Every time I drove past Dundee Waterfront, I thought how pretty it looked. With the giant Ferris wheel as its centrepiece, the Winterfest looked so at home in Slessor Gardens.
It was like the kind of twinkling Christmas fair you might expect to find in Germany – a compact delight in our centre.
Days before M&N Events packed up, I took the boys and we weren’t disappointed.
That you could reach dizzying heights on the wheel and skate as if you were in Central Park, New York (if you used your imagination) – well, it was something, wasn’t it?
That such good use is being made of this space at Dundee Waterfront, from musicians holding concerts to pop-up events like this, makes my heart sing.
One couple I spoke to had come from Stirling with their four-year-old daughter.
The mum said: “This is the best find. It’s so easy – the train’s an adventure for the wee one. You get off at Dundee and all this is a few minutes walk away.”
She admitted she was a bit nervous about mixing at indoor venues and being packed like sardines into a soft play centre or a kid-friendly cafe. But here, it felt clean and safe in the fresh air.
Anyone who knows Dundee Waterfront can see it’s pretty special
The only people I ever hear complain about visiting Dundee are those who haven’t been here for a decade or more – or the ones who pass through en route to somewhere else via the Kingsway.
The road has its uses, not least in keeping congestion down, but the downside is you miss a lot of what’s going on here.
Yet no one who drives along Riverside alongside the silvery Tay and past Dundee Waterfront – with the historic Discovery, the wondrous V&A, pop-ups like Winterfest and the beautifully restored Malmaison – can fail to be sold on our city.
Glasgow has George Square to host city centre events, while Edinburgh has the backdrop of its castle for Princes Square’s Christmas markets and fairs.
But who has the longest river in Scotland as its setting? Give us heat and we’d be like San Francisco… with a better sense of humour and cheaper pints.
You know me – Dundee positive pants – always cheerleading the great changes we have seen.
But if you’re in any doubt, do it. Take the drive along Dundee Waterfront, look out to the Tay and Fife then look back at everything we have to offer now, just a stone’s throw from our train station and minutes from our shops, restaurants and bars.
The question is no longer why people would want to come to Dundee; but why wouldn’t they?
We're sad to say it's the last day of WinterFest.😥
A big thank you to everyone who has visited.😀
Enjoy the attractions today and we hope to welcome you back next year!👏 👏 pic.twitter.com/MAzw0ckNxF
— Dundee_WinterFest (@D_Winterfest) January 2, 2022
Three cheers for the organisers, and Dundee City Council, for making Winterfest happen.
I have a feeling it will only get better if it turns out to be a regular guest. Hopefully it becomes a festive fixture.
A sleepy Hogmanay in our house
I tried to do it – I really did.
Stay up for the bells I mean.
I poo-poo’d my husband, who admitted defeat around 11.30pm and said he was off to bed.
But the next thing I knew, midnight had long gone. I must have dozed off minutes before 2022 came along.
Maybe it was the TV. There were a few so-so bits, but I can’t be the only one wishing they would bring back Jonathan Watson and Only An Excuse.
Maybe it’s having wee ones who get up early, or the fact it was just us in the house and we didn’t have pals to keep us going.
Whatever it was, sleep won.
And then, come morning – I’ll admit it – my phone was not full of messages as it was in years gone by.
Maybe all my pals were in bed too. Maybe the ones who were partying were too busy. Or maybe they were making their way back from England, where the media said all the Scots had run to in the hope of a party with no restrictions.
(As a side note, I’ve talked to several people who said the atmosphere in restaurants and bars in the Ferry and Dundee was superb.)
Or perhaps my circle of people who count me as someone to text has shrunk.
I think that’s partly it.
Of course you meet up less frequently with people when family comes along. I don’t hit the town every weekend – thank goodness. And all our worlds have shrunk since lockdowns struck.
We were forced to close our doors and stay inside – and somehow that’s reflected in the number of well wishes being sent for Hogmanay.
Either that, or I’ve got nae pals.
Hello 2022 and bring it on
Well pals, we did it. We got through 2021 with its face masks, cancelled holidays, hand gel and triple vaccines.
The best – or most positive – articles I’ve read in the past few days say that this year will see an end to restrictions.
Let’s hold on to that – and to each other – and to the fact we’re still here.
Whatever you’ve missed most – whether it’s a cold beer in Mallorca, seeing the kids at sports day or a nativity, smiling at people without a mask – may 2022 be the year we get to do it all.
Happy New Year!