Stonehaven

One last Scotland post (for now…I did manage one more trip to Edinburgh but that’s a ways off), and it’s all about my favorite place.

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When I found out I’d be moving up to Aberdeen for a bit, Erin sent along some information she’d picked up in her Scotland blog reading–there happen to be quite a few wives of oil workers who end up in Aberdeen blogging. She had read about a town called Stonehaven that was really close to Aberdeen that sounded nice and had an apparently amazing ice cream shop. I heard the same from people at work, a flatmate, and a Tinder date. So I figured this Stonehaven place was worth a shot. I have never been so happy that I took in suggestions. I have been really lucky and been able to go to a bunch of pretty cool places. Stonehaven is still my favorite.

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Other Scottish Cities

With whatever spare time I had while up in Aberdeen, I tried to get out and see other parts of Scotland. I had already been to Edinburgh, so I focused on other main cities. One of the conservators I was working with gave me a contact list for conservators around Scotland, so I was able to get in touch with a few of them and arrange visits, giving my travels a bit of a purpose to them.

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Aberdeen

After my stop in Edinburgh, I took a short train ride farther north to Aberdeen. Short note on the train ride: it is beautiful. The day I went, it was grey and rainy but the views you get of cliffsides over the North Sea are still amazing. Also there was a little girl sitting at a table across the aisle from me teaching her grandfather a card game and I swear to you my Scottish accent was better than hers, so all around it was a pretty great train ride.

Aberdeen is…grey. Fittingly, one of Aberdeen’s nicknames is The Grey City. More often, it’s The Granite City, because many of the buildings are made from local granite (which is why it’s so grey…). That’s all well and good, but when you arScreen Shot 2016-05-01 at 9.09.00 PMrive in Aberdeen on a typical Scottish summer day (grey, breezy, always threatening rain), it is not exactly the most attractive place. My first couple of days there, I wandered around a bit, getting my bearings. I got soggy, I was cold, and I developed a fear/hatred of seagulls. People warned me that it got dark much later in Aberdeen, since it was further north (true fact, in high summer it is still not fully dark at 10:15pm), but no one warned me about the seagulls. Blog readers, I am here to warn you: Aberdeen is full of seagulls, and they are all loud whiny assholes. I don’t know what this seagull did to get red paint all over it, but I’m SURE IT WAS DESERVED.
The cab driver that brought me from the train station to my temporary home assured me Aberdeen was very safe (“you won’t be kidnapped and sold into white slavery!” he said apropos of nothing, allaying my most pressing fears, surely) and gave me a flying tour of the city on the way to Old Aberdeen. He pointed to the North Sea, telling me that Aberdeen has a beach, but I probably wouldn’t want to go in the water. But not to worry–there’s no sharks. “It’s not the sharks that’ll kill ye! Ken what will?” he asked, with a look in the rearview mirror like he definitely had me stumped. “The cold?” I guessed. “AYE, THE COLD!” he agreed, cackling. So uh, welcome to Aberdeen?

 

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Blog Debt Forgiveness

Recently, my friend Erin has been updating her blog. Which reminded me that, oh right, I’ve neglected mine for nearly 2 years now. I really did want to keep a record of my time abroad and actually write things down so I remember. I feel bad that I have been so terrible at this.

There’s a podcast I’ve been listening to a lot, called Reply All. It’s a podcast about the internet–things you find on it, things that happen because of it, etc. Last year, they started a holiday, Email Debt Forgiveness Day. It is a day to send emails you’ve been meaning to send, reply to emails that have been sitting in your inbox for an embarrassingly long time. I don’t have any emails I need to respond to (I…think? If I owe you one, let me know), but I want to expand Email Debt Forgiveness Day. I already think it should apply to texts, Facebook messages, and the like. So I’m furthering it to apply to this blog. I have been meaning to update, but it’s always been too long and I feel stupid about it. I have to dig up things from nearly 2 years ago to write about. But it’ll just keep getting farther and farther away, right? So here we are.

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Year One All Done

Oh hi there, blog! Yes, I remember you. I knew I’d be terrible at this. Much has happened since I last wrote here, whenever the hell that was. Well, maybe not that much, but a few things! Most importantly, probably, is the fact that the first year of my MA is done. That feels a bit weird. We went to the symposium for the second year students, where they all presented their final projects, and I got a little sad about how quick everything’s going and about having to leave. But I still have a lot of time! So I need to stop freaking out and just enjoy it.

Here is a picture I shamelessly stole from my friend Kim, of our MA group. They’re pretty great.

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I had a pretty terrible end of year tutorial wherein my course leader basically thought I was grumpy, sad, and lonely. Yet somehow still enjoying London? I am occasionally grumpy, for sure, but I am not sad or lonely, and I have many of these people to thank for that. I had a lot of warm mushy feelings for everyone recently! I recall being sort of miserable back in October, not really sure what I’d gotten myself into. Sort of struggling to find my footing in London while still trying to make the most of my time here. But things have gotten much better! And I’ve met a lot of really great people–the ones above and others!–and had a lot of fun. This has included many hours spent drinking, pub quizzes, parties, museuming, etc. I feel pretty good about things. So I was a bit sad to leave London. Leave London? Why yes, I am now up in Scotland, in Aberdeen, for the month of July. I’m here for my work placement, but there’ll be more on that later, promise.

One thing that probably needs mentioning is my latest hobby, velodrome cycling. I say it is a hobby, but really it is a thing I for some reason agreed to do and am still sort of petrified of, but is fun? I have a friend here who is really into cycling. Well, I know a few people here who are really into cycling, but this one guy is REALLYYYY into it. So he races and things. And goes to the velodrome. You know, that bicycle track you saw on the Olympics where they’re riding up steep banking? And the bikes have no brakes and your feet are strapped into the pedals? Yeah, that. There’s a velodrome in Herne Hill, which is not too far from where I live, from the 1948 Olympics. It is now open to the public, and they have induction sessions on the weekend. Sunday evenings, there is a women’s-only session, which is much less crowded and stressful than their Saturday open to all session. I went one week with Kim, and while I did manage to topple over and scrape myself up pretty good, I still had fun with it, so agreed to go again a couple weeks later with two more of our friends in tow. I don’t think this is something I’ll ever be good at, and I definitely won’t be competitive in it, but…there’s something fun about it for sure. I think I like cycling, but am too scared to really ride on the streets, so having an open track to just ride along on is nice. And hey, it’s got a fun twist. As long as you don’t panic and topple over. I don’t recommend that.

Another thing I’ll mention for funsies is that I went on a boat in Hyde Park! I’ve seen people paddling around in the Serpentine, and for years had seen people in Central Park doing the same, but I never did it myself. Just before I left London, I spent part of a Saturday at the V&A with my friend Maddy. After we looked at what we wanted to see, we went for a bit of a wander, and ended up at the map shop where our friend Charlie works. She showed us around the place a bit, and then it was time for her to leave, so we ended up wandering with her and her boyfriend (also Charlie) over to Hyde Park. Someone decided we should go on a boat, and it was GREAT. I did no rowing, because I am lazy/wimpy, but it was still nice just being out on the water, especially when we got far enough away from the other amateur boaters. I feel like I can make fun of other people’s boating abilities because Charlie used to row and was very good at instructing.

So anyway, now I’m up in Scotland and it’s a bit chilly. Which is fine, I hate summer heat, but I just wish I knew quite how chilly it was going to be. Never trust a Scottish person about the weather, folks. I’m trying to avoid spending money I don’t have to buy warmer things, but we’ll see how that goes. I’ve made it one week and not been tooooo too cold. I just wish I brought a warmer jacket. All I’ve got is my rain jacket–which was a good packing choice, for sure. I feel like my suitcase was so heavy but there was nothing in it. Packing for 4 weeks is rough…

Until next time, blog! Which I swear won’t be as long as last time.

Edinburgh!

Hey guys, I went to Scotland! It was the best. My lovely friend Erin is living in Edinburgh for two years while her husband does a master’s at the University of Edinburgh. They’ve been down to London, but I needed to get myself up to Scotland. Luckily, our friend Heather decided to take a trip out this way, so we coordinated a big adventure. I’ve long had an appreciation for Scotland for basically no reason (aside from how much I like to listen to Peter Capaldi swear at people), and I’m so so happy I finally got up there.

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