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® 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.

 

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!

A Letter To Little Squirrel – On Your 4th Birthday

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4 years has gone by in a blink of an eye. It seems like no time since we welcomed you into our world and brought you home to our little West End flat.
A lot has happened in that 4 years… we moved from Glasgow to Lenzie, you have become a big sister, and you have grown into a clever, beautiful and funny little girl.

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Celebrating 1st, 2nd, & 3rd birthdays

You are strong and determined, which most definitely brings its challenges for Mummy & Daddy, (currently struggling with outfit choices on a daily basis) but I really hope you keep these traits as you will go far little one!

You are kind and caring, and you love to look after people. Your most recent favourite game is to play Doctors with your medical kit, and you have the loveliest bedside manner as Dr M. My heart swells with pride when I see you gently cooing over the newest baby arrivals in our circle of friends.

Loving our friend’s new baby

You love to sing and dance, and my heart literally sings with joy when we sing along to our favourite songs from Moana, Trolls and Frozen. Music was a huge part of my life with my Mum, and I look forward to the day when I can sit beside you on a piano stool and play a duet with you like I did with my Mum. Keep singing little one!

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Enjoying a trip to Glasgow to see Moana at the cinema

You love your friends and I love to watch your friendships grow. You have a special bond with Noah, Heather, and Holly, whom you have known since you were all tiny babies and I am very grateful for the special friendships I have formed with their Mums.

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Martha & friends!

You are protective of your little sister.
Just last week we were out in Princes Square in Glasgow. Before I had you, I used to watch all the little ones running round and round in the little sunken area in the basement of Princes Square, and would daydream about watching my own children enjoy this space.  On our most recent trip to Princes Square a little girl ran up to you both and screamed in your faces. My heart swelled with pride when I saw you put your arms around your little sister and watched you usher her away in the most protective and loving way. Of course, as all siblings do, we also have to referree your squabbles with each other. But those moments when you look out for each other make all the tough moments worth it!

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Sisterly love 🙂

You love your family. Your little face lights up when we visit Granny & Grandad McKenzie in Langbank, and Grandpa Møller from Ireland. You don’t get to see Grandpa as much as Granny & Grandad because of distance, but your bond with him is remarkably strong. I am so happy that you have a special bond with each of your Grandparents. I only wish you could have known your Nanny Møller. She was a very special lady who would have loved you very much. I look at you and I see her in your big, deep, long-lashed eyes. She has most definitely gifted these to you!

My darling girl… we love you to the moon and back! Xxx

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A Letter To Littlest Squirrel – On Your 2nd Birthday

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Today you turn two years old! It really seems like no time since all this was happening…

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On the day you were born

The change in you over this last year is hard to believe. You have grown into a little person with a large personality!

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You make us laugh every day. Your smile is infectious. You are mostly a happy little squirrel, but your fuse can be short and your temper is a force to be reckoned with! We couldn’t love you any more though!

You love your bunny and your muzzy (blanket), you love cuddles, you love books, you love pushing your baby doll Violet in her pram, you love Maui and Tamatoa from Moana. And we love you!

Your relationship with your big sister is really blossoming. It is clear to see how much you care for each other, and when you are not winding each other up, you are making each other laugh, dancing with each other, singing together, reading together, hiding together and comforting each other when the other is upset.

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Sisters

My little darling, we are all so lucky to have you in our lives and we love you with all our hearts and are extremely proud of you.

Have a wonderful birthday my darling girl!

Love Mummy xxx

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…

 

A Woodland Themed 1st Birthday Cake For Littlest Squirrel

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When planning a celebration cake I often turn to Pinterest for inspiration. For the Littlest’s 1st birthday cake I knew I wanted to stick with the squirrel/woodland theme that I followed for her big sister’s 1st birthday cake, but wanted something new and different.

It was through Pinterest that I came across these two cake designs, and I knew immediately that this was the theme that I would follow…

I loved the stronger colours of the cake on the left, but loved the details of the cake on the right.

It had been two years since I had last baked and decorated a celebration cake, so was a little nervous. On top of that I was coming down with flu on the day the cake was to be baked and decorated, but I had been planning this cake for months, so just had to push through and get it done!

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I had already made the little figures to decorate the cake. The trickiest bit was getting the lettering completed. I am a little disappointed that the finish isn’t as clean as I normally aim for, but I was feeling so ill I just had to get it done!

Birthday Cake Collage.jpgAll things considered, the cake turned out well, and I was really pleased with the bake. On my friend Frances’ recommendation I used Nigella’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe. Many Thanks to Frances for her advice on this bake. If you love beautiful cakes then take a look at Frances’ blog, her cakes are simply stunning!

As for the Littlest, she seemed to enjoy her first taste of chocolate cake. Now, I just need to decide what sort of cake to create for her big sister’s birthday in March!…

A Letter To Littlest Squirrel On Her 1st Birthday

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Dear Littlest Squirrel

It is hard to believe it has been one year since you arrived in to our world! Like your big sister, you have brought so much sunshine in to our lives.Ciara Birthday CollageYou are my little tiny one, yet you are strong. You are sweet and loving, yet fierce and determined.

You give the best kisses.

You have the cheekiest, widest grin.

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You have enriched all of our lives, more than I ever could have wished for, and we are all completely besotted with you.

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Happy Birthday my little darling. You are so loved!

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