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#StayClassyMama 45

Hello and welcome to the #StayClassyMama linky.
Well, the summer seems to be slipping away from us. Our holiday is a dim and distant memory and we are now closer to going back to school than we are to when we were last in Scotland!
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Surviving my first holiday as a vegan

I was a little bit worried about how I would get on when we went away on holiday. Now I know Scotland is part of the UK, but I was concerned that I would struggle to find wheat free vegan food easily. We had purposely chosen to have a holiday cottage so that we could cook if necessary and I thought that I would put my health first and revert to vegetarianism during the day. Thankfully my fears were unfounded and I remained vegan throughout!
The majority of meals I relied on chain restaurants which offer a variety of vegan and wheat free food. Many smaller places did not have online menus so it was difficult to find out what options were available. I was delighted to discover a vegan soup and sweet treats at the Highland Folk  Museum and a veg chilli jacket potato at Adventure Planet and veg chilli with rice at our second hotel.

At the hotels I started the day with a hearty breakfast of hash browns and baked beans with grilled tomatoes.
In our glamping pod, I tried out these microwave meals. They were actually quite strange. Every mouthful was different as the flavours merged: sometimes the blend was a little unpleasant whereas others it was fab!

At our holiday home I enjoyed soup! These cans did not say they were vegan but the ingredients contained no animal based products so I used a bit of common sense and ate them. It is likely that they are made alongside milk and egg products which is why they cannot be labelled as vegan due to the risk of cross contamination (especially as it may impact on dairy allergies)

I confess we ate a good few McDonalds whilst away as we knew it was somewhere we could all eat. I love the vegan goujons (no bun or wrap).
Matthew states that his favourite restaurant is Ask Italian and my lentil ragu pasta was fab, just what we needed on out soggy day in Glasgow!

I’d seen that Bella Italia had  a new set of vegan and gluten free dishes and couldn’t choose! Luckily, Chris offered to share so we could try out new things together. I had the caramelised onion flatbread and non-meatballs. For the main course we had pasta in a plum sauce (interesting and tasty combination as I associated the flavour with Chinese not Italian) and a spicy Oumph pizza which wasn’t that spicy 🙁

I was a little worried about Chiquito. It used to be our favourite restaurant before I went  vegan but we hadn’t been yet this week. I had reached out to them recently to ask about their vegan menu which did  ot have any gluten free options. They advised me to speak to staff at the specific restaurant to disucuss options. I’m so glad I did.
I was a little taken aback when the server grabbed a chair and sat down at the table with us but he went through the menu and described how each ivegan item could be adjusted for me personally. What fab service! I enjoyed veg fajitas with vegan mayo and cheese and corn torillas.

Frankie and Benny’s is another chain that we have avoided due to the apparent lack of meals that were both vegan and gluten free.  However, by cordinating the menus I was able to enjoy potato skins and a veggie pizza.


On our final night we had a bit of a disaster when Ask Italian was full but instead we discovered a Midlands chain called Ego. I tried the vegan paella and it was soooo delicious


On the drinks front, I was very happy to see that the owners of the holidya cottage had provided 2 bottles of wine, both of which were suitable for vegans! On the final night I enjoyed an alcohol free cider: Kopparberg’s alcoholic version are not suitable for vegetarians or vegans (I was horrified to discover this and traumatised a fellow vegan by telling her as she was drinking it a few weeks later 🙁 ) but the alcohol free versions are great and I enjoyed the new blueberry flavour (it’s also gluten free)

Holiday 2019: heading south via Gretna Green and Carlisle

Gretna Green was our final place to visit in Scotland. World renowned for marriage elopement, I enjoyed the museum and the whole wedding atmosphere (a wedding party arrived and were getting ready in the car park while we were there).
I particularly loved the wedding dresses depicted fashion through the ages. The soppy part of me wshed we had gone a week later and renewed our vows on our first wedding anniversary!
Of course, the highlight for the children was the playground! Seriously, next year I think we will just do a tour of local playgrounds and not bother taking them away!
Back into England! Carlisle Castle is just over the border, only 20 minutes from Gretna. It boasts being the most beseiged castle in England due to many skirmishes with the Scots.
Carlisle Cathedral was a magnificent piece of architecture. The bright blue ceiling and stained glass were simply stunning.

We had a quick stop at Morecambe just to stretch our legs and admire the view across the bay.

Our dwelling for the night was Walsall Premier Inn. We headed to Lichfield in the lashing rain (it really was quite scary). We had promised Matthew an Ask Italian dinner but I had been unable to book and when we arrived there was no space. Instead we tried somewhere new: Ego. The meal was fabulous and transformed our soggy dinner disaster into a happy ending for our holiday.

Next morning we picked up Ollie and collapsed at home. Oh, and then started on the laundry…

Nanables: create your own tiny town – your world, your way!

Nanables are super cute and teeny tiny (anyone thinking stocking fillers already? if not, how about pocket money treats!)

The houses are all very pretty and unique as are the Nanos that live in them. My personal favourite was the Twinkle Twinkle Inn with its purple roof. Anya preferred the Sparkle Day Spa due to the unicorn design feature.

There are 12 houses in total to collect and they arrive in packaging which allows you to see which one you have got. We received 3 from Sweetness Town (candy/sweets theme) and 3 from Rainbow Way (rainbow colours theme). Each building comes with 2 Nanos, one visible inside the packaging and the other hidden underneath for a surprise!

Each house has a tiny viewing window which allows you to peek inside. This helps to inspire children’s imagination about Nano life and encourage interaction between the Nanos and their buildings.
All buildings feature at least 1 door and areas for the Nanos to play or relax relating to the building purpose, for example the inn has an outside table and chairs.

If you have an ipad or iphone then you can download an app which increases the exploration opportunities and expands the play potential.
Each Nanable building with 2 Nanos retails for £4.99 and is available from Smyths, Argos, Tesco, Amazon.

Keep up to date with the latest Nanables information via their website http://www.nanables.com/ and social media (links below)

*We received these Nanables for the purpose of the review