“Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside…”

 

 

Nothing epitomises the summer season quite like the visual imagery of soft golden shores; the calming crush of the waves and a cooling ice-cream in one hand. However, you do not have to go somewhere very tropical and exotic to experience this as while the weather can sometimes taint the imagery, Scotland is still home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Aberdeen’s own beach is no exception to this and provides the perfect oasis of tranquility away from the bustling city streets. Whether you want to enjoy a walk close to nature or to engage in some childlike fun, Aberdeen’s beach provides it all and in our latest blog we document all the wonders and entertainment that the beach offers; making for the perfect family weekend when you stay in our serviced apartments:

Codonas Family Amusement Park – a staple part of Aberdonian childhood, there is no resident who has not experienced the thrills and excitement of this family owned amusement park. Hosting everything including an exhilarating rollercoaster; the splash-zone fun of the log flume; the crazy dizziness of the Waltzers and a good ole pirate ship, the amusement park offers every popular ride synonymous with a day at the fair.  Dominating over it all is the Grampian Eye, a massive wheel offering panoramic views of the city – it is definitely the best seat in the house!

Sunset Boulevard – all the excitement is not just found outside however. Therefore, if you are unfortunately at Aberdeen on an off day, there is still plenty of fun to be had at Sunset Boulevard complete with its offering of an inside play park; old-school amusement arcade games and everyone’s favourite rambunctious dodgems to get the heart-rate going. Therefore, make sure you are stocked up on some pennies so as to have the chance to win candy or cuddly toys galore – the perfect mementos of a family trip by the sea. Likewise, if you are looking to engage in a little bit of friendly competition, the bowling alley complete with numerous lanes is the perfect place to see who the leader in the bowling world is.

Adventure Golf – just when you think the beach is not offering enough excitement and thrills, you can further the competitive spirit with a round or two of Adventure Golf. Whether you want to pretend you are a pirate on an exotic island or if you want to traverse through some tropical jungle scenery, there are two different themes differentiating the beach’s adventure golf offering. With both indoor and outdoor courses, it is the perfect activity whatever the weather and perfect for demonstrating who has the potential to be the next Rory Mcllroy.

Water Activities – while so much fun can be found on the soft golden shores collecting pebbles or building sandcastles, there is nothing quite as refreshing as a dip in the North Sea – particularly for the braver among us. In particular, Granite Reef Surf School offers a surf school every weekend so whether you are a novice or consider yourself to be up there with the surfing champs, it caters to all abilities. Also, fear not, you are provided with a wetsuit for those apprehensive about the ‘refreshing’ chill of the North Sea.

Leisure Centre and Ice Rink – not feeling confident enough to brave the infamous chill of the North Sea? Fear not, there is still plenty of opportunity to have fun in the water at the Queen’s Link Leisure Centre offering all kinds of watery thrills includes waves, rapids and four adrenaline-pumping flumes. While still warmer than the North Sea, there is a sauna for additional warmth and relaxation as well as gym equipment for those wanting to give their heart a workout.

However, if you prefer your water frozen, then the ice rink also offers the perfect opportunity for some family fun – as well as a few tumbles!

Dolphins – It is nearly impossible to find someone who cannot be charmed by the pure innocence and beauty of dolphins at play in their natural habitat and with DolphinWatch (31st March to 14th August 2016), you can do just that. With particularly stellar views from the Torry Battery, you can discover stunning panoramic views of the harbour while having RSPB staff to help provide you with information, telescopes and binoculars on Thursdays through Sundays. For some of the best views in Europe of our favourite friends with fins, make sure to check out DolphinWatch when you stay with us – particularly as there are special event weekends.

Balmedie Beach – Of course while there are activities in abundance to engage in, nothing quite beats a tranquil walk along the soft sandy shores to admire the views and to hear the powerful crash of the waves. With cafes and stores lining the promenade selling all kinds of tempting goodies including ice cream or fish and chips to munch on and to complete the seaside sensory experience, it really is the perfect place to stop and bask in the glory of coastal nature. If you want to explore a little further, the award-winning Balmedie Country Park provides the perfect natural beach experience with sand dunes aplenty.

Footdee – while Aberdeen is unmistakably ablaze with city life, you can experience a slightly different perspective of the city by visiting the old fishing village of Footdee, known fondly by the locals as “fittie”. Located at the end of the harbour, Footdee is comprised of two areas of picturesque and idyllic fishing cottages built in two squares. Awash with charm, vibrant colours and well-maintained gardens, Footdee is definitely worth a visit to see where the fishermen used to live and to hide temporarily away from the animation of city life in scenic surroundings.

Sold on a nostalgic family trip to the seaside during the summer months? Our apartments are located only 20 minutes away from the city centre with strong transport links meaning it could not be any easier to spend your weekend hearing the crash of the waves and breathing in the fresh salty air. Book online at www.thespires.co.uk or phone 0845 270 0090 to book your trip today.

 

Images: http://travelbrochures.org/top-8-places-to-visit-in-aberdeen/

Balmedie Beach (3)

http://www.quirkyguide.com/place/footdee-scotland

http://www.codonas.com

 

 

Advertisements

Nature in the City

Holyrood Park
Holyrood Park

This year it has felt rather sombrely like an eternal winter. However, now we have weathered the dreary, miserable winter days full of drizzle, hail and the relentless wind, it is now time to lock those well-worn wintertime lifelines of scarves, hats and gloves away for another few months. Yes, July is finally here meaning the hibernation weather has been vanquished and it is time to bask outside in all the resplendent glory that the sunshine brings with it (at least when it chooses to come out!). It is irrefutable that in our city destinations of Aberdeen, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh, you can find some of the most vibrant and pulsating entertainment, dining and retail scenes to be found in the UK, however amongst all those buzzing sights, sounds and noises, there is always a space for tranquillity, peace and clarity to be found. Whether it is spacious parks, stunning beaches or picturesque gardens, there is always a bit of nature to be found amongst the concrete jungle of city blocks and with this much prized heatwave bringing some light to the UK, we felt now would be the perfect time to discover them.

Aberdeen

Union Terrace Gardens
Union Terrace Gardens

A sparkling skyline created by magnificent granite buildings that glitter in the sun, it is undeniable why Aberdeen also affectionately goes by the title of the “Silver City”. However, do not let that title mislead you because Aberdeen actually has a hidden green side that softens out the harsh edge of the plethora of the outwardly appearing austere granite buildings. Nothing quite cements Aberdeen’s ability to be an equal natural wonder quite like it winning gold at “Britain in Bloom” a record-breaking eleven times.

You may not know it, but over a quarter of Aberdeen’s land is actually open space which is predominantly manifested in the form of gorgeous parks and gardens. Most renowned of all are Duthie Park, Johnstone Gardens and Hazlehead Park; all of which provide an abundance of lush space to have a leisurely walk around; an adrenaline pumping work-out in or a place to indulge in a summer picnic. However, each park also brings with it a myriad of hidden gems and treasures to be unearthed. For instance, in Duthie Park, a venture through the rather mysterious and exotic Winter Gardens will lead you to encounter the largest collection of cacti in the UK while an exploration of the idyllic Johnstone Gardens will enable you to photograph many a memory against the picturesque backdrop of fairy-tale like ethereal ponds, waterfalls and a signature bridge. Moreover, between its pets’ corner, rose garden, maze (the oldest in Scotland!), child’s playground and golf course, Hazlehead Park delivers the perfect family day out away from the hustle and bustle of city life. However, nothing quite epitomises nature in the city quite like the Union Terrace Gardens which present an oasis of tranquillity right in the midst of the city centre. With an abundance of green space to stretch out on, and an iconic floral recreation of Aberdeen’s Coat of Arms to admire, the ambient atmosphere is at total contrast to the fast-pace of life emanating from the surrounding city streets.

However, of course the crowning glory of the cosmopolitan Silver City is the golden sandy shores of Aberdeen’s beach. Aberdeen’s prosperity as a city is based upon the riches that reside below the crashing waves of the North Sea and so it is no surprise that images of the harbour also are commonly used to characterize Aberdeen. Take in the stunning coastal views and breathe in the fresh air as you venture along the coast and some of Britain’s finest beaches including Balmedie Beach.

Alternatively, at this time of the year, the sea also affords a different natural pleasure in the form of our friends with fins: dolphins. Due to Aberdeen being one of the best places in Europe to watch these magnificent animals at home in the sea, it is no wonder it is fast becoming a prime dolphin watching spot. Often frolicking near the harbour, it is not uncommon to witness the dolphins feeding & playing alongside surprise guests such as whales. It is truly a beautiful sight and reflects how there is more to the North Sea than just oil. RSPB Scotland’s DolphinWatch team will be at the Torry Battery Car Pack till mid-August and with dolphins appearing on 90% of 2014’s DolphinWatch days, you cannot miss an opportunity to see such playful, innocent fun.

Birmingham

East Side City Park
Eastside City Park

With one of its defining features being its impressive canal system which covers more miles than Canal City itself, Venice, and runs straight through the heart of Britain’s animated ’Second City’, it can already be inferred the strong sense of nature that permeates throughout Birmingham. The canals provide the best seat in the house for an intensive tour of Birmingham, with none of the stress!

Nothing epitomises Birmingham’s green-side quite like the very aptly named Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park, which, with a collection of over 130 species including the popular likes of lemurs and meerkats, is an simultaneously fun and educational experience which offers much enlightenment in regards to conservation efforts.

Although not quite an authentic natural attraction, the headlining National Sea Life Centre certainly at least presents an opportune moment to get up close and personal with our friends in the sea. Surrounded by a one-million litre ocean tank, which is residence to all kinds of exotic and mesmerizing creatures including tropical fish species, gentle sea turtles and formidable sharks, it is no surprise that the Sea Life Centre is a popular attraction for anyone who wants to experience the wonder of the ocean in a bustling, up-and-coming city jungle. It is truly a whole other world!

However, of course you cannot miss the plentiful supply of headlining Birmingham parks in which to picnic, workout or just simply to admire. One of the most famous parks is Cannon Hill Park which with its pedalo boats in the summer, as well as its collection of tennis courts alongside a bowling green and mini-golf course, provides a lasting day of entertainment for the whole family to bask in. Alternatively, there is the Eastside City Park as well as Kings Heath Park, with the Eastside City Park being of particular importance due to it being the largest single piece of public open space in the bustling city centre and it even winning a special accolade for it being an outstanding public green space (which includes gardens, water features and a Science Garden) at the European Entente Florale 2013 competition.

Glasgow

Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Glasgow may well be a prime dynamic leisure hub due to its renowned nightlife and retail scenes, however with its collection of 90 parks, it is clear that Glasgow is more than a little in touch with its green side also. However, in fairness, the sassy yet warmly hospitable city has much to live up to considering that in Gaelic; Glasgow translates as “Dear Green Place”. Therefore, be under no illusion that Glasgow is all about the bright lights, the vibrating bass and the chime of cash registers, there is so much underestimated natural beauty and peace to be uncovered alongside the magnificence of its prestigious architecture.

No park brings nature to the city quite like Glasgow Green; Glasgow’s oldest and most city central park. Famous not just for its age or location, Glasgow Green also features the largest terracotta fountain in the world. However, that is not the only treasure to be enjoyed as within the stunning grounds you will also come across the People’s Palace and the Winter Gardens; a Victorian glasshouse masterpiece which will generate much wonder due to it being residence to all kinds of tropical and mysterious plant species.

However, it is the West End of Glasgow that is a particular natural showcase due to it being home to both the renowned Kelvingrove Park and Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens. Nothing enhances the beauty of Kelvingrove Park quite like its location on the banks of the River Kelvin. If its location was not idyllic enough, its status as a Victorian park only goes to exacerbate this considering the air of splendour and grandeur it conjures. The prestigious Kelvingrove Museum and Art Galleries aside, one of the park’s most stunning features is the tranquil walks it affords alongside the breath-taking river walkways and the plentiful supply of wildlife you might have the fortune of crossing.

Internationally recognised for many a thing, whether it is its warm hospitality or its inspiring art scene, Glasgow is also a winner on a global scale when it comes to its highly-esteemed Botanic Gardens. Well-regarded when it comes to both the glasshouses’ architecture and the wondrous exotic collection of plants they behold, the wooded walks and formal gardens are truly a natural haven that is worlds away from the hustle and bustle of Glasgow’s streets.

One other natural highlight worth mentioning is the picturesque Victoria Park which due to its stunning horticultural backdrop of beautiful floral displays, is often regarded as one of the loveliest parks in Glasgow. However, the real treasure it beholds is Glasgow’s most ancient attraction: the Fossil Grove. Open between April and September, the Fossil Grove consists of a fossilized grove of prehistoric trees which to give any indication of their age, are so historic that they are double the age of dinosaurs.

This year in particular is an opportune time to consider Glasgow as a “Dear Green Place” due to it being the “Year of Green”; a year in which there is much jubilation and cheer in correspondence with Glasgow’s mission to become a sustainable city in the future. As a result, there are many an exciting event to partake in; including the likes of Twilight Walks and Wildlife Garden Festivals.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
Edinburgh Botanic Gardens

With its ideal location on the mighty Firth of Forth, it is no surprise that Scotland’s most bustling city is also greatly in touch with Mother Nature. It is a side that can only be reinforced due to it proudly receiving a Gold Award in the Britain in Bloom Awards 2013, one of the most prestigious awards when it comes to celebrating Britain’s best and most stunning gardens. Of course one of Edinburgh’s headlining attractions is the renowned Edinburgh Zoo which is home to many a fascinating furry resident including meerkats, tigers, rhinos and penguins.

The pinnacle of Edinburgh’s nature scene is most definitely the Royal Botanic Gardens which in itself provides over 70 acres of sweet-smelling, scenic gardens that contains wondrous plant species from all parts of the world. These gardens are so magical and beloved as they are rumoured to be some of the most excellent in the world due to them being residence to all kinds of special and rare plant species. Between the gardens, the greenhouses and the eco-centre, there is so much beauty to be admired and knowledge to be gained and all in a tranquil setting that is only a mile from the fast-paced Edinburgh streets. It is certainly a prime natural spot with the award-winning Inverleith Park being located in the near vicinity which offers mesmerizing cityscape views that cannot be easily replicated.

However, do not assume that nature is only to be found on the outskirts of the city, there is much green space to seek solitude in, even amongst the animation and the incessant hustle and bustle of Scotland’s Capital. At the base of the Royal Mile, you can explore the spacious Holyrood Park but the ultimate crowning glory in the area has to be Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, which provides a heavy workout as well some of the most renowned and photo-worthy views of the whole city. Whether you hike it, walk it or even run it, the magnificent views will certainly make an intrepid adventure of Arthur’s Seat worth it! Alternatively, if you are needing somewhere to relax right there and then after an ambitious shopping spree on some of the nation’s most beloved high streets, then the extremely city central Princes Street Gardens should tick the box. Residence to some of the most iconic Edinburgh attractions that make their way into every picture perfect postcard, including the Scott Monument and the grandeur of the Ross Fountain, it is not surprising that these gardens are packed on a warm’s summer day due to the surrounding all-encompassing beauty and energy of Edinburgh’s historic streets.

Ultimately, there is so much natural beauty hiding amongst the concrete camouflage of some of the UK’s most cosmopolitan and dynamic cities, and it is waiting for you to discover it. Therefore, get your picnic baskets, running shoes and cameras at the ready, with the UK currently basking in the glow of a heatwave, now is the perfect time to breathe in that fresh summer air while enjoying nature’s gifts.

Sources

Images

en.wikipedia.orgwww.glasgowbotanicgardens.comglobespottingcara.wordpress.comwww.bdonline.co.ukphotorator.com

Information

http://visitbirmingham.com, https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/, http://www.visitaberdeen.com/, http://www.visitscotland.com/about/nature-geography/edinburgh-lothians/https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/