I’ve always been a country kid – and was keen to raise country kids too. I wanted them to run wild, build dens in the heart of rhododendron bushes and dig up possible dinosaurs. I always thought I wouldn’t dare live in a city with kids. Until I visited Glasgow last week with a 4 year old.
Now, I don’t know Glasgow as well as I should (I know a few decent pubs…) but why it’s taken me so long to explore the extensive things to do with kids in the city is beyond me.
For a start there’s Kelvingrove Musuem – an enormous, Spanish Baroque building built in Glasgow’s traditional red sandstone from Lochabriggs quarry in the borders. You could look at it for hours, and people do, sitting on the steps eating their lunches. And inside – for a 4 year old, it’s over whelming! Thank goodness it’s free to get in – yes absolutely free – Glasgow knows how to treat it’s people. It means you can come back tomorrow, the next day, in a few hours if you can’t wait to head to the next floor to see more.
For kids there are elephants, giraffes, a spitfire, horse skeletons, turtles the size of bathrooms and real live bees. There are suits of armour, guns, swords and bows and arrows and skulls. And (why we’re there of course) pterodactyls, dinosaur footprints and even dinosaur poo. Score. What more could a 4 year old want. (A full size t-rex of course – they’re never 100% happy). But I was delighted to hear exclamations of ‘Wow’ and ‘Mum, look at this!!’ and ‘Oh. My. Goodness’ (my favourite).
There is a huge array of artwork in the upper levels; in the French Gallery , Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and Van Gogh and in the Dutch Gallery – highly renowned works such as A Man in Armour by Rembrandt van Rijn.
The building alone is a masterpiece and when someone is playing the organ in the hall as you enter, the grandeur and the majesty of the building stays with you all day.
And when the kids get bored of the museum (which inevitably they will – ‘Yeah, I’ve seen the spitfire mum, can I have ice cream now?’) the park is just a hop and jump away. Kelvingrove is in the West End of Glasgow. The university’s spire (also a building I love being near – stunning architecture) stretches in the distance and below the museum is the wonderful Kelvingrove park. A large public space with the River Kelvin snaking its way through it. It has parks for children, bridges for lovers and monuments to meet friends.
I often find cities with children to be stressful days out – and I know around Buchannan Street it can be like that (although the buskers are always good entertainment). But only a short distance out of the city centre and very much still in Glasgow’s heart – the West End could turn this country kid into a city one – if she’s not careful.
Kelvingrove – Free to get in.
Monday: 10am – 5pm
Tuesday: 10am – 5pm
Wednesday: 10am – 5pm
Thursday 10am – 5pm
Friday: 11am – 5pm
Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: 11am – 5pm
Also well worth a visit for kids:
The Glasgow Transport Museum – think buses, trains, boats, racing cars, trams, scooters. Think any kind of transport ever invented. It’ s there. Also free – same opening hours as Kelvingrove. The real ‘street’ with shops (actually inside the building) and cobbles is a fab experience.
This one on the Riverside the new version of the Transport museum – re-opened in June 2011 and designed by fantastic architect Zaha Hadid.
Places to eat:
Mother India – right opposite Kelvingrove Museum serves excellent Indian food. They do great snacks too. There is a cafe in Kelvingrove but I found it weirdly lacks atmosphere – the cafes and restaurants nearby certainly don’t.