Archive for December, 2016

2016 as seen by the Robertsons

Tuesday, 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

Tuesday, 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!