16 March 2014

Glasgow shopping as a Sunday morning marathon

If you're of the 'shop till you drop' persuasion, then Glasgow can certainly accommodate your fix, writes Brian Byrne. But be warned, it can be a marathon.

Finding the best areas is easy, they're all contained in a mostly pedestrianised section in the 'L' of Sauchiehall St and Buchanan St, with the corner being the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (above) which anchors the Buchanan Gallery indoor shopping centre. The statue is of Scotland's first First Minister, whose Dewar surname suggests whisky connections.

Shopping is one of the Glasgow religions, so the Gallery — as are most of the shops on Buchanan — is open from 10am on Sundays. Planning can be done from one of the mall's coffee shops before the bags campaign proper begins. The Gallery opened in 1999, and has more than 90 shops with all High Street names and more, some of them unique to the mall.

When you've managed that, the long vista of Glasgow's 'Fashion Mile' Buchanan St beckons, obviously with very many bespoke and big name clothing stores. An intriguing one is the Allsaints Spitalfields (below) which doesn't put clothes in its windows, but has no less than 1,100 vintage Singer sewing machines as its key decorative feature. The link? Hey, obvious, clothes have to be sewn. And now we know where all those machines that used to be on all those treadles that have become bar and restaurant tables have gone to.

If you need a break as you head down towards St Enoch's Square and its own shopping centre at the bottom, Sloan's Market is open both Saturday and Sunday, just near the Argyll Arcade off Buchanan. In truth there's not a lot there, except Sloans 'oldest bar and restaurant in Glasgow' in the lane. But if you're looking for a bit of jewellery, Sloans opens into the Argyll Arcade (above), an L-shaped mall of all the big names in diamonds, pearls and watches. The security men at each entrance to the arcade wear top hats and tailed coats ... but their high-tech earpieces signal them as being right in the 21st century.

Walk back up and you can dip in and out of the Prince's Arcade (above), a quite beautiful four storeys of shops and wood-trimmed escalators which mixes an upper level of quality with very modern retail therapy.

Pubs are scarce on Buchanan itself, but near the Merchants City area there's the Counting House, which this morning seemed to have an early dispensation and its large ornate central bar was ringed four-deep in red-and-white garbed football drinkers. The visiting supporters' slogan was 'The Sheep are on Fire', so if you're into football, you'll probably know. Later: Aberdeen FC. Thank you, Mr Google. Would have loved to stay, but getting a pint looked like too much work.

So this is being written in the relative quiet of the Admiral pub across from my hotel. Later this afternoon, off to the Equestrian Centre.