2017 as seen by the Robertsons

December 20th, 2017

Where did that year go?! It can’t be December again already?! Well I hope 2017 has been good to you, it’s not been bad here!

Posted by Maria Robertson on Mittwoch, 23. August 2017

I’m pretty sure Bryan and I’s highlight was our trip to Rome. I won 3 nights in the amazing 5 star Hotel Eden, with flights, transfers and tickets to the Sistine Chapel included through our fabulous Travel Counsellor, Kate Milton. Obviously we felt bad as it didn’t include Owen but we went the week the school’s went back after the summer holidays so he had maths and Grandda to keep him happy in our absence! Rome was amazing, Bryan still occasionally mentions how massive the Colosseum is. It was super hot but luckily we were there the week after their heat wave, I was definitely walking on the shady side of the streets! The hotel spoilt us rotten, after tweeting about missing Owen we came back that evening to find a framed photo of him on the dressing table! We also spoilt ourselves by going to the Michelin Star restaurant D’Imago one night for a most amazing experience. We thought as the holiday was free we could afford a treat and it was just outstanding. The Vatican was totally breath-taking and I got quite emotional in the Sistine chapel, most overwhelming!

Owen did get a wee holiday with us too, my parents gave us tickets for Belladrum Music Festival last Christmas so we went to that in August and it was Owen’s first time camping. We saw various bands and other entertainment – and found a mobile library with a Gaelic speaking Librarian, think Owen was back in there each day! Luckily we found his school chums setting up their camp and were able to get tips from them as they go every year, we also managed to catch up with my cousin Claire and her family.

Belladrum 2017 - library book in the tent

Work is going well for both of us, busy but good. Unfortunately Bryan’s had more trips to Manchester than previously, so Owen’s had to survive my cooking/reheating! I’ve done 43 external hires at the library including ITV filming a bit of The Investigator series two, which should be on in the New Year! There was also a scene shot for a zombie movie by a local company so I’m looking forward to that DVD in the summer – Dark Within.

Talking of filming, Owen is now used to being followed round by a camera as Midas Media produced a program called “Gaelic in Aberdeen” in May which he was in several times at school, Feis and Sradagan.

My son on TV, with his own subtitles!

They are now making a documentary of a year in the life of kids in Gaelic Medium Education so we look forward to seeing that! We didn’t need to question if we could film their Christmas Concert this year as the camera team were there and some of it should be televised! He’s doing great at school, still loves his maths and literacy – in both languages. This year he also performed a poem recital in the Inverness Mod.

Ben Portsmouth aka Elvis at AECC

As you can see above we met Elvis this year…well Ben Portsmouth anyway! Seeing him in concert is probably the nearest we could ever get to seeing the King, and it was certainly a special night. I’d managed to get us front row seats so when he was giving away a scarf from round his neck at the end of a song I was able to pounce on it – and when he sang Teddy Bear and gave out toy teddies Owen managed to get a wee monkey. He is now called Elvis and goes everywhere with him! We also had a weekend in Glasgow to see Ed Sheeran, went to a gig in my library with the Fair Mothers and Rick Redbeard, and Owen and I went to Glasgow to see The Shires and then took Daddy to Fyvie Live a month later to see them again! Bryan and I went to Country2Country music festival in Glasgow again this March and our Christmas present to each other again is tickets for next year! Such a lovely weekend going for nice lunches and then seeing fantastic musicians all evening! I’ve also been on my own, or with chums, to see Busted (twice!), X Factor, Kathryn Joseph, Lewis Capaldi, The Shires, Natives, Enjoy Music (worked at this festival), Emile Sande, Newton Faulkner, Skippinish and my beloved Kasabian. I also went to the theatre for Funny Girl, Lady Boys, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night and took Owen to see Wonderland, all with free tickets through my work. I got review passes for an author event with Liz Pichon at the Tivoli which Owen thoroughly enjoyed, the band from the books played and Liz taught us to do her style of doodling. I’m supposed to be reviewing for a new events newspaper, the first issue came out in August with 5 pieces by me but not been another one yet, so fingers crossed for the new year! I was at the press night for the panto which was fab, and we’re going as a family, with Ray’s family on Friday night. Bryan and I went to a comedy night with Fred Macaulay, and I managed to get a photo with him!

Breakneck Comedy night at Bettridge Centre, Newtonhill

Owen’s birthday treat/present was a trip to Manchester to watch Manchester United Legends versus Barcelona Legends. We took his Grandda too as the three Robertson chaps are dedicated Man U fans, and it was a fab day out! Instead of a party he had a couple of sleepovers – one with Lucas and Maya, the other with 4 chums from school, they certainly had fun but not so sure about how much sleep occurred!

Man U v Barcelona Legends at Old Trafford

His football obsession continues, he’s been to a few matches this year – including his first Scotland match as they actually played at our local stadium. He loves FIFA and physically playing football, his after school club now has a football club on a Monday which he enjoys.

Posted by Bryan Robertson on Samstag, 22. Juli 2017

This picture was from a charity event that Owen won a competition to name a “cocktail” for the little girl it was in aid of. His prize was to help AC Eventbars mix some mocktails and to get a rickshaw ride around Stonehaven. It was a lovely afternoon, he got spoilt rotten, and as usual his Dad got some fabulous photos.

All year we’ve been “saving up” to replace the wee Suzuki I’ve had for 10 years, obviously we keep spending our money on having far too much fun instead – but life is short and not a rehearsal so I doubt that will change anytime soon! My wee car limped through its MOT, then the alternator went one cold morning as we got to school, so the pressure is on to be sensible for a while and get that replaced!

As for my parents, they accepted an offer on Creagan in August, retired in October…and are still waiting for the sale to complete. Fingers crossed they can move closer to us in the New Year!

Hope 2017 has been kind to you, and wishing us all a fabulous festive period and wonderful 2018.

Review: Aladdin at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen

December 12th, 2017

The pantomime is a Christmas essential, and in Aberdeen and the Shire we have a good choice in various venues. This year His Majesty’s Theatre is running Aladdin starring Jimmy Osmond, as the “baddie” Abanazar! This was quite a change from Elaine C Smith who has starred in our local panto for some years, so traditionalists would be relieved to hear she’s not completely gone…

The costumes and staging are well done and impressive, as are the numerous special effects including pyrotechnics (trying to resist spoilers!). The cast are all talented from the very happy children from Aberdeen Academy of Dance, to the fabulous choreography of the dancers, to our local gem of Widow Twankey (Alan McHugh, who was also the writer) and Aladdin himself (Jordan Young). Princess Jasmine (Lisa-Anne Wood) is just the right level of poise and prettiness, with an amazing voice.

Jimmy Osmond gets the chance to sing a couple of his well-known hits (and it was rude not to sing along!) in between the carefully reworked panto appropriate songs. Obviously playing the baddie we booed and hissed every time he appeared, but it did feel rather rude to “welcome” the Long Haired Lover from Liverpool to our city in such a way!

The usual ingredients are all there too – the local references, the corny jokes, the “oh yes you will” / “on no we won’t”, the singalong, the innuendo that makes the parents giggle and leave the kids blissfully unaware, and of course, the lasting feeling that it’s Christmas!!

Further information 
Thank you to Aberdeen Performing Arts for the tickets, and Richard Frew for the photography.

HMT. Aladdin Panto.

Review: GATES BRILLIANT BANDS AND DOODLE LIVE TOUR

December 12th, 2017

…with Liz Pichon at Tivoli Theatre, Aberdeen. Sunday 15th October 2017.

Quite an unusual way to spend a Sunday afternoon, in a theatre with an author and a band based on the fictional band she made up for her books. Liz Pichon has written, and illustrated/doodled, a series of books based on a character called Tom Gates who is a school boy. Tom Gates is in a band called DogZombies and his favourite band is DUDE3, who are joining us for the afternoon apparently.

Along I went, with my 7 year old avid reader who had managed to get through Top Of The Class in 48 hours after hearing we were going. Really not sure what to expect we were excited to find that Liz herself was walking round the theatre making sure everyone had paper and a pencil ready to learn how to do her style of doodles. She even stopped for a photo with my son.

The show itself was an hour long, during which we were introduced to Liz Pichon, DUDE3, and the other characters in the book. It included a book reading from Family Friends and Furry Creatures – with the pages projected on the screen so we could read along, and see the relevant doodles. There was live music, although the musicians didn’t look quite like their doodled counterparts they were rather talented and so enjoyable to listen to. We were treated to a doodle lesson, with Liz being live streamed onto the projector screen as she doodled on a flipchart at the front of the stage. This method was also used so we could design a monster with various audience members making demands for imaginative things like “pizza feet” and “spaghetti arms”. We were also allowed to ask questions – brave in a room full of children – but they asked some sensible questions like who she read as a child – Roald Dahl, and how she got into writing books.

Afterwards we were invited row by row to show Liz our doodles and get our copies of books, which were on sale at the front of the theatre, signed. My son was happy sitting doodling for some of our 75 minute wait but declared she was well worth it! On the way home he changed the lyrics of the School Dinner Blues song from “we want chips” to “we want books, and they have to be Liz Pichon”. Think that says it all really, tour is ongoing and well recommended.

Further information

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