Sunset over Aberdeen
Since I’ve been blogging a while now and seem to have built up quite a nice little list of friends from every corner of the globe, I thought it might be nice to introduce you all to the town I call home…
I currently reside in the beautiful city of Aberdeen, up in the North East of Scotland, right on the coast. Many (in fact, most) of the buildings here are built of granite and when the sun hits them, they literally sparkle (hence the nick-name The Silver City). Contrary to popular belief, Aberdeen usually gets more hours of sunshine every year than almost anywhere else in Britain (a place renowned for its constant rain!). We also have access to North Sea Oil and have vast wind farms off the coast as well as on land, so we’ve been awarded the title of Energy Capital of Europe – rather prestigious! There are many who have decided they don’t like those giant white turbines, but I think they’re rather peaceful and to see them all gracefully turning in time is quite a sight!
I feel pretty lucky to live here, as not only do I have all the convenience of city-living, as soon as you’re out of the centre of town, it changes completely and the ‘burbs are more small-town-ish. There are many beautiful parks and lush public gardens, including the famous Winter Gardens at Duthie Park, which are almost entirely indoors in a massive greenhouse-like structure which displays plants from all over the world and the Cruickshank Botanical Gardens at Aberdeen University (we have two Universities – there’s Robert Gordon’s too) which are so lavishly beautiful I had to have my wedding pictures taken there. There is the rose garden, rock and water garden, walled garden, sunken garden and a wild, untamed area perfect for getting away from it all.
As the third largest city in Scotland, it’s surprising to find that the people of Aberdeen are still very much folks with a sense of community and one of the prettiest areas is Old Aberdeen, right next to the University of Aberdeen, which is the oldest part of the city and still has many historic buildings, including the newly renovated Town House. Strolling through its quaint, quiet streets, you’d be forgiven if you forgot you were even in a city at all. With its cobbled roads and gorgeous gardens, you’d think the central hub was miles away…
If you’re a culture vulture, we have His Majesty’s Theatre (which first opened in 1903) that plays host to the very best in stage talent from not only the length and breadth of Britain, but anywhere in the world. There’s also the very grand Music Hall, the Art Centre and The Lemon Tree – smaller venues, but not without merit, as many comedians choose to take their tour into the Frozen North and entertain us from there. And if you enjoy perusing paintings, we have a stunning collection of classic and modern art in our Art Gallery right in the centre of town, where there are often displays of local talent alongside some of the most famous pieces by grand masters.
We have a wonderful beach with golden sands, but unfortunately, it’s marred by the fact that we also have Britain’s largest seagulls which aren’t at all afraid of people and will quite happily swoop down and pinch your fish and chips rather than hunt for food in the natural way. I wouldn’t advise taking a dip in the North Sea, as you’re more than likely to freeze your tail off, but if you’re an adventurous type, there are plenty who take their jet-skis out on a sunny day.
On the other three sides of the city we have some of the most beautiful countryside you will ever have the pleasure of seeing – all rolling hills, majestic mountains and green fields, with two major rivers running through it (and through the city itself), the Dee and the Don (our football team, Aberdeen FC is nicknamed The Dons after the river closest to their grounds at Pittodrie).
Aberdeenshire has literally hundreds of standing stone circles, single standing stones and recumbent stones – if you go hiking, you can’t help coming across several all within a small area. There’s a rich Celtic history here and some of the folks in the highland areas still speak Gaelic as their first language with English as their second (our local TV station, Grampian TV, stills runs Gaelic programmes to cater for this). There are many castles, ruined and maintained – all wonderful to explore, as well as the Whisky Trail, the Coastal Trail and Royal Deeside (where the Queen stays – Balmoral!) to see.
This barely touches on the beauty of a city that literally lights up in a blaze of colour at sunset; where you can watch seals playing in the harbour and dolphins splashing off the shore. If you can’t find any beauty in this city, then you must be blind and deaf, because this is a place that has everything you could possibly want – the serenity of a country village with the convenience of big city living.
All in all, you couldn’t ask for a nicer place to live.
And before anyone asks; no, I don’t work for the local tourist board – I just really love it here, after all, what’s not to like?