Anyone who reads this Tea Towel Blog, on a regular basis, will know (a) I have several tea towels from Aberdeen (b) I am a regular visitor to Aberdeen and (c) I have a lot of connections with people in Aberdeen.
I have just arrived back from Aberdeen, the fifth visit this year, and certainly unplanned. My friend Jean, who lives in a Nursing Home, broke her leg and was rushed into hospital. At her age, a major operation is a serious business. After the operation, she was sent to the High Dependency Unit because initially her blood pressure was too low, then her oxygen saturation levels were too low, then her hiatus hernia started playing up as a result of the anaesthetic……….. I spent hours each day, sitting with her; most of the time she was asleep, sometimes she was grumpy, hating to be in hospital. They tried so hard to take blood but were never successful; those attempts frightened her, hurt her and just made it so she wanted to get out of hospital.
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary was probably one of the best hospitals that I have visited: free and easy parking, clear signage, open visiting hours, M&S plus several other shops on site, doctors and nurses willing to update you. The staff managed to encourage Jean to eat and drink, always good if you are on the road to recovery. Jean didn’t want, or need, us there all the time but she did need nightdresses, some ‘treats’ and a bit of peace.
Aberdeen with a wheelchair is very different from life without one. While I am very familiar with Aberdeen, I hadn’t realised (a) how many cobblestones there were (b) what terrible lowered kerbstones there were (c) how short a time was allowed for pedestrians to cross at the lights (d) how many steep slopes there were in the town centre and (e) how helpful people were. I soon learnt how to spot, and therefore avoid, a slope; how to walk the roundabout ways to avoid cobbles and which were the easiest lights to cross at. One day we were walking at the back of the Bon Accord Centre, negotiating the slopes, when I spotted the Aberdeen Journals shop. “That looks interesting” I thought (probably because I spotted a tea towel) and zipped across to it. And, yes, there were tea towels. The Aberdeen Journals shop sells things related to the newspaper publishers, DS Thompson: The Broons, Our Willie, Beano and People’s Friend feature strongly. This tea towel was in the window, one with the names of all the streets that I had been discovering with Liz’s wheelchair.
Right at the top is the Bon Accord Centre; Cults is where we used to go for a meal with Jean when she was fit and well; you fly into the airport at Dyce and His Majesty’s Theatre is where I bought tickets for Calendar Girls, the Musical. Shame I bought them for the wrong year. I look forward to seeing it in February 2019, rather than when I had planned to do so in 2018. I know there is planning ahead but that is ridiculous! The Gordon Highlanders Museum is always a favourite place to go but I would never do it with a wheelchair; there is a steep slope down to the museum grounds but then you face a steep gradient back up to the building. Good cardiovascular exercise leaving you with aching legs! Between hospital visits we went to the Beach Esplanade to watch the crashing waves and brave souls surfing and paddle boarding. Aberdeen seems an unlikely place for a famous beach but there is no doubt about it’s magnificence, especially with the long lines of groynes, as good as any you will see. Every day we passed the Music Hall, waiting for the renovation to be complete; there is a picture of Emeli Sande, who grew up in Aberdeenshire, on the front, supporting the work.
One of the most important roads is Queen’s Road because it was flat and offered good parking, near to where we were staying, avoiding Ship’s Row with a notorious steep cobbled hill (which doesn’t appear on this tea towel). Aberdeen is famous as the Granite City and if you want an example of what that means then Marischal College epitomises it. I love the name ‘Kittybrewster’, no idea where it came from, but my memory is of handing the keys to Jean’s flat back to some official, in the heart of Kittybrewster, at 7 o’clock at night. A bit creepy. A couple of years ago there was a Tea Towel Design competition for students at the Gray’s School of Art. I wish I had known about it at the time because that would have been a great article in the Virtual Tea Towel Museum.
Pittodrie Stadium conjures up some memories: Liz’s Dad was a Don’s fan and each visit to Aberdeen would mean a visit to Pittodrie to see if there was some suitable souvenir for him, reminding him of days of his youth.
At the moment, I am reading the books of Stuart Macbride, which are all set in Aberdeen so places like ‘Torry’ are forever mentioned. Hazelhead Park was always an easy walk from the place Jean now lives, with beautiful gardens and the memorial to those that died in the Pipa Alpha disaster about 30 years ago. Liz has so many old, black and white photographs of her parents and aunts in Duthie Park, one of the favourite places that they liked to go.
No matter how long I look at this tea towel, more and more places emerge along with so many memories. Now that’s what I call a tea towel!
In the Countdown to Christmas this is number 45!