When you move to a place for a finite time, I think you really try to maximize your time and opportunities there. When we moved to San Diego- I created a master list immediately of the things I wanted to do, see, and mostly eat since I knew we’d only be there about a year. One of my biggest regrets of my time in Chicago was that I took it for granted. There is/was so many things I should have done, wished I’d done. I had the opposite of FOMO (fear or missing out) and missed a lot. And now that it’s uncertain if we’ll ever return…it really makes me sad and yearn for at least a year long re-do. Fingers crossed.
Well I’m not letting it happen this time. I’m sure I won’t be able to do EVERYTHING here, but we’re actively trying to get out there as much as possible to experience as much as possible. Especially while there’s still daylight and the weather’s not too bad.
Our Saturday started with heavily sleeping in. E was still catching up on missed sleep last week from being ill and I was still sluggish after my holiday in Ireland. We packed up a lunch and headed out for a proper hike and got a chance to wear our new hiking boots. Thanks to my momma for the great birthday presents before we left. Yeah team Salomon!
We set out for Millstone Hill which we found on the Walk Highlands website- which I definitely recommend to find hikes all over Scotland. The hike was about 45 minutes away- which now is considered a short trip to do anything on the weekends. It was a pretty decent hike- much more vertical than we’re used to and lots of different terrain. And I’m happy to report Stella has proven herself as a little mountain goat of a dog. She really likes exploring and is doing wonderful on our explorations.
When we got home E was able to watch the Penn State game, I had a chat with my mom, and I made a quick dinner for chicken sausages and peppers and onions on rolls. Felt very football appropriate.
On Sunday we had a little scrambled eggs and toast breakfast. They don’t do Montery Jack cheese here, but they do have shredded hot & firey cheese. I think it’s pretty legit and becoming a fast favorite for anything Mexican or with our eggs. Then we set off for Stonehaven sans Stella to look at some art. On Friday we had our cultural training and learned about North East Open Studios (NEOS). There’s a directory of studios and artists all around the Northeast of Scotland and from September 6th through the 14th– special hours are listed to go and see work on display, watch work being created, buy art, and meet the artists. Some of these locations are actual galleries, but more often than not, they are just homes. Either the homes of the artist, or perhaps a friend/artist offers their home to a few different collections. It’s really kind of neat.
There was a specific artist who’s work I liked in Stonehaven, so I found a couple more artists around the area and we set off. First we stopped in Gallery at 55 where Kathleen Buchan and Hazel McAllister were featured. I originally came in to see Buchan’s Suess-esk Scottish landscapes, but actually really loved 2 of McAllister’s paintings. Unfortunately, all of them were out of my price range. We then saw a NEOS pointing down the road and even though we hadn’t had this studio on our list, followed the signs. We ended up at an apartment building where the door was open and signs were in the windows and headed upstairs into a woman’s flat. There was art EVERYWHERE. Everywhere but the kitchen. But if you’re wondering, “in the bathroom?” the answer is yes, in the bathroom. This was the home/studio of Gay Halley and she was there, as well as some of her friends. Everyone was warm and nice and they offered us tea and snacks. It was really just a cool experience.
We took a break for tea and cakes at a charming café, the Villa Coffee Shop, which was practically next door. Then headed back to the car to drive about 5 miles south, past Dunnottar castle, to 2 other studios. The first was an old school-house turned home next to a really cute church/cemetery. We were greeted by Michi (a Canadian expat), not the owner of the home, but an artist who’s work was on display there. She was great showing us around, telling us a little about the pieces, and gave us hot tea. There were a lot of fantastic pieces here, my favorite being sculptures made from music sheets. But the whole house was incredible and they turned the bathroom into a piece of art itself.
Right behind this house was another studio showing Jane Birrell – who I came to see. Jane’s work has been featured in Vogue and clearly she’s a fan favorite as most of her pieces had already been sold (or at least the ones I was keen on). She does landscapes, still life, abstracts, but what I came for was her colorful renditions of the Highland Coos. As I said, everything I liked was sold, and I thought the price for a print was much too high (even as a limited edition…it’s just a print), but would be willing to pay for an original. I talked with Jane and while the budget doesn’t allow for it now…I think we’ll definitely have a Highland Coo portrait commissioned for our return to the states. I’m excited just thinking about it….
Overall, it was a great weekend exploring some new sites in Aberdeenshire. Now it’s back to the grind for E and I have a busy week as well…for now, it’s time for the gym.