Glenlee: Glasgow’s Tall Ship

Glenlee reflected in the Riverside Museum
Glenlee reflected in the Riverside Museum

Glasgow’s Tall Ship, Glenlee, is berthed outside the Riverside Museum. Both are free, and make a great day out – especially when it’s bright and sunny as it was last Saturday.

Glenlee has had a chequered history since she was launched at Port Glasgow in 1896. She has also been known as Islamount (1899), Clarastella (from 1919 when she was sold to an Italian company) and Galatea (from 1922 when she was sold to the Spanish navy as a training vessel.) In 1992, she was purchased by the Clyde Maritime Trust who brought her “home”, restored her, including her name, and opened her to the public in 1999. She’s been at the Riverside since it opened in 2011. Last weekend, the Glasgow Gathering of Quilters had an exhibition of work inspired by the Clyde – it’s still there till Friday if you hurry.

I last visited the Riverside not long after it opened and wrote about my impressions then. This time, there was less pressure to see everything and we just wandered round the bits that caught our eye. We had a tasty lunch in the downstairs café at the start of our visit (fish and chips for him; vegetable balti for me) – there’s also a more casual place for snacks upstairs and a coffee shop on the ship, so you could easily spend the whole day there. The Riverside won the European Museum of the Year Award 2013 – it’s well-deserved.



Halifax and Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia


(For more photos, see my Nova Scotia Pinterest Board and John’s photo journals.)

Halifax is just over an hour’s flight from Montreal. We arrived on a balmy Saturday evening to find the Tall Ships in town. After a stroll along the waterfront, we ate Thai in a lovely little restaurant called Gingergrass just a few doors from where we were staying, the Waverley Inn. This is a place of Victorian charm, built in 1866 and a hotel since as long ago as 1876, but still very comfortable.

The next morning, we set off to walk around town and were just in time to catch the changing of the guard at Government House.


This was only the first bit of Scottish culture we encountered. At the Citadel, there was a lot more. Nova Scotia is obviously a whole lot more Scottish than we are back home! I wasn’t sure if I wanted to visit the Citadel – I’m not really interested in army history – but because there was so much live action I enjoyed it.


We found a great place for lunch – the Wooden Monkey, very near the Citadel and specialising in organic food, humane meat, gluten free and vegan dishes. I had a delicious chickpea salad, and the beer was good too. (So far, we’ve tried beer from three Halifax breweries – Alexander Keith, Propeller and Garrison – including blonde, amber and IPA – what a brilliant place to stay!)


Afer lunch, we did some more strolling and ended up in the Public Gardens, which, according to the guide book, are considered to be the finest Victorian city gardens in North America. I can believe that – they were just beautiful, and as an added bonus there was a band playing because it was Sunday afternoon.


After that, it was back down to the Waterfront to look at more Tall Ships before heading back to the Inn for a rest before dinner – pizza at Piatto with more beer and a free dessert because our pizzas were ready at different times. Thanks guys!


On Monday, we drove down the coast to Peggy’s Cove, a lovely little fishing village with a much photographed lighthouse:




For dinner, we returned to the Wooden Monkey because we liked it so much the first time. And that is the end of our brief stay in Halifax. We’ll have one more night here at the very end before we fly home, but for now we’re off to Annapolis Royal.

Riverside Museum, Glasgow


In the 25 years I have lived in Glasgow, its Transport Museum has had three homes. The latest move is to the purpose-built Riverside Museum, opened earlier this year and designed by Zaha Hadid who has just won the RIBA Stirling Prize for another building, a school in Brixton. There are some good pictures of the museum on her website and also on the city council’s site. We’ve been waiting to go until we thought the novelty had worn off and it might be less busy, but it was mobbed this afternoon – Glaswegians do love their museums, which is a very good thing. Despite the crowds, however, we managed to see most of the exhibits and were there for over two hours.

So what’s the verdict? Positive, on the whole. I like the wavy shed of a building, although it’s not to everyone’s taste I know. Although I felt the exhibits were a little cramped, and were basically the same items I had seen before, there were definite improvements – the vehicles were enhanced by more social exhibits, particularly those from the city’s costume collection which doesn’t have a home of its own. The period street has been extended and you can actually go into the shops and cafe instead of just peering in the windows. Here’s one end of the street with the Dalmarnock tram:


I’m not so sure about the wall of cars – they look good, but when you are close enough to read the captions, you can’t see the cars they are referring to:


The museum is situated at the point where the Kelvin flows into the Clyde. Berthed outside is the tall ship, Glenlee:


There’s also a good view up the Clyde to some other Glasgow landmarks:


From the left, the brick building is the old Pump House, now an Indian Restaurant with karaoke. Next to that is the curved Clyde Auditorium, commonly known as the Armadillo. The tall building is a hotel and behind that the Squinty Bridge peeks out. It also has an official name, but no self respecting Glaswegian would use it so don’t try asking for directions via the Clyde Arc, you’ll probably get a blank look. Across the river are some flats, and the final building on the right is BBC Scotland.

I have always thought Glasgow didn’t make enough of its riverside compared to other cities I have visited, but in recent years that has begun to change and this museum is a very welcome addition to its attractions.