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A cool summer visit to Aberdeen and Glasgow

Phil and Sue Newdick continue their travels in the UK and Europe, here on a trip north to Scotland . . .

Leeds to Aberdeen — 560km in a comfortable ScotRail train, and settling into our well-appointed accommodation, used up most of the day. We were very impressed with this city: the streets are tidy, the buildings well-kept and we were sure the weather would improve . . . it was summer, after all.

The early daylight and long evenings were very noticeable even with daylight saving. We had daylight from 4am till 10pm and the further north we travelled, the longer the days became. The weather seemed to be taking a turn for the better, but Aberdeen proved it was only an illusion.

Aberdeen summers can be chilly — we had one day where even the warmth of the locals wasn't enough to offset the effect of the cool North Sea wind. Intrepid tourists that we are, we scuttled back to our warm lodgings for shelter. If the summer is any indication of their winters, the Scottish people are truly hardy souls.

There are many points of interest in Aberdeen, mainly historical, but there are very few of what we would consider “touristy attractions”.

The economy in the area is centred mainly on the North Sea — the fishing fleet is comprehensive. Aberdeen is also the base for a lot of the North Sea oil exploration and production. All of which is dependent on the hardy souls who man the fishing boats and service vessels for the oil rigs. The economy is bouyant, and the locals are generally well off and very friendly.

Aberdeen's buildings incorporate locally-quarried grey granite, which can sparkle like silver because of its high mica content. It's a very attractive, low-maintenance building material.

We had intended to head further north and maybe visit the Isle of Skye, but the train line to Inverness and Skye was closed.

Glasgow 'a very walkable city'

Added to the cooler temperatures, this helped us to decide we had travelled far enough north, so we headed south to Glasgow.

Back on to ScotRail for three hours and a bit travelling south to Glasgow, we were finally able to convince ourselves that we were indeed substituting our winter for summer. Considering the short distance we had travelled, the temperature change was quite remarkable. Reassuringly, it seemed warmer than what we had left at home. We couldn't agree with the Glaswegians that it was a heat wave but at least we were able to shed some layers of clothing.

Glasgow is a very walkable city. It has few hills, our accommodation was central and we were able to take in most of the sights on foot.

One disappointment was that the People's Palace and the historic Glasgow Green had been fenced off with security fencing. There was to be a concert there and the mammoth task of fencing such a large part of the city involved a lot of work over an extended period of time.

The museums and points of interest here were more plentiful than in Aberdeen.

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was quite the experience. Interactive displays included the very eerie hanging heads. Along with the expected historical artefacts was an almost continuous show in the main foyer of multicultural song and dance. All this was topped off with an enjoyable lunch at a very busy cafeteria. It would seem that even the hardy Scots prefer to spend their leisure time in warmer places.

The short climb up the hill to the Glasgow Necropolis — a Victorian cemetery on a low but prominent hill to the east of St Mungo's Cathedral — proved well worth the effort. Fifty thousand individuals have been buried here. They were all strangers and didn't really interest us, but the views of the cathedral and the area were excellent.

The day we visited the University of Glasgow a wedding was being held there and we witnessed the happy couple being piped on to the campus. A Scottish ceremony with all the trimmings — so very much Glasgow.

The next day was another travelling day, this time back into England and on to Liverpool, which was on our bucket list for an altogether different reason. This will be revealed in our next chapter.

CENTRAL ABERDEEN: Union Street, Aberdeen with the Mercat (market) Cross in the foreground and behind it the impressive neo-gothic Town House and its west tower which is a dominant landmark in the city.
MARITIME MUSEUM: Model of a North Sea oil platform at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum. The museum tells the story of the city's long relationship with the North Sea.
SERVICE VESSELS: North Sea service vessels moored in Aberdeen Bay from our apartment window.
COUNCIL HQ: Marischal College is a large granite building in the centre of Aberdeen and since 2011 is headquarters of Aberdeen City Council. It was constructed for and is on long-term lease from the University of Aberdeen. It provides corporate office space for council services. Many Aberdonians consider the College to be an icon of the 'Granite City'.
LINK TO THE NORTH SEA: Aberdeen Harbour on the River Dee. Although deeper and larger, it is of similar design and construction to the Gisborne Harbour.
CHURCH AND STREET ART: St James Church with an example of some of the street art to be found in Aberdeen.
CENTRAL GLASGOW: The Tollbooth Steeple was built in 1626 at what was the meeting point of the main streets of Glasgow. The 38 metre steeple is all that remains of the original Tollbooth buildings. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city and was repaired in 2008 after cracks were discovered in the structure.
Kelvingrove: The Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery was opened in 1901. It has stunning architecture and a family-friendly atmosphere.
HANGING OUT: The 'hanging heads' exhibition at Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow.
ANCIENT UNIVERSITY: The University of Glasgow was founded in 1451 by papal bull. It is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland's four ancient universities.
VIEW FROM THE NECROPOLIS: Glasgow’s St. Mungo’s Cathedral from the Necropolis.
ST MUNGO: The famous No. 287 High Street Glasgow. Note the incredible detail of Saint Mungo and his hyperrealist robin.
George Square: Named after King George III, and constructed in the early 19th century, George Square has many statues . . . but although they named it after the mad King, Glasgow's city fathers saw no reason to immortalise him.