Let me take this opportunity to reassure you that my silence this past week hasn’t been because Charley and I were wreaking untold havoc on the city of Aberdeen, but simply because I couldn’t bring myself to blog while we were there. I actually took a fairly considerable holiday from the Internet — I didn’t disappear entirely, but I neglected a lot of the sites I usually frequent, which is unusual for me.
I’m sure you’re wondering how we spent our time in Aberdeen, but even if you’re not, you’re about to find out anyway.
So it turns out that Aberdeen is really really far away. Okay, I already knew this; last time I went there we travelled by car and actually stopped overnight just over the border into Scotland, because we couldn’t do it all in one go. I spent the journey writing in the backseat of the car. This time, we went by train, and man, my butt was numb as anything by the time we got there.
Leaving aside the time spent getting to King’s Cross in the first place, we spent seven and a half hours on that train up North, and we were all too aware of it.
Aberdeen welcomed us with rain, because that’s what Aberdeen does. It wasn’t heavy, and we only got slightly lost on the way to our B&B, but when we arrived we were definitely glad to have got there. I was even more glad when greeted with the news that they would be able to cook me gluten free sausages for breakfast. RESULT.
Of course, we needed an evening meal, so we headed down to the nearest shopping centre and found a restaurant to eat in: Ask Italian, a place that rapidly became our favourite restaurant in Aberdeen. It’s aesthetically lovely, with a nice colour scheme and a high ceiling and a good amount of light. They have plenty of gluten-free food, and the staff are nice. Super nice.
Case in point: the waitress serving us on this first occasion, on whom I rapidly developed a hugely pathetic and hugely gay crush. Seriously. I ended up writing a note on a napkin to the general effect of I like your face and handing it to her with the money, then leaving the restaurant as rapidly as possible because I was embarrassed. If I lived in Aberdeen I’d probably have asked her for her number, but alas, I’m from 550 miles away.
I left my email address, but she hasn’t emailed me. Imagine me crying pathetic gay tears. Voila, you have an accurate impression of my mood.
The next day we headed up to Old Aberdeen, the area where the university is located and the part of the city with which I’m vaguely familiar. It’s got some lovely old architecture, as well as the slightly odd glass cube that is the university library. It’s meant to look like granite, the design on it, but it looks more like green bacon or something. Seriously. What an odd place.
While we were there we checked out Kilau Cafe, which plays a fairly important role in The Knight Shift (the novel I’m working on that’s set in Aberdeen). It still had most of the key aspects that I’d described, including a piano in one corner, and tongs for sugar lumps when you get a coffee, but it lacked the colourful teapots it had last time I was there. Alas.
It was fun to go there again, and to think about the various scenes I’ve written and how they related to my surroundings. Plus I could point out to Charley, “This is where Ani met Peter…” and similar things.
From there we went on to the beach. It wasn’t desperately warm, but when the sun was out it was pleasant, until the wind blew sand too abrasively across our faces and left us pink-cheeked. I took off my tights and boots and demanded of Charley that she should take photos of me ‘looking like I’m in an indie movie’, so she did.
By the time we got back to our B&B that day we were shattered. Turns out Old Aberdeen is actually a fair walk away from where we were staying, especially because we didn’t exactly take the most direct route. Plus we’d walked along the beach (always hard work) and generally got a lot of exercise, all after getting up earlier than I have in weeks to take advantage of breakfast. So we sort of collapsed in a heap, and were still exhausted the next day.
But Saturday promised the best weather of our time there, and we’d made plans. We took a bus about fifteen miles out of Aberdeen to Crathes Castle, a sixteenth-century castle owned by the National Trust of Scotland. I’m absurdly middle class, so I have National Trust membership, and that meant I could get in for free; Charley had to pay, though, so I bought us lunch.
As we walked around I began to seriously feel like I was turning into my parents. Going on holiday and immediately seeking out the National Trust properties in the area? A sign of impending middle age, surely.
The inside of the castle was plenty interesting, and we liked the turrets (everything in Aberdeen has turrets, seriously). I was also excited by the gardens. I have this obsession with taking pictures of flowers — detailed close-ups for the most part — and I like to take plenty of them on holiday. As a result my external hard drive is packed full of the things.
But Crathes Castle had some lovely flowers and I just couldn’t resist photographing a bunch of them.
That was our most major outing of the holiday, and in fact we were so tired the next day that we declared it a ‘chill’ day and spent it wandering the shops (mostly bookshops and charity shops that sold books) before settling down to watch Mr & Mrs Smith in the evening; Monday passed similarly, largely because I was feeling pretty unwell by that point. I think I ate something I shouldn’t have, but I don’t know what it might have been. The joys of having a bunch of allergies / intolerances.
So that’s a fair summary of the most interesting parts of the week, although I might share with you some more photos soon. How did you spend this weekend? If you’re English or from somewhere else with a bank holiday on Monday, did it rain on you, or did you manage to find some elusive sunshine? Let me know in the comments!