It was a grand day for a day out; a day of cloudless blue skies, and almost warm. And there was much to celebrate. For instance, I am reliably informed by the Canadian Professor, that today is the anniversary of the Battle of the Herrings (1429) and the independence of Chile (1818). Matthew the Jolly Publisher was saying rather dispiritingly last night or so that the trouble with Our Times is that fine weather in February just makes one worry about global warming. But there used to be fine weather in February once in a while before everyone started obsessing about the climate, and we were so glad to see it that we were not greatly disposed to wring our hands. The bank at the edge of the lawn is shimmering with the fragile purple goblets of the crocuses, the snowdrops are everywhere, the first of the London primroses has adjusted its horizons and put forth a tentative bud, and Miss Kit has temporarily shelved working on her recumbency problems and gone off to climb trees in the wood. By midday, the sky was the most extraordinary and brilliant blue, the sort of colour which usually happens with the aid of Ektachrome or these days, Photoshop, but for once, achieved by the unaided hand of nature, so we went up the Don to Kildrummy — a monument of Scottish Baronial, ugly but comfortable, and with a fabulous garden, made on either side of a precipitous gorge, and displaying a terrific variety of mature trees of all descriptions. They do a good lunch. While it is not the best food for miles around, it has the tremendous recommendation of unambitiousness. There is always game consommé or melon or soup of the day, they know how to make a tomato based sauce and a cream based sauce, and have no pretension towards ‘a jus infused with white truffle and vanilla’ and suchlike dubious notions. One goes with a great deal more confidence to a place which can do a few things properly than to somewhere with a menu the size of a telephone directory and a chef with an eye to fashion and a taste for experiment. Especially in the depths of the country, since anyone who is really any good at that sort of cooking would almost inevitably leg it for London, or at least, Edinburgh. It is also to be counted among Kildrummy’s significant virtues that stuff arrives pretty well the moment you have finished the previous course, on hot plates, the dining room is quiet, and the waiting staff are very genial. Given the celestial beauty of the setting and the drive, it all adds up to a very satisfactory deal. It made an excellent break from researching Old Aberdeen, not that that isn’t proving interesting from time to time. Still, what is the point of living in some of the most beautiful countryside in Scotland if you don’t go and look at it once in a while?