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Published: July 20th 2016
Kings College, Aberdeen University
Opposite Crombie Hall where we're staying
Aberdeen is known as both Granite City (which most of the buildings are made of) and Grey City (which is the colour of all those granite buildings). Scotland's third most populated city, the area around Aberdeen has been settled for over 8,000 years so it has a very interesting history.
With a full day free before the conference started this gave us time to discover some of what Aberdeen has to offer. The weather on our first day was just perfect too; hardly a cloud in the sky and no sign of anything as miserable as rain which apparently Aberdeen has had a lot of recently. We soon found this out for ourselves as there was a thunder storm during the night and it rained for most of the next day which did restrict us somewhat.
Aberdeen University, where we are staying, in situated in what is called Old Aberdeen. We are in student accommodation on campus, which, like most student accommodation, is fairly basic. But we do have an ensuite room and there is room service so that's a bonus. About 500 metres walk away is where we catch a bus into the city which runs every seven
minutes, at least according to advertising on the side of the bus itself. So no complaints there.
Initially doing some general wandering around the city on Tuesday, after we'd found the Tourist Information Centre, and at the suggestion of the very helpful Heather (great name for a Scots girl!) we decided to explore the Aberdeen Maritime Museum. It certainly was a fantastic place to visit to discover Aberdeen's long history with the sea. A port city in northeast Scotland, where the Dee and Don rivers meet the North Sea, Aberdeen now has a booming offshore petroleum industry. The museum had some very interesting interactive exhibits on the historic local shipping, fishing and oil industries, plus a model of the Murchison Oil Rig and, from the fifth floor of the museum there are panoramic views over the busy harbour. We spent quite some time in the Maritime Museum before walking along some of the area where the boats were docked. It's also where the ferries to both Orkney and Shetland leave from.
After walking up the Castle Hill and through Union Square, following lunch, we caught a bus to the beach area along Aberdeen Bay. I have to admit
that I'd no idea Aberdeen actually boasted a beach but I presume that the water must have been pretty cool since we only saw one person actually swimming. But there were certainly lots of people enjoying a stroll along the promenade and spending time in a large Beach Leasure Centre there. It was a great day weather wise for such activities.
At breakfast the following day we met some more of the Dickensians who had since arrived to attend the conference before we braved the wet and caught a bus back into the city centre. With sales on at Marks and Spencer's we sought out the bargains on offer, each buying a couple of things.
Then it was off to the Tolboth Museum in one of Aberdeen's oldest buildings. The earliest parts of it date from the beginning of the 17th century and there has been a Tolbooth nearby since the late 14th century. The Tolbooth was a place where tolls and taxes were collected. But the building which is now called the Tolboth Museum was the Wardhouse built between 1616 and 1629 as a prison to accomodate those awaiting trial and punishment. The building had 86 stairs
with six rooms on three floors where, in times past, some terrible punishments were carried out. Some of those held there ended up being transported to Australia and where, I hope, they had better treatment and were able to make a decent life for themselves.
Back at Crombie Hall registration was in full swing, following which I went to see a Dickens exhibition at the University Library which holds a collection of first editions of all of Dickens fifteen novels. Very interesting. The Dickens mood is now about to take over!
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