Standing in a long line outside a blustery Heathrow Airport my boyfriend and I were just two out of hundreds of passengers stranded due to Storm Isha.
We had taken it upon ourselves to jet off to solve our January blues, having both worked through Christmas and New Year.
But it should have occurred to us that one of the biggest disadvantages of travelling at this time of year has to be the potential for weather chaos.
To ease the boredom the disgruntled passengers made small talk among the queue.
We got chatting to a man who had been on his way to Barcelona when his flight was cancelled because of the gusts.
Naturally, I was jealous of his outgoing destination and we discovered he had actually moved there from the UK and was living my dream life somewhere outside of my favourite city.
But that’s not all we had in common.
When he heard we were headed home to the Granite City he told us he had traced his family back as far as he could, and they appeared to originate from Aberdeen.
Despite his roots, and Scottish heritage, he had never made it to our silver city, he said.
I immediately felt compelled to defend it, but found it much harder to do than I ever have done before.
While I had been living the high life in Rome, I was still reading the news from afar.
And anyone could be forgiven for forging a negative opinion of Aberdeen if they had been reading the headlines since the start of 2024.
Stewart Milne’s collapse, M&S pulling out of Union Street, WH Smith closing less than a mile up the road, Haigs and Olive Alexanders citing the bus gates for their demise, I could go on.
Aberdeen city centre chiefs need to spend more time here
All this, while it transpires the top dogs running our local authority are not even spending half of their time in our city.
An investigation by the Press and Journal found Dundonian and Aberdeen City Council chief executive Angela Scott managed to make it into work only 59% of work days in 2022-23.
No big deal, you may say. Especially since the Covid pandemic lowered the bar in terms of remote working for everyone.
But it IS a big deal, if your sole purpose is to determine what is best for a city you’re barely ever in.
How does she know, or does she even care, about what’s best for Aberdeen and its people, when it’s blatantly obvious she doesn’t enjoy spending that much time here?
One could argue, that if she were a more frequent visitor to Marischal College, then she would be aware of the impact of the decisions of her officers.
Those include other top officials like planning chief David Dunne, who was responsible for the city centre’s roads overhaul – but whose attendance at the HQ is well below average.
He oversaw the recent installation of Aberdeen’s bus gates, which are hated around the city.
Never before have I witnessed such universally unpopular changes implemented, which are even being dubbed the final nail in the coffin for many city centre businesses.
I can’t help but wonder… If the person calling all the shots was personally affected by these changes, would things be different?
But living 66 miles away and only a part-time visitor of the office I guess they are no big deal to her.
It’s ok though, there are no bus gates in Dundee.
If we want to see real improvements to Aberdeen the people calling the shots need to have a vested interest – after all how else will they know what’s best?
Perhaps if they spent some time in the city they would be able to see the devastating impact their decisions were having on the people.
It’s not all doom and gloom
However, I know the news hasn’t all been doom and gloom.
With reports of downturn, there have been also signs of revival.
Plans to revive Budz Bar on Union Street, the fact that M&S has pledged to help find an alternative use for the empty shell it leaves behind and its £15 million injection into Union Square are to be welcomed.
The development of the new market, the beach masterplan and the welcoming of the Tall Ships in 2025 are all positive things we can proudly sing about.
It’s just so easy for these to get overshadowed at a time when it feels like our city is closing doors all around us.
As we parted ways from our new Barcelona friend I told him he should come to Aberdeen to experience where he was from.
He didn’t have time now, understandably, but maybe, with all that’s good on the horizon he will get to experience the Aberdeen we’ve been promised in the future.
Rebecca Buchan is deputy head of news and sport for The Press and Journal and Evening Express