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Issue 31 - Carol Smillie

Scotland Magazine Issue 31
February 2007


This article is 11 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Carol Smillie

Christopher Fisher meets the celebrity television personality best known for presenting BBC series Changing Rooms and more recently as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing

Tell us about your five favourite places in Scotland.

“First, Culzean National Park.

There’s a castle, beach, swan lake, an adventure playground. It’s just beautiful.

“Second, Glasgow School of Art where I studied and have evening classes now. I just love it when you walk through the doors you can smell the oil-paint. It’s a fabulous place.

“Next is House Of An Art Lover, another Charles Rennie Mackintosh building in Bellahouston Park. There is a beautiful café serving delicious food and a lovely walled garden. I use the music room a lot for photo shoots. I did my fitness video there, it’s a little bit like my extended office!

“I’m a trustee of Kelvingrove Art gallery, so that has to be on my list. As a child I entered a drawing competition there and my entry was Highly Commended. It inspired my enthusiasm for art. It’s also free, like many Glasgow museums.

Weekends with children can be a costly problem, so going somewhere like that is fantastic. The new Kelvingrove is fabulous for children, there is lots to do and plenty of interactive displays. Noisy activity is encouraged!

“I must add my husband’s restaurant, The Doll’s House, Saint Andrews. It’s virtually the first restaurant we have opened, has been running 10 years and is a success story for our family. The children love it. It looks like a doll’s house from the outside. It’s so popular, we have many varied guests there. There’s no dress code.

It’s lively and great fun.”

Carol Smillie’s Scotland

A fairytale castle perched on the windswept Ayrshire coast. This beautiful mansion, surrounded by parkland, overlooks the Clyde estuary. Must sees are the beautiful interior collections, the ice house and deer park.

Tel: +44 (0)1655 88 4400

167 Renfrew Street, Glasgow
A retreat for artists and internationally recognised as one of Britain’s top higher education institutions. With 16,00 students, 15 per cent coming from overseas, 400 staff working in the worldfamous Mackintosh Building here is a hub of inspirational activity.

Tel: +44 (0)141 353 4500

10 Dumbreck Road, Glasgow
Let ideas rush by you in the place where art comes alive.

Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1901, the design became reality in 1989. Visitors can compare the paper designs with completed rooms and learn about ongoing art-work through an audio tour. Who knows, you might bump into Carol.

Tel: +44 (0)141 353 4770

Argyll Street, Glasgow
Carol is right; Kelvingrove is the gallery for the future. Look out for a multi-sensory cinema and purpose built galleries to display the travelling collections.

Tel: +44 (0)141 287 2699

3 Church Square, St Andrews
A chic brasserie with a fresh menu, offering a blend of locally produced Scottish and French cuisine. The right place for a relaxing meal.

Tel: +44 (0)1334 477 422

Carol talks about being a celeb in Scotland

Growing up in Glasgow, have you noticed the city change over the years?

“Massively. When I was younger Glasgow had a terrible image. The Gorbals was a renowned area, with extreme poverty and depression; not safe to hang about in! It doesn’t exist anymore. The city’s regeneration started with Glasgow becoming European City of Culture in 1990. You’d fly in from London, they’d say welcome to Glasgow, City of Culture, and people would laugh. They don’t laugh any more, because the city really is an up and coming, with almost everything that London has, scaled down. The people for me are the most important, they have a great sense of humour.”

Does the city have a special meaning for you?

“Home. There’s nowhere like it in the world. It also means a warm welcoming place. I think it’s lovely to sit in a Glasgow café to just have a chat. Obviously there are certain places where to go in is asking to be recognised. Truthfully, though, I’ve never had a paparazzi snap me in Glasgow.”

Where is your most romantic location in Scotland?

“Culzean as I had the first date with my husband there, where we had our first snog! We have a cottage there now.”

Do you find the low-budget airlines useful?

“Extremely. I think in the early days people frowned on them; they were unreliable. It was the ‘you get what you pay for’ attitude, but I think that’s rubbish. Delays cost the companies.

I can’t knock them, I’ve had more delays with bigger airlines.

You may have a lounge to sit in, it’s nice being pampered but when you have to pay, you think about it.”

Do you believe in the Loch Ness Monster?

“No! A great tourist attraction but technology would have proved if it was there.”

How would you spend a perfect Scottish weekend?

“At home. I’d have a sleep-in, a bike ride with the kids through the park, a picnic and go for dinner with friends on Saturday.

Glasgow has fantastic restaurants. On Sunday a drive to the coast, fish and chips in the car with the children... great.”

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