Friday, 5 October 2012

Aberdeen: Mostly the North Sea

Life seems to move at a much faster pace than I’m able to blog! We’re currently based in Berlin, where we’ve taken a flat on the Badstraße for two months. We’ve been here for two days, and already our vacation in Scotland is becoming a happy memory while we adjust to the excitement, and culture shock, of living in a new country.

When I last wrote I was still recovering from a fairly stressful journey up north. Fortunately our friends Pippa and Andy took such good care of us that we were able to recover not only from the train journey but also from the preceding seven weeks. New baby? Stressful. Moving? Stressful. Finishing a degree? Stressful. You get the picture.

Pippa and Andy don’t live together, but they both live really close to the North Sea which meant we got to spend a lot of time feeling like we were back at home (ocean! island!). On our first day we walked along the beach, allowing the fresh sea air and the crashing waves to help ease our stress away. It was so wonderful and it really helped me deal with the amount of homesickness and displacement that I’d been feeling since Walter’s birth. 

 After our walk by the sea we went to Pippa’s place in Footdee, a quaint little area where the fishermen used to live. We had a very quick and delicious lunch of pasta before heading out to the University of Aberdeen Library wherethe Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were arriving to officially open it. En route the light drizzle suddenly turned into a torrential downpour, so heavy that we didn’t think we’d make it to the Queen-spotting, but it fortunately turned into just heavy rain which mean that as responsible parents we felt OK taking Walter out into it. I couldn’t see Her Majesty over the crowd when she arrived, but we decided to take shelter for twenty minutes, find a more effective way of protecting Walter from the rain, and return in time for her exit. We had success! Using the mei tai Walter was safely tied to David’s chest and then encased in goretex, and the rain drove off most of the spectators so we got a front row view for the Queen’s exit. It was really weird seeing such a familiar face in person—and yes, she really does look little and sweet waving from her car. We were very pleased to note that she & Walter wore the same colour choice (blue & white).

That evening we attempted to light a peat fire in Pippa’s fireplace, but the wind and rain were picking up and became so heavy that they interfered with the chimney and our fire kept turning into a smoldering, smoky mess. By the time we left that evening the wind was blowing so hard that ceramic flower pots were being tipped over and roof tiles seemed to be coming loose. I fell asleep to the sound of the gale winds lashing the rain against our window. It was bliss.

relaxing at Pippa's
The next afternoon Pippa took us on a walk to Girdle Ness, giving us a chance to see the North Sea in the aftermath of the gale. The waves were high enough to remind us of Long Beach, and there was foam at least a foot deep along the beach. We spent a long time watching the waves crash against the lighthouse, trying to pinpoint the moments the spray would come over its top, and discussing whether or not we’d want to be out in a boat at that moment. We then walked along the beach, Walter, Pippa & I sticking to the cliff top where we could take his pram and David going on a small path by the water. Unfortunately we were unable to locate each other at the designated meeting area since the path he was on never connected with the path I was waiting at (I found some ruins and had to go exploring!) so there was an anxious period of waiting and worrying that he’d lost his footing on the slippery rocks followed by a wonderful rush of love & and relief when he found us. 

After an afternoon of exploring we were ready for a sizeable dinner, so we went to Pippa & Andy’s favourite Indian restaurant, Nazma. It’s won a bunch of awards and the food really was excellent. I am also perhaps biased to approve of any place that serves my mango lassi in a pint glass! David and I split chicken korma, chilli & garlic lamb, coconut rice, and garlic naan. Walter joined in with a bottle of milk, and he even obliged us by sitting in his pram for awhile so that we could enjoy a meal together. It was the perfect end to a lovely day.

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