Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Aerobic exercise, Scottish-style

Aberdeen is a great place for shopping. You have the mile-long main street, Union Street, plus three shopping centres off it, of which the one next to the station, Union Square, is the newest and probably the very best. All three feature big retailing names. Closest to Union Square is the Trinity shopping centre, and you can get more-or-less directly from one to the other by using a special walkway that begins opposite the station.

The entrance to this walkway looks innocent enough. 'How handy,' you think. Ha.

So you walk in, possibly with full shopping bags in each hand already. (Having spent an hour in a palatial Fat Face, and then a vast Boots, that was how it was for me) At some deep mental level you do know that there will be stairs up. You know this, because the station lies below the prevailing level of the city centre, and you have already caught glimpses of alleyways with steps in them, on these lines:

Still, they seem nice easy steps, something even an unfit Sussex type could manage. No worries!

But then you are confronted by the fearsome North Face of the Eiger. Ah, it must be an optical illusion. It just looks sheer, if not positively overhanging. And besides, everyone is walking up this long flight of steps. People of all ages, most of them with shopping bags. No turning back now. Get a grip. There's a level spot halfway up, where you can pause if you need to.

So up I go. By the Living Cringe, this is steep! It is practically vertical. But I actually get to the top before looking down:

No wonder they have provided grab-rails. Just in case you slip, the pitons don't hold, the ropes snap, and you free-fall to the bottom. I suck in more oxygen, wait for my goggles to clear, and then see something not noticed before. That blue line. And those blue words. The bottommost words are almost out of sight, but presumably say: TRINITY THIS WAY. Then, HERE COME THE STAIRS. That sounds like a warning: get set now for something challenging. Halfway up, DON'T STOP NOW. As if you would or could - it's on and upwards, the summit or death on the ice face. At the top, where I have arrived panting and rubber-legged, WHO NEEDS A GYM? Scottish humour again.

But the blue line doesn't end there. There is one more message for the intrepid mountaineer: WELL DONE YOU. Oh, thank you! Thank you very much! Suddenly I feel good.

I plant my flag, and walk into Debenhams, the store at the end of the blue line.

Some Aberdonians must climb those steps every day. They must be a fit lot in these parts!

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