A delightful surprise

ABERDEEN didn’t really feature in my plans. It was the day I had to get there (to get the ferry to Shetland) if all went wrong the day before and I didn’t make it. Otherwise, it was filling in time until the ferry set off.

Well!! I filled in time but how happily! First impressions when arriving by bus were terribly depressing. It is such a grey place. The locals say it is the granite which even sparkles after it rains (it didn’t rain so I don’t know) … but really, grey is grey, is grey. But the colour starts and ends with the buildings, although the architecture itself is quite interesting for most of the civic buildings. Houses are fairly uniform in the city. The B&B was fine – another firm bed but good pillows!!

The people were so friendly everywhere I went. And it was such an interesting place to spend the day. Early on I discovered the library: free internet access – 15 minutes only and so slow I got the grand total of one email done. But the library was next door to the Art Gallery.

The Art Gallery itself is a beautiful space and so light I’d have thought it a conservator’s nightmare. But to visit ….. Mostly Scottish works – some of those typical heavy European portraits and landscapes, some Impressionist style (my favourite), and a special competition exhibition of the local artists’ society. This was really high class work. Not all of it to my taste by any means but some I’d have happily taken home!
There was also a War Memorial space that included a wall hanging that was a sympathy-solidarity gesture from the Victorian Trades Hall Council at the time of the oil rig fire disaster – Piper ?Alpha platform, must check that – about 165 people killed.

The Gallery was free and listed two other places that were also free: Provost Skene’s House and the Maritime Museum.

The House was very interesting, showing life in roughly Victorian times and a bit earlier although the house was older than that and there was evidence of it having been inhabited by Catholics at some stage …. Catholics being few and far between to non-existent north of the Scottish border, latter day immigration from Ireland excepted.

The Maritime Museum was also very interesting although my appreciation was limited because it’s an area in which I’m largely ignorant. There was quite an extensive display on the oil rigs. That is a very specialised lifestyle: one not for me – isolation, claustrophobia, high up ….. I’m shuddering at the thought!!

And there were a couple of branches of Waterstones. Limited myself to three books 😉 WHSmith has the British airport concessions. Honestly, what they sell is a good argument for not bothering to learn to read!

And so it was on to the ferry – 12 hours on the Hrossey to Lerwick.

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