Wednesday, 14 September 2011

A Granite Day Out

It seems I'm warming to Castle Greyskull, aka Aberdeen.

Europe's Oil Capital and World Rowie Epicentre is usually grey, cold, mildly intimidating and grey. I said grey twice. I meant it.

But occasionally the freezing fog parts and the city reveals its green spaces and lovely old buildings. And if you have time to explore, some of the shops down the lanes off Union Street are rather cool. (The Coffee House on Gaelic Lane does a super chunky veg and humous sandwich and bowl of spicy lentil soup for a fiver!)

One recent difference I've noticed is the spruce up of Marischal College on Broad Street. Now the HQ of the city council and a building containing so much granite it's a surprise it doesn't collapse in on its own weight.

Now that it's clean it's actually breathtaking to look at. Like a silver House of Commons.

Work took me to Aberdeen the other day and I put my bike on the train. I cycled up to the hospital complex at Foresterhill for a meeting then whizzed downhill to the city centre for another. Sadly the magnificence of Marischal College was slightly muddied by the fact it doesn't appear to have any bike racks. Not a single one. I had to chain my steed to a railing across the street.

As I headed for the train home at the end of the day I got excited noticing signs indicating a direct cycle route to the station that would mean I could avoid riding on hectic Union Street. Bizarrely to get onto the route you have to go up a kerb and across a pavement thronging with shoppers and tourists outside the tourist information centre. Then there's a red brick path especially for cycles that whizzes down a back road to the harbour and close to the station. Most of the red bricks were occupied by white vans. Charming.

Upon arrival at the station all three bike railings were fully taken and I had to wheel through the swanky Union Square shopping mall and out the other side to where about twenty four rails in two covered racks were completely empty.

Like I say I've warmed to Furry Boots town but its cycle provision could be a bit more joined up. Then again everyone there seems to drive 4x4s and Porsches and drill for fossils fuels for a living. Maybe when the wells run dry the beauty of the bike will become apparent!   

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