Posted by: christinelaennec | February 16, 2013

Happiness… is a trip to Huntly

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).

Aig an t-seisean

Aig an t-seisean / At the station

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.

Castle somewhere near Insch, Aberdeenshire

Castle somewhere near Insch, Aberdeenshire

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.

Dean's Shortbread factory and visitor centre in Huntly, Aberdeenshire.

Dean’s Shortbread factory and visitor centre in Huntly, Aberdeenshire.

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.

Me and Tina

Me and Tina

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.


Cut-price factory outlet shortbreads and oatcakes!

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:

Just missed the closing time of 13:56!

Just missed the closing time of 13:54!

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:

Tina's wonderful gift to me - she left out my double chins!

Tina’s wonderful gift to me:  Tina, me, Jill at a Bloggers’ Teaparty

I love the imagination and work that went into this present.  Thank you, Tina, for a very restorative day out!



  1. What a wonderful moment of bliss it is to spend time with a friend. I’m so glad you took this little outing – you deserved the much-needed break. I hope the sale of your flat is going well, too. You live in a beautiful place – I’m sure it will sell itself. ❤

  2. Thank you, Christine for taking us along with you on your outing. I love that as you travel you passed a ‘private’ castle! It looks like you had some fairly pleasant weather, too. It is interesting and humorous about your train schedules. Cherry and coconut scones sound absolutely delicious! Glad that you got out for some much needed girl time and a little walk through the shops. Time does fly when you are having a good time, though. I know your lovely flat will sell in no time and then you can relax and make up for your daughter’s generous understanding and patience. You do look very relaxed and happy in your photo with Tina. I really like all the details in her drawing. A lovely keepsake! xoxo

  3. Love being off in your travels with even if it’s – thanks.. And thanks for the wed site and I went and popped in.. I knit too and are those scone like the US kind deep fried – in any case – yum coconut and cherry scone sounds Delicious…

  4. I didnt know Dean’s had a cafe – on two floors?! I love their shortie, it melts in the mouth. I, too, would have been tempted in the gift shop and all those baskets of seconds would be too much to resist. What a lovely break from all the stress, and a train journey to boot. I think the station office opening hours are superb, it seems very tongue in cheek given our train service, as you say.

  5. It was a lovely day, wasn’t it? 🙂 Thank you for your company dear friend, I’m looking forward to the next time! xxx (must blog about it myself at some point!!) xx

  6. Thank you so much for taking us all, especially me that should have been there. So glad you both had an enjoyable time, looking forward to the next one and I will be there……

  7. A little gem, Huntly! Treacherously, because I grew up very near the home of Walker’s shortbread, I have to say that Dean’s shortbread is the best.
    Similar bizarre closing times at the station in Aviemore, with the office closing just before the arrival of the Inverness to London train.
    Glad you had a day out and some time away from the pressures of house selling.

  8. Excellent, Christine. If I ever find myself in Dean’s, I’ll make sure I’m carrying a very large rucksack!

  9. What a pleasant day out! Himself and I have been to Huntly Castle, but I can’t recall much of the town itself. The castle is in a lovely spot, that I DO remember! And I have photos to prove it! “Seconds” on shortbread and oatcakes? Who would have thought? And selling the crumbs is ingenious. I’ve never had the pleasure of tasting Dean’s shortbread; Walker’s is available quite widely here, so that’s the one I know. I know you arrived home refreshed!

  10. So you’ll be going back for seconds then? 😉
    What a lovely treat for you both. So glad you had a good day.

  11. Oh that looks like such a lovely day. I always enjoy the stories of your day and especially the photos you add.I wanted you to know that I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award. I have posted about it on my blog today with questions for you if you want to participate. I know these things aren’t for everyone but I really love your blog and wanted to give you an award. Check it out if you would like.

  12. oh Christine, i do love trains and i’m glad you were able to get away for a day out. I like the idea of shortbread “seconds” very much.

  13. Dear all,

    Thanks very much for enjoying my day out with me! It seems a very long time ago now, but the after-effects do linger in my mind.

    Kristeen – the scones aren’t deep-fried, just baked. A bit like American biscuits, only more so. If you visit Lorna’s Tearoom Delights blog you will see some very well-photographed examples of scones.

    Linda – well I hope Walker’s doesn’t read that comment or you will never find work again in your own hometown! 🙂

    softie1 – thank you so much for nominating me for the award! I’ll wait until things are more settled before stepping up to the podium, as it were. But I’m so glad you like my blog, and thank you again.

  14. This post revived memories of some pleasant day trips with girl friends–especially excursions to quilt shops–after which we needed food to sustain us!

  15. It is so fun that you ladies can meet up!!! I love your new scarf too!! And how fun to get to go to Dean’s headquarters! I would have gone crazy with the seconds. 🙂

  16. Sounds like a wonderful day out and a change from your usual schedule, the biscuite factory looks fantastic you would not keep me a way from those bargains!


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