Category Archives: hello World
“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
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.
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.
He grabbed my sunglasses along with a handful of hair, while screaming in my ear and kicking at my stomach.
“We’ll go back out, mummy just needs her jacket, we’ll go back out,” I repeated, aware I was pleading with him, but saying it over and over allowed me to keep my tenuous grasp on my temper.
The wee man had two almighty tantrums at lunchtime today, both times because we took him away from the play park before he was ready.
The first time was to go into the cafe for lunch; the second was because I forgot my jacket. The place was mobbed – it was Easter Sunday. My humiliation was nearly overwhelming and Rod’s barely-concealed rage was almost as bad as our sons’. I had to lock the wee man and I in the baby change cubicle for ten minutes to let us all calm down.
Then a surprising thing happened. Alone at last and paying for some goodies from the farm shop, the assistant asked sympathetically if my wee boy was “OK now?”
“Oh, yes, he’s absolutely fine, just upset we took him away from the swings,” I said quickly, in an apologetic tone.
“I felt so sorry for you, I remember those days so well, they do pick their moments don’t they? Biggest audience possible to embarrass mum and dad,” she said, smiling.
I looked up from my embarrassed purse-rummaging in surprise.
“Oh yes, we’ve all been there, I’m sure every parent here was feeling your pain and wishing they could help,” she added.
So they weren’t all tutting at us and wondering what was wrong with that child? They weren’t all shaking their heads as I carried him, squirming violently, under one arm into the disabled toilet or sighing at the ensuing echoing yells?
Of course they weren’t. I should have known this because only the day before the boot had been on the other foot. I’d enjoyed a peaceful lunch with my mum and on the way out we passed a woman drinking wine while her baby gnawed a cookie in a highchair.
“The things you have to do to keep them quiet!” she said quickly.
We stopped, smiling indulgently at the wee girl and then sympathetically at the woman.
“I totally sympathise, I have a three year old,” I told her.
“I’d never usually give her a cookie, but her dad’s been on the golf course every day and the waitress suggested it and I just really needed this one glass,” she stumbled over her words in her completely unnecessary attempt to justify her actions to us. I could have hugged her, I really could.
“I’m going to be 46 soon, it’s so hard when you’re older, but we went through so much to have her, 15 years of treatment would you believe?” she added, to our surprise. Clearly this poor woman had been on her own with her baby for too long and was desperate for adult conversation. But you know what, I totally got that too. I wish now that I’d just sat down with her and ordered another couple of glasses. We could have swapped war stories and moaned about how much easier it is for the men and how no one understands how hard it is and generally wallowed while getting pleasantly tipsy.
Everyone has these moments where they wonder how the hell they got to this and how on earth they’ll ever cope. And then it passes. For every “Oh my God this is hell” moment, there is an “Oh my God I’m going to burst with happiness” moment. Next time there’s a hell moment I’ll try to remember that the people around me are sympathising, not judging.
I couldn’t help it – my throat blocked and a tear escaped down my cheek. Luckily I was wearing sunglasses and no one noticed. The brass band was playing “Kiss the Girl” from the Little Mermaid, the wee man was running from Mickey-stuffed shop window to immaculate flowerbed to beaming Daddy and all I could do was gape at a scene so familiar and try to hold myself together.
12 years ago my now husband took me to Disneyland Paris, we bought my ‘engaged-to-be-engaged’ ring and planned our future. Now here we were with a two year old and it was all too much for this marshmallow.
Later, telling my friends Jenny and Al, I was gently ridiculed. It was Al’s idea of hell to spend five days in a place so cheesy, so false and so American. Well I am proud to say I embraced every last exit-through-the-giftshop. Disney was a huge part of my childhood and it means the world to me to be able to share it with my own wee boy. And let me tell you – anyone who said ‘why are you bothering? he won’t remember it’ totally missed the point. For five days the wee man was in sensory overload. The music, the characters, the rides, the colours, the overwhelmingly positive atmosphere, the two totally de-stressed parents – what’s not to love? So, if you are considering taking your little one to Disneyland Paris, here’s my “DO IT” report:
We stayed in the New York hotel, just outside the Disney Village, so within walking distance from both parks. Our room was large with a great view across the lake, the staff were really helpful and the breakfasts were pretty good. The highlight was definitely the morning we walked out of the elevator to come face to face with Mickey Mouse in the lobby. We queued for about 3 minutes and got some great pics (which we forgot to go and get printed). Compare this to the 45 mins plus you’d have to wait in the park and it’s a pretty sweet deal. There was free wifi in the lobby (and occasionally accessible in the 8th floor room) and a fantastic bar with great cocktails. When the wee man’s cough wouldn’t let up, we called a doctor who came to the room within 15 minutes and prescribed antibiotics, which were delivered to the hotel within the hour. Now that’s good service.
Man – where do I start? From Aladdin’s comment, “Oh, you’re so cheeky, just like Abu” to the nightly fireworks, there wasn’t a second of boredom. Watching the wee man experiencing It’s a Small World, the Teacups ride, Dumbo and the Flying Elephants, Pinocchio, Snow White and all the rest was even more fun than doing the rides ourselves. He was dumbstruck. Even the hormonal teenage Germans stopped their irritatingly loud flirting to melt at the wee man’s wee face. Then at night, when our awesome lie-flat City Mini buggy contained a sleeping toddler, Rod and I took it in turns to do all the roller coasters. I went on Space Mountain three times in a row, with a new challenge for the photo each time “OK this time grab the person beside you… NO! You didn’t do it properly, go on again!” The Walt Disney Studios park (a kind of MGM Studios next door) has several live shows, the best of which was undoubtedly Playhouse Disney. Featuring puppets from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny and Tales of Friendship with Winnie the Pooh – it was like the wee man’s TV schedule had come to life in front of him. He danced and clapped and shouted along – oblivious to the fact it was all in French.
Food and Drink
Rubbish. Expensive beyond belief and really disappointing. I mean, really, who pays 16 euros for a kid’s meal, he’s going to eat four chips and half a sandwich. We found this in Disney World Florida six years ago too – why can’t Disney get it right with their food offer? I actually cried out the day we came across Timone and Pumbaa’s banana stall – fresh fruit!!! My advice is to eat a huge breakfast and sneak a few sandwiches into the changing bag.
Outstanding. My personal highlight was Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast. He got so into the role of the arrogant, loud French hearthrob that he bellowed “ALLEZ, VIENS!” at a small child, making her jump half a foot in the air and drop her autograph book. He then flirted outrageously with her mother and winked at me. I reacted almost as badly as I did when we met Jack Sparrow. “Just one more pic, Rod, to be sure…”
A great mix of kids and adults’ rides with queues up to 55 mins, but usually around 20. Having been to Disney World Florida where every operator gets right into the spirit, I was disappointed with the French. They couldn’t have said: “I’m so bored pressing this button, when does my shift end?” more clearly if they printed it under their jaunty name badge. Queues practically disappeared after 8pm, hence the multiple roller coaster rides. The fireworks were at 10pm – save your spot from 9, though really there’s no need – they project images onto Cinderella’s castle so you can see what’s going on from most vantage points.
We flew with EasyJet to Paris Charles de Gaulle then took a 9 minute train ride to Marne La Vallee. Why they insist on calling it after the town it was supposed to serve and never did seems to be to be a stubborn French quirk. Disneyland Station would make much more sense, tourists are the only people who use it. We flew back from Beauvais as the timings were better, but it involved a 75 minute taxi ride.
Five nights and four days was a little excessive, we could have done it all in four or even three days, but for once in our lives we weren’t in a rush. That in itself was a holiday. We loved every minute, the wee man loved every minute, and we savoured the Disney bubble of wishing on a star, believing in dreams, cuddling every character and wondering if life really were as simple as the dolls described in It’s a Small World.
For five days, it was.
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My sister-in-law agrees with me that when the stress builds, a walk in amongst nature soothes your soul. She has three boys under five, so I’m glad for her sanity that she lives on the beautiful island of Arran. Until we can get over to visit, the leafy Glasgow parks are doing a great job of lowering my blood pressure. This morning, with Rod unexpectedly working all day, I took the wee man and I off to Pollok Park for a wander in the woodlands. Autumn has been stunning this year, I’ve been Instagramming my socks off (follow me at kimmca), but today I took my proper camera and reveled in shooting all the wonderful warm colours as the trees prepare for winter. The wee man pointed and shouted and watched entranced as I shook leaves down over the buggy. We are definitely feeling reinvigorated.
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“I should have brought my big camera,” I said, as the sun came out and lit up the hills.
“Nah, it would probably get wet,” Rod said.
I froze. Where the hell were we going? The camping jokes had gotten old really fast and the casual mentions of the Arran ferry were transparent but this comment threw me.
“AH! My wellies are in the other car!” I gasped.
“Oh…. Well, they’ll probably provide everything we need,” he said, then pointed and made to turn into a field filled with trailers and what looked like a circus tent.
“JUST KIDDING!” he cackled. I wanted to cry. I didn’t like this magical mystery tour and I was beginning to get seriously worried about where we’d end up. Then suddenly I saw a sign that made me cry out in relief.
I should have trusted him and I should have remembered what a wind-up merchant he can be. Luckily the wee spud had excelled himself – the receptionist said some truly magic words:
“Your suite will be ready in half an hour so you can go in and get ready before your spa treatments.”
Even spending thirty minutes waiting in the bright atrium with a freshly squeezed juice and nothing to do but sit was a treat. We couldn’t stop smiling at each other.
Our suite was stunning – I felt like I was on the set of Downton Abbey. Two sets of patio doors led out onto a terrace with stone steps curving down to the lawn. Two enormous plumfy beds were against the wall opposite, the views in the morning would be stunning.
I noted the large bathtub (I love a deep soak) and a huge TV (Jessica Ennis, Tom Daley and Ussain Bolt were on Jonathon Ross that night) as well as a sofa buried under cushions and a beautiful fireplace. But there’d be time to enjoy it later, we had to slip on our robes and pad through to the spa.
The treatment rooms were minimal in their design and a lovely cool temperature. I lay for an hour in that suspended state of consciousness while the therapist eased away all the knots and tension spots. Afterwards I clutched my glass of water and sleepwalked out to meet Rod, who also had that dazed look. We rounded the corner and flinched as the sunlight poured through the glass wall that was the entire side of the swimming pool. With its infinity edge it felt a bit like floating at the edge of a waterfall at the top of a green wooded valley. Eventually I couldn’t stand it any longer and suggested we go back and enjoy our terrace. Rod agreed.
After a long bath and a lovely dinner we took a walk as the sun set. There was no traffic noise and very few other people -just fresh clean air and the reflection of the pinks and greys in the loch.
We woke up early (old habits) and breakfasted on smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and fresh fruit in the dining room. A breeze came through the half-open window and Rod spotted a hot air balloon on the horizon. We wandered back to the room, tidied up a bit and dressed but it wasn’t even ten o’clock, so we went out to explore. The Japanese garden was a wonderful surprise – as was the warmth of the day. We followed a path and came across a waterfall, a little wooden bridge and stepping stones, all beautifully designed and maintained. I loved it.
We wandered through the rest of the grounds, sat with a capuccino for a while and then had a light lunch back in the dining room before tearing ourselves away. We had a little boy waiting for his mum and dad to come home and we couldn’t wait to see him. What a brilliant 30th birthday present.