It’s been almost two years since the last time Mum visited the quaint village of Stonehaven with me, so it only made sense to visit once again last month that she flew to Scotland for my graduation. Looking at these pictures brings back the wonderful events of the day and I am experiencing…so many feelings about it! Emotional that I was to say goodbye to my Mum, I am extremely pleased to have this little online diary of mine and document these precious slices of my life with my favourite people. It brings me so much joy to know that in years’ time I will look back to these posts and remember all the little details of our trips together!
Stonehaven is easy as pie to get to, about a twenty minutes train ride from the Aberdeen train station. We packed a picnic bag with peanut butter sandwiches (thick with crunchy peanut butter and liberal amounts of Bonne Maman), bananas, and, of course, a pot of Earl Grey tea, before heading out for a day of exploring. Stonehaven is a village with a busy harbour filled with sailing yachts, and it is without doubt the most beautiful seaside village I’ve visited in Scotland. Mum and I decided to take a proper tour around the beach, occasionally being threatened to be eaten alive by the seagulls (seriously, Scottish seagulls are something else!). Since we were there during the weekend, the place was quite crowded with tourists and locals, enjoying the first rays of sunshine!
Once we reached the harbour, we sat on the benches in front the beach and unpacked our picnic bag. Mum poured some tea in our yellow enamel mugs and we both enjoyed our wee break while observing people dipping into the blue water and vocalising their happiness and excitement. A brown Jack Russell run towards the boats, playfully barking at the fishermen and I somehow wished Cruzy was with us. Knowing beforehand the schedule of the day, we decided not to get him with us… see, the wee man loves socializing, but when all you want is to walk peacefully and do a bit of sightseeing, he is more of a trouble than joy to have around.
^ ^ spot the Jack Russell? ^ ^
Once our lunch was over, we decided to make the obligatory pilgrimage to Dunnottar Castle and head at the top of the hill following a pathway by the harbour with stunning views to the village.
Our first stop was the Stonehaven War Memorial, a symbol to remind the Scottish soldiers that fall during the battles of the First World War. Did you know that in 1911 Scotland’s population was a little over 11% of the UK total, yet during the First World War Scottish soldiers accounted for around a fifth of the UK’s war dead? At the Battle of Loos, more than half of the attacking battalions were Scottish and of those who marched away to war, over 1/4 did not return back home. This just shoes how Scotland has suffered losses, on a much higher proportion than the rest of the UK, which is so sad in every sense.
The Memorial is shaped in the form of a round, classical temple and names of eight First World War battles are inscribed around the crown of the structure: Gallipoli, Jutland, Marne, Mons, Somne, Vimy, Ypres and Zeebrugge. Even though, at the beginning of the pathway it looks tiny, you begin to appreciate just how large it actually is when approaching the top of the hill.
The hill around the Memorial was very crowded at that time of the day, so to Dunnottar castle we went! The castle is reached by a path between fields that leads uphill on the minor coastal road. Even though sunny, it was extremely windy (proof in the images, just look how my hair behaves), so my wind breaker jacket came in quite handy!
Precisely twenty minutes later, with loads of interval stops along the way to snap a few pictures of the clifftop views, we made it to our destination, Dunnottar Castle! The Castle’s name, meaning ‘fort on the shelving slope’ is a Scottish Gaelic description of this picturesque medieval fortress on top of a rocky hill. Unfortunately, not all the buildings have survived, and the majority of those that did are dated back to the 15th and 16th centuries, even though the site is believed to have been fortified in the Early Middle Ages!
Mum and I, sat on the top of the hill opposite the castle, mixing with the rest of the tourists, admiring the view! We tried to think and envision how people who have lived in this place looked like, how their dresses must have been and what they would be their daily habits. If I wouldn’t have been an Engineer, I’d most certainly be a Historian!
On our way back, we decided to have a little stop at the famous Aunty Bettys ice-cream shop for a ‘quick bite to eat’ before tackling our way back to the train station! But that quick bite turned into a lengthy hourly dissection of our my life, the steps I plan to follow after my graduation, the jobs I am applying for and all the freelance projects running at the moment. If you cannot linger over ice-cream by the sea, when can you, right?
We stayed there and watched as the sky grew darker, clouds rolled in, and the sun went away before decided to head back to Aberdeen!
Stonehaven, you have been brilliant and I promise to be back very soon!