Tag Archives: beach

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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Aberdeen with a baby – part 2

Driving up the A90 with a spotless house behind me and an uncluttered flat awaiting me was a very peaceful experience. The wee man must have thought so too, he slept for over two hours. We arrived in a muted whiteout and watched the snow falling as the sun set. I promised him I’d buy him a sledge the next day.

Funnily enough, Halfords had sold out of the small sledges when I ventured out the next morning. The helpful shop assistant promised to save me a blue one when the pallet was delivered that afternoon. As I drove away it occurred to me that garages sometimes sell sledges, so turned onto Great Northern Rd with my eyes peeled.

Spotted!

Spotted!

After a long detour round a roundabout and a bit of sliding up a hill, I got parked and loaded the wee man into the pram so I’d have something to balance the sledge on. I couldn’t actually get it through the door – Rosco’s turned out to be an old-school treasure trove with boxes piled high. I waited for the woman in front of me to pay for her vodka and then asked how much the sledges were. I made out the £6.99 bit, but the rest was beyond me. Either the accent here is thicker than Glaswegian or he was speaking Doric. He noted my bemused expression and slowly enunciated, “Fit you frae?”

“Glasgow” I ventured, “I’m trying to find my way around – what’s this area called?”

“Woodside love, yer no missin feck all here.”

I grinned and asked if, by any chance, he also sold mitts for the wee man. I swear to God he lifted a box of lighters and underneath was a stripy hat with mittens attached, in the wee man’s size, with a lion on – his favourite animal. I paid the grand total of £9.98 and he helped me lift the pram over the boxes and out the door.

“And look I’m the only one who bothers to clear the pavement,” he gestured to the snow-free ground. What an absolute gem of a man.

Testing...

Testing…

Now, before you judge me, there is a very good reason he is not wearing a snowsuit. He’s never been on a sledge before and it was dangerously close to lunchtime. As sure as eggs is eggs, he’d enjoy the new experience for the exact amount of time it would have taken to get him into his suit. And I was right. For six and a half minutes he smiled and giggled as I towed him round, then the gurning and the crying started and I knew we’d had it.

After lunch we headed to the gym for that BLT class. The wee man shot off into the Lego pit and didn’t give me a backward glance as I filled out the form for the creche and crept out the door. I was right, the BLT did stand for bums, legs and tums – or maybe it was Burn Like Tabasco… It’s been a while since I did a gym class and clearly it’s been long enough for them to invent new ways of torturing you. Have you ever used a disk? Such a small, light piece of kit – and yet you have to stand on it and slide all over the shop while your other leg screams in agony. I thought my squats, lunges and crunches at Buggyfit would serve me well and they did, for the first few reps. But as the lactic acid built, so did my acute awareness of being at the front of the class (I was late) and I had to grit my teeth, stare at myself in the mirror and will myself not to scream out loud or fall on the floor. The tunes were great though and I did leave feeling like I’d had a proper workout.

On Friday morning I woke up and, like you do with a hangover, gingerly checked myself over. Hmmm. That hot bath and stretching before bed must have worked! We headed off to playgroup through the blizzard and had another brilliant morning. It was really nice to see the mums from last week again – I thanked the one who’d suggested the Sports Village – and I met another new mum who’d moved here two years ago from Edinburgh. She agreed it was an easy place to settle because everyone was either in the same boat or aware that the city’s huge oil industry brought new people all the time. I definitely feel very settled very quickly – perhaps because I’ve been quick to establish a new routine.

That afternoon I went back to the gym for a cardio session, placing myself strategically on the running machine in front of the window to the indoor football pitch. Eyes were happy, ears were happy with my tunes, and I spent a good hour because I was so distracted.

On Saturday morning I woke in agony. Muscles I’d forgotten I had were nagging loudly. Taking steps was awkward. But the sun was shining so I Googled Aberdeen parks and discovered that Westburn Park was within walking distance. I just needed to stretch out, I reasoned, and piled layer after layer on the wee man, pulled on my furry headband and set off in my wellies. It was a bit slippery, but it was glorious to feel the sun and the park seemed nice enough. They’ve made a bit of a feature of the burn by building bridges and pools, but the sun hadn’t hit the playpark yet, so all the wee man could really play on was the swing.

pond

swing

I was getting cold and more sore and it was uphill all the way home, so I was quite grumpy when we finally got back. I had to do some work while the wee man took his nap, otherwise I might have taken one myself. Luckily we had plans to meet another Twitter friend for coffee, which cheered me up. I decided I’d just drive into town – I’d done enough exercise – but I underestimated the Saturday afternoon traffic. I found a parking space on the street, but had no change, and then had to queue for a multi-storey. I ended up parking in the car-wash bay because I was half an hour late and gasping for a coffee. F**k it.

My Twitter friend, now definitely a friend IRL, was totally chilled out, quite enamoured with the wee man and full of chat. After our half hour’s peace while he had a snack, she suggested a walk round the city and pointed out the sites, filling me in on local issues (she works in PR too). It really is a lovely city, I feel more and more at home.

Sunday was another sunny day, so we braved the beach again. It was considerably warmer than last week – there were even surfers out – but we still went to The Sand Dollar for coffee and breakfast. We also took the wee man clothes shopping – his warp-speed crawling has worn the knees out on two pairs of trousers. Since last week had worked so well, we had another early dinner out, this time at Bella Napoli where I felt entirely justified in treating myself to an enormous chocolate pudding. I’ve burned enough calories this week.

dessert

Feel like you missed something? Here’s part 1

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