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My Four Top Picks for Doors Open Day (Spoiler: None of Them Are Churches)

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My Four Top Picks for Doors Open Day (Spoiler: None of Them Are Churches)

If you have never been, Doors Open Day is when lots of buildings that are normally not open to the general public invite people to wander in and have a look around these normally out of bounds places. Meanwhile some places that might be regularly open to the general public offer something different than the usual, often with tea, coffee and tours on offer. The buildings open range from schools and churches to fire stations and courts.

Aberdeen’s Doors Open Day this year is the 7th of September. You can find the full programme here. All the buildings are free to visit and are generally open between 10am and 4pm. If you are travelling across town to different parts of the city, there is a free shuttle bus service from the city centre to the University of Aberdeen, stopping off at Foresterhill along the way.

While Aberdeen is blessed with many beautiful and historic churches, the last time I did Doors Open Day I was very church-ed by the end of it. This year I have decided to focus on the many other unusual places in Aberdeen.

1.       Aberdeen Sheriff Court

Aberdeen Sheriff Court Photo Credit:  Ragazzi99  [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Aberdeen Sheriff Court Photo Credit: Ragazzi99 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Although the courts are open to the general public, visiting the cells is a “privilege” reserved only for a few. This is one for the ‘gram, with a chance to try on lawyers’ gowns and, at the other end of the scale, prisoners’ handcuffs. There are also 30-minute tours, giving you a chance to hear about the history of the building and to learn how the courts work.

2.       Advocates Library

Advocates Library Photo credit: Doors Open Day Aberdeen

Advocates Library Photo credit: Doors Open Day Aberdeen

Just around the corner from the court is something truly special: this 1870 library is normally only ever open to members of the Society of Advocates in Aberdeen, which is a professional body for solicitors in the city. The organisation dates back to at least the eighteenth century and over the years they have amassed an impressive library.

3.       North East Scotland College

North East Scotland College Photo credit: Doors Open Day Aberdeen

North East Scotland College Photo credit: Doors Open Day Aberdeen

New to the Doors Open Day programme this year, NESC is opening its doors to let visitors see around its purpose-built facilities, including the hair and beauty department and training restaurant. While I balk slightly at going on a two-hour tour of the place, I am tempted by getting to see the planetarium which made a real impression on my eight-year-old mind the last time I visited.

4.       Cruikshank Botanic Garden

Cruikshank Gardens Photo credit: Doors Open Day Aberdeen

Cruikshank Gardens Photo credit: Doors Open Day Aberdeen

This Doors Open Day attraction comes recommended by someone on my weekend tour. While the Botanic Garden is open to the public, it is often overlooked. Get a new perspective on the garden by going on a tour with Curator Mark Paterson at 11am or 1pm. No need to book.

What are you most looking forward to visiting on Doors Open Day? Let me know your recommendations in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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New Craft Beer Tour Launches in Aberdeen

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New Craft Beer Tour Launches in Aberdeen

We are delighted to announce the launch of our newest tour – a craft beer tour of four city centre pubs in Aberdeen. 

Since 2010, Aberdeen has been making a name for itself as destination for craft beer lovers. On this small-group tour you’ll find out why that is, as we take you to four city centre pubs, linked to three independent craft breweries. The tour will be led by guide (and craft beer enthusiast) Rick and will be all about the history of craft beer, as well as the surprising, amusing and revealing tales of how these Aberdeen breweries developed. 

Of course, a craft beer tour would not be complete without sampling the beer itself. At each location you’ll get a 1/3 pint of a beer with a story to tell. We hope you’ll come away from the tour with some new favourites and some trivia to share next time you are down the pub. 

We'll be running one tour just before Christmas and one in January. Tickets are available now from our website and are £25 (including booking fee). But we want to keep this tour quite cosy and intimate so places are limited to 8 per tour. 

We're really excited about this new venture for SFT into something a little bit different for us and we hope to see some of you fans of beer and history along on the new tour. 

You can book a place on the tour here. If you have any questions, feel free to email us on scotfreetours@gmail.com

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My Five Must-See Shows at Techfest 2018

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My Five Must-See Shows at Techfest 2018

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.

Fascinating Forensics

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

The Bartender's Guide to Preservation

Picture credit: 10 Dollar Shake

Picture credit: 10 Dollar Shake

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

Wonder Workers

Photo credit: Matt Pritchard

Photo credit: Matt Pritchard

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

Universilly Challenged

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

The Ugly Animal Roadshow

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.

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5 Places to Get Engaged in Aberdeen

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5 Places to Get Engaged in Aberdeen

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.

proposal-guide-map.jpg

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?

Balmedie Beach. Credit juicyverve.

Balmedie Beach. Credit juicyverve.

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. 

Loch Avon, Cairngorms. Credit Nick Bramhall.

Loch Avon, Cairngorms. Credit Nick Bramhall.

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!

Craigievar Castle. Credit Nick Bramhall.

Craigievar Castle. Credit Nick Bramhall.

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.

Dunnottar Castle. Credit JuVlai.

Dunnottar Castle. Credit JuVlai.

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.

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