Well this has been a LONG time coming! I may be 28 weeks into my Latin American Pentathlon but it had been 83 weeks since I had been able to get home to see my family. Covid 19 had thwarted three attempts at a trip back home last year and I couldn't quite believe that it had been Christmas 2019 since I had seen my mum and dad. Facetime can do so much, but I knew they were feeling the passing of time as much as I was. At times it felt like they might as well have been on the other side of the world, like my virtual challenge, for how difficult it was to get there.
It was a lovely sunny day as Ian and I landed in Aberdeen and saw my dad's smiling face waiting to pick us up. I never thought I would be so excited about a 'holiday' to Aberdeen!
There are numerous highlights of our 5 days up north but here are a few..
Obviously seeing my mum and dad - finally being able to hug them and REALLY know they are safe and well.
Seeing my best friend Shirley for the first time in 19 months and hugging her and feeling quite emotional. Walking round a sunny Hazlehead Park with (and her new lockdown addition Barney the dog) finally felt like there was some normality in the world.
I managed to meet up with my brother and his family who I hadn't seen for two years which was a rare treat. Then that night it was up to see Shirley, her family and my good friend Shäron up at Shirley's house, in fact, correction, in her garden! We were so lucky with the weather in Aberdeen spending most of our time outside whilst there were thunderstorms in London. The only time we were reminded of the pandemic was getting our masks on to get a taxi back to our flat, it was bliss.
I managed to reacquaint Ian with some childhood memories he had of a school trip from Glasgow to Aberdeen (no such things as extravagant overseas trips in our day!). It always makes me laugh that the things he associates with Aberdeen are the Maze at Hazlehead Park and the statue of Rob Roy that stands amongst the trees overlooking the River Dee. I promise Aberdeen does actually have more going for it than that!
We also shared some comedy moments during our trip like accidentally locking ourselves INTO the flat we were staying in. All I am saying is I am glad we were on the ground floor when I was pushed out of the half open window to try and open the door. Then my 'jumping on the bed like a 4 year old' which shifted half of the slats so that the mattress ended up through the frame on the floor. Oops.
Then there were the things that I remember about this lovely coastline from when
I lived up here. Just along from Aberdeen is the small harbour town of Stonehaven.
I love the ruggedness of the location of Dunnotar Castle, a ruined cliff top fortress which was the home of the Earls Marischal, once one of the most powerful families in Scotland. It's a great walk down the cliffside to this castle, and seems to also be a popular stair running location now too. If only I had thought to wear my running kit...but no, better training opportunities lay ahead...
Then what better way to finish off my trip but with a swim in the North Sea! Well, Adam Peaty had just won Team GB their first gold olympic medal that morning so it seemed only fitting that I meet my former swimming training partner Allison for a dip. I hadn't quite factored in that the tide would be coming in and also that it was a pebbly beach, which made for a comedic entry to the water a bit like Victoria Wood's channel swim sketch. We turned around to see that quite an audience had gathered on the beach front to watch us so we had to try and look a bit professional. Not that these two short clips show that, but there was a lot of swimming too once we had stopped messing about, honest.
And I have decided that the 'bravery' of that dip has counted as this month's 'wildcard challenge' ;)
Of course in amongst all this I am supposed to be doing my distance challenge, and having given myself permission to have some time off training, I have still racked up the following over the last two weeks:
This would see me having left Bolivia and entering the northern part of Argentina. In fact this is where I can share a REAL photo, as the city of Salta was where I actually started my Andes cycling adventure in 2017. Ah, fond memories
So it's been a week of nostalgia in many ways, but plans have already been made for return visits of my friends and family to come to London and that makes me happy!
Denise Yeats is an events director, communications consultant, endurance athlete and avid adventurer.