An Escape from the City with Argyll Holidays

argyll holidays I love living in the city – it’s a massive part of the way I go about my day to day life and I couldn’t imagine living any other way right now. The energy, the sights and even (at times!) the sounds of city life are exciting – especially in a place like Glasgow, where there’s never a dull moment!

Spending most of my time in the hustle and bustle means that I place a lot of value in being able to find somewhere that is truly relaxing, where I can unwind and enjoy some quiet downtime. if you’ve been reading here a while you’ll know by now that I’m a huge believer in investing time in yourself to avoid burning out! It had been a particularly busy few months when I was invited by Argyll Holidays to spend a long weekend in the Scottish countryside – talk about amazing timing – with a couple of my best blogger buddies.

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No distractions, no noise. Just fresh air, beautiful scenery and good company. Oh, and a hot tub! It sounded like a little slice of heaven, and I was practically throwing my pyjamas in a bag before I hit ‘reply’!

So, a few weekends ago, I hit the road with Ayden and Lori and headed out to Hunter’s Quay in Dunoon – only an hour’s drive plus a short ferry ride from Glasgow. Armed with face masks, 90s playlists (c’est la vie!) and enough snacks to feed a children’s birthday party (trust me, the phrase “ooh, I guess since we’re on holiday…” was used a LOT over the few days!), it wasn’t too long before we were driving up through the hills and ready to check in.

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Hunter’s Quay is one of Argyll Holidays’ award-winning sites, located on the banks of the Holy Loch. We hopped out of Ayden’s swish new car and into our Oak Premier Hot Tub Lodge, which was bright and spacious with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and (of course!) a private deck with our own hot tub!

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All of the bedrooms were kitted out with comfy beds, flatscreen TV’s and plenty of storage space. We ended up taking a room each, though if we had wanted to share it wouldn’t have been a tight squeeze. The living, dining and kitchen space was open plan and fitted with everything you need for a weekend away.

At night, we ate, talked, relaxed, hot-tubbed and enjoyed the lodge before getting in a good night’s sleep. It might have been the clean, country air, or it might have been the fact that it was SILENT outside, but I got the best sleep I’d had in ages! I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to go and explore with the girls.

But first, it was time for breakfast. And coffee. With my cup in my hand I slid open the living room door and walked out onto the wraparound balcony to take in our view…

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I could get used to seeing that every morning!

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We decided to go to nearby Inveraray and Loch Fyne, in search of local produce which we found in abundance! Loch Fyne’s deli was packed with the most delicious-looking food and surrounded by stunning scenery. We picked up some nibbles for the car and continued towards Inveraray, where we spent a couple of hours.

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While in town we checked out come of the local stores, took in the majestic beauty of Inveraray Castle and grabbed lunch at a really cute cafe called Brambles. If you find yourself in Inveraray, this is where you want to eat!

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On our drive back to the lodge we spotted some highland cows, and some pretty walking trails which we would have explored if the weather had been a bit nicer.

That night, we had a super girly night in with movies, games and facemasks. We discovered that there is no end to Lori’s talents, that Ayden will fall asleep pretty much anywhere (aww!) and I somehow ended up hooked on The Hunger Games (who’d have thunk it?!). There are a lot of positives in the blogging community, but one of the most awesome things of all is clicking with genuine people that become friends offline too and that you can be your daft self around.

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Continuing the spirit of “we’re on holiday, we can do what we like”, we had a cheeky lie-in the next morning. A little later, Lori headed up to the on-site leisure complex (which has a jacuzzi, two pools and a sauna) for a swim while Ayden and I hung out and enjoyed the mountain and loch views from the balcony. We both remarked how well we’d slept again and how nice it was to take things at a slower pace for a change.

We had one last dip in the hot tub before we got ready to leave our little bubble and join reality again! Before we headed for the ferry we decided to grab some food at Hunters Bar & Grill. Three words: tattie scone nachos. I’m not kidding! I couldn’t leave without trying them (and I’m so glad that I did!).

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A chilled-out weekend away with the girls was just the thing to help this city slicker recharge her batteries and, if you’re looking for a country getaway that isn’t too far, I’d recommend checking out Hunter’s Quay by Argyll Holidays. You can find out more about where we stayed here!

If you live in a busy area, how do you like to unwind? And have you ever tried tattie scone nachos…please don’t say I’m the only one?!

Love,

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A huge thank you to the team at Argyll Holidays for showing us a good time! 

The Disney Veggie Diaries: Eating Vegetarian at Walt Disney World

Vegetarian at Walt DIsney World

If you’ve been hanging around here a while, you’ll probably be familiar with my Glasgow Veggie Diaries series by now – and if not, you can find a round-up of my meat-free foodie experiences here! Today’s edition is a little bit different from my usual Glasgow-based adventures, and it’s something that I’ve had quite a few of you ask me about recently.

Our latest holiday Florida was my first trip to the US since cutting meat out of my diet, and more to the point my first visit to Walt Disney World since the switch up. So, I was a little bit intrigued about how this was going to play out! There’s a huge misconception out there that dining at Disney is all turkey legs and hamburgers, but I was really happy to find plenty of options to suit different types of diets. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find how EASY it was!

Today, I’d like to share just a few of my favourite snacks and meals from my recent experience of eating vegetarian at Walt Disney World – from light bites to sit-down meals! Let’s take a look at what was on my plate at the happiest place on earth…

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Counter Service Choices 

When we’ve got a jam-packed day at the parks, more often than not we find ourselves opting for quick-service restaurants so that we can eat casually at a time that suits us (usually between FastPass slots!) before carrying on with our plans. I found lots of great veggie dishes when it came to eating at these places, and one place that is worth a visit is The Electric Umbrella at Epcot. Their Veggie Naan-wich was one of my favourite meals on our trip, which was a tasty naan bread filled with fresh broccoli slaw, edamame, tofu and a light wasabi dressing. It made for a perfect lunch on a hot afternoon! At the same restaurant, you can also grab a Vegetarian Flatbread, which is topped with mushrooms and feta cheese.

Over at Magic Kingdom, we stopped for a bite to eat at Columbia Harbour House (located in Liberty Square) and we were pleasantly surprised at the wide range of vegetarian sides at this restaurant – which included couscous and steamed fresh broccoli. They also serve vegetarian chilli and I was tempted by their Lighthouse Sandwich – which is made up of hummus, fresh tomato and slaw.

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We always get peckish around Tomorrowland while we’re in Magic Kingdom, so we stopped into Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (tip: on a slightly unrelated note, this restaurant also has lots of seating, which is a real bonus when the park is busy!) for some dinner. I’ll be totally honest – this place is 99% meat! It’s definitely a great choice for anyone after a bacon cheeseburger or chicken nuggets, but what they DO have on the menu is a Vegetable Burger, and it’s delicious. I cut into mine and could see all of the corn, carrot and other ingredients that made up the patty.

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The best part about Cosmic Ray’s is that the burgers are served naked and you can dress them up yourself at the toppings bar. I piled mine high with yummy additions like sauteed mushrooms, tomato, onion, pickles and more – LOVE a toppings bar!

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Super Snacks

Grab-and-go snacks are in abundance all over Walt Disney World, and admittedly this is where (for me, anyway!) sensible eating tends to take a back seat and I just indulge myself! I’ve talked about my love of Dole Whip previously, and of course this fruity concoction is a vegetarian-friendly treat! Another park snack that I really enjoy is a Mickey-shaped pretzel – everything just tastes better when it’s themed, am I right? You can pick up Mickey-shaped pretzels in various locations at Walt Disney World, though I bought mine at a snack cart in New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom.

You can also munch on a ton of other snacks like popcorn, ice cream sandwiches and fruit at Walt Disney World while your carnivorous chums are working their way through corn dogs and turkey legs!

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Top Table Service Picks

We’ve enjoyed some really awesome meals at Walt Disney World’s table service restaurants over the years, and this time around we were looking forward to trying out the veggie options. When we were walking through Adventureland at Magic Kingdom, we noticed a new place that was themed after the Jungle Cruise ride – Jungle Navigation Co Ltd Skipper Canteen (let’s just call it Skipper Canteen for short, eh?). After checking out the menu, we booked a table for dinner.

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The menu at Skipper Canteen reflects the sense of exploration that the Jungle Cruise is famous for, with exotic ingredients and flavours throughout its range of African, Asian, Latin & American dishes. Vegetarian options included Baladi Salad, Falls Family Falafel, Hot-and-Sour Soup, Rice Noodle Bowl with Tofu and Curried Vegetable Crew Stew. We tried the falafel dish as a starter and we also both ordered the vegetable stew (the tofu noodle bowl sounded great but the jalapenos weren’t optional and as we all know now, I am a sucker when it comes to spicy food!). I would have normally made a beeline for my trusty mac and cheese, but at this restaurant the macaroni has spiced ground beef in the mix! Yikes! But, the falafel was great and I particularly loved the vegetable stew – which not only tasted amazing, but the portion size was perfect too.

A special mention should also go to Yak & Yeti, Restaurant over at Animal Kingdom. This is genuinely one of the nicest table-service restaurants at Walt Disney World – and they will substitute meat for tofu in many of their dishes! This option isn’t listed on the menu, but all you have to do is ask. This means that you can enjoy miso tofu (instead of salmon), sweet and sour tofu (instead of chicken) and many other vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes.

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If you are familiar with Walt Disney World, you’ll be aware of how overwhelmingly ENORMOUS it is, and today’s post is obviously not a definitive guide of where to grab vegetarian eats at the resort. This is more of a reassurance – to those who might be wondering if it’s possible to find food suitable for a meat-free diet at the House of Mouse. So, it is possible and it’s not as daunting as you may think!

These dishes and snacks were just a few of my favourites and observations from this trip, but I’m looking forward to trying even more next time. If you’re planning a visit soon, I hope that this has been helpful – and if you have any questions, feel free to comment below or tweet me!

Have you eaten as a vegetarian at Walt Disney World? What is your favourite snack at the parks?

With forkfuls of fun,

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Staying and Playing… At Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Florida

IMG_2916A huge highlight of our recent trip to Florida was our stay at Cabana Bay Beach Resort, over at Universal Studios. Ever since the hotel opened just over a year ago, I’d been drooling over its bright mid-century design and retro Palm Springs-inspired pool area – and often catch myself 52 weeks-deep their Instagram feed!

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We knew that we couldn’t go to Orlando without booking a relaxing mini-break at this awesome resort, and today I’d love to share some more details with you about our stay. So grab yourself a cherry cola, get comfortable and let’s step back in time…

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Cabana Bay Beach Resort has been designed to recreate the style, sights and sounds of the 1950s and 60s – and from the moment we hopped out of our Uber and took in the stunning exterior of the hotel, we felt like we’d just walked onto the set of an Elvis movie. We couldn’t get enough of the bold building design, classic cars sitting outside and (of course!) rows of palm trees.

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We arrived a little early for check-in (what can I say, I was excited!) so we headed over to the hotel’s restaurant – the Bayliner Diner – for a snack while we waited. Every inch, down to the pattern of the carpets, at Cabana Bay has been carefully curated to fit in with the style of the era, and the Bayliner Diner was no exception. Even the frozen yoghurt machine had a cool, atomic look. And, yes, I DID try the frozen yoghurt (it was cake batter flavour and it was delicious!).

This was the only restaurant in the hotel (there’s also a Starbucks for coffee and small snacks) and it was counter-service with a small, but varied selection of freshly-made meals and packaged foods.

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Tip: We opted for a souvenir cup, which was ‘activated’ for the full duration of our stay. This meant that we paid a fixed price on arrival and had unlimited drinks refills until it was time to leave – I found this really handy (and inexpensive!) and we brought our cups everywhere with us since there were multiple drinks dispensers all over the resort.

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After we explored the hotel and public areas a little bit (I don’t think I’ve ooh-ed and ahh-ed so much at a building interior in a LONG time!), it was time to check into our room!

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We stayed in a poolside suite which, as you’d expect, was a little bigger and had a glorious view of the pool and lazy river area. More space in the room meant more gorgeous interiors for me to squeal over. “GARY, THIS SOFA! GARY, THIS SHOWER CURTAIN!”…you can imagine, right?

Aside from the amount of space and the to-die-for decor, the room was very clean and comfortable – making it a little bit tough to actually leave and go out for the afternoon…

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Even the in-room toiletries had a cute throwback design, the attention to detail all over the resort was truly 10/10 perfect! The outdoor areas (there are two pool areas at opposite ends of the resort) host Movies On The Lawn in the evening – complete with s’mores roasting pits for that authentic experience. We would have absolutely loved to have snuggled up under the stars with a blanket and a movie that night – but sadly due to rain the outdoor events had to be called off. Boo!

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Luckily, there are other fun activities inside the resort, so after we had dinner we decided to go bowling at Galaxy Bowl on the first floor. I really loved the bowling alley, which when lit up in the evening looked even more kitsch and colourful. I even won a game of bowling (which NEVER happens, I might add!). I think I invoked the spirit of The Fonz!

After a good night’s sleep, the next morning we slipped into our swimsuits and enjoyed the pool area for a few hours. We headed past the restaurant which was super busy with guests fuelling up for a day at the theme parks – this meant that the pool areas were wonderfully quiet! We floated round the lazy river and relaxed in the pool until we were prune-like with wrinkles.

Tip: Along with the small number of guests, the morning temperature and gentle sun made it the perfect time to go for a dip.

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Bearing in mind that Cabana Bay Beach Resort is considered to be one of Universal’s more budget-friendly options, I would say that you get a lot of bang for your buck. As well as an amazing themed experience (which if you know me by now, is what I practically LIVE for), the hotel felt well-maintained and looked immaculate. An additional table-service restaurant would have been a nice touch, but the overall atmosphere of the hotel is so laid-back and comfortable that the casual dining option worked well.

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We ended our stay with one last wander around the resort, taking in the retro architecture and landscaping one last time before it was time to say goodbye (for now)!

Needless to say we had a ton of fun during our visit, and I couldn’t recommend booking a stay at Cabana Bay Beach Resort more. If you are a fellow lover of mid-century pop culture and design, I’d put this high on your list if you’re planning a trip to Orlando. Hop to it, daddy-o!

Have you ever stayed at Cabana Bay Beach Resort? Are you a better bowler than me (most likely!)?

With palm trees, swizzle sticks and poolside glamour,

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