Posted by: christinelaennec | January 23, 2014

Café Circa

Let me tell you about a fun place in Glasgow’s West End:  Café Circa.

Café Circa, Crow Road, Broomhill, Glasgow.

Café Circa, Crow Road, Broomhill, Glasgow.

The “Circa” part of their name comes from the fact that, as well as being a café, they sell vintage things:

Inside Café Circa:  vintage ware.

Inside Café Circa: vintage ware.

It’s odd to see things from the same era as your own childhood sold as collectables!  Although, since I didn’t grow up in Britain, quite a few of the things aren’t all that familiar to me.

One thing I bought here for a present I did recognise from my first trip to England as a teenager:  a coin box for the phone.  The first thing to explain is that even until the 1990s, not everyone in Britain had a telephone.  Michael’s family in England didn’t get a phone until the mid-1980s.  It was considered an expensive luxury rather than a necessity.  There was a call box two streets down, and in an emergency the neighbours would take messages or allow them to make a short phone call.  When we came to Scotland in 1992, people would ask “Are you on the phone?” rather than what your phone number was.

If you did have a telephone, you might well have a little coin box next to it, where anyone in the house who made a call could contribute money towards the phone bill.  Along these lines, gas and electricity was often paid for via a coin-fed meter on the wall.  If you ran out of money – no heat or light.  It’s easy to be nostalgic, but actually the good old days weren’t always such fun.

Café Circa (with my Rambling Roses jacket)

Café Circa (with my Rambling Roses jacket)

However, there I was, able to treat myself to coffee – cappuccino no less! – and a slice of ginger loaf.  (The phone box I purchased is on the table in the photo above, and in the upper right of the photo below.)

Gingerbread and coffee, Café Circa.

Ginger loaf and coffee, Café Circa.

I very much enjoyed my treat, served on vintage china.  And I enjoyed listening to the chat of people sitting nearby, as well as those coming in for take-away coffees and food.  It’s a very nice family-run café and if you’re in the area, I would encourage you to take a step back in time and go to Café Circa.



  1. What a lovely pictures of that cafe !! Never had ginger loaf but it looks yummy !

  2. You know, I reckon sitting at that table with you, me with my long black and you with your cap, sharing a piece of ginger cake, would be just heavenly.

  3. haha – i remember when we got a phone, only because my Dad was on call for the electricity Board. neighbours used to come and ask to use it sometimes and always left money for the call. I see so many things i recall being in our house now sold as vintage. xx

  4. My parents don’t get the concept of vintage or that many of their possessions are collectable! They’ve got some of that brown 1970s china like that coffee pot in the picture for example. Have you been to the Yarn Cake yet?

  5. I have read novels that mentioned having coins at the ready to pay for heating, but I did’t realize that folks also collected coins for their phone bills. I can imagine I would be more conservative in my use of both heating and the phone if I had to pay at the moment I used the service! (I ‘m glad you had a good time at the cafe, Christine 🙂

  6. What delicious looking comestibles. Cafe Circa looks like a lovely place to sit and while away a bit of time. If I ever find myself in the area I hope I’ll be popping in.

  7. I am dating myself a little here but we had a coin box for the phone, just like the one in the photo. I have also stayed in some places that took coins for hot water and electricity. That also was quite a while ago. 🙂

  8. What a lovely place, certainly my idea of heaven…..a nice piece of cake and vintage things to look at wonderful!

  9. Looking forward to seeing this cafe for real soon. x

  10. Wow, that must be a sign of the north/south divide! I was born in 1972 and although we probably didn’t have a telephone then, by the time I can remember life we definitely did and so did everyone we knew, and I don’t come from a wealthy family! I am really shocked to hear that people would ask if you had a phone line in 1992 in Scotland! Looks like a lovely cafe though and I definitely remember the coin boxes! How times have changed!

  11. I can’t se enough Glasgow photos Christine, as you know it’s my favourite Scottish city..

  12. Christine, I so enjoyed reading this today. Fascinating to learn about not everyone having a telephone, and the contribution box. And the payment of coins into the meters. Am now extremely hungry looking at that delicious ginger loaf and coffee. Yum!

  13. I love to take a trip down memory lane when I see things from my childhood as collectibles. (Wish I had saved all those “valuables”!) But you are right, time has a way of waxing us poetic when it comes to the good old days. There were tough times in those days, but time erases those memories.

    I really love those little European cafes – something I truly miss when home in the States. ❤

  14. Thanks everyone for all your interesting comments. Fascinating how different people’s experiences are, in more or less the same time and country. Oldblack, wouldn’t that be great? Perhaps someday we can have a blogging get-together by teleportation. At which point, our current technology will be “collectable”!

  15. Now I want to make a ginger loaf with icing! That looks so good!!! i managed to get to Byres Road one morning while we were over and found a vintage charity shop on the street that had been set up with as much care as a beautiful boutique. They had all kinds of gorgeous, vintage things and it was so artistically done. But I can’t remember the name…..

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