Camping In Scotland

When the sun is out, I truly believe there really is no better place to be than in Scotland. We have beautiful scenery surrounding us at every corner. Yes the weather is changeable but that means the scenery is constantly changing too. If you have never camped in Scotland, now’s the time to try. With a little planning for all weathers you can still have an amazing holiday and discover some of the most dramatic views Scotland has to offer.

Camping Scotland

It doesn’t even all have to be about the tent. Nowadays there are so many more options to choose from – pods, wigwams and cabins are available at loads of different campsites and vary in degrees of how glamp you want to be but if you are going to use a tent then make sure it’s a good one! You want to be warm and dry, be able to get a good night’s sleep so you can make the most of exploring during the day. Lots of supermarkets sell tents, beautifully patterned and easy to put up but there is a reason why they are so full of them pre-festival time. These types of tents are really just for one off use and for helping you find your tent in a sea of canvas. If you have ever been camping at a festival and see how many tents are left behind, then think why, although not really disposable, these tents are disposable and left because they are not worth keeping!

So, if you are taking this camping business seriously, then head to an expert to get your tent. Millets have a great selection and will be able to answer all your questions and needs. They also have a 10% off summer offer and a half price summer sale coming up! You need to think about your needs, how many people will be sharing your tent, how much “luggage” will you have, where will you keep it and will your tent just be for sleeping or taking shelter too?

When we camp, we still like a bit of luxury so absolutely love their octagon 8 tent.

It sleeps 8 but we use it for a family of four, as we like to have blow up beds for comfort. The best thing about this tent for us is you can stand up fully in it, no more crawling about on knees! It’s so spacious.

If you like blow up beds you can also get them at Millets they really are your one-stop shop for all camping essentials. As I mentioned before getting a good night’s sleep is key to having a good camping holiday, so once you are sorted for accommodation or tent you also need to make sure you have a good sleeping bag too. One that will keep you snug as a bug in a rug and strong enough to do the obligatory caterpillar dance in. Again Millets will be able to help you with sleeping bags for young and old alike.

Once you are sorted with all your equipment you just need to decide where to go. If you thought deciding on your tent was difficult this is where the real challenge begins. As I already said, Scotland has so much to choose from – wild, wilderness camping with unspoiled locations to die for – you really need to have everything for this or amazingly family friendly campsites that mean if you have forgotten anything, help is at hand.

So to help you on your way here are our top recommendations for location and campsites. What’s stopping you? Get out there and enjoy!

 

Our top five family fun campsites:

 

  1. Tibbie Shiels on the banks of Loch Mary. (Selkirkshire) http://tibbieshiels.com
  2. Tantallon Caravan & Camping Park for views across the Forth, brilliant beaches and wigwams too. (North Berwick) http://www.meadowhead.co.uk/Tantallon-Home
  3. Cambusdarruch campsite for watching the sunset in the sea on the most beautiful white sand beach. (Mallaig) http://www.camusdarach.co.uk
  4. Brighouse Bay Campsite with plenty of family friendly activities onsite. (Kirkudbright) http://www.gillespie-leisure.co.uk/content/view/31/128/
  5. Tummell Valley Holiday Park a perfect woodland retreat with beautiful rivers and forests to explore. (Perthshire Highlands) http://www.parkdeanholidays.co.uk/scotland-holidays/tummel-valley/tummel-valley-holiday-park.htm

 

Our top 5 wild camping destination musts:

 

  1. Skye
  2. Mull
  3. Knoydart
  4. Staffa
  5. Trossachs
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What to do in the Edinburgh School Holidays

The Summer holidays are here and Edinburgh has lots of fun things to offer families who are looking to fill some of these days. The Festival and Fringe are just around the corner, along with Carnivals, Galas, the Mardis Gras and Fiestas all offering child friendly activities to keep the whole family amused. Here is our best of the best picked out for you to check out. Many of these events run for more than one day, so feel free to check out what’s on offer and use our  calendar as a guideline. Happy holidays everyone!

Wed 20th July
Ugly Bug Ragtime Three
City Art Centre
5.30pm
£10

Thurs 21st July

Oliver
Oliver
Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre – 7.30pm
Tickets from £18 – £65

Friday 22nd July

Bring it on
Bring it on
Kings Theatre – 7.30pm
Tickets from £15 -£17.50

Sat 23rd July

Alzheimer Scotland
Alzheimer Scotland – It’s a Knockout
Holyrood Park
11am – 4pm
£30

Sun 24th July
Story Telling age 4-12
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
2pm – 4pm
FREE

Mon 25th July

Lauriston-Castle-465
Harry Potter’s School of Magic & Wizardry
Lauriston Castle
10am
£12

Tues 26th July

Holyrood summer days
The weird and the wonderful
Summer Activities at Holyrood Palace
11am
Free with admission (£7.20)

Wed 27th July
Scotland’s Gardens Charity Open Days
Newhall Garden
2pm – 4.30pm
£4

Thurs 28th July
Sally Hackett – The Fountain of Youth
Museum of Edinburgh
10am – 5pm
FREE

Fri 29th July
World Tiger Day
Edinburgh Zoo
Included with admission (£12.50)

Sat 30th July

Bonness railway
Day out with Thomas
Boness & Kinneil Railway
10am

£13

Sun 31st July
Fringe for Bairns
Three Sisters
11am – 2pm
FREE

Mon 1st August

clip and climb

Clip and Climb

Edinburgh International Climbing Centre

10am – 7pm

£8

Tues 2nd August

Dibblers & Nibblers

Almond Valley Heritage Centre

£5.50

Wed 3rd August

Summer Holiday Activities

National Museum of Scotland

12pm – 4pm

FREE

Thurs 4th August

Glasgow Girls

Glasgow Girls

Assembly Hall

2.20pm

£12

Fri 5th August

Heart of Midlothian Summer Coaching Classes

Tynecastle Stadium

10.30am – 12.30am

£40

Sat 6th August

Sunshine on Leith

Sunshine on Leith

St Andrew Square Garden

5.15pm

£15

Sun 7th August

Funbox presents Superheroes

Howden Park Centre, Livingston

3.30pm

£12.50

Mon 8th August

Tattoo

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Castle Esplanade

9pm

£25

Tues 9th August

Musical Theatre Classes

North Merchiston Club

5pm – 6.30pm

£5

Wed 10th August

fabulous food fest

Fabulous Food Fest

North Berwick

All Day

FREE

Thurs 11th August

Hup

Edinburgh International Conference Centre

11.30am

£8

Fri 12th August

Dazzle Hub

Ocean Terminal

10am – 5pm

FREE

 

Sat 13th August

Edinburgh Farmers Market

Edinburgh Old Town

9am – 2pm

FREE

Sun 14th August

portrait detectives

Portrait Detectives

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

2pm – 4pm

FREE

Mon 15th August

pirate treasure hunt

Pirate Treasure Hunt

Lauriston Castle

10.30am

£4

Tues 16th August

Celeste’s Circus

Scottish Storytelling Centre

10.30am

£6

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Edinburgh Theatre, Festival Shows & Gigs this Summer for Kids

It’s fair to say Edinburgh is buzzing during the school summer holidays and it’s not just because of the Fringe. During the months of July and August Edinburgh hosts 7 different types of festivals, so there is bound to be something that catches yours or your children’s fancy!

To help you, we have come up with a list of Theatre, Shows and Gigs for kids that are taking our fancy this year and have included which age they are recommended for. Hopefully it might inspire you too!

 

 

Sat 16th July

Mardi Gras – 1pm – Grassmarket – FREE

edinburgh mardi gras

Non stop entertainment and a party atmosphere as a host of bands perform on multiple stages at Grassmarket.

Ages U

Sun 17th July

Edinburgh Festival Carnival – 2pm – Various Locations – FREE

600-sq-_DSC6180

Music, dance, costumes, circus acrobatics, puppetry from all over the world.

Ages U

 

Tues 19th July

The Hairy Maclary and friends show

hairy-maclary-marketing-photo-b-lst205839_thumb_thumb

Church hill theatre

Tickets from £10

Meet the doggy crew and their feline antagonists in a show based on the enormously popular books by Lynsey Dodd.

Ages 3+

 

Thurs 21st July

Oliver

Oliver

Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre – 7.30pm

Tickets from £18 – £65

Featuring an Oscar-winning catalogue of classic songs including: Food Glorious Food, Where is Love?, Consider Yourself, Who Will Buy, Pick a Pocket or Two, As Long As He Needs Me and Reviewing The Situation this production promises to be the perfect treat for all the family.

Ages 7+

 

Friday 22nd July

Bring it on

Bring it on

Kings Theatre – 7.30pm

Tickets from £15 -£17.50

The story is loosely based on the 2000 film of the same name and focuses on the competitive world of cheerleading and over-the-top team rivalries.

Ages 9+

Aug 3-15, 17-29

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs 2: The Magic Cutlass

Captain Flinn

Pleasance Courtyard

Tickets from £7

When Flinn is in the middle of his school play his old nemesis, Mr T the T-Rex, appears and kidnaps his friends forcing them to hunt for the Magic Cutlass: a sword that grants any wish! The children are whisked away for another fantastic adventure to a world of devious dinosaurs, deep sea dangers and smelly sausages!

Ages U

Aug 3-5, 7-16, 18-21

The Snail and the Whale

The Snail and the Whale

Pleasance Courtyard

Tickets from £7

Tall Stories’ hugely popular Julia Donaldson adaptation returns. A tiny snail longs to see the world, so she hitches a lift on the tail of a humpback whale. Follow the snail’s amazing journey, as seen through the eyes of an adventurous young girl and her seafaring father.

Ages 4+

 

Aug 3-21

The Cat in the Hat

The cat in the hat

Pleasance Courtyard

Tickets from £7

Based on the much loved book by Dr Seuss, The Cat in the Hat is a lively, engaging first theatre experience. Expect towering hats, mischief and fun that is funny!

Ages 3+

 

4th – 18th August & 20th -29th Aug

The Amazing Bubble Man

Bubble Man

Underbelly, George Square

Tickets from £6

A Fringe favourite, he has sold out shows for the last nine years. Louis explores the breathtaking dynamics of bubbles, combining comedy and artistry with audience participation and enough spellbinding tricks to keep everyone mesmerized.

Ages U

 

Aug 5-6, 8-13, 15-16

The Elephant of my heart

Elephant

Greenside @ Nicholson Square

Tickets from £5

A nine-year-old recovering in hospital is taken on a magnificent journey by an elephant and a host of other splendid creatures. Together they help her to find her courageous heart, though she does get rather wet along the way!

Ages 6-14

 

Aug 5-13, 15-20

The Grimmest of Grimm Tales

Grimm brothers

The Space @ Surgeons Hall

Tickets from £5

In this brand new family comedy with music and puppetry, The Story Squad introduce a whole new cast of weird and wonderful Grimm characters.

Ages 6+

 

Aug 5-8, 10-15, 17-21

I Got Super Powers fro my Birthday

Super powers

Roundabout @ Summerhall

Tickets from £5

Ethan, William and Fiona are about as different as three almost-teens can be. The only thing they have in common is that tomorrow is their birthday. And they’ve just discovered they have superpowers.

Ages 7+

 

Aug 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27

Baby Loves Disco

Baby loves disco

Electric Circus

Tickets from £6

Always a sell-out, the original family dance party returns to Edinburgh’s funkiest nightclub for its eighth Fringe run. Expect the coolest day-clubbing experience for parents with babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers.

Ages 0-5

 

Aug 8-21, 23-27

James and the Giant Peach

james and the giant peach

Zoo

Tickets from £4

UCLU Runaground presents a fantastical retelling of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel.

Ages 6+

 

Aug 12-20, 22-27

The Giants Loo Roll

Giants loo roll

Space Triplex

Tickets from £10

‘Oh Fe Fi Fo, And Fe Fi Fum! Now what shall I do to wipe my…’ Look out for the biggest loo roll ever on stage in this giant children’s musical.

Ages 0-11

 

26th September

Union J

union-j-tickets

La Belle Angele

£22

After finishing up as semi finalists the 4 boys went on to have chart success with 4 top 10 UK Official Chart singles and their first album selling over 100,000 copies hitting the charts at #6 in 2013. In 2014 the boys released their most successful single to date ‘You Got It All’ which hit the charts at #2 sending the boys on a whirlwind sold out tour across the UK.

Age 12+ with an Adult

       16+ without an adult

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Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Edinburgh Festival
Guest Post

If you are planning a trip to Edinburgh, August is the time where the city is most vibrant. The Edinburgh Festival is in full swing and the population almost doubles, such is the attraction to tourists for the biggest arts festival in the world. Amongst the many thousands of shows and street performers, there is the jewel in the crown. The Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Edinburgh is amazing in its own right but throw in the Tattoo and WOW; your break will be unforgettable.

The world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo provides an amazing spectacle for thousands of visitors every August. The event sees displays by the British armed forces as well as international military bands. Performers from over 48 countries have taken part in the Tattoo, and around 30 per cent of the 220,000 audience each year are from overseas.

The history of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo dates back to it’s first performance in 1950, and the word Tattoo comes from the nightly ritual of army drummers, drumming to signal that soldiers should return from inns and taverns to their barracks. A message to the soldiers as well as to the innkeepers. This ritual of marching back became known as ‘Doe den tap toe’ or ‘turn of the taps’. This later became ‘tap toe’ and then ‘Tattoo’.

That’s my little bit of the history for you, now for the hard bit.

How do you describe the Grand Canyon? You can’t, accurately. You must see it to truly appreciate it. The same holds true for the Tattoo.

The venue on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, the performances, music and dancing and the professional production of the World’s premier outdoor attraction is unique. The variety of performers from all over the world, military or civilian, their cultures and ethos, and sheer ability to perform in the open, and the military and other music coupled with the military and massed pipe bands is unsurpassed. Even if you don’t have a tiny wee drop o’ Scottish blood, you will be stirred at the Tattoo. I get goosebumps whenever I hear bagpipes so to hear hundreds of them all at once is the best feeling.

It was intimate and stimulating, stirring and evocative. Even on a rainy, cold night, it was a wonderful sight, the backdrop of the romantic Castle, the floodlit city below, the skirl of pipes and visitors from all Aires and parts o’ the world. The event is truly organised to military precision and no matter what seat you chose you are in for a good show.

The ever-present castle, foreboding and welcoming all at the same time provides such a great backdrop to the drama played out in its shadow. It’s the biggest character in the whole show, dominating with its sheer bulk.

There is something for everyone here. Spectacle, wonder, inspiration, emotion, passion, pride, wonderful music. I found myself choked up with emotion and wiping tears from my eyes when the pipes and drums marched in playing some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. It was a thrilling experience for my husband and me.

There is barely time to draw breath. After all the joy of listening to the massed bands, suddenly your attention is drawn to a lone piper standing high up in the ramparts playing an eerie lament. If the hairs on the back of your neck don’t stand up, you’re not human!

The costumes outshone Broadway, the talent was abundant, and the memories of this fantastic night will truly last me a lifetime. This amazing show finished with a spectacular fireworks display.

One word of warning, if you don’t like heights, try to get seats lower down. It can be a bit daunting to climb to the top of the stands if you have a problem with heights. Also take a blanket, dress in layers but take your sunglasses too. You never know what the Scottish weather will throw at you and it can be quite cold even in August. The show will go on regardless of the weather; a show has never been cancelled since they first started in 1950. Finally, just go, I promise you will not be disappointed. This is for everyone and all ages.

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Lyceum Youth Theatre: Blackout and Eclipse

Lyceum Youth Theatre

Having attended the opening night of the Connections festival, we were invited back for closing night at the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. On show tonight, we had a company from the Oslo International School. They treated us to a performance of a play called Blackout. Waking up in the isolation of a prison cell with no memory of how he got there, we retrace the steps of a young man accused of attempted murder. A victim of bullying, driven to isolation, depression and violence. It was a compelling play and the young actors were on top form, especially since the play had a particularly Scottish tone and used slang at times. They delivered the lines with conviction and enthusiasm and conveyed the story very well indeed. They also used narration to convey the range of emotions running through the lead character’s mind which I thought worked well.

After a short interval, the cast of the Lyceum Youth Theatre performed a play called Eclipse. Using the premise of flashbacks to tell a story of a fateful night on a beach during an eclipse, a group of youngsters look to carry out a ritual of some kind, with a newcomer, Lucy Lime causing friction, tension between the group. Behind the beach setting, there is a more formal, courtroom setting with older versions of the group, giving evidence in the apparent disappearance of Lucy all those years ago. This play was more complex but the story was very interesting. The young actors again were excellent and gave intense performances full of conviction to the material.

Overall, I was very impressed with all the performances on show tonight and really enjoyed both shows. It was clear a great deal of effort had been put in by all concerned to give a very high level of quality.

To find out more about the Lyceum Theatre, click here.

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Lyceum Youth Theatre: Connections Festival

Lyceum Youth Theatre: LYT Discover
by Alex Douglas

Lyceum Youth Theatre

We were invited along to the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh for the opening night of the Connections Festival. Set on the main stage of the Lyceum theatre in Edinburgh, a group of kids aged between 9-11, dressed in pyjamas presented a short play about the difficulties of putting on a birthday party. The Connections Festival was off. It wasn’t slick or polished, and fell foul of some technical gremlins, but it was however delivered with commitment, enjoyment and honesty from all of the young cast who are all offered free participation in drama and come from the most underrepresented areas of the city. This was really good to see. There were a few funny moments as the eldest of the cast attempted to wrangle the rest of the kids into some order and organisation, only for her efforts to be thwarted by an annoying brother. At times, he reminded me of, well, me.

The next short production was brought to us by a slightly older cast of characters but continuing the birthday theme. They gave us a play which was a tour through some of their birthday highlights and also gave us a glimpse into the future, where beauty products can slow the effects of ageing and in some cases, reverse it! If they have found a cure for baldness, I can’t wait for this future to become reality! The performances in this show were again delivered with passion and there were some more confident performances on display, probably due to this group being older.

After a short interval, the young adults of the Indelible Arts Theatre Group treated us to a performance called The Musicians. Set in Moscow we followed the North Berwick High School Orchestra attempting to perform Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony. They are hampered however by the lack of instruments, which have been impounded by Russian Customs and are helped out by a friendly,if not a little irritating, Russian janitor. The performances on display were excellent, with the two lead actors particularly impressive. They were funny, convincing and a little bit of bad language weirdly made the whole thing seem much more realistic.

Overall we really enjoyed the night and loved seeing young people getting a chance to tread the boards and have fun while they were doing it. A great way to kick off the festival.

To find out more about the Lyceum Theatre, click here.

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Book Review: How To Be Free

how to be free bookDo you ever feel that life is overly complex? That there are too many rules and regulations and that the happiness is being sucked out of you?

I was sceptical about How to Be Free, I thought it was going to be all hippy stuff that wouldn’t do what I wanted it to. It turns out that the author Tom Hodgkinson speaks a lot of sense. Tim pulls apart life bit by bit, chapter by chapter and makes you see how inconsequential most things are. From debt to work, material posessions to family, Tom covers it all. While I don’t agree with everything the book had to say (why would I, that would be a bit weird anyway) it made me question my own beliefs and actions at every turn. I think a good book changes you or something you do for the better, this book did that for me.

Verdict: If you want to wipe the slate clean and have all of your assumptions questioned, this is the book for you. I finished reading with a renewed sense of what was important and being able to shrug off many of the daily goings on that can grind you down and force you off track.

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Top Five Things To Do With A Ten Year Old In Edinburgh

Who better to tell you what to do in Edinburgh with a ten year old, than a ten year old. I’m handing the blog over to my own ten year old to give us her top five things to do in Edinburgh.

Princes Street Gardens

So, counting down from number five…

5. Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura is a great and interesting place to go no matter how old or young you are. Everyone enjoys it there as there is lots of cool things to do like the mirror maze or the vortex tunnel which feels like you’re spinning around, it really is an exciting place to go.

Ticket prices are:
Adult 14.50 senior 12.50 student with ID 12.50 Child 5-15 10.50 [under 5s go free]

4. Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street gardens is a good place to visit to have a picnic after shopping which almost all ten year olds enjoy, it’s a free place to go and in summer is really quite beautiful with flowers and benches to sit on.

3. Silverknowes

Silverknowes is a beach in Edinburgh, it’s a great place to take a walk or collect shells. It’s good to go there with your whole family.

2. S Luca

Luca’s is one of our favourite places to go for breakfast, they also do lunch and tea and of course ice cream – they have a sweetie counter where I like to spend my pocket money.

1:Ryze

Ryze is the ultimate trampoline park. They have single trampolines which can only have one person on at a time and they have bigger trampolines at the back which two people can go. They also have a foam pit you can jump into and ropes or silks you can hang from, and a tall tower you can jump off into the foam pit. You need special Ryze socks or no socks at all and you get about an hour and a half on the trampolines.

Ticket prices are:
2-6 :7.00 7 over :10.00

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Things For New Mums With A Baby To Do In Edinburgh

For many new mums, when you first get home with your tiny bundle of joy the thought of going anywhere to begin with (how much stuff do you need to start carrying about with you?) can be daunting but eventually you and your baba will settle into a routine, you’ll gain confidence and if you are lucky enough to have maternity leave you will eventually find time to go out and do things and get the chance to show off your wee beauty.

For the first few months the things you choose to do can be more about you than the baby (take advantage of this sleepy, cuddly nap stage) so think of things that are nice for you. When they get a bit older you might want to try things that stimulate them too. If you have friends on maternity leave to then it’s great to organise some things together but many will give you the chance to meet other new mums too. Here’s our list of Mummy and baby things to do in Edinburgh.

Lovely Pram Walks In Edinburgh

 Edinburgh

If the weather is kind enough try and get out with your pram for lovely walks. There is nothing nicer than walking somewhere peaceful with beautiful scenery, pushing your pram. You get to keep stealing loving looks at your little masterpiece as you walk and gather your thoughts. I loved doing this with mine, just me and my baby. Mostly they slept with the motion but I also loved it when they were awake, lying in the pram, entranced by the green foliage of trees above them. I can remember wondering what it was they were looking at and looking up as I walked through woodland paths and being amazed at how beautiful the view a baby has in their pram! So here are some lovely places to visit for those kind of walks.

Botanical Gardens – EH3 5NZ

Lauriston Castle – EH4 6AD

The Water of Leith – EH14 1TQ

Colinton & Craiglockart Dell – EH14 1JF

Inverleith Park – EH3 5NZ

Corstorphine Hill –  EH12 6UP

Union Canal – EH3 9QB

 

Baby Photoshoot

While they are still new if you can get some professional photos taken to cherish forever. Really newborn shoots usually are done in the first 7 weeks but photographers know that for everyone that just isn’t realistic. Find a photographer who will give you the chance to say what you are looking for and will advise you on prices before, a package deal is good because once you see the shots it will be hard not to want to buy them all. Here is our list of highly recommended baby photographers in Edinburgh.

Teresa Sumerfield Photography – www.teresa-sumerfield.com

Anna Moffat – www.annamoffat.com

Oh Daisy – www.oh-daisy.co.uk

Rachel Hein – www.rachelhein.com

The most important thing to remember when doing things with your baby is that it’s about you too. A happy mummy makes a happy baby. Enjoy as much as you can while they are tiny, they grow up so fast.

Baby Friendly Lunch

Friends, family and other new Mums can be a life line for your sanity and it’s nice to catch up for a cup of tea, coffee and cake, get advice or just enjoy some adult chat. The following list is where to go for a nice snack or lunch with baby in tow. Some are good for when they are a bit older too, with play areas to keep them amused. All offer delicious treats for you to eat and extra touches that make you know baby is welcome too.

Jenn’s Den – 31 Corbiehill Rd, Edinburgh

Babies and Bump Café – 13-15 Church Hill Place, Edinburgh

Summerhall – Summerhall Pl, Edinburgh

Joy Tots Shop and Café – 117 Ferry Rd, Edinburgh

Toots Play Café – 227 Gilmerton Rd, Edinburgh

The Pantry – 1 N W Circus Pl, Edinburgh

 

Baby & Mummy Classes

Going along to a baby class or playgroup is a great way to meet other new mums too. Don’t feel pressured to sign yourselves up for everything that is going, pick something you think you’ll both enjoy and have fun as well as making new friends. Most offer a free first session so you can decide if it’s right for you both. Here’s our top suggestions.

Montesorri Mornings – www.montessorimornings.com

Baby Massage – www.edinburghbabymassage.co.uk

Water Babies – www.waterbabies.co.uk

Gymboree – www.gymboree-uk.com

Jo Jingles – www.jojingles.com

Baby Sensory – www.babysensory.com

Book Bug Rhyme Times – www.scottishbooktrust.com

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Staycation in Edinburgh

 

Last year the summer weather in Scotland hardly existed at all, we just seemed to have a lot of rain. Ever the optimist I’m thinking that this means this year it will be so much nicer, so a good year to pick to stay at home for a Staycation.

A staycation, especially if you treat it as a proper holiday, can be lots of fun. You get the chance to do things in your hometown that you might overlook when you aren’t a tourist and with a bit of careful planning it doesn’t have to break the bank either.

Edinburgh Staycation

With all this in mind, I’ve drawn up a handy weeklong Staycation plan for you. I’ve based it on a family of 4, in the first week of August and included any costs of the activities based on this. 

1 month before your Staycation

 

Look at what’s on in the Fringe and book a few of the free shows.

 

1 week before your Staycation

 

Order an introductory offer from Gousto, Marley Spoon or Hello Fresh for 4 family meals to be delivered on the first day of your Staycation. You should get an offer for around 50% off your first box (there is no commitment to buy more either) with all the ingredients and recipes for 4 meals for 4 delivered to your door. Self-catering meals for 4 nights of your Staycation for around £30, which is a great saving, and you didn’t even need to go to the supermarket. It also means you can treat yourself to dinner out for 3 of your other nights.

 

Monday AM

 

Start your Staycation like a proper tourist and go on a walking tour. New Edinburgh Tours offer a free 2.5 hour tour of the city including;

 

Edinburgh Castle

St Giles’ Cathedral

The Royal Mile

Old & New Towns

Mercat Cross

Greyfriars Kirkyard (cemetery) and Greyfriars Bobby

Grassmarket

The original ‘Hogwarts’

William Wallace and the Stone of Destiny

National Museum

Covenanters’ Prison

Martyrs’ Memorial

The real Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

The Scottish Enlightenment

 

Their guides work hard to be interesting and informative as rely on tips after your tour is complete. They have had excellent reviews, and you might discover something about Edinburgh you never knew.

Cost – Free, but leave a tip.

Monday PM 

Time to stop for some lunch after all that walking, head to Oink on Victoria Street for budget friendly hog roast rolls and then continue your afternoon with a visit to the Museum of Childhood, where you’ll learn about children and toys from the past and can dress-up or make your own puppet show.

Cost – Free

Tuesday Am 

Take yourself to Lauriston Castle along with the kids bikes or scooters. Loads of green space, picnic benches, woods for exploring, ponds and fab views of the shoreline. It’s free too.

Cost – Free

Tuesday PM

For some crazy golf fun, take the kids to Paradise Island Golf Adventure in Livingston. A family of four can play their two courses for £30 so it’s really good value as well as good fun. On the way home stop at brand new restaurant Fork and Field in Mid Calder.

Cost – £30 

Wednesday Am 

National Play day is usually the first Wednesday in August and Edinburgh Council turns the Grassmarket into an open playground with loads of cool play stations to coincide with this. There are sandpits, mud kitchens, water play stations and musical instruments to name a few. The kids will love it and it’s all free. Pack a picnic lunch and conquer Arthur’s Seat afterwards for a great view over the city.

Cost – Free

 

Wednesday PM 

Mamma’s Pizza in the Grassmarket does free make your own pizza workshops for kids age 5-16. You have to book in advance, so let your kids invite some of their other friends to join them and while they are busy learning, creating and eating you can get some peace and sit and eat while they are busy.

Cost – Free

Thursday AM 

As part of Edinburgh Art Festival Jupiter Artland operates a FREE bus service on Thursdays and Fridays in August from Edinburgh, with FREE entry to Jupiter Artland also included. Jupiter Artland can be quite a pricey day out, so this is a real bargain. Once there you will have 97 acres to explore with some really beautiful landscaped art and sculptures to find on your wanders. Plenty of space for the kids to run about.

Cost – Free

Thursday PM 

Go to one of your pre-booked festival shows and treat yourselves to dinner out in Edinburgh with all the money you have saved from the free activities. For a Spanish feel to your Staycation visit Café Anduluz on George Street and share and feast on their tasty tapas.

Cost – Free

Friday AM 

Time for a day trip. Get a train from Edinburgh to North Queensferry. Kids love going across the forth rail bridge and you’ll have great views of the old and new road bridge too. Visit Deep Sea World to keep the kids amused for a good few hours. There is a lovely place in North Queensferry called The Wee Restaurant that you could visit for lunch and it’s close to the train station.

Cost – Return Train (with a family railcard) £8, Deep Sea World Family Ticket £42 if you pre-book online. 

Friday PM

If the weather is nice, (yes, I’m still being optimistic) then head to the meadows with a disposable BBQ and some tennis racquets and balls. The meadows is a fab place to hang on summer nights and you’ll always find people who want to join in with your game of rounders to make it even more fun. At the end of the meadows there is also a brilliant play park for the kids to run around too.

Cost – Free

Saturday AM 

Fit in another free fringe show before heading to the national museum for another morning of free activities. The museum is very hands-on for kids and always has a range of workshops, new exhibits and activities for children to enjoy. With five floors, you could spend the whole day here easily, don’t forget to visit the quite often quiet space of the roof garden. Head to Lothian Road after for great Mexican food at Pinto.

Cost – Free 

Saturday PM 

Before heading home, take a visit to the Edinburgh Dungeons. The Edinburgh Dungeon is an 80-minute journey through centuries of Scotland ‘s darkest history. You will laugh and scream your way round here and I always feel it adds to the atmosphere if it’s starting to get dark when you leave.

Cost – Family ticket £40 if you pre book online.

Sunday AM 

You can’t be on holiday and not go swimming so head to any of the council run swimming pools in Edinburgh this morning. Most offer free entry for kids in the summer holidays if you have an Edinburgh Leisure pass. The Commonwealth Pool or Portobello Swim Centre are good choices.

Cost – Kids Free, Adults £9

Sunday PM

If the weather is nice then an afternoon trip to the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh is always lovely. Again entry is free and there is so much space to run around or to sit and relax. Finish your Staycation off with a trip to the cinema and dinner out on the last night of your holidays. This time go Greek at Mr Nick’s inside Ocean Terminal where you’ll find the cinema too.

Cost – Cinema Family Ticket £33

 

Total Cost for Weeks Activities – £162

 

 

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Survival Kit for Warm Weather

Kids’ Survival Kits for Warm Days

Kids' Survival Kits for Warm Days

Even for those who work full time, there is something about the long school-holiday season that impels us to continue thinking of it as a “lazy” time of year. Maybe because things at home are a bit easier without homework and the daily routine of school on top of our own daily routine. Working hours feel a little softer, daylight stays with us longer. It seems we humans are still wired to appreciate this seasonal cycle. Loads of day camps offer wonderful activities for children to keep them occupied during the day, and they’ll need a different set of gear.

 

  1. Backpack

If they don’t use one for school, they should have one for camp, as these are often outdoors, with the kids hiking about parks and cities alike. Get a pack with a lot of pockets because holiday adventures always require multiple compartments. If your family is planning a trip, a new roomy backpack with a personalised name tag can also inspire them to help with the packing, but don’t be surprised if their list of essentials includes a rainbow wig, a rock collection, and their favourite stuffy. Don’t get too precious about the backpack because it’s going to get dirty.

 

  1. Sun protection

We probably don’t need to mention this one, but we will. Research has confirmed that sunburns at an early age raise the risk of melanoma later in life, and the medical community is still united in its support for sun protection. Roll-on or sunscreen sticks are more expensive, but if you’ve ever had to clean zinc goop out of the bottom of a bag, you’ll find it worth the money. Have one that just lives in the backpack at all times. Lightweight protective clothing should also have a place in the bag. Of course, skincancer.org recommends wraparound sunglasses, but we won’t hold our breath for the day the average 7-year-old remembers to put those on or doesn’t lose them.

 

  1. Stainless steel bottle with a wide top

Much easier to keep clean and to sterilise when necessary than plastic bottles, steel bottles can also take the banging around they’re sure to receive during an average week’s adventuring out of school.

 

  1. Their first wallet

Between field trips and snacks, children will sometimes need a little spending money at camp. Don’t send them with money if they aren’t going to need it, as it may get “traded” or used unwisely among young children.

This is a featured post.

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Little Darlings Afternoon Tea at Blythswood Square

When I think of afternoon tea in Glasgow, it conjures up memories of sitting in my great auntie’s flat in the south of the city, scoffing a Scotch pie accompanied by the finest HP sauce, washed down by some premium vintage Irn-Bru and finished with a nice coconut ice bun from the bakers. What we were treated to last Sunday was an all together more sophisticated affair.

Blythswood Hotel

 

We were invited along to the Blythswood Square Hotel to experience their afternoon tea, specifically their “Little Darlings” version which is suitable for children 12 and under. Originally, this was supposed to be for Erica & Erin, as a kind of “Ladies what Lunch” day out. I managed to negotiate an invite by offering my exceptional chauffeur skills. There’s a lot to be said for a lift there and back!

Afternoon Tea, Glasgow

We were greeted at the door of this impressive Georgian townhouse hotel by a cheery doorman who warmly greeted all of us, but in particular Erin, with that trademark “Glasgow charm” and pointed us in the right direction. We were seated in the lovely dining room on a very comfortable couch next to the window, giving us great views of the square itself.

Little Darlings Afternoon Tea

As we settled in and got comfortable, we were presented with our menus and offered drinks. All fairly standard stuff, right? Well yes, but I have to say that the service was exceptionally good from start to finish. Everyone was smart, welcoming and had an almost effortless way of making us feel that we were the only people they had in that day, even though they were very busy indeed.

Blythswood Square Hotel

We ordered two adult afternoon teas and Erin had the Little Darling afternoon tea. When they arrived, the waitress described what was on each stand in detail, which all looked very impressive. The star of the afternoon version for myself and Erica was the Coronation chicken tart, which was made with the best pastry I’ve tasted, closely followed by the coconut & mango macaron. Erin chose the honey roast ham wrap as the main element on hers but she is a dessert girl at heart. She picked out the chocolate brownie and ice cream cone as her favourites. She also really enjoyed the glass bottle of Irn-Bru she had. Well, you can’t remove the Glasgow element completely!

Ice Cream, Afternoon Tea, Blythswood Hotel
After a very relaxing and enjoyable two and a half hours we said our goodbyes and thank you’s and headed back to the car feeling very full and satisfied, with the girls happy they’d invited me, otherwise they’d have had to roll down the hill to Glasgow Central train station rather than falling into a food induced sleep in a comfortable car! At the price, I’d say it was not cheap but it was good value for what we had. And not a Scotch pie in sight!

Blythswood Square Hotel Afternoon Tea costs £28 for adults and the Little Darlings Afternoon Tea is £12.95 and is located in Glasgow city centre.

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Sensory Dining with Nespresso

We’ve been Nespresso fans for a while now, we bought our machine three years ago and we are club members. When the invitation to enjoy a sensory dining experience arrived, I couldn’t believe my luck. To say that a five course sensory dining experience with Nespresso infused dishes appealed would be an understatement!

Coffee with Currys

Nespresso have just launched their latest machine, the Prodigio. The Prodigio is the world’s first connected coffee machine. Not only can you manage your stock levels and reorder via your mobile phone, you can also have the machine make your coffee automatically via an app. Perfect for those lazy Sunday mornings.

Nespresso

The event kicked off with a tour of the Nespresso machines over the last thirty years. I loved the first ever Nespresso machine, how retro does it look compared to current models?

Sensory Dining

Inside the private dining area, each plate had a carefully folded blindfold. It quickly became apparent what was in store for us!

Our first course was eaten blind and we had to guess what it was.

Nespresso Sensory Dining

It was a classic Italian Caprese salad with an unusual garnish of Nespresso Rosabaya infused sauce. I loved it and it’s one I will be attempting to cook at home. Eating blindfolded? Probably not something I’ll try at home!

Sensory Dining

With blindfolds off, the full menu was revealed to us. Each course had a different Nespresso infused element.

Nespresso Sensory Dining

Our next course was an Italian risotto flavoured with Nespresso Cosi which has a bitter finish to it on the palate.

Nespresso Sensory Dining

The pan fried venison was served with an unusual fried custard flavoured with Nespresso Kazaar, the flavour definitely complemented the venison but the texture wasn’t to my taste. This kicked off a discussion about how we would have used coffee in the dish, we agreed that venison rolled in a seasoning mix that included coffee could really work.

Nespresso Sensory Dining

Dessert was definitely a highlight of the meal, and a contender for one of the nicest desserts I’ve had this year (alongside this chocolate and caramel tart). The pannacotta was flavoured with Nespresso Vanillito.

The evening was rounded off with fresh coffee (of course) from one of the many Nespresso machines dotted around, Nespresso Indriya and Frangelico truffles (love Frangelico, reminds me of a drunken night with my friend Becky…but we shan’t talk about that), and a particularly strong Nespresso martini.

Thanks to Nespresso and Currys for inviting me along, I had a great time and plan to get create over the next couple of weeks discovering how I can use Nespresso in my cooking!

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