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Glasgow has more parks and public gardens than you can shake a stick at - it's not called the "Dear Green Place" for nothing.
Having previously reviewed one of our favourites, Pollok Park, I thought I would turn my attention to the park we visit most often; Queen's Park.
Queen's Park hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons last year and it was closed to the public for several weeks. It was missed massively by the local population, and fears that the people would not use the park following the incident were completely unfounded, when they returned in their droves following its reopening.
Queen's Park is situated in the Southside of Glasgow and the avenue of trees at its main entrance are a continuation of Victoria Road. The park is not, however, named after Queen Victoria as many assume, but after Mary Queen of Scots. It is an historical site and was the site of the Battle of Langside back in the sixteenth century.
It's a reasonably large park at 148 acres and is surrounded by a fairly densely populated residential area so it bustling with activity all year round.
So what is in the park?
***Pond*** - a small nature pond with ducks, swans and other wildlife and a larger pond which is used for boating and model boats on occasions. Being in close to proximity to a local Indian restaurant, the ducks and swans seem to be extremely well fed as they are regularly indulged with leftover rice and naan breads. The downside of this practice is that this does seem to attract seagulls as well.
***Play Areas*** - two children's play parks are situated within the park; the larger of the two is near the boating pond and can be very busy on a sunny day. It is fenced and is supposed to be a dog-free area. It was revamped in the past couple of years but can be prone to minor vandalism/graffiti and groups of teenagers hanging around later in the day. It has climbing/swings/sliding apparatus and has some equipment suitable for very young children. The small play area, situated to the east of the park, has just been renovated and is a bit more limited in what it provides.
***Poets' Rose Garden*** - a very well maintained area of rosebushes, benches, paths and commemorative plaques. A place for quiet contemplation or a good place to sit with a sandwich and a book.
***Flag Pole/Viewing Point*** - at the highest point in the park, superb views of Glasgow and way beyond with an information stone giving details of the points of interest that can be seen.
***Pitch and Putt*** - a small pitch and putt course - only open during the summer months.
***Bowling*** - a well kept bowling green, just turn up and have a go! Also open on a seasonal basis.
***Tennis*** - all weather floodlit tennis courts, open all year. Last time I checked it was possible to book these in advance, but I don't think racquet hire is available.
***Picnic Benches, Lots and Lots of Grassy Hills*** - loads of space for your little darlings to run off all that excess energy. The park is well used by dog-walkers too and, I'm pleased to say, that the evidence (or lack of it!) seems to suggest that the majority of these are considerate and responsible. Park rangers do patrol on both foot and by van to ensure the park remains a safe place for all users.
***Squirrels*** - lots and lots of grey squirrels. They are so used to people that it is possible to hand-feed them (I just hope that they aren't allergic to the Mini Cheddars that they nicked from us last week)
***Farmers' Market*** - held twice a month on the first and third Saturdays of the month.
***Formal Gardens*** - beautifully kept flower beds and immaculately maintained lawn areas.
***Allotments*** - these do not have public access and I believe there is a considerable waiting list if this is something that interests you.
It is, however, when the weather is inclement (which does happen now and then in Glasgow) that Queen's Park really does come into its own.
The Glasshouses within the park are a superb FREE facility which is open 7 days a week and on public holidays. They can be very busy on rainy Sunday afternoons and are a great meeting place for parents with small children.
Within the Glasshouses you can find the following:
* Display houses with exotic plants, succulents, cacti etc
* Reptiles, insects, birds and rodents - our favourites are the huge iguana and the cuddly-looking chinchillas
* Koi Carp and HUGE goldfish - until recently they shared their small pond with two ducks, but one day recently the ducks just upped and offed. There are "Missing" posters all over the park but they still haven't been spotted yet. Fugitive ducks; who'd have thought it?
* Toilets and baby changing facilities
* A café serving hot and cold drinks, snacks, ice creams, lunches etc
* A small soft play area for under-fives with lots of seating and tables. Although they have a café adjacent there are no restrictions to bringing your own drinks/snacks/picnics to this area. There are a couple of highchairs available too.
* A separate seating area with comfy sofas which only permits supervised children. I found this a handy breastfeeding "station" when out and about and a good place to sit with a book when our girls were small and slept in their pram.
* Special Events - Arts and Crafts sessions run by the council during the school holidays (normally free), Santa's Grotto with a small gift for all children (donation box for charity), Easter Animals - rabbits, chicks, lambs, hens, guinea pigs, a Highland cow and calf, bantams etc, and the Hallowe'en Night to name a few. There are regularly posters up advertising upcoming events.
* Enclosed picnic area outside the Glasshouses which are restricted to dogs on leads only.
The Glasshouses are open from 10am - 4pm, but close at 3pm on a Friday. It is possible to hire them as a venue for weddings and other events.
Queen's Park certainly seems to have a dynamic and proactive management. Besides all this there is the family friendly Southside Festival, a two day event held in May with live music, art, sports and a plethora of other activities devised to "celebrate the cultural diversity and community spirit" of the area. It attracts thousands of people, regardless of the weather.
And if there is a downside - Queen's Park does have a reputation of not being the safest place to venture after nightfall. But then that could really apply to any secluded, dark area of any major city.
In summary - a well used and well loved historic park in the Southside of Glasgow.
The park features a great range of sport and recreational facilities, along with a boating pond and smaller nature pond, glasshouses, aviary and pet house and more.