A short while in... Glasgow

My long while away from the internet over the last two weeks involved a short while (in the form of a stop-off on the way to Islay, the island I grew up on) in Glasgow, a favourite city of mine.


I complain about Bristol, the city I live in, a lot. So much so in fact that Benjamin is always prepared for the donning of what he refers to as my 'tartan-tinted spectacles' whenever we go to Glasgow. I can go on for hours about how much better it is, how much more is going on, and how much happier I feel when I'm there. It may just be that everyone in restaurants, cafes and buses can understand my accent, but there really is something about Glasgow. It is sometimes said to be the friendliest city in Britain, after all.

I find it to be a city you have to learn the ways of before you can really start appreciating it. There are unwritten rules: Always say thank you to your bus driver, always be prepared for a stranger to start a conversation with you (it's like New York in this respect (and only this respect)), and remember that the best places to go are often hidden away but are always full of people satisfied in the camaraderie of having found them too (Byres Road's back alleys are a good place to start). There are places that you learn to avoid of course, as you would with any other city, but the good places are so good that they don't get boring even after you've visited them a thousand times.

Such a place is the Botanic Gardens, plonked peacefully at the end of the busy bottleneck of Byres Road, with its vintage shops and retro cafes. I'd been there a few years back and was fairly sure that it was free to get into. Unusually for any British public attraction this century, it still is.

Fish Pond
Botanic Gardens' tropical plants


The Victorian Kibble Palace was originally built in 1873 and is one of the last remaining of these beautiful iron and glass structures. Its two open spaces are filled with tropical plants, statues, delicate ironwork and towering banana plants. In the summer you can escape the rain and listen to it pelting on the glass roof, but the palace is at its best in the winter, when you can buy a takeaway coffee on Byres Road, walk to the palace and step out of the snow and into the tropics – as a girl who used to read books in her mother's greenhouse at the height of summer, I love it.

Mothers wheel their babies in buggies, students pore over books while sipping lattes, couples cuddle on benches, looking to the sky, while others quietly argue - the atmosphere is like a library in the jungle, if that is imaginable at all. If not, I would say you should just go and visit for yourself.


  1. Friendliest city in Britain? Wow! I've never been to Glasgow but would absolutely love to. I adore the accent, haha!
    Those plants are beautiful The water-trappers are especially fascinating.

    x Michelle | thefeatherden.net

  2. The first photo is my favourite. I do love the phrase 'tartan-tinted spectacles'! Have a great trip home.

    Arianne from A + B in the Sea

  3. ooh im so happy to see pictures of the glasgow botanic gardens on your blog! i had a fantastic time there (only discovered the byres rd/gardens area the last day of my trip unfortunately but i guess its an excuse to go back to explore more)
    thanks for reminiscing good times :)
    ps : i took exactly the same picture as your first one, now i regret not posting it :)

  4. Woah, fantastic photos -- you're really talented! I will definitely have to check out the palace whenever I get around to visiting Glasgow :)

  5. Beautiful photos! Have you ever thought of moving back or is that not an option?

  6. Jane - funny you should ask that - I think about it pretty much all the time! It might happen one day, but at the moment it's not an option. It's strange though, I was so desperate to leave Glasgow when I was a teenager!

  7. your photos look so lush and green!

  8. I'd love to go there! Your photo's are great. What I wonder is if you would ever want to move back to Islay? What's it like? It sounds magical :)

  9. Beautiful photos. I really enjoy visiting botanical gardens. I wish Kew was free like that!


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