Even as a local, there are some things you miss out on in Aberdeen.
I used to think that Techfest was limited to educational events for schools, with a heavy emphasis on Meccano and cuddly tarantulas. But over the last couple of years I have been to some brilliant events which have taught me how to survive in a zombie apocalypse, why true monogamy is impossible and how you can poison someone and get away with it (spoiler: you can't). As a convert to this celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, here are my top picks from 2018's public program. Hope to see you there!
N.B. Links to the booking page for every show if you click on the show title.
I have to be honest - I love some grisly detail, hence why we run Crime Pays Tours. I was therefore very excited to see this offering on the program with recently retired pathologist Professor James Grieve and SPA forensic biologist Chris Gannicliffe. They'll be debunking some of the CSI-style depictions of forensics, as well as delving into how technology has had an impact on modern day forensics.
DATE: FRIDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER TIME: 7.00pm COST: £5.00, £4.00 Concession VENUE: Fraser Noble Building, University of Aberdeen, AB24 3UE
Is it just me or is fermented food having something of a moment right now? Adrian Gomes of 10 Dollar Shake (the people who brought us The Tippling House and Rye & Soda) talks about natural methods for preserving food and drink. And if the educational side of things wasn't enough for you, you also get 3 cocktails and 3 canapes included in the ticket price. Cheers!
DATE: MONDAY 17TH SEPTEMBER TIME: 6.30pm - 8.00pm COST: £25.00 (includes three drinks/cocktails and three canapes per person) VENUE: The Tippling House, 4 Belmont Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1JE
Dr Matt Pritchard is a scientist and a magician. A scientist AND a magician. And a bloody good magician too - only one of 300 people in the world to become an Associate of the Inner Magic Circle. That puts him on the same level as Dynamo. He will be using magic to explore the ways that scientists and magicians have collided and collaborated over the years.
DATE: WEDNESDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER TIME: 6.30pm COST: £4.00, £3.00 Concession VENUE: Sir Ian Wood Building, Robert Gordon University, Garthdee Campus, AB10 7GJ
Like most geeks, I love a pub quiz. And what could be better than a quiz combined with a cabaret? I have no idea how this will work but it sure sounds interesting. A pub quiz with a twist, promising unusual rounds like the 'Origami Olympics' and 'The Leaning Tower of Pasta'.
DATE: FRIDAY 21ST SEPTEMBER 2018 TIME: 8.00pm COST: £4.00, £3.00 Concession VENUE: Triple Kirks, Schoolhill, Aberdeen, AB10 1JT
Like the internet, we can't get enough of weird looking animals. But have you ever thought about why some animals look particularly unusual? This show sets out to explain why some animals look downright peculiar, alongside plenty of audience participation.
DATE: SATURDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER 2018 TIME: 4.00pm COST: £4.00, £3.00 Concession VENUE: Arts Lecture Theatre, University of Aberdeen, 569 King Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5SU
Those are my choices for Techfest, but what have I missed? Share your recommendations in the comments.
If you have been on our Dundee tour, you will have heard of early nineteenth century anti-slavery campaigner Fanny Wright. Here's some fascinating facts on her life that we don't have time to squeeze into the tour.
Wright, Dundee & Lafayette
Although she spent little time in Dundee her early years had an impact on her. Her parents both died when she two years old and she was sent to live with an aunt. The loss of her parents at such an early age may have given her a resilience and desire for approval that she continued throughout her life.
When she was 26 she formed a close relationship with American revolutionary hero Lafayette. He was exactly 38 years older than her. As a way of regularising their relationship she suggested that he either adopt her or marry her, an offer Lafayette turned down.
The Nashoba Commune
One thing that we don't speak about on the tour is the outcome of her best known project: the Nashoba Commune.
The Nashoba commune made up of whites, free blacks and slaves. The slaves would be prepared for freedom by being trained in a trade. Scandal engulfed the community when one of the men published diary extracts which described his relationship with one of the slave women. Fanny hit back at the naysayers by publishing an article in which she argued that miscegenation might be the only thing that could solve America's race problem and describing sexual pleasure as “the strongest and…the noblest of the human passions” and the basis of “the best joys of our existence”.
This only added fuel to the fire of speculation and the commune, never financially stable, collapsed. Fanny took the former slaves to the black republic of Haiti where they were placed under the President's direct supervision and were to be given land grants if they did well. Fanny had lost half of her personal wealth thanks to the failure of the Nashoba Commune.
Marriage and Divorce
Sadly she fell prey to the very social structures she had railed against. She had an affair with Dr Guillaume D'Arusmont and became pregnant. She married him in order to legitimise her daughter but the marriage was not a happy one. Even after a long and complicated divorce Fanny had to fight to have her fortune and earnings returned to her.
She died at the age of 57 in relative obscurity after a long and painful illness brought on by a fall on an icy staircase.
Did you know that the Stonehaven Fatherland Burns Club is the only Burns Club in the world to have the word "Fatherland" in its title?
That is because Robert Burns had a very special connection to the Mearns and Stonehaven.
It was literally his "fatherland" - the land his father and forefathers had come from.
His father William was born in the Mearns in 1721. He lived there until 1748 before departing to seek his fortune.
His grandfather Robert Burnes (how the family used to spell their name) was a gardener at Dunnottar Castle who lost his job after the 1715 Rising and became a tenant-farmer.
He worked at a number of farms in the valley before settling at Clochnahill, a few miles south of Stonehaven on the A90. It was from here that Burns' father left for Edinburgh in hope of a better life and the spot is marked by a stone cairn.
Burns' connections to the Mearns stretch back to 1615 with the birth of his great-great grandfather at Bogjorgan Farm around 1615.
Burns came back to his "fatherland". On his Highland Tour in 1787 he visited farms and estates his family had had a connection with. He visited Glenbervie Cemetery to see graves of his great grandfather James and great grandmother Margaret, as well as his great grand uncle and aunt.
Sadly his reflections on the Mearns are non too poetic; his main observations were on the quality of the land, perhaps appropriate for the "ploughman poet". He described it as 'A rich and cultivated but still unenclosed country.'
Every year an event is held to commemorate the day Burns stopped to water his horse while traveling through the Mearns.
How will you be celebrating the birth of our national poet? Comment below on how you are spending Burns Night.
Thinking of popping the question this summer? This handy map from ROX has some top tips for where to buy the perfect outfit, choose the perfect ring and ask the dreaded question. We give our own take on their ideas and suggest some innovative proposal scenarios.
Some say that Aberdeen was built on seven hills, like Rome. For many there ends the connection with the most rome(antic) city of all. But anyone who knows Aberdeen is aware than it can possess a beauty that would rival even the City of Love. So if you are thinking of asking her (or him) to say 'Yes', why not check out this map of suitable Aberdeen locations? We guarantee it is a less hackneyed proposal setting than Rome.
1. Follow in the footsteps of history at the Beach Ballroom
Thousands of Aberdeen couples have met, falling in love and danced off into the sunset at the Beach Ballroom. A dance mecca since the 1929, why not celebrate your engagement by going for a spin on the amazing sprung floor?
2. Hunt for buried treasure at Balmedie
Why not plan a scavenger hunt at this beautiful beach, complete with clues that reference your relationship and a map leading him/her to where the engagement ring is buried. Only maybe substitute an plastic ring for the real thing.
3. Be insta-upstaged in the Cairngorms
Of course, no proposal is complete without the engagement photos and social media post. Be careful though that the breathtaking scenery of the Cairngorms doesn't steal the limelight!
4. Start your Happily Ever After at Craigievar
Supposedly the inspiration for the Disney castle, you couldn't have a more fairytale proposal than getting engaged at this stunning pink castle.
5. Get the pictures in early at Dunnottar
Is Dunnottar Castle one of the best backdrops for wedding photos ever? Yes. Is it also a right pain to have to climb 140-odd steps on your wedding day? Yes. Get the proposal pics at Dunnottar so you can go easy on your big day.
Think my ideas are a pile of piffle? Where would you suggest getting engaged in Aberdeen? Share your ideas in the comments below.
Tips for around and about Aberdeen.
The Franklin Expedition was a failed attempt to navigate the Northwest Passage. Its failure caused lots of unintended consequences - and led to a unique relationship with Aberdeen.
Find out what is going on in Aberdeen this weekend.
Everyday postboxes can tell you more about Scottish history than you might expect.
Staying at Aberdeen Youth Hostel? Go for a walk around Queens Road and see if you can spot these hidden gems.