There aren’t very many off-road cycle paths in Aberdeen but there is one very good one: Deeside Way. It runs along an old train line from Duthie Park all the way out to Ballater, a total distance of 41 miles. Unfortunately the line is no longer used by trains; it was closed in 1966. But once upon a time it was used by the Royal Family for visits to Balmoral Castle, which is close to Ballater.
We cycled along Deeside Way today. No, we didn’t do the 41 miles out to Ballater: nowhere near that, in fact. Instead we went to the village of Newton Dee, an easy 4 1/2 miles from Duthie Park. Newton Dee is an amazing place. It’s a community where adults with learning disabilities and special needs can live and find meaningful work. There’s a bakery, a cafe, and a shop selling food and crafts – some of the crafts have been made by the residents. There are also some farm animals there.
We had lunch in the cafe and although the choice was limited to two varieties of soup, the soup was delicious (and there were lots of different breads for dipping) and they had a vegan option. There were lots of cakes and biscuits too, including dairy-free and gluten-free options, and the coffee was good. It was uplifting to see this thriving community living and working together in a caring and supportive environment.
I managed to get this shot of the cafe and part of the shop looking very quiet. Most of the time it was busy and filled with people.
Life is good. I’m living in a city I love, I own my very own bakfiets – something I’ve wanted for years and years and years – I’ve got a terrific job and my employer is one of the best in the world, my children are healthy and happy and settled in a fantastic school, and I’m married to a man I respect, admire, and love. I hope I don’t take any of it for granted. I try not to because you never know when the next earthquake will strike.