Posts Tagged ‘Aberdeen’

28
Dec

The Farthest North Ever!

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Monday, 28 December 2015

The North SeaFishing Boats

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Twelve.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me … A Lifetime First …the opportunity to go farther north than either of us had ever been before!  Parts of Alaska are farther south than we were, today!

We left the lovely Newburgh Inn and headed truly due north.  Kyle battled extreme winds all day as he drove and was amazing behind the wheel. Our first milestone stop was in Fraserburgh. If you look at a map of Britain and notice that there are two bulges on the northeast side … the top one is a summer time-only trip, and we hope to do that someday.  The second one is where we were today!  Aberdeenshire, the county in that corner of the world, is wilder and rougher than most parts of Scotland we’ve seen.  With the wind we dealt with today, it even seemed more exposed and untamed than the parts of the Highlands we’ve visited in the past.  No big hills or mountains … just fields and crags … and at the end of the road north: The North Sea.  The town of Fraserburgh seems to be mostly a world of boats and fishing.  I think we saw every type imaginable of businesses having to with boats. And so many boats in relatively small spaces that it must be like a game of Tetris at the end of the fishing season, to get them all safely situated like what we saw today.  But, the highlight of the adventure was the Kinnaird Head Castle Lighthouse.  Built in the 16th century for the Fraser family, the lighthouse was added to the castle in 1787. Unfortunately, the information we had found online was incorrect, and the place was not open for tours today, after all.  But, we enjoyed a self-tour of the outside and the grounds … which included a fairly up-close and personal look at the cold North Sea.

Without traveling far to the west, there is no farther north we could go, so we turned and headed back south, but this time along the coast, instead of up the center of Aberdeenshire.  That meant a slightly smaller road and the ability to take a detour for milestone number two: a dip in the North Sea!  Not our whole bodies, of course; I looked it up and that water was 9 degrees centigrade, today.  But, despite the temperature and the wind factor, we found ourselves a lovely little beach in a tiny town called Cruden Bay and I put my fingers in it!  Mandalyn was even braver–she was hell-bent on putting her foot in it and dunk that foot, she did!  Another bucket list item checked!

After that we attempted a visit to the ruin of Slains Castle, but realized after a long and lovely, if not windy walk, that we were not even halfway there!  And, the second half of the walk was going to be across a wide-open, wind-swept field of tall grass …did I mention it was cold and windy? There was some photo-taking from afar and the satisfaction of achieving at least some of our goals for the day. We walked back to our car and quickly found a lovely little hotel pub that was open (today was the banking holiday for Christmas and the last of a four-day weekend for many Brits) for a drink and a snack before continuing south to our overnight stop in Dundee.

Dundee proves to be a big enough city that finding a quaint little hotel like we prefer was nigh to impossible without more expertise on the area. So, we found a lovely Doubletree by Hilton that incorporates a beautiful old manor house as its bar, restaurant and administration offices. Dundee has a history of being one of the top producers of jute in the world and in the mid-nineteenth century when that industry was in its heyday, one wealthy mill owner built this place for his bride.  It became a hotel in the 1930s and though it has seen many changes over the decades, it’s beauty is respected and maintained.

We took a brief trip into the little suburb of Invergowrie and visited a couple of spots, one for dinner where I had a nearly perfect plate of haddock and chips, and the other just for a pint.

Tomorrow, we’re headed in to our favorite big city in the world:  Edinburgh. It feels like going home.

~MB

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

27
Dec

Stirling Castle and the Dog Tap

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Sunday, 27 December 2015

The Queen's Chamber

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Eleven.

We began our day with a lovely breakfast at the Royal Inn and Ivy in Bridge of Allan. Then, we loaded up the car and headed back to Stirling for what is arguably the best castle visit in Scotland. Stirling Castle was new to both Kyle and I when we were here on our honeymoon in 1995; neither of us had ever been there before. But, now, we can hardly imagine a trip without a visit there.  Stirling has done such an exemplary job of presenting the property in ways that are both fun and classy.  The educational exhibits are beautifully well thought out and executed. Visitors of all ages can be equally entertained at almost every turn.  Costumed guides within the perfectly renovated Royal apartments add a touch of realism and enthusiasm that cannot come from reading signs or listening to the audio tour, however wonderful both might be.  The fabulous Great Hall, painted in “the king’s gold,” and the way it practically glows on the top of that hill.  The whole place– with all its crazy wonderful history, is just amazing. We do not know if there are further renovations in the works, but we have seen some amazing transformations in the twenty years since our first visit.

Among the more remarkable projects undertaken at Stirling Castle was the recreation of the Unicorn tapestries.  Over the course of the last decade all seven of the tapestries have been completed, and are now hanging in the Queen’s Bedchamber of the castle.  This is the first of our visits when we didn’t have talented weavers to watch and to talk with while they worked.  Instead of the onsite workspace, now one finds a lovely exhibit outlining both the tapestries and their meanings, and the processes involved with recreating them with painstaking detail. A lovely addition to the castle experience.

It was with great difficulty that we pulled ourselves away from Stirling this afternoon to make the drive we had planned.  But, daylight is short this close after solstice and we had miles to cover.  So, we piled back into the car leaving a couple of sights unseen … until the next trip.

In the meantime, we had a bucket list item to attend to!  We love to visit breweries … our readers of the KRuMB will have long since figured that out.  And, today, we made it to the brewery responsible for Kyle’s favorite beer:  Brew Dog (Punk IPA, for those keeping track of such things). We had hoped to do this on our last trip, but the brewery was in the process of moving their production site, so they were not open to visitors.  This time, we had a green light to go and the time to do it at this point in the trip.  We don’t have an advance booking anywhere until the 29th, so the Aberdeen area for tonight was as good a plan as any.  In fact, Kyle and I have never been up in this little corner of the island, so we’re quite pleased to be seeing a new part of Scotland.

The drive went smoothly, although the second half of it was after nightfall.  We stopped in Forfar (the little city where Kyle had his first kilt made) for a late lunch right around sundown.  We were looking for simple pub grub, but what we found instead was a Sunday Carvery where we had our choice of turkey, ham, or beef (or any combination thereof), veggies, potatoes and desserts!  A tasty meal and plenty to provide us a base for our next stop.

The Brew Dog Brewery is actually located a little bit north of Aberdeen in a town called Ellon.  We found it easily and popped in for a pint …or two. The tap room is actually a very nice bar in its own right … the Dog Tap. We ordered a round and Mandalyn, who had been emailing them about tours, chatted up one of the girls and the next thing we knew she was bringing us safety goggles and vests and we were headed into a staff only zone.  We literally passed through an airlock system of two doors to enter the place where the magic happens.  Normally, I would say if you’ve seen one brewery, you’ve pretty much seen them all.  But, even though all the common elements were there, this one was different.  It’s really big, for one thing.  And it’s really super clean, for another.  And, there is awesome art everywhere you look!  It was a delight for all five senses, and we were thrilled to be there.

The tap room was closing at nine, so we finished our last pint at about 8:30 and headed to the hotel Kyle had found for us online:  Newburgh Inn.  We’re sleeping in the most comfortable bed we’ve seen in over a week. The shower was great, too!  And breakfast isn’t until nine in the morning, so the fact that we stayed up until way past midnight watching the fabulous U2 concert from Paris shouldn’t affect our tomorrow too much!

~MB

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,