Category Archives: Aberdeen

Another kid-friendly day out in Aberdeenshire discovered

“WOW!” the wee man shouted.

I don’t know why we hadn’t thought to bring him here before. For a little boisterous boy who just wants to zoom around pushing or riding on anything with wheels, it should have been an obvious choice. Today we went to a Transport Museum.

We left Glasgow around the time the fabulous new Museum of Transport opened by the Clyde – and to be honest, I hadn’t even known a Grampian Transport Museum existed. But there it is, only half an hour away from our Aberdeen abode in Alford and today it was surrounded by car enthusiasts and their toys.

One of Rod’s customers had told him about it and he casually suggested this morning that we pop by. I hadn’t expected to enjoy it so much. (The old Glasgow one had bored me as a child). I guess now my own happiness is defined by how well-entertained (and therefore least-troublesome) the wee man is.

He loved it.

He and his daddy admired all the Porsches, MGs, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Corvettes, Morgans and TVRs – he even got a shot in one of those

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while I was quite taken with the violet velvet interior and the fact the button to open the door was located under the wing mirror.

The highlight of this trip past hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of car and social history however, was a bus.

A double decker, cream and green, Grampian transport bus.

The wee man spent twenty minutes in here before we eventually had to bribe him with yoghurt raisins to get off.

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He was not happy to leave – he had another impressive tantrum as we tried to manoeuvre him out past the carriages, turn-of-the-century motor cars and Romani caravan – but the little play park at the entrance proved a small consolation.

We’ve been here over a year now and we’d never been to Alford. I reckon the museum (on those days the motor clubs gather) plus the lovely wee bistro across the road for lunch, makes for a really fun, kid-friendly day out.

Grammy, I just had the best day, wait til you hear...

Grammy, I just had the best day, wait til you hear…

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Lucky number three

I have somehow become the mother of a three year old.

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I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve been finding things tough and anything I tried to write just came off like a huge moan. Who wants to read that? It wasn’t even anything serious, just a bout of illness, a crazy work schedule for both parents and the trials and tribulations of switching from a cot to a bed.

Now, though, the Terrible Twos are Officially Over.

Every since he turned three on Friday, the wee man has been on sparkling form. He didn’t even scream when I got him dressed this morning (usually an epic battle). We had some wonderful, quality, family time for three days, first with Daddy being off work, then with both sets of grandparents and an auntie visiting from Glasgow for the weekend. He just loved it. He adored having his daddy wind him up, his auntie dance around with him and his grandparents spoil him – and no doubt a relaxed and happy mummy had an effect too.

We spent Friday at Edinburgh zoo – an absolute five star hit for a small child obsessed with animals. My slight trepidation, based on an upsetting experience at Barcelona zoo last year, was quickly allayed by the focus on conservation and the wonderful design of many of the enclosures. The new chimpanzee house was a particular highlight, the wee man pressed his face against the glass, waving and mimicking the noisy chimps – though he did just about sh*t himself when they got rowdy and started banging on the glass. He stood in awe in the bird enclosure as they flew around him and squawked at him from nearby branches and tried to catch one as it hopped by his feet. The penguins were a big hit, especially when they paraded past, and he roared at the tiger and lions, even though they were sleeping and couldn’t care less.

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We met my friend Karrie and her gorgeous wee girl at a local Italian for dinner afterwards – both kids were very well-behaved and totally fascinated with each other. The wee man only thew one thing at her, and it was a cuddly panda he’d chosen for her at the gift shop, so she didn’t really mind.

The rest of the weekend was spent just hanging out with our family and anticipating his birthday party on the Sunday afternoon. We went for an early dinner on the Saturday at a Thai restaurant and a lovely Mother’s Day lunch on Sunday. Both times he sat at the table for more than an hour and a half without protest, playing with his sticker book or colouring-in or watching Toy Story on the iPad. We were very pleasantly surprised by his good behaviour. Was it the fact he was surrounded by parents and grandparents? Was it the fact his mum and dad were more relaxed? Or is he just growing up?…

The party on Sunday was a triumph, even if I do say so myself! We’d arranged to rent the local community centre, a lovely new building with a huge hall and a nice cafe for the birthday tea. We hired a bouncy castle and ball pool, borrowed all the cars, scooters, soft play blocks, slides and climbing frames from the toddler group and just let the kids run free. 15 of them played beautifully, no fights or tantrums, and sat very nicely for the pizza we ordered from across the road and sandwiches we’d bought in M&S. Mum had made a couple of dozen cupcakes and we stuck in the candles and sang Happy Birthday as the wee man blew them out one by one. I didn’t even cry –  I was just so happy that everything had gone according to plan, everyone was having a good time and the wee man was content.

I really think this is a bit of a turning point – even if only in my own head. He’s growing up and becoming more of his own person every day. This morning he woke up, trotted through with some sticklebricks and a huge grin and climbed into bed beside me, giving me a huge cuddle and lying happily in the crook of my arm as he pulled the bricks apart and reassembled them for five minutes. I think it was one of the nicest ways to start my day. I hope we can have lots more moments like this and the battles will become less and less frequent…

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Happy Birthday Boy

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Finding calm

running through the cactiI’ve been doing a challenge called Janathon, which involves running or exercising every day in January and then blogging about it. It’s just as well really, as I put on four pounds over Christmas.

Today the wee man and I hit Duthie Park so I could tackle today’s workout (read more on it here). It had been such an effort in the howling gales that I thought we more than deserved a wander round the winter gardens. Clearly the universe thought we deserved it too, as the huge part that had been under renovation had just re-opened.

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Having patiently sat in his buggy for the half hour that mummy was running about daft, the wee man was delighted to run down all the new paths. The tropical house led into the arid house and the contrast was remarkable. From lush foliage and exuberant flowers to beige pebbles and towering cacti – from huge waxy leaves to short spiky thorns, the two houses were polar opposites.pink flower The fabulous part was they were both toasty warm, so I was quite content to meander around while the wee man explored.

At one point he stood for ages just sifting the pebbles through his wee fingers. It’s so rare that his inquisitive mind is focused on the one thing for so long that I enjoyed just watching him. I wonder what he was thinking. Soon he was off again and when I suggested we go and find the fish he happily held my hand and trotted beside me. I think these winter gardens have a calming effect on him. They certainly pebbleshave that effect on me. Maybe he’s calm because I’m calm. Maybe he’s calm because I can let him roam free without always having to call him back or tell him off (like in the real world where he seems to find danger at every turn).

He watched the fish and chased a sparrow who was bravely hopping by his feet looking for cracker crumbs and helped me choose some primroses and a hyacinth to take home.

I think we’ll go back tomorrow.

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Don’t these remind you of something? …

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Testing, testing, count to 3

I was just telling my mum, when she visited last week, that I thought we were getting over the Terrible Twos and making real progress…

Then yesterday happened.

super-strength or just grim determination?

super-strength or just grim determination?

I think a devil must have temporarily possessed the wee man , because he has never behaved so badly for such a sustained period as he did on Thursday 28 November. He pulled the curtain off the wall for God’s sake! All I had done was put him down for a nap, at the usual time, after a busy, energetic morning. He should have been tired. Instead, he cried angry tears for half an hour, so I went in thinking he’d maybe thrown his favourite toy out. Instead I was confronted with a tear-stained toddler, his trousers round his ankles and the curtain hanging by a thread.

I had really needed him to nap. We’d spent the morning at the beach and play park – a treat I had thought. But no, he had moaned and cried and ripped off his gloves and hat and refused to walk beside me. He hadn’t even wanted to pick up shells and throw them in the waves for long. In fact, he was only happy when I gave him crisps.

all smiles now...

all smiles now…

So after the non-nap I decided there was no point taking him to the park (he’d be cold) or soft play (he’d misbehave) and bundled him into the car to go to the shopping centre. At least there he’d be warm and strapped into a buggy. He sat beautifully, I got lots of Christmas shopping done and I thought we were over it.

I made him cottage pie for dinner and we sat at the table. He pushed it away. He wanted juice. He tried a mouthful. He spat it out. He wanted more juice. He threw a carrot on the floor. He screamed for juice. He threw his fork on the floor. I tried the aeroplane trick – he swiped the spoon and sent it flying. I refused to refill the juice. He screamed. I tried to cajole him. He pressed his mouth tight shut. I turned away to get the juice. He picked up the bowl and hurled it against the wall. It smashed. Cottage pie splattered. I lost it.

“THAT WAS VERY NAUGHTY” I yelled. He burst into noisy tears. I lifted him up and placed him very gently (so as to prove to myself I was still in control, when I didn’t feel like it) on the naughty spot and told him through clenched teeth why he was there. I then walked to the sink and stood taking deep breaths and counting to ten, while he screamed blue murder. For the next fifteen minutes I avoided all eye contact and just replaced him, time and again, on the naughty spot. I cleaned up the mess and loaded the dishwasher. I wiped down the counter and tidied. Eventually, in our own ways, we calmed down, he sat for the two minutes and I went over to him.

“Mummy put you here because… look at mummy” He did. “Mummy put you here because you threw your plate at the wall. That was very naughty. You don’t throw your dinner. You eat nicely at the table. Do you understand?” He nodded. “Now say sorry”

He leaped into my arms, squeezing me tight and wiping snot all over my shoulder. I hugged him back and kissed his head.

Then I put the cartoons on and opened a bottle of wine.

 

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Two surprises on the beach

Saturday didn’t sneak up on me like it did last week.

Last night I decided the wee man and I would spend the morning at the beach. It’s one of my favourite places in Aberdeen and a real perk of living here, so would kill the morning perfectly.

Isn’t it funny that the more relaxed you are, the easier things become? Two lovely unexpected things happened.

First, the sun blazed defiantly, as if to mock late September. The wee man and I ran around the playpark at the entrance to Balmedie beach, shedding layers and squinting. We shared a packet of Hula Hoops on a bench and he slurped his juice, swinging his legs and grinning up at me. I suggested we went down to the sea and he nodded happily.

It takes a while to walk through the dunes, but we weren’t in any hurry (another lesson from last week). The wee man gathered feathery stems of grass and poked at the fluffy heads of gone-to-seed thistles. As the path became steeper I had to carry him but I enjoyed the anticipation of the view that would greet us at the top.

view from the top at Balmedie BeachI’m glad I didn’t let him go completely when I took this photo – there’s been quite a lot of erosion since we were last there and the path dropped steeply to the river. We found an alternative route, took off our socks and shoes and ran out onto the sand in the sunshine.

For once he held my hand properly and together we stomped through the rivulets of water on the hard, wave-marked sand. He’s not too sure about the sea, so we stayed a little bit back and drew pictures instead.

Pictures in the sand at Balmedie

Then the second lovely thing happened.

The wee man spotted another boy and ran over to him. He was eating raspberries from a tupperware and was happy to share. Embarrassed, I ran up to pull the wee man away, but the dad reassured me it was fine, so I supervised from a distance. We struck up a conversation and it turned out his wife had studied in Glasgow. He suggested lots of new places for me to explore, including another beach at Newburgh. We swapped stories of the trials and tribulations of toddlers (he’s the tidy one in his family too) and the two boys played together beautifully for twenty minutes.

I’ve said before that the wee man opens lots of doors for me, and I appreciate that more than ever in a new city. People have told me Aberderdonians are not generally friendly, but I’ve found the opposite. They’re usually pleased I like it so much here and happy to share inside information.

So rather than spend a lonely morning trying to keep the wee man entertained, I ended up having a lovely morning and feeling like I was on holiday. As I headed back to the car, with my arms aching because the wee man was knackered and refusing to climb the paths, I reminded myself that life was pretty sweet. An interesting chat with a stranger on the beach kind of confirms your faith in humanity a bit.  Plus he’d reassured me probably more than he’d realised when he’d said, “It does get easier.”

Toes

 

 

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Protected: Am I a good Mum?

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Protected: In which we make a new home

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Protected: Goodbye house

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Protected: Aberdeen with a baby – for good

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Protected: Aberdeen with a baby – part 2

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