Crieff Hydro holiday August 2016

For as long as I can remember I've been abroad on holiday each year, however this time we decided not to!  After much deliberation we decided on Crieff Hydro in Scotland.  Quite a few people had recommended it and I'm so glad we went as it turned out to be one of the best holidays I've had.

I'm going to be writing this post from the perspective of someone using a mobility scooter as I borrowed one from a friend rather than taking my wheelchair.  I had spoken to them at the Hyrdo to discuss access and felt quite happy that it was all going to be ok.  I was looking forward to the independence that a scooter brings, rather than being pushed around in the wheelchair which isn't the most fun for any of us!

We were staying at a Premier Inn in Glasgow on the way up and I'd also spoken to them to request a room on the ground floor close to reception, which is what we got. We decided to stay over and travel up to Crieff the following day.  That way we wouldn't spend all day travelling and I get really uncomfortable sitting for any length of time, so it made more sense to break it up.  I nodded off for a while too so the journey didn't feel as long!!

It took four hours to get to Glasgow but that included a short stop and being stuck in traffic a while. I hate traffic!! The views were stunning though.

I'm so glad we decided to stay over as I was pretty shattered (the joys of having M.E), so after something to eat we got an early night. A friend of mine who lives close to the hotel came to join us for breakfast so that was a lovely start to the day. The drive to Crieff was only around an hour and then the holiday could begin!!

I had seen photos of it and read reviews but you never really know what it will be like until you're there.  It's a luxury family hotel with a huge array of things to do and my first impressions were good.  We found a disabled parking space near the front and then it was time to breathe in some Scottish air!  The reception area was lovely. We had arrived before the 2pm check in time and our room wasn't quite ready so we went for a wander. Other than the outdoor activity centre, everything is within the hotel so it was nice and very accessible for me.

Our room was great and there was plenty of room.  Despite it overlooking the back of the hotel where the delivery lorries arrive in the morning, we didn't have any problems with noise which I'd initially been a bit worried about.

We had booked the Freedom Dining package which gives adults £26 per day and children £10 to spend on food.  I hadn't expected it to cover all meals (full Scottish breakfast was included in the price prior to adding the dining package) but it did. There are several restaurants there and you can use any of them.  Some serve lighter snacks and others full meals, but even choosing a more expensive lunch still allowed plenty of allowance for the evening meal.  On the first night we went to the Piccolo Italian restaurant but it was apparently going to be quite awkward to get to on the scooter. One of the people who work there kindly took us down through the staff area and I didn't feel like it had been a burden to them either for having to take us! I hadn't been feeling too well prior to going for dinner (wiped out to the max!) and had been a bit upset, so the fact they'd made it less stressful for us helped and we had a really nice meal.

Other than the Winter Garden which serves sandwiches and soup, they are all waiter service. Usually when we have been abroad it has been all inclusive or self service buffet style, so having someone taking your order and bringing the food to the table made it feel more relaxed.  The food was also really high standard and lots of choice.  The Meikle has a set menu and is the more luxury restaurant there. Our meal was delicious and such a relaxing atmosphere.  One thing I do recommend though is booking restaurants for the evening in advance as apparently they get fully booked so it is difficult to get in otherwise.

We asked how much we had left to spend on our last night and it was almost £100 so we splashed out! Three courses and some of the most expensive stuff on the menu later, we still had allowance leftover so we bought sandwiches and cakes for the journey home the following day!!

You had to pay for drinks but that's totally expected and I don't drink much anyway (alcohol wise!). You could also use the allowance for snacks during the day including cakes and ice cream as well as hot drinks.  They have an extensive coctktail menu too as well as a few mocktails which went down well with little Miss!

Each day there was an activity timetable with different things going on for different ages. Garden games went down well and they had a mini Sports day which Little Miss loved as she had missed her school one due to being poorly! They had a drawing class with their resident charicature artist Pedro and another day there was a Ceilidh dance class as well as a petting zoo for the kids which was great.

This was alongside the various things you could do outdoors on the hotel site. Pitch and Putt, boules, mini golf to name a few.

The activity centre has 60 activities on offer. I didn't do anything (I opted for the spa instead!) but my hubby did archery and my little Miss did quad pods, water bubbles (which are like giant hamster balls) and the longest, highest zipwire I've ever seen. Glad she doesn't take after me in the bravery stakes! They also did Woodland Combat which was similar to paintballing but with laser guns.

The activity centre is a few minutes drive from the main hotel and the ground was fine for the scooter for a bit but wouldn't have been ideal had I wanted to go very far. Fortunately for me it was drizzling so I opted to go and have a hot chocolate in the Clubhouse whilst watching my crazy girl on the zipwire from the window!

I made sure I rested in the room during the day a few times (which is essential when you have M.E, for me anyway) but I generally felt really relaxed the whole time. Some of our Scottish friends came to stay for a night which was lovely as we've not seen them for a few years. My friend and I spent a really chilled few hours at the spa, which at £10 for 3 hours was well worth it! Again a member of staff took us down to the spa as it would have been too tricky otherwise.

They have a fantastic children's club there called Big Country and you get two free 3 hour sessions per day if you want to use it.  I had seen reviews and people had said how good it was.  We had booked little Miss in for some sessions but thought if it wasn't that good or she didn't enjoy it we wouldn't use it much. However, it was brilliant!  They have a really secure system in place so it would be impossible for someone else to collect your child. You get given a card and cannot take the child out unless you produce it. Each card has a unique number and you have to sign two sheets for them to be released!  They do various activities with them and all staff are fully trained as well as DRB checked.

They have a high tea for children which they can have before the kids' club so a couple of evenings we ate on our own while she was there.  Making friends and having fun.. what more could a child want whilst on holiday?! Having the scooter meant I could take or collect her which we both enjoyed as I usually miss out on stuff like that so it was nice.

They had some sort of entertainment in the evenings whether it was a band, ceilidh dancing or a magic show. Little Miss loved the dancing and even managed to convince her daddy to get up and dance with her (which I think he secretly enjoyed!!).

There is something for everyone at Crieff Hydro and it can be as chilled or as action packed as you want. Usually when it's time to leave a holiday I feel ready to go home but I could have happily stayed longer.  The post holiday blues kicked in not long after we got back and we started looking at when we may be able to return.  We decided to have a look for around my birthday and managed to get a good price so we booked it!!  Another 5 nights of luxury to look forward to.  I can't wait.

I would like to thank everyone at the Hyrdo for making it such a lovely holiday.  It's a fantastic family friendly place in beautiful surroundings. Even when it rained, it didn't bother me as there was still lots to do or it was as nice to just sit and chill with a cuppa and some cake! Their staff are a credit to them and I actually spoke to one of the managers before we left to pass on our thanks and to say how impressed we had been.  She was grateful for my comments and it felt nice being able to praise rather than complain which so many people do these days.  Can't recommend it enough!  Currently counting down the months until we are back...



Smile for ME

I've talked about Smile for ME before and if you have read my posts for a while, you will know that they are the charity I raised money for earlier this year during M.E Awareness week.  Previous post about it is here if you want a look :-)

They send happy parcels to M.E sufferers and carers who have been nominated by someone. I have nominated a few people previously and the thought that any money I raised whilst fundraising could help to put a smile on people's faces made me so so happy.

However, what I was not expecting was to be on the receiving end of a Smile parcel!  At the beginning of August I was pretty lost for words when I got one. My sister had nominated me... talk about emotional!!  I cried as soon as I saw the Smile for ME sticker on the box.  When I opened it, I was overwhelmed with how it was all so beautifully wrapped.

The gifts were so thoughtful and absolutely perfect for me.  It all turned me into a bit of an emotional wreck if I'm honest!

The lovely things I received were a personalised trinket box, a vintage style teacup candle, a pineapple (yay!!) candle, a gorgeous framed print, some knitted bunting which was made by another sufferer Jenny and some chocolate smiles. Absolutely amazing!

I think they are such a fantastic charity to support and having now been on the other side of what they do, I can't thank them enough.  It is run by Alice and Gracie who are both poorly themselves.  The fact they do it to cheer up others whilst both not being well is testament to how amazing they are.  They rely on donations so if you wanted to support them and make a donation, you can do so via THIS LINK.

Being poorly with chronic illness is really no fun at all and something like this can make such a huge difference.  A lot of people can be very lonely and don't have much good stuff going on, so to receive a parcel of gorgeous goodies can literally make that person's day/week/year.

Thank you for reading!

Hugs and sparkle,



Mila and Pheebs craft subscription box for children

So as you probably already know if you read my blog, I love a subscription box!!

Imagine my delight when I discovered Mila and Pheebs* who do monthly themed craft boxes for children. Their boxes are full of stationery, activities and fun things to do. They are delivered directly through the letterbox so no worrying if you're not in when the post comes! Subscriptions are available for 3, 6 & 12 months, or on a rolling monthly basis. Or alternatively you can buy a one off box for £9.99 including UK postage. They are perfect for any craft loving child and also work well as a gift.

I was very lucky to be chosen as brand rep for Mila and Pheebs and they kindly sent my little Miss the August box, which was Somewhere over the Rainbow themed.  I was pretty excited to receive it, especially when I saw a sneak peek of rainbows and unicorns on their social media.  I had visions of having to fight her for it!!  As you will also know if you read my posts, due to my chronic illness we do a lot of craft stuff together so the box is perfect for us.

When it arrived she wasn't actually in so I left it on her bed, which just happens to have rainbow and unicorn bedding on.  Totally meant to be!

When she got home and saw it, I'm not sure who was more giddy.. she was delighted at having a parcel addressed to her and I was bursting with anticipation about what was inside!  It definitely did not disappoint.  The first thing I saw was lots of colour and sparkle. Hurrah!

It was packed full of things which all had rainbows or unicorns on.  My daughter has inherited my love for such stuff, so it went down very well.

She wanted to start doing stuff immediately!! Despite it being almost bedtime, she took everything out and was very impressed.  She agreed to do the wordsearch and said she would play with the rest in the morning!

The contents of the box were:

Colouring-in sheets
Rainbow felt-by numbers kit
Neon rainbow crayon
Rainbow crayon pencil
Unicorn pencil
Rainbow mosaic kit
Unicorn notepad
Rainbow paperclip
Collectible Iwako Unicorn Eraser
Heart rainbow stickers
Cloud embossed greeting card

The stuff has really kept her (us!) occupied.  She took one of the colouring sheets and the rainbow pencil out when we went for my friend's birthday afternoon tea and it kept her busy.

The following day she did the rainbow mosaic which had a magnet to attach to it, so it's now proudly displayed on the fridge.

We did the felt by numbers kit together yesterday.  I did the cutting and she did the sticking. I think she did a fab job of it!

Once she had finished she asked if we could cut it out and then proceeded to find another magnet so she could put it on the fridge alongside the other one!

She has really enjoyed everything in the box and has used it all.  You can never have enough pencils or notepads so they went down very well.  She loves the little unicorn eraser too, as she already has one in a different colour so has been loving playing with them!

I absolutely recommend Mila and Pheebs.  I think their boxes are a brilliant idea for children.
Previous box themes have included Woodland, Sweet Treat and Beside the Seaside.  For more information about subscribing follow this link.  Monthly boxes cost £9.99 (including UK postage), 3 monthly work out at £9.66 per box and 6 monthly £8.83.

Feel free to ask me any questions regarding them and let me know if you decide to get a box!



Crown and Glory Glitterati unboxing August 2016. Second anniversary box!

This box was an exciting one (but they all are!) as it was going to be the second anniversary of the Crown & Glory Glitterati. There had been a poll on the group and whichever got the most votes was going to be the theme of the box.

Say hello to the Sakura season box!

There were a couple of prints in the box which I absolutely love. One was for the new style zine which I really like and the other is for an a Instagram 31 day challenge which is running at the moment as part of the birthday celebrations. They are already up on my wall!

The box contents looked like this (and made me squeal a bit with excitement!)...

An exclusive Cherry Blossom crown which came in a variety of colours but I love the one I got

A Blossom bobby pin set

The Sakura hair clip duo (in either silver or gold)

A new monthly thing called the Hair Flair club which is in collab with a different artist or illustrator 

Such a gorgeous box and we also got some confetti hearts and a balloon for the last day of the Instagram challenge! If you want to follow me on there it's @alulabelle3 :-) 

As usual someone else agreed how nice the box was!! 

Happy birthday Glitterati! Thank you Sophie and Gareth for creating such a brilliant thing and for being the reason for so many friendships being born. I not only love the hair accessories but I love everyone who's a part of it too.. it's like being in the best gang of sparkly people who provide the best support. But that's enough of the soppy, off to try on my new things now :-)


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