Hello! I’m just back* from Aberdeen, where I spent a charming weekend visiting my friend Paula. The trip was bookended with late, late budget airline flights, adding further insult to the injury of not being able to afford the train. I arrived back at my london flat at 3am last night, slept on my hand causing intense pins and needles, and woke to extreme tiredness and the inability to keep superfluous information out of blog posts.
Paula used to live in Madrid, which is quite the contrast to the granite city of monied squid-humans getting rich off the oil industry and clogging up the town with exaggerated house prices and expensive cars. Did you know Aberdeen has Britain’s busiest heliport? I did. Knowledge of this fact once won me the prize of a Doctor Who mug.
Friday, once i belatedly arrived, passed in a haze of whisky, Ugandan gin, and hearty catch-up conversations with my friend and her lovely housemate and neighbours. We talked about the rise of the SNP, and (unrelatedly) the ghost of Princess Diana, and made doomed plans to visit Aberdeen’s only karaoke bar, Sing City. Later, Paula surprised me by remembering something nice I’d said, ages ago, and taking it to heart. I felt the warm glow of positively impacting on the life of someone I like. And also gin.
On Saturday we cycled up the river Dee path with another friend of Paula’s, Annabel, an anthropologist. It followed the path of an old railway line, beginning in promisingly tarmaced fashion before becoming increasingly unsuitable for non-mountain bikes, as these sustrans-style routes tend to. But we took it extremely slowly, and talked about the ghost of princess Diana (again), the future of news, and the like. We eventually made it to our destination, a fancy restaurant in a barn with views of the rocky nipple that marks the start of the Cairngorns.
Next door, a ceilidh was taking place. I peered in through the open doors, which is poor etiquette I know.
Waiting for the bus back, young kids shouted incomprehensible abuse from passing cars, and we talked about loss.
On the bus, we sat on the back seat, as if we were rebels, and sang songs from Paul Simon’s Graceland, as if to prove we were not.
On Sunday, Paula had an important meeting with a baby. While she attended to this, her lovely housemate took me off in his car for a spot of puffin**-gawping on the famous cliffs of Fowlseugh, followed by a fleeting visit to a castle, which has recently been troubled by drones. The cliffs and birds were magnificent; owing to climate change, it’s possible more drones than sea birds will soar above this coastline in a few decades’ time.
Finally, I was taken bouldering, on an outcrop of metamorphic and Quartz overlooking the sea. We were the only ones there. As an introduction to outdoor climbing after years of the indeed verts of London, it left me jealous if soberingly aware that I’m still very much a beginner.
Thanks very much to Paula and her lovely friends for a lovely weekend. You all seem very far away.
* this blog post took 10 days to finish. Mercy
** also guillemots, kittiwakes and other birds that aren’t puffins or underwhelming indie rock groups