ScotRail #GreatCitySwap – Edinburgh Day Trip

Despite being only 50 minutes away on the train, I have to admit that I rarely visit Edinburgh (I did go through recently for a first date, but that’s another story!), so when ScotRail invited us to take part in their #GreatCitySwap we jumped at the chance. I used to visit Edinburgh a lot as a child – my mum would take me & my sister down from Aberdeen regularly for weekends away – so I have lots of happy childhood memories of the city. Typically when I venture through to Edinburgh now, I tend to drive as we’re visiting friends on the outskirts, and I haven’t taken the kids to any of the tourist spots… until now!

The train to Edinburgh was good fun. We grabbed a second breakfast at the station… cinnamon swirls all round! My son loves to engage and chat with people and he had a captive audience on the carriage!! We had a magazine each to keep us occupied, but we didn’t really need them! I had a cup of tea, so I was a happy bunny! Up to two kids can travel free with an adult at off-peak times, any day of the week with a Kids Go Free ticket, and an off-peak day return for an adult costs from £12.70.

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First stop was Edinburgh Zoo. We took a taxi to the zoo from Haymarket station, and I was surprised at how quickly we got there – I hadn’t just realised how close it was to the city! As we entered the zoo, we immediately spotted the bright pink flamingos. They are stunning creatures. What I didn’t expect was the size of the pelicans in the next enclosure – they were massive (about the height of my 6 year old daughter!). My son loved the penguins, and it was mesmerising watching them swim underwater through the glass. My personal favourite was the sun bear, oh and the meerkats.

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Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the pandas. It’s breeding season, so visitors aren’t allowed to go inside to see them in their sleeping quarter… you just have to cross your fingers that they venture out into their gardens, which they didn’t on this occasion. However, I will most definitely go back to the zoo, and next time I’d spend more time exploring. We were only there for a few hours before heading to our next stop on the itinerary.

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After a morning of walking round the zoo, we were very hungry and so we jumped onto a bus to the city for a bite to eat. A day ticket on the bus is £4 for adults, and £2 for kids – perfect for getting around and there were tonnes of buses available… that’s one thing my son commented on about the city (the other was the amount of homeless people that we came across, and we had a few serious conversations about homelessness, why people live on the streets and how you pay for stuff when you’re a grown up).

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We grabbed lunch at Giles Cathedral Cafe. I tried to convince the kids to have the stovies, but they weren’t interested and chose to have sandwiches instead. However after trying my stovies, they both wish they had ordered the same! Anyway, lunch filled a hole and we were then ready to hit the streets again… our afternoon activity was Camera Obscura.

Camera Obscura, on the Royal Mile, is a fantastic place for kids. I used to be taken here frequently as a kid, and had only revisited once as an adult (I lived in Edinburgh for a year when I was in my early twenties). We didn’t enjoy the mirror maze, with the kids freaking out a little that we were lost despite me assuring them it was fine (it totally reminded me of one of the games on the Crystal Maze). However aside from that, Camera Obscura was brilliant. The kids, and I, loved it. Some of the exhibits were the same from the last time I was there… the 3D holographs I remembered well… but there were tonnes of new and exciting things to see, like the crazy vortex tunnel!

The Royal Mile was also buzzing – lots of tourists and street entertainers… the kids watched Jamie and his unicycle with awe and were very keen to give him all of mummy’s money at the end of his performance!

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Our final destination was dinner, at Fishers in the City. The kids love seafood, so this was an ideal restaurant for us. I was a super proud mummy, as the kids were so well behaved in what was ‘a fancy grown-up restaurant’. The children ordered fish & chips, with my son having a couple of battered king prawns too. I didn’t choose a main, but opted for a few different starters so the kids could have a little of each… I had scallops, fishcakes and salt & pepper squid. My son loved it all, littlest less so. The food was beautiful, and as we were visiting on the train I had a cheeky glass of prosecco!

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A taxi took us back to Waverley, where we hopped onto a train back to Glasgow.

It was a fantastic day out, and I’ll certainly take the kids back through to Edinburgh again.

Thank you ScotRail for organising the day out and providing our train tickets, Edinburgh Zoo and Camera Obscura for the complimentary entries. Opinions as always are our own and are honest.

 

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Life Update.

House. Working full-time and being a mummy (albeit 50% of the time) is hard work. As a consequence of this, the house renovation really has taken a back seat. I’ve a list of items (I use the Wunderlist app if you’re interested, thanks to Dawn @thethingaboutchaos for the recommendation!) that need to be completed, and I’ve really not made much progress over the last few months. I’ve got windows that aren’t properly sealed, areas of damp on my bedroom wall (which I’m hoping is historical staining, but I do need to get it checked), and a driveway that has literally been a mud pit for the last year. Then there’s the list of ‘stuff’ that is not high priority, but still needs done. I’ve a weekend set aside for the garden at the end of this month, and I’m hoping with a bit of help, that I can get it cleared and turfed… watch this space!

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Relationships. I’ve been on a number of bad first dates recently, and have been sent an array of crazy messages via online dating apps. Frankly, I find the apps terrible. However, last weekend I had the best first date ever. Like, ever. I’m smiling as I write this…

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Socialising. Clockwise from top left – Jen (@violetrosemua) introduced me to Bramble, where we had the most delicious brunch; cocktails with colleagues at Blythswood Square Hotel; another brunch, this time at Tibo in the East End and finally the starter that I enjoyed whilst at at Blythswood.

Exercise. I struggle to fit in exercise into my busy schedule – I seem to be prioritising socialising over fitness!! However, I do feel much better when I’m exercising regularly and I definitely miss my personal training sessions (although my bank balance is appreciating the rest!). There are a few of us at my work that are getting into boxing, and I love to box. So I’ve been doing a few sessions with colleagues after hours. I also started doing the Insanity workouts and was strict with it for a fortnight, but I’ve become lazy and life has taken over. I plan to start it up again after the school October holidays.

Travel. We haven’t ventured very far lately, only a few trips to Aberdeen to visit family. That said, we’re heading to Spain for a short break over the upcoming school holidays and I’m very much looking forward to some sun! We also have an exciting day trip planned with ScotRail this week to visit Edinburgh as part of their Great City Swap campaign.

 

Misc. I won a competition with Urban Market Glasgow, and was very kindly gifted a £50 voucher to spend at their market at Drygate. The littlest and I chose a number of lovely items for the house, including this very cute cactus by Zoe Scott Designs!

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I’ve also bought two new mugs… a leopard one from Cloudy Blue Aberdeen, and I chose this cute cat one from Stationery Closet at Urban Market Glasgow:

Instagram

I love Instagram, and I’ve been slowly getting more and more into Instagram stories… have you been seeing my antics? Head on over to @glasgowmummy and check it out!

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I’ve also been joining in with #myhousethismonth on Instagram. I am a huge fan of interiors as you well know, so this little community is great fun and I’m finding lots of home inspiration. Here are a couple of other pics from my feed…

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Life Update.

Argh, I’m annoyed at myself because it’s been a month since I last blogged.

Must. Try. Harder.

Anyway, the house is finally nearly finished – at least on the inside (the outside is another story!). I am absolutely loving my Glenlith Interiors kitchen – it’s stunning, even if I do say so myself.

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Relationships-wise, things went a bit awry with the farmer, and so he is no more. I’m back on the online dating apps, as you may have noticed from my Insta stories where I’ve been sharing some of the crazy messages I get sent. I’ve been on a couple of first dates, but they won’t be progressing to second ones!

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Date night!

The kids and I have been socialising and eating out quite a lot it would seem! Highlights have included this milkshake at TriBeCa, dinner at BRGR and we had a really tasty lunch at Naked Soup in the West End after having been at Jurassic Kingdom (which was a let down!!). I also made it along to the SMC x VE event at Hutcheson’s which was great fun. Was lovely to see some of my Insta friends in real life.

I’ve not been doing as much travelling as I have done recently, but I did make a trip up to Aberdeenshire to attend the Lonach Highland Games. My old school friend organises an annual trip to the games, with a bus of about 30 or so of her friends, and this was the first year that I joined them. It was excellent fun and thankfully we had a dry day.

I’ve made a few house purchases lately… the deer cushion below as £6 from Asda, and the house shelves were around £10 from The Range. Both absolute bargains! I’m also sharing another photo of my house, for no reason other than I love it! Dawn introduced me to ‘Line of Duty’ on Netflix – I’ve just finished Series 1 and it was excellent. I’d highly recommend it. And lastly, I’ve started reading ‘Parenting the sh*t out of life’ by Mother Pukka and Papa Pukka. I loved their podcasts, and the book so far hasn’t disappointed. It’s hilarious.

 

About Me

I recently did an Instagram post with 20 facts about me, and I thought I would share them here too for those of you that perhaps don’t have Instagram…

  1. I love being tall (I’m 5’11”)
  2. I’ve got Crohn’s Disease
  3. Despite having a wide network of friends, I still find myself feeling lonely
  4. One of my favourite meals is steak & chips
  5. I wish I had my children with me more than 50% of the time
  6. I hate my sausage fingers
  7. I love to learn & have completed a range of night classes… reflexology, Indian head massage, interior design…
  8. Interior Design is a huge passion of mine
  9. My sister is my best friend. I wish we lived closer together
  10. My mum died when I was 19
  11. I’m from Aberdeen, but don’t have the accent
  12. I love ice cream, pralines & cream is a favourite
  13. I have size 8 feet
  14. My daughter was born in the amniotic sac… meant to be very rare & lucky
  15. I am not a night owl, and definitely need a good nights sleep
  16. I’m trying to stick to a restricted diet just now of no wheat, dairy or refined sugar. Also limiting caffeine and alcohol
  17. As I write this I’m a little tipsy…I’m failing at number 16 on the list!
  18. I love sitting in front of a real fire, especially with a glass of wine or a G&T
  19. Boxing makes me feel good
  20. I’m not really a pet person but have wound up with two cats Rhubarb & Crumble

Summer at Glasgow Fort

What summer I hear you cry… I know, what on earth is up with the weather?? One day it’s sunny and we’re out with the BBQ, then the next we’re in waterproofs and wrapped up like it’s winter!

Anyway, we were invited to check out the summer activities at Glasgow Fort, along with a meal at Frankie & Benny’s… of course we said yes! Glasgow Fort is so easily accessible (Junction 10 on the M8), and there is plenty parking with the opening of the multiple storey car park (I struggle to navigate the car park now it’s so huge!).

Glasgow Fort is just getting better and better in my opinion. We started at the cinema and went to see Despicable Me 3; we had taken with us Dawn (The Thing About Chaos) and her daughter so there were 5 of us in total. I was laughing out loud in parts… such good fun and the kids had a blast.

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We then had a mooch around the shops and the activities – we did the maze and had a try of the play park (sponsored by SpecSavers). My two chose new pencil cases from Smiggle, and we got some new pencils from Paperchase. If you aren’t all sorted for the schools going back next week, then you’ll be able to get all the uniform, stationery, school bags etc at Glasgow Fort whether you go to M&S, Asda Living, WH Smith, Smiggle etc… it’s all there.

Lastly, we made our way to Frankie & Benny’s for an early dinner. The kids were given a small activity book and pencils to keep them amused, whilst Dawn and I perused the menus. The adult menu is your usual American/Italian food… pasta, pizza, burgers etc. I chose a bacon cheeseburger with a gluten free bun. Dawn picked a chicken dish. Both were served with fries.

In comparison to our last visit, it was the children’s menu that I thought was a big improvement. All kids can choose from a main, two sides, dessert and a drink for either £4.45 (smaller kids) or £7.45 (bigger kids). There is plenty of choice with healthy options available. Smaller main dishes included cod goujons, cheesy tomato pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, mac and cheese amongst others. Similar options were available for the bigger kids, but I assume the portion size is larger. In terms of sides, kids can pick one veggie option (corn on the cob, beans, peas, beans or salad) as well as one carb option (fries, sweet potato fries, waffle fries, baked potato or garlic bread). The dessert choices were immense… no boring ice cream here! Chocolate fudge sundae, cheesecake, fruit skewers or even a mini strawberry freakshake plus multiple others to choose from. Another thoughtful addition is the drinks menu which includes fruit mocktails as well as the usual fruit shoot, milk and fruit juices. There are more pictures on my Instagram – follow me at glasgowmummy.

We all demolished our meals, particularly the desserts (no shock there!). Big thumbs up from the kids for theirs. The grown up meals were good although nothing to write home about – presentation wasn’t great and the GF bun was average but it filled a hole.

Glasgow Fort is certainly worth a visit… you could easily spend most of the day there with the cinema, all the restaurant options and shops. (I was actually back there again since this visit sans children on a hunt for interiors accessories at TK Maxx – it has a huge home section – and I also picked up new shoes for work at M&S).

Disclosure – We received a complimentary meal for the 5 of us. All opinions are our own, and are honest.

 

Summer Holidays

This year I don’t have a summer holiday organised… with all the stuff going on at the house, I’ve decided that we will stay at home.

Anyway, I realised that I hadn’t written about my holiday last summer! The kids and I went to Normandy, France with my sister, her fiancé and his two kids for a week. Ali had organised a traditional Airbnb villa for us to stay in, and it was beautiful. I mean, just look at these surroundings…

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The villa was remote, which meant that there was no eating out of an evening unless we had driven somewhere, which we chose not to do. I love to eat out, so I feel that I missed out in that respect – that’s one of the pleasures in visiting another country is to try all the local food.

A villa holiday has it’s pros, but I felt at times that it wasn’t a ‘proper’ holiday because it was the same routine in a different house. For my next holiday abroad with the kids I’d be keen to go all inclusive, that way the whole family gets a break. I’ve subsequently been at Crieff Hydro for a weekend, and it was fantastic – we did the Freedom dining which meant the kids had breakfast, lunch & high tea included in the package and we also made use of the Big Country kids club.

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Loving all the cakes & pastries in France!

I think if the weather had been better whilst we were in France we’d have been more inclined to just hang at the villa by the pool but we had a few days of rain. Which we’re used to living in Glasgow! Despite the pool being pretty cold at times, the kids were still keen to get in it and my son had great fun creating underwater videos using my GoPro. They are just hilarious!! Watching them back now makes me realise just how much he has grown up in this last year.

We also did a few day trips… Monet’s garden was beautiful, we visited a bouncy castle play park by the sea and ate mussels in a waterfront cafe, visited a small town (I forget the names of all the places we went, sorry!), had proper hot chocolate, and had a shot on a luge (which was pretty fast and bumpy!). Ali & Robin had done all the research and planned an itinerary for us which was great as I’d been so busy with work, kids etc!

It was travelling home that was the nightmare… as you know I’ve got Crohn’s Disease and I tend to find that I have a more sensitive tummy as a result of this. The night before we left, Ali had cooked some pasta and had thrown in some leftover sausages from the BBQ the day before. However I don’t think it had been reheated properly, and as a result made me feel terrible. At 4am we had to get up to drive to the airport, and I vomited out the car window… there was literally nowhere to stop. (I wasn’t driving I should add!). I thought I was ok, so I ate something at the airport. Which I then proceeded to throw up all over myself on our descent back into Glasgow. I wasn’t allowed to leave my seat! It was a horrific experience, one that I hopefully won’t have to repeat! The kids still talk about this incident… I had one on either side on the plane!