Day 61 of #vanlife

A Day-Trip to Buchan

So today we went out! That’s a big deal of late bearing in mind the weather that we have been having. It seems that there is an east-west divide here in Scotland. On the west coast, wetness rules whereas on the east, the wind rules. So having escaped from Stirlingshire, strategically placed in the midlands, where it is both wet AND windy, we hoped for some respite here in Aberdeenshire on the East coast. But no!

The wind is a strange phenomenon, isn’t it?

I have never paid much attention to wind patterns before, only to never trust what the weather forecasters tell you in relation to the wind.* One moment it blows one way and for no apparent reason, it will blow another. Last night in our tent, it felt like the last moments here on the earth, as the tent shivered and shook and the wind howled. We thought it might take off! I quite like these moments though, as Caths snuggles up for a bit of man comfort. Or maybe it’s the security of my almost 15 stone of man-ballast that offers her a better chance of staying rooted to the groun!. Then suddenly, the wind just stopped – completely. It was the eeriest thing. Then, there was just pure silence – weird! It was not long though, before the wind returned again, with a vengence. Heatwave – what heatwave? It’s certainly not reached us up here!

*Many of you might remember the apocryphal weather of 1987 and the now infamous forecast by the BBC’s weather forecaster Michael Fish who very much appeared a fish out of water in the days that followed. He told audiences across Britain that there wasn’t a hurricane coming and reassured a concerned viewer who had called in that this was definitely not the case. Here is the clip if you are interested. Turns out it was southern England’s most violent storm for over 300 years!!! Weather forecasts, don’t trust them! Does make me wonder why public service money is paid for such things as weather forecasts … anyway I ramble on. Here is the news at 10 from ITV the following evening just to get an idea of the scale and how wrong Mr Fish was!!!!

So we decided today that we should face the wind and head up to an area called Buchan on the Aberdeenshire coast. Yes, I know, a place where they can most probably pronounce and spell my surname correctly. This was one of my few “must visit” spots on our tour of Scotland, as my adoptive father (who was actually my biological uncle -but that’s a story for another book!), George Buchan, was from Peterhead and this trip was partly about discovering more about myself. Buchan is a small district within Peterhead, more specifically Buchanhaven. But more about that later.

Bullers O’ Buchan

Our first stop on the way was a tiny village called Bullers O’ Buchan* with its spectacular views across the North Sea and its collapsed sea caves.

*I like saying O’ Buchan rather than Of Buchan as it gets me back in touch with my ancestral roots … of piracy. I’d never want to go on the programme “who do you think you are?” Because my mother did some research many years back into our heritage and discovered that we had descended from Pirates! However, I’d like to think my great-great-great-great grandfather was some laird, duke or earl of some important seat in the Scottish heraldry and that one day Philip Scofield or some such other would know on my door and tell me I was the last living blood for that line and I needed to come back home and rule compassionately over the common folk. But no! Turns out my forebear was more akin to Jack Sparrow and that maybe I should be an apologist for all the plunder and pillaging caused by said progenitors. ah well, we are all entitled to our flights of fancy … I bet you have yours too.

The Bullers O’ Buchan

It used to be a fishing village until it wasn’t. The great Robert Burns referenced it in one of his writings but it was my bother Tony who told me to pay it a visit as I have never once read a bit o rabbie (I know I know -call myself a Jock???). I love how my senses are attacked; the views of the expanse of the sea as it stretches out into the horizon; the feel on my face when the sun sends some intermittent infrared illumination* to warm my arms and face; the sounds of the gulls and guillemots as they swoop around their nests; the strong smell of fish in the air – and I mean strong, so strong I can taste what tastes like fish paste!

One false move Mr Buchan …
I bet they can pronounce my name correctly!!!

*(ha – love it I’m giving myself 10 points for some awesomely adroit alliteration … OMG I cant stop it now … this blast of sunshine is cranking the creative computer… ok I’ll stop now!!!!)

But the feeling that grabs me the most is exhilaration as I walk walk along the small path between the large rocks. Signs warn me beforehand not to stray from the path and I have watched too many episodes of “Saving Lives at Sea” to become an accidental cast member! You can imagine can’t you … “yeah I was just walking along the side of the cliff and a gust of wind blew me off the edge as I was trying to take a selfie to look cool on Insta! I’m forever grateful to the RNLI for scooping me out of the North Sea … and for also rescuing my iPad with had my pictures on it”.

Buchanhaven … the nicer side

Better safe than sorry – I took some photos very near the edge. Tommy was clueless as he was following the wonderful scent of all these new birds as he was half dragging Catherine up the cliff. Catherine decided that the combination of the height and Tommy’s excitement was a move too far for her and went back to Fionualla with Tommy to wait for me.

In short, I explored for about half an hour and decided that I didn’t want to worry Catherine. She knows how I am inclined to take risks that she necessarily wouldn’t. That wouldn’t be fair on her so I decided to return earlier and not complete the path down to the beach as the wind was picking up a bit and tugging at my iPad as I was taking photos. Time to be a good husband and one that doesn’t appear on rescue programmes!

So after a visit to the Peterhead clones of Asda and Aldi we went to


“Take my prize … I dare you!”

Now when someone says haven to me, I think of respite, I think of a place to escape and be safe. As we drove around Buchanhaven I didn’t exactly feel the sanctum that the name implied. Far from it! As we drove around the ambiance of the place was a cross between Togher (pronounced Toker) in Cork city crossed with Southsea in Portsmouth, edgy to say the least! We opted to keep the vehicle moving so that our wheels didn’t get nicked whilst parked up looking at our GoogleMaps app. We did however happen upon the Peterhead Golf club and decided it was safe enough in that part to get out. The golf course overlooked one of the sandiest beaches I have walked on in the UK.

Tommy loved it here as he found a rotted seagull carcass or some other creature long past identifying. He was well happy with himself as he teased Catherine and me by walking up to us wagging his tail and then running off before we could grab his spoils! He does make us laugh as he trots up the beach, proud as punch, jaws clamped around his prize. Precious moments!

Anyways that’s it for me for now.

It’s been a glorious day here in Aberdeenshire as I recount yesterday’s events in between watching Wimbledon and sipping cider. Just a word for those of you who eagerly await the next installment, I like to write when the moment takes me and when I feel inspired to do so and when I enjoy it. Otherwise, I feel like it becomes another job. This is why there are some gaps between installments and I hope that’s OK for you. It’s what works for me and hence I can continue to do it because I doing it for the love of writing, not because I have to write.

Love to you all from the east of Scotland!

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