Archive for the ‘Trips out’ Category

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!

2015 summing up time!

Monday, 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.

2014 wrap up

Wednesday, 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!

Festive Fun

Wednesday, 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!

4th BIALL since Owen!

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

It’s the time of year again when I have to tear myself away from my family and head off to my librarians conference!  I can’t believe its the 4th time I’ve left Owen for the annual event, time really does fly!

Every year I’ve got Bryan to take a photo of Owen and I outside nursery so here is the set so far…

2013
Traditional pre Biall conference pic

2012
Third year I've left Owen at nursery to leave for BIALL conference

2011
1 year on

2010
Leaving Owen at nursery before I go to Brighton!

Yes I do seem to always wear the same jackets *sigh* and you can tell the year’s I flew as I had my Mr T t-shirt on for those, just off to Glasgow this year though so just a train trip!  The big scary thing this year is that I am actually speaking at the conference rather than just attending, not sure why I thought it was a good idea but there we are, Friday morning at 11.30 please pray for me!  At least I’m well prepared, I think… and hubby and boss have both approved the content..just hope the 58 people booked for the session don’t fall asleep!  You can follow the conference on Twitter under #biall2013 if you so wish to!

Birthday fun

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Getting old isn’t fun but life is what you make it so I used it, and moving, as an excuse to have a night out with the girls.  It turned into one of those AWESOME nights that you know you will all remember for ages – and as we bumped into a photographer we even have a memory of it!
Me and the pretty girls

Photo by http://www.danielmcavoyphoto.co.uk/

We had a nice meal out, then a drink in Orchid and then off to our beloved Club Tropicana for some 80s dancing.  Bad planning being out the night the clocks spring forward but never mind hey?!

On Monday I then got another birthday treat as I finally got to see Simple Minds in concert.  I’ve wanted to see them ever since they lived round the glen from me and we used to pass in the car and I’d try and peek in the windows of the recording studio they had overlooking Loch Earn.  Jim Kerr, the lead singer, even ate at my parent’s restaurant a couple of times but I always had to be somewhere else.  Anyway that was an ace night, as I have reviewed at: http://www.game-shot.com/index2.php#/info1/1/

My birthday wasn’t that special a day, I was working and then had the usual routine of getting Owen home, fed and bedded.  It was special in that I had so many lovely texts, Facebook messages, Tweets and emails from my super friends and family.  I am a very lucky girl.  Two lovely ladies even came and kept me company at lunchtime which was good, I do like a good natter!  Then in the evening Bryan went off and met our friend Steve, who managed to find us 2 unwanted sofas for our new house.  So they have been moved into Steve’s garage ready for when we get the keys.  Bryan brought home a photo of them and they look ace so that’s an awesome birthday present to get!!

I really wasn’t bothered about celebrating my birthday this year, the excitment will come later this month when we move house, but I still felt special – especially when Bryan presented me with a yummy Bournville Brioche and Butter Pudding after dinner – YUMMY!!!

“Granny and Granddad coming, not chickens”

Friday, June 1st, 2012

So Owen said over and over again, before they finally arrived, having left their chickens at Creagan!  They arrived on Tuesday afternoon, collecting me from work and Owen from nursery and driving us to the beach.  There we played on the sand and went to the amusement arcade whilst we waited for Bryan to finish work and join us.  We introduced Owen to slot machines, the ones you put 2p in and hope it knocks more 2ps out.  We also showed him how to go round and check for fallen money.  Granny bought him £1 of 2ps when we got home he had £1.05 and we had played for quite a while!  Good lad!  Once Bryan arrived we met up and had dinner out, which was lovely.  There’s a place on the first floor at the beach called Captain’s Table where you get lovely views of the sea and lighthouse…and on this occassion some folk dressed as animals…no idea why but they waved at Owen lots!
Corrupting their grandchild
Animals wave at Owen
Grandad and Owen enjoy flakes

Wednesday Owen and I were booked off nursery and work respectively and we spent much of the day at Storybook Glen exploring which was a good laugh.
My Dad hated every minute..obviously
High 5 for Tinky Winky
Granny, Grandad and Owen in a train
Nee naw!

That night Bryan cooked us a lovely dinner and we sat and chatted till bed time, then in the morning the Robertsons went back to “normal life” and the Gunns headed back south to tend the chickens!  Fun times and happy memories!

Big Adventure to Edinburgh

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

For quite some time I’ve been wanting to take Owen down to Edinburgh to catch up with some friends and generally show him off!  Last weekend I finally did it, whilst Bryan took the chance to have some guys over for an xbox weekend.  The Monday was a public holiday so it gave us a nice stretch of 3 days.

Owen was getting excited about our “holidays” and “big adventure”, bless him!  “Mummy and Owen, no Daddy” he also seemed to totally understand which was all promising.

We set off on the Saturday morning and drove south.  First stop, just over the Forth Road Bridge, was my friend Tony’s new house where we were going to meet his new twins and see his horses.  I couldn’t believe the twins were 20 months old already, ridiculous it took me that long to get down there and meet them, but then he hadn’t come up and met my wee one either and he’s 2.5 years!  Anyway we had the grand tour of the house and Owen was introduced to Mac the Shetland Pony, who he thought was rather lovely.
Owen meets Mack

Mac liked Owen so much he asked his Mummy Lesley to give Owen one of his rosettes, which made my wee guy very pleased!!  Playing with the twins, having lunch with the whole family, and meeting the animals was obviously all quite tiring as within 5 minutes of leaving there he looked like this…
Mack gave Owen a rosette, and tired him out!

Next we went to see Lyndsay and Kieron in Balerno, this was the first time Owen had met a lady with “baby in belly” and he thought it was quite exciting, enjoyed seeing the nursery room all ready as well.  He even agreed to giving the baby his buggy which he had been very against when we were at home, even though he never uses it!  “Luckily” I happened to have it in the boot of the car, and he was very happy to hand it over to them before we left.  Unfortunately he wasn’t so happy that we weren’t staying there as he remembered staying there before and went into “Owen’s room” and looked disappointed when I said that it wasn’t!  And so we moved onto our last stop of the day in Musselburgh.

Angela had very kindly cooked some macaroni cheese for Owen’s dinner so he ate that all up and then got ready for bed.  Our friend Louise arrived and I started to worry about whether he would go to bed as it was his first time sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor.  Now I don’t know if it was due to the practice run of him sleeping in it on his bed the previous weekend, or if it was just that the day had been soooo exciting, or if it was the promise we’d go to the zoo if he slept properly….but there he went.  Off to bed and there wasn’t a squeak out of the baby monitor all night!

That left us girlies free to do what we always used to do regularly when we all worked together, outwith work hours of course, we opened the vino, ordered a Chinese meal delivery and got chatting!  We had a really nice night (and yummy dinner!) and then headed off to our beds at a reasonable time as we were all needing energy for the zoo the next day!

Sunday morning we set off to the zoo, meeting another ex colleague Iain and his family Laura, wee Rose and baby Charlotte.  I’d been quite disappointed as earlier in the week I’d heard you needed tickets to see the pandas so had gone onto the website and seen that it was booked up until later in the week.  However when we got there we were offered tickets!  I was told they always keep some for on the day, although apparently we were lucky there were still some left by 10.30 when we arrived!

First we got the zoo bus up to the top of the hill and worked our way round the animals.  Highlights were the baby baboon, baby pigmo hippo, and a spider monkey trying to get Owen’s raisins through the glass!
Pigmy hippo and baby

Owen’s highlight seemed to be playing with Rose (I was assured “I love Rose”), even though just after this photo was taken came the worst bit of the day – he fell face first off the rock and got covered in mud!  Luckily it washed off though and he didn’t notice the bit of blood that appeared on his palm so the tears didn’t last too long.
He looks up to her no end

Iain and Laura’s time spot to see the pandas was earlier than ours so we got a report from them before we went, you only get in for 10 minutes and the time is split between the internal and external or his and her accommodation.  So its sheer luck if you see them at all and if they do much whilst you are there.  I am glad to say that we got to see both of them, and we were lucky enough to see them both moving as well.  We started off inside and Tian Tian was there and eating.  I got in before the crowd and Owen and I got a clear view of her and saw her walking outside before we had to move back and let others see the view of her backside!  Then we went outside and saw her walk round a bit before heading back inside to various cries of “oh no” and the like.
Lady Giant Panda

Next we went round to see Yang Guang who was busy gnawing bamboo.  He didn’t seem to want to do much (didn’t even turn round and wave at his very excited fans!).  After a while he did stand up (cue lots of shrieks) and stretch up to the roof..and then he lay back down and went back to his bamboo!  Just as we were told we had to leave though he stood up and moved down to the ground and walked around.  Suffice to say we had to get yelled at before we moved on!!
Yummy bamboo

We were so lucky with the weather as it was a glorious day, and the 3 kids were all really well behaved all day.  I think we were there 10.30am – 4.15pm and Owen walked most of the day.  When we got home he wanted pasta again so got the leftover mac cheese and then it was such a lovely evening that I took him out to the beach to play in the sand.  We didn’t even wear jackets it was so nice.
Digging at the beach

Again he went straight to bed and straight to sleep, although this time I am pretty sure he was totally exhausted!  Angela and I had a nice quiet night just the 2 of us until it was time for bed – poor Angela had to work the next morning.

Monday the plan was to go to the Advocates Library where I used to work, and pop into the Signet Library to collect some books a nice solicitor had offered me for my library.  However that wasn’t until lunchtime so I decided to continue the weekend’s theme of “animals” and take Owen to Butterfly World.  This also tied in nicely with the fact that he’d come home with green painted highlights in his hair from nursery one night as they had been painting a caterpillar. 
So umm that's a snake huh?

He wasn’t sure about the snakes, and was worried about a couple of “butterfly not happy”s (i.e. dead) but we had a nice time wandering around.  I think he liked the spiders most but he was quite taken by the cocoons as well and I was explaining that was like his Very Hungry Caterpillar book and how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

Afterwards we went to the Dobbies next door and wandered around the pet shop.  Himself may have enjoyed this bit more than the bit I paid for to be honest!!  He named the rabbits and examined the gerbils, hamsters etc.  We even found Nemo in the fish section.  Then we bought some yogurt raisins and went and had a picnic snack next to the playground, after going on the swings and slide of course!

The Signet Library had given me permission to park in front of the building to collect my box of books so we parked up and went into the first library of the day.  Owen made me a proud librarian/Mummy by “shhh”ing noticeably!  Then we went through to the Advocates Library and saw some of the folk I used to work with.  A few of us went out for lunch, and we nipped out through the National Library of Scotland, so giving us a hat trick of library visits for the day!  Owen seemed to enjoy Vittorias with a massive ham and cheese panini – and a balloon to take home!  It was nice to catch up with Andrea, my ex boss, and let her see how my wee boy was progressing.  Of course we couldn’t leave for the journey home before Owen took the chance to pace Parliament Hall like the Advocates do!
Pacing Parliament Hall

Heading out of the city I realised we could probably fit in a wee visit to see some relatives too, and luckily my Aunty Kathleen was in.  Owen was excited to meet my cousin Claire’s Dalmation, although not so impressed with his full facial “kisses” and general bounciness!  Hope he never really meets 101 Dalmations at the same time!! 

It was lovely to get home and see Daddy again, and show him the shells and postcard we got for him, but I think we were both ready for bed and then back to our usual routine the next morning!!  Although saying that when I collected Owen from nursery this Friday he told me “I no want go home, I want see Mac horsey”.  If only every weekend could be a fun adventure!!

Easter weekend

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Happy Easter from Owen
So we had a nice weekend.  Bryan doesn’t get public holidays off work and nursery doesn’t shut for Easter so I was a naughty Mum on Friday and sent Owen off to nursery whilst I stayed home.  I had a very busy day cleaning and clearing out the room that Lee had been living in.  The plan is to redecorate it and move Owen in there with all his toys as its bigger than his room, and we want out lounge to stop looking like a toy shop!  I did loads of bits of housework that its difficult to get to do when Owen’s around and then I collected him a bit earlier than usual from nursery. 

They had decorated eggs earlier in the week and were supposed to go out and roll them but unfortunately the weather hadn’t been nice enough so we got the egg to take home instead.
Glittery egg in clay nest, as made by Owen

On the Saturday the boys got haircuts in the morning then we went down to Owen’s Grandda’s house as Lee had collected his 4 kids the day before and brought them up for a visit.  It was lovely to see them all and Owen was very excited to see “cousins – Maz, Blue, Berrie and…ummmm….”.  Not sure why he can’t remember Frankie’s name but we’ll work on that for next time!
Blue and Berrie gave Owen pictures they had coloured in for him

Saturday night I was working…well I’d been asked to write a review for a Steps concert anyway!  I took my pal Jen, or rather she took me, so I got free taxi as well as concert tickets!  Nice!
Untitled

Sunday morning the 3 of us hit the pool and had a good splash, so that was fun.  Then it was back to the house for lunch, and pudding of Owen’s Easter Egg, a present from my boss. 
Rabbits mummy!
I also gave him his special Easter present from us – a film cell from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (he’s really quite obcessed with “heigh-hos”).  This was taken upstairs immediately and put on his wall. 
Snow White film cell in pride of place on the cool wall
In the afternoon he watched some of the football with his Dad then he and I went to roll his egg.  We were going to go to a wee hill near the high school but it started raining so I pointed out the slope behind the church.  For some reason as we passed the church he pointed to the cross on the top of it so I took the chance to tell him the story of Easter, reminding him about baby Jesus from Christmas and then telling him about the cross and rolling the stone away.  He seemed to take it all in and I felt quite virtuous as we went and rolled our egg, and then again, and again.  Seemingly they were very hard boiled!!  We did manage to get it to crack eventually!
Rolling his egg

It was only when we got back to work yesterday it occured to me I hadn’t got any chocolate eggs myself, the down side to becoming a grown up/Mummy.  Although to be fair my Mum sent us money to get an egg each but we decided to put that money towards lunch with the family on Saturday – much more important!

Hope you had a good Easter too!