One of my great joys in life before lockdown (remember that?) was travelling to different cities and towns across the UK and Europe.
Beyond the sights and sounds of new places, it was also a chance to indulge my foodie side of the Force.
Nothing pleased me more than stumbling across a food hall or market, stacked with different vendors.
There is something really special about being in a big space with more choice of lunch (or dinner, or just a snackette) than you can shake a menu at.
Last year in the dying embers of our freedom to roam, I was in London when a “what’s that?” moment saw me discovering the Seven Dials Market.
Oh my, all the different cuisines from curry to traditional fish and chips, burgers to the ubiquitous bau buns that were springing up everywhere.
Oh, and let’s not forget the breweries and cocktail bars.
The place was going like a fair, packed with folk stuffing their faces with fine things and having a rare old time.
Fast forward a few months and even in lockdown, we managed to squeeze in the Big Feed street food market in Glasgow for a socially-distanced, Covid-secure lunch. Lebanese food, Asian treats, posh hot dogs, cheese and chips. This was a smorgasbord or goodies that left us spoiled for choice.
See also, trips to food markets in Amsterdam, Berlin, Vancouver… more or less anywhere I’ve fetched up on my travels.
This is why the idea of an indoor food market in Aberdeen shouldn’t just be welcomed and explored.
It should be snatched with both hands and turned into a reality, pronto.
The proposals by the Aberdeen Multicultural Centre could plant the seed which might grow into a food hall to rival those on offer in other cities around the world.
After all, we are sitting in the middle of Scotland’s larder with the finest produce known to man, complemented by the rich harvest of our seas.
There is an abundance of talent in the restaurant and drinks industry, with many more hidden gems just waiting to be uncovered.
We have already been given a taste (pun intended) of what a food market could be like in the Granite City.
The Aberdeen Indoor Market was incubating a rich melting pot of eateries just before it was earmarked for closure and demolition.
As we look at the heavy toll the pandemic has wrought on our retail sector, we all know it is vital to find ways of making the city centre a vibrant and attractive place for visitors.
Central to that must be the food and drink sector which, along with arts and culture, can transform the heart of any city.
It might be hard to see the way forward at the moment, as we are still waiting for our lives to restart.
But with vision, passion and an appetite for change, there is every chance we create a banquet of opportunity to lift Aberdeen and the north-east out of the pandemic doldrums.
Respect is one thing – but fawning over the top
Respect is due for the passing of Prince Philip and the role he played in the life of the country.
Even if you are not a fan of the idea of royalty – and I’m not – he still earned his place in the history books.
That should be reflected by each of us in the way we wish.
Despite my feelings on monarchy, I still had a toast on Friday night to the man.
However, there is respect and there is absolutely over- the-top fawning being forced upon us by the national broadcaster.
Seriously, did the BBC have to axe all its scheduling and show exactly the same thing on all its channels, ad nauseam?
I mean, just how much can we take of Nicholas Witchell doing that ghastly, reverential hushed tones thing?
Now, had BBC One been turned over to wall-to-wall tributes, that would have been more than acceptable and understandable.
But why wasn’t BBC Two offered up as an arc to rescue the rest of the programming?
I know it might sound trite, but I am not alone in being gutted the Masterchef final simply disappeared, to turn up who knows where or when.
Other broadcasters were doing their tributes too, but got back a semblance of normality fairly pronto. But the BBC radio stations were still doing the sombre music thing over the weekend.
We’re supposed to roll our eyes at North Korean style broadcasting, not join in.
Go out and enjoy our natural beauty
If you ever had any doubt that we live in the most beautiful part of Scotland, then check out the RediscoverABDN photo competition.
It reminds us just how gorgeous our corner of the world is – and just how many talented photographers are out there to capture it in all its glory. The landscape entries for March were truly stunning. I love the theme of castles for April, since we are blessed with so many wonderful ancient piles.
It’s a great way to not only discover your artistic side, but also the stunning views we have on our doorstep. Get out and enjoy it.