Hungry Squirrels Guide To Bluestone National Park Resort, Wales

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Those of you who follow me on Instagram and Facebook will have noticed that in June we spent a week’s holiday at Bluestone Resort in Pembrokeshire. Excluding travel time, we had 6 full days to fill at Bluestone. There is so much on offer at Bluestone that we could have easily filled another week.

Accommodation at Bluestone Wales

The resort is set in 500 acres of rambling woodland, with luxury lodges, cottages, and studio accommodation to suit a wide range of accommodation requirements.
We stayed in a 3 bedroom Gateholm Lodge, with a double room with en suite bathroom, and two twin rooms. Our lodge was furnished to a high standard and was extremely comfortable and homely for our week’s stay.

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Gateholm Lodge at Bluestone Wales

The only thing I felt missing from the accommodation was the lack of accessible laundry facilities. There is a laundry service available at guest services, but at a cost of £15 for 1 bag of washing, and we were advised we may not get our washing back for 48 hours, we felt this was overpriced and would take too long!

The Village at Bluestone Wales

At the heart of Bluestone is the Village Centre, home to an array of places to eat, a fantastic children’s playground and Treetops adventure playground, the Village Hall, Newton Stores supermarket, the Booking Office and for those of you with the luxury of time to yourself, there is The Well Spa for some pampering and self-care!

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Village Vista at Bluestone Wales

From the Village Centre, you can access some of the woodland nature trails around the resort or visit the lake to say hello to some of the resident wildlife. The Little Squirrels loved finding some of the fabulous wicker sculptures situated on the borders of the village, including the giant foxes and the Bluestone Dragon.

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Wicker statues at Bluestone Wales

Activities at Bluestone Wales

One of the highlights of the resort for the Little Squirrels was the Blue Lagoon Waterpark. The pool itself is temperature-controlled, which is perfect for families with little ones. We loved jumping over the waves from the wave machine, and travelling along the lazy river which travels outside from one side of the pool to the other.

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Blue Lagoon Waterpark at Bluestone Wales

There is also a pirate’s shipwreck with lots of fountains for big and little kids to splash in, and a little water cove, specifically for babies and toddlers, with a shallow pool and little rock pools to paddle in. For the more adventurous there are two water flumes and a rapids river ride.
The Blue Lagoon is open to the public, but is free to guests staying in the resort, and is exclusively for guest use in the mornings.

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Left – Littlest Squirrel all packed and ready for a morning at the Blue Lagoon
Right – Finn the Dolphin on his way to greet the little ones at the Blue Lagoon

For rainy days there is an indoor Adventure Centre, packed full of indoor play opportunities. There is a soft play area, bouncy castle, climbing frames, climbing walls, an indoor sky trail, diggers, amusements, and a Lego wall.

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The Adventure Centre at Bluestone Wales

For older kids there is an array of exhilarating adventures to be had in the Steep Ravine Forest, from zip wires to high ropes and tree climbing. On the lake you can learn to kayak or take part in a Family Raft War. On the Tournament Field you can perfect your aim in archery and laser clay shooting.

To be honest there is so much to do that if you are thinking of going you should check out this handy guide to activities at Bluestone.

Eating Out At Bluestone Wales

There is an excellent selecion of locations to dine out at in Bluestone Wales. We had two fantastic meals at The Knights Tafarn, Bluestone’s local pub. The food is fresh and tasty, and there is a lively family-friendly atmosphere.

Ty Coffi is a beautiful venue to fulfil your coffee and sweet tooth requirements. Aside from being an Instagrammer’s dream with its pastel coloured interiors and feature walls, Ty Coffi has a great selection of ice cream and milkshakes to excite your little one’s tastebuds, and a great selection of cakes, soups, baguettes and sandwiches to choose from after a busy morning exploring Bluestone’s facilities.

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Little Squirrel enjoying an ice cream from Ty Coffi

Our favourite dining experience at Bluestone Wales was a visit to Camp Smokey. At the end of one of the nature trails in Bluestone, nestled amongst the pines, you can find Camp Smokey, a rustic woodland diner where you can enjoy outdoor dining.

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Camp Smokey at Bluestone Wales

The menu here is basic; burgers and hot dogs…, but the atmosphere is magical. Dining in such beautiful surroundings, amongst nature, there is something special about this little corner of Bluestone. We really loved the fire pit where you can toast marshmallows on skewers – definitely a hit with the Little Squirrels!

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Enjoying the atmosphere at Camp Smokey

There is also the Farmhouse Grill and the Oak tree Restaurant, and cafes in the Blue Lagoon and the Adventure Centre to sample, and The Chippy is situated just above the Village Centre if you fancy enjoying a takeaway in the comfort of your lodge.

Getting Around

The resort itself is set on 500 acres of Pembrokeshire landscape, and the resort is car-free, so getting round the resort requires a significant amount of walking. This proved to be a little challenging at times with the Little Squirrels, aged 4 and 2. For us the Guest Transport Bus, which leaves the Village Centre every half hour, was a life saver, and meant we could travel round the resort with a minimal amount of tears and whinging from the Little Squirrels!

There is bike hire available if you fancy boosting your cardio levels on the hills of Bluestone, getting from A to B. There are also golf buggies available to hire, which look like a fantastically fun way of getting around, however at a “special daily rate” of £30 per day, we felt this was just too expensive!

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Getting around Bluestone Wales

Bluestone Wales is a beautiful resort, and caters to a wide range of holiday requirements. For us, Bluestone was packed full of things to do, places to explore, and places to eat, providing the perfect setting for a holiday with our little ones. We will have many happy memories of our holiday in beautiful Pembrokeshire to treasure, and will hopefully return again to relive memories of our 2017 holiday! 

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Happy Squirrels at Bluestone Wales

We were kindly invited to stay at Bluestone Wales for a 4 night break, which we extended to 7 nights. As always all opinion are my own!
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A Night At The Fairmont St Andrews

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If you are a regular reader of the blog you will have seen that in September I spent two days in Fife experiencing the very best of Fife’s larder. I was very kindly offered a room in the Fairmont St Andrews for my overnight stay.

Situated on a 520 acre estate, Fairmont St Andrews is a luxury resort offering peaceful surroundings and panoramic cliff top views of St Andrews and the North Sea.

My first visit to the Fairmont St Andrews was back in 2007 for a friend’s hen do, where we had a lovely lunch in the clubhouse and got to experience the spa and treatment rooms. The Fairmont St Andrews really is the perfect setting for celebrating, relaxing, and pampering.
Since my last visit, the hotel has undergone extensive refurbishment, bringing it up to date, and ensuring it maintains its place as one of Scotland’s leading luxury hotels.

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The lobby of the Fairmont St Andrews

The designers have been really successful in reflecting the surroundings of the hotel in their interior design. The Atrium area features a spectacular lighting sculpture by renowned artist, George Singer, named Zephyr, which emulates shoals of fish in St Andrews Bay and the blowing reeds on the cliff tops.

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Zephyr by George Singer

The colour palette in the public areas (which is remarkably similar to my own living room!) is warm, inviting and relaxing. I particularly loved the library and only wish I had a longer stay so I could have really enjoyed the facilities at the hotel.

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The library

I was lucky enough to spend the night in one of the hotel’s suites. The suite was spacious with a separate sitting area, dining table, a desk to work at, the comfiest of beds, and a luxurious bathroom. Here is a room tour…

Due to a busy itinerary for the Feast Of Fife Bloggers Weekend I had very little time in my room, but I had a wonderful night’s sleep in beautiful surroundings, and an excellent breakfast the next morning.

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Left – obligatory hotel robe selfie
Middle – bed of dreams
Right – a perfect breakfast to start your day

I can only dream of a child-free break with Mr Hungry Squirrels here in order to further enjoy the luxurious setting that the Fairmont St Andrews provides. The suite would also be perfect for a stay with the Little Squirrels. However, the thought of some adult-only time is a little more appealing. There is so much to take in at the Fairmont St Andrews, from two championship golf courses, to the sumptuous Signature Spa, to an array of eating and drinking facilities, not to mention the Savoy Afternoon Tea.

With Christmas looming, I can highly recommend gift vouchers for the Fairmont St Andrews as the perfect present for your loved ones in need of some rest, relaxation, and pampering!

Many Thanks to the Fairmont St Andrews for having me for the night. I hope to see you again soon…

27 Years With Mum

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Ten years ago today I lost my Mum. I could write all day long about how much I miss her, how much I want to hug her, talk to her, phone her… Yes, I am terribly sad about what both my Mum and myself, and the rest of my family, have missed out on over the last ten years without Mum, but I also recognise that I am incredibly lucky to have had her in my life for those 27 years. Some of us lose our Mums much earlier in life, so I have to be grateful for the time I did have with her. With that in mind, I have decided to mark the 10 year anniversary of her passing with some memories of Mum…

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Mum & I at St John’s Point, Co Donegal

My love of food comes from both my parents, but my love of cooking and baking definitely comes from Mum. I have many fond memories from my childhood of standing on a kitchen chair watching Mum whip up a batch of shortbread, wheaten bread, border tartlets, and delectable desserts for entertaining… Mum got me involved in the kitchen from an early age, and for that I am so grateful! Since starting this blog, I have shared many of the recipes that I hold dear to my heart as I consider them Mum’s signature bakes. I hope you all get as much enjoyment from these recipes as I do!

Mum worked hard and she cared passionately for people. She was a Social Worker, and throughout her career she worked with people affected by blindness, deafness, learning difficulties, and dementia. She taught me the importance of fairness and empathy whilst caring for others, and I use these skills in my own career as a health professional. Many of Mum’s old colleagues speak highly of her and I only hope that I am as highly thought of by my patients and colleagues as she was.

My love of music comes from both Mum and Dad. It was through music that my own parents met. My Mum was a church organist in Belfast and my Dad was visiting her church to hear the new pipe organ that she was playing. Their first date was to the cinema to see The Sound Of Music.
Throughout my childhood my Mum was the organist for our own church and was the leader of the junior and senior choir. At the time, I have to be honest, I was not overly impressed at having to don the choir gowns, but of course, now I am hugely grateful to both Mum and Dad for growing that love of a wide variety of music.
One of my happiest memories of Mum was at my eldest brother’s wedding reception. Dexys Midnight Runners Come on Eileen was playing… I have never seen my Mum dance so enthusiastically. Her face was beaming, and every time I hear that song now it brings the biggest smile to my face.

So today Mum, I’ll be thinking of you, missing you, and listening to this…

 

Hello Pumpkin… Pumpkin Picking at Arnprior Farm

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Autumn is most definitely upon us…. The temperature has dropped, the air is fresh, fallen multicoloured leaves are crunching underfoot. Halloween is just round the corner.

Last weekend Mr Hungry Squirrel mentioned paying a visit to a pick your own pumpkin farm just 40 minutes from home. I may have squealed with excitement at the mention of this! I had a romantic notion of family photos amongst the pumpkin patch North American style…

So on Sunday morning, we all jumped in the car, and drove over the Campsie hills to Arnprior Farm, just a few miles from Kippen, Stirlingshire. Dropping down in to Arnprior we were greeted with the view of early pumpkin pickers scattered across a field adorned with beautiful orange jewels.

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I loved our visit to Arnprior Pumpkins. Pumpkins, haybales, coffee truck, The Extraordinary Sausage Company, face paining, dig up your own potatoes and turnips, a kale maze, pumpkin-themed selfie and photo opportunities aplenty (compliant small children-allowing)… there is everything to float your Autumnal boat!

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I didn’t quite mange to get the beautiful family photos amongst the pumpkins I had dreamed of. A grumpy 3 year old and a clingy 1 year old made that difficult! Nonetheless, I had a blast and came home with two beautiful pumpkins, and am looking forward to my visit next year already!

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If you fancy picking your own pumpkins, you have two more weekends to visit Arnprior Pumpkins. Remember to wrap up warm, wear wellies, and make sure your little ones have emptied their bladders before you take them!

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Signature Facials At 33 Dowanhill

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I was thrilled to recently receive an invite from Joanna Laxton of newly opened 33 Dowanhill to attend for a complimentary Signature Facial.
With no brand association, Joanna is free to choose the best products available on the market, allowing her to create a bespoke Signature Facial for you.

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Joanna’s product range include Merumaya, Pixi, Oskia, Ermana, Isla Apothecary to name a few

This approach to products allows for my Signature Facials to be personalised and treat specific skin issues and client concerns using products that will work for them – rather than what is available within one product range – Joanna Laxton of 33 Dowanhill

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Images courtesy of Andy Bell Images

The minute I walked through the doors of 33 Dowanhill I instantly felt relaxed. Joanna has used a palette of warm and calming neutrals with elegant finishing touches to create a peaceful haven in Glasgow’s busy West End. Joanna herself is a real pleasure to meet, and of course her skin is glowing.

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Joanna Laxton, founder of 33 Dowanhill
Image courtesy of Andy Bell Images

We had a discussion about my skin, my main areas of concern, and what products she might use…
As the facials are designed entirely for each individual there is an option for all products used to be natural – this is particularly useful for those who are trying to avoid all chemicals, for example, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, for those with particularly sensitive skin, or for those with particular health reasons.

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The treatment room at 33 Dowanhill with the cosiest of beds!

The facial itself was pure bliss, just over one hour of facial massage, pressure point work, lymphatic drainage and head massage. I didn’t want it to end but was looking forward to seeing what the results would be, as I have recently been finding my skin very dehydrated, and have noticed my fine lines around my eyes have been much more visible.
Immediately after the facial my skin felt amazing, but was a little flushed following the massage. It was the next morning that I really noticed the improvement in the appearance of my skin. My skin was visibly more hydrated and smoother, and I definitely noticed an improvement around my eye area.

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Left – just out of the shower the morning after my Signature Facial
Right – a light application of make up the morning after my Signature Facial

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Joanna’s Signature Facials. Even 1-2 weeks after my facial, I am still noticing an improvement in my skin compared to before my visit to 33 Dowanhill. I don’t think I have ever noticed such lasting results following a facial before, and I agree that you definitely can’t beat the confidence that comes with good skin.

If you want to keep up to date with 33 Dowanhill follow them on Facebook and on Instagram.

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Taken from 33 Dowanhill’s Instagram account.

 

 

 

Get Behind The Daffodil With Marie Curie


Over the past few years I have volunteered two hours of my time every March (aside from those years I had just had or was about to have a baby) to collect for Marie Curie as part of their Great Daffodil Appeal.

It is nearly ten years now since I lost my Mum to lung cancer, and every year I try and donate some of my time or money to Marie Curie to thank them for the support and care they provided to my Mum and to our family at an incredibly difficult time.
The Great Daffodil Appeal is the perfect way for me to get involved and do my bit for this charity that I hold close to my heart. I love hitting the streets with the Marie Curie vest and collectors box, as I love talking to people, and feel proud to represent the amazing people at Marie Curie.

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Left – collecting for the Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal in 2014
Right – collecting for the Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal in 2016

If you want to get involved with Marie Curie there are lots of ways to make a difference from making a quick donation online, fundraising by holding your very own event, or collecting near you. If you want to take part in the Great Daffodil Appeal collections simply pop your postcode in on the Marie Curie website and hit search!

This year the Marie Curie team were holding a collection in the town where I live on Mothers Day weekend.
Mothers Day can be a tough day. As grateful as I am for the time I did spend with my Mum, the sadness that comes with loss, and the envy of those who still get to celebrate this day with their Mums is inevitably heightened on the run up to this Sunday.
Collecting for Marie Curie, and for my Mum, on Mothers Day weekend felt like I was getting to do something for my Mum this weekend, even though I don’t get to share it with her in person.
So, this is for you Mum…

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Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

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Happy New Year folks!
2015 was good to us… We feel so blessed to have our two Little Squirrels in our lives. We are very lucky and incredibly grateful.
For me 2015, has been all about Littlest Squirrel entering our lives, adapting to life as a Mum of two, and watching both Little Squirrels grow, develop, and bring happiness and contentment to myself and Mr Hungry Squirrel.

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Some of our favourite photos from 2015

Becoming a Mother for the second time has been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience. I have enjoyed every minute, feeling much more confident, relaxed, and less anxious as a Mother than I was first time round. I have savoured every moment with Littlest Squirrel and am continuously amazed by how much love we are capable of!
These two girls amaze me every day, and I can’t wait to watch them, and their relationship, change and grow over 2016.
We love you both so much Little Squirrels!

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New Year’s Day 2016 at Hogganfield Loch

Every New Year’s Day Mr Hungry Squirrel and I (weather-permitting) try to get outdoors and go for a walk. I love a fresh, crisp, brisk walk outdoors to start the year off, and blow away any cobwebs from New Year’s Eve (or from early starts with the Little Squirrels). This year we stayed fairly local and took the girls to Hogganfield Loch in Stepps. It was certainly cold and fresh, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Little Squirrel loved feeding the swans and the pirate ship at the playpark. Littlest Squirrel loved her first adventure in our Little Life Child Carrier.

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Fun with Little Squirrels at Hogganfield Loch

During our walk we decided on our New Year’s Resolution for 2016… to take more pictures of us as a family of four. Looking back over our pictures from 2015, we only have one photo of the four of us together, and it’s not even a particularly good one. So, we have set ourselves a challenge to capture at least one family photo every month this year. Here’s our first shot of 2016…

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Our first family photo of 2016

Wishing you all much love, laughter, health, and happiness in 2016!