My love letter to the Granite City

How Aberdeen is the perfect middle-ground of city and sky

Sam Moore | Thu, 16 Apr 2020

I get it, it’s probably quite easy to hate Aberdeen. The buildings are as grey as the weather, it gets dark at 3pm in December, it’s absolutely freezing, and we have seagulls larger than some average household pets. There are ways to hate a city that are really only allowed if you live there, and I certainly have my qualms with Aberdeen.

The truth is, though, I’ve loved this place from the get-go. I love the fresh, crisp sea air. I love how, when the sky clears, it’s such a vibrant blue that you feel like you’re seeing it for the first time. I love the dark, grey winter on the days I get to sit inside with a cup of coffee and watch the world go by.

I have a somewhat complicated relationship with cities. A big part of me would love to leave the dust, grime, and noise behind and go live out in the open spaces of the country, enjoying fresh air with mountains, forests, and lakes right on my doorstep, but I also love community. I love having friends who live just around the corner, of having the conveniences of food and medicine never too far away. I romanticise a life of solitary reflection and work with my hands out in the woods a lot but, if I’m honest, I fear I would go crazy in a couple of days. At the same time, for all the convenience, the noise, grime, and dust of a city drives me equally crazy. If I were to live in a larger city like Glasgow or London I would just find it suffocating.

For now, at least, Aberdeen works as a healthy compromise. It has all the conveniences you really need from city life, yet it only takes a 30-minute car journey and you find yourself out amongst beautiful scenery and clear air. Walking out by Balgownie, you begin to feel as if you’ve stepped out of your own time and place into a village way out in the countryside, and just a few minutes away you find yourself out by the sea, right on the brink of the unbridled fury of the North Sea. In many ways, Aberdeen is not a city, just a glorified town. The pace of life is just that little bit slower, the freedom of nature just that little closer at hand.

Maybe you want a more exciting life from a city, maybe you hate cities completely and can’t wait for the day you can remove yourself from society, but for any of you who find yourself in the same halfway house I’ve been living in, give Aberdeen a shot.

A while ago, I went and looked out from the upper balcony at Aberdeen Art Gallery. The sun was just setting, and I saw no clouds. From ground level, the buildings here can probably feel like monotonous grey slabs, but from where I stood I could make out the intricacy and individuality of each building’s architecture, a reminder of the treasures that lie hidden in the corners of this Granite City, if you are willing to look.


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