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2016/06
Sunday 19th June, 2016
Category: 2016/06
Tags: Scotland

When I was living in the UK, the main criteria for any holiday was that it be to a place with guaranteed sunshine. Now that I actually live somewhere where it's possible to don shorts and sunbathe in winter, and where blistering summer temperatures find me lurking in the shade, I can afford to take trips to cooler places. Now it so happens that the sister has a rather big birthday coming up this year and one of the things she wanted to do was to take a long train journey somewhere scenic. So with this in mind we hit on the idea of a trip to Aberdeen, Scotland.

I really love spending time with my sis so I wouldn't really have cared where we were going; three days of uninterrupted giggling and silliness would be perfection by itself.

We got to St Pancras deliberately early (after a 40 minute journey standing sardined with the other commuters on the tube) in order to have a look round the station itself. I'm not any kind of architectural expert but I always love St Pancras station. It's so light with its enormous glass ceiling, and a delightful mix of intricate detail on the old original buildings and quirky newness dotted around such as the pianos where anyone can sit and tinkle the ivories while waiting to travel. What photo have I selected to show? Uniformed bobbies waiting to 'welcome' the arrivals from the Eurostar trains.

Having toured St Pancras it was a quick hop, skip and jump across to Kings Cross (a bit like a living game of Monopoly) which I only recently found out is the site of platform 9 3/4 to Hogwarts. There's a brick wall there with Harry Potter's luggage trolley halfway through it and a long line of people paying to have their photo taken posing by it.

The ceiling in the station is an eye catching huge dome of white metalwork lit up in purple and edged with large sheets of glass.

As we stood there waiting for our platform to be announced we noticed a complete river of rain sheeting down the glass panels; a sign of things to come.

The seven hour train journey passed some beautiful scenery, especially from Newcastle onwards as the train followed the coastline into Scotland. It was very cool to see the sign at the side of the railway marking the point at which you cross the border. Well, I'm easily pleased.

The last hour or so of the journey was quite foggy and we arrived in a damp, grey granite city. Our hotel, the Ibis, was just along from the station and overlooked the harbour. A quick plug for this hotel because I really couldn't fault it; comfy, great food, staff meeting all our needs and of course the great location.

After a quick rest we pulled on the waterproofs and went for a walk down towards the beach with its long esplanade and sandy beach. Here's the brave sister doing a great job of looking happy despite the weather.

The funfair made us laugh but for all the wrong reasons - none of the rides were working. It was almost a Banksy Dismaland! The only escape from the rain was in the amusement arcade where we lost several pennies on the machines and then had a mad game of air hockey which could have lasted all night as the machine kept returning the puck well after our money had run out.

Day two began with mega buffet breakfast and then we headed out to see the sites. Incredibly the rain was even heavier and didn't let up for the next 24 hours. We caught a bus to Duthie Park where there's a really big winter garden - how delicious to wander round in warmth surrounded by tropical plants!

Of course we couldn't stay there all day so we once more stepped out into the rain, firstly to look round the rest of Duthie Park and then to get another bus to the north of the city. I think our logic was that it was better to do the outdoor stuff today and save the dry indoor things for the next day so we wouldn't be soaked for the train journey home. It was such a shame about the rain as there was another huge park (Seaton Park) along the river which was really beautiful but it was hard to tell what were the intentional lakes and which were just areas of flooding. The swans enjoyed their extended area though.

Back at the hotel we couldn't get the hot air heater working so the hotel gave us a portable radiator. Toasty warm with sopping clothes drying everywhere we ordered hot tomato soup and chips and cosied up in our beds watching some of the dozens of episodes of Coronation Street my sister was trying to catch up on.

Amazingly the next morning the rain had actually stopped! All our clothes were dry (apart from mouldy socks) so after leaving our bags behind the reception desk we headed back down to the seafront to the old fishing village area of Footdee (pronounced Fittie). The houses are little stone cottages arranged along little alleyways, each with a large wooden hut in communal green areas. With all the flowers, ornaments, little benches and brightly coloured woodwork it was an absolutely fascinating little place to wander about in.

Back in town we visited the maritime museum and the Tolbooth museum which used to be the city jail, before catching the late afternoon train back to London. The better weather meant we had much clearer views of the many beautiful beaches, inlets, little villages, rivers and bridges on the way home.

The poor weather certainly hasn't put me off Scotland and I'd definitely be up for another trip there to see more of the beautiful scenery (though one sunny day next time wouldn't go amiss!)

 

 

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