Well I would drive 400 miles..
… then I would drive 400 more!
I really hadn’t been planning on going to Aberdeen. I looked at flights which were too expensive and would involve getting to Birmingham or Manchester first, and driving alone seemed ridiculous. Then came a random comment on Facebook that changed it all.
Lisa was planning a potential get together, I half-jokingly commented “What, you’re not coming to see FD in Aberdeen?” A moment later my phone rang, and plans were hatched to take a car up and share the driving.
She also recruited The Stig to join us, so come midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning I headed over to theirs to set off so we could avoid any traffic and have plenty of time to recuperate after the drive and check out the Granite City. It was a flawless plan – we piled into my car and hit the motorway, and before we even got a junction north something odd had happened. “What the fuck is that?” I asked as it felt like we’d driven on a never-ending rumble strip – we had a tyre blow out.On to the hard shoulder we went, sure enough the passenger side front wheel was flat – The Stig duly jacked up the car and got the spare on, a space-saver wheel with a speed limit of 50mph. Not the best for the 400+ miles to our destination and back again. But give up we did not – we went back and changed cars and started again – this time The Stig took the first driving stint, giving me a chance to have a bit of a snooze in the back of the car. A comfort stop later and Lisa took the wheel to get us the remainder of the way with The Stig getting some sleep time in the back.
Driving through Scotland countryside at 4am was quite nice, the sun was coming up and it was already surprisingly light wending our way through the wind turbines, starting to appreciate the lovely scenery we were driving through, casually ignoring the miles-to-go left on the Sat Nav. Upon reaching Aberdeen I must admit I was a little bit disappointed that ‘The Granite City’ didn’t look like a beautifully polished kitchen surface, instead it’s more like a very grey place built with ornate breeze blocks – which sparkle when you get close.I was imagining the founders of the city finding a spot, then in a gruff Scottish accent saying “Right, whae’s the maist difficult thing tae make bricks oot ae?” – it’s certainly a striking place, we saw plenty of it at eight in the morning as we ended up doing about five laps of it before finding an NCP car park to dump the car. Our plan had been to try to get a power nap in the car, getting some food, seeing the gig and driving back. A naive plan at best in the cold light of day.
As we sat in a coffee shop guzzling caffeine this foolishness dawned upon us – so we got on the internet to look to find somewhere local we could crash for the night. Eventually plumping for the central Premier Inn, we booked it and decided to try to see if we could take advantage of their cheaper car park – not only did they let us park for free, they let us check into the room at about half nine in the morning – which gave us the opportunity to crash and sleep for a few hours before heading out for lunch.Being in Scotland going and catching a haggis was high on my agenda – but I was also starving. Upon finding a restaurant/bar that had a venison and haggis burger I was satisfied, until of course they brought me the wrong thing. I was too ravenous to make a fuss, the steak burger I was served was great – but still those elusive haggis beasties were eluding me. Suitably full we returned to the hotel to get ready for the gig, then early evening made our way to the Moorings Bar where Cerebus the Dog Bus was already outside.
I’d been adamant I wasn’t coming to Scotland so even after hatching the plan we decided not to tell anyone. So we casually ordered some drinks and supped at the bar whilst the band were unloading their gear onto the stage. Dan and Ken had glanced over and were trying to work out if the lanky bogger at the bar was me – they clearly weren’t sure, Dan came over to check and the deceit was over. It turned out Dan had had his own motoring woes on the way up to Knockengorroch – ending in a £200 taxi ride that sounded more like a thrill-ride, making the stage time with just minutes to spare!
Once everything was unloaded the band dispersed to take advantage of showers, Ken stayed for a few drinks along with Dean and Wez, and we were joined by other hell hounds making their way to the venue – great to finally properly meet Mick, Matt and Fritz who’d just been names and profile pictures on Facebook up until then. Michael and Rebecca arrived too and after a few cheeky ciders it was certainly starting to feel like a party was building – staying over was definitely a very good plan!
The Moorings Bar is an ace little venue – it doesn’t look the most inviting place from the outside but inside you’ll find a cracking rock pub with a great selection of beer and cider, and the stage and dance floor at the back of the room. Once the soundcheck was done there was plenty of time for us to drink and natter – unfortunately the support act had fallen through so it was straight to the main event, at no point had anyone checked we’d booked tickets (we had – more fool us!), they went without the intro music and kicked straight into the set.
With a few travelling up and some lively local fans too it was a good dancing affair right from the off – plenty of room to move about, and a bit of moshing too. Dobby was standing in for Les who had other commitments at Bearded Theory and doing a great job, and not looking too annoyed that he’d dropped his phone down the toilet at Knockengorrach. Ouch. The sound quality was good, and more and more people were being drawn inexorably toward the mosh pit.For Freeborn John a combination of low ceiling and lack of numbers cast doubt over a surf, but The Stig wasn’t having any of that and had briefed people beforehand to make it happen. I got up and well, it wasn’t the best with a combination of cider, poor foot placement and a low ceiling, but fun enough. For reasons I can’t quite fathom I couldn’t seem to make myself get down forwards and ended up falling back at the end – no injury but to my pride, a bit of neck ache and a bitten tongue.
By the time they ended the night with the customary Mairi’s Wedding Part II we were all a horrendous sweaty happy mess as usual – attempting to retrieve my t-shirt from near Ken’s monitor it seemed to have vanished, I couldn’t think why anyone would want to nick it, but I availed myself of a replacement from the lovely Leanne on the merch desk only to get messaged by Michael later in the evening that he’d found it – I think Dan probably hid it knowing that I’d buy another one!We staggered out happily into the rain to go back to the hotel via a circuitous walk to a kebab shop we’d cased out earlier – then it was back to bed via kicking puddles at each other all the way back. One of the drawbacks of not planning to stay over was the lack of overnight stuff we had brought with us, so drenching each other perhaps wasn’t the best plan! We had enough spare t-shirts and things between us to keep ourselves decent and after the drink, dancing and previous day of travelling it wasn’t too difficult to get to sleep.
The journey back was much more straight forward, The Stig took the first stint then I took over driving, we had lunch at Gretna Green services then powered on through to home – overtaking the Dog Bus on the A1 and getting a cheery abusive gesture from a smiling Wez. All in all, a splendid way to spend a weekend – people think it’s weird going to such lengths to see the same band again, but well, I can’t think of a finer way to have spent the weekend so far, and thanks to bank holidays there’s still another day of freedom to go before work starts again.
I’ve just optimistically tried to a book a ‘we’ll change your tyre at home’ service for tomorrow – I’m not sure that’s likely to bear fruit, certainly they haven’t called me yet – which I’m not really expecting them to! You never know, it might happen! Regardless, it’s been totally worth whatever hassles for yet another amazing weekend courtesy of my brilliant friends old and new, and of course Ferocious Dog.