Family Day Out at Soar, intu Braehead

The other weekend the kids and I were invited to participate in a family day out at Soar, intu Braehead. The centre has undergone a recent refurbishment, and since I last visited there have been a number of new additions: Cocobean chocolate workshop, Gravity trampoline park and soon there will be a giant slide added to Climbzone (what I didn’t realise was that Climbzone is one of the largest freestanding climbing walls in the UK – pretty impressive! My kids were too young for Climbzone however, so we enjoyed the other activities).

We started our day at Cocobean, and the kids were whisked away to participate in a chocolate workshop whilst I sipped a salted caramel hot chocolate in the cafe (I paid £4.95 for the hot chocolate and I felt this was a bit pricey, and the price didn’t reflect the quality – it was average. Don’t want to dwell on the negatives, but thought I should mention it). Anyway, the staff that hosted the workshop were very engaging and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Premise was very similar to The Chocolate Factory that used to be at Charing Cross. The kids made a chocolate mould of their choice – teddy bear, rabbits etc, they also made a huge chocolate bar (covered in jelly sweets and more chocolate) and then finally they decorated chocolate dipped marshmallows. As they worked on their creations, they were filling their mouths with chocolate and sweets at every opportunity. I even clocked their teacher squeezing the chocolate from the piping bag straight into their mouths! Needless to say, they felt the first activity was a huge success. The children’s workshop is £16 per child, and workshops are available 7 days a week – there isn’t a requirement to pre-book.

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With tummies full of sweets, our next stop was Gravity. I was just keeping fingers crossed that we had no vomiting incidents… that would have been disastrous. This time I joined the kids, and we did an hour of bouncing. Watching the safety video before we started made me a little nervous – there were little cartoon stick figures breaking bones all over their body, and there was one that died. Really important though to follow the safety guidelines, and this definitely got the message across. I tried to not let this put me off.

There were so many trampolines to jump around on, and there was also air bags, battle beams, slam dunk zone, dodge ball and a interactive climbing wall. The trampolining was great exercise – I was suitably tired afterwards! I wasn’t really able to do any cool moves… I did attempt to bounce off one of the trampoline walls, but failed miserably and landed in a heap laughing out loud (much to the amusement of the staff nearby!). It was a fantastic family activity, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be back. Littlest loved it when they dropped the lights and there was a disco. I’m happy to report that I didn’t wet myself (another fear of mine!), and no-one was sick – hurrah. I spotted whilst I was there that they offer adult exercise classes, Trampolean, which I’m sure would be a laugh – dates/times to be announced. The hour open session, at peak time, is £9.95 and the socks are £2.50.

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Lastly, we headed to Bar Varia Restaurant at Snow Factor, overlooking the ski slope. We really needed some proper food, not chocolate, and a drink to quench our thirst after the jumping. Bar Varia is a family friendly, independent Bavarian themed restaurant and Bier Halle. I can testify to the fact that they are family friendly… we had an excellent time and I found the experience rather relaxing – which doesn’t necessarily always happen when eating out with children.

Adi, and Robyn our waitress, welcomed us and saw to our every need. They even played The Final Countdown over the speakers as my son had mentioned we were going to see Europe at the Hydro that week!

The food was good, although my son did mention that the pizza was too small – but he didn’t manage to eat it all, so on reflection the size was ideal!! I had the foot long hot dog with pulled pork and mustard, and demolished it. The plus points for me were the mini soft play, so the kids could disappear and entertain themselves whilst waiting for dinner, and most definitely the service. Adi made paper aeroplanes with them from their kids menus, and they flew them across the restaurant. The kids were also invited to make their own ice cream dessert, and Adi filled their mouths with squirty cream… they had so much sugar that day, crazy!!

It was fun to watch all the skiers on snowboarders at Snow Factor, and Adi shared some interesting facts with us about the slope. Did you know that the only car that has been able to drive up to the top of the slope was a Bentley (my son was disappointed to hear that the Range Rover failed the test). And the fastest person to make it down the slope was going at 33 mph… and he was 6 years old!!

Overall we had a fantastic day at Soar, intu Braehead and I’m sure we’ll be back. Thumbs up from all of us!

Our day out was complimentary, but as always opinions are honest, and are our own.

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How to Host a House Party with Children

I love entertaining and being the hostess. The dynamic has certainly changed now there are children… it’s no longer three course meals with wine, instead it tends to be take away pizza (still with wine though). Anyway, I thought I’d share with you my tips and tricks for entertaining at home with children, without getting stressed.

  1. Limit your guest list –  previously I’d have thrown parties for 40+ adults at my house, whereas when there are families involved the guest list quickly mounts up. For our recent fireworks party we had 15 children, and that was a manageable number.
  2. Ornaments – I didn’t really move ornaments out of reach when my kids were toddlers, instead I trained them not to touch stuff that looked fragile. I do have my mum’s antiques high up on shelves, just in case (when I hosted parties as a teenager, I would always get the ornaments and move them into a bedroom out of the way; these days I can’t be bothered with the hassle!). Amazingly, we’ve never had an accident. Anyway, you can’t be sure that all kids are going to be the same, so if there is anything in your house that you’re precious about, then I’d move it out of the way before the party.
  3. Jobs – assign your own kids tasks to do, in the run up to the party, and on the day of. Get them involved in the choosing of the menu, doing the food shop and helping with any tidying before guests arrive. Little ones are great for greeting visitors, and taking jackets to a bedroom… or handing out drinks to their friends (to save hassle, I tend to buy sports cap bottles of water for the children, and then write their name on the bottle with a Sharpie). My son is into tech, and so he likes to be the DJ and picks the songs on Spotify!
  4. Snacks – before the food is served, it is inevitable that the kids will be hungry. I tend to put out a few bowls of crisps and dip… just avoid any cheesy crisps. I’ve got greasy cheesy Dorito handprints in my hallway now… learn from my mistakes!!
  5. Entertainment – you don’t need any. The kids will make their own entertainment! I have a £10 disco light from Amazon, and throw on a few cheesy tunes (this is one area where cheese is allowed!) and you’re sorted!!
  6. Slow cooker – I’ve got a massive family sized slow cooker, and it means I can cook up a batch of something… lentil soup, chilli… and keep it warm during the party. Last year we hosted a Christmas afternoon tea, and I had mulled wine in my slow cooker – it was delicious!
  7. Paper plates – ok, it’s not environmentally friendly, but it will make your life so much easier if you use disposable plates and bowls. After the food has been served & hopefully demolished, just scoop up everything into a black bag. Easy!
  8. Have fun – relax, encourage your guests to make themselves at home (i.e. get their own drinks from the fridge) and enjoy the socialising.
  9. End of the night – one of the great things about parties with kids is that they tend to not go on late into the night. I don’t think I’d manage an all nighter anymore! I much prefer to be early to bed, and early to rise. Quick tidy up before you go to bed, and then you’ll be rising to a clean house.
  10. I feel I should have 10 tips, but I don’t… let’s just ignore this last one shall we?!?

 

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Interiors: Mustard Love

I am torn… I love minimalist Scandi style, yet I also love colour… especially dark & moody colours. My new extension at the back of the house is more modern than the 1900s front, and it’s still painted white throughout – open plan dining and kitchen, a small utility and a shower room.

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Whereas in the rest of the house I have a navy living room, a snug which has multi-coloured stag wallpaper, my bathroom is painted dark grey, and my master bedroom which has blush walls…

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I really fancy injecting some mustard colour somewhere, and my initial thoughts are that I will paint my shower-room walls in the perfect shade of mustard yellow. However, it was suggested that I could perhaps reupholster my kitchen bar stools in mustard fabric, and maybe even paint one of the doors mustard – just to add a pop of colour and a bit of a quirk…. decisions, decisions.

I did toy with the idea of painting the kitchen walls navy, but my Instagram poll was pretty much split 50/50, and I still can’t make up my mind. I agree that it could end up being too dark… so perhaps adding some colour in the soft furnishings is a better idea.

As always, I’ve been scouring Pinterest for inspiration… here’s what I’ve found that I like the look of –

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So, what do you reckon? Mustard walls in the shower-room? Yay or nay?

 

Life Update.

House. Since my last update, my garden has been re-vamped and some more progress has finally been made with the house renovations – hurrah! I had a weekend blocked out in my diary for my sister and her fiancé to head down from Aberdeen to help me clear and turf my garden… and we nailed it!

I hired a skip (£200), ordered garden edging from Amazon (£100), organised 3 tonnes of topsoil and 70 square metres of turf to be delivered (£300) and borrowed a wheelbarrow and spades from a friend. Ali, Robin & I were joined by my new man (more on this below!) and the four of us managed to turnaround the post-building works mess of a garden into a useable space. I had a few quotes from gardening firms to put down new paving, and turf the lawn and the prices were extortionate. We managed it for like a tenth of the price!! I’m chuffed (as are the kids, who have been waiting patiently for a garden to play in for over a year). Next on the list is the quagmire (mud pit ‘driveway’) that needs rectified.

The only negative was that I somehow managed to wind up with cellulitis in my arm after an insect bite, and was on strong antibiotics for a week. I do seem to be prone to disasters!

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Relationships. Ok, I’m just going to put this out there… I’ve met a man, who makes me laugh and I am rather happy. Eek!

I mentioned in the last update that I had the best first date ever, and my weekends with said man are just getting better. This weekend, not only did he bring me another new bottle of gin to try (previously it was The Botanist, this time it was Number 3 London Dry Gin), he cooked Dawn (@thethingaboutchaos) & I Sunday dinner… I mean, how lucky am I! The sous vide beef was seriously amazing and I had leftovers tonight in a sandwich.

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Socialising. The kids and I hosted a brilliant fireworks party on 4th Nov. We had put a lot of effort into the planning… making welcome posters, designing the menu, organising the house etc. During the day, the kids and I headed to BLOW – the littlest had glitter braids put in her hair, whilst my son and I had our hair styled (him, a gelled mohawk and me, beachy curls).

We had 15 children arrive with their parents for sausage buns and lentil soup, followed by ‘Make Your Own Sundaes’, and washed down with some fizz (for the grown-ups of course!). After we ate, we ventured outside for the fireworks.

Dawn & I were sorting the fireworks, and we were fannying around in the dark with our phone torch trying to find a suitable stake for the ground… when Rhubarb (my cat) dashed past us and I got such a fright and jumped (& think I screamed a little too). Oh dear! Eventually we were joined by one of the dads who took over and in no time we were all watching the colourful explosions in awe. I do just love fireworks.

Exercise. I haven’t been exercising (I guess a weekend of hard graft in the garden does count as exercise though), and there is always an excuse… I’ve got plans already, I don’t have time / I’m too busy, I’ve got cellulitis and I am too tired (although I think the cellulitis was a genuine reason to take it easy!). Must. Try. Harder. I will exercise tomorrow, for sure. If I don’t, then you have permission to shout at me.

Travel. The kids and I travelled to Alcudia, Mallorca for the October school holidays. We had a great time; I’ve written a separate post on it here. Time to start planning my next getaway…

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