden; or Roganos (248 4055; www.roganoglasgow.com), the city’s oldest restaurant. It’s also worth heading to the south side, where one of Glasgow’s great culinary surprises – how wonderful the curries are – can be enjoyed at Mother India Cafe (221 1663; www.motherindiaglasgow.co.uk)
WHERE WOULD YOU SEND A FIRST-TIME VISITOR?
To a newsagent to buy a copy of The List, so they can discover how much this city offers. And back to the train station, to take the West Highland Line train towards Mallaig – a contender for the most beautiful train journey in the world.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THEM TO AVOID?
Any discussion about football.
TAXI OR PUBLIC TRANSPORT?
Both. Taxis because you can never believe how cheap they are and because the drivers’ patter is unparalleled. Public transport because Glasgow’s underground, known locally as The Clockwork Orange, is both a practical way to get around and a reminder of how compact the city is.
WHAT SHOULD I TAKE HOME?
A quality waterproof jacket because if you didn’t arrive with one, you’ll certainly be leaving with one.
AND IF I’VE ONLY TIME FOR ONE SHOP?
Head to Fopp (www.foppreturns.com). Rarely a day of my student life went by without a traipse through this mostly discounted music emporium on Byres Road.
(you can read the original article on the Telegraph’s website here)