Posted by: christinelaennec | May 13, 2014

Meeting a friend

On the 1st of May, my friend Tina and I met up in Aberdeen.  I was so happy that our planned meetup actually happened, as her father had been very unwell.  I first met Tina in blogland, and then met her In Real Life along with Jill of Land of the Big Sky, at a Bloggers’ Tea Party two years ago.

Tina travelled down from north of Aberdeen, and we converged at Aberdeen Railway Station in the late morning.  I had – unusually! – spent the entire 2 hour and 45 minute journey from Glasgow talking to a man across the table.  He was changing trains at Aberdeen to visit his mother up north, and was very concerned about her.  I knitted and we chatted, and the time flew by.  He mentioned someone that he knew in that corner of the world, and I noted the name – it turned out that this person is someone Tina has known for years!  Small world – or perhaps, a small corner of a small world.

It was very, very cold that morning and I was glad I’d worn my winter coat.  But spring was very much in evidence in Aberdeen:

Back in Aberdeen!  And glad to have my winter coat on.

Back in Aberdeen! And glad to have my winter coat on.

I think the cherry trees were in blossom a few weeks earlier than usual.  It was a treat to see them out.

Tina and I had lunch at a new restaurant I’d read about on Laura’s blog:  Foodstory.  Tina had a salad, and I had spicy Thai lentil soup with huge slabs of homemade bread.  Then we moved on to the Art Gallery, where Tina kindly came with me to visit my favourite painting there:

Tina, next to Winifred Nicholson's Sweetpeas, Honeysuckle.  Aberdeen Art Gallery, May 2014.

Tina, next to Winifred Nicholson’s Honeysuckle and Sweetpeas. Aberdeen Art Gallery, May 2014.

I really love Winifred Nicholson’s paintings, and indeed I find her outlook on life fascinating.  She is best known for her paintings of bouquets of flowers on a windowsill with a view behind.  She regularly travelled to the west coast and islands of Scotland with her friend the poet Kathleen Raine, and like many painters enjoyed the changing light of the landscape.  She continued to be fascinated by light throughout her career, and experimented with prisms towards the end of her life.  She did some amazing paintings of rainbows created by prisms.  She was a deeply spiritual person and chose to stay away from the artistic limelight.  She lived mostly in Cumbria.  She took care of her parents for many years, raised three children by herself, and worked with local women who did rug-hooking.  I feel she was so unfettered by conventional ways of thinking about things!

After Tina caught her train back north, I had a bit of time to myself.  I was happy to see the supply ships all parked in the harbour:

Ships in the harbour, Aberdeen, May 2014.

Ships in the harbour, Aberdeen, May 2014.

I met up with a church friend, and then, fortified by more tea, I was on my way back to Glasgow.  It was a beautiful evening:

North Sea coastline just south of Aberdeen, from the train.  May 2014.

North Sea coastline just south of Aberdeen, from the train. May 2014.

On my trip back I once again had a chatty man sitting across the table.  He landed with a clink, having just come from working offshore and already a bit merry from his tins of drink.  He immediately tried to strike up a conversation, but when  I didn’t readily engage in conversation (in the friendliest possible way), he said, “Don’t worry, I’m harmless!”  I assured him I was too, and returned to my crochet.  After a while he fell asleep, and I relished the time alone, crocheting, looking out the window and just having time to think.

North Sea coastline coming into Lunan Bay.  May 2014.

North Sea coastline, coming around Lunan Bay. May 2014.

How I love this train journey!  Later on there was a spectacular sunset, which I didn’t manage to capture on camera.  The sky looked like an endless cloth of deep magenta flecked with purple, hung across the heavens.

And then I was home again, so happy for having been back in Aberdeen for a little bit, and having reconnected with friends.

I hope you’re all having a happy start to your week!

P.S.  If you haven’t already entered, and would like a chance at a small selection of goodies from the Isle of Harris, I’m doing a draw this Saturday, May 17th, at 7 pm GMT.  Just leave a comment here.



  1. Seems like you had a lovely day back in Aberdeen.

    • What a wonderful day. I have not been to Aberdeen, but its on my list. I too am a fan of Winifred Nicholson after seeing some of her paintings. I treated myself to a book of some of her work which I enjoy looking at. I enjoyed reading about her painting on holidays on the islands. I remember going to Inverness and being glued to the train window watching the spectacular sea views.

  2. It was really lovely to see you too! It seems so long ago now, we must do it again soon! Xxx

  3. I like the photo of the cherry blossoms, but I like the photo of the ships, too. I wish I weren’t land-locked! So glad you had a good time. That soup sounds good, too…

  4. Christine, I apologize for entering your give away twice. I forgot I had entered until I went back to read through the comments. Please remove my entries..though I sincerely meant what I said. Thank you!

    • Dear Shirley, “nae worries!” as they say in Aberdeen. Thanks for letting me know. It isn’t an automated process so I will put your name in the hat only once!

  5. That Winifred Nicholson painting is my favourite in the Aberdeen Art gallery too! It is simply beautiful.

  6. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip and that the train journeys both turned out well. I would certainly prefer to not engage with my fellow travelers if I were making that trip, being basically misanthropic myself. I suppose that’s one of the big risks facing the longer distance traveler – who you sit next to. It sounds like your trains still have the luxury of being set up with seats around a table (my imagination has something like this: ) whereas we tend to just have seats all facing one way with a pull-down tray behind the seat in front.

    The Scottish spring blossoms are fantastic! I guess that’s the up-side of a severely cold winter. Our Sydney year-round mildness tends to also produce a certain banality of vegetation. Autumn colours are largely unimpressive here, and spring blossoms and new leaves are similarly thin on the ground.

  7. How very special that you were able to get together with Tina and another friend in such beautiful surroundings, Christine. I’m so happy for you 🙂 My oldest sister and I are thinking about traveling by train…somewhere…if we can save our pennies 🙂 xx

  8. Sounds like a wonderful return visit. Did you feel like a tourist in Aberdeen or a returning Aberdonian? Did you see my favourite Paul Nash painting?
    The east coast line is very special, isn’t it? I used to love the train journey all the way up the length of Britain from the English Channel when I was a student going backwards and forwards to France, in the days before budget flights. I felt as if I was reclaiming my country as the landscape changed from Sussex woods and fields, the flat lands around Peterborough, to the North York moors and all the way up through Scotland to Aberdeen. I think those journeys gave me a very deep sense that I belonged to all of the UK – a feeling I still have strongly today.

  9. What a lovely day! So glad you and Tina could catch up.

  10. Glad you had such a nice day. 🙂 Pink blossoms have been lovely this year.

  11. Oh Christine, youwillhardly believe this butwe were staying at Stonehave CC Site that week and had visited the Art Gallery on the (very foggy) Tuesday of the same week. I would love to have met Tina -as you know I follow her blog. Hope we can meet next month as we hoped. Regards to Dafter.

  12. Hello everybody! Thanks for all your comments. Yes, it was such a treat to be back in Aberdeen and above all to see good friends in person. I’m happy to know there are a few Winifred Nicholson fans out there!

    oldblack, you may be relieved to hear that I normally keep myself to myself on train journeys – though often with my “lugs a’ flappin'” (ears flapping)! The trains here (mostly Scotrail between Glasgow and Aberdeen) have some tables, though not perhaps quite as picturesque as your link. They also have lots of airplane-style seats.

    Gracie, I’ve had some fantastic train journeys in the USA. One very wonderful one was from Portland to the Isaak Walton Inn in Glacier National Park, Montana. The staff from the Inn came to help us off the train in the snow! It’s a lovely trip from Portland to Seattle as well. I once won a keyring when the chatty guide in the observation car asked if anyone knew how to pronounce the town “Puyallup”!

    occasionalscotland, I have been pondering your question for a few days! I don’t think I ever felt like an Aberdonian, but I obviously know my way around and know quite a few people there. I think this time back I felt like a visitor rather than a resident.

    Very interesting what you say about belonging to the entire UK. My own point of view is that I have found very different treatment, as an American, in England vs. Scotland. I have never had anti-American remarks made to me in Scotland, whereas, over the years (I first spent a month in England in 1974 and went back regularly from 1979-1998) I have endured some pointedly anti-American remarks in England. So to me there is a dividing line. That’s just my own personal experience, though. I like England (and I love my born-and-raised-in-England husband) and I do love that train journey from London up into Scotland.

  13. Oh, I’m so pleased to see you tried out FoodStory! I’m longing to go back at a more sensible time of day to see their full menu.

    Looks like a lovely trip up North and I’m glad you had time to catch up with some friends face to face 🙂
    Blessings xo

    • Yes it was nice! Though get there early if you want to sit down for lunch. We arrived at 12 and nabbed one of the last tables, and then there were people queuing behind us all while we ate. They do a lot of takeaway food too, and there were lots of schoolkids and business people just waiting for food to take with them. Thanks for the tip-off, Laura!

  14. Those blossoms are beautiful – and thanks for the photos of the harbour and the coastline. I recently found a photo of Dunnottar castle on my laptop and am using it as my desktop. Judy.

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