Thursday / Friday 31 August / 1 September 2017 – Aberdeen, Scotland.
El and have been considering a visit to Aberdeen for a while, finally rejecting the idea to add this to our planned trip to Edinburgh when mum visits us in September. One of the reasons for going to Aberdeen was to meet El’s Scottish family and see the places El visited when her parents were alive and living there.
Sadly one of those relations, El’s aunt, passed away last week after a short illness. El managed to visit her in hospital last week, so fortunately she got to say goodbye.
We are going up for the funeral on Friday morning, not a reason we envisaged for paying our respects to the Granite City. To compound things, my mum arrives at Heathrow on Saturday afternoon so we cannot even stay for the weekend. Seven and half hours on the train on Thursday, repeated when we return to London on Friday. Fortunately I quie enjoy long train rides.
We left London mid-morning. I must admit I actually enjoy train journeys in the UK, though fortunately so far I have never been on a journey of any distance where I have had to stand up. Being in first class also helps a little too!
I always try to take a few photos out of the window as we go, usually unsuccessfully; too many reflections and too much track side furniture getting in the way. Reflections aside I was quite happy with these two. I love rail side England; all the rolling hills, the fields of wheat, the grass, the farrowed land.
My favourite part of the journey north is once we have passed by Berwick and the train runs up the coast to Edinburgh, watching the sea always excites me, and it is what I miss the most living in London. Sometimes just seeing it is enough; though I did get this photo sort of wrong. Virgin should clean the windows of their trains.
We arrived in Aberdeen late afternoon, after what had been quite nice weather on the way up, it was cloudy and the rain came as we walked to our hotel.
We did not do a lot after checking in. The plan was to walk around the immediate area, check out some of the sights, absorb a bit of Aberdeen atmosphere and then have a meal and a quiet drink. The rain put paid to that. We walked about a hundred yards up the road, found a nice cafe that was open for evening meals – and a bit of street art. We retired early and watched TV in bed. Dinner was good, but boy, Aberdeen competes with London on prices!
The rain broke overnight and Friday started nice and bright, a shame that we had a funeral to attend. It was a small affair at the nuclear bunker-like Aberdeen crematorium. El’s Aunt Margaret had no children and there was not a lot of the wider family left. It was a short and gentle farewell.
We had a few hours before the train back to London, so after some quiet post funeral chat with other family members El and I check out of the hotel and went for a walk around. Back in the spring Nuart came to town and there was a bit of street art added to the grey granite walls of central Aberdeen. I had taken a look at the map before we left for our walk, but didn’t really expect to find much of it as it seemed quite scattered. Surprisingly I did find some as we went; so here are some pieces by,
The wonderful Hera, half of the Heracut duo,
And some from artists that remain unknown.
Nice, I love coming across street art in different towns, I know a number of these artists are well represented on the walls of London, but that makes that familiarity even more special.
There are a lot of churches in Aberdeen, and I mean a lot. It seemed apparent that a lot have been converted into very un-Presbyterian dens of iniquity. Maybe the church needed the money. Bars and casinos seem to be the main theme. I am not a religious person, but found this lack of respect for these old buildings a bit of a shame. Maybe it is just the cheapness of the frontages I hate.
We had a good walk around, I liked Aberdeen, I loved the dark grey graniteness of the town, I liked the feel of the city, that it isn’t flat, there are alleyways and steps and it is not all square and straight and ordered. I would love to have explored more and to have had some time to understand its history and its famous characters.
Returning to the hotel, we picked up our bags and headed back to the station for lunch before getting on the train for the return seven and half hour journey. I confess to spending most of the journey slumped into my seat, listening to music and drinking red wine. It passed quite quickly.
The return had the same photographic opportunities as the originating journey.
With a stunning sunset as a bonus!
We will be back.