Archive for June 2005

castle weekend: part II

One question we get asked a lot here is why we moved from Vancouver, city of glass and mountains, to Aberdeen. Aside from my job, I think pictures like this explain it perfectly. This is just 20 miles south of here, a was taken from the grounds of a castle.

I’m sitting drinking a pint of Murphy’s, watching the internal waves settle in my glass [1], and feeling the heat radiate off my face. Summer has finally arrived here, although it was raining on my way to work this morning, and an afternoon meeting held outdoors caught me without sunscreen. Still, even red-faced (literally) there’s something rewarding about time spent outside on a weekday. And fortunately it’s not that bad a burn and will fade within a few days.

Summer here really is summer too. Last friday I was at a party that ran into the wee hours. At three I looked out the window and realized it was morning – and walked home at four feeling disorientated. The streets were empty and quiet, but the light was telling my brain it had to be morning. I forget how far north we are, 57 degrees. Cory was up in Shetland this weekend too, 60 degrees, so my few hours of darkness can’t compare with his [2].

[1] I am excusing this with the note that at least a couple of people who frequent here will think this part of drinking stout is as cool as I do.

[2] I almost wrote ‘pales in comparison’ which is not only a bad use of cliche, but actually incorrect. As it’d also be the second bad use of a pun in this entry, it seemed worth editing.
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castle weekend: part I

We spent the weekend with H, our first guest and another Vancouverite who made the move east. She’s been living just outside of London for a year now and there was lots of chatting about restaurants we miss, new things we love, and why we’re all glad we took the chance. I’m not sure I’d have had the courage to make this move on my own like she did – so I’m a wee bit in awe that she’s made the leap by herself. It was nice to share stories with someone who understands our cravings for all-you-can-eat sushi or office hockey talk. But it’s also great to talk to someone who’s enjoying life where they are now. It’s a strange thing, to love where you came from but be happy to have left …

As this is castle country, and we had a limited time to show H what makes Aberdeenshire great, we settled on a castle-themed weekend. There’s no shortage of fairy-tale tower houses in the area, all with dramatic furnishings and family portraits, but there’s also atmospheric ruins perched on cliff edges overlooking the sea. I can’t imagine living in either type, and I find it hard to mentally transport myself back in time. I’d really love to see a castle that’s been redone to look like life in the 1600s. How damp & cold would it have been? Smoky? Cosy? Magnificent? Revolting? Where would any ancestors of mine found their beds (and why do the guides never really tell you what it was like to be a servant)?
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rainy weekdays

The question is: do rainy weekdays make for drier weekends? We’re hoping so, because we’ve had a wet start to the week, on top of being rained out of camping last weekend (fortunately rained out before we tried the camping part), and I’m crossing my fingers for a dry Saturday and Sunday.

We’re just back from a quick pint at the pub (how we love British culture). One of the best things about this island is the real ale, rotating taps at our local pub, so we’re always trying something new in a comfortably familiar setting. It’s not as much a local as Cafe Barney was, we don’t really know the bartenders yet, but it’s a great place. Part of the problem in meeting people is that our accents mark us as tourists rather than residents – so people assume we’ll be heading out the next day. It takes a while until people recognize that we’re living here, but when they do, it’s great. Our butcher asked me where I was from yesterday, and then asked “so are you married to that guy that’s also from Vancouver?”
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an amazing almost weekend away: part II

Glamis Castle

Waking up at home on Sunday morning wasn’t really the plan, but it did give us the opportunity to drive up the coast (gorgeous!) to Fraserburg to visit the Scottish Lighthouse Museum (which has the worst website ever, Cory’s quite upset by the site’s dubious quality). Anyways, the museum is fabulous and we spent almost four hours watching old BBC documentaries, looking at the large collection of optics, and exploring the lighthouse itself, which was built into & on top of an old castle. It’s definately a homage to excellent engineering, and I was worried for a bit that I wouldn’t be able to get Cory to leave…

This week’s been the first week of summer here (the first week without rain too) and we managed to sneak out for a 20km bike ride this evening in the farming country to the west of us. The hills are rolling, the roads are twisty, and the traffic is light. It’s pretty close to cyclist heaven when the weather’s good and we’re both very excited about exploring further.

In fact it’s been a great week. Yesterday after work I went over to the Ferryhill House Hotel with a colleague and her two kids. It’s a pub with a patio overlooking a playground – so the perfect place to have a pint and watch them play. Cory’s just enjoying the fact that his foot works – so all in all, we’re in a good mood these days.

an amazing almost weekend away: part I

Edzell Castle

So the plan was to drive down to Stirling and camp for the night. We’d found a campground just outside the city, we’d found a book on Scottish city highlights, and we’d packed a car.

We made it as far as Edzell by 10 am, when I had Cory pull off the highway to visit the ruins {1}. By 3pm we’d just finished touring Glamis Castle, and were now realizing that at this speed we’d be better off heading to Perth, only a wee bit down the road. Once there, the heavens opened and we decided that rather than camp in a pond, we should make for home. However, this didn’t turn out too badly, as we stopped for dinner at the fabulous Lairhillock Inn (the advantages of renting a car) and slept soundly in our own lovely bed. If we’d made it as Stirling, we’d have had a long drive home, or a expensive night in a chain hotel, suggesting that sometimes slow and steady does pay off.

{1} In Edzell this weekend was a festival for the Society of Creative Anachronism, which seemed to be a lot of people dressed up in polyester fabric cut to medieval styles. Since I’ve now seen both {2}, I’d have to say that we’d have felt more comfortable at a star trek convention (which isn’t saying much).

{2} Note that the last, and only, time I was at a trek convention I was about 12. I say it wasn’t my idea to go, but he’d probably say otherwise.