SCOTLAND is usually your best bet if you are after snow. But the tables were changed on the Hay family as we left the white stuff behind and headed for the dear green place that is Glasgow.
This term of endearment is the Gaelic name for this beautiful city and with more than 90 parks in the city, its certainly sums the place up.
This year VisitScotland is celebrating the Year of Natural Scotland and Glasgow is a good place to start. It’s a three hour drive from Lancashire and is a trendy place to be.
Many of the hotels and attractions have won gold, silver and bronze awards from The Green Tourism Business Scheme and we were lucky to stay in the bronze winning Hilton Grosvenor Hotel. This hotel is a perfect place to stay in the West End of the city, its just yards from the Botanic Gardens and the nearby Byres Road is a haven for trendy food and fashion shops.
Last year most of the hotel went under a major renovation. The result is tastefully decorated bedrooms (the wallpaper was lovely), comfortable big beds and luxury “smellies’. The food is a big hit too. The Bo’Vine Restaurant was packed when we visited, which is pretty good for a Saturday night in January. It’s a steakhouse, with all the meat coming from grass fed, Caledonian grown Scottish beef, aged for a minimum of 28 days.
The menu contains lots of lovely dishes and we enjoyed venison carpaccio served with a mouth-watering sloe gin, West Coast scallops and beef belly, followed by well cooked steaks, with choices of sauces and vegetables and finished off with cheese and biscuits and a delightful Seville orange pudding. Even fussy eaters Ruaridh (5) and Flora (3) wolfed down their respective green Thai curry and burger and chips. There’s also traditional and cocktail bars. Breakfasts were good too, with a wide selection of cold and hot dishes and as Ruaridh said “muffins to die for!’’
And you need a good breakfast to set you up for all the sightseeing. We were only in town for a night, so we hopped onto the City Sightseeing bus to give us our bearings. The open topped bus was a bit parky (the children insisted we sat upstairs!) but the tour gave a great insight into the city, from the historic centre, right out to the modern Pacific Quay, home to media city and Glasgow Science Centre.
The centre is home to Nina and the Neurons of CBeebies fame and its great for little people. Ruaridh and Flora were a bit sad that Nina had chosen the day to stay at home, but the hands on objects and the excellent 3 D Imax film more than made up for it. The centre has workshops throughout the day and we learned all about shiny things and how to make a hot air balloon out of bin liners (pretty cool!).
Not far from the Hilton is a real hidden gem. The Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre is housed in an old council cleansing building. Inside it’s a haven for enthusiasts. Run by Dr Malcolm Knight and Sarah Lee, it has a lovely collection of old puppets to look at in the wee team room before going into the cosy theatre. We watched a performance of The Paperbag Princess by Pavla’s Puppets. And the children were transfixed by both the story and puppets. Infact so inspired were they, that Ruaridh used his puppet unicorn to treat us to a special performance back at the hotel!
Next up was a visit to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, with 8,000 objects to see. Its designed especially to enlighten children and has a special area for them to play in. Its got art including a special collection from Glasgow’s famous son, architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, armour, stuffed animals and even a real spitfire! And its near to a park, so you can enjoy the fresh air and greenery on the way out.
And that’s what really sums up Glasgow best. A city full of parks and plenty of culture and style too!
Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor Hotel is a four star boutique hotel in the heart of the city’s vibrant and bustling West End. For more information and special offers, log onto www.hilton.com or telephone 0141 339 8811.
This year is VisitScotland’s Year of Natural Scotland, log onto www.visitscotland.com/natural for more details and to see what is on offer in and around Glasgow via the main guide.
Glasgow Sightseeing buses are hop on and hop off and a great way to see the sights and learn some history of the city. Check out www.citysightseeingglasgow.co.uk.
Fun for the children can be found at Glasgow Science Centre. See what’s on at www.glasgowsciencecentre.org
And for all the family, check out the puppet shows, workshops and children parties at The Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre, http://scottishmaskandpuppetcentre.co.uk