Episode two in my ‘probably only going to be three’ 🙂 series of Glasgow’s hidden gems is mainly about parks. Well, almost wholly about parks and what you can find in them. Glasgow, surprisingly enough for anyone who has visited here, has more parks than any other European city. Why this is surprising is that it just doesn’t seem like a ‘park’ kind of city. It is a big, dirty, historically industrial city. It really cleaned its act up in the two decades since it was the European City of Culture in 1990. But sadly the Global Financial Crisis has hit it hard and there are lot of boarded up and under-maintained buildings around. And Glasgow has always had a litter problem, one of it’s unhidden ungems! 🙂
But I digress. Maybe because of its industrial past, as a way to give people a place to escape to, there are parks everywhere. And in these parks you’ll find lots of hidden gems. Victoria Park has a fossiled forest, Pollok Park has stately Pollok House and the Burrell Collection, hardly ‘hidden’ gems, but it also has the stable for the City Councils team of Clydesdales (you know, the really big horses). And Glasgow Green has the People’s Palace and Winter Garden. Now, again these are hardly hidden gems, they can be found in most guide books. But they are kind of hidden because I think they are under-valued. The Winter Garden is basically a huge greenhouse filled with plants from all over the world, a peaceful haven 10 minutes walk from the city centre. And the People’s Palace is a museum that tells you all about the social history of Glasgow over the past 100 years or so. It is fascinating to experience how tough life was in Glasgow if you were a have-not. As recently as the 1960’s whole families lived in ‘single ends’, basically a kitchen with recess for a double bed. The kids slept on a trundle bed that rolled out from under the main bed and a whole block of maybe 16 single ends shared a single outdoor toilet, or cludgie.
But the real hidden gem in today’s episode is Tollcross Park, a park in a pretty rundown part of the city. Within this park you can find a stately old building, a huge rose garden shaped like a rose (the picture doesn’t do it justice!), another winter garden and a children’s farm with a funky statue of a heilan coo (highland cow). The children’s farm was really interesting cos it was mobbed and it made me realise that kids who spend their lives in the inner city can quite possibly never see these kinds of animal for real, something that we generally take for granted.
Oh, and a real hidden gem about all of these and most of Glasgow’s museums, galleries etc is that they are free to enter. Hundreds of years ago some really insightful city elders decided that art and culture should not just be for those who could afford it. So they placed a statute on the city by-laws that means that city-provided cultural facilities must be free for all to enter.
Now, as a special treat, here is a final hidden gem…my shop in Glasgow. 🙂