Some people love planning their life. Mostly, I really don’t. OK, I’ll admit I love planning holidays: cosying up on the couch with my laptop and two or three weeks of a clean slate waiting to be filled with pure adventure. I throw myself into researching the destination; finding out about quirky restaurants and bars and zoning in on the perfect hotel. I also dabble in booking theatre or gig tickets ahead of time as there is something truly lovely about having a really exciting event to look forward to.
But there’s nothing I hate more than having every weekend from here until forever booked up with arrangements. The arrangements – no matter how exciting – turn into chores. I have a busy job Monday to Friday that involves me being ‘on’ all the time. Pretty much every minute of my day is planned and accounted for. I firmly believe my desire for empty weekends is a symptom of having such a busy, full-on job where I’m constantly dealing with lots of people at once. It means I look forward to nothing more than a completely free weekend with absolutely zero commitments planned. It means I can wake up on a Saturday and do exactly what I feel like doing even if that means doing absolutely sod all.
One of my favourite things to do is a bit of aimless wandering. You can’t plan for that. You can’t book it in advance. You just have to be in the general mood for getting lost. Walking up streets you’ve never noticed before, finding new shortcuts around a city and happening upon a great coffee shop that you didn’t even know existed.
So here’s what I did with some aimless Friday evening and Saturday wandering this gloriously empty weekend:
- Early doors dinner at La Lanterna on Hope Street. At 35, I’m ashamed to admit I can’t party like I used to. A late night on a Friday night is a thing of the past. It basically involves me having a disco-nap and overdosing on caffeine or I’m falling asleep mid-conversation at around 11pm. There’s nothing more appealing than someone snoozing on their pint glass. Friday night early doors dinner before 6pm means you can ride the post-work adrenaline buzz and sneak in pre-theatre prices. Double win. I have a friend who swears by La Lanterna. It’s hidden on the south side of Hope Street beside Central Station (ideal location). On Friday I had a ridiculously beautiful, silky vegetarian goat cheese ravioli dish with some(!) Sicilian merlot and I would recommend it highly. This place has heart, charm and really great, flavoursome Italian food.
- Walk round the city. A post-dinner walk is the ideal way to work off some calories or build up an appetite for dessert. Walking down Buchanan Street early evening on a Friday has a great vibe: people buzzing about their weekend, the melodic sounds of buskers drifting in the air and that lovely golden hour glow.
- A goblet of gin at Cup Tea Lounge at Virginia Court in the Merchant City. I love Virginia Court. It’s on the location of the amazing (now vanished) Virginia Galleries which was the spiritual home of many a Glasgow, grungey teenager of the 90s. And, let’s face it, a nostalgic, vintage vibe is perfect for a gin-sipping locale. Cup Tea Lounge has a cute outside seating area (with handy shelter from the rain) so it really feels like you can make the most of our early autumn weather. It’s a serene wee courtyard that definitely does not feel like it’s smack bang in the city centre. The charming waiter recommended a Hoxton gin with a Mediterranean tonic and it was a gorgeous burst of coconutty joy.
- Let’s Eat Food Festival at SWG3. I walked here from the centre of town listening to Dear Sugar Radio. I love a walk with a podcast for company. This festival had a great vibe, amazing representation from lots of local restaurants, a multitude of good booze, friendly punters and it was at the excellent SWG3 which is well worth wandering around. Watch out for it next year or other events at SWG3.
- A solo lunch at Dumpling Monkey. I have been DYING to try this place for ages. I’m a Chinese dumpling addict. Unfortunately, my husband is not such a fan. He was out for the day so I treated myself to a sneaky, solo dumpling date. I was NOT disappointed. I ordered ten, yes TEN, vegetarian dumplings, a jasmine tea and a shredded potato salad. The dumplings were pillowy and steamy and tasty. You can mix your own dipping sauce from vinegar, soy and two different types of chilli. The whole vibe of the place took me back to living in Beijing during the autumn months and I will definitely be back.