Dec 112014

duthiebandstandWith thanks to Dave Macdermid.

Friends Of Duthie Park will be putting on a Christmas Carol Concert at 11 am and 2 pm on Saturday 20th December 2014 at David Welch Winter Gardens, Duthie Park.
The event will also include a raffle on behalf of Food Banks across the city.

To enter the raffle, and have the opportunity to win a Christmas Fruit Hamper donated by CFine, please bring along any tinned goods, packaged and jars of food, toiletries and staple items such as tea, coffee, sugar etc.

CFine will then distribute all items to those who need that extra bit of help at Christmas.

Anyone wishing to make a donation before the Christmas Carol Concert, should contact Arthur Gill, or drop their donation off at the Winter Gardens.

Dec 112014

Copyright: Newsline ScotlandWith thanks to Beverly Tricker.

An attempt was made by hundreds of Aberdonians today (Saturday, 6 December), to set a new world record for the longest Christmas cracker pulling chain. The attempt fell short of the current record (749) with 355 shoppers forming a human cracker chain.

The VisitAberdeen-organised event formed part of a drive to promote the city for festive breaks, and attracted large crowds to try and secure their place in the record books.

Steve Harris (pictured), Chief Executive of VisitAberdeen, says,

“We know there have been a number of different attempts around the country to try beat to the record. We were aware it was going to be quite a feat to try and pull off a new record, but it was a gallant effort from everyone who took part and although we didn’t set a new record everyone has really got into the spirit of things, and it’s been brilliant to see whole families take part in the event and have a great time. It’s been a great community event.

“Aberdeen has a lot to offer at Christmas, with the Winter Festival already well under way. From Christmas markets on Belmont Street every weekend in December to an outdoor ice rink in Union Terrace Gardens, the city is full of Christmas cheer and we are delighted to be able to spread some of that festive magic.

“With festive celebrations running right through to January, excellent Christmas shopping opportunities, and first class accommodation, restaurants and pubs, we’re encouraging more people to consider the city for a winter break.”

Further information on the world record attempt can be found on social media at and on

For more information on Aberdeen’s festive events, please visit

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Dec 052014

Elaine_C_Smith_and_Beast by Duncan HarleyDuncan Harley reviews Beauty and the Beast at HMT.

Aberdeen’s His Majesty’s Theatre has been staging pantomime for almost a century and the 2014 festive production of Beauty and the Beast looks likely to break all previous records as regards eye watering gags and entertainment value for children of all ages.

From the very start, the production engages all sections of the audience with a blistering series of innuendo laden laughs guaranteed to keep the grown-ups happy and the youngsters wondering.

In one of the funniest slapstick performances ever witnessed on an Aberdeen stage, Mrs Potty – played by Elaine C. Smith – wields her truncheon while fellow cast members variously demonstrate their prowess with feather dusters and frying pans.

The result is hilarious and the deadpan delivery complete with split second timing literally brings the house down.

Of course in true panto tradition, there are goodies and baddies. Mrs Potty, Dame Kitty Brewster – played by the production’s writer Alan McHugh – and of course the beautiful Belle, come into the first category. Anne Smith plays the evil witch Deadly Nightshade and Paul Leubke gives a versatile performance as the extremely unlovable alpha male Harris McTweed.

The Beast – Luke Newton – is of course a baddie destined to improve nicely as he slowly transforms into the handsome Prince Sebastian.

There are special effects galore including a quite extraordinary airborne Elaine C. Smith plus the unforgettable and incredibly scary Kraken of the Deep.

Highlights include a splendid rendering of the 1960’s Beach Boy’s hit “Surfing Cruden Bay” delivered by Dame Kitty and her wee son Boabby Brewster – played by Jordan Young. For my vote the deadpan mis-direction in the Wedding Scene and the moment when the orchestra commit the cardinal sin of opening their brolly’s indoors come a very close joint second.

Sound, set design and lighting are faultless and the costumes are to die for. With a superb musical score and entertaining choreography this is a truly magical pantomime experience.

Produced by Michael Harrison and directed by Sam Kane, Beauty and the Beast at HM Theatre Aberdeen will run and run until Sunday January 4th 2015.

Is there a happy ending ever after?

You’ll just have to go and see …

Tickets are available from Aberdeen Box Office on 01224 641122 and on line at

Words and pictures by Duncan Harley

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Dec 052014

With thanks to Stevie Brown, Account Manager, Tricker PR.

Chloe Kermoal and Caroline Will 5An attempt to break the world record for the longest Christmas cracker pulling chain is set to take place in Aberdeen as part of a drive to promote the city for festive breaks.

VisitAberdeen is appealing for cracker pullers to turn out in force to smash the current record which stands at 749 on Saturday Dec 6 .

The human chain of simultaneous cracker snappers will take place in the Bon Accord Centre atrium, with registration beginning at 12pm and the countdown to the ‘big bang’ starting at 1pm.

Steve Harris, Chief Executive of VisitAberdeen, says,

“We have been appealing for people to bring their family and friends to the record attempt for the last few weeks, and the response has been fantastic – we’ve even heard from a family from New Zealand who are going to take part in the event. Christmas is a time of year for people to come together and have fun, and that’s exactly what this record is all about.

“Aberdeen is a magical place at Christmas time and we’re always looking for unusual ways to highlight the festive spirit and activities in the city. We’re a city full of Christmas fun from the Santa’s Grotto and ice rink in Union Terrace Gardens to our excellent high street and independent shopping. From mince pies on the Deeside railway’s Santa Express to craft fayres in Castle courtyards, the discerning traveller from 8 to 80 will find their ideal festive break in and around Aberdeen.”

Craig Stevenson, Centre Manager at the Bon Accord Centre says,

“We’ve never seen a record attempt like this at the centre and we’re really excited to be part of the big event. The first Saturday in December is one of the biggest shopping days of the year and we’re expecting more than 50,000 shoppers to pass through the doors, and would love as many of them as possible to get involved in the world record event.”

Participants can find more information on social media and show their support for the event at and on Twitter @CrackerRecord.

The Christmas cracker world record attempt is supported by Thistle Hotels which have supplied more than 2,500 crackers in the hope of breaking the existing record.

The current world record stands at 749 set by Brindleyplace, Birmingham.

The Christmas cracker was invented by Tom Smith in 1847, and last year over 300 million crackers were pulled in the UK alone.

In order for this event to be considered by the Guinness Book of Records as a genuine world record, each participant must register and be filmed registering for their cracker. The final line of cracker pullers has to be filmed. Organisers expect that it will take 12 weeks to have the record attempt verified by Guinness book of Records.

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Nov 282014

With thanks to Stevie Brown, Account Manager, Tricker PR

Chloe Kermoal and Caroline Will 5

Caroline Will and Chloe Kermoal pull a Christmas Cracker

An ambitious world record attempt to be staged in Aberdeen has scared an English town into postponing their challenge of the same record until after the Granite City has attempted the feat.
Wellington, in Somerset, England, had planned to break the world record for the longest Christmas Cracker pulling chain on Saturday 22 November during their Christmas light switch on parade.

However, the organisers cancelled their attempt when they discovered Aberdeen has set itself a more ambitious target to break the same record on Saturday 6th December.

Organisers of the Wellington attempt plan to wait and see how the Aberdeen event fairs in setting a new record. A spokesperson from the Wellington organising team said:

“This decision was not made lightly but rest assured it is a postponement.”

Wellington has tried to break the world cracker pulling record three times and will now launch their challenge for the longest Christmas Cracker chain on 20 December at AFC Telford, more than two weeks after Aberdeen’s attempt which takes place in the Bon Accord Shopping centre at 1pm on Saturday 6 December.

The event in the Granite City is being staged by VisitAberdeen as part of a drive to promote the city for festive breaks, and VisitAberdeen is appealing for cracker pullers to turn out in force to smash the current world record which stands at 749 set by Brindleyplace, Birmingham. The human chain of simultaneous cracker snappers will take place in the Bon Accord Centre atrium, with registration beginning at 12pm and the countdown to the ‘big bang’ taking place at 1pm.

Steve Harris, Chief Executive of VisitAberdeen, says:

“When we started planning the Christmas Cracker world record attempt at the start of the summer we had no idea that anyone else was also vying to set a new record – all we knew was 749 was the number we needed to beat to get in the record books.

“When we heard that Wellington were also going for the record I was excited – it makes it an even bigger challenge, and I think some friendly competition is good. I wish Wellington good luck in their attempt, and it means that we will have to pull out all the stops here in Aberdeen – I have no doubt that the people of Aberdeen will rally together to help put the region on the map as the new world record holders.”

People who would like to take part in the record attempt are invited to follow the event on Facebook and Twitter and can keep up to date with the record attempt at and on @CrackerRecord.

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Oct 172014

Elaine C Smith and Beast 13By Duncan Harley

Pantomime season arrived early this week as one of Scotland’s most talented performers, Elaine C Smith, made an impromptu appearance at Aberdeen’s Bon Accord Centre.

In full costume and accompanied by Prince Sebastion, perhaps better known as the Beast, Elaine mingled with shoppers and posed for the cameras as a prelude to her star role as Mrs Potty in HM Theatre’s 2014 Christmas panto production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

This is Elaine’s sixth year starring in pantomime at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen.

“Some folk think that when you do panto it’s a sign that your stage career is over,” said Elaine “in reality it’s quite the opposite, this is Aberdeen’s very own panto not just a touring show … it’s a real pleasure to appear here.”

Now grandmother to new baby Stella, ‘Granny Smith’ has arrived to a warm welcome from the Granite City and she’ll not be leaving until the Beast is once again transformed into a handsome prince.

Produced by Michael Harrison, this years production has been written by Alan McHugh will don his frock for the 11th year running to delight audiences as Dame Kitty Brewster while Jordan Young will no doubt be up to some extreme mischief in his role as Boabby Brewster.

The Beast is played by Luke Newton while Anne Smith, of Madam JoJo’s West End Club fame, will play the Wicked Witch. Dundee born Maggie Lynne plays the role of the beautiful Belle and Paul Luebke, of Taggart fame, is cast as Harris McTweed.

Rehearsals begin soon and the theatre doors open on Saturday 29th November with performances up to and including Sunday January 4th.

Tickets are available from Aberdeen Box Office on 01224 641122 and on line at

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Oct 102014

1476404_561458237274267_1571602989_nAberdeen Inspired will once again be bringing festive cheer to the heart of the city, with plans for an ice rink in Union Terrace Gardens. With thanks to Paul Smith, Citrus:Mix.

Last year around 2,000 skaters took to the ice and the pop-up attraction is back by popular demand, in partnership with Aberdeen City Council.

The rink will be open from December 1 through to January 5 at its new home in the gardens. Last year the Castlegate was the venue.

Craig Stevenson, the Aberdeen Inspired director with responsibility for the organisation’s events programme, said:

“We decided to bring an ice rink back to the city centre last year after a long absence and the response was phenomenal. It created such a buzz and brought a real sense of fun to the Christmas period.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute. Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and driving footfall to the zone.

Craig Stevenson added:

“Aberdeen Inspired’s overarching aim is to bring more people to the business improvement district and the ice rink was a huge success from that perspective. We have moved to Union Terrace Gardens this year to add a fresh feel and to allow businesses in a different part of the zone to benefit from the positive impact.

“In saying that, the benefits last year were seen throughout the city centre and not just around the Castlegate. By bringing thousands of people to the heart of Aberdeen it helps support our members but also adds to the atmosphere and feel-good factor surrounding Christmas in the city.”

The length of time the rink will be in place has been extended this year to allow more people to enjoy the attraction over the festive holidays. Admission will cost £3 per person, including skate hire, and all proceeds will once again go to charity. The rink will open from 11am to 8pm each day.

For further information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired visit

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Dec 152011

With Christmas fast approaching and people hitting the city in droves this weekend – why not pop into our lovely city gardens in between the present hunting for a truly festive event.  Iain Richardson writes re. this Saturday’s Winter Festival at Union Terrace Gardens to celebrate prize art work by city children.

The winners of an art competition for children will receive their prizes at a Winter Festival in the centre of Aberdeen this Saturday, 17th December.

Christmas-themed artwork by Aberdeen school children will be on display at the event in Union Terrace Gardens on Saturday 17th December 2011, between 1pm and 3.30pm.

The Winter Festival will feature the Bon Accord Silver Band, carol singing, Yousedancin ceilidh band, Santa, Cairngorm reindeer, and free festive food and drink.

Dorothy Bothwell, retired Head Teacher and member of the Common Good Aberdeen group, who organised the event, said:

“We’re just thrilled at the response to the competition. The children’s art is stunning and we’ll be displaying as many of the 300 or so entries as we possibly can on Saturday, as well as handing out prizes to the winning children”.

The prizes for the winning Art Competition entries in each of three age groups will be presented to children at approximately 1.30pm on Saturday 17th December, at the Arches in Union Terrace Gardens.

Nearly 300 entries were received from primary schools and individual children in and around Aberdeen.

For further information, contact:

Dorothy Bothwell:      01224 583451

Iain Richardson:        07833 453961



Dec 152011

With thanks to Aberdeen Forward and Zero Waste Scotland.

Volunteers working with environmental charity Aberdeen Forward and Zero Waste Scotland are calling on locals to make sure they are not throwing good food in the bin this Christmas.  The average household could save as much as £430 a year by stamping out food waste, and at least £18 million of edible food is thrown in the bin in Scotland every year.

Zero Waste Volunteers in the North East are now encouraging local residents to find out more about how to reduce food waste.  For more tips to reduce food waste and save money, visit

Gillian Marr, Zero Waste Scotland’s Volunteer Coordinator for Grampian, said:

“There are a number of simple steps which everyone can take to stop food going to waste. 

“Begin by thinking about the meals you’d like to eat over Christmas, planning the ingredients you will need and writing a shopping list.  By planning meals, you can build in ideas for making tasty meals from any leftovers you might have. 

“Remember to make the most of your freezer and pay attention to the use by dates on the things you buy.  Many items, such as hard cheese and mashed potatoes, can be frozen and reused at a later date which saves on time and stops you throwing food you’ve spent good money on in the bin.  Storing your food to keep it at its best can prevent things from spoiling. 

“Thinking about how many guests you will have could also prevent you buying or cooking too much.  A perfect portion planner is available from  which advises on how much you need to make healthy-sized meals and snacks for both adults and children.

“Finally, for all the vegetable peelings and fruit trimmings you can’t avoid put these to good use, remember to use your compost bin to make a rich fertiliser you can use in the garden.”

Zero Waste Scotland’s Christmas Food Saver Tips

To help local families make the most of the food they buy over Christmas, Zero Waste Scotland’s Love Food Hate Waste Team shares some tips about how to turn your Christmas Dinner into a waste-less treat:

  • Write a list before you do that big Christmas shop to prevent over-buying in the supermarkets
  • Use the perfect portion planner at to plan how much you need to feed your guests
  • Freeze the carcass of your turkey to make a tasty stock for soup later
  • Don’t bin the leftovers of your turkey, they will be tasty on a sandwich on Boxing Day or make them into another delicious meal, like turkey curry.  You could even freeze leftover meat for later too.
  • Store those Christmas vegetables in the fridge to make sure they stay fresh long after Christmas day.  If you don’t get round to eating them in time, boil them up and freeze them in individual portions to enjoy your own home-made ready meals in January
  • If you’ve got leftovers from dessert, whipped cream can be frozen too or turn your Christmas pudding into a strudel or use leftover fruit and dessert sauces to make brownies
  • Even leftover party food can be frozen and enjoyed in packed lunches when the festive season ends.

For further information about Zero Waste Scotland contact:

Nicola McGovern, Press & PR Manager
Tel: 01786 468890
Mob: 07540 516156

Image credit © Marilyn Barbone | ….. 78

Dec 012011

Old Susannah looks back at the week that was, who said what to whom about what, and wonders what Saint Andrew would have made of it all.

Happy St Andrew’s Day! Old Suz is having haggis and whisky, or ‘swishky’ as the man at the next table is calling it. St Andrew’s Day reminds us of our national identity, more on that later. I read that Aberdeen is climbing up the list of ‘best places to live in the world’ and has reached the dazzling height of No. 52.

Well done everyone! And that’s before we get our glowing stadium at Loirston or our giant glass worm. We’ll be number 51 in the world before you know it.  Apparently factors like our low crime level feed into how the ratings are calculated. Congratulations to us all for living in this desirable paradise.

These statistics may or may not include the small minority of people who aren’t rolling in dosh like most of us are. The statistics on crime may or may not be being ‘massaged’ – after all, the top brass get nice bonuses if the crime levels are low. How could I think such a thing? Well, the newspapers this week may have something to do with it.

We’ve had a charming man just sent to prison; he kicked a four-year-old child in the head. Fair enough, they had been having an argument apparently.  You know what these toddlers can be like.

Another similar humanitarian’s gone down for 3 years for robbing children of their pocket money and jewellery, threatening to ‘slash’ some of them. The fact the victims were boys, girls and an autistic person just show that this particular thief was running his business in a non-discriminatory way.  He should be congratulated really. To be even more inclusive, this particular robber tried putting on a ‘Scouse’ accent.

Perhaps his career is inspiring to young people – a nine year old’s been caught stealing a car as well.  You’re never too young to learn.  I wonder if he at least brought a child safety seat on the job with him?

We’ve had older people robbed, conned and abused. Yes, in our 21st Century world, Aberdeen is the 52nd best place to live.  I’d say ‘safe as houses’, but we’ve had burglaries and fire-raising in the news as well.  Still, statistics don’t lie, and if there are experts who say we’re no. 52 in the planet, who are we to question it.

I heard something about some disruptive elements holding something called a ‘strike’. I just hope this won’t affect our place in the world quality standing. I can’t for the life of me see why anyone in such a highly-ranked city would have any reasons for unhappiness, although frozen salaries, cut pensions, closed schools, closed recreational facilities, cut school lessons, cut services and cuts to care homes might play a small role.

Someone should look into this.  Maybe if we just all looked at the brand new festive lights on Union Street, the rest of it wouldn’t matter so much.

That nice Mr Jeremy Clarkson had a solution for these ‘striking’ workers – he apparently said on air that he’d have them all shot in front of their families.  He thinks they get great pensions.  Please be a bit patient and don’t judge Mr Clarkson too harshly.  He’s got to work for a living, and probably only has a modest pension to look forward to.

It is not like him to be intolerant of other people, and as it’s the season of good will (or is it the season of ‘buy one get one free’ – I can never remember), let’s let Jeremy off the hook. We should be more tolerant, like he is.

Perhaps it’s time for some definitions.

Nationalism: (noun), The belief that a person or thing’s national origin is its most important and most defining characteristic.

Incidents of racism and nationalism are on the rise – not just in the UK at large, but here in 52nd best city, Aberdeen. Still, it’s important to remember just how important a person’s nationality is. If Donald Trump hadn’t reminded us that he has a granny from Skye, we might not have given his development the wink and the nod.

Pretty soon we’ll have the number one golf course in the world near the 52nd greatest city: it will be like paradise on earth. Believe it or not, on my mother’s side I can trace my direct ancestry all the way back to King Duncan, King Alexander and St Margaret of Scotland.

Armed with this information, I intend to ask Alex Salmond to give me privileges as well.  Maybe someone will even sell me some land in Westhills for a fraction of its value. National origin is where it’s at.

Of course if someone’s not Scottish, it’s OK to discriminate against them and you can always tell someone’s national origin by looking at them.

We know what a pure Scottish person looks like because of their Scottish characteristics. These Scottish traits come from the Egyptian princess Scota (for whom the country may be named). They also come from the Phoenicians who sailed here, the Celts who came here and the Vikings, Danes, and Norsemen who raided now and then. These pure Scottish traits also come from the Picts, and the Romans (whatever they may have done for us).

Later on continental settlers from travellers and sailors to kings and queens came from the continent. St Colomba came from Ireland, and the movement of people between Ireland and Scotland was massive. So yes – be proud you’re Scottish. After all, it’s not like a Scot is some kind of foreigner or something.

We could learn a lot from that nice lady on Youtube who had a wee bit of a go at foreigners coming over here to live.  It’s only been going on for three and a half thousand years or more as far as I can tell.  The lady in question is now helping the police with their enquiries.

St Andrew, for those who didn’t know, came from Galilee, and was Jewish-born convert to Christianity.  He had this crazy idea of preaching his religion (something to do with ‘turning the other cheek’, loving one another, and so on) to people in every country he could manage to travel to.

He travelled extensively in Europe and is also revered in half a dozen countries and the Greek Orthodox Church.  No doubt he’d be proud of the nationalism that seems to be taking hold of a few people here.  What he’d say to the giant worm or the monolith plans for Union Terrace Gardens is another matter.

Aberdeen Citizens Party: (noun) A facebook site with some 35 friends.

A wide range of rather strong opinions can be found on this site.  The Citizens Party is against Halal slaughter of animals (so am I).  It is all for capital punishment, and says that since 80 percent of people (really?) want the death penalty brought back it should be done.  I guess if a few innocent people get killed like happens in the USA, then the families can be given some kind of compensation payment. Fair enough.

This page is apparently run by one Patrick Wight; I’m told he has some form of hilarious act wherein he pretends to be a camp homosexual hairdresser named ‘Patrice’.  I really must catch that some time (perhaps around the time I want to define ‘tolerance’ more fully).

Old Susannah was surprised to read this on the Citizens page:

“Lets hope that a campaign of direct action can save Union Terrace Gardens and prevent the environmental damage which is to be inflicted upon it by Ian Wood and his yes men. The right to protest peacefully is a fundamental part of our society. We tend to forget that many of the human rights we cherish today are a direct result of protests by ordinary people who were prepared to go onto the streets ..”

I of course don’t want anything to stand in the way of Stewart getting his much-needed parking spaces, and Ian getting his eventual statue.  However, I found the above just a little bit of a contradiction to what a Patrick Wight wrote to Aberdeen Voice:-

Not affiliated to any political party?
Your having a fcuken (sic) laugh!
Your promoting the day of action rally by the political left and the unions who want to wreck economic recovery and cause public misery across Britain.”

So – a protest is fine, but not a day of action rally by the unions.  I can’t quite work out why we have unions anyway, since we’re number 52 in the world.  It might have had something to do with workers in the past not having great rights (or any rights).  It might have something to do with the infamous New York City sweatshop fire in the Triangle building–  all the workers had been locked in and none escaped the fire.

But that was then and this is now.  Public sector workers have ‘gilt edged’ pensions; Jeremy Clarkson said so.  Let’s all get behind the Aberdeen Citizens Party and protest against the gardens, but complain about unions having a day of protest.  Makes sense to me.

Next week:  more definitions, including ‘slacktivist’ – someone who likes the idea of supporting a cause, as long as it doesn’t mean doing anything much.