Myself and Gigi have just taken a little trip to Scotland. A wee break. We met up with my little sister who lives there. This is a very big journey for a short flight- first time for me to fly with a child on my own and first for Gigi to fly with me alone. Betsy is staying with her Daddy and Nana this time but that will never happen again… this is very rare Gigi and I solo time.
What do you do in Aberdeen with a three year old for twenty four hours? I wasn’t very worried as Gigi is easy to please but I was definitely curious. I live in constant FOMO on the quirkier, different spots when travelling. I love to find a film location, writer’s inspiration or an unusual eaterie. In this case Google didn’t really help and gifted me with a mixed attitude to Aberdeen in general. I have a soft spot for Scotland, so I knew I would be biased towards liking the city where my sister has chosen to live for this time of her life- and I was right. So the Internet isn’t always a perfect guide…but you knew that. Right?
Aberdeen is the City of Granite. This makes everything look quite similar which I loved. This has the effect of streets looking like an oversized village in many areas and the granite also gives the city a clean, consistent look. The franchises don’t overtake you with their urban sameness. Instead, you see buildings before you see branding.
I love that. Outer Aberdeen is a hotchpotch of tower blocks, residential areas and parks pivoting around one large street- Union Street. We had booked a hotel which transpired to be in the student area. It being the Easter holidays, the area was not busy but full of older folk having their vittles out. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed. This area was exactly the sort of place I go for.
Having met my sister, who looks amazing (Scotland suits her), we immediately headed for Books and Beans.
She knew this place was right up my street. Breakfast in a bookshop. Not just on the side of the shop, away from the shelves of dreams but immersed deep within the leaves. In fact Tea and Leaves would be a super name for another branch of this type of perfect tea house. This restaurant is not just a sideshow to the food either. There is a full menu with plenty of choice. This isn’t just a gimmick.
Hungry as we had travelled early, we got a fruit scone and a bacon sandwich. My sister had the pancakes. Gigi had toast also. We had bacon with everything. Upon ordering, Amy felt like Chico Marx, adding two boiled eggs to every order, in our case bacon. It is hard to get used to not calling rashers, rashers, but when in Rome. Bacon.
A trot around the shops was called for at this point and I could spend many hours browsing all Aberdeen had to offer. Gigi’s little legs were not up to that however so we carefully selected our spots, with breaks. The key player in this section of our trip was the Disney Store. Amy let Gigi select her birthday gift as Gigi will be four at the end of April. This was a real treat. Disney stores like to have fun areas such as mirrored walks, or a movie playing and it was here I breathed a sigh of relief. Gigi had asked several times what princess she might meet in Aberdeen (when you are a three year old girl you judge a place by the quality of Princess encounters on offer) and I had tentatively mentioned a possibility of Merida, for which the store kindly obliged An Easter Egg hunt also took place instore where Gigi won a Moana poster. This was very timely as Gigi had selected a Moana costume and necklace as a gift. Amy also got me a birthday gift- I will be turning a mere thirty eight soon- but my present comes from the Disney Store embracing my Peter Pan Syndrome fully. A crazy look cup from the insane world of Alice in Wonderland for the near forty year old. Betsy was currently having a trip with her Nana, whilst we drowned in Disney, but this didn’t stave away my feelings of missing her. Therefore guilt and love bought Betsy a cuddly Thumper.
As lunch time happily began to tick-tock our way, it was to be a trip to Cup where afternoon tea is a must. I liked the possibility of such a delight as a treat for us all, and several options were joyfully available.
A rare occurence- I was still quite full- I didn’t go for whole hog. Myself and Amy each selected the light lunch on a slate which consisted of a small bowl of homemade soup, quesadilla and a mini slice of Twix traybake (Twix in a cake! Hurrah). Perfect. We treated Gigi to the children’s afternoon tea which delighted her. Toasted sandwiches, a chocolate dipped strawberry, a piece of Nutella pancake and a triangle of baked confection all looked charmingly sweet on the elegant cake tier. She only ate the sandwiches and strawberry but we wrapped up the other pieces to satisfy a sweet tooth later.
This is a lovely restaurant, very busy, with a pleasantly bright interior. The staff were quite helpful, if extremely overworked at times. I recommend booking ahead here. There is an Alice in Wonderland theme very delicately inferred in the actual restaurant but fully expressed in the hallway walk to the toilets. Once again Gigi got to announce her sighting of ‘a celebrity in the toilets’ thanks to the colourful murals in Cup. (See The Miracle of Jenny’s Kitchen for news on previous amazing sightings). A few days later, Gigi would happily announce to Nana that she had now also seen Alice in Wonderland- in the toilets- in Scotland.
Time to rest meant getting a good look into our hotel. Certain criteria was in my mind when I less than carefully booked- centrality, cleanliness and price. For £77, in the heart of Aberdeen, with basically good reviews, the Aberdeen City Centre Hotel looked as if it would be perfect. On first glance, I didn’t think much of it as it looks more like a hidden hostel. You ring a bell, get buzzed in, travel down two sets of stairs to a small reception. Staff are extremely welcoming. We were brought to the room which transpired to be more than satisfactory. Clean, airy, good air con system, a good bed, modern and with chocolate mints on the folded towels. Great wifi. Complimentary bottled water. Quiet inhouse. A buffet breakfast with everything you could need. I would definitely come back here. There are small touches such as the flowers in the window that make this hotel more than nice. When you are with a little girl, you are running on their hours- which is lovely. We had baths, watched part of the The Smurfs and played with new toys. I read a little. My syster and I caught up. Nap time in the hotel then for an exhausted little lady who barely opened her eyes at my attempts to wake her for dinner. This dinner was special as we were meeting Amy’s boyfriend for the first time. The beauty of a three year old is that they are not looking to impress- totally the opposite- Gigi was quite dour after her sleep. It took forty minutes, a large juice, a snuggle with Peter Rabbit and some good bread and butter until she was ready to be social. We went to a local Italian for some good comfort eating, talk and a glass of red for the adults. Gigi and I got some lovely time to talk and cuddle. She thoroughly enjoyed one to one time with me. We were off the next day, back to Ireland after our short sojourn.
Time for one more quick coffee break before flying home- this time Jojos drew us in. This is a cafe with a speciality in hot chocolate, advertising even an Easter Egg hot chocolate. Wow! Having had quite a bit of the sweet stuff the day before, I chose no chocolate drink but instead a brunch of pancakes with a good coffee. Gigi ‘needed’ a ham sandwich. She eats really well for me but it makes me laugh when picky-eater-eighties me (ham sandwich lover) pops through occasionally. Amy tried a lovely looking Raspberry Iced Tea. I can testify that it was delicious.
Overall, our time in Aberdeen was delightful. It mainly revolved about strolls and food, shops and sit downs- which was grand for a change from the regular city ‘walk your legs off’ break. I worked around Gigi. We may not have museumed or checked out every church and edifice. It was somewhat relieving. I did plaque spot though- check it out. Does that count as site seeing? We returned home to the rest of the family. It felt we had been away for years.
Amy’s boyfriend you ask? He gets my vote.