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Since I became a mammy, I have tried to find lots of fun activities, days out, events and holidays for my family. I love being busy and visiting new places and I hope you will enjoy reading them. My blog is jam packed with reviews of places we have been, maybe I get help you with a little inspiration.  We are lucky enough to travel quite a bit so the blog features lots of places in the North East and beyond.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Christmas Time in Edinburgh

Since having babies, Christmas has been focused on them, this year, my best friends and I decided to treat ourselves and having been pre-kids we decided that Edinburgh would be the spot.  We booked the trains more or less as soon as the fares were published (you can register on the website for an email reminder when your travel dates are released).  We went for an early-ish train departing Newcastle Central Station at 07.45 and back on the 18:30 to get a good full day out.

After nearly missing the train! yikes! we finally settled down in our seats and cracked open the goodies.




Nice early arrival into Waverley meant that we got to sample the market before it properly opened and the hordes descended.  The only downside being that the mulled wine/cider etc was not being served yet.  The markets have been going for 20 years and start end of November then generally run through to the first weekend in January.  They are set up in the middle of Princes Street and they are all set up in gorgeous wooden cottage/huts.  So festive and beautifully decorated.  The first thing we noticed was the glorious food smells wafting about! mmmmm!! If you could bottle Christmas to sell as a perfume, this would be perfect. We had a good browse of all the stalls and Domonique also performed a bit of haggling to get us some lovely little snow globes for the girls.






It was the perfect time to have a look around as it was really quiet, by the time we had made our way through the whole market it was starting to get quite busy.  There were lots of stalls selling all sorts of goodies, wooden toys, christmas decorations, handmade bits and bobs and tons and tons of food stalls.  To be honest though, the stalls were generally repeated quite a lot so although there were many of them, they were selling a lot of the same stuff, not a problem though as it enabled a bit of price negotiation!!

We reached the end of the market and our thoughts turned to food!! We had previously been told about The Dome and that they served a delicious Afternoon Tea so that was us sold although we had some time to kill to popped into nearby Jenners to check out their Christmas Tree.  I am glad we did so, it was huge, pretty much floor to ceiling, absolutely gorgeous. We picked up a couple of tree decorations and then made our way to The Dome.



The outside of The Dome was breathtaking and there was even real snow to our amazement! Totally festive feel.  We arrived about 11.30 ish I think and there was already a queue, word has clearly got around.  Listening to people in the queue, it seems to be somewhat of a local tradition to have tea at The Dome at Christmas, one we were only to glad to join in on.  There was a doorman on the front to direct people (and to stop queue jumpers!) and he directed us in and up the stairs.  Once we got inside, all I can say is wow!! It was breathtaking! The decorations were just beautiful and the smell of cinnamon amazing!



The tea room was upstairs and after a short wait we were shown to our table and given menus. We already knew what we wanted, afternoon tea x 5!!! Well, actually as it was £25 for two people we ordered 6 and split the extra! greedy but it was Christmas!

                                       

The food was devine, the sandwiches gorgeous, the scones delicious and crumbly and the cakes, well, we ran out of room and our server kindly boxed them up for us to takeaway.  It was a truly festive experience in beautiful surroundings and we would not hesitate to visit again.

Now, any trip to Edinburgh would not be complete without popping into Harvey Nicks and we did just that. Had a wonder at the Jimmy Choo's in the shoe department and a giggle at the daft things in the Food department.


As the weather had now decided to take a turn for the worst, the only thing for it was to spend the reminder of our time perusing the various drinking establishments around Rose Street, what a delightful way to spend a rainy and windy afternoon with lovely friends.

We had a gorgeous fun filled festive time in Edinburgh and would highly recommend a visit.

A Harrods Santa Adventure

Last year we visited London for the first time and my mission to see a lovely Santa Claus had been set.  I did a LOT of research, one very well known stores (not mentioning any names) was charging £45! and that did not include photographs, you had to pay extra for those! Crazy money! I looked at Harrods expecting the worst, but it turned out to be the very best option! Who would have thought! To see Santa, you need to join their free Harrods Reward Scheme which works just like Boots and Tesco's cards, each time you spend points are loaded onto the card.  You then pay a £10 admin fee, but and here is the amazing thing! that £10 is loaded onto your Rewards card so after you visit Santa you then can spend the £10 instore, fantastic (although we did spend quite a bit more than £10!). You book a time and date to suit and they email you confirmation, job done.  Last year I had discovered this a bit too late and the slots for the dates we were in London were full.  I decided to chance it and emailed them explaining that we were travelling from Newcastle etc and lo and behold, a couple of days later they phoned to offer Eva a space! Fabulous! Anyway enough waffling and on we go to this years visit.




Our allocated slot was on the Sunday at 12.30 and we arrived at the store for a browse about half an hour early. They set up a Disney Store surrounding the Grotto early in November and it is any little girls dream (some of these pictures are last years, we had a camera incident!)
             

As you can imagine, this is a little girls paradise, Eva was allowed to choose a couple of things for an early birthday present off Nana, the prices are more or less the same as in the normal Disney Store although the range is limited to more of the expensive items.  She chose an Elsa doll from the film Frozen and a singing Sofia the First doll.

Onto more pressing matters, our appointment with the big man was drawing nearer so we went to the desk where we were greeted by very friendly staff and a couple of elves.  We were then shown into the library and met a lovely Butler by the name of Goodwill! He handed Eva a passport and told her to collect stamps from everyone she meets and she would then be given a gift from Santa.  We made our way through the library and I have to say we had picked the perfect time to go as apart from one or two other families, we were the only ones in there! We met some very colourful characters on our journey, some jolly elves and even the Sugar Plum Fairy! My daughter is very shy but they all took lots of time with her to chat and make her laugh, they were all wonderful and the costumes were fantastic!



We finally reached the door to Santa's room and the funny elf took her name and led us through the magic door.  Upon entering Santa's room he greeted her instantly by name! She was amazed!  Santa was just gorgeous, everything you expect him to be, kind and jolly and had lots and lots of time to spend with Eva asking about not just what she would like for Christmas but lots of other things too.  She told him about her little brother and had some beautiful photographs taken.  She got her final stamp in her passport too from Santa.


Time for gifts! She got a lovely little story book about Henry who was a forgotten Harrods delivery van from long ago, that was until Santa found him and needed his help.  She also got a badge and a chocolate, lovely Santa also gave us a set for Luca which was very kind indeed.  Absolutely enchanting.

Once we had said goodbye to Santa we went out into the library corridor to find our way back into the store to pick up our photographs and a few more treats for those we had left at home!

The entire experience from start to finish was just magical, they have worked so hard on details (and many improvements from last year) to make it an experience not to be forgotten.  I have to admit to being a little tearful watching her little face as we went on our little journey.  If you get the chance, do go, its wonderful.





Gifts from Santa Claus