Independent Business

I am a fan of small independent businesses and so I thought in the run up to the referendum I’d promote this coterie.

Arran Gems

I got a fantastic set of cuff links made from shards of pottery that had washed up on the beach. Unique, melancholy and quirky. Upcycling is the art of our age. We all carry our histories around with us, with all the records we leave. We are aware increasingly of the wake we create. It’s an incredible resource but can also be a burden. Piece like this remind us that the odd shards and jagged fragments of our past can be polished and reworked and renewed and made to tell new stories. Our lives, especially at the moment, more than ever, are about claimng and re-claiming what haunts and inspires us.

Malaga Tapas

A warm, charming little refuge in Glasgow’s south side on St Andrews Road. Hospitality as it should be. It’s an establishment where the food and the guests are treated with both great respect and great affection. A place where the owner isn’t too busy to stop and sing happy birthday to a regular. Cristobal tells me his lentil stew is especially popular. It is a subtle dish with great texture, flavour and quality. It’s not showy or ostentatious, it is warm, reassuring and effortless – much like Cristobal himself. When they catered for our wedding they did so with such grace, generosity and imagination. I urge you to go there and enjoy being made to truly feel welcome.

Wanting to swot up for the referendum? I recommend if you are in and around Glasgow checking out the following three bookshops.

Voltaire and Rousseau – mad, just mad. Piles and piles of books. You don’t go looking for books here, you prospect for them. Take a pan and a dream and see if you can wade through the dust and hit gold. In any event you’ll have an adventure.

Thistle Books (and Alba Music) – After the madness of Voltaire and Rousseau drop down a gear and coast round the corner to this gentler, more ordered experience. If you have more of an idea of what it is you are looking for this shop has sections with which to navigate. It’s small, without an exhaustive collection but even if you can’t find an author or title you were looking for the air of calm and sensible organising are conducive to discovering something new.

Caledonia Books – Also in the West End. Great range of books, especially literary works and books about Scotland. More expensive generally than the other two but a bit more highbrow. Find a classy treat. I’ve noticed on the website they have a feature where you can let them know what books you are looking for! Handy.

Honourable Mention

The Pantoptican Shop – Set up to fund the repairs for the Pantoptican (the world’s oldest surviving music hall) this wee shop offers a backroom full of odds and ends and a brilliant front room crammed with a surprisingly variety and quality of books at amazing prices. If you are on the hunt for a bargain, look no further.

International Category

Barter Books – Magical. A converted train station in the North East of England with bookcase after bookcase of the most incredible range of books. It’s beautiful, life affirming, and mesmerizing. An absolute privilege. A place well worth marking the pilgrimage to.

So stuff your face full of food, your head full of books and then nip over to Arran to get some hipster bling.

And that’ll be you

all set for September 18th.

arran malaga


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