Alphabet ‘Dating’ O – Scottish Owl Centre

I recently wrote about alphabet ‘dating’, where I shared some examples of things to do as a family with one (or two) ideas per letter of the alphabet.

Well, the other weekend I had the kids and I decided that we would try and tick off our first letter from the list. We were headed through to Edinburgh to visit some friends, and instead of going straight to our destination, we made a pit stop at Whitburn to visit the Scottish Owl Centre… and in the process we checked Letter O off from our list.


The Scottish Owl Centre is situated within Polkemmet Country Park, and the kids loved the play park that was nearby the centre. The zip line was a huge hit! The weather hadn’t been the best, and so we were well prepared with waterproof trousers/suits. The kids were able to fly down the slides safe in the knowledge that they weren’t going to get wet. What a blast they had! After investigating the park, we headed into the Scottish Owl Centre. It’s the largest collection of owls in the world and we enjoyed looking in all the cages searching for each of the owls. They are such interesting creatures. We loved watching them twist their heads round!

My mum collected owls, so I’ve always been keen on owls as a result and have a number of owl ornaments in my home.


There are parts of the centre that are a bit tired, like the hands-on educational activities in the photo above. However the kids were oblivious and enjoyed answering the quizzes and trying the puzzles.




Their favourite part of the centre was the owl tunnel slide. I think they would have happily spent hours going up and down that chute ^

It was the flying display however that was my favourite part. The kids got a little bored of sitting, but I loved watching the owls fly across the room. One of them clipped my head as it went over the top of us!! What wasn’t so pleasant was the owl being paraded past us at the end with a dead chick hanging out of its mouth… thankfully we weren’t too squeamish.

After the flying display we paid to have our photo taken with the owl – both kids had a shot of holding Lulu, who was rather cute! Then of course we had to hit the gift shop and they both were lucky enough to have a soft toy owl bought for them.

Before leaving, we went to the cafe for a bite to eat and unfortunately the service wasn’t good. We had to wait a long time for our lunch (tuna panini for the kids and a baked potato for me) by which point the kids were desperate to eat. That was a bit stressful, but the staff did acknowledge and apologise for the delay and we were given 10% off our bill.

I’m not sure if the Scottish Owl Centre would be worth the trip for the centre alone, but given that we were passing by I was happy to de-tour to check it out. The entrance fee is £7.50 for adult and £5.50 for a child so I think you do need to spend 3-4 hours there to make it worthwhile. We also paid an additional £6 per child for their photo with the owl, then a further £12 each for their soft toy (there were cheaper options, but we went for the larger sized toy!) and then lunch on top of that! It wasn’t a cheap visit! I think the play park outside of the centre saved the trip because the ‘adventure playground’ advertised on the Scottish Owl Centre website is really just the owl slide photographed above.

This has turned into a bit of a negative post, which wasn’t intended. However, I want to give you my honest thoughts. I’m glad we went to the Scottish Owl Centre, but I’m not sure that we’ll be going back anytime soon. If I were to ask the kids if they’d like to go back, they’d probably say yes… mainly to revisit the play park outside the centre.

Have you been to the Scottish Owl Centre? What did you think?


What’s On – Beauty & The Beast Afternoon Tea, The Corinthian

The kids and I were invited to The Corinthian at the weekend for our first proper afternoon tea, with a Beauty & The Beast theme no less! We had such a lovely time. The Corinthian with its grand entranceway and ornate high ceilings is the perfect location for a Beauty & The Beast themed event. I’ve always loved it here since moving to Glasgow, and am drawn by the interior details every time.

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Littlest and I were brought a decaf breakfast teapot to share, and my son had a frothy hot milk (he had asked for a cappuccino, but there was no way he was getting coffee!!). Shortly after, we were presented with a beautiful three-tier cake stand laden with a variety of sandwiches, scones and cakes – perfect for princesses and princes. The kids weren’t so keen on the sandwiches (it was the seeded brown bread that put them off, and the salad inside – perhaps if I had thought ahead I would have requested white bread) but I was more than happy to have their share! They did eat a tuna wrap each as a token savoury item before hitting the sweet stuff. (I should also add here that we were asked if we had any dietary requirements once we were shown to our table, which they would have catered for I believe, but I chose not to mention my restricted diet, and decided to enjoy the treats as a once off!)
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The scones, which arrived warm, were just gorgeous. I had a cinnamon one, topped with pink cream and jam. It was delightful!

We finished off with the cakes, and what a selection there was. We had a lemon meringue filled with cream, a white chocolate dipped strawberry covered in sprinkles, a Bakewell tart and a toffee cupcake.

The themed afternoon tea is available until Sunday 19th March, and is £16 per person. You can find out more here.

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After being thoroughly spoiled, we headed home with full tummies. We then settled down on the sofa, snuggled under blankets, to watch the original Disney animated Beauty & The Beast. It’s such a great film, and I will happily admit to crying lots. Happy tears as I explained to the littlest! I am very much looking forward to seeing the new film as it hits the big screen.

We received a complimentary afternoon tea for three. Opinions are honest, and are our own.

Life Update.

I was out for dinner at Crossing the Rubicon last week (top left), and the food was excellent. Vegan friendly too! My favourite place for a gluten-free burger at the moment is BRGR (top right) – the GF bun is one of the best I’ve found so far. Other meals out have included breakfast at the gym (bottom left) and at Catch (bottom right). Trying my best to stick with the restricted diet where possible!

Planning permission has come through for the works I intend on doing at my house, so I’ve started packing up the kitchen in preparation for getting the building warrant (top left). I’m getting fed up of the current state of the place (bottom left) and can’t wait to get a new kitchen installed! However the work is proving to be more expensive than I had anticipated and I’m reluctant to spend so much money investing into a house when I won’t be adding any value to it other than a new kitchen… I’m not adding any rooms! So I think I may be back to the drawing board. I’ve been doing some decluttering and organising in other parts of the house (bottom right) and just generally enjoying the spaces in the house that are complete (top right).

I’ve been getting out and about a bit more, having signed up to an art class (top left) which I’m really enjoying. I also went along to a flower crown class at Little Botanica recently (top right) which was excellent. I’m already looking forward to when they release their succulents classes – count me in! I had an impromptu night out in Edinburgh staying at my friend Erin’s house (bottom left) and what fun we had! I need to make more of an effort with old friends. For Valentine’s Day we had a bake sale at work, and I made some pretty pink cupcakes (bottom right). I also received a mysterious V-day parcel, and am yet to figure out who it’s from!

BareMinerals Gen Nude

I was kindly invited along the other week to try out the new BareMinerals Gen Nude lip collection. There are three formulas – Matte Liquid Lipcolour, Radiant Lipstick and Buttercream Lipgloss.

I am in love with the Matte Liquid Lipcolour. I’ve feared trying matte liquid lipcolour before as I had assumed (wrongly) that it would be too drying. The BareMinerals version is a delight to wear, and the Gen Nude colours are gorgeous. It’s very easy to apply with it’s applicator, and the the liquid turns quickly to a matte finish which lasts really well. I’d highly recommend that you get yourself along to one of their counters to give it a try. I’m definitely going to treat myself to a few other shades from the range!

I received one of each of the BareMinerals Gen Nude formulas to try at home as part of this review. Opinions are honest and my own.

My Inspiring Uncle

My Uncle, my mum’s brother, is one inspiring man. I wanted to share with you here his story.

I remember that Gordon had been suffering with back pain over Christmas 2014, and as I  understand it, it was thought that it was muscular – he’s an active guy, playing lots of golf for one. However, I was visiting my gran one weekend the following month when her son, my uncle, called. I had answered the phone, as it takes my gran a wee while to make it to the phone (she’s now 93 years old) and I had not anticipated the news that I was about to hear… it was myeloma. Another family member to be affected by the horrific disease, cancer. I was asked to tell my gran, and told to keep it lighthearted which I tried my best to do (bearing in mind she had lost her daughter, my mum, to cancer in 2011).

He went on to have chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a stem cell transplant at ARI. During this time, Friends of Anchor have been a huge support. As such he now raises money for the charity.

The next of his endeavours is to walk the catwalk in his modelling debut with 23 other BRAVE men, ranging in age from 19 to 78, on Friday 5th May at Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom. I wanted to share with you his story and his JustGiving page where he is looking to raise £500. All funds raised from the event will go towards Friends of Anchor £1 million “Dream Big” fundraising campaign to bring world class oncology research to the north-east of Scotland.



Free From, Healthy Eating

I reckon that I’m possibly 9, nearly 10, weeks into my restricted diet and I thought I would give you an update on how I’m getting on with it. At the start of December, for health reasons, I gave up wheat, dairy, refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol.

In some respects, I’ve found the switch easy and in others, it’s been tough.


Instead of fresh white crusty bread, I’ve been really enjoying the M&S Made Without Wheat range. It’s hands down the best wheat free bread that I’ve found and I don’t miss the regular stuff at all. Whilst on the subject of M&S, they have a fantastic range of wheat free foods – some of the items are better than others. I tried the wheat free sausage rolls and didn’t particularly like the texture of the pastry, whereas the wheat free breaded chicken is perfectly acceptable and the kids even don’t notice the difference to their regular nuggets.


I’ve been limiting the amount of pasta that I eat, but I do have some gluten free pasta in my kitchen cupboards just in case. I haven’t come across any stand out brands as yet. I tend to have fresh pasta in my fridge for the kids, as it’s just so quick and easy, but whenever they have been dished up the gluten-free pasta they don’t seem to notice too much of a difference either. If they do, they certainly don’t mention it!


Eating out – Vegan artichoke risotto at the CCA, Glasgow


Dropping the milk in my tea has been difficult, and I really miss regular cows milk in my morning cuppa. I’ve been trying to drink my tea black, with sometimes a drop of honey or a slice of lemon. It’s just not the same though. The alternative milks don’t taste right in tea either… and as such I have on occasion had the odd cup of tea with milk in it especially if I’ve been out as not all cafes have honey/lemon (as I write this I’ve got a cup of earl grey next to me with a splash of milk). What I have ended up drinking a lot of is hot water with a slice of lemon, or herbal tea (I’m still on the search for a herbal tea that suits my palette, and one that I did try recently whilst on a yoga course was a Pukka caffeine-free vanilla chai and it was very nice indeed).

I thought I’d miss cheese, but I actually haven’t. I know there are alternatives to cheese, but I am yet to try them. Perhaps that’s something that I can investigate further.

Swapping out other dairy products hasn’t been too bad. I love the coconut milk alternatives… the Coconut Collaborative yoghurt and ice cream is really tasty and another brand that I’ve been buying is CoYo. The CoYo yoghurt is very thick and creamy, whereas the Coconut Collaborative yoghurt is runnier. Another yoghurt brand that I like is Nush, which is made with almond milk, the caramel and hibiscus one is nice over fruit.


L – Deliciously Ella baked porridge with coconut milk yoghurt and fresh berries which is now a regular breakfast occurrence for me / R – a snack of fresh fruit with coconut milk yoghurt

Refined Sugar

There are plenty gluten free/dairy free cakes and sweet treats available, but not all of them are refined sugar free. It makes it difficult to pick up something sweet, especially when I’m out and about.

Angelic have a range of cakes which have no added sugar, and they taste reasonably good (not as good as a Tantrum Doughnut for example!). However I’ve not been able to find these readily available in the shops. I’ll need to start ordering food online I think.


Another brand that I’ve recently come across, which I did order from online, is Well and Happy. I can highly recommend the Dark Chocolate Weekender Box. It’s £10 for three gorgeous chocolate bars (free shipping & delivery) and they are free from dairy, gluten, refined sugar and soy. I had also ordered a box of their Blush chocolates, which I have to admit I didn’t like as much – although they look gorgeous with edible petals on the top!



IQ Chocolate, especially the plush peppermint flavour, is delicious too. More readily available and is made in Scotland!

I face problems when I try to buy other foods, that you’d think would suit my restricted diet… for example, I’ve gone to buy ready-to-eat marinated chicken before only to find it’s got added sugar in it. Sushi also has added sugar. Some crisps even have added sugar… I’m getting used to having to read the back of packets to assess the ingredients list! I also find that I’m cooking from scratch a lot more, as then I know exactly what’s included.

Caffeine & Alcohol

I’ve never been a coffee drinker, and I’ve been drinking decaf tea for a while now, so dropping caffeine from hot drinks has been easy. However, there is still caffeine in chocolate so I haven’t given it up completely but I would say on the whole I don’t intake that much caffeine.

Similarly with alcohol, I don’t really drink that much and I’ve certainly reduced my intake a lot. However I have on occasion had the odd glass of fizz or G&T. Instead, when I’m out I will have a soda water with fresh lime (no cordial).

You can follow me over on Instagram @ethel_blog for more…

Gallery Wall Inspiration

I’ve got a few framed prints, along with my first proper painting, that I’m looking to hang in my bedroom. I’m thinking along the lines of a small gallery wall. What I’m not so sure about is the best way to lay these out as I’ve never created a gallery wall before… so I turned to Pinterest to get some inspiration.

Here are my favourite pics:


French by Design blog


Decor Envy


The Edit

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Brunching with Myself


Artefact Uprising

PS How did it get to February already!?!