Glasgow. First city of The 40 Project. I am sorry to say that my travelling north of the border is pretty limited. I have very fond memories of holidays in the Scottish Borders with my family as I grew up. And an aunt used to live on Skye, though my memories of that are more mixed (one word : midges!). I’ve also more recently travelled to Fort William, which a gang from work used as a base for climbing Ben Nevis when we completed the Three Peaks Challenge in 2010, raising £6500 for the charity CARE International. But I’ve never been to Glasgow before; something I am delighted to be about to remedy.
We traveled up to Glasgow by train, changing at Manchester. It’s a fairly long journey, but it was a pleasant one for us. It was reasonably quiet on both trains, the sun was out, and we managed both times to grab a table for ourselves. Greg had prepared a train picnic, and we munched on pâté, humus, prawns and brownies whilst admiring bright and colourful beautiful scenery – especially as we passed by the Lake District, and later through Scottish countryside.
Once at Glasgow we checked into the Blythwood Square hotel. And extremely luxurious it was too – we had a huge room with a large comfortable bed with soft sheets and great pillows. There was a large flat screen TV (which we never used in the end) and a both a great bath and fantastic shower. Plus a seating area to relax, with a small selection of magazines provided. Wonderfully quiet too. The hotel used to be the Royal Scottish Automobile club (RSAC), and the elegant decor strongly portrayed these roots in its theming.
On the first night we enjoyed the complementary spa, which was very relaxing. It contains a number of treatment rooms, such as a laconium, steam room, wet sauna, dry sauna, tepidarium, hydrotherapy whirl pool and vitality pool. A great way to unwind for a couple of hours before heading off to dinner.
We were up bright and early (alarm was set 15 mins before a normal weekday!) for a full day on Wednesday. The sun was out, and our first stop was the Botanic Gardens. We arrived quite early, and took a quiet stroll alongside the river bank and through the arboretum. There weren’t many other people around, so aside from a few passers by walking their dogs it felt like we had the place to ourselves. In the bright sunshine (we were both wearing t-shirts) it was very peaceful hour or so.
After the walk we visited the greenhouses. These were very impressive, and in particular the range of plants inside the new greenhouse complex seemed particularly wide ranging, as well as being well described. However personally I was particularly taken by display of tree ferns in the Kibble Palace. I’ve always been fond of these – we have one in our garden – and this display was truly magnificent. I could have wandered around the main room here for at least an hour by itself; perhaps in future when we return.
We had lunch at the Willow Tea rooms, in the Mackintosh designed room which really was rather elegant. I had Arbroath smokie and a baked potato, plus lemon meringue pie. Greg had the afternoon tea; an impressive selection of sandwiches, a scone with cream and jam, and a meringue with cream and butterscotch sauce (homemade, and delicious) – and a piece of shortbread saved for me for later.
After lunch we visited the Tenement House – a Scottish National Trust property which portrays a typical tenement house as it was in 1910, together with a museum covering the history of the previous owner and some historical and social context. Very interesting, and a refreshing contrast to many of the grander National Trust properties. For the final leg of our sightseeing we traveled to the Cathedral area, and visited the Provand’s Lordship, Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis. Of the three I was most taken by the Necropolis. We spent over an hour here, slowly wandering amongst its decaying splendour. It felt like being part of a gothic novel, or atmospheric computer game, and I certainly found it photogenic with lots of shapes to explore and capture in the late afternoon light.
Dinner that evening was at the delightful Two Fat Ladies restaurant. We took advantage of the much lower prices of their pre-theatre menu, and we’re thoroughly impressed. Everything we had was tasty, very well cooked and all round well executed – potato, thyme and garlic soup, smoked salmon with cucumber and soy sauce, fried fillet of bream with chowder, coley in a tomato sauce, and ginger pudding with salted caramel sauce and creme Anglais for Greg with a duo of Scottish cheeses with mini oatcakes and homemade chutney.
Alas, we must leave Glasgow with many delights awaiting a return trip – the University, Burrell collection and modern art museum at the top of my list.
Next stop…. Reykjavik!
Update – I’ve now uploaded a few photos, and created a photo journal for Glasgow.
An amazing birthday present! I hope you both have a fabulous time and I look forward to reading about your adventures and seeing the photos. Have a great time on your travels! Simon x