Life at our house has been intense lately, to say the least. The combination of looking after an ill child, keeping every inch of the house spotless, and showing people around it at various intervals, doesn’t leave one with a great deal of time to relax. However, as far as selling our flat goes, we are moving in the right direction. And the Dafter has been absolutely superb in terms of doing without all the help she deserves, sometimes for rather long stretches of time.
And today, I had the chance of a wonderful escape, with my family’s blessing. This morning found me sitting excitedly on the train for Inverness, although my destination was a mere 45 minutes away in Huntly. It was another bloggers’ teaparty, this time hosted by Tina of Tea and Woolly Socks.
I like that the Gaelic for Aberdeen is on the signs. Obar Dheathain means ‘the mouth of the Dee’ I believe. It’s pronounced something like ‘oh-par-AY-hen’ (with a rolled r).
The train journey was beautiful. A few days ago the road to Inverness was shut due to snow, so I was very glad that the weather today was fine.
The castle in the photo is a private castle, not one of the National Trust or Historic Scotland ones. I don’t know its name.
Tina met me at the station, and swept me off to the home of Dean’s shortbread. Their motto is “History in the baking” and they make extremely yummy shortbread biscuits.
They have a very large coffee shop over two floors. Tina treated me to a coffee and coconut and cherry scone. We caught up on news and did some knitting together.
After our catch-up, Tina took me to the viewing gallery, where you can see the very large factory (closed on a Saturday), and an exhibition about the history of Dean’s. I hadn’t realised that Helen Dean started out selling shortbread to support the Huntly & District Pipe Band. The Huntly pipe band is very well-known in the area and has an excellent reputation. It’s really nice to see a local business so closely tied to its own community, but enjoying world-wide success at the same time.
Then we went to the gift shop, where as you might expect I bought some shortbread!
Can you imagine my delight at finding huge baskets of “seconds”? I filled my bag with slightly imperfect oatcakes and shortbread.
Do you see the bags of shortbread crumbs? I suppose people must use them to make pie crusts.
We then had a wander through the very pretty town, and went to a few charity shops, which was good fun. All too soon it was time to head back to the station for the 14:04 train to Aberdeen. We just missed the opening hours of the station office, which shuts at the hilarious time of 13:54 every day:
The reason I find this particularly funny is that Scottish trains, as much as I love them, do not operate with the precision of German trains, for example. Many’s the time that I have gone to meet Michael off the train from Glasgow and it’s been late (last time over half an hour). Or sometimes it’s been a bit early. So the idea of closing the station office at 13:54 struck me as very amusing. I wondered if this was so that the employee can push a lever or open a gate for the Aberdeen train due 10 minutes later?
Regular readers might be wondering, but where was Jill? Jill, of Land of the Big Sky, was sadly unable to join us, due to having had an overwhelming few days. However, she appeared in a new guise – as a cartoon! Here is a wonderful drawing that Tina gave to me, of the three of us:
I love the imagination and work that went into this present. Thank you, Tina, for a very restorative day out!