The Dockyard Social

This week I headed over to The Dockyard Social, a new street food and bar hub near Finnieston. They’ve just won Best Street Food at The Scotsman Food and Drinks Awards 2018, so I couldn’t resist trying some delicious food and cocktails. I also had a chat with The Dockyard Social’s founder, Kyle Steel, about their venue, their traders and what’s next.

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So, tell me about The Dockyard.

For me, it’s all about creating a really social space where you can bring your dog, your family and you don’t need to worry about any kind of preconception. We had a mummy bloggers event on earlier where there were forty mums and dads with their kids; we had Wonder Woman and Cinderella, it was amazing!

As the day goes on, it transcends into a more hipster, cool kid kind of vibe – not that mums and dads aren’t cool, I have 3 kids myself. But you can see the demographic shifting a little bit. People generally stay here for around 4 or 5 hours.

I can see why, it took me an hour to pick something to eat, there’s so many options to choose from. It’s a really cool venue, did you guys have a lot of refurbishing to do?

It took us two to three months. We tried to use as much as possible from the building; the blue metalwork you see around the place was here originally. The initial footprint of the building was one of the biggest Glaswegian shipbuilders back in the day, about a hundred years ago now. We really wanted to tie that in, hence ‘The Dockyard’.

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How do traders get a place in The Dockyard?

When we started off, we were inundated with enquiries, we tried to mix it up between established and some brand new traders. ‘Fujisan‘ were our very first trader, they had only been going for six weeks, we were their second event. And then we had ‘FatBoys‘ he came in and it was his first ever big event, he did about 900 covers in four days.

We really want to help them get on the scene and start making a name for themselves. We get loads of traders getting in touch and because just now, we’re only open every second week, we are trying to mix it up so it’s always fresh. We see about 3,000 people over the weekend, so you want to keep it new and give the traders a chance to push themselves but also not get bogged down by being in here for 8-10 weeks, or it can get a bit stale.

How long are you guys here for? Please say forever.

Well, we’ve got a 10-year lease, full license application in just now, all going well – touch wood – it’ll be granted early December. The street food side of things will be running Thursday to Sunday with each day targeting a different group. Thursdays will be very student heavy and then Friday to Sunday is open to all ages. And there is a training school Monday to Friday every week.

Coffee Cocktails

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Will we be seeing more new traders then?

Absolutely! Going forward, we may give them three or four week stints, we have 12 pitches but it’ll always be something new.

I am so excited to try the Bubble Waffles! They look incredible.

They are hugely popular, everyone always comes in asking for them.

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Tell me more about the traders then. I’m vegetarian for example, is there a lot of choice?

We’re really passionate about providing equal opportunities for dietary requirements. Ally who owns ‘Paleo Kitchen’, for example, is one of the nicest guys in the world who focuses predominantly on the caveman diet. So, no refined carbs, coeliac friendly, a lot of vegan dishes – loads of opportunities.  All of our traders will be able to accommodate you whether you’re vegetarian, vegan etc. We just really want everyone to feel welcome at The Dockyard and really create a community hub.

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What would you say the traders gain from being here?

We’re all about providing a platform for food street traders and chefs who maybe want to take a step towards doing their own thing. But where we really differentiate ourselves from other operators is that,while we’ve got 12 different food street traders, we run 2 of them so our revenue comes from the bar, ticket sales and our 2 food stalls. The other 10 are up and coming businesses.

We’re just here to provide a cool vibe and location for them to really apply their trade and give them an opportunity to show what they do. We spent four years doing Section33, so we were doing pop ups in old abandoned buildings helping raise funds for the homeless and gained a really strong following from foodies and their loyal regulars. It’s now transitioned to this and it’s actually been a year since we signed the lease on the building.

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What was the idea behind The Dockyard Social, what inspired you?

I think life is short, life is an absolute gift. The more we can do to help people the better. I’ve got three young kids and if I can help inspire them to help people when they’re older – they can look back and say ‘Well, Daddy did it”. I just think that’s a butterfly effect that spreads out exponentially. It’s all about uniting people and that old analogy of ‘People Make Glasgow’. We just want to do it on a bigger scale.

How are you planning to help people?

When we get our full license, I really want to put in 2 big initiatives. Teaching families who are currently relying on food banks how to cook free of charge. I keep hearing that a lot of families who reply on these food banks don’t know how to cook nutritious food and I want to help change that.

Section33 came about because my granny told me not to! “Kyle, you need to get a trade, be a plumber or a plasterer…” I wanted to prove to my gran that hospitality isn’t to look down upon others, it can really help people who are in sticky situations. Once we get the full license I’m going to put on a monthly local pensioners tea dance where they can come in for free and we’ll provide tea, coffee, cake etc. We want to hear their stories. I would give anything to have 5 more minutes with my gran.

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Big Buns

What’s next for you guys?

Our main ambition? We’ve got 10,000 square feet here, with another 4000 behind the scenes where we’re building a training school to help homeless people, the long term unemployed and kids that have come through care. We get them into the training school, and the street food traders will help train them. Then once they’ve done their basic training they’ll come out and they’ll do six weeks on pizza, 6 weeks on Thai and so on, so that after six months they’re ready to go and get a bigger job or maybe start their own brand – that’s the dream!

We’ve got loads of funding coming in from the training side of things from the government and then we’ll look at doing probably Edinburgh next. And then maybe move South, perhaps. It’s all just really cool. But we’re working on keeping engagement fresh, word of mouth is the biggest driver for us.

Thanks for reading, keep up with my latest adventures – A Bonnie Travelers Inside Guide

Images by: Fraser Craig

Editing: Harry Smith

 

Glasgow’s Tontine Lanes

I’m lucky to work in among these secret lanes so it was so much fun to watch them being transformed into an array of Scottish pop up stalls with food and drink, art exhibits, live music and my personal favourite, crazy golf.

In case you haven’t heard, the secret lane, tucked away in the Merchant City between Bell Street and the Trongate has lain empty for several years, but before that it was a vibrant food and culture hub, made popular during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. This year, however, it was back for the European Championships 2018.

The talk of the lane was of course, King Putt’s Crazy Golf. The super fun course was made entirely from waste materials sourced from across City Council and Glasgow Life departments. There were also a few famous faces competing such as Tom Daley.

Lunch times suddenly became extremely competitive in my office ha-ha, with a few of us there every. single. day! 

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Photo Credit: King Putt’s

The best part, the lanes were totally free. The staff were made up entirely of volunteers as well and couldn’t have been lovelier. Speaking with the King Putt’s crew they said;

“…it’s popularity exceeded our expectations. We had a huge number of visitors over the 10 days – possibly in the region of 7500. The feedback we received was extremely positive and it seemed to have been popular with all age groups and families.

King Putt’s may be back some time in the near future – stay tuned!

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After a few rounds, we headed over to The Birdcage’s pop up restaurant, where you can grab a quick, tasty meal. They managed to completely transform a really run-down looking warehouse into an urban, chic little dining area.

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This specialty Chicken restaurant’s menu includes everything from coriander, chilli and lime chicken wings, to pulled chicken bao buns, to jerked spatchcock chicken and even fried chicken feet. Each to their own…

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My new favourite!

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I opted for one of the veggie dishes – BBQ pineapple stuffed with Hawaiian rice, chilli, sesame & soya and it was delicious. No complaints and I would definitely have it again.

If you didn’t manage to get down this year, I would highly recommend going next year, especially at night where you can listen to some of the guest DJ’s and bands.

Give these guys a follow!
@Kingputts

Keep up to date with my latest adventures – @abonnietravelersinsideguide 

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Birthday Celebrations at Stobo Castle

I had the most lovely birthday weekend ever – thank you so much to everyone for all your kind wishes!

I usually hate celebrating my birthday, I always put waaay too much pressure on my self to do something different and fun and then there’s all the stress of finding the ‘perfect’ outfit… I really hate shopping, it’s my worst nightmare!

Anyway, this year I decided to just invite the girls round for some home-made sangria and prosecco (and lots of it). I love hosting parties and decorating the house, laying out all the crisps and nibbles and decorating the drinks with fruit and fancy umbrellas. I really wish I had taken some pics of them all, they were so cute. Afterwards, we headed down to my local, Angels, for some more prosecco and gin. It was such a fun night!

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Queue the hangover from the fiery depths of satin’s lair…

I woke up on the Sunday to find out that I was being whisked off to the spa of dreams – Stobo Castle. The ultimate hangover cure!

I have been a few times before and can honestly say hands down, it’s my favourite spa that I have ever been to.

Nestled in among the scenic Scottish borders, about an hour and a half from Glasgow, city centre. The luxury spa is set in an old, rustic castle with beautiful architecture and history.

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Once checked in, we headed to the Courtyard Lounge for some much needed lunch and refreshments. We were told that the courtyard had previously been converted from stables, this explains the horse statue at the back of the room.

The courtyard itself, was such a lovely place to chill out, with so many places to sit and relax it would be easy to spend all day there reading a book, drinking coffee or if you’re waiting on a treatment… or two!

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I kept hearing lots of screams and giggles coming from the Ladies court yard toilets. Ha-ha, girls you have to check them out!

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The piazza-style bar and coffee shop hosts a wide selection of hot and cold lunch options and amazing cakes. I opted for the soup and sandwich option along with my favourite green tea – Flora Tea. I always order this, it looks so pretty but it tastes even better and it’s super healthy.

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Lily Fairy‘ – Jasmine: Calming, good for the digestive system and kidneys
Lily: Helps to ease and give restful sleep, good for the liver and eyes

Although we didn’t book in for any treatments it was really nice to wrap up in robes and relax by the pool and enjoy the use of all the facilities. It’s impossible to not feel relaxed here – with a wide range of saunas, steam rooms, Jacuzzi’s, 25 metre pool and relaxation room, it’s just spa heaven.

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The relaxation room was definitely a favourite, the room is so tranquil and calming (minus the fellow snoring guests who also felt the same way).

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Our room was a ‘Standard Room’ over-looking the pool area and just across from the new cocktail lounge which offers over 30 different cocktails – Ideal!

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Side Note: If you’re a fellow gin lover, you have to try the ‘Gold Gin 999.9’ – Our waiter recommended it and it’s now my new fav. It’s mixed with juniper, tangerine, violets and a few other ingredients, it smells and tastes incredible! 

The room was really spacious, elegantly decorated with quirky Scottish touches and our bathroom was huge, with a large shower and bath along with a selection of beautiful Molton Brown products. The bed was so comfortable and everything was so clean, zero complaints! (Excuse our messy room).

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The food was also incredible – so good I forgot to get pictures ha-ha! Breakfast had a really lovely selection of hot and cold food. Really fresh pastries, meats & cheeses, overnight oats and berries, as well as an array of hot plates… and great coffee.

Lunch and dinner are both a three course menu. (Breakfast and lunch can be enjoyed in the comfort of your robes and slippers whereas, dinner is slightly more formal wear).

Before lunch on Monday afternoon, we wandered down to the beautiful Japanese Water Gardens, located about a five minute walk from the castle entrance.

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Designed to promote a zen-like calm, it is absolutely stunning. With beautiful towering trees and picturesque bridges leading you to the gorgeous water fall, you’ll feel completely calm and relaxed.

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My only criticism (and it’s a small one), was how busy the hotel was – the pool and saunas were exceptionally busy making it a little less relaxing at some points.

Overall I had a fantastic stay and would absolutely recommend the hotel for anyone visiting Scotland.

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Road Trip: Glen Etive

I had the best Easter weekend EVER!

It was so lovely to have a few days off from my busy work schedule to go and explore some more of Scotland. I started off the weekend climbing Conic Hill up in Balmaha and then climbed Ben A’an the following day. Finishing off with a road trip up to Glen Etive – it was so much fun!

Prepare yourselves for all the spam but the views were truly breath taking and we met the friendliest wild deer.

Glen Etive is just slightly past Glen Coe, situated in the Highlands. Popular with visitors seeking out the famous James Bond’s Skyfall and Braveheart film location, you can follow the route along the river Etive which then leads into a sea loch, Loch Etive.

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It’s roughly a 2-and-a-half-hour drive from Glasgow so stock up on snacks and sort your road trip playlist out! I recommend ‘Disney’s Greatest Hits’. If like me, you’re super dis-organised for these long trips, there are plenty of shops and restaurants on the way to stop in at. We chose to pop in to the Green Welly Stop for some much-needed coffee and sugar. They have a cosy little café where you can get just about anything from soup and a sandwich to burgers and pasta along with a little gift-shop and outdoor shop if you find that you’ve forgotten some of your hill-walking stuff…. Guiltyyy!

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We had planned to climb Ben Starav, which sits on the south side of Loch Etive, however, we struggled to find it and decided to follow a few of the trails along the river. Only to later discover the path to it was DIRECTLY across from where we had parked… Haha, I need supervised.

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The drive up was incredible. It’s hard to believe these views are just 2 hours from Glasgow. I was desperate to get some pictures of the Skyfall film location and feed the deer, who are so tame and friendly (as long as you have some food – we brought carrots).

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How cute is this guy?!

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One of the best things about the day is how much there is to see but also how quiet it is. Whilst we passed a few cars on the road, feeding the deer, the trails and walks were completely empty. Meaning we could take as many guilt free selfies as we wanted haha!

We stopped into Helensburgh on the way home, just as the snow was coming down… in April… I know! We headed into La Barca, a tapas restaurant, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I would highly recommend it and can’t wait to go back. Just what we were needing and the staff couldn’t have been nicer! I had the stuffed pepper with paella rice, vegetarian paella and the calamari. Soooo good!

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The famous James Bond – Skyfall road

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I have to give instagram.com/aaronspencee credit for the slightly more ‘professional’ looking photos haha. Every gal needs a pro with a camera on these trips.

 

Ben Arthur’s Bothy

Ben Arthurs Bothy

It’s not often I get to say this, but the weather was amazing in Scotland over the weekend. It was still FREEEZING (obvs) but the sun was out, and everyone was absolutely buzzin’.

And what better way to enjoy the weather than with a hill walk and a trip to the pub?!

After spending the morning walking from Inveruglas to Arrochar, we stopped in at Ben Arthur’s Bothy.

This little gem of a pub offers the most beautiful views over Loch Long and onto The Cobbler. With a 4 star rating on Trip Advisor and raving reviews from the locals – I was keen to see what they had in store.

Ben Arthurs Bothy

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From the outside, it doesn’t look like much but as soon as you step inside, you are hit with some spectacular views. They also have the option to sit outside and enjoy a pint or bite to eat. I was told they sell the best soup but was disappointed to discover it was pea and ham – my friends got stuck in though and it did smell AMAZING! It’s your typical pub grub menu, they did have a few vegetarian options but not loads, so I opted for the vege burger. Which I have to say, is one of the best vege burgers I have ever had! The portions were massive as well, just what you’re looking for after a long walk.

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Decking area for Ben Arthur’s Bothy
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Views over Loch Long with The Cobbler in the background

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I would highly recommend Ben Arthur’s Bothy to anyone passing through Arrochar. The staff are so welcoming and friendly, the prices were more than reasonable, and the food is insane! They also cater to private functions, have live entertainment on throughout March to September and have a pool table and plenty of TV’s for anyone wanting to watch the football.

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Hi dad!
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Sunday’s hillwalk