Day Out at Blair Drummond Safari Park

Wednesday, 30 October 2013
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A few weekends ago B and I felt like getting out of the city for the day so we decided to visit Blair Dummond Safari Park which is just a 50 minute drive from Edinburgh.  It was a clear sunny day, and the park was due to close in a few weeks so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go.

Neither of us had been to the safari park since we were kids so we weren't really sure what to expect, but we ended up having a great time.  There are six main things to do: drive through the outdoor enclosures amongst the lions, tigers and deers etc, see the birds of prey demonstration, watch the sealion show, take a boat trip to chimp island, feed the animals at the pet farm, and walk amongst the free roaming lemurs in lemurland.  It was really cool getting so close to the animals, whether it was in the car driving past a pack of lions snoozing by the roadside, petting llamas and donkeys, or having a lemur practically run over my feet.  

The safari park also had a fairground type area too with some kiddie rides, stands selling hot dogs and doughnuts (the doughnuts were to die for), and an arcade.  Basically the ideal family day out (.....also a fun day out for a pair of childless 28 year olds).

Blair Drummond is now closed for the season so you're too late to visit this year, but I'd definitely recommend it for a day out in the spring/summer.  There is a bus stop on the road outside so you technically could get there via public transport but you're definitely better off taking the car.

You'll find even more photos from our visit on my Flickr page.

The Hope Glasgow

Monday, 28 October 2013
It's been a good month for restaurant launches in Scotland it seems, as just a week after attending the relaunch of the West Port in Linlithgow I was on the train through to Glasgow with some of my fave blogging pals for a launch party at The Hope.  The Hope is a new bar/restaurant which has opened up just a few steps from Central Station.  Maclay Inns have spent £500,000 on refurbishing the old Grahamston Bar on Waterloo St and the result is a quirky design full of cute little touches like huge jellyfish like lampshades and a kitsch painted ceiling.

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The launch event was packed with bloggers, journalists and locals all excited to try out the new menu and sample some of the specialists beers and wines.  We were served sharing platters to start followed by minis from the main menu like pulled pork and grilled apple, teriyaki chicken, beef burgers and battered onion rings, and the yummiest potato skin wedges.  The food was washed down by a range of different drinks (mixing alcohol on a school night...tut tut) like G&T's, prosecco, red wine, kir royale, and sam adams.

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We were starting to feel a bit stuffed by this point, but never one to turn down a dessert we were pretty excited to see the dessert platters being passed around with chocolate fudge cake, profiteroles and ice cream.  Once ours arrived at our table I think it was devoured in about 2 minutes....the fudge cake in particular was amazing.

Given its location The Hope is the ideal place to stop for a post-work drink or a bite to eat, and if you've stuffed yourself with a three course meal then you're within rolling distance of the train home.  I'd go back for that fudge cake alone!  The prices are also really decent too, with them having a 2 courses for £8.95 offer on Monday-Friday 12-7pm.

Copyright for images 1, 2 and 3 goes to The Hope website & Facebook page.

Batiste XXL Plumping Powder Review

Sunday, 27 October 2013
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I'm forever dreaming of having big, beautiful, voluminous hair so whenever I see a new volume boosting product I'm right in there.  When I was in Boots a few weeks ago buying a new hairspray I saw the cute little tub of XXL Plumping Powder from good old Batiste.  I'm a big fan of their dry shampoos so I had high hopes for this.

My hopes were quickly dashed though unfortunately when I came to use it.  It comes out of the pot much like talcum powder, and looks like it would feel like a soft, silky powder, however it's actually soooo horribly sticky.  When I applied this to my roots it immediately felt like I'd just emptied sherbet powder in there (remember this?!).  

In short, it left my roots feeling sticky and disgusting, and did nothing to give me volume at all.  I'd used it on freshly washed hair too so that was annoying...  It's supposed to be a lightweight formula that gives a instant volume and "maximum root boost" but I didn't find that at all.  Needless to say this has since been shoved back in my drawer never to be used again.  Next stop, the bin!

Batiste XXL Plumping Powder - £3.99 from Boots

Holiday Diary: Day 6

Friday, 25 October 2013
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It's time for the 6th and final diary from my holiday from our final stop, Amsterdam.  I've been to Amsterdam twice before, both times on a 'party boat' from Newcastle with my holiday rep friend, so my experience of the place up until now had been of wandering around aimlessly whilst hungover, mostly in the red light district.  So I was expecting a different experience this time round.

We started the morning with our final breakfast at our hotel in Frankfurt before getting the train to Amsterdam.  The visit to Amsterdam was a late addition to our travel plans as we were supposed to be flying home from Frankfurt but our flight was cancelled so instead of paying to stay at our hotel for another 2 nights (and getting the next available flight to Edinburgh) we decided to get a train to another city and fly from there.  The two options were Dusseldorf and Amsterdam and there looked to be more to do in Amsterdam so that won (plus it was actually slightly cheaper too).

Our flight home wasn't until 9 at night so we had a full day of stuff planned however after our 4.5hr train journey (and after 5 days of sightseeing) we were both feeling really tired and a bit grumpy so we ended up cutting the plans pretty short.

After dropping off our suitcases at the left luggage at the train station we went for a little walk along the canals and streets before heading back to the station again to get the train out to the Amsterdam ArenA for a tour.  This was really interesting actually, much better than I expected.  I'm not really a football fan, I don't mind watching a game every now and then, but I'm not particularly interested in it so the tour was really for B's benefit, but I ended up having a really good time.  It was pretty cool seeing all the behind the scenes stuff like the press room and changing rooms etc, plus the chirpy tour guide kept it interesting with fun facts (e.g. the security cameras are so good that they could read a text message you were writing on your phone whilst sitting in the stands).

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Once we got back to the city centre we decided to get on a bus tour as we were too tired/lazy to do any more walking.  This turned out to be a great idea as we got to see everything we originally planned and did it whilst sitting comfortably, haha.  One of the highlights on the bus tour was getting to see the road bridges open up for boats to go past.  I realise that sounds super sad but I thought it was so cool being able to literally see underneath the road.

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After the tour we decided to just head out to the airport a little early as neither of us were in the moods to do any more sightseeing.  Unfortunately we got to the airport to discover our flight was delayed so we had like 2.5 hours to wait.  There were plenty of shops and restaurants/bars at the airport to keep us occupied but by this point we just really wanted to get home so we ended up finding a seat and taking advantage of the first bit of wifi we'd had in 3 days.  I realise that makes me sound like a grumpy old woman...haha!  I think we just tried to fit too much in to be honest, with city breaks like this 4 days is probably enough, unless you've got some chill out days planned too - it's just too tiring.

We'll probably try and go back to Amsterdam at some point and do it properly as we definitely didn't make the most of it.  As I said earlier we'll also probably try go back to Berlin as this was definitely our favourite stop - and there's so much we still have to see.

My final (very short) holiday vlog from our day in Amsterdam is below.  Bring on the next one!