Two years ago, almost to the day, I embarked on a trip to the Scottish village where my surname originates. At the time, I wrote three narratives journaling my voyage, all of which I am in the process of editing. Below is an updated version chronicling the third and final part of that expedition…….
I concluded the second part of my trilogy of yarns from my road trip to Strachan, Aberdeenshire, describing a visit to the captivating Dunnottar Castle at Stonehaven.
After an hour or so of taking multiple photographs and starting to feel rather peckish, I left the site of the castle to head twenty miles north to Aberdeen. Here I planned a bite to eat, along with seeking out the sights of the ‘Granite City’.
As I headed north in my Vauxhall Astra, aubergine of colour and trusty of constitution, the heavens opened. Waking my windscreen wipers from their slumber, they squealed like a high maintenance child whose mum won’t buy them a McDonalds Happy Meal.
After promising the wipers a Happy Meal along with some new wiper blades when we reached Aberdeen, the noise abated. Although, that was probably just coincidental.
I had been warned that if I visited Aberdeen whilst precipitation was occurring, the predominantly granite buildings take on an even grimmer grey hue. I don’t recollect who furnished me with this detail, but on arrival in teaming rain it was clear they weren’t wrong.
As I looked for a car park in the city centre, the rain-sodden constructions made it feel like I’d stepped through a portal into a monochrome world. An environment bereft of colour, which made it feel like I’d been transported into a Harold Lloyd movie.
After parking beside a Model-T Ford in a multi-story car park, I headed toward the main city streets seeking to quell my hunger. Being unacquainted with this northern Scottish metropolis, I asked a bespectacled guy hanging from an arm of the town hall clock if he could recommend anywhere for lunch. He pointed me in the direction a café down the street. As I turned to walk towards the aforementioned café, he shouted down “Afore ye go, ye couldna get me a ladda cud ye?”
The Granite City (above)
Inside the café, I purchased a very ordinary cheese and tomato sandwich for the second day running, a bag of Mackie crisps and a bottle of water. While consuming lunch, I people watched through the water splattered café window. I felt for those caught bereft of a coat or umbrella in this deluge of precipitation; their forlorn demeanour exacerbated by their unsuitable clothing being weighed down with absorbed H2O.
Shortly afterwards, I decided to brave the elements and see if Harold Lloyd had got down from the clock face. I managed a brief walk around the city centre, captured a few photographs and sought an Aberdeen fridge magnet to add to my collection of places I’ve ventured.
However, after being unable to locate a shop selling mementoes and decreeing the weather inconducive to sight seeing, I meandered towards my car for an onward journey back to Strachan village.
On my way back, I got caught in a storm of hailstones the size of golf balls. … To be honest they probably were golf balls following a misguided attempt to shorten my journey by cutting through the Banchory Golf Club driving range.
On my return to my hotel I sat relaxing in my room, pondering whether to go back into Banchory (as it had stopped raining). After mulling this over, I decided to chill and draft a blog on my laptop.
I had a quiet meal in the hotel that evening, prior to retiring to my room to pack my suitcase for my early departure to Glasgow the following day.
After a light breakfast on day four, it was with a heavy heart I bid farewell to the Feughside Inn and Strachan village.
I arrived in Glasgow at midday following another relatively quiet journey. I checked into my Premier Inn, before heading into Glasgow city centre.
After a perusal around and taking the obligatory photos, I ventured back to my hotel to get ready to meet up with Linda (from Strachan village) and her family. I’d arranged to meet them that evening to watch a gig by her son Adam and his band at the Record Factory bar in Partick.
I enjoyed my evening out with amiable company, witnessing an impressive set by the very talented group of young men.
I’d have liked to spend longer in Glasgow. The twenty hours I spent there not allowing me adequate time to explore a city I hadn’t previously visited. From what I did see of both legacy and contemporary architecture, it definitely seems worthy of an addition to the Strachan bucket list.
On Sunday morning I bode Glesga farewell after consuming a hearty Full Scottish breakfast at my hotel. My trek back over the border to England commenced around 10am, ending early afternoon when I got back to Leeds. The journey south included cunningly circumnavigating Hadrian’s Wall, like my forefathers centuries before me.
Pipes and drums on Buchanan Street, Glasgow (below)
Well that’s the end of my third part of my trilogy of my pilgrimage to Strachan.
My three instalments may not have had the action of the Bourne Trilogy, the horse’s heads of the Godfather Trilogy, or the shark attacks of the Jaws Trilogy!…… Actually I think there was probably more than three Jaws movies!…… However, I hope it has given a bit of an insight into the journey to/from the aesthetically pleasing domain of my forefathers.
I’d like to thank Linda Luah Castle, her family and friends for their kind hospitality. Additionally, cheers to the staff at the Feughside Inn at Strachan and the Premier Inn’s at Edinburgh and Glasgow. Their warm welcome and great customer service contributed to the enjoyment of my journey.
Hopefully, I’ll be lucky enough to visit again and maybe meet fellow clan members in this enchanting part of Scotland.
2 kids who've flown the nest, 1 wife whose flown with Jet2. Born at a young age in 1960's Leeds, the author became interested in the literary life when his wife bought him a dog. Having an allergy to dogs, he swapped it for a typewriter. Being unable to train the typewriter to retrieve tennis balls, he reluctantly turned to writing...... Website - www.writesaidfred.org