I’m always looking for something a little bit different to do in Scotland, but I’m not what you’d call the ‘outdoorsy’ type.

It’s not that I’m fussy, it’s just that, well, I suppose I like some luxury and a glass of fizz. Nothing wrong with that!

When I got an invite to a luxury food tour from Laura at Glasglow Girls Club, complete with bubbly, I was already planning my outfit and not just for style. What was the stretchiest thing I owned so I could eat all the food?

TASTING SCOTLAND TOUR

The Tasting Scotland ‘Seafood and more in a day’ tour has been developed specifically by Tasting Scotland director Brenda Anderson, who is also the World Food Travel Association Ambassador forScotland to celebrate the Food Is Great celebration across the UK and Northern Ireland.

The one-day gastro and cultural luxury tour will take place every Wednesday from now on, starting out in Glasgow. We met at the Millennium Hotel on George Square. Luckily, we picked a hot and sunny day to head on the tour with not a cloud in the sky. Bliss!

 

LUSS SEAFOOD BAR

All aboard the Mercedes mini bus, my fellow foodies for the day and I headed off in the sunshine to our first destination: Luss. The tour has been created to give a VIP insight on smoked salmon, with the Luss Smokehouse producing all their own smoked salmon, trout, mussels and more.

The Luss Seafood Bar was a perfect setting to try some of the smoked produce. Welcomed with a refreshing elderflower cordial, the table was set with platters of delicious seafood. With the sun shining down on the pretty patio outside, it felt like holiday!

All of the produce is from the Luss Smokehouse, located mere seconds from the seafood bar, so it was amazing to eat so much incredibly fresh seafood. Surprising to me, one of my favourites was the smoked trout – something I don’t think I’d ever have tried!

Everyone loved the food so much that we were all pretty happy to hear the news that the smokehouse have opened their first shop, giving you the chance to buy the fresh produce to enjoy at home. Brenda, who is honestly the most knowledgeable food person I have ever met, was a pro throughout, right down to her preparing a cool bag for anyone who bought anything from the shop. We should all be a bit more Brenda.

 

LOCH FYNE OYSTER BAR

Anyway, raiding the contents of the shop complete, we were back on our bus and off to Loch Fyne. Of course, we couldn’t resist a quick stop in the glorious weather at the famous Rest and Be Thankful spot. Seeing Scotland look so beautiful, I felt a bit guilty that I’d never came to this part of the country. It really goes to show tours like this are great not only for visitors to Scotland, but also to let you be a tourist in your own country too.

Feeling like we were on a mini version of Coach Trip (which I’ve just realised is even more fitting as Coach Trip has Brendan and we have the fabulous Brenda), we arrived at the world renowned picturesque Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, overlooking the magnificent Loch Fyne.

With glass of fizz in hand, we enjoyed the views out over one of Scotland’s beautiful lochs before indulging in even more delicious seafood. From the perfect scallops right through to the gin-infused salmon, it really was the lunch of dreams.

 

INVERARAY CASTLE

The last stop on our tour was Inveraray Castle, the magnificent home and gardens of the current Duke and Duchess of Argyll. The castle is like something out a fairy tale and it was so interesting to hear the history behind the castle.

If my pictures of the castle tour look a little familiar, you may recognise the setting from Downtown Abbey’s fictional Duneagle Castle in the 2012 Christmas episode! Some of my other favourite discoveries of the historic location was the grand piano in the Salon, which had a framed picture of Audrey Hepburn on top. It turns out that very piano was where Lerner and Loewe composed many of the songs for musical My Fair Lady, whilst staying there as guests of the Duke.

Finishing the tour in the beautiful gardens was something I’ll remember forever. The lovely Duke and Duchess managed to join us whilst we ate scones with clotted cream and jam and sipped on some more bubbly. How all good days should end!

Suitably cultured for the day, it was back to Glasgow. I feel we ticked off so much from 9am until 5pm – a great activity for a Scottish summer holiday. I want to do this every Wednesday, please!

WATCH MY VIDEO OF THE DAY

Want to book your own tour? You can contact Tasting Scotland via their website here.

This is not a sponsored post, but I received the tour complimentary.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll probably have noticed I tend to visit Newcastle a few times per year.

My boyfriend, Brian, is a Newcastle football fan so, when we can, we take a trip for the weekend. He gets to go to the game, I get to go shopping – win/win!

I thought I’d share some of our favourite picks if, like us, you and your other half fancy a night away to Newcastle and don’t know where to begin.

Disclaimer: if you’re looking for a party-filled, big night out in Newcastle sorta inspiration – soz, but you’re on the wrong post. Insert old lady emoji here as I’m officially a bit boring these days!

// WHERE TO STAY IN NEWCASTLE //

We’ve tried a few different hotels in Newcastle, including the Crowne Plaze, Hampton by Hilton and Sandman Signature. This trip, we returned to Hotel Indigo.

HOTEL INDIGO NEWCASTLE

We stayed in Hotel Indigo Newcastle in January too and loved the modern rooms, friendly staff, but mostly we loved the location.

Just a few minute’s walk from the train station, you’re also central to the city centre, perfect if you fancy some shopping and cocktails.

We stayed in an Executive King room for a very reasonable £90 per night. I also totally recommend adding on the breakfast. I’m a bit judgy when it comes to hotel breakfasts, but the breakfast at Hotel Indigo is really good.

Oh and, if you would prefer to dine in for dinner too, the hotel is also home to the Marco Pierre White restaurant. No mediocre hotel food over here!

// WHERE TO EAT + DRINK IN NEWCASTLE //

As I say, I’m not giving any suggestions for any big night out spots, but we’ve found a few faves if you fancy a nice drink and good food. This trip, we had two stand out places, but we’ve went to Miller & Carter Newcastle a lot too.

THE BOTANIST

Right in the city centre, The Botanist Newcastle is an Instagram-worthy spot for lunch and cocktails. The main bar is lovely to sit and enjoy some of their extensive cocktail offerings or, if you get a nice day like we did, there’s also a rooftop bar, with views over Newcastle.

Book in advance if you plan to go here for food, especially if you’re visiting on the weekend as it’s always really busy.

GUSTO

I’ve went to Gusto in Glasgow many times and was always impressed so we decided to book Gusto Newcastle, which is down the Quayside. I booked online and, because I’m a dining club member, I got 20% off the food on the Friday night, but there’s 40% off food at other times during the week.

The service, food and atmosphere were good. I’m all one for the vibe of somewhere when deciding if I liked it and I’m glad to say I did!

// WHERE TO SHOP IN NEWCASTLE //

Now, when you mention shopping in Newcastle, people will probably say ‘oh, Metro Centre!’. I have nothing against Metro Centre, but actually I’ve found I prefer shopping in the city centre and it’s a bit less hassle than having to travel out to Metro (yes, I’m really that lazy).

The only (heartbreaking) thing is that there is no Zara in the city centre! I know, how cruel. Apart from that, though, pretty much all the shops you’d expect are at Metro and in the city centre.

One of my must-stop shops is Fenwick’s, the department store. It has a great mix of designers and I don’t think I’ve ever left without buying something from there! Personal highlights of the store are the jewellery department (Estella Bartlett and Ophelia), Calvin Klein (where I got my favourite CK sweatshirt), the entire handbag department and there’s also a gorge new gift/stationery section on the ground floor, with Kate Spade and Katie Loxton type things.

intu Eldon Square is the main shopping centre in the city centre (it’s where Fenwick’s is too) and it has a great sized Topshop, River Island and New Look.

THE FOOTBALL

Of course, I couldn’t finish the short round-up without mentioning the reason Brian took me to Newcastle in the first place: the football!

I’m not the biggest football fan (understatement of the year/decade), but I had come to enjoy going to the football – especially as you can enjoy a wee wine at half time!

Football is a big part of Newcastle, with St James’ Park stadium located in the city centre, so I’d really recommend going to a game if you can.

We’ve done the stadium tour too, which even I quite enjoyed – just don’t tell Brian I admitted it!

Are there any places in Newcastle you would recommend? I’d love to hear!

 

For me, it doesn’t get much better than sitting down, having a nice chilled glass of bubbly/gin/wine and eating delicious food while catching up with your nearest and dearest.

I’m from a family of serious food lovers. Saturdays when I was younger were usually spent around my Gran’s dining table, with enough food to feed a small army (although, with the amount of cousins, aunts and uncles I have, it probably wasn’t far off a small army).

LOVE FOOD FEEL GOOD

I just so enjoy the social aspect of dining together so I was all about Lido in Troon’s new #LoveFoodFeelGood campaign and gladly accepted the invite for an evening of food and gin. I know, I know: it’s a hard life sometimes.

Lido is part of the Buzzworks Holdings group (which includes the also famous Scott’s restaurant, fyi) and as soon as we arrived, I already loved the gorge decor and contemporary but welcoming feel to restaurant. I’m all about the right interiors and those floor tiles + plush velvet are 100% my kinda vibe.

LET THE NIGHT BE-GIN

First thing’s first: a wee gin. Being besties with that of a somewhat gin connoisseur (seriously, don’t come between Victoria Martin and her gin), I knew we were on to a good thing when she approved of the garnishes and the actual gin itself. The Edinburgh Gin Company are Lido’s gin of choice and I opted first for the Pomegranate & Rose gin. Yum!

After some obligatory boomerangs of our gins, it was time for the food. Before we even started on courses, it was all about the canapes which included scallops wrapped in parma ham and mushroom and truffle arancini. Like a miracle little plate of all my favourites.

NUT A PROBLEM

Before my first bite, though, I knew I had to be sensible. You see, although I’m not a fussy eater in the slightest, my food allergies kinda make it hard to truly enjoy food when I’m out without worrying a nut based oil or lentil has sneaked in. A nut allergy is seen as fairly normal, but I’m also allergic to all legumes/pulses (that’s peas, green beans, lentils…I won’t bore you with any more).

As any allergy sufferer probably knows when they mention an allergy, you’re often given some rubbish alternative (fruit as a starter AND a dessert at a wedding, anyone?) or told they can’t be sure the ingredient that could, y’know, kill you hasn’t been used so you can imagine how delighted I was that the Lido team knew what was in every dish and even made me the exact same (seriously delish) tortellini as everyone else, just without the nuts. It made such a difference being able to enjoy each course with absolute peace of mind.

FOOD HEAVEN

Anyway, allergy support group vibes aside, the food itself was absolutely phenomenal. Usually, I’ll have one or two highlights, but I can honestly say each and every dish was a highlight in its own right. Meeting head chef on the night, his passion for food and creating the perfect menu.

Starters included beef carpaccio with pecorino shavings, truffle oil and fresh rocket, duck ragu and the most amazing pumpkin tortellini.

Then we indulged in some sharing planks, including antipasto platters and planks of mozzarella, basil and tomato. Perfect to share alongside some cocktails.

For mains, it really was a Mediterranean feast, with the likes of king prawn and crab spaghetti, butternut squash risotto and even a whole baked seabass with roasted red peppers, tomatoes and potatoes.

We also had a pasta making demo, with all of Lido’s pasta made on-site. Who knew pasta was such an art?

DESSERT ISLAND

Finishing the evening was a platter of the most indulgent desserts. Although I had to miss out on the Nutella cheesecake (critically acclaimed by the entire table as the best thing ever), everything else I tried was simply spectacular.

Before we left, I couldn’t resist getting one of the Buzzworks benefit cards too. You can sign up for your own card and, every time you enjoy some food or a (non alcoholic) drink at one of the venues, you’ll earn  4 points for every £1 spent. You also get invites to exclusive events and all the offers and promotions.

We’ve already planned our return visit for the sunnier months. A walk along the beach followed by a feast of food and gin at Lido? Hurry up please, summer!

WHAT I WORE

I was so excited to wear my new Zara cardigan – and even more pleased it gave me extra room to indulge in all the food. Not entirely sure that’s what the Zara gods created it for, but it’s a win all round.

This is not a sponsored post, but contains gifted meals/drinks in this review.

 

 

 

 

If you read my most recent spring style post, you’ll know I recently embraced the spring vibes, taking part in an Easter style challenge with St Enoch Centre.

My second challenge was to find the perfect piece for a gorgeous spring day. It made me think about all the things I associate with the season. Here’s 5 ways I like to enjoy the spring time.

1 // UPDATE YOUR WARDROBE

My Easter style challenge helped give my wardrobe a little spring TLC, with my challenge pointing me in the direction of Dorothy Perkins in St Enoch Centre.

I chose this white embroidered top as it’s the perfect spring day look, with the very on-trend sleeves and gorgeous detailing, plus it was only £28.

It’s such a nice look with jeans and my new studded boots from Lavish Luxe and would be ideal to wear when going for some spring cocktails!

2 // SPRING CLEAN YOUR MAKEUP BAG

If you read my post on my makeup bag refresh, you’ll know I like to use the new season to clean up my makeup bag and its products. Check your products are all still in date (it should tell you how long to use the product for after opening on the packaging) and clear out anything you know isn’t going to be used for spring.

3 // GO FOR A WALK

It might seem simple, but with the lighter nights and (hopefully) sunnier days, I love to really enjoy the start of the season by going a good walk. A Saturday morning walk with Brian and Kass really sets me up for the day and has my mind feeling refreshed.

4 // MAKE A HEALTHY MEAL

I don’t think I’m the only one who comfort eats during the dark and cold winter – I have such a ‘treat yourself!’ mentality when I’m feeling a bit crap in the winter months.

Come spring, I’m ready to get back on track and make some nice light and healthy dishes, like chicken and feta salad. Adding a chilled glass of wine to the set up might not be as healthy, but life’s all about balance and all that…

5 // HAVE A COFFEE IN THE SUNSHINE

The temperature outside might not be quite al fresco dining standards just yet so, at this time of year, I always make sure to go to places with plenty of natural light so you can enjoy the spring sunshine from the indoors if it’s too cold to sit outside just yet.

My Easter style challenge began in Kimble’s, located within St Enoch Centre, and it’s a really bright and airy space which lends itself as the perfect spot to enjoy the brighter days with a coffee, while still staying indoors.

So, there we have it! 5 ways I like to enjoy the springtime season. Let me know your tips on embracing spring!

This post is not sponsored, but contains gifted product from St Enoch Centre.

G R O U N D B R E A K I N G  S T Y L E

Whenever I buy any sort of floral at this time of year, I can’t help but hear the famous line from The Devil Wears Prada.

“Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking.”

Miranda’s judgement aside, nothing really says ‘spring’ quite as much as a good ole’ floral print. Hopefully the fashion gods will forgive my predictability.

B L O O M I N G  B E A U T I F U L

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll probably have seen my Easter style challenge with St Enoch Centre with my BTS Insta Story and #ShopStEnoch. The Glasgow shopping centre challenged me with three style tasks: a challenge I knew I was just made for.

First stop was Debenhams in St Enoch Centre, where spring has totally sprung. I noticed some really nice new ‘young fashion’ brands, which I had no idea they stocked, with plenty of pastels and spring day outfit inspo.

S A Y  I T  L I K E  S P R I N G

My challenge in Debenhams was to find the ultimate clothing item that said ‘spring’. After much trying on, I whittled it down to two Girls On Film by Little Mistress dresses, with this red ditsy floral design being crowned my spring winner.

I loved the other lace style, but knew I’d get more wear out the floral one as it’s the perfect style to dress down for day or dress up for night. Plus, it looks so much more expensive than it’s £24 price tag! This is the size 8 and it’s pretty true to size.

A suede shoe boot, a good hat and a denim jacket and you’ll be good to go! Mission one: complete.

What do you think? Will you be wearing florals for spring?

This is not a sponsored post, but contains some gifted product.

If you’re a crazy dog lady like me, you’ll probably have Googled ‘dog friendly accommodation in Scotland’ in the hopes of finding the perfect staycation for you and your four legged friend.

I couldn’t find anything that felt just right, though, so I asked the lovely people of Instagram for recommendations and one of my old uni friends suggested Balmeadowside Lodges.

BALMEADOWSIDE LODGES

We decided to go away for Brian’s birthday, booking the one-bedroom Fox lodge. I didn’t realise until we were there that these one-bedroom lodges are actually brand new, with bookings only starting from last month.

Balmeadowside isn’t new as a whole, however, with Solid Luxury (who also have plenty other locations in Scotland) experts in dog-friendly stays in Scotland.

Near Cupar, the lodges are located on a working farm and have the most gorgeous views. We were so lucky with the weather and  even managed to have breakfast on the balcony overlooking the amazing hills.

DOG FRIENDLY DINING

Although we took plenty of food to make in the self-catering lodge, we decided to take a trip to St Andrews, which is only around a 25 minute drive away.

After a run around with Kassie on the glorious beach, we started to look for a dog-friendly cafe in St Andrews and luckily came across Bibi’s Cafe. The team were lovely and Kass enjoyed a chill out and some water!

There were loads of other dog-friendly cafes and restaurants near Balmeadowside too, with a really helpful folder of suggestions left by the Solid Luxury team, along with tips on other activities and walks.

We’ve already decided we’ll go back later in the year and try out some of the recommendations.

WATCH MY VIDEO

See more from our trip in my latest video here – starring Kassie, the best little lab there ever has been (I may be a tad biased, though).