Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…done with Aberdeen

Aberdeen’s the city where I spent most of my adult life — three and a half years at uni, six months on the dole and then, according to my CV, 12 straight months in my first adult job.

For some reason, though, it didn’t have the same homecoming feeling that Edinburgh gave me. I remember the feeling I got the first time I returned after moving to the capital, it was almost eerie, knowing my way around so well but realising that it was no longer home.

Perhaps it felt different this time because I was staying with a friend in a suburb I wasn’t familiar with, perhaps because I spent a lot of time there growing up rather than taking things in or maybe because so much has changed.

One of the main problems is that awful shopping centre they’ve built near the bus and train stations. I think it opened when I was in Edinburgh — the kind that has a load of clothes shops, the same chain restuarants you see in the same kind of shopping centre everywhere in the UK and a certain technology manufacturer’s store. On the day it opened, a Thursday, a friend sent me a picture of the centre — it was absolutely rammed. I have no idea why so many people took the day off work to go shopping, but they did. A small glimpse into the life of an Aberdonian?

The consequences of this shopping centre can be seen on Union Street a few years later. Once a thriving shopping street, the city’s main road is now full of empty buildings and horrible budget and cash-for-gold stores that reek of desparation and destitution. The city’s other shopping centres have tried to change to compete with the newer one, but in ways that make them poor copycats rather than give them the unique feeling they once had. Aberdeen didn’t always have much going for it, but it’s certainly got less now.

Again all this rubbish was made up for by the people I spent time with, and by ignoring these places as much as possible. I went to a friend’s wedding, wearing a kilt for the first time as I watched him marry his beautiful bride, introduced my girlfriend to ceilidh dancing, showed off my ridiculous Caribbean tan and caught up with my old boss who failed to recognise me. Twelve straight months I spent there. I also spent a lot of time meeting up with old uni mates and playing with a puppy. For some reason, I have no photos of that puppy.

ceilidh dancing

As well as Aberdeen itself, we went out for a road trip to see Braemar and the Linn O’ Dee, which were both beautiful and in huge contrast to Aberdeen. Now that I’ve been away, I’m pretty sure I won’t go back to live there. Why people buy such ridiculously priced houses if they don’t work in oil/gas, I have no idea.

Linn O'Dee


I had planned to take a trip back to the village where I grew up, but because we had a puppy to play with that didn’t quite happen. Puppy!

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One Response

  1. Dave says:

    I took a random day trip to Abo (as racist Australians might like to call it). I only remember visiting some gallery and killing time until my train wandering around the docks because it was more interesting than the grey streets. I wasn’t going to hang around in the beloved mall, obviously – I’m not a corporation-controlled sherson (singular of sheeple? Doesn’t work).

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