Santa’s Cove At Braehead, Glasgow

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We were invited along yesterday to the launch of Santa’s Cove at Braehead Shopping Centre, just outside Glasgow.
Santa’s Cove promises to be an ultimate Christmas family experience, so I thought I’d share our visit for those of you considering booking a trip to Santa in and around Glasgow this year…

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Entering Santa’s Cove at Braehead

We were greeted by some friendly elves as we entered Santa’s Cove, and were guided to Yuletide Valley where the little ones had to make their way through a very Christmassy ball pit and climb up to the top of the slide and travel down to the other side.

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Travelling through Yuletide Valley – spot Littlest Squirrel in the ball pit!

From there, we climbed aboard Santa’s Sleigh Ride, a really fun experience for little kids and big kids alike. We took our seats on  Santa’s sleigh, and through a screen in front of us, we watched the reindeers take us up in to the air, twisting  past the chimney pots en route to our drop off point at the Stable Rooms.

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Santa’s Sleigh Ride

At the Stable Room we were able to mix up our very own reindeer food to take away with us and  keep for the reindeers visiting our homes on Christmas Eve. The kids loved getting their hands in to the troughs of reindeer feed and mixing it together with some magical coloured glitter.

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Mixing up our own reindeer food at the Stable Rooms

Next we moved along to the Toy Room where the kids got to make their own Christmas decorations to take home and hang on the tree when it goes up.
Once we had finished our decorations we visited the Elves Canteen where Mrs Claus was serving up cups of hot chocolate and marshmallows and mince pies to our thirsty little helpers.

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Littlest Squirrel waiting on Mrs Claus serving up some hot chocolate and marshmallows

Our next stop was the Naughty Or Nice Machine, which reads the minds of the kids with a reindeer helmet, and a display shows if they have been naughty or nice. If they are nice they are rewarded with some candy.

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Naughty or Nice machine

Finally, it was time to visit Santa himself in his igloo. Each family gets to visit Santa in private, with time to take photos, and there is an elf on hand to take a picture that is printed out for you to take home, along with a naughty or nice certificate for the children.
My girls had brought some pictures that they had coloured in especially for Santa, and were thrilled when he announced he would keep them in his sleigh. The children also got a gift from Santa before it was time to say our Goodbyes.

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The very lovely Santa!

We spent an hour and a half at Santa’s Cove. All the “rooms” are within one big heated tent, and the only areas we had to queue for were Santa’s Sleigh Ride and to meet Santa himself.

There were just a few things that could have improved the experience for us…
A cloakroom to store visitors’ coats and bags would be really helpful, so parents aren’t left carrying around all the family’s jackets and belongings.
We thought the gifts from Santa were a decent quality, however a little bit more thought on what is age appropriate would be better.
Finally, we felt the quality and composition of the printed photo could have been improved.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Santa’s Cove, and most importantly the girls had a great experience, with lots of activities to entertain them, and for them to participate in. All of the staff were lovely with the kids, and Santa himself was perfect, and looked very authentic.

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Santa’s Cove is running from November 11 2017 to December 24 2017, 9am to 9pm. For more details and for bookings visit www.santascove.co.uk

They also have a Facebook page page for more information.

I was offered free passes to Santa’s Cove for the purpose of this review. As always all opinions are honest and my own!

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Look At The Stars, Look How They Shine For You…

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Today is the anniversary of the day I lost my Mum to cancer. It has been a busy day with work, so I haven’t had much time to dwell on the anniversary of Mum’s passing. Until…

On my way home from work I picked up the Little Squirrels from nursery and told them I was planning on taking them to N Ireland to see Grandpa next month, to which my 4 year old replied she’ll miss Nanny not being there. My 2 year old then said she wanted to give Nanny a cuddle. My eldest, Little Squirrel, then looked out the car window and said “I can see a star up in the sky and it has Nanny M√łller’s face on it”.

As an atheist, in all honesty, I don’t know what I believe when it comes to where we go when we die, and I struggle to know what the right way to explain this to my kids is. But I know it is important to talk about it, to keep Mum’s memory alive, and for them to understand that she would have loved them just as much as her Grandparents who are still here, given the chance. So, I have chosen to tell the girls that when we die we just leave our bodies behind, and we travel up to the stars and find a star to live on where we can always look down on the loved ones we have left behind.

Kids Fun Day at Darcy’s, Glasgow

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The weekend before last we were invited along to attend a Charlie & The Chocolate Factory themed afternoon at Darcy’s in Glasgow’s Princes Square.
On the last Sunday of every month, Darcy’s host a Kids Fun Day, where the children are entertained in their private dining room with face painting and arts & crafts, amongst other activities, while the adults get to enjoy some lunch in relative peace in the main restaurant.DarcysFunDayFlier.jpgWe had booked our table for 12 pm as we had been told this was when the event would begin. However, when we arrived we were told that the room wasn’t ready for the kids fun day yet, but our kids were happy to run around in the atrium area in the basement of Princes Square, and we were in no rush so this was not a problem for us.

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Darcy’s private dining area set up for the Kids Fun Day held on the last Sunday of every month

Once the room was ready the children were called through, and we were all really impressed with the set up of the private dining area for the kids fun day. There were seats arranged in rows in the centre of the room with cosy cushions on the floor at the front, creating a mini cinema with a large projector screen at the very front of the room showing Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (of course).

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Charlie & The Chocolate Factory themed treats & activities
Note chocolate fountain fail ūüėČ

Around the edges of the room were tables offering different activities for the kids, from painting, to cake pop creating, to face painting and balloon modelling. There was also a huge quantity of sweet treats for the kids to indulge in. The chocolate fountain was a huge hit with all the kids, though it did take a while for the staff to figure out how to assemble it correctly.

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Little Squirrel requested a pink sparkly tiger from the face painter!
Note chocolate fountain success ūüėČ

Just before 13.30 lunch was served for the kids. There was a buffet offering burgers, pasta, chicken burgers, and fish and chips. I wasn’t overly impressed with the standard of the kids food to be honest, and I think Darcy’s would do better (and would make life easier for themselves) with a buffet offering sliced meats and cheeses, fresh bread and butter, hummus, and a selection of fresh vegetables and fruits.

After lunch an Oompa Loompa made an appearance for the kids. I’d have loved to have shared some photos of this with you, but Littlest Squirrel was not such a fan of the Oompah Loompah, and we left soon after! She still talks about that Oompa Loompa, and not in a good way!¬†1f604.png

Whilst the kids were being entertained in the Charlie & The Chocolate Factory room Mr Hungry Squirrel and I were able to choose lunch from the main menu. I really enjoyed the coconut, chilli & ginger chicken curry, which tasted fresh and full of flavour. If your kids are attending the fun day (at £10 per child) you receive 20% discount of anything ordered from the a la carte menu.

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Coconut, chilli & ginger chicken curry from Darcy’s main menu

Overall, we really enjoyed our afternoon at Darcy’s Kids Fun Day.
My feedback to Darcy’s would be to make sure the staff are prepared for the event starting on time, and to make sure a designated member of staff introduces the event to kids and parents alike, and keeps everyone informed as the day progresses.
Most importantly the kids had a great time and we would definitely consider booking in for another Darcy’s Kids Fun Day! It is a great opportunity for parents to enjoy lunch out in a great city centre location, with somebody else entertaining the kids… happy kids = happy parents.

Keep an eye on the Darcy’s Facebook page for upcoming events. There will be some exciting Halloween and Christmas themed fun days coming up over the next few months, which your little ones are sure to enjoy! If booking make sure to book a table for yourself in the restaurant as well as the kids spaces in the private dining area.

I was offered the children’s spaces at the Kids Fun Day and lunch for myself and my partner at¬†Darcy’s Glasgow for the purpose of this review. As always all opinions are honest and my own!

Smiggle Opening In Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries Aug 15 2017

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Australia’s most exciting and colourful stationery retailer, Smiggle is opening a new store in Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries tomorrow morning from 9am. I was invited to bring the Little Squirrels along to see the new store tomorrow, but unfortunately we can’t make the big launch due to other commitments, so they very kindly sent us a goodie bag in the post.

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Little Squirrel was very excited to open her goodie bag last night. Inside she got a beautiful handbag pencil case, which has two zipped compartments and a scented pom pom. She also got a pack of 12 scented markers in a colourful pencil case and a lockable notebook adorned with sparkling butterflies.

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She is over the moon with her goodies and is off to nursery this morning to show off her goodies.

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Smiggle is most definitely bold and bright and packed full of treasures for little ones (and stationery-loving adults alike) to explore. From multi-coloured backpacks, eye-catching pencil cases, sparkly stationery, gift packs, DIY kits and much more, there is a huge range to feast your eyes on. We will most definitely be paying a visit to the new Buchanan Galleries store soon!

#BUENOSHEROES – Win A Trip To Buenos Aires With CAU Restaurants

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Last week I was invited along to CAU Glasgow to try out their menu and to learn more about their summer-long campaign, #BUENOSHEROES, which offers diners the chance to win the trip of a lifetime to Buenos Aires.

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Fingers crossed for the Win!

The #BUENOSHEROES competition runs until August 31 2017. In order to enter into the grand prize draw to win a return trip for two to Buenos Aires you must order at least one HERO dish from the menu when dining at CAU restaurants, take a photo, upload to CAU Instagram and you could be on your way to Buenos Aires!

CAU HERO dishes celebrate the heart, soul and spirit of Buenos Aires all with a unique twist – CAU

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CAU Glasgow

This was my first trip to CAU Glasgow and I really loved the bright, fresh, modern interiors of the restaurant, which is situated in the heart of Glasgow City Centre on Ingram Street, within a stone’s throw of the Glasgow Gallery Of Modern Art.

Buenos Aires cuisine is a melting pot of delicious comfort food inspired by Italy, Spain and Argentina. From the mouth-watering steaks, burgers and sandwiches, to the tempting selection of sides and moreish favourites, each dish is served up with its own distinctive Argentinian twist – CAU

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Perusing the menu at CAU Glasgow

For starter I opted for Empanadas and chose the spicy beef and the Spanish Chorizo & cream cheese fillings. I really loved the Empanadas, which are a classic Argentinan filled pastry. On first glance the pastry looks like it could be heavy, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the pastry was beautifully light and both fillings were packed full of flavour. This is most definitely a dish I would order again. My dining companion for the evening, Alex, ordered the Shrimp Chicharron…

The prawns were nice, very tender, and the fresh coriander and chilli complemented them perfectly. The evaporated milk sauce didn’t really add anything to the dish though – Alex

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Left – Empanadas
Right – Shrimp Chicharron

For main course, I ordered the Classic CAU Chicken Burger and Alex ordered the Ultimate Steak Sandwich. The Chicken Burger came with lettuce and tomato, and I ordered onion rings and cheese to beef it up! The chicken itself was cooked perfectly and the onion rings were perfect. As for the steak sandwich, here’s what Alex said…

The steak sandwich was exceptional, the rump steak melted in the mouth and the salt beef was delicious as was the brisket, the crispy onions were perfect with it too. I’d say it was the standout dish! – Alex

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Left – enjoying the CAU Classic Chicken Burger
Middle – CAU Classic Chicken Burger
Right – Alex enjoying the Ultimate Steak Sandwich

As for dessert, I ordered Cr√®me Catalana and Alex ordered a Dulce Volcano. We were both excited by the prospects of our desserts, as a good¬†Cr√®me Catalana or a molten dulce de leche cake is hard to beat. However, we were both disappointed with the desserts. My¬†Cr√®me Catalana was almost soup-like in consistency, really unpleasant and just not what I was expecting. Sadly the Dulce Volcano just didn’t quite live up to its reputation also, with the sponge hard and chewy and the molten middle just tasted like raw and uncooked cake batter, and not the rich and creamy toffee that we were expecting. We passed on our comments to our server who was very polite, and agreed that the¬†Cr√®me Catalana did not look quite right, and passed on our comments to her Manager.

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Left –¬†Cr√®me Catalana
Right – Dulce Volcano

We both really enjoyed our HERO dishes from the menu, with the exception of the desserts. The Manager didn’t come to speak to us to explain if this was out of the ordinary, or offer any explanation, so¬†I can only hope that the desserts were not up to their usual standard.

The #BUENOSHEROES campaign is a fun opportunity to be in with a chance of winning a fabulous prize trip to Buenos Aires, so why not visit CAU for yourself, order a HERO dish, and don’t forget to post your picture on Instagram with the hashtag #BUENOSHEROES

I was offered a 3 course meal at CAU Glasgow for the purpose of this review. As always all opinions are honest and my own!

Brick City At New Lanark

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Last weekend we took the Little Squirrels to New Lanark to visit the Brick City Exhibition, on from June 28 2017 to September 10 2017.

Brick City is a celebration of iconic buildings from cities around the world, carefully recreated in LEGO¬ģ bricks by artist Warren Elsmore and his team. Discover highlights of cities across five continents, including lively celebrations in Rio and New York, tall towers from Copenhagen to Venice, and imaginative castles from medieval Japan to modern Las Vegas.¬†The smallest models are crafted from less than a hundred pieces, but the awe-inspiring centrepiece is London St Pancras station, measuring two by four metres, and built from 180,000 pieces of LEGO – www.warrenelsmore.com

When we arrived at the car park for New Lanark we hopped on to a shuttle bus (operates on weekends only for the duration of the exhibition) which took us down the hill to the village itself. The Brick City Exhibition is situated in the School For Children Building, a short walk from the bus drop off point.

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We went straight to the Brick City Exhibition itself on the top floor of the building. The girls had great fun exploring the impressive Lego creations, and loved the challenge of finding individual figures on the Quiz sheet we were given on entry to the exhibition.

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Exploring the Brick City Exhibition at New Lanark

There was also a film of stop-motion animation to hold the kids attention with lots of fun Lego recreations of famous movies…

Next we headed down to the basement of the building to the self-led play area. This was a great space with tables set with boxes of Lego and laminated instructions to build different models of varying levels of difficulty. There was also a Lego wall where you could leave your mark with your Lego signature, and a Duplo room with plenty of Duplo bricks for the younger visitors to explore and play with.

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Self-led play area at Brick City, New Lanark

We had a great morning at the Brick City exhibition, and spent just over an hour here. The girls particularly loved the self-led play area where they could get hands on with the bricks!

Set within New Lanark, there is plenty more to explore once you have finished enjoying the Lego exhibition. We headed to the Mill Cafe for lunch, followed by some award-winning New Lanark Ice Cream, and a beautiful walk along the Falls Of Clyde.

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Ice Cream and the view of New Lanark from the Falls Of Clyde

There was also a lovely little play area where you could enjoy a picnic not far from the School For Children Building.

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Fairytale chair at the Falls Of Clyde Play Area

We had a fab day out visiting Brick City at New Lanark and hope to return over the next few weeks to explore more of New Lanark itself and to visit New Lanark’s Visitor Attraction.

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Brick City Selfies

Tickets for Brick City are ¬£6 for adults, ¬£4 for children 4 and over, and free for under 3s. A family pass for 2 adults with 2 or 3 children is ¬£16. With each ticket bought for Brick City you get a voucher for 25% off New Lanark’s Visitor Attraction.

 

Monty’s Bar & Restaurant, Glasgow – A Review

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Last week I was invited along to Monty’s Bar & Restaurant on Radnor Street in Glasgow’s West End to sample their menu.

Monty’s is one of Finniseton’s newest openings. It is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week. With a big focus on locally sourced products, the menu is Scottish-led, with some exotic additions! For the West End’s many dog-lovers, Monty’s restaurant is dog friendly til 6pm, and the bar welcomes dogs, and their owners, during all opening hours.

Housed on the site of what used to be Montgomery’s Cafe, the premises have been completely refurbished, with the addition of a mezzanine area (which seats up to 30 guests and is available for private hire).  The newly refurbished interiors are warm and welcoming.

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Interiors at Monty’s Glasgow

On arrival, Sonia (my guest for the evening) and I chose some cocktails from the drinks menu. I was driving, so opted for a virgin option of the Cool Monty – a fresh and fruity long cocktail with raspberry and kiwi, and Sonia went for the Island Rose – The Botanist gin shaken with rose liqueur, fresh raspberries and citrus.

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Beautiful Cocktails from Monty’s Glasgow

The evening menu offers a great variety of incredible sounding dishes to choose from. For starter I opted for black pudding with beetroot, pink peppercorn crumble and beetroot syrup and Sonia chose the pan fried mackerel with heirloom tomato salad and piquant dressing.

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Left – black pudding, beetroot, pink peppercorn crumble, beetroot syrup
Right – pan fried mackerel, heirloom tomato salad, piquant dressing

For me, the starters were beautifully presented, and just the right portion size. I particularly loved the velvety smooth texture of the black pudding, against the crunchy apple strips and delicious little bulbs of beetroot. This was a deliciously light start to our meal at Monty’s. Sadly, I don’t eat fish, so couldn’t sample Sonia’s starter, so I asked her for some words on her mackerel dish…

The mackerel was beautifully cooked, with tasty crisp skin and nicely complimented by the warm heritage tomato salad which was in a lovely slightly mustard-y dressing. Perfect size for a starter – I’d definitely order it again. – Sonia

For main course, I opted for slow roasted pork belly, roast fennel, pomme pur√©e and calvados apples, and Sonia went for the Monty’s beef burger, with Barwheys cheddar rarebit, Ayrshire smoked bacon, onion ring, hand cut chips and bone marrow jus.

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Left – slow roasted pork belly, roast fennel, pomme pur√©e and calvados apples
Right – Monty’s beef burger, Barwheys cheddar rarebit, Ayrshire smoked bacon, onion ring, hand cut chips, bone marrow jus

The slow roasted pork belly was cooked to perfection. It melted in the mouth with incredibly deep flavour, complemented perfectly by the beautifully smooth and creamy pomme purée, and the light aniseed of the fennel against the crunchy apple strips and the delicious calvados apples. This is a gorgeous dish for pork-lovers!
As for the Monty’s beef burger, this really was a special burger. Aside from top quality beef and Ayrshire bacon, the addition of the Barwhey’s cheddar rarebit really lifted this burger to another level. I have to make a special mention for the little jug of bone marrow jus that you can see in the picture above… liquid gold! Quite honestly the most perfect little jug of jus you ever did have the pleasure to taste. Dipping the perfectly cooked hand cut chips in to the bone marrow jus brought the hugest of smiles to both our faces – a very indulgent chips and gravy!

To round off our meal we had the difficult task of choosing from the dessert menu. For me, I was instantly drawn to the Black Forest ganache, macerated cherries, Chantilly cream and chocolate soil. Meanwhile Sonia chose the cranachan crème chiboust, raspberries and raspberry sorbet.

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Left – Black Forest ganache, macerated cherries, Chantilly cream, chocolate soil
Right Рcranachan crème chiboust, raspberries, raspberry sorbet

This Black Forest ganache with macerated cherries must be one of my favourite desserts I have had. The ganache was deep and rich, yet not too heavy, and the intensely fruity macerated cherries worked perfectly against this little slice of chocolate heaven! The cranachan crème chiboust was a lighter dessert, yet still packed full of flavours and textures. The crunchy, caramelised clusters of oats lifted the mousse-like creamy smooth crème chiboust, and the raspberry sorbet was packed full of tangy sweet raspberry flavour.

I hope you can tell how much we enjoyed our meal at Monty’s. I couldn’t fault a single thing from our evening here. The service was friendly and relaxed, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming, and the food was incredible, and completely exceeded my expectations.
I hope to return very soon, and I am sure the Little Squirrels would love to try out the kids menu while Mr Hungry Squirrel and I sample the Weekender Brunch!

Huge Thankyou to Ross from Monty’s for looking after us on our visit. Keep up the good work! We wish you and the rest of the team at Monty’s the greatest success – you deserve it!

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Cheers!

I was offered a 3 course meal at Monty’s Glasgow for the purpose of this review. As always all opinions are honest and my own!

Monty’s Bar & Restaurant Promo from Kris Kesiak on Vimeo.