Category Archives: hello World

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

IMG_1642

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.

IMG_1647

IMG_1651

IMG_1663

IMG_1658

 

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…

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Aberdeen, hello World, travel

They’re not judging, they’re sympathising

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.

DSC08462

This was definitely a “burst with happiness” moment

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under hello World, other people's kids, travel

Protected: Am I a good Mum?

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Enter your password to view comments.

Filed under Aberdeen, hello World

Disneyland Paris with a toddler

There is a moment before you go in which is even better than going in...

There is a moment before you go in which is even better than going in…

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:

Daddy I want that one!

Daddy I want that one!

Accommodation:

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.

Even the lobby feels like a celebration

Entertainment:

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.

Wave to Daddy!

Wave to Daddy!

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.

The characters

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…”

So, fancy sharing a bottle of rum?

So, fancy sharing a bottle of rum?

The rides

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.

IMG_5039Getting there and back

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.

IMG_5088

 

You might also enjoy First Foreign Foray

Leave a comment

Filed under hello World, holidays

Autumn Balm

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may also enjoy this post: Mother and Son Time

3 Comments

Filed under Glasgow, health, hello World

Mum & Dad time

“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.

Stobo Castle – Scotland’s only destination spa

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.

Room with a view

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.

Living the high life

We lay with magazines, beers and sweeties for two hours uninterrupted. I’m just going to say that again, uninterrupted.

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under hello World, travel

Barcelona Baby Yeah!

I’ve had some funny looks, though mostly admiring, when I’ve told people the wee man’s first birthday present was a trip to Barcelona with his mum. He’s been showered with gifts of toys, clothes and books –  and experiences are always the best way to spend your pleasure pounds in my book. Plus our friends Tricia and Ruby were going to be there for a week so why not piggyback on their holiday?!

I was a bit nervous at the airport and had no choice but to hand the wee man to the security guard when he told me to collapse the buggy and strip to my tshirt, but we made it to Barcelona pretty much without mishap. The hotel was so much nicer than I expected (it’s always a gamble booking online) and within ten minutes Tricia, Ruby and Kika (Tricia’s best Barcelona bud) had all showed up. The two wee ones squealed in delight at seeing each other and 14 month old Ruby wasted no time in displaying her new talent – she planted a huge kiss right on the wee man’s mouth. He, in turn, grabbed her in a big hug while Tricia and I hung onto each other in a chorus of “Awwwwwww!” We found a roadside tapas bar, polished off a bottle of red and tootled off to bed.

Waking up in Barcelona, with my favourite little guy asleep beside me (it had been a rough night) and the sun streaming through the window was just bliss. We met in the shadow of the Sagrada Familia for coffee and magdalenas, then played in the swingpark, hoping we’d use up some of their energy. We wandered north until we reached Park Guell, one of my absolute favourite destinations for its whimsical turreted buildings and beautiful dichotomy of straight brushed paths and wavy mosaic walls. Obligingly they slept, allowing Tricia and I some peace to chat and soak up the sun and atmosphere.

I used to live in an apartment on Ronda General Mitre and so, after a stop for lunch, we headed in that direction. We lost Sophie Giraffe en route, reversed and found her, took photos of my baby and me outside the flat in which I was mostly drunk or hungover, and decided to window-shop our way down Gran de Gracia and Passeig de Gracia. We couldn’t resist the toyshop however, Ruby chose a Princess puppet and Finlay got a “Donde vivo?” animal book. It was time for the afternoon nap when we reached the cafes near Plaza Catalunya and so we found a table and ordered two glasses of red. The wee man had other ideas – I sat him on my knee to give him some juice but he was too quick for me. He grabbed the wine and dumped it all over me. The tourists around us found the whole thing hysterical – I tried hard to keep my strop to a minimum. He did finally sleep – around the time Ruby was chasing pigeons in Plaza Catalunya – and we managed to find another tapas bar in which to have our dinner before returning, wet of leg and dirty of foot, to the hotel for a bath and a very early night.


The next day wasn’t so warm and I was glad to have worn my jeans instead of my shorts. We wheeled the wee ones down to the zoo where they watched the monkeys playing and the bears pacing and the elephants weaving… Tricia and I got sadder and sadder, the enclosures seemed so small and the animals so unhappy. Snowflake the albino gorilla was still advertised, despite the fact he died in 2003 and together with the fact none of the food or drink outlets were open, the whole experience was a bit of a damp squib. We found a nice spot in the park to feed the wee ones lunch and play before we set off for The Borne district.

In my opinion, this is the true Barcelona. The narrow winding streets with balconies and laundry overhead, the tiny shops selling jewelery and clothing, the unexpected plazas with cafes and street performers and the beautiful gothic churches are just so intriguing. I could have wandered around for days, pausing for beer or tapas or to change a nappy on a bench (there are so few modern facilities for babies!). The wee man clearly loved it too – he was not interested in sleeping, he might miss something. I wondered why so many people were smiling at me and I realised it was because he was making faces and chatting to them. Whether it was being around Ruby or just the whole new experience, he was suddenly much more vocal. We found ourselves, completely by accident, in Plaza Real, a place dear to my heart for the many dinners in Quinz Nits and nights out in Jamboree I’ve njoyed. By a miracle, the cafe where we drank beers had a baby change, so we could sort them out and be ready for the trip’s highlight: dinner at Siete Puertas.

This is my third favourite restaurant in the whole world (behind Andrew Fairlie’s and La Cala in La Manga Club) because it serves the best paella I have ever tasted. As we were eating at 6pm we didn’t need to book (the waiter and Kika shared a gentle joke about the crazy tourists eating so early), so we ordered a bottle of Marques de Caceres and a paella de mariscos and simply savoured the moment. Until we noticed how red in the face the babies were and realised they had synchronised to such an extent they were even pooing in unison. Luckily there was a state of the art baby change – I even took photos. If possible, the restaurant now rates even higher on my list for bucking the Barcelona trend.

Fancy pants baby change at Siete Puertas


The weather on our final day was so wonderfully hot and sunny that we parked our asses and our babies on a bench at the port and didn’t move all morning. I don’t remember this part of the city being so beautiful, the walkway is the kind of decking that would wrap around a Malibu beach house and there are white sculptures bobbing in the water. Tricia and I watched the yachts and the men with nets scooping flotsam and jetsam from the surface and chatted about Ponzi schemes. We just fed the babies in the buggies and let them play by the bench. Another display of mutual adoration drew exclamations of “Mira que mono!” from the couple beside us (“Look, how cute!), they just couldn’t stop cuddling each other! We tore ourselves away as we had plans to meet a friend of mine from the Erasmus days who was still living the dream. Caroline appeared looking very tanned, slim and businesslike and we caught up over Russian salads and sparkling water in the sunshine. After she’d zipped off on her scooter I realised the wee man had peed on me through his shorts – so we nipped in to H&M for a new vest for him and changed his whole outfit on a park bench. Funny how Caroline’s and my paths have diverged…

There was time to pick up my bag from the hotel and feed the kids in Tricia’s B&B before I had to get my cab to the airport. I thought we’d board and Finlay would sleep as the flight left at 8.15, but the air conditioning unit broke and we ended up on the tarmac waiting for an engineer for two and a half hours. My sleeping baby woke up screaming, his wee face aflame and I had to strip him down and go and stand by the exit, trying not to cry myself. The surly steward’s prediction that we’d have to stay the night pushed me over the edge, I didn’t have enough nappies or milk for that. Luckily the captain came out and told me to stand outside on the steps to cool down and chatted until we were both calmer. My arms were aching holding him, so I perched in the doorway with the wee man wrapped in a light blanket asleep across my lap. The problem was fixed within five minutes of the engineer’s eventual arrival but there was no way I was waking the wee man, so I pretended he was strapped in under the blanket. Unlike at Barcelona airport, noone brought the pram to the plane so I carried him all the way, through passport control, to the baggage carousel where I sat unashamedly on the floor waiting for our bag and buggy. I have never been so relieved to see my husband – and although it was a rubbish ending, it had been a wonderful trip.

1 Comment

Filed under hello World, travel