Christmas 2016

February 1st, 2017

Our Christmas break was lovely, we were all off for a week and a half and spent lots of quality family time together. Bryan cooked for many different groups of people, friends and family, and I just about kept up with all the dishes! Owen played table football, mostly, with anyone who would! This was his main present from Santa, he’d asked for it and a Super Hero colouring book so was lucky enough to get all he had requested and a little more!

Hogmanay 2016

We all did well in presents, especially with things to look forward to during the year: Bryan and I got each other tickets to the Country 2 Country music festival in Glasgow in March, my parents got us tickets to the very family friendly Belladrum music festival in August, Bryan’s Dad got Owen tickets to an Aberdeen football match and me a voucher for a massage (which has already been much enjoyed!).

This Christmas we decided to support one of the smaller, more local, pantomimes and went to the Tivoli theatre which is a lovely wee place which has recently been renovated and reopened after years of neglect. The show was Aladdin, which was fitting after our trip to Disney World last year and it was good fun. Although we’d only booked in November we got seats in the second row which was ace too!

Epcot at Disney World
Pantomime at Tivoli Theatre

Other local fun we got up to was photographing Owen with wooden sculptures that appeared around the city of the 12 Days Of Christmas. They were quite lovely, and it was fun trying to find them all!

12 Days of Christmas sculptures

This year the Gaelic school Mums had our Christmas night out in a casino, which was quite an experience. I enjoyed the lesson on how to play roulette and another game but was quite out of my depth when put out on the floor with a fiver’s worth of chips! The dinner and band were good though – and the company was fabulous! Even managed to get my photo taken with the band!

Gaelic Mum's Night oot

I hope you had a lovely festive period too and that 2017 treats you well.

2016 as seen by the Robertsons

December 20th, 2016

It must be said, that 2016 has been a fabulous year for my wee family. Mostly for the fact that we finally went on the holiday I’ve been dreaming of my whole life, and Bryan and I have spoken about for the 18 years since we met! When we got pregnant we declared the bump would be taken to Disney World when it was old enough, well it spent his 7th birthday in Magic Kingdom and had dinner with Mickey Mouse. Mission accomplished.

Must admit we said we were doing the “once in a lifetime” experience and our budget stretched somewhat accordingly, it was all wonderful and worth the saving up all year. However next time (oops how did that happen?!) we’ll do things differently. Hopefully next time the worst hurricane in a decade won’t delay our departure either, an extra night in Manchester doesn’t really equate with your first night at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando. Luckily our ace Travel Counsellor booked us into the same hotel as some friends from home and we met them for dinner, which almost made up for it! The day I’d allocated as traveling from Universal to Disney became a Universal day and we ended up not feeling like we’d missed out much – thank goodness it didn’t mess with my Disney Fast Passes itinerary!

We had a fabulous fortnight, meeting characters and going on rides. Highlights (one day I might blog the extended version!) were Bryan’s face at high fiving Homer Simpson; Owen’s awe stricken face meeting Aladdin; me getting on stage with Captain Jack Sparrow and being sworn in as a pirate; the Star Wars fireworks; Be Our Guest dinner in the Beast’s castle; Owen’s joy at driving a car on Tomorrowland Speedway; watching the animals from our balcony at Animal Kingdom Lodge; Bryan’s excitement at Princess Jasmine calling him Sultan; Merida telling Owen he had to eat 7 cakes that day as it was his 7th birthday, the last of which had his name on the top as he was presented with a specially made birthday cake after dinner that night which Kate, our Travel Counsellor, had ordered for him; Splash Mountain; all being hugged by Chewbacca; Captain America letting Owen help to hold his shield; getting my photo taken with Chip n Dale; Bryan’s goat affection; multiple crêpes in the Food and Drink Festival at Epcot for Owen and getting ”one of each” at the chocolate stall for Mummy! Yes, that really is just some highlights, the whole fortnight was magical and amazing, hence the “next time” phrase starting early in our holiday and continuing today.

First though, Bryan and I will be going to Rome in 2017 as our Travel Counsellor also pointed out a competition her company were running and, one video review of her services later, I won! So we get flights, transfers, 3 nights in a 5 star hotel and tickets to the Vatican and Sistine Chapel! Kate didn’t know I’d won till she attended her company conference and my review was played to her 16,000 colleagues on 3 massive screens, the poor things!!

Bryan’s work is going well, his company merged this year so there are changes afoot. He’s going to be attending more conferences, and in September Owen and I accompanied him to one in Miami! As his company was paying his flights and for a hotel room it seemed a shame not to take the opportunity to go, and we only had to pay for our 2 flights. So we went from never having been to America to going twice in 2 months! The trip was a good practice for long haul flights and dealing with the heat – plus the conference hotel was gorgeous with 3 pools and a beach front so we got lots of swimming done! I may have also gate crashed some of the evening entertainment and got a cuddle with a lemur…

 

All year I’d been saying I should lose weight for Disney but as soon as Bryan mentioned Miami all I could think was the Will Smith video with size zero girls in bikinis. It was great motivation and I lost half a stone before we went, for the first time I can remember I actually enjoy looking in a mirror and in November I even took part in a fashion show for a local dress hire company! I did turn 40 this year, but the distress was distracted by my super chums getting me a Meerkat Moment experience at Edinburgh Zoo, we had a lovely day out with some other chums from down there. For a glorious 30 minutes I was allowed in with the marvellous meerkats, to feed them and pose with them! I also got to meet, and stroke, an armadillo!

Jennie's photos of my Meerkat Moment at Edinburgh Zoo

My work is also going well, external hires of the Library have seen me at a Downton Abbey theme civic ceremony, watching magic shows, listening to great gigs, helping organise a marriage proposal dinner, and being put in a disappearing box by Harry Potter!! I had a work experience student all summer so it was nice to have some company as I’m usually alone in the office – and whilst he was there we finally finished cataloguing the library collection. I also stood down as Chair of the BIALL Website Committee and attended my last of their conferences as the time has come to face up to the fact I’m not really a Librarian anymore.

Owen is also doing well at school, although he’s in Primary 3 he now does maths and literacy with the P4-7 class. Usually in Gaelic Medium Education (GME) kids are not introduced to English until P4, but when Owen told his teacher about the Road Dahl and JK Rowling books he’d read in the summer holidays they decided he was probably ready! He is a voracious reader, one Friday night I took him to the public library for new books, as I tucked him into bed I suggested that maybe he could let me sleep a little past 7 in the morning. Bryan and I awoke the next morning at 9.45 and I went through and found he was happily reading – “I’ve finished 2 books so far Mum” he says! It is embarrassing when he asks for help with maths and I have to get a calculator out though! He now goes to a football club after school on a Tuesday and he’s just passed level 2B in swimming classes. Oh and I’ve become a Parent Advisor for Gaelic education in Aberdeen.

I also managed to find myself on the committee for Fèis Obar Dheathain (traditional music tuition and a Gaelic arts experience for young people). We ran an event at the May Festival and a stand alone session in November, now planning a “proper” 3 day event at the February half term. Owen attended both Fèis this year and really enjoyed them so fingers crossed for the next one!

We think we finally have the hot tub settled. It leaks constantly but we’ve had the bathroom floor and walls treated so this shouldn’t cause any problems. We finally got a complete bill from the engineer and got paid up so we no longer have that debt hanging over us. It’s temperamental and will continue to have issues but when it’s working you don’t care, it is a fab thing to sit in…for hours…

I’m still loving my concerts, this year Bryan and I escaped to Glasgow for a weekend at the County 2 Country music festival and I enjoyed wearing cowboy boots! We saw some fab performers and have again bought each other tickets for Christmas so we can go next Spring. For my birthday, my parents took me to see Nashville Live in Glasgow, was the first time I’ve been to a concert with my Dad and a great night. I also had a birthday night out with some chums to see Kathryn Joseph, which was quite an experience! I worked at the Enjoy Music Festival again and was put in charge of the ticket collector team, it was a fun day – and I enjoyed the last few acts once the gates were shut at 9pm! Through Gig Shot website I managed to get free review passes for a few concerts and saw Ronan Keating, Stereophonics, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, The View and Newton Faulkner. I also helped at the door of a few gigs my friends organised through their Flares and Seagulls music blog, saw quite a variety of different bands (and got chatted up by a drummer!). Owen was thrilled to come to two Best Girl Athlete concerts in my Library. At the first he got to meet the band, turns out Katie the lead singer went to his school, and the drummer even gave him a go on his drums! He was hanging out in the “green room” with the American bands who were also playing that night and spoke some Gaelic to them, which one in particular appreciated. I won tickets to see Red Hot Chili Peppers down in Glasgow so had a fun road trip with our cousin Nicole who’s quite a fan! I did try to actually buy tickets to see Busted, but a lovely Twitter chum set me up with free ones, with awesome seats that meant we were really close to the boys for 3 songs! We had another family trip to Party at the Palace and enjoyed our beloved Proclaimers again, as well as Gun, Bootleg Beatles and Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5.

I know 2016 hasn’t been as kind to everyone but I hope you had some happy times and go into 2017 with a good bank of memories. Here’s hoping the year ahead treats us all kindly.

Proclaimers

December 20th, 2016

The time had come to take Owen to his first concert, but what should we take him to? I’d been looking out for things that would be appropriate one day remember listening to music Bryan suggested that if The Proclaimers came to town they would be ideal. We all love the Proclaimers and Owen knew many of their lyrics so that seemed perfect.

Finally I saw a tour advertised which included an Aberdeen date. I sent Bryan the details and we got tickets organised. Because Owen is under 14 we had to have seated tickets but I managed to get quite central in the third row. We were all looking forward to the evening.

A few weeks before the concert I asked Owen what he would like to wear to see The Proclaimers. I explained that some fans like to wear a T-shirt of the band at their gigs, he said he would like to do the same so I went on to The Proclaimers website to look for t-shirts in his size and was disappointed to find that there only adult t-shirts available. However I did find some press photographs of The Proclaimers and then noticed the email address for their management so I sent a wee email saying that we were taking our son to his first proper concert and that he would like a T-shirt to wear to see them. Response came saying that many young fans wear the small size of t-shirt and so I ordered one. When it arrived Owen tried it on but unfortunately it looked like a dress on him coming down to his knees. In great hysterics I sent a photo to the management and said that actually we might just make our own!

Small may be too big for my lad..

Surprisingly a response came back apologising and asking if perhaps Owen might like a photo with Craig and Charlie by way of apology. In great excitement I replied accepting this kind offer and stating our availability for the weekend.

The night before the concert I was at my works’ annual dinner greeting guests with the President of the Society. I took my phone out to take a photo of some of our members just as a notification of a new email arrived from the management of The Proclaimers. The email asked if Owen was still available to go backstage before the concert the next evening. I replied yes and asked if my husband and I could join him and where we should report to.

So on Saturday the 28th of November Bryan was driving Owen and myself to the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre. Caught up in the excitement I tweeted that we were taking Owen into his first concert to see The Proclaimers and Daniel Meade a country artist we had seen at the Southern Fried Festival during the summer and that we were all very excited.

Ourselves and one of the couple got taken backstage. Once we were outside the dressing room the couple were asked to wait and we were taken forward and introduced to Charlie and Craig. Suddenly my son became very shy and awkward, his dad sat with him on the floor and he sat there with big eyes staring at these two men we had listened to so many times before. I asked him his question, which was if they could speak Gaelic and they said unfortunately no, so we said that Owen could teach them which surprised them until we explained that he was at the Gaelic School. They very kindly signed his program for the concert and then I suggested it would be nice to get a photo. Suddenly Owen jumped up full of smiles and with his thumbs up!

The Proclaimers at AECC

Obviously I couldn’t resist the opportunity and got another photo with myself included and then it was time to go and find our seats. We got taken out by the side of the stage and felt very special as everyone looked at us wondering where we had been as we grinned manically.

The excitement didn’t stop there, whilst we were waiting for the concert to begin my friend came in and we had a chat with her about our backstage experience. Then it was time for Daniel Meade, a few songs in he stopped and dedicated a song to Owen, a 6 year old, who is at his first concert! I turned to Owen in shock and said “that’s you” and his excited smile split his face from ear to ear.

Our third row seats were just perfect as no one sat in the two before us so we could see straight out over the standing crowd to the stage, although that was a fair distance. Owen sang along, clapped along, tried to take photos. Part way through The Proclaimers he started to look tired and sat on my knee, snaked his arms round my neck and snuggled into my chest. Still he was listening and it’s not as if there was a dance routine that needed watched. I was worried that he might fall asleep and miss some of the fun but at the end of each song his hands started clapping – still round the back of my neck. His dad tried to wake him up with a sugar hit from an ice cream and his smile got even bigger as he licked his way through the cone.

Even though it was over a year ago we still all remember that night well, obviously the Proclaimers are The Awesome anytime but when it’s your first concert and you’re spoilt rotten, well those are memories you’ll treasure forever!

The Proclaimers at AECC

As if that wasn’t all magical enough Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre then ran a competition just before Christmas to win an IWatch, I entered the photo of Owen with the Proclaimers and…we won!  Daddy was very confused when given an IWatch for Christmas as we’d said we’d not get each other anything but its always nice to get an extra surprise!

2015 summing up time!

December 14th, 2015

So 2015 has been an exciting year for the Robertsons. Owen has been to his first proper music festival and his first proper concert, much to his Mum’s delight. We were at Party in the Palace in Linlithgow to see Julie Fowlis the Gaelic singer, among others. We took his cousin Lucas with us so that made it more fun.

Owen & Lucas at Party at the Park

I also took him to his first album signing at HMV, where we heard a few songs from, and then met The Shires.

Owen meets The Shires

At the Celebrate Aberdeen festival he had a song dedicated to him by local talent Best Girl Athlete which made him quite happy.  When he learned his alphabet K was for Katy, the lead singer!  He was actually supposed to be at a gig she did in a local cathedral on the night of her 16th birthday but unfortunately he wasn’t well so I had to go without him.  Katy and her Dad Charley were kind enough to send me home with a signed poster for him!

Celebrate Aberdeen festival - day 2, 2015

We also attended the free outdoor stage at Perth’s Southern Fried Festival of American root music. The most thoughtful festival I’ve ever been to – when it started to rain they brought round a box of umbrellas, much to Owen’s delight! He and I also did the Strathyre Music Festival again, including a drumming workshop which he really enjoyed. The lad was truely spoilt at the Proclaimers too, not only did we manage to get invited back stage to meet Craig and Charlie, but the support act Daniel Meade and the Flying Mules had apparently seen on social media that it was Owen’s first proper concert and dedicated a song to him!!

The Proclaimers at AECC

Another amazing experience he had was being invited into the kitchen of The Courtyard restaurant. He helped Chris Toner the owner, butcher a shoulder of lamb and cook some and then his highlight was sticking a knife into a lobster’s brain!! He wasn’t so keen on eating it afterwards though so I had to help him!

Chef in the kitchen at The Courtyard amazing experience

Our “summer holiday” this year was to the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye. Parents spend the week in lectures whilst the kids got to do crafts, sports, archery and even tried canoeing – another enjoyable first for Owen! On the Thursday night there was a ceilidh for all the families and we were shocked to find out that each class had to sing a song! My class did the Hokey Cokey whilst Bryan’s did a more serious number – and there was another first as he stood up in front of everyone with the microphone and introduced his class’ performance! I’d wondered why he was quite so nervous! The college is in a gorgeous location and had a good canteen, although we did escape to a local restaurant one night as a family treat. Luckily the weather was quite agreeable, we even missed a monsoon in Aberdeen that had shopping centres and the airport closed due to flooding!

Sabhal mor ostaig - Fèis an Eilein / Skye Fest

Owen’s Gaelic is doing well, now in P2 he’s reading with the year above and does maths exercises with them too. In the first week back he got a Good Kid Call for helping the new P1s, another lovely benefit of composite classes.  We helped out on the Gaelic education stall at the Aberdeen Highland Games too.  The boy is obcessed with maths, he complained during the summer when I dropped him at Holiday Club that he just wanted to go to lessons and learn more maths! Luckily Asda had Star Wars themed maths books that kept him happy till the teachers returned! We went to see his Christmas Carol Service last week, he’d been working hard learning his lines and even covered for his classmate who was off sick on the day. His swimming lessons are also going well and he moves into the next class up in the new year. He also goes to Gaelic Youth Club every week which he really enjoys.  We did try street drumming for a while this year, which we both enjoyed, but the timing of it didn’t really work out and we had to give it up.

School certificates

Work wise, Bryan’s is going well and we’re both now used to his trips to the Manchester office. In fact this update was written on the flight to and from his Christmas party down there! My work has been crazy busy, with the external hires of the library really taking off. We’ve had gin tastings, meetings, quizzes, dinner’s, lunches, seminars, photo shoots, and parties galore! Only one wedding this year but next year we have 4 booked including our first same sex, and first themed wedding! They are lovely chaps and going for Downton Abbey theme so that should be an amazing day! End of January we have a concert for a local music promoter so fingers crossed that goes well and leads to more. Actually a local musician, Oliver Richards recorded some music videos in the library this year to promote himself for a world tour next year – “Live at the Library”, most exciting!

My boys continue to be football crazy, following Manchester United and Aberdeen FC. Not been to many games but watched a few on TV and Owen reads the local paper’s The Score every Monday night when we get home! He also trades football cards with his school mates – and spends hours arranging the cards into teams or positions or whatever! For his 6th birthday he wanted an AFC strip and football party – which seemed to please everyone (once we persuaded him he didn’t need to restrict invitations to those who love and are good at football!).

Birthday Cake!

As well as enjoying the aforementioned live music with my family I did some extras without them. The most amazing was that I won front row tickets to see U2! As soon as I heard I texted my cousin Dave to ask if I was going “with or without you”. So we met up in Glasgow the weekend before his 40th and had an amazing night out. I’d not told him we were also getting in the Hydro Club Bar, we felt like proper VIPs! The next day my folks took us out for lunch, bringing along Dave’s brother Tony as a surprise (he was in Scotland on a course!). Special times!

Lunch at the Ubiquitous Chip

I also saw my theme tune – Stupid Girl by Garbage – live again. They played Usher Hall in Edinburgh and it was a wonderful and unique experience, including Shirley Manson’s Dad making a surprise visit to the stage.  Support was the most enjoyable Dutch Uncles.  I reviewed X Factor Live Tour again and Simply Red, requested that one as Natalie Imbruglia was supporting but they were both great. My friend George put on his first gig so I manned the door and enjoyed being part of the whole thing. Met the Media Whores and enjoyed Rumtumtartar and Life on Standby. I also worked at 2 dance music festivals in the city, wages paid for some of my other tickets, and I got to hear various acts in the process: Sasha, KatyB, Pendulum DJ set and Darius Syrossian. Also saw Prodigy supported by Public Enemy, The Answer supported by Bad Touch and the Picture Books, Jack Savoretti, Placebo supported by Mirror Trap.  Also seeing Texas next weekend.  Bryan and I also attended the Energy Ball this year as guests of the John Clark Motors Group and saw an amazing band called Swanband, from Paris.  A very good year for me musically!

We had a few family outings to various events: Scottish Ballet doing The Nutcracker, Aberdeen v Dundee at Pittordrie, Dr Bunhead’s science show, we saw a modern dance show called Windibops, we went to a Frozen Tea Party, we were VIP guests at the relaunch of our local Brewsters play area, an anniversary tour and ceilidh at my high school, a Shorts and Shades party, Farm Open Day at The Store, and Owen took part in a Super Heroes School.  There was a Gaelic kids day out to Crathes Castle when we went on the steam train, as well as a tubing session and Mud Pies with them – bbq-ing marshmallows and building tree houses! We also took Owen and Maya to Disney on Ice when it was in town.

Happy Mother's Day to me! Rink side at Disney on Ice and we've stolen a Princess to join us

Bryan and Owen had some “man time” at a Rumbling Romans and Wicked Warriors event at a local castle (click arrows at side of picture to see the full album photo album!).

Rumbling Romans & Wicked Warriors at Castle Fraser

We have my parents coming for Christmas, they are looking after Owen for the week between school and my work closing. On the 25th we have various members of Bryan’s side joining us although unfortunately his Dad will be offshore. Bryan and I have treated ourselves to tickets for County 2 Country music festival in Glasgow in March as our Christmas presents to each other so are looking forward to that.

Next year I have to face turning 40 and we’ve declared its finally time we made it to Disney Florida after all these years of wanting to go, so all being well next years round up will just be pictures of Mickey et al.! In the meantime we have even more saving up to do!

Hope 2015 has been kind to you and that you have a wonderful Christmas.

Help a library!

July 30th, 2015

As you may have noticed I recently did a book review for Prattsburg Free Library, way off in America.  I did mention it here.

Anyway the whole idea behind this project is to get people interested and interacting.  Obviously people local to the library would be their key audience as they want people to visit the library.  As a variation to the book review idea we wondered if we could get some postcards from around the world to do an exhibition with.  It can be of your home town, or where you’re on holiday.  What would be really great would be if you could write a quick book review on the back, although I think anything (polite!) you’d like to write about books would be much appreciated.  That way the exhibition can have pictures from the front of the postcards and our words of wisdom from the back of the postcards and it should end up looking awesome!

It will only cost you a few minutes, a postcard and stamp, and will be much appreciated.  The address to send it to is:

Prattsburg Free Library

PO Box 426
26 Main Street
Prattsburgh
NY 14873

Their website is: http://prattsburgfreelibrary.org/

Yours hopefully!  Please share this onto anyone you think might be willing to join in

 

Step 1: Buy a Postcard

Step 1 - buy a postcard

Step 2: Write the postcard

Step 2 - write the postcard

Step 3: Buy postage stamp and stick it on

Step 4: Choose a book, I went for something local, and write a review of it

Finally chose a book for my postcard book review project

Step 5: Post it!

Enjoy Music festival, Hazelhead, Sat 25th July

July 28th, 2015

Sometime ago I heard that there was a dance music type festival coming to Aberdeen. As I love music I had a nosy. It wasn’t really my kind of music but I found on their website that they were looking for staff so I thought it might be a good way to experience new things and get a free lug full of different tunes!

Enjoy Music website

So on Saturday I spent the day scanning barcodes and applying wristbands to hundreds of wrists.

Wristbands

You would be amazed at the differences in wrists by the way – some I could wrap it round twice, some it barely went right round! Some had tattoos, good watches, lovely jewellery, and some were so sweaty I had to wipe my hand afterwards! Then there were levels of hairiness, one chap was really upset I caught a hair in the sticky bit – I didn’t mean to but it’s difficult to get the sticky monsters on straight first time especially when a bus has just delivered a load of folk and they all want past us to the fun stuff!

I was working with some lovely people which added to my fun, for example the guy from Skiddle, the ticket company who had all the clever technology for scanning. We actually just used iPhones to scan – and if someone’s barcode wouldn’t scan you could search for their name. Simple! Plus you could see how many tickets were sold, it was interesting as ticket sales were left open during the event – there were 300 sold after it started – some on phones right in front of us. The wonders of technology!

We were stationed in between the security guards who were searching bags and asking for ID to ensure everyone was over 18, and the police with their sniffer dogs. I loved watching the dogs work, they seemed so happy and excited to sniff everyone but if they smelt something they had been trained to search for they gave a sign and the person was taken away to be searched and interrogated.

My colleagues for the day

The police also had some clever technology…well as long as it was working which unfortunately on this occasion wasn’t long! They wiped a person’s hand then put the swab in their machine and it could tell if the person had handled drugs recently. I was most intrigued!  Apparently 2 men ended up in court for dealing drugs as a result.

It was all most interesting seeing what goes into a music festival.  I arrived when the place was set up but empty, was quite strange.  I spoke to the organiser Russell Aitchison and he was telling me about the walk round checks he had to do with the council for the license for the event and for Health and Safety.

Music festivals are quiet when you get there early

There was one chap turned up an hour before the gate opened. We explained doors didn’t open yet and he looked disappointed but stood to one side out the way patiently.  The chap from Skiddle was careful to ensure he was the first in, once we realised it was past opening time! He got his pic taken by the local press photographer for being first in and posed with his ticket and some wrist bands.  Anyway I saw him at the end of the night right against the barrier waving at KatyB through her performance and totally enjoying himself.  I kinda felt it made it all worthwhile you know?  He was totally Enjoying the Music and lost in that glorious feeling of seeing someone you love on stage.  There were a few faces like that when I wandered round Pendulum, Sasha and KatyB.

Earlier in the day hadn’t been so pretty – there were some people left, complained, asked for refunds as there was a queue for the bar.  I must admit I just felt sorry for them if they felt they needed to get drunk to have a good time.  Why go to a music festival if you’re only interested in getting drunk – there’s beer festivals, or just pubs!  We got grief on the door for the fact that people couldn’t go out and back in again too, I tried to patiently explain that it was due to the licensing for the event and it wasn’t up to us or the organiser but some people got quite abusive about it.  I did feel sorry for a couple of people that seemed to have genuine reasons for wanting out but it was in the terms and conditions of the event and the festival was in a park at the edge of the city, you would think people would just want to make the most of the music whilst it lasted!  Still, we all have different priorities in life.  One of my main ones is music, hence helping at the festival.

I did get to hear everything from the main stage from the gate which was fab.  I really enjoyed Fridge Magnets and local lass Cara Mitchell.  Once I finished work I managed to catch the end of Pendulum‘s DJ set.

Pendulum DJ set at Enjoy Music

Then I hit Food Street and had a wonderful pulled pork sandwich with Angus & Oink sauce (cue Homer Simpson like slobbering).  After that I wandered up to the Digital Love Dance Tent to see, or rather hear, Sasha.  Once KatyB started I wandered back to the main stage and had a wee boogie to her pop-tastic tunes.  She was quite fun, but did something that annoys me – didn’t sing every second word of her most popular song so the audience could fill in the gaps.  I didn’t go to hear a load of (mostly) untalented and (some) drunken singers, but hey ho, its a crowd pleaser so it was good to see everyone enjoying themselves!  Especially that chap that was there queuing an hour before the gates opened.

Katy B

A staff perk was having my car in the staff car park so I offered some friends a lift home, after bumping into them at the end of Sasha’s set once the main stage had gone dark and quiet, and soon afterwards was dropping them in the city centre before heading home.

I really enjoyed my day, I guess that’s another thing off my imaginary music orientated bucket list.  Work at a music festival – check!  I’m still buzzing from being there.  I’m not sure if it was the contact with loads of people, the fab tune-age or the fact I was part of the team whereas I’m used to being just another person in the crowd.  It was fun meeting most of the crowd on their way in, some just took their wristband and went but some engaged in banter – one even hugged me!  Still wondering why one chap waited until he had my attention to do up his cuff buttons, but I obliged none the less.

My day even allowed me to match the recent photo opportunity my son Owen got at his holiday club, thanks to a very nice police lady! :

Owen and a run in with the Police                                              Handcuffed!

Book review

July 27th, 2015

Through LinkedIn I was approached to do a children’s book review for an American library.  As I have one of those small children things I thought it would be fun to do with him and Pete who had approached me agreed.

I must admit it wasn’t as easy a project as I had envisioned, a 5 year old’s mind is a strange beast, but it has now been published.  If you would like to read it the review Owen and I did of The Gruffalo is here.

Working on his first book review

 

 

Several years ago when we used to go hunting Gruffalo on Perwinnes Moss:

Hunting Gruffalo

2014 wrap up

December 24th, 2014

Ok so no I haven’t blogged much this year and I’m sorry, and yes my new year resolution is to try harder next year, obviously!  Anyway here’s a round up of 2014 for you so if you’ve not been following my Flickr page for the year in pictures this should cover the main bits!  Happy Reading!

Choosing photos to put on this post was very hard, could have had hundreds, it would seem that we have been living life to the fullest this year with lots of wonderful memories to carry forward, so that has to be good!

In January we had a once in a lifetime trip to Old Trafford.  For those of you who don’t know, this is the home of football, or more specifically Manchester United.  Bryan’s lovely firm Adept4 gave us tickets for a match, which also gave us access to the VIP Corporate Suite, so the game itself was quite an experience.  We took his Dad, Reg with us and it was quite something to see the 3 generations enjoying themselves.  It seemed a long way to go just for a match so we had a few days down there and did the stadium tour, ate in the Red Café and managed to get to Imperial War Museum and finally Legoland Discovery for me.  Amazing time!

Man U tour - Robertsons at Old Trafford

We had another holiday in May, this time stayed with 2 of my English cousins and their families.  David lives near a train station that could take us straight to London so we left him our car for a couple of days and went down.  Was lovely to catch up with David and Tony and to get to know all their boys – and Owen had the time of his life on a constant “play date”!  We enjoyed Hollow Tree Farm, Hamleys, changing the guard at Buckingham Palace, Natural History Museum, Tower of London and Dryburgh Abbey (broke the journey down in the Borders!).  It was great to get away and have some quality family time and all the places we went were fabulous.  Luckily my boys enjoyed London as much as I’d hoped so fingers crossed for many return visits!

The night before we left was great excitement too, in January Owen had joined a boy’s Street Dance class and every year the dance school does a show at the Beach Ballroom.  Owen and, his chum from nursery, Lakshman were amazing – even though they were on in the second half which was way past their bedtime!  The cute thing was that Owen’s girlfriend was in the first half with her ballet class so there are a couple of photos of the young love back stage!  Unfortunately after that girls were allowed to join the street dance class and the boys lost interest – so Owen has moved onto swimming lessons and Gaelic youth club as his after school activities.

The lad and his gal backstage as their dance school's show

School, oh yes, this year our baby turned 5 and started at the Gaelic school, he’s loving learning a new language – and trying to teach us it.  I’m quite looking forward to P3 when they introduce English into their daily lessons and I might be a bit less lost with the homework!  Our house is covered in flashcards with the Gaelic, a phonetic version and then the English translation so we can try and work the language into our day.  I must say Bryan is much better at it than I am but I do try!  Owen has settled into school well and made friends easily, quite a few of whom are in P3/4 so that’s good for him I think (although he does now know the word Boobs…).  He was Star 11 in the school nativity and learnt his lines well.

School boy!!

Of course these were not the first lines he’s ever learnt as in March he got auditioned to be in the Terence Davies movie of Sunset Song!  He made it to the short list so his audition video would have been shown to the Director.  I’ll be interested to see who Young Euan was when the movie comes out – not that I can let Owen watch the whole thing until he’s older as its quite a dark story!

Bryan and I are fine too, he’s recently changed role at his work and now has to travel quite regularly.  This is taking some getting used to as my schedule used to depend on him being there to look after Owen but we’re getting there.  I did make him take lots of photos during his trip to Amsterdam, but usually he’s just down to headquarters in Manchester.  My work is ever busier, this year we’ve provided the venue for 4 weddings, several parties, dinners, networking events and meetings.  Of course I need to do this on top of my usual Society work.  I’ve been networking with BNI, Aberdeen PA and we joined local Chamber of Commerce to try and raise our profile.  I also became Chair of the BIALL Website Committee – which is a bit more time consuming than I had allowed for!  Still – never a dull moment!!

Creagan is still on the market unfortunately but this year they have closed for the whole of the winter and they even travelled, to America.  My parents are on “babysitting” for 22-24th December as that’s part of the school holidays but I’m at work, then they are going to stay for Christmas Day and we’re hoping Reg and Sasina will join us so Owen will get all his grandparents to himself.  Boxing Day we’re off to the pantomime with Ray, Nicole and their kids and then on the Saturday we’re getting to see Lee and our 4 nieces and nephews as he has custody of them this year.  So it should be a fabulous family orientated festive season, just as it should be!

I’ve not been to as many concerts this year, but I did review The Answer, X Factor Live Tour and Fatherson with Model Airplanes.  I paid for a ticket (!) for the Levellers and also went down to Glasgow for McBusted with 3 chums and we had a fabulous time.  I was so excited at seeing the boys I was nearly sick – although that could have been the height of Glasgow Hydro, luckily turning yellow and shaky gets you a lower seat!  Most exciting was our friend Dan’s first ever gig, he plays guitar and his instructor arranged an afternoon in a pub for his students to show off their talents.  Dan played and his Granddad sang, it was great.  Bryan took some photos and then later we did a photo shoot with him and his guitar, some of which Dan’s parents emailed to the guitar company as they came out rather well!  Owen joined in too with Dan’s banjo…!

Music Man!

Owen actually took the next photo, of us all, using the remote at his birthday party, which we had in my library.  Even Iron Man turned up to join in the festivities!  It was a great day with lots of his friends and a face painter and various activities.  My library was NOT quiet for a moment that day!

Owen 5th birthday

I’m still loving our house by the sea, and Owen’s collection of sea shells is still growing steadily!  Unfortunately our hot tub spent a lot of this year on its side but the leaks do seem to be getting smaller so hopefully soon it will be sorted…maybe…

Gosh nearly signed off without mentioning #wilddolphins that would not be right!  This summer Aberdeen played host to 50 big dolphins decorated by different artists, there were also about 18 done by schools that were in public libraries.  We spent many an hour travelling round getting a photo of them each, such as top right.  It was a wonderful project, took us to new places, had us walking for miles from one to the next, encouraged an interest in different art techniques, and got us talking to all sorts of other people out dolphin hunting.  Plus it was all for charity and each big dolphin was auctioned at the end and raised a lot of money.  Some lovely people even put the dolphin they bought in a public place so we can still enjoy one – SpiderDolphin is at the children’s hospital for example.  Missed them when they left though, quite strange how attached you got to them!

Our first dolphie!  #wilddolphins

And that’s about 2014 as it was for the Newtonhill Robertsons, have to say it’s been rather good to us.  Hope it’s been a good year for you too – and that 2015 is even better for everyone!

Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun?!

February 12th, 2014

So it’s my 7 year anniversary at work, the longest I’ve ever stayed in a job by far. I am the Executive Secretary and Librarian for the Society of Advocates in Aberdeen.

maria-2013

When I took the job it was an opportunity to reach my personal goal of moving back to Aberdeen.  I was frustrated to start with, as I wasn’t using my Librarianship degree.  In fact I even applied for some other jobs and had a couple of interviews.  As time has gone on though I’ve developed the role and recently I’ve found myself faltering when I’ve gone to say my usual “I left my dream job in Edinburgh”.  I did absolutely love being Reader Services Librarian at the Advocates Library and it fulfilled the librarian side of me, but now I love my job at the Society and it fulfils me as a person.

SoA Library

I have a lovely law library to cherish, plus I get to organise and run events. I’ve always been the one to arrange nights out, help on social committees etc so this suits me well. Plus growing up in a Restaurant with Accommodation I’m used to laying tables, discussing menus, greeting guests.  Now we are also encouraging external hire of the library and we’ve had our first wedding (ceremony and reception) and concert in the library. I was involved in organising both and was present start to finish and can honestly say both dates are up there in my top 10 amazing days of my life.  Hard work but so enjoyable and satisfying!

I have often joked that I don’t have a pension or health insurance but I get enough free meals and left overs that it equals out.  In truth I doubt there are many jobs that an employee is as well treated as I am, I’m well paid and given frequent thanks and praise for what I do, plus they are flexible when I have requests like attending my son’s nativity.  Owen and Bryan are both accepted as part of the Society’s family and are welcomed at events from time to time. Owen loves coming to the library and sometimes helps me clear up after a Library Lunch, his favourite job is blowing out the candles.. although he’s always keen to clear up left over tablet too…

It’s not all perfect obviously but there’s certainly more days that I think “right, off to work” rather than “urgh can’t I stay under the duvet”.  I’ve always said that I had to do a job that makes me happy, we spend too large a proportion of our lives working not to, so I consider myself very lucky to have this position.  I wouldn’t cope well in a boring repetitive job and thrive on the constant chain of new challenges, it’s rare that you get 2 days the same!

It’s an unusual job in many ways: I work in an office by myself, with occasional visits from the other employee, the caretaker; I attend and participate in most of the events I arrange, getting to play hostess and getting paid to do fun things like go to the theatre or have lunch with our lovely members; I’m paid a full time salary for almost part time hours (library hours 9.30-1, 2-4 but then cover all events too); and, my boss changes every year.  I’m governed by a Management Committee and every November there’s a new Junior Vice President who’s selected, then becomes Senior VP, and then President. At least I know 2 years in advance who my boss will be and can start breaking them i….I mean getting an idea of how to work best with them. One incumbent made me promise to stay for at least 4 years to cover their time before accepting the role, which I still take as a huge compliment – and hopefully they didn’t regret it!

The people are lovely (mostly!).  Obviously the Society’s members are all solicitors, or retired solicitors.  I also try to look after our annuitants – widows of deceased members who joined the annuity fund.  Then there’s the people who hire the library, speakers who agree to come and give seminars, and our permanent tenants – the Scottish Courts.  It’s interesting working with a variety of people, but reassuring to have the known faces of members.  They’ve all accepted me with open arms and they are appreciative of my efforts, which is satisfying. Recently I sent out an email about a new room hire information sheet I’d worked on with a lovely photographer and I got an email back acknowledging my efforts.  Not that “thank you” or “good job” emails are unusual in my inbox but this one really meant a lot as he referred to Dorothea Bruce who used to have my job and left large boots to fill when she retired.  Many people have told me stories about her and she will never be forgotten at the Society so to be told she’d probably approve of developments since I joined seems high praise indeed.

So what have I achieved in 7 years?  That’s a hard question to answer properly as I work with the Management Committee so many of the achievements are team efforts.  However I have spearheaded and been most instrumental in some things, such as the planning, creation and maintenance of a website.  This gives a set place for members to find details of all our events, for prospective members to find out about membership and for members of the public to find out a bit more about us, our members, or our venue for hire.

When I started there was a spreadsheet with some details of the items in our extensive law library.  I’m working through adding locations so you can actually find things if wanted and we now have a searchable online catalogue (of the key texts and one day it will be everything).  I’ve also rearranged the textbooks so they are all together and in proper alphabetical order, and I currently have a work experience library student creating a See Also reference document to accompany the collection.

There is now a job manual with instructions for the key tasks – and one day I will get more regular duties covered!  I’ve developed and trained a team of cover staff so the library is still open in my absence (holidays, professional leave and sickness).

When I started all payments in and out were made by cash or cheque.  We now use BACS, DD and Standing Orders which streamlines procedures and ensures bills are paid promptly, it also saves postage, waiting for a counter signatory to come by, and trips to the bank.  I think this is especially great when it comes to our annuitants as some of them are less mobile so now the money goes straight into their bank account and they don’t need to get someone to pay the cheque in for them.

Similarly most of our communications are done electronically so members are kept up to date by email. We have separate mailing lists for different interests, eg social events, seminars, court practitioners, new professionals.  AGM paperwork used to get posted out at great cost in postage, time and trees, now only 30 of them get posted, the other 300 are sent electronically.  A few clicks rather than hours of photocopying and envelope stuffing!

We have a self serve coffee shop that members can use and this covers the cost, and gets more use out of, the Press and Journal – which I need to check each day for deaths of members or their partners.  Cheery!

One thing I’m very proud of – as it’s been complimented by members and a similar organisation to ours set up a mirror service in their city – is my Will Search service.  Basically if someone dies in Scotland their family needs to know where their will is (drawer in house or solicitor).  If it’s not known they then need to make reasonable efforts to find it before dealing with the estate of their loved one.  I believe in England there’s a central database which makes a lot of sense and I urge Scottish people to ensure their family knows where their will is, just in case.  Anyway after a few enquiries it dawned on me that the Society was a central organisation that could assist with this in Aberdeen.  After discussion with the Management Committee I emailed round our members and asked for a contact from each firm that could check for any wills I was asked for, I then set up a mailing list of these contacts and put a list on our website and any requests get emailed round, saving a lot of time and effort and covering all the main firms in Aberdeen.

I have also presented a seminar on transferable skills (text available here and slides here) to the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians and been part of their Web Committee.  Both scary steps to take but great things to add to a Professional Achievements list.

All that and I now have an awesome 4 year old son and my forever house with sea views. Thanks Aberdeen, so glad we came back!

Festive Fun

February 12th, 2014

We had a lovely Christmas and managed to fit quite a bit into the 2 weeks holiday we had (including some work – no rest for the wicked!).  Owen made us very proud by being picked to play Joseph in the Christmas show at his nursery.  We kept it a secret from everyone but I practised his lines with him so was in on it – although I wasn’t allowed to hear any of the songs before the big day!  I went up to get a photo of him and Mary at the end and he swiftly replaced her with one of the dancers, cheeky monkey.  Her name is Sophia and he has declared several times he wants to marry her – and assured me the other day he asked her and she nodded, so I guess that’s quite official.  Anyway, this is a picture of Joseph with his proud Dad at the end of the show.

Christmas Eve Bryan and I both needed to work the morning so my friend Gill and her son Dan took Owen to the cinema to see Frozen.  In the evening we had heard the International Space Station would be passing overhead so we went out and Owen was excited to see Santa’s sleigh fly across the horizon – obviously on his way to kiddies down south with earlier bed times whilst he waited for Owen to fall asleep, which happened as soon as the reindeer food, Santa dust, and usual plate of goodies by the tree were all in place!

Christmas Day was just the 3 of us and heaps of presents to play with.  Owen’s favourite present is a “Golden Lion” which Santa got traditionally made by an African lady.  This tied in nicely with our visit to Lion King in November and the fact that Grandda was offshore in Angola for Christmas.  So much for all the amazing battery powered things etc that kids get these days!  In the evening we started watching a bit of Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, I wasn’t sure Owen would take to ballet, but he totally loved it and ended up staying up late so he could see the end!  I hadn’t realised quite how “grown up” some of it would be but he was quite oblivious so it was fine.  So nice snuggled up on the sofa with him watching such amazing dancers.

Boxing Day we met up with Ray, Nicole and their kids and went to the pantomime in Aberdeen with Elaine C Smith.  It was Cinderella and was thoroughly enjoyed by all!

On the Friday we met up with the Young family from Edinburgh and had cakes and a catch up with them before heading to my parents place for a couple of nights.  The Saturday was our “Creagan Christmas” with pressies and a lovely roast dinner and then we headed home on the Sunday.

Hogmanay we had brother Lee and his partner Leanne over for dinner and “a sleepover” as Owen insists it is whenever anyone stays the night!  Bryan cooked us all yummy stovies then Owen went to bed and us grown ups attacked my bubbles supply.  It was a lovely evening just chatting and drinking – and Leanne shared my tradition of having a wee sparkler at midnight!

January 1st we met up with Ray and Nicole and their kids and another family and went for a lovely walk through the forest at Crathes Castle.  I would have liked to have been snuggled under a duvet watching a DVD but it was great to get some fresh air and start the year energetically!

Bryan had to work the Thursday-Friday so Owen and I took the chance of a second trip to Creagan.  My folks then took us a trip to see the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies which were amazing.  It also gave me some time to move out some more of my “stuff” ready for when they finally manage to sell up and retire, it’s amazing how much stuff I still have there when I haven’t lived there for over a decade!

Anyway back to work and nursery now – Owen’s primary school application has been made ready for August.  We’re hoping to get him into the local Gaelic unit, a big choice to make for the wee man but hopefully one made for the best.  P1 and P2 are complete submersion, I think gym class is the only time English is spoken so it will be interesting to have a son who speaks a language we don’t!