Tag Archives: Aberdeen

Goodbye house

In the last nine months, two of my close friends have packed up, rented their flats and moved to Hong Kong. In the last nine days, another great friend has landed a job in London, so that he and his wife will also be packing up, renting their flat and buggering off. As we made our last van run today I pondered the fact we were all still standing. And slightly envied the fact that none of them had had an inquisitive toddler unpacking, climbing on and pouring juice into their boxes.

I’m quite proud of myself.

Apart from last weekend and today, Rod has mostly been working his socks off in Aberdeen. I’ve been meeting the financial advisor, showing round letting agents, auditioning builders, making tea for the handyman, chatting to the electrician and dragging my mother-in-law to B&Q on pensioner Wednesdays.

On the occasions when it’s threatened to overwhelm me, strange things have happened. One Tuesday, as I stomped up to Beanscene with the wee man mercifully strapped into the one place he couldn’t cause trouble, I bumped into the barista at the door with an armful of cardboard.

“Are those boxes?!” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“Can I have them?” I asked.

He looked at me strangely. “I’m moving house,” I explained, to his relief. The charming chap even kept them and brought them out to my car later. That, and other odd coincidences like a neighbour’s friend turning out to live two streets away from me in Aberdeen, have made me wonder if they were fateful signposts that I’m on the right path.

I’ve enjoyed the growing feeling of space, in my house and in my head, as I’ve binned, recycled and donated carloads of stuff. I even got up at 5.30 on a Sunday morning to go to a carboot sale. I should actually write a whole blog post on that – the characters I met and the banter we had made standing in a freezing warehouse for four hours totally bearable. I sold every single thing and made £110 to boot.

Today we took the last of the furniture, pictures and kitchenware to the place we’re storing it. We loaded the van with the clothes, TV and Wee Man Equipment for our rented Aberdeen house. On Wednesday I’ll pack what little clothes and plates remain and leave this house. At some point we’ll need to go through an abbreviated version of this process, when we buy a house. But that may be a while. I’ll have recovered by then.

Hooray for house moving!

Hooray for house moving!

 

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Aberdeen with a baby – for good

So there I was, juggling eight or ten balls, when someone threw in a flaming torch.

Two weeks later, despite a few singe marks, I’m chuffed they’re all still in the air. The ‘flaming torch’ was in fact Rod’s dream job, so really there was no option but to accept that our 6-month secondment had turned into a permanent relocation.

Some parts of this have been easy. My first choice of nursery was able to accommodate the wee man on the days I wanted within a month. The letting agent said he could have our Glasgow house rented within 6 weeks. The mortgage advisor said the figures stack up.

Some parts of this have been hard. Rod’s working six days a week and I’m 150 miles from home. We need to get a builder to fix a wall before we can rent. I have to pack up an entire house and figure out what to keep, where to store it and when to move it. We have to go through the process of finding and buying a house in a new city.

Both the wee man and I have had a rotten cold this week, so I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself and dwelling a bit too much on the negatives. But I always come back to the conviction that this is the right move for us. It’s a great city with a much more optimistic atmosphere than the rest of the doom-and-gloom, recession-hit country. I’ve already made friends, I’ve already uncovered business opportunities and I can feel the potential of living here. The hard parts are only temporary, we can fix the wall, hold a car boot sale and buy a fabulous home. We’ve decided to rent our Glasgow house furnished, so I even get to legitimately use Pinterest and come up with a whole new interior design for our new lifestyle!

I’m lucky that I have a toddler to break the ice (God knows he’s been breaking enough other stuff). It’s easy to meet people when you’re all clutching a coffee and making sure they don’t go down the slide head-first. I’m looking forward to buying somewhere big enough to have people to stay and friends for lunch, with a garden for the swing and the beach nearby.

Meanwhile I’ve got the handyman booked, the paperwork spread out on the desk, some Ikea storage boxes and a string of email alerts pinging. Wish me luck…

the road to aberdeen

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Aberdeen with a baby – part 1

Spreading himself out

Spreading himself out

When I was 20 I moved to Switzerland. When I was 21 I moved to Barcelona. When I was 30 I moved to Aberdeen. When you’ve found a flat in French, a job in Spanish and written a dissertation based on Catalan books, shifting 150 miles north is really no big deal. The big difference this time was the little travel companion.

We’re staying in a fabulous flat – the polar opposite of the sterile youth hostel where we camped out for a fortnight in Switzerland. It’s enormous, with loads of floor space for the wee man – and the first thing he did, the first night we arrived, was WALK! Like every parent in the land we have been anxiously awaiting this step and I properly screamed when he took it. I scooped him up, covered him in kisses and the two of us peed our pants laughing. A very good omen for the move, I’d say. (The walking, not the peeing.)

Rod was delighted to have us with him – not least because he would now be getting proper meals at night. He went off to work the next day with a big grin on his face and I went off to meet a woman I’d found through Gumtree who was selling a second-hand high chair. Getting it up 55 stairs to our flat with a baby under the other arm was a hell of a work-out. You’d better step up this walking trick, kid, and that agency better get our house ready sharpish.

That afternoon I naively headed out in the three-day old snow with the buggy to explore our temporary neighbourhood. I openly nosied at the houses we passed – nice bungalows, well-tended gardens… Smaller bungalows… Those are strange houses. They’re like semi-detached but with a weird concrete flight of stairs up the middle…. Oh they’re flats…They’re quite old flats. Those gardens are a mess… YIKES! I quickly turned away – a crowd of five men with their hoods up and fag-ends glowing was glowering at me from a stairway. There was a main road up ahead – with a fish and chip shop on it. Where was I? Turns out I’d stumbled into Hilton. I decided I’d only take that road in the car from now on.

On Friday morning I hit a jackpot. After extensive Netmums research, I chose a playgroup and headed along for a couple of hours. The wee man was overjoyed to find the trampoline, slide, book corner, kitchen corner and a car in which he would only go backwards. I ran around preventing him crashing into people, but everyone was very laid back. I chatted to a few mums who were full of suggestions for pools, gyms, clubs and shops, I was really pleasantly surprised how friendly everyone was. At snack-time the wee man sat beautifully with three new friends and I had a coffee with another mum who had done a similar commute to me for a while. Our last fifteen minutes were spent singing songs and playing instruments – and all for £2.50. That’s Friday mornings sorted.

That afternoon I followed one of the mum’s advice and set the sat nav for Aberdeen Sports Village. WOW. I could hardly believe the size or scope of the place – there was even pole-vaulting equipment! I am so trying that out. There is also a creche and a Starbucks. Best. Gym. Ever. I booked the wee man in for two 90 minute creche sessions the following week and myself into BLT Blast (which I hope stands for Bums, Legs, Tums and isn’t actually aimed at burning the exact number of calories in a BLT).

Saturday didn’t feel like Saturday – it felt like another day in holiday-land. I had coffee planned with a Twitter friend for the afternoon, so decided I’d spend the morning checking out the shops. I didn’t feel guilty about this cos the wee man needed his feet measured. First shock of the day was parking charges. £3 an hour for on-street parking? It would be a quick shopping trip. Second shock of the day was the wee man’s feet had grown a whole size to 5.5 and they didn’t really make cruisers for kids with feet that big. “But he’s taken his first steps!” I assured the assistant, maybe a little bit desperately. She produced a kind of hybrid shoe – very cute in blue with a little rocket on the strap – that cost £30. He’ll fit them for approximately two months. Yikes again. Then I accidentally found myself in New Look and spotted a pair of high waist skinny black jeans for a bargainous £22. I’ve lost a bit of weight and my low-rise DVB jeans are just not working for me any more – I spent the whole time at playgroup hoiking them up. If I replaced designer jeans with cheap, yet practical, New Look jeans that was me being responsible, right?

The morning shopping trip had taught me quite how close our flat is to central Aberdeen, so after lunch I tucked the wee man into the pram with a hot water bottle (the snow was lightly falling) and walked back into town. It took half an hour and I passed four tattoo parlours en route. I asked my Twitter friend, who is now a friend IRL (as we say), about George Street and she said perhaps not to walk along it in the dark. She did reassure me that our new neighbourhood – Westhill – is lovely and very family friendly. Phew. I seem to be doing the tour of the underbelly.

beach

Sunday was exciting because Rod was off! I let him have a long lie (til 9 – such luxury!) then proudly showed him the city. We attempted a walk along the beach but honestly, the wind was coming right off the North Pole, so we went for a coffee instead to The Sand Dollar – a tip from my IRL friend.  We spotted a nearby TGI Fridays and looked at each other like excited children – yes, we’d come back here for an early dinner before I hit the road home. It worked out perfectly and, full of nachos and ribs, with a sleeping child in the back, I happily drove back down a quiet, not-at-all-snowy, A90. I couldn’t wait to go back!

TGIs is very family-friendly

TGIs is very family-friendly!

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In which we move to Aberdeen

I wonder how many mums – or women for that matter – have had a wee snottery bubble this month? Mine happened on the morning of Tuesday 18th December. The slipper boot wouldn’t fit in the washing machine, I broke a nail trying to force it and then I had a coughing fit. I felt pathetic and had a proper wail on the kitchen floor.

This December has been particularly crazy. Rod was offered a six month secondment to Aberdeen and three days later he was there. The wee man and I stayed in Glasgow, buying and wrapping presents, writing and posting Christmas cards, dealing with the flu which became a chest infection and searching the internet for a suitable place to rent. I’m quite proud that a few hoarse sobs in front of the washing machine were all that happened.

Eventually Friday arrived and we could drive up to Aberdeen and view a few properties. By a magical stroke of luck, we found the ideal home –  a new build in a lovely area, close to colleagues of Rod’s and with a playpark nearby for the wee man. He surveyed his new territory with approval

Finlay at window

 

We get the keys mid-January so now we can finally relax and enjoy Christmas. We’re well again, we’re organised and we have so many lovely plans with friends and family. I wonder how many people are feeling this way today?

Meanwhile the wee man’s been preparing too. He’s working on a musical number for the post-feast entertainment

piano

 

He’s been helping me tidy the house

loo roll

 

And he’s learned a new skill which makes him even harder to contain.

door

 

Here’s to a wonderful Christmas and a very prosperous 2013 for all of us! x

DSC07862

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