The Highlands have been on my list of places in Scotland to visit for a while now. I always feel slightly ashamed when I speak to friends from other countries and am asked about the north of Scotland and I have to confess I haven’t seen a whole lot of it. So, I may have put on my persuasive voice when we were deciding on the annual weekend getaway with Alan’s side of the family. The last couple of years we have been to Perthshire, which is so beautiful that we were thinking about visiting again this year. However, it can be difficult to find accommodation for our huge family so we looked farther afield.
We opted for the Highland Holiday Home and weren’t disappointed. Located in Errogie, on the North East end of Loch Mhòr and just a couple of miles to the East of Loch Ness it’s perfectly rural (whilst being near enough to Inverness for a wee visit).
It’s been an intense few months what with the house project getting into full flow and various other bits and bobs going on. So to say we were ready for our annual catch up with some very good friends is a bit of an understatement. I was champing at the bit to get going on Friday and finally, after popping up to the house to take receipt of our new kitchen (exciting) and waiting for the car to be serviced and being told it needed extra repairs (sob), we managed to get on our way.
This is our fourth trip away with these friends and our families have expanded somewhat since the first one, so we’ve leaned more towards booking more spacious cottages so there’s plenty of room for the kids to run about. They are inevitably more expensive but I do think it’s worth it. Especially since we do spend our nights in after being out and about during the day. Also because we go away with another family we do have a bit of freedom to book something a bit nicer than the norm.
So we booked East Bickerton, right in the heart of the Northumbrian countryside.
The cottage is absolutely stunning and Lizzie, the owner, lives right next door which is really handy if there is anything you specifically need. Not that we did need to contact her as she had thought of everything. Apart from on our final morning Alan woke up with a bug and wasn’t able to travel. Lizzie was so gracious in allowing us to stay past the 10am check out, telling us we could stay as long as we wanted. Thank you Lizzie! When we arrived there was milk, biscuits, tea and coffee awaiting us (I love little touches like that). As well as being a stunning home in a stunning location, it was also really family friendly. We were provided with two travel cots and two high chairs, a stair gate and boxes of toys for the kids to play with. One piece of feedback I would give Lizzie is to advertise this as it’s a huge draw for families and saves us packing our own. As if all that wasn’t enough we were able to order a supermarket delivery which she kindly took receipt of for us. All in all East Bickerton gets a massive thumbs up from us.
After the massive response to my recent post ’10 Hidden Gems in Fife for Kids’ I realised that lots of parents, like me, are looking for something new to do with the kids and it’s often hard to think of somewhere to go or something to do. I know from doing research for that post and for this how hard it is to find information like this in one place. So I’ve decided I’ll do a little series focusing on the Central Belt of Scotland and hopefully some of you will find some new ideas, or, you can share with me some of yours like you did last time.
As you may have noticed last time. I do have a penchant for an afternoon out which involves food! I’m not sure about you but we don’t eat out nearly as often as we’d like (though, it’s often enough that I’m working on my recommendations for those rare date nights….watch this space), and as kids can often be little monkeys in the evenings, we tend to focus our family meals out on lunch. It just works better for us.
When we eat out with the kids it’s important to us to be in an environment that is child friendly so we don’t feel anxious if the kids are a little loud. The food also needs to be good. I know that seems obvious but there are a lot of places that might have one of the above and not the other. It costs a lot to eat out and so I just aint willing to eat bad food. So there! And on the topic of cost, I know how expensive it can be to do ANYTHING with children so all of the below places are very reasonably priced.
With all of this in mind, I have put together my top lunch spots in Fife with kids. So, in no particular order feast (get it?!) your eyes on this lovely lot.
- The Peppermill Bothy
I know, I know, this made it on to my list last time. However, it really does tick all the boxes when you want to eat a nice lunch with the kids. There’s a great selection of food for both the adults and children, including soups, sandwiches, Quiche and hot rolls. And the children’s menu is spot on. They can choose from soup, toast with jam or peanut butter, a wee platter, milkshakes and even ice cream floats. And the cakes! Seriously! They are to die for. The family who run the café are really friendly and the kids can get down to some serious fun in the play corner while they’re waiting on their food. There’s also a lovely, fully enclosed courtyard for those sunny days and you can rest assured they are safe while you’re tucking in to the afore-mentioned cake.
If you’re from, or visiting Fife, and, like me, you’re sick to death of taking your kids to soft play centres, with their overpricing, sticky carpets, lack of mute button and terrible, terrible food, then the below list is for you. I’ve explored a fair amount in Fife with my two children (5 and 2) and can vouch for the fact there’s so much to do. Sometimes we can all feel like we do the same things with our kids so I thought it would be nice to note down what I think are some ‘hidden gems’.
Before you read on I’d like to note that none of the companies listed have paid me anything in return for the high praise I’m about to bestow on them. I just really like them and it’s nice to spread the word when you discover something fun to do with the kids.
The thought of travelling with children is pretty daunting. I’m by no means the most experienced of travellers, however we’ve been on a fair few trips both in the UK and abroad, with Tom and more recently, Lois, in tow.
So here’s my top tips to make those journeys a little less stressful:
- First of all lower those expectations. I mean, get them right down. To the point where your goal is simply to get to the other side alive, and having not committed violence against another member of your family. By doing this you aren’t going to be disappointed are you?! I say this, because we’ve travelled in the past with lovely ideas of how it’s going to go down and it just never goes this way. For example, we decided to drive back from Cornwall to Scotland in a day, with a stop in Manchester to go to the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre for a few hours. Setting off and stop off times were planned around Tom’s naps. We didn’t factor in leaving on the first day of half term in England and being stuck in traffic for the entire day, missing LEGOLAND and Tom staying awake for the entire 12 hour journey. Actually, that’s a lie, he fell asleep 45 minutes from home, then we had the added fun of the car to bed transfer. It stressed us right out but the funny thing is, looking back, Tom was completely chilled out. If we’d had no plans for how the day SHOULD go, we might have been the same.
Each year we have a few days away with Alan’s side of the family. Us, Alan’s parents, brothers, their wives and children. A lovely wee tradition so it is. This started when his brothers had their children…..pre-Tom we weren’t invited, much to our relief! Of course, times have changed and staying at home nursing a two-day hangover is our life no more. So, we’re now 5 years into this lovely tradition. So far we’ve been to Center Parcs twice, Crieff once and we’ve had our second year in the beautiful Aberfeldy, Perthshire.
We like this destination…not least because we are the owners of two little beings who HATE car journeys. Tom can be placated with technology these days but Lois…..we barely get out of our village before she’s eaten all the snacks and defeated us with her screams for the dummy. Typically this will buy us about 6 minutes of peace before chaos ensues. Anyway, I digress. Our holiday….
We stay in the cottages at Moness Resort. They’re great value for money and perfect for us as we will gather in the biggest cottage each night to cook and drink copious amounts of wine and there’s a little courtyard area out the front where the kids can play. We like that there is a swimming pool on site too so there’s a rainy day option.
We had some lunch at the Three Lemons in town when we arrived on Sunday. This is a great place to eat with kids. Relaxed and friendly and the food is great, with some good choices for the kids.