29 January 2020

Getting Ready for Valentine's Day

There's only a few weeks left until Valentine's Day and if you're scouting around looking for ideas on what to do or what to get your other half then look no further! I have some lovely, and cheeky, ideas on the cards for you today so strap in.

Swizzels Love Hearts & Hampers
Nothing quite says I love you like a tube of Swizzels Love Hearts personalised with your name on it. Brand new for 2020 this fabulous love heart tube contains 25 mini rolls of the famous sweeties and costs just £9.99. If your other half is a fan of retro sweets like mine then they'll really appreciate this kind of gift, plus it's edible and doesn't take up space - win win! Swizzels also do some amazing retro sweet hampers from as little as £2.99, how fab is that. There's everything from letterbox friendly hampers, vegan friendly hampers and personalised hampers. If that doesn't take your fancy then why not order the exclusive 30 Limited Edition Valentines Love Hearts that say For You? Everything can be ordered directly from the Swizzels online store so definitely pop over and have a good nose around. You won't regret it.

LipQ Liquorice Balm
Sometimes you don't have to get your other half anything for Valentine's Day! There I said it... but you know what, you are all the gift they need. A bit of smooching and they're quite happy. So the last thing you want is an angry cold sore on your lips especially if you're prone to them. Not to fear, kiss cold sores goodbye this February with LipQ’s 100% natural Liquorice Balm. Recommended by the Herpes Viruses Association, LipQ Liquorice Balm can help to reduce the severity and frequency of a cold sore, and because it’s natural, can also be used as a nourishing lip balm. If anything this is a sneaky wee gift for yourself but it benefits your other half too. The balm costs £7.95 for 30g and smells amazing.

Kalme Undercoat Moisturiser
Keeping in line with the theme of you are the gift, if you're planning on doing any sort of waxing/shaving for Valentine's Day then you might want to treat yourself to this lovely Kalme Undercoat Moisturiser to keep your skin silky smooth and blemish free after shaving. It's just as suitable for men as it is women so if your man is a keen shaver then why not buy him a tube for his toiletry bag too. Kalme Undercoat basically helps to de-sensitise your skin and should be applied immediately after shaving as an ‘undercoat’ before any other skincare or aftershave products are applied. A 75ml tube costs £9.95 and worth every penny when it does the job.

A Night Away
If all else fails a good old night away just the two of you usual does the trick for Valetine's Day. In which case you might just need that balm and moisturiser ha ha! The Aberdeen Altens Hotel is lovely because it has great food, lovely leisure facilities and there's always tons to see and do in Aberdeen itself. The hotel have a fab Stay, Dine & Sparkle offer on for £99 which includes; Overnight accommodation, 3-course dinner, Full Scottish breakfast, Chocolate dipped strawberries, Bottle of Prosecco and Use of the leisure facilities. I think I might just have to book up for this myself!!

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own. 

10 January 2020

Road Trip Adventures in the Scottish Highlands

As a family we absolutely love exploring our beautiful country. No matter how many times you visit the same place in Scotland, there’s always something new to see and discover. Last November we took our annual trip up to the fabulous Landmark Cottage in Berriedale, and as always we weren’t disappointed by the treasures it gifted. We arrived a little earlier than planned but luck was on our side. The lovely Judith had just finished cleaning the cottage for our arrival so we were free to unpack and get settled on.

Our first task, after offloading our bags, is to get a good fire going. We now take our own wood with us (kindly gifted from the other half’s uncle) as well as matches, fire lighters, kindling, long burn logs etc. It makes everything easier when you’re rubbish at lighting a fire like me. The other half is quite good at it though and the kids love helping out and getting involved. Even the dogs sit close by eagerly awaiting the fiery warmth from the flames. If you don’t want to take your own logs though then there are details of a local log supplier in the cottage handbook. Give them a call and they’ll sort you out, or if you’re in Wick then pop to the Tesco petrol station as they have wood to sell too.

After our fire is roaring we pop our wellies on to explore the pebbled beach. It’s right on the doorstep of this cottage or should I say the cottage is on the doorstep of the beach! There’s tons of interesting bits and bobs to be found and most magical of all are the seal pups! In November there’s quite a few female seals who visit this beach and give birth so make sure to give them lots of space, and please don’t let your dogs off the lead! This stresses the mother’s and pups so much. They are wild animals so be mindful and be respectful. The kids really enjoy watching the seals and their pups over the weekend of our visits. Sometimes the sea can be very unforgiving though and not all pups make it sadly. It’s an interesting life lesson for the kids though!

There’s plenty of oddly shaped pebbles and stones on the beach, perfect for building sculptures and playing balancing games. The mouth of the river connects to the sea at the side of the beach and sometimes if you’re lucky you’ll catch a seal having a quiet swim or fish jumping around. There’s rumours of otters too but we’ve yet to spot them. Probably because my kids make far too much noise! On our last trip we had a visit from a stoat. It was running around the big beach boulders and in and out of the grass and stone wall. Harlow was amazed and so was I. We’ve found mermaid’s purses before which was lovely and we’ve watched practice sea helicopter rescues amongst the huge waves. Where ever you look there’s something to take your interest.

We enjoy driving further North up the coast on our visits and often find ourselves in John o’ Groats. This time we popped into Stacks Bistro and it was amazing! We’ve visited John o’ Groats at least 10 times or more but never been into Stacks Bistro, what a mistake that was. The food is amazing and there’s a wide selection of tea, coffee and fancy drinks. The d├ęcor is brilliant and so eclectic, love it. We’ll make a point of stopping here again on our next visit.

Whilst at John o’ Groats we decided to take the road up towards Duncansby Head where the lighthouse is situated and there’s a nice walk to the stone stacks. It’s the most north-easterly part of the British Island so well worth a trip. Park your car in the spaces just before the light house and you’ll see a big stone with information on it. If you walk past the stone and keep going (there’s a wee track in the grass to follow) you’ll soon see the sea on the horizon and the stacks in the water. It’s a lovely walk and totally beautiful, even the kids enjoyed it. There’s loads of sheep running free so keep your dogs on a lead if you have any. When we finally reached the fence at the cliff edge we were treated to a brilliant view of a beach full of seals and their pups beside the stone stacks. I’m so glad we kept walking.

Other places we normally have a visit to when up North are the Whaligoe Steps. A lot of the hubby’s family are from up North and a few still stay around Wick so it’ll be no surprise to hear that his relatives helped to build the Whaligoe Steps all those years ago. There’s 365 steps in total which descend to a naturally formed harbour between the cliffs. I’ve been up and down the steps a few times and I tell you it never gets easier. I don’t know how they managed to lug buckets full of fish up them, I had a small child strapped to me one time and that was hard enough. The steps are currently being repaired but they are 100% worth visiting. It’s nothing like you’ve ever seen before and the views are worth every step and cramp in your legs. 

Each member of the family enjoy all our adventures when we stay at the lovely Landmark Trust Berriedale cottage, that’s why we’ve booked up again for this year!! Creatures of habit but we love it and it’s like coming home in a strange comforting way. Until next time!

7 January 2020

A Relaxing Stay at The Lodge on Loch Lomond Hotel

A little while ago the family and I were treated to a lovely stay at the Lodge on Loch Lomond hotel. It’s the perfect getaway for those wishing to escape every day life and as you can imagine the views are breath taking. This hotel is in an area of many renowned Scotland Lodge‘s by Loch Lomond and the facilities make it an excellent choice for Leisure, Conference and Wedding guests alike. Located just 23 miles from Glasgow Airport, it’s easily accessible via the main motorway links to Loch Lomond. We travelled from Fife ourselves and it didn’t take us long to get to and was pretty easy to find.

Not far along the road from the hotel are plenty of shops, play park and even a Sea Life Centre. We popped in for a look around to stretch our legs and get some energy out of the kids before heading along to the hotel. The Sea Life Centre was really good and reasonable so I’d recommend going along if you’re looking for something to do with younger children.

There are 48 guest bedrooms at the hotel, a range of conference and banqueting facilities for up to 200 guests and leisure facilities consisting of swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and laconium. Unlike your normal hotel the rooms at this one are split into different buildings, all very close to the main reception and restaurant area. So basically as the name suggests, like mini lodges. Each room accommodation provides everything you will need for a comfortable stay from cosy bathrobes, complimentary WiFi and an exciting room service menu meaning you might not want to leave the comfort of your room.

There are a few different bedroom types to choose from with a budget to suit everyone. We were given a two bedroom Cuillin Suite which is really spacious with a comfortable lounge area that leads to a double balcony. The Cuillin Suites have been recently refurbished to a very high standard and also offer a new layout. Contemporary in style and offering 2 double bedrooms with a large separate living/lounge space. The master bedroom has the wonderful views of the loch and a state of the art bathroom suite complete with freestanding bath, double shower and Hollywood vanity unit. It’s a great room for families, friends and small groups.

I was really impressed with the size of this suite. We found it ideal with the children as we weren’t all crammed into one room and there was plenty of space for everyone. The lounge space has a comfortable corner sofa and armchair with floor to ceiling units housing a 42 inch TV, cosy carpets and soft furnishings. The kids really enjoyed this space as it was quite relaxing. There are built in straighteners and hairdryer as well so no need to take your own. I used them and they worked perfectly fine for me. Both bedrooms have double beds and wall mounted LCD televisions so you (or the kids) won’t miss out on your fav programmes.

In our lodge building we also had the leisure facilities; swimming pool, jacuzzi etc. The pool is unmanned which means you have to get a code for the entry door from reception, which is active for 15 minutes. So get yourself, and the kids, all ready first before getting the code. Since the leisure facilities were only one floor down for us we put our robes on top of our swimming costumes and put our slippers on and walked down to the pool. It was great as it meant carrying less stuff with us and we could get in the pool quicker. There are of course changing facilities and lockers if you need them.

The hotel has a great location and it’s very own jetty which enables the guests to connect with all that Loch Lomond has to offer and local partners work with the Lodge to provide a range of fun activities to make the most of your stay. The team can arrange an exhilarating speedboat trip, or perhaps a more luxurious 1 hour yacht cruise is more your thing or for the very energetic a bit of wakeboarding or a canoe safari. We never managed to part take in any of these fab opportunities during our stay as it was only for 1 night but if we were staying longer I’d definitely book up.

The 2 AA rosette holding Colquhoun’s Restaurant and Lounge is the perfect place to relax and unwind and watch the changing landscape of the loch. There's lots of room in the big restaurant and the floor to ceiling windows make it the perfect viewing spot. The kids loved looking out onto the loch and watching the sun set. There's plenty of tasty food to choose from on the menu and they have a children's menu as well. This hotel is very child friendly and they have colouring in sheets on the back of their menus and crayons which the kids can use to keep themselves busy.

Service in the restaurant was lovely with very attentive staff, and even though it got busy they made time for everyone. We were served quickly and any questions we had were answered confidently. We were all very happy and full, and looking forward to a nice relax in our beautiful room. I promised the kids another dip in the pool before we left and turns out we had the whole pool to ourselves! Overall a fab visit and one hotel which I'd most definitely stay at again.

This was a gifted stay in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 


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