21 February 2020

Dinner with a View at The Lodge on Loch Lomond Hotel

If the weather's starting to get you down and you just feel like you need a little break away from it all then I'd highly recommend a visit to the Lodge on Loch Lomond hotel. It's the perfect getaway for couples and families looking to have a relaxing luxury break.

You might have seen my last post reviewing our own relaxing stay at the Lodge on Loch Lomond Hotel but now I'm going to tell you all about the delicious meal we had in their Colquhoun’s Restaurant. So you might want to have some snacks handy as this will probably make you hungry!

Colquhoun's Restaurant is one of Scotland's ultimate waterfront dining experiences. The views across Loch Lomond in Luss are just breath taking. We popped in for dinner on our stay and managed to sit beside the windows and catch the sun setting. It was absolutely beautiful to watch. Even the kids seemed impressed with our views and Harlow was constantly looking for wildlife which was cute.

The restaurant itself is very big with plenty of space and magnificent floor to ceiling windows. Even though it has an impressive size it still manages to maintain it's warm intimate feel. I'm happy to report it is also very child friendly with decent children's menus. When we visited there were lots of families staying and dining out. The children's menu has a colouring in sheet printed on the back to help keep the kids occupied and crayons are provided. Harlow loves colouring in so this kept her very happy.

For us adults there was lots of tasty food choices to choose from on our menu. It took us a minute or two to decide what we really wanted to try but finally settled on our choices. Whilst we perused the menu we had very attentive staff take our drinks orders and answer any food related questions we had. They were all very helpful and polite.

So what did we go for then? Well for starters the hubby chose the delicious beef cheek which came with shallot puree, beer mustard and root vegetable crisps. I had a taste, of course for research purchases, and honestly it was to die for. So tender and juicy, and the presentation was beautiful. The hubby had it scoffed down in no time. I went for something different and chose the sweet potato and garden pea pakora which came with chilli sambal and crispy onions. Again great presentation and they were mouth watering, highly recommend. The kids had a choice of either soup or seasonal melon and strawberries. Since non liked the soup on offer and don't particularly eat melon the staff were happy to give them a big bowl of strawberries each which kept them happy. Strawberries are Logan's favourite fruit so he was delighted.

After devouring our starters we couldn't wait to see what the mains would be like. The hubby ordered the pork belly which came with truffle mash, roasted shallot and black pudding bon bons. I went for good old battered Atlantic haddock which came with chunky chips, tartare, pickled onions and mushy peas. Both dishes were very moreish, we couldn't fault them at all. Everything was perfectly cooked and the portion sizes were excellent as you can see from the photos. I was so impressed with the hubby's plate of pork belly that I'd have it myself if we ever went back. It just tasted so good. The fish was equally delicious with tasty chunky chips. Both the kids were happy with their mains too with Logan opting for fish and chips and Harlow going for macaroni and chips. They were good sized healthy portions too. I'm always wary about some children's menus as the portion sizes can be tiny. You've nothing to worry about here though, plenty to fill the kids bellies.

By this point we were all getting full but couldn't refuse a dessert to finish of a fantastic meal. The kids chose their favourite flavour of ice cream each. Strawberry for Logan and Chocolate for Harlow. They got 3 scoops each which was more than enough after a filling meal. The hubby went for the peanut butter parfait which came with banana ice cream and caramelised banana. I chose the sticky toffee pudding which came with tablet ice cream. We thoroughly enjoyed our yummy desserts and felt relaxed and chilled in the restaurants surroundings. The kids were happy which means we were happy, ha ha, and we were ready to retire to our lovely room for a sound sleep.

The Colquhoun's restaurant is open for dinner Monday to Sunday nights, and bookings are advised as it can get busy. They are a fully licenced venue with an extensive range of wine and whisky as well as some delicious cocktails. There's sure to be something to suit everyone. We all really enjoyed our food at the Lodge on Loch Lomond and even if you aren't staying the night it's worth booking into the restaurant for a great meal. Service was good, everyone was friendly, the food was amazing and timely, we couldn't have asked for more really. Highly recommend and I'm sure we'll be back or I might just go back myself for a rest!

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

19 February 2020

Review: Funatic Foam - Good Clean Fun!

Getting the kids to have a bath these days seems harder the older they are! I even wrote a post about it a few years ago as it was beyond frustrating and only a few things would work. So if you're struggling at times like me you'll be so pleased to hear there's another amazing tool you can add to the magic "how to get the kids in the bath" box. Introducing the fabulous Funatic Foam! It's the all new way to keep clean with instant foam in a can. Just the sort of thing to have the kids leaping into the bath.

I surprised my two with a bottle each at bath time the other night and you should have seen their happy little faces. They were super thrilled and couldn't get in the bath quick enough, just what I wanted. Even better, because the foam is actually soap, they wanted to wash themselves leaving me with spare time I never knew I'd get back. Win win!

So what's it all about then? It's basically gorgeously scented foam soap that can spray up to 3 meters. It comes in 3 different scents and colours which include; Blue Bubblegum, Green Apple and Pink Berry. Logan received the apple and Harlow received the berry. I can confirm they both smell amazing and the kids thought so too. The Funatic Foam bottle has an easy to use trigger nozzle allowing even the littlest hands to use it effectively. Harlow is 5 and controlled it no bother, she had so much fun trying to practice her numbers and letters. You'll be pleased to hear Funatic Foam has a no stain formula and I can vouch for this. The kids had it sprayed all up the tiles and over the bath.

Did you know Funatic Foam is great to use outside too. I think it would be awesome in the Summer months for foaming up a slippery slide, creating a cool bubble party or even an alternative to a water fight since it can spray up to 3 meters. Endless fun possibilities and the great thing is the kids will be so clean after it ha ha.

My kids both played with this in the bath for ages with Logan exclaiming it as "the best bath present yet!" so I class that as a winner and a definite purchase in future. At £5.99 a bottle it's a great price considering how much I spend on bath bombs for the kids which are only one use. I'd even buy this as an extra little gift present to go in with the kids friends for birthday parties.

As I mentioned Harlow really enjoyed practicing her letters and numbers with Funatic Foam but she also just enjoyed skooshing it around the bath and cleaning her babies. She loves making potions and this was perfect to aid her in the task of potion master. Boy does that girl love a potion! Logan really enjoyed making little islands on the bath water and he asked me to write his name. The foam fills out so well that Logan said it looked like an alien coming out of the wall. He really did love it. He's now hiding his bottle from his sisters grasp!

Overall I think this stuff is absolutely brilliant. It has a great price point, smells good, encourages the kids to get in the bath and clean themselves, and it's completely stain free. What more could you ask for? If you're interested in purchasing a bottle or two then you'll find it at your nearest Tesco store.

The Funactic Foam was gifted for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. 

What is ABA? And Can it Help Your Autistic Child?


As a mum of an autistic child (and the wife of an autistic husband) I know a lot of parents really struggle when it comes to the behavioral aspects that present themselves through autism. Some behaviours such as stimming aren't really an issue for most, it certainly isn't for us as both my son and husband do this, however there's some undesirable behaviours such as aggression, obsessions with technology or lack of eating/trying new food which can sometimes cause issues.

I recently heard of ABA and desperately wanted to find out more about it and what it can offer to someone on the spectrum. So in short ABA is Applied Behaviour Analysis, it's the science of human behaviour which in turn has been used as a therapy to help certain learning and behaviour patterns. There's a longer and more complicated definition which states: "Applied Behaviour Analysis = the science in which tactics derived from the principles of behavior are applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior, and experimentation is used to identify the variables responsible for behavior change (Cooper, Heron and Heward 2007)." The goal is to increase behaviours that are helpful and decrease behaviours that are harmful or affect learning.

Hopefully that all makes sense so far to you as it does to me. It's probably something we use in our day to day lives but since autistic behaviors can be more extreme they are often harder to help (and oh how I've been there with both my son and husband) and that's where ABA therapy can come in and help in real life situations. The practice is used extensively in education, healthcare, animal training, and business management. It is particularly prominent in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), for which it is one of the only scientifically valid therapies available.

It's as simple as rewarding the good behaviour and trying to alter the unwanted behaviour without causing massive upset to the person involved. I can liken it to something we've been working on with my son. He is particularly obsessed with his PlayStation. He would play it for hours if we let him and a few years ago would have major meltdowns if he had to turn it off. We've worked really hard with him, giving him timers, warnings when to come off, reward incentives etc and it was super super hard to start with but we stuck to it and he's gradually got better and better. He now realises that he gets nothing if he presents bad behaviour but if he comes off without a fuss then he gets a reward. He isn't getting stressed, neither are us as parents and it's an all round winner. This was very difficult for us to do and stick to as the meltdowns aren't easy to deal with and I would have loved to have had the support and guidance from an expert who knew what they were doing. The NHS is great but sometimes for autism and mental health etc everything takes twice as long to get done. It's soul destroying for parents and really frustrating.

That's where Gemma from Keys for Learning comes in. She offers lots of different services and support from Therapy, Online/Distance Coaching, Parent Training Courses, Social Skills Club, Nursery School Training and Webinars. If I'd have known Gemma existed then I would have definitely been in touch when my son was younger. We've done everything from speech and language, parenting sessions and CAHMS and to be honest nothing has really worked for us apart from great support from the school and putting our sensible approaches into action. It's been tough so expert support would have been much appreciated.

So how can ABA help? It can; increase language and communication skills, improve attention & focus, social skills and academics and decrease problem behaviours. Behaviour analysis has been used and studied for decades. It has helped many kinds of learners gain different skills – from healthier lifestyles (e.g. smoking cessation and adhering to a healthy diet and exercise regime) to learning a new language. It's aimed at a wide variety of people but can also be used to help those on the spectrum.

How can ABA therapy work for someone who is autistic? ABA involves many techniques for understanding and changing behaviour. It can be tailored to meet the needs of each unique person. It can be used in many different locations e.g. at home, at school, and in the community to keep everything uniform. It teaches skills that are useful in everyday life i.e. coping strategies and it can be offered in a one-to-one setting or group instruction.

You might be thinking that all sounds great but how do I know someone working with my child is genuine and has had the proper training? ABA services can only be provided by a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA), a board certified assistant behaviour analyst (BCaBA), and a registered behaviour technician (RBT). To become a BCBA, the following is needed: earn a master’s degree or PhD in psychology or behaviour analysis and pass a national certification exam. ABA therapy programs can also involve therapists, parents, or teachers. These people are trained and supervised by the BCBA. They work directly with children and adults with autism to practice skills and work toward the individual goals written by the BCBA.

Typically developing children learn without intervention as the world around them provides the right conditions to learn language, play, and social skills. Children with autism learn less easily from the environment. They have the potential to learn, but it takes a very structured environment, one where conditions are optimised for acquiring the same skills typical children learn “naturally.” ABA provides the tools to structure the environment to enable children with autism to learn.

I really believe that early intervention can really help people with autism. It's a big scary place out there and providing our autistic loved ones with the skills they need to feel comfortable in their environment can really help. My husband didn't have any early intervention and wasn't diagnosed until after our son. His diagnosis played a big part in helping him come to terms with his behaviours and also making him feel more comfortable and empowered in his own skin.

Decades of research have validated treatments based on ABA to support its efficacy in teaching young children with autism and other related learning difficulties. ABA is the only scientifically validated treatment for ASD and is recommended by the U.S Surgeon General.  As with all educational fields it’s a dynamic field and continues to develop with the ever growing research.

If you feel like this is something that could benefit your child and your family then do get in touch with Gemma via the Keys for Learning website. She's super friendly, open minded and definitely does not judge. There's also no pressure what so ever so if you change your mind at any stage it's not an issue. She's there to help and set you on the right path. Gemma also has some fab new Parenting Courses which have literally just been released so please do check them out at Keys For Learning.

Here's some more info below for you to consider;

The Behaviour Academy: proven strategies to reduce challenging behaviours and fulfill your child’s potential

Living with a child who frequently engages in challenging behaviour isn't easy.  

Many of the parents I have worked with are utterly fed up with the lack of meaningful support available and are often at their wits end feeling:


But, the good news is, it doesn't have to be this way!

Learn Strategies to Teach your Child with Autism New Skills and Reduce Challenging Behaviours without the overwhelm, stress and frustration.

**Feel empowered by upskilling yourself*

There is no one more motivated than a parent to teach their own child so let me train you how to become your child’s best teacher. 

I can guide you, step-by-step, to help you create and implement an effective plan to help your child experience REAL positive change; increase language and daily living skills whilst reducing problem behaviours. 

Feel confident and in control to fulfil your child's potential.

**What's it all about??**
This 12 week interactive course is an evidence based parent training curriculum that will teach you all of the necessary tools to reduce your child’s disruptive behaviours AND teach them new skills.

You will learn hands-on strategies that work and that you can start using immediately!

Each session introduces effective behaviour change strategies and includes:
• easy-to-use activity sheets,
• checklists,
• take-home activity sheets to help you apply what they have learned each week. 

The Behaviour Academy will…
1. Help you feel confident, empowered and in control.
2. Provide you with hands-on strategies that you can use immediately with your child.
3. Give you the knowledge to understand why your child behaves the way they are and how you can change their behaviour for the better.
5. Provide you with the support and guidance you need to learn and implement the content.

There are limited spaces available so that members can receive regular support and mentorship.

Open to professionals too

Still unsure or have some questions??? 
Let's have a chat on the phone to see if this course is the right fit for you.  Text Gemma to arrange a phone call on 07706892957

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own. I understand that ABA is not for everyone but no one should have the choice taken away from them and their family.

10 February 2020

Review: Inflata Nation Glasgow

The family and I were recently invited along to try out the fab Inflata Nation in Glasgow at the weekend there, and we were all very excited to visit. I can hear your brain ticking thinking "what is Inflata Nation?" so don't worry I'm going to dive right in and tell you all about it.

Most people have heard of soft plays and trampoline parks but Inflata Nation is a giant inflatable theme park! Think bouncy castle but on a monster scale! It's a brilliant idea and something the whole family can enjoy together. There are several different Inflata Nation theme parks up and down the country from Manchester, Newcastle etc but our closest here in Scotland is Glasgow.

We drove from Fife and it took us an hour to get there and we found the venue pretty easily. It's situated on Portman Street which isn't far from the SSE Hydro so really central. It's also in a sort of industrial area so lots of free parking around the streets. It can get busy but keep driving round and you'll find a space. We arrived for the 11am bounce slot and there was loads of parking up and down the side streets so no bother at all.

Inflata Nation Glasgow is open 10am to 7pm Mon,Wed, Fri and Sun, and 10am to 8pm on Tuesday and Thursday. On Saturday they are open from 9am to 7pm which is great if you have early risers like my kids. They're always up at the crack of dawn asking what we're doing or where we're going. It's also worth noting that Inflata Nation are open all year round, only closing on Christmas Day and New Years Day! It's the perfect place to entertain the kids whilst keeping warm and dry.

There's more to the theme park than just being a giant bouncy castle though with different cool areas all joined together for extra bouncing fun. There's Inflata Bubbles which are bounce loaded spheres that shoot you up in the air, there's Inflata Wall where you can test your climbing skills and still land on a soft bouncy area, there's Inflata Balls where you can leap from ball to ball and post to post to test your balance, there's also a massive ball pit, obstacle course, huge slides and an inflatable tots area for the younger children. Honestly so much to keep the kids busy and occupied.

The best and quickest way to book a trip and save yourself time is by going online to the Inflata Nation website. I did it this way and it was so quick. You just choose your bounce location, select how many people are in your party and click book. It'll take you to a page where you can select your preferred day and time slot then it'll take you through to pay. I also printed and filled in the waiver forms before going which meant we were literally at the reception desk for two minutes getting our wristbands. Kids under 4 cost £4.99 and anyone over 4 is £8.99.

A few minutes before your time slot (after you've got your wristbands) the staff call everyone over, depending on the colour of your wristband, so that you can have a safety briefing and watch a video on the do's and don'ts of the park. After that you're free to run wild and bounce! I had my bag and purse with me so I secured everything in one of their lockers which costs £2 for 90 minutes. This was fine with me and it was all electronic and no keys which I found handy. You just have to remember your chosen code and you're good to go.

My kids had an absolute ball bouncing around Inflata Nation. They were doing tricks, climbing the wall, trying the obstacle course and the big slides, and of course I had to do it all with them along with their Dad. Us adults were sweating buckets come the end, it's definitely a better work out than the gym anyway plus loads more fun.

Inflata Nation in Glasgow have some classes on throughout the year as well including; Adventure Tots, Disability Friendly and Grown Ups Only. Adventure Tots sessions are held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10am - 11am and 11am - 12pm. These are great for toddlers to explore the arenas' soft play activities, play and meet new friends. Disability Friendly sessions are held Tuesday at 10am - 11am and Saturday 9am - 10am. Grown Ups only sessions are held every Tuesday night at 7pm - 8pm (Students/Adults 70/80/90/00s) and Thursday night at 7pm - 8pm (Dodgeball) and are exclusively adults only, so you can let your inner child run free and unload the stress of the busy week. As well as classes you can book birthday parties too.

We all had a great time at Inflata Nation. It was a lovely treat for the kids and a nice way to spend a miserable weather day. The cafe was reasonable and clean and the kids were happy bouncing around and grabbing a drink of slushie when they needed it. I liked that I could practically see the kids most of the time if I was sitting down and you can also wear your own socks!! How fab is that. We'll definitely be back for another visit soon.

We received free entry in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 


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