What about November?
After the excitement of my time in Portugal at the end of October, I was content to let November be a quieter month. Another reason was I had half a mind to escape for a few days in mid December. That was before the pandemic took another spike in other parts of Europe, and also before the latest variant appeared.
Now… who knows.
I did head north to Aberdeen overnight in the middle of November. The trip had no particular purpose except to get me away from home for a couple of days. It did have a couple of features worth mentioning, mind you.
First, I took the train. Being stuck in a steel box with lots of other people for almost 2 hours – some of whom are guaranteed to be Covidiots – is something I have been reluctant to take a risk on, especially since our political “leaders” gave up on suppression of the virus back in the summer.
I took a couple of precautions to help minimise that risk. I travelled in first class, made affordable by the 50% discount which comes from using my senior railcard. In addition I selected trains at off peak times (and midweek) which I hoped would be less used.
It worked. On both trains the carriage was never full. Yes, some passengers showed their contempt for the train staff and other passengers by breaking the law and not wearlng masks, but it seems to have become a bit of fun for them.
The other big feature was my accommodation. I went back to the Residence Marriott where I had stayed in August. They were offering a studio for £78 – including a buffet breakfast. That would have been a steal on its own, but they upgraded me to a 1 bedroom suite. I have used Marriott hotels several times this year, and needless to say I had joined their loyalty programme.
Mask and other pandemic compliance was excellent in the Marriott – I would put it at 95%, spoiled only buy a couple of dimwits at breakfast.
Anyway, top marks to LNER for two comfortable, punctual train journeys and to Marriott for a very pleasant overnight stay.
The whole visit was a success, in fact. After I got off the train I spent a couple of hours in the Aberdeen Art Gallery which has a couple of excellent coffee shops as well as the stuff to see. Plenty toilets too – vital to men in my age group.
This week it was named Scotland’s building of the year, having reopened in 2019 after a four-year refurbishment costing £34.6m.
In the evening I had a good dinner at Tango Turtle and then a beer at the Prince of Wales – the latter being an old haunt from my student years in Aberdeen.
The next day I met an old friend for coffee and then had lunch in an Italian restaurant – Poldino’s – I last visited in 1978. It is still good.
My train home was in the early afternoon.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2021