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5 Ways to Use Philips Hue | AD

Friday, 19 October 2018
Everything we do in our daily lives is getting a little bit ‘smarter’ these days. We have smart phones, smart televisions, smart heating systems and over the last few months, Andy and I have been trying out a smart lighting system – Philips Hue. If I’m totally honest, when I first read about it, I did assume that it would be a cool, quirky extra to have in the house. We’d be able to use an app on our phone to make the room pink, blue, green and it could be our little party trick if we had friends round, or for Oliver to play around with.

In reality, two months later, it’s become an essential part of our daily routine. The lighting in our house is something that I had never really thought about. The lights were either on or off, and that was it. But with Philips Hue, we have so many other options and I want to share with you the 5 ways we’ve been using these lights over the last few months, and how we are looking forward to using it over Winter, too.

How to use Philips Hue Smart Lighting

First of all, let me explain what Philips Hue is all about. To use the system, you just need to buy the starter kit for your light fittings. This comes with everything you need to get started: three bulbs, the Hue Bridge and the remote Dimmer Switch. Then you can add any extension bulbs. We decided to set Hue up in our living room, bedroom and the nursery and used a mix of normal bulbs and spotlights to match what we already had. Putting them in place was as simple as changing a light bulb (as that’s essentially all you’re doing!). 

Next, you download the app and use your Wi-Fi connection to find the bulbs. Before you know it, you have full control of the lights via your phone and you can turn them off on, pink, dimmed, bright, you name it – all through the ease of an app.

It turns out that the benefits are endless, especially for families. It’s not just a one-off party trick!

Here’s a few ways you can use the app as part of your everyday family life. 

1. Atmosphere – The most obvious use and the one that first comes to mind is having the ability to set an atmosphere for any occasion. We use the coloured lights when reading stories to Oliver (he is absolutely fascinated by the colours), or when we’re having a movie night and I’m looking forward to a very atmospheric birthday party for Oliver with all the rainbow lights! You can select pre-set options like ‘Savannah Sunset’ (a warm, sunset glow) and ‘Spring blossom’ (a relaxing, pink hue) and you also have a full colour palette which lets you pick any tone or shade you like.

2. Dimmed lights – This is the one we use the most often. We use dimmed lights for Oliver’s bedtime routine and it’s been a godsend for the darker nights. Rather than going from bright bulbs to pitch darkness, we can set the mood and get him ready for bed in a really calm, dimmed room. It really helps his body recognise that it’s almost time to sleep and I can really notice the difference in how easy it is to get him down at night now that we use this setting.

3. Security – There’s a really practical use for these lights as you can use the app even when you’re away from home. Rather than worrying that your house looks empty and vulnerable while you’re away from home, you can use the app to schedule your lights to come on at night time even when you’re not there. This is a really good security feature if you’re away from home often.

4. Photography:  One of the issues in winter for photographers (or even just Instagram addicts like myself) is lighting. The app is the perfect cure for short Autumn/Winter days! I use the ‘energise’ option (a blueish tone bright light) to neutralise the warmth inside. It makes my all photos look like they’ve been taken in natural light.

5. Routine: Now the mornings are getting darker, it can be even harder to get out of bed. To let your body wake up gradually, you can use the app to gradually light the room in the mornings so that you’re woken gently. This makes your body think it’s being woken up naturally by sunlight and makes the process of waking up a whole lot easier. I’m looking forward to using this feature once the clocks go back in a few weeks, as I’m sure we’ll need it!

how to use philips hue lighting

Overall, we’ve really loved using the Philips Hue system and any friends or family who have seen it have commented on how useful it is. I’d say it’s one of those things that you only realise how much you need it, once you’ve used it! It’s been great for us and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking to get a bit ‘smarter’ with their home lighting.

I recently posted my ‘daily routine with a toddler’ video on my YouTube channel – click here if you want to see how Hue fits into our everyday family life.

*This post is in collaboration with Philips Hue.

Our Small Budget Wedding: What did it cost?

Tuesday, 16 October 2018
This was always supposed to be a video, but there's so much to share that I've realised it makes SO much more sense to write it all down rather than relying on my poor sleep deprived baby-brain to remember to cover it all on a YouTube video. So instead, I have written this big post with all the info and then shared my top 10 tips for a budget wedding over on my YouTube channel.

So if you don't know already, Andy and I got married on the 26th August 2018 in a small ceremony in The Bothy, followed by a very small 'reception' in the Grosvener café in Glasgow. We only got engaged in April, so the whole thing took less than 4 months from start to finish and today I'm going to share all the details. So many more couples are opting for small weddings these days, especially weddings that stick to a smaller budget, so hopefully it'll be helpful to any of you that are planning a small wedding too.

The Bothy Glasgow Wee Weddings

Our reasons for having a small wedding were simple. Neither of us had ever dreamed of a big wedding. It just wasn't that important to us. We knew we wanted to be married one day and have the same name but we both agreed that spending tens of thousands (that we don't have) on the celebration just wasn't for us. We wanted something small, within an equally small budget. We did have some 'must haves' for our day, though, which were:

-  Our closest family and friends to be there. Andy has a really close group of friends, and his one stipulation was that he wanted them to be at the ceremony. Other than that, he was happy to leave it up with me.

- There's certain things that you're told you must do in weddings, but we aren't traditionalists and if it didn't matter to us, we weren't doing it.

- I wanted it to be a a low-pressure, relaxed day. I didn't want the pre-wedding nerves, or the feeling that it was too overwhelming. I have a tendency to get this dread before big events, where I feel like I'd rather it just wasn't happening at all and I could just stay in my comfort zone instead. I didn't want that at our wedding, I wanted to look forward to it and enjoy it.

How to do a small wedding on a budget

So here's how we did it, and what we spent on our wedding.

Our venue (£1210)
I started looking at small wedding venues in Glasgow, and my first place to check was The Bothy. It's a small restaurant down a lane in the west end of Glasgow, with a lovely rustic Scottish theme (but still very 'pinterest') and a private dining room upstairs. They offer 'wee weddings' which pretty much described exactly what we wanted. A relaxed, intimate ceremony at the end of a long dining table. The bride and groom stand with the registrar, and your friends and family sit at the table. Afterwards, you all have a big meal and drinks to celebrate. The room is yours all night, so you can stay there for drinks or go elsewhere if you want.

The room held up to 22 people, but our absolute minimum list was 26 (including Oliver and my then 8 week old niece Julia, who didn't need a seat). I called to ask if we could squeeze in another 2 adults over and above that and they were happy to go ahead with that. The Bothy offer 3 different set menus, from £25 a head to £35. All of them were great, but we settled on the £30 menu as the best value of money and it had something for everyone. Within our budget, we also factored in the cost of drinks for everyone, so we worked out it would be around £50 a head. For 24 adults, that would be £1200 - not bad for the largest part of our wedding cost. (In the end, the total cost came in at £1210!)

We booked the venue from 4.30pm. We both wanted it to be an evening event rather than a full day thing, and this would give us enough time to get married before dinner at 6pm. It also tied in well for Oliver's nap, and meant I could take my time getting ready and avoid that rushed nervous dread thing I was talking about. Venue: sorted.

The humanist (£355)
Now we had our venue sorted, we had a chat about how we wanted the actual ceremony to go. We didn't have an aisle to walk down, so it seemed a bit unnecessary to have bridesmaids that would just sit at the table and the same went for groomsmen so we agreed it would just be the both of us and whoever was marrying us. We had planned to do our second baby's gender reveal at the wedding too, so we wanted someone who could do that with us and that could make our ceremony quite personal. In the end, we went for a humanist that was recommended by a friend. She was free on the day, and after meeting her for breakfast one day, we booked in. Humanist: sorted.

The 'reception' (£75)
Since we were limited to the numbers we could invite to the actual ceremony, we still wanted to do a little something afterwards for our wider group of friends and family. We didn't want to have to transport everyone from one place to another, either, so eventually we found out that we hired half of the mezzanine floor at the Grosvener Café for just a £75 deposit. There was a minimum spend of £500 at the bar, but with 30ish guests that all like a drink, we knew that wouldn't be a problem. It was perfect as it was just a 2 minute walk from The Bothy so we were all able to walk there from The Bothy. It was also a really informal, casual kind of venue - exactly what we wanted.

We had a bit of a debate over whether or not we should put on a buffet. We'd invited people to meet us from half 8 onwards to give us time to finish our meal across the road, so it was quite late anyway and the majority of people there had come straight from a meal so in the end, we decided to put out some cakes and tablet instead. We didn't have a traditional wedding cake or 'cutting of the cake' at the ceremony, so we decided to have some cakes out at the Grosvener instead. I was going to get some platters from Costco, but in the end we put out two small wedding cakes, some cup cakes and some tablet. I'm glad we didn't spend a lot of money on food for the reception, as most people were just interested in having a drink anyway. I actually forgot about the cakes completely until after 10pm! (more info under wedding cake, scroll down) 

My dress (and accessories) (£390)
I was going to be almost 18 weeks pregnant at the wedding so I must admit dress shopping was a bit of a conundrum. I had no idea what size I was going to be. I had originally fallen in love with a dress on Pinterest, before realising I'd have to fit a bump into it. When I took that into account, I had no idea what I wanted. I'd always said I'd never pay hundreds or thousands for a dress just for one day, but when you look on line for white dresses, you quickly realise that the high street brands are onto us. You could find the most beautiful evening dress and the minute you look for a white version, it's suddenly double in price. I found so many overpriced white 'high street' wedding dresses that were clearly just cashing in on the wedding thing. Although I didn't want to spend a lot on a dress, I wanted to feel nice and I wanted to get my money's worth for whatever I wanted and the high street didn't seem to offer that. I did find some gorgeous 'budget' wedding dresses on Needle and Thread, ASOS and Debenhams. They were all around the £600 mark, but sadly not available in a maternity option.  Eventually, I found the French Connection Palmero wedding dress around 6 weeks before the wedding. It was beautifully detailed, with an empire cut leaving room for my growing bump. It was £295 - lower than a lot of the other dresses I'd looked at and definitely worth every penny.

I kept everything else simple, with a pair of nude heeled shoes and a nude clutch bag for after the ceremony.

How to do a small wedding on a budget

My hair and make-up (£30)
This was a bit of a dilemma for me. I'm quite fussy with make-up, and know what I like but I had so many people telling me I should get my make-up professionally done for the wedding. My sister had the same with her own wedding last year, and after two failed trials she ended up doing her make up herself. She said it was the best decision she made, so I decided to do the same. Instead of paying someone £60+ to do my make-up, I spent my money on buying some nice new products to use on the day. I wouldn't even count the cost of that within the wedding, as I'm still using the foundation and concealer every day now!

One of my favourite parts of the day was actually sitting down to do my make-up, I find it so relaxing (especially since Oliver was fast asleep and I could take my time). For my hair, I paid £30 to have it curled and styled half up/half down with some flowers in it for decoration.

The Boys' Outfits (£95)
Andy wanted a kilt for the wedding, and I agreed it made total sense to go with the Scottish theme in The Bothy. It's normal to hire a kilt, as buying the full outfit can be over a thousand pounds in itself, so Andy hired his grey kilt from Slanj for £50 (with his student discount).

Originally, I found a matching toddlers kit on eBay for Oliver, which was super cute and really good quality but in the end, I wanted him to match with his big cousin and they both ended up wearing the Roco tweed suit. My friend actually gave us this grey tweed suit for Oliver to wear, as her little boy had grown out of it. It was perfect and in the end, we got another one for my nephew so they could both match. The suits were amazing quality and I was so pleased with them.

ROCO clothing ainsley tweed

The legal stuff (£80)
It doesn't actually cost that much to legally get married, and the paperwork side of things is nowhere near as much of a pain as I thought it would be. I booked an appointment at my local council office, filled in a form and took our birth certificates and passports with me. I think I had to pay around £80 to confirm we were getting married on a certain day, and then we booked me in again for the week before the wedding to pick up the marriage schedule. We were lucky to have a really good humanist who kept us right with anything we had to remember, too but all in all, the legal bit was pretty simple.

Photography (£320)
Obviously, I love to take photos and videos so it was important to me to have nice memories of our day. I've heard of photographers charging thousands, so I did have to weigh up whether or not it was worth it but in the end, we chose Karol Makula to do our wedding photos. Karol took the photos at my sister's and my brothers weddings and they were beautiful, plus he was really reasonably priced at £160 per hour. We booked him for two hours only, as we felt this would be enough to get photos of the actual wedding and to get some of everyone at dinner. As much as I wanted nice photos, I didn't want it to impact on our enjoyment of the day especially as we had such small venue. I knew it could make some people uncomfortable if they were eating dinner and getting 'candid' snaps taken at the same time, so we decided to have the photographer for the first bit and let everyone else take their own photos for the rest of it.

Flowers (£110)
As much as I was up for going down the budget route, I knew I wanted to have a good bouquet. I love flowers, and remembered how much time we spent swooning over the flowers at my sisters wedding the year before. I booked the same florist, Rose & Thyme, to do my bouquet and three button holes for Andy, his dad and my dad. We paid £110 in total and I can honestly say it was worth every penny. I had found a beautiful photo of a rustic, green bouquet on pinterest and sent this to the florist as an idea of what I wanted. I also wanted a thistle in it to tie in with the Scottish theme. They were perfect and one of my favourite things about the whole day.

How to do a small wedding on a budget

Decorations (£50)
This is something that can potentially be a big part of your budget, if you wanted it to be. Luckily, our venue didn't need any decorations. It was literally perfect as it was. The Scullery room where we got married, was already covered in greenery, candles, and rustic décor so anything extra we added would be too much. We saved a fortune, actually, and a whole lot of stress by choosing it as our venue. Andy's mum offered to make cupcakes beforehand, so the only extra to the room was a cake stand with some gorgeous cupcakes on it and this sat alongside our guest book at the front of the venue. Since the meal included desert, we kept our wedding cakes for the venue afterwards.

For the drinks afterwards, we kept the decorations really minimal - I had some jam jars with hessian and lace, candles, some 'just married' hessian banners and we had a table set up with the wedding cakes, some tablet, cupcakes and the guest book. My favourite place to pick up budget wedding decorations were eBay, amazon and ginger ray. I made a full video on our DIY decorations here if you want to have a watch - and all the links to the items shown are in the description box below it.

Favours (£20)
This is one tradition we did stick to. Purely because I had pinned so many favours ideas on pinterest, that I wanted to get a shot of doing my own. Sticking with the Scottish theme, I asked my mum to make some homemade tablet which I wrapped in tissue paper and put into little hessian bags. Each bag had a name tag on it (by Viollaz - see below) and I put them onto the starter plates for each persons place at the table. They acted as placecards too, so we killed two birds with one stone with that one. I made little wreaths to surround the favours as an extra decoration. I was so happy with the result and, thanks to my mum, the tablet was a huge hit!

Invitations (made by family)
There was no question when it came to invitations, I knew I was going to get Viollaz to do these for me. Yanina (who runs the company) is my sister-in-law and she is incredibly talented. I wanted our invitations to match the rustic theme of the venue, and they were perfect. This is the template we used. You can actually download her invitations and other wedding templates via etsy, or you can buy bespoke designs too. Yanina kindly did our invitations as a wedding gift, but her designs are very reasonably priced if you are looking to do something similar. For the drinks afterwards, we went super-modern and set up a good old facebook event to invite our friends. It was too much hassle to post invitations to everyone at short notice, so we invited around 30 other friends via facebook and sent a quick text round just to confirm who was coming - easy peasy.

Wedding cake(s) (£56)
As I mentioned above, we didn't have a traditional wedding cake or a 'cutting of the cake' moment at our wedding. Since the whole event was focused around a three course meal, it seemed a bit silly to spend hundreds of pounds on a cake that people would most likely not be interested in. Instead, we served cake at the 'reception' afterwards alongside some homemade tablet and cupcakes. I bought two of these wedding cake bars from Marks for £18, and served them both on wooden trays for Home Bargains (£3.99). With a little bit of my leftover ivy garland wrapped around, and a wooden Mr and Mrs cake topper - our wedding cakes were completed for just each. What a bargain and I can confirm the cake was AMAZING. I highly recommend DIYing your own wedding cakes from M&S. Here's how I made mine.

When we first set our budget, we said we wanted the whole thing to be no more than £2000. At that price, I thought I wasn't being unreasonable. In total, we spent £2790.

If you have any questions at all, leave them in the comments or DM me on instagram

The last five months.

Sunday, 7 October 2018
I posted on Instagram the other day about how much has changed in the last 5 months and it made me realise that for those of you that only read my blog and don’t see my social posts, a life update is long overdue on here.

I have so much to tell you, I don’t even know where to start.

So back in April, Andy, Oliver and I went to Nerja with Andy’s mum and dad. We were out early in the morning (as is standard with a toddler on holiday) and when we got to the balcony overlooking the beach, Andy proposed! It was completely out the blue – well, as ‘out the blue’ as it can be when you’ve been together 8 years! I didn’t know he was planning to ask me any time soon. Of course, I said yes and straight away we started making plans. When I say ‘straight away’, I mean we literally went back to the villa, told his mum and dad and started looking up venues! I was vlogging when he proposed, so if you’re interested – you can watch the video here!

Maisy Meow lifestyle and parenting blog uk

As it happens, around that time, we’d been chatting about trying for another baby. I wrote a post at the start of the year talking about when would be the right time to have another baby, and by that point in April we had agreed that we were ready. But, getting engaged kind of put a spanner in the works.

Should we get married first? Or have another baby first?

I’ve never been excited by the idea of a big wedding for me and Andy, we had both always agreed that a big ceremony wasn’t that important to either of us and that we’d probably get married abroad or have a small wedding when the time came. I definitely didn’t see myself booking it for a year or two in advance as in my head, the wedding I had planned would only take a couple of days to plan. (spoiler: even the smallest weddings can be stressful to plan!) I’ve never liked making plans too far in advance either, as you never know what’s going to happen in one or two years time so with that said, we both agreed we’d get married sooner rather than later.

We planned to get married in August, and put our second baby plans on hold until after the wedding (which was fine as it was just a few more months). I’d always loved the idea of a wedding the The Bothy, which is a lovely rustic restaurant in Glasgow’s west end. They have a private dining area upstairs, with a long dining table and you can get married at the top of the table. As someone who cringes at the thought of walking down and aisle and having all eyes on me, it was the perfect set up. We could have our close family and friends only, get married at the top of the table with Oliver by our side, and then we’d all have a big meal together and some drinks to celebrate.

Then, two weeks after booking the wedding, I found out I was pregnant.

20 weeks pregnant bump second pregnancy

It turns out our decision to wait a few months had been made a little too late, and Oliver’s sibling was due in January 2019! You can watch our announcement video here.

I worked out I’d be 17-ish weeks at the wedding, and other than not being able to have a drink to celebrate, it wasn’t a big problem that we’d booked the wedding already. We even decided that it would be fun to do the gender reveal at the wedding, if we were able to find out by then

So the wedding plans got underway (I chat more about our small budget wedding here) and the day came round so quickly. We got married on the 26th August 2019 in The Bothy, with 24 of our close family and friends all around the table and it was absolutely perfect. I wore a dress by French Connection, which only just fit over my fast-growing bump and afterwards, we met more of our friends for drinks at The Grosvener café around the corner. It was the perfect small wedding that we had both hoped for. I’m still waiting on the rest of wedding photos coming back, and when I get them I’ll remember to share them on here too. (Plus, a few wedding posts/videos are coming up)

We had our ‘honeymoon’ in Portugal a few weeks later, and since then we’ve been busy preparing for the arrival of Oliver’s little BROTHER! Yep, we have another little mini Oliver on the way. I’m over the moon to be expecting another little boy and although this pregnancy has definitely been a whole lot rougher than the last, I am so happy things worked out the way they did. Oliver’s little bro is due on 29th January 2019.

Fast forward to the present and we’re excitedly getting things ready for the new baby coming. Oliver is growing up so quickly and has turned into such a little character over the last few months. He's chatting away to us, saying 'yes please' to everything which melts my heart and he's just the happiest little lad.

Since Oliver is now so much 'easier', we both feel a little terrified at the thought of going back to the new born stage of bottles, carry cots and swaddling but it’s equally exciting at the same time. I’m going to finish for maternity leave just before Christmas, so I can spend some quality time with Andy and Oliver before we get thrown into that crazy baby bubble again.

So that’s it – a whole lot of life updates thrown into one post. Although I don’t post on here as much as my other socials, I do still love to write and wish I had the time to post more regularly. I’m hoping maternity leave might make that possible again. In the mean time, head over to my youtube channel and subscribe to that as I post 3 new videos a week over there. I’m also a regular on Instagram and Instagram stories too!


Gretna Gateway Outlet Village | Outlet shopping

Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Hey everyone! It's been a while since I posted on here, and a life update post is on it's way (there's a lot to catch up on). I'm mainly on youtube now, and if you're not already I'd love it if you'd head over to my channel and check out some of my videos. I post 3 times a week on there just now and would love to have you over there too!

Today I thought I'd make an appearance on here, and tell you all about our trip to Gretna Gateway Outlet Village last weekend. If you've followed me for a while, you'll already know how much I love to shop. My problem is that I always go to the same shopping centres, to the same shops ... and see the same things. I do love a bargain and  really needed to try out somewhere new so when we were asked to visit Gretna Gateway Outlet Village, I had to try it out. I'd heard some good reviews on it and knew it would offer something different to my usual shopping centre experience. 

Gretna Gateway Outlet Gretna Green Outlet Review

Living in Glasgow, we were an hour and a half drive from the outlet which, for me, is the perfect amount of time to feel like you're going somewhere special but not too long that the toddler throws a tantrum. We timed it perfectly so that Oliver would nap on the way there, and I actually really enjoyed the drive down.

We were set the challenge of getting some homeware bits and given a gift card for the shopping centre. It's an outdoor shopping centre, and had such a nice vibe to it as soon as we arrived. There was a small kids play area with a huge connect 4 game and building blocks, with live music playing. This got Oliver into the best mood after his nap and he treated everyone to a dance before we started shopping! 

Gretna Gateway Outlet Gretna Green Outlet Review

We had a few things on our list for homeware and managed to pick up some amazing bargains. There were so many shops and brands that were normally far out of our price range, but the huge discounts made them an absolute steal. We needed new towels, and managed to pick up 4 new bath towels, 2 hand towels and 2 smaller guest towels for a total of £90 from Christy. These are some of the highest quality towels, and we got them for almost half price!

Candles are a must when it comes to home shopping, and we were so excited to stock up on discounted Yankee candles from Julian Charles. I'd normally expect to find the older or less popular candles in a discounted store, but we found all our favourites - shea butter, fluffy towels and fireside treats for later in the year. We also picked up two new pillows each, which were half price and down to £14. 

The last place we went for homeware, was the Molton Brown outlet. Me and Andy have a love for Molton Brown and their gorgeous handwashes, so we spent quite a while sampling all the different scents and eventually settled on a half price hand wash and hand lotion gift set in 'ginger lily'. It's so good and, as sad as it sounds, I love having a fancy hand wash and lotion in our bathroom. We picked up this gift set for just £14 - how perfect would this be as a gift at Christmas?

Gretna Gateway Outlet Gretna Green Outlet Review

We had a look around the other shops and there were so many discounted clothes. A huge Next and a Marks and Spencer that I could have spent hours in. Me and Andy have both agreed another trip to Gretna Gateway Outlet Village around Christmas time as it's the perfect place to pick up luxury gifts at discounted prices. We might also sneak in another trip before our holiday in September, as it should be the perfect time to pick up all the bargains from the summer sales.

We finished our day out with lunch in Pizza Express, and went back to the play area for Oliver to burn off some energy before the car journey home. 

I would definitely recommend visiting Gretna Gateway for a visit - it's perfect for homeware shopping, especially if you're just moving into somewhere new and need all the basics like duvets, pillows, pots and pans (there's a pro-cook there too with some fab deals). 

Click here if you want to find out all about the designer discounts at Gretna Gateway

Have any of you been before?

*This post is sponsored by Gretna Gateway.

A Weekend in Edinburgh | APEX Grassmarket hotel

Sunday, 17 June 2018
*This post was written a few weeks ago and I completely forgot to publish. So although we're wearing coats, I thought it's better late than never!*

So let's catch up - I said in my last post that we've been a few places recently that I've vlogged but haven't blogged about. One of my favourite places we've been recently (and for a long time) is the Apex Grassmarket in Edinburgh. Apex asked me, Andy and Oliver to try out their dinner, bed and breakfast deal and of course, we jumped at the chance to have a fun night away as a family. 

We'd never even considered going away for the night with Oliver. If we'd ever saw a tempting DBB deal, we'd automatically have considered a baby sitter but once it had been suggested it made me realise that there's no reason for us to go without him. I actually really don't like leaving Oliver overnight. I miss him like crazy and have only had a couple of nights away from him since he's been born so the thought of a night away without that hanging over me was quite nice actually! 

We were booked in for a Friday night and once I'd finished work, we picked up Oliver and jumped in the car to make the 50 minute drive to Edinburgh. We managed to miss most of the traffic and got there on time for our 7pm dinner reservation. First, we checked into our room to leave our bags and have a quick change before heading down to the restaurant. 

Let's talk about our room, seriously. I don't think I've ever had such an amazing view from a hotel room before. If you come to Edinburgh, the main attraction is obviously Edinburgh castle. It's just stunning to look at, so getting a room with a floor to ceiling window at the foot of the castle was just unreal. We also looked over the Grassmarket area which is a lovely little street of pubs and restaurants - a really pretty little part of Edinburgh with a real holiday feel about it (maybe that's just because I don't live there, but it definitely felt like it was somewhere special!). 

Our dinner in the hotel was fantastic. I was so impressed as in all honesty, I wasn't expecting much from a hotel restaurant on a DBB deal, but we had some really, really good food and the service was excellent. We both had haggis bon bons for a starter, steak for main, and then I had strawberry and shortcake ice-cream. They had a good kids menu too, although Oliver had already had his dinner before we left so he just had some garlic bread, some of my ice cream and then the waiter very kindly filled his bottle with milk before we headed up to the room. 

He had a bit of a late night, but luckily he had no problems going to sleep in our room for about 8.30/9.00pm. In fact, he was absolutely buzzing with excitement to be somewhere different. After running around in his nappy, turning all the lights on and off, and jumping on the bed, he went into his travel cot with no complaints and went to sleep while me and Andy chilled out and watched the telly. It was just so nice to have a lovely dinner, and hang out in a beautiful hotel room for a change of scenery. 

Our room was a 'family room' so actually had two big double beds in it, which was perfect when Oliver woke at 4am - Andy jumped into the other spare double and me and Oliver cuddled in until the morning. How much easier would life be if there was always a 'spare double?'.

Breakfast in the restaurant the next morning was lovely. It was a buffet of pasties, cereal and fruit and then you could order cooked foods like sausages, pancakes etc. We ate far too much, checked out of our room and started our adventure around Edinburgh. 

Our day was spent walking up to the castle, roaming around Princes Street Gardens, shopping and then going for lunch in a lovely little cafe (totally forgot to get the name of it). It was a beautiful day and, honestly, it's only been a few weeks and I am already looking back to nostalgically on that weekend. I'd love to do it all again and I definitely think we'll do more dinner, bed and breakfasts deals as a family in future. 

Here's the vlog - see how gorgeous our room was, and how unbelievably beautiful edinburgh is too!

Have any of you stayed in Edinburgh before?

Family Adventure to Loch Lomond & Trying out a Hybrid*

Sunday, 3 June 2018
Maisy Meow Scottish Lifestyle and Parenting Blogger

There’s nothing like sunshine to give you motivation to get out explore new places. Last weekend we had the most beautiful weather so Andy, Oliver and I decided to go on a little family adventure for the day. We packed up a picnic, a big blanket and our sun cream and set on our way to Loch Lomond for a day at the beach. Our trip was an extra exciting one too as we were test driving an electric car for the first time.

The team at Glasgow Audi in Hillington asked us to try out one of the hybrids in their range, the Audi A3 e-tron. I’ve never driven an electric car but I’ve always found the concept so interesting. It saves the environment, and the pennies, so it can only be a good thing! This hybrid car runs on electric in the first instance and when it runs out of charge, it’ll switch back to petrol. I do like the idea of having the petrol engine as a back-up. Lookers were a fantastic garage to deal with and took the time to show us around the car, how to move the seats and steering wheel so it’s as comfortable as possible and, since I’d never driven an automatic before, I even got a mini test drive with the salesman to make sure I knew how everything worked and felt confident.

Maisy Meow Scottish Lifestyle and Parenting Blogger

So with Oliver napping in our new fancy car, things were looking good for a trip to Loch Lomond. We usually go to an area called ‘Luss’ which is a gorgeous little town, with beautiful beaches and breath-taking views over the loch. On sunny days, it really does feel like being abroad with everyone sunbathing, jet-skiing and taking speed boat rides. I drove us there, and couldn’t believe how smooth it was to drive an electric car. It was completely silent – so much so, that I often wondered if the car was even on. Also, given that the car was automatic too, it just felt like such an easy drive. The car’s big boot was the perfect size for Oliver’s buggy and our ridiculously big supply of snacks – the perfect family car.

Maisy Meow Scottish Lifestyle and Parenting Blogger

We spent our afternoon on the perfect spot on Luss beach, on our picnic blanket, watching the boats and the jet skis and letting Oliver scream with every time a dog went past. We were so chilled – something I wasn’t expecting from a day out with a toddler. Oliver just loved watching what was going on around us. After our picnic, we went for a walk around Luss, took some photos (of course) then went for a drive again. This time we found a different beach by the Duck Bay hotel, with a huge grassy area for Oliver to run around before our drive home. If you’re looking for someone to take the family and you’re in the Glasgow area – Loch Lomond is full of hidden gems.

Maisy Meow Scottish Lifestyle and Parenting Blogger

Andy was itching to drive the car home. He’s always had a thing for nice cars and like me, wanted to see what it was like to drive a hybrid. He loved it too and we were pleasantly surprised when the car switched to petrol on the way back and was just as smooth to drive. There’s a handy little screen on the dashboard that tells you how much electric miles you have left and when you’ve switched to petrol. We talked about it on the way back and both agreed that we’d definitely consider a hybrid for our next car. The Audi A3 e-tron has totally converted us.

Maisy Meow Scottish Lifestyle and Parenting Blogger

We had such a lovely day at Loch Lomond and really enjoyed trying out the Audi A3 e-tron. Thanks to Glasgow Audi and their lovely customer service team for letting us have the car for the day and for giving us our first shot of a hybrid! The team are actually taking part in the #LookersEC4BEN challenge. BEN is a not-for-profit organisation that partners with the automotive industry to provide support for life to its peopleand their families. Lookers is supporting this charity by taking on the challenge of a 6 month long road trip across its dealerships form Ireland to Surrey between May and October 2018.You can follow The BEN group challenge and find out all about the hybrid vehicles available at this dealership over on the Lookers Facebook page , Lookers Twitter, and on their instagram page too. 

Have you any of you tried an electric of hybrid car before?

*This post is sponsored by Lookers Group

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