Brug by Wunderlife

Brug by Wunderlife

During the summer you will get a few guest blogs by our amazing ladies at the shops. Yesterday we took on a new brand to us, and this is by two local mums. As you know we are strictly Scandi focused! This is the first time (and probably the only) I have ever bent that rule and I do that only because I believe in this product so much and I really feel passionate about the Brug. Rachael has written a wonderful blog about the Brug and please do pop in and try it out for yourself, I am taking one with me to Sweden for the summer! Charlotte x

 

Hello lovely Spektakular blog readers, my name is Rachael and I can be found in Lilla most Friday’s and Sunday’s.

We have so many amazing products between the two shops but I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to one of the very newest, the Brug from Wunderlife.

Brug by Wunderlife
The Brug

As a mum to a VERY active toddler, I am always looking for products that will make things that little bit easier, saving me time and allowing me to concentrate on the more important things in life!

The Brug is a fantastic product designed here in Edinburgh by the lovely ladies from Wunderlife, with exactly this ethos in mind.

What is a ‘Brug’? I hear you cry?

Well… it’s a shoulder bag that transforms into a rug!

The Brug is water resistant, lightweight, machine washable and folds away into a neat pouch when not in use.

A day at the beach or the park? It’s perfect to stow all your kit; chuck it all on the Brug, pull the draw strings, fasten the buckle and zip, and you’re off. The long straps allow the Brug to be worn on the shoulder or across the body, keeping both hands free, and even fits nicely across the buggy handle. Once you’re there, it’s super quick and easy to unpack, and with the Brug laid out, you have a base for the day.

Ideal for travelling, holidays and camping too, the possibilities are endless!

But it’s not just for outdoors, the Brug is perfect for use in at home too. What better way to contain the Lego, or even the PlusPlus, on a visit to grannie’s? Or just a handy way to clear way the toys once the little ones are in bed and reclaim your living room.

Personally, I love that the Brug is machine washable. As someone who only has to look at a drink to spill it, and with two messy men in my life (Husband and Toddler), being able to stick the Brug in the washing machine is perfect!

Come along to Lilla, to find out more about the Brug. Touch it, try it out and you might just love it as much as we do!

Semla (Classic Swedish Bun)

Right Christmas is over and it is almost Shrove Tuesday. Here in the UK it is also Pancake day but at home it is all about SEMLA. Seven Tuesdays before Easter but in Sweden you can sadly find a semla in a local bakery or cafe just after Christmas. You can eat them just as they are or in a “hetvägg” which is not my favourite. You basically make it all soft and gooey in warm milk (NO THANK YOU). I am not a massive fan of semla (gosh I can not believe I just said that), I mean I like them but one or five is enough during this time a year and I do not need them every day which is I admit a bit un-Swedish because the right thing to do is to eat a Semla a day from Shrove Tuesday until Easter! In my home town Alingsås, (Alingsås is also known as the one and only Cafe town, every second shop is a cafe) there is a competition who makes the best. The bun needs to be fluffy, perfect filling of almond paste and then the cream needs to be perfectly whipped, and for goodness sake make sure there is plenty of cream. Oh gosh the locals are hard critics and I think everyone turns in to a little bit of a Semla expert! You should see some of the comments they make in the local newspaper (eye-rolling).

Anyway here in Edinburgh is a little group of Swedish mums (and dads), most of us have a other half who is non-Swedish and this group was created to meet up and sing Swedish songs with our bilingual children. Now these days it is more about us grown-ups gossiping while the kids trash someone’s home. Our turn today and look at me I have baked Semlor and here is a recipe for you!

I like to say thank you to M who also made the bun big style and brought with her as well as L who made wonderful classic chocolate balls. I made mini Semla (no photo before gone). They turned out perfectly fine, I find the mini ones a better size really. Not too much and if still room just have another one (ten is too many).

Here is a recipe for you of the MINISEMLOR. I hope you will make it and please do enjoy it with a cuppa, or like us coffee.

Ingredients: Makes about 40 Mini Semlor

1 dl = 100 ml

BUN:

  • 50 gram butter (as always good quality and salted)
  • 2.5 dl milk (always go for full fat)
  • 25 gram fresh yeast (I get mine from Sainsbury’s, ask in the bakery)
  • 0.75 dl caster sugar
  • 1 tsp grounded cardamom
  • 1 egg
  • 8-9 dl plain flour (480-540 grams)

1 egg (as eggwash before baking in oven)

FILLING:

  • 200 grams almond paste (see below how to make your own unless you just been to Sweden and bought some)
  • 1 dl milk or cream
  • 3 dl whipping cream
  • if you like cognac or some sort of liquor (mix it with the cream)
  • icing sugar as dusting

HOW TO:

  1. Melt butter in pan, add milk and heat to 37 degress (finger warm). Make sure not to hot then the yeast dies, if too cold it takes a bit longer before proving.
  2. Crumb up the fresh yeast in one large bowl, add milk butter mix and make sure the yeast dissolves.
  3. Add the grounded cardamon, sugar, egg and most of the plain flour.
  4. Work the dough hard until it feels light and ready (like bread)
  5. Let prove for 30 min (make sure no draft)
  6. Work the dough and make about 40 even round balls. They are small so don’t panic.
  7. Put on a baking paper covered tray.
  8. Let prove again for 30 min (do not cheat)
  9. Heat up oven while the dough is proving to 250 degress.
  10. Bake the buns in the middle of the oven for about 5-7 min, make sure they have a nice colour
  11. Let cool
  12. Cut a lid in each bun and take out some of the inner bun to use for the almond paste filling.
  13. Almond paste mix, grate almond paste, dash of milk or cream (the 1 dl) and the bun inners, create a nice smooth mix and put back inside bun
  14. Whisk whipping cream and put on top of paste.
  15. Lid on top and add some icing sugar on if you like
  16. ENJOY

 

How to make Almond Paste

  • 250 grams un-blanched almonds
  • 2.5 dl caster sugar

Part boil and peel the almonds, grind to fine powder in blender, add the sugar and mix for 5-7 min until nice smooth and warm paste.

You know this might sound hard work but it really is not. Not worse than making bread or bake anything really. It is just the proving that might take a bit of time. Why not give it a go and impress your friends and if you have a Swedish friend well this will be a massive and grateful surprise and I bet you they will be delighted. Everyone likes a Semla!

Have fun

Charlotte x

 

Copenhagen

Since Richard and I had the shop and the girls we sometimes struggle to talk about anything else than the girls or the business…I assume this is common called as life! However sometimes you think of things you did before this life (I mean the last five six years) and I think about our city breaks our just taking the car and go away somewhere for the weekend, and yes I must admit now and than I miss that more chilled life. However our girls are getting bigger and spending a weekend with grandparents is heaven to them and I know the grandparents love spending time with their granddaughters too. So after our summer holiday I got one of those spam/promotional emails from the airline we used flying back to the UK. Affordable tickets to Copenhagen! Well why not, asked the grandparents, asked Zuzanna to cover the shop and asked Richard to take time off work (well that was the tricky one since I liked to keep it as a surprise, sometimes it is good to have the shop to blame on). So Richard’s birthday is at the end of October and I bought the tickets in August, yes I managed to keep it a secret! I think everyone knew but not him and he was delighted when he found out (phew)!
So off we went, it was wet and windy but it did not really matter, we did enjoyed Copenhagen!

Even though we are not supposed to talk about business we do, owning your own business makes it your lifestyle! Owning your own business does not mean you leave work and have other things to focus on, no its always there. You do weird things like when having a coffee at a friends house you check the brand of the cup, small things like that! Anyway yes we did see The Little Mermaid (larger than I remember). Sadly lots of tourist hanging on her and I was not that touristy to do the same. We saw her, said hello and kept walking around the beautiful buildings. Oh I could move to Copenhagen in a flash, such a fantastic city. International, happy and chilled!

image

Of course we have been in great shops, even said hello to lovely Jane and husband from our new brand Mirins Copenhagen and I am excited to introduce more of her lovely bath and body care products to our shop in the future.

IMG_20151107_130418940

Spent a few hours in a amazing shops looking at New brands, displays and of course all the stunning Christmas Windows! Arrgghhh we need a bigger shop, I really like a great big space to show all the wonderful, functional designs, colour combinations or just inspiring designs… Oh well we shall see what the future holds!!!

Now if you have not been to Copenhagen, just go! It is relaxed and lovely, everyone speaks English (which is great because my Danish is crap). And this weekend Tivoli open its gates to their Christmas fair (which we missed…boooo)

Ohhhh LOVE
Ohhhh LOVE Illum Bolighus Christmas Window
Advent Stars
Advent Stars
SuperLove is SuperLivings own shop! So of course a little visit was needed :)
SuperLove is SuperLivings own shop! So of course a little visit was needed :)

SuperLiving amazing happy colourful candlesticks...hmmm which one!?!

We stayed at a lovely little Boutique hotel very central. SP34, great hotel, great atmosphere, great staff, great breakfast and hello wine hour (oh yes). Tiny let down was the room itself, but we hardly spent anytime there. And if you like a good burger, in connection to the hotel is Cocks and Cows, the burger place to go to! And just down the street is a great independent shop Nordic Nesting, well worth a visit!

Our lovely Boutique Hotel, just loved the wine hour and the opportunity to sit in a little library and read a book with a glass of something.
Our lovely Boutique Hotel, just loved the wine hour and the opportunity to sit in a little library and read a book with a glass of something.

Now back to reality, breakfast club and nursery, late nights in front of the computer and yes we are busy at the shop which is so fantastic. Thank you all for supporting us. Not all of our amazing stars are on display yet but we can go through them when you are in. And more fantastic Christmas decorations are arriving daily.

Charlotte x

Cinnamon Buns

Oh it is getting closer… a great day is upon us! Cinnamon Bun Day or as we say in Sweden: Kanelbullens dag! 4th October is the day and yes of course this weekend we will bake at home. Here are some facts by The Local that might be worth knowing.

Cinnamon Bun making

Buns are super tasty and should be eaten warm (just out of the oven kind of fresh) and with a glass of cold full fat milk!

So if you have never made them, well what’s stopping you? Why not give them a go this weekend. There are million of recipes out there, I personally prefer them super sticky and sweet with a hint of cardamom. Some people struggle to find fresh yeast (I have baked with dry yeast once…did not like it) however most local shops if they have a bakery will be able to sell you fresh yeast. My local Sainsbury’s do, I just head to the bakery smile and say please and 50g cost me about 20p. Well worth the money.

So here is a the basic standard recipe you can find on the packet of plain flour in Sweden. Now in Sweden we use dl which is decilitre. Apparently according to google 1 dl is 100 ml (well is that not convenient).

For about 40 buns

150 g soft butter (use real butter)

5 dl milk (use full fat)

50 g fresh yeast

1 dl caster sugar

0.5 tsp salt (I personally use salted butter and leave this out)

2 tsp ground cardamon (optional)

800 g plain flour

Filling:

150 g soft butter (honestly I think we are talking at least a packet 250 g when we bake)

1 dl caster sugar (come on, these are just guidelines)

2 tsbp ground cinnamon (well a little bit more does not hurt)

1 beaten egg for glazing at the very end

Right so this is how you do it.

  1. First warm the milk to 37 degrees Celsius (finger warm) too hot the yeast will die, too cold it will not prove as it should
  2. Crumb the yeast in to a large bowl, pour the warm milk on top and stir, let the yeast dissolve. Add small lumps of butter, sugar and cardamom.
  3. Add flour but save about 1 dl while working the dough on a baking table later (ok I had never sifted anything in my life before I move to the UK so you do not have to do that at all).
  4. Work the dough hard for 5 min in a machine or 10 min by hand, until it feel right (hmm, it needs to be airy yet firm)
  5. Let it prove, covered of course and out of draft for about 30 min. So make this dough then do your school run or enjoy a coffee or whatever you like.
  6. Work the dough on a baking table easy for a few minutes, divide it in to 4 parts. Use a rolling pin and make a rectangle shape. Not too thin but definitely not too fat. Thinner rather than fatter.
  7. Butter the rectangle (do not be shy). Mix the sugar and the cinnamon and spread over (so this is how it looked like at our home last time with did it)
  8. Roll them up as you roll up a swiss roll and cut in to 10 pieces . Put them either in large paper cases or on a tray covered in baking paper. Cover with towel and let prove for approx 40 min (do not cheat on the prove time).
  9. Oven on 225 – 250 degrees (I have no idea gas, but google tells me gas mark 8)
  10. Beat the egg and glaze the bun, we put a very typical sugar on top called pearl sugar and no I can not find it here. I buy it when I am home in Sweden, it will be fine without!
  11. Buns in the middle of the oven for about 5 – 10 min.
  12. Cool on a wire rack
  13. Enjoy, eat about 20 and either share or freeze the rest (always good to have a spare at home for some fika time)

Now you can use what ever filling you like, nutella, marzipan, jam…go for it!

If you leave them for a couple of days and they go a bit dry, pop them in the oven for a few min with a little lump of butter on top. And I like to defrost them in the oven with a little lump of butter. Mum had this trick back in the day before she stopped eating sugar. She took a couple out of the freezer and then put them on top of the coffee maker while brewing the coffee and a lovely smell of coffee and cinnamon spread in the house (we all have our tricks).

Now you better eat a bun this weekend! If you have an big blue shop nearby they have some “fake” buns (as my friend called them) in their food bit. They taste fine, never as good as homemade but I would not turn them down. And of course if you are local to Edinburgh you have Peter’s Yard, they are a bit here and there now in town. Lovely lovely bakes and the coffee is rather good too. Enjoy!

Charlotte x

Welcome September!

It is with mixed feelings we say goodbye to Summer and welcome Autumn. I mean who does not like the idea of a warm summer and long evenings in the garden with a tasty BBQ. This summer did sadly not bring great weather, at least not where we were. We missed the beautiful August heatwave in Sweden by spending our holiday there in July. But hey it was fine we got a few days of swimming in the lakes and one or two BBQ’s. We survived! Here are just a few images for you and for me to go a bit homesick (great).

So a quick Summer holiday note. Yes of course we went to Sweden, it is my home and where I would like us to live one day so a lot of Swedish for the girls and lots of amazing food for me. The girls and myself two weeks alone (well with my family and friends of course) and then Richard joined us for two more weeks. We ended our holiday with 24 hours in Copenhagen…oh Copenhagen we love you and we will try to do a longer trip there again next summer.

Since we arrived back it has been non stop, the shop has been repainted and it does look clean and fresh. Stina has started P1 and I did not expect it to be as emotional as it has been (think grey hairs appeared, not nice when you not even reached your mid 30’s yet or maybe I am just being shallow).

At least the shop is looking lovely and this week we had a photographer in to take photos for Google. So now if you google us you can see inside the shop. Of course we can not keep it looking this lovely all the time (you who have been in at Christmas you know how full it can get) but it gives you an idea of what we actually look like inside.

Now we like to welcome Autumn. I personally love Autumn. A sunny day walking in the forest with an explosion of colour in the trees and that hint of nip in the air. We are lucky to live in a country with four seasons. Even though not as extreme as Sweden, where it can get really hot in the summer and very very cold in the winter it is still stunning and I really need to make an effort to take the girls out and pick leaves and enjoy the colours as well.

Here at Spektakular you will see more designs and also some new brands, I have just placed our blanket and throws order from Swedish Klippan. I am very close to turn on the heating every evening now (not yet please) and it is also time to place orders for more candles. Autumn does bring darker evenings which means hello sofa, cozy blanket, candles, tea, homebakes and great books.

This weekend Richard and I will head to lovely London and two days of intense shopping for Spektakular. We will catch up with our suppliers, see more brands. After our visit to Sweden this summer I also fell in love with a few new brands and I have booked in to see some new agents which is very exciting.

But first, hopefully this week the first new seasonal stock by Swedish Sagaform is due to arrive. Including new additions to the so ever loved Oval Oak range which I am really looking forward to see.

Enjoy

Charlotte x

Sweden here we come!

It is finally time for me and the girls to head home for a long summer holiday. Fingers crossed that the weather will be great (kind of doubt it) and we can go swimming in the lakes and enjoy a lot of ice creams and BBQ’s.

Don’t you worry Zuzanna, Ruth and Anna (Richard one day as well) will look after you. Shop is open as usual all summer.

And if you by any chance missed it, our annual clearance sale has started! Do not miss it!! Full of great bargains including lots of beautiful cushion covers and runners by Swedish Linum, super stylish table top by Danish MENU and lots lots more.

Stina, Lovisa and myself are heading home to spend time with my family and friends and hopefully suck in as much Swedish as possible. I feel like the summer holidays is so fantastic for my girls language (and mine, ten years abroad does things to your own language). We get to spend time with our family, and get bombarded with Swedish and for someone like me who struggles so much keeping up the Swedish with the girls, this is great. I just really need to make sure I won’t swap back into English as soon as Richard arrives (like I did last year). Even if Stina might answer her cousins in English at least she understands what they say.

As soon as Richard arrives we are off to meet suppliers and do a little bit of Christmas shopping, well of course we will see lots of other great designs as well. So got a lot of FIKA booked in (yay). Shall do my best in take lots of photos. Please do follow us on Facebook or Instagram. I seem to be much better at posting there than here on the blog. Then we are back early August, Stina will spend a few nights at her grandparents in Aberdeen then it is time for her to start P1 (aaarrrgggghhhhhh WHAT!!!!!!!) more about that later.

Have a fabulous July, please do pop in to the shop for your gifts (wedding, house warming, new baby, birthday, surprise, anything at all) or go on, treat yourself with some Scandi designs! Or just for a little chat. Have fun and enjoy this summer!!!

Charlotte x

Swedish National Day 6th June

Gosh I have not blogged for a while! Sorry!

Well time to remind you all that this Saturday 6th June is the Swedish National Day. So on Saturday there will be a few offers on some very Swedish designs in the shop (YAY). If you like to know more about why and how to celebrate the Swedish National day, well why not visit Sweden.se for more info.

Myself, well I am heading to Hemma for a traditional Fika. Then I am looking forward to a visit to the Canongate Kirk for a Swedish Summer service and then for all the grown-ups there will be a Swedish National Day party at Hemma and yes Richard and I will both join since grandparents are in town to entertain their granddaughters. This is very rare for us, to be out for an evening and very rare that we both can enjoy a glass of something since normally at least one of us is driving. Bring on Saturday!!!

Have a great week!

Charlotte x

Glad Påsk – Happy Easter

Easter time, this year we took it a bit more easy when it comes to Easter designs in the shop. Focused more on colours and that happy Spring feeling. When I was home in Sweden I brought some feathers with me (yes yes I am sure they exists here too) but it is not the same. Ruth collected some branches from her garden (Thank you Ruth) and we created a happy colourful Spring window for you!

How to celebrate a Swedish Easter… Well lots of different way I guess, here is some info from Sweden.se, or have a look at this website Vastsverige.com, which was really good (why not take the opportunity to book a holiday in Sweden as well:)). I am trying to remember what we did as children during Easter and I have a few images in my mind. One of my dad going all red in his face trying to empty a fresh egg of in contents so we could colour the egg shell it self and hang in our birch branches (yes Christmas tree at Christmas and Birch branches at Easter). One memory of my dad cutting birch branches from, I am pretty sure not a place we were supposed to cut it from (remember the very swift walk back to the car) and also the big paper eggs full of sweets and us dressing up as small witches, Glad Påsk written in our foreheads and knocking on doors saying Glad Påsk holding up a empty kettle hoping for sweets. The photo is borrowed online and it is a very true picture how it looks like, or used to. Sadly this is a dying tradition being replaced by Halloween. And no one seem to give sweets anymore unless it its wrapped in paper (bacteria awareness gone crazy) and I hear kids seem to ask for money (!!!) and my mum said that it is also more popular to give a fruit…please NO! It was sweets we were after as kids. I even remember that feeling of extreme disappointment when someone gave me a fruit! And sadly I have told the girls grandma and auntie not too buy big chocolate eggs for the girls (oh dear, evil mum, yup that’s me). So sweets, dressing up, Spring and the food. Oh yes THE FOOD!!! Oh sign now I get all hungry and a little bit homesick. A Swedish Easter buffet a smorgasbord of tasty homemade food… Lax, eggs, Jansons temptation, herring (tons of flavours) paskmust (special drink) or schnapps for the grown-ups, the bread, meatballs and so much more… Here in the UK it is all about chocolate, Easter here is a proper Sweeties holiday. Not like Christmas, Valentines, Halloween or any other holiday. We still have sweets left over at home from last year. Maybe I am over reaction but seriously how much sweets does not the big supermarket sell this time of year…insane amounts! Like last year we will head to Aberdeen and to the girls grandparents. Which will be great. Paint some eggs that we can roll down some hill in some park (never remember which one). Lovisa’s 2nd Birthday is also coming up so we will have a little party for her as well while we are all gathered. I wish you all a lovely and relaxing holiday! Charlotte x

Hello Sweden

Yes I have been home, for a whole week…all by myself! And when I left to come back here I felt like I could easily stay for another week, month, year or forever even! Sadly a week in Sweden was maybe not the best. I mean I loved it so much I did not wanted to come back here at all. It hit me hard how much I miss Sweden and my family and my friends. I have a great family here in Scotland and great friends as well so am a bit mixed feelings. I guess it is life!

Unfortunately I did go home due to my beloved farmor (father’s mother) passing away. Even though it was excepted and I did kind of say good bye to her last summer I was hoping I would get one more summer with her. She was not well, so was almost 91 and she had decided it was time for her to go. So it was a journey home for me to join my family and say good bye and tell her we love her and hope she will finally meet up with farfar (father’s father) again. No I am not religious, I just have a little hope that they will be together again. My sister had arranged a massive flower arrangement from us grandchildren and she had written on the card, give farfar our love. That made me cry and warm to my heart. The two of them was a proper team and I do wish there is some kind of chance for them to meet up again.

My dad, Farmor, Stina and me in 2011

I decided to stay in Sweden for a week and spend time with my family and friends and to do a few business things as well. And yes I left the girls back in Scotland, but they were being so spoilt by Richard and their farmor and farfar so they did not really miss me at all! Hmmm, well I will missed them terribly and I did look forward to cuddles and snotty kisses and lots of stories when I got back. This time of year there are no direct flights between Gothenburg and Edinburgh so I did the Copenhagen detour, flights and then train. Instead of the direct train from the airport I took the Oresrund train across the bridge to Malmo and then the fast train to Gothenburg.

Gothenburg Train Station
Gothenburg Train Station

Got 20 min at Malmo Station and yes a massive bag of Swedish sweets! Felt a bit sick to be honest. Pick n mix is massive in Sweden, this picture is from last year when we went to our local food shop and Stina started to jump just looking at all sweets. I hardly eat sweets in the UK, but happily gobble it down while home, and not just a little, but happily so much you even feel your teeth is protesting.

Godis

Having the freedom of being home without any children and not a lot booked in made me a bit restless, so I took long walks and also dragged mums dog with me. I love the forest but since I am a bookworm I have read too many crime novels so obviously I expect dead bodies everywhere and I have a terrible fear of snakes so avoid going out in the forest summertime, but after a few goes, I felt relaxed enough to just stop and listen to the birds and the wind in the high trees and just peace and quiet. You sometimes forget how much peace the nature can bring, sure is good for your soul (and guess what I did not come across any dead bodies, not even a bloody finger).

Also the opportunity to jump in a car and go wherever you like. Thank you mum for lending me your car. Went to my sister one evening and headed out to her summerhouse (almost every Swede has a summerhouse, I guess it is due to our long summer holidays and the urge to leave your every day routine and just go away and relax) and put up a few rolls of wallpaper. Not done it for a long time so that was good and nice chat too.

Ja ja, might as well do a little stretch while at it I even managed to view a house, a house I walk by almost every day when I am home, mum live across the field in that red house you see on this image. Location wise it was very handy and yes I was curious. And it is even more handy to have a step dad who is a joiner to come along for the viewing. Lovely house at a good price but sadly needed new roof and a new foundation so good bye affordable house. Shame, would have been great as a little summer house for us. Not a big house but perfect for a small family, instead of us spending a few very long weeks at my mums every summer (think we all get a little bit tired of each other).

Now back in the UK, I think Stina was more interested in the gifts I brought with me home than me (hmm). To sum up this journey, full of emotions, fresh air and family love. When the girls was in bed on Thursday night, Richard and I was sitting in the sofa chatting, and I feel asleep in the middle of a sentence. Now a week or so later I am starting to recover and sometimes a routine life is what you need to think clearly and logical again and feel less emotional. Am really delighted to be back at the shop. Do love our little shop and it looks so inviting at the moment.

I am extremely grateful for Zuzanna and Ruth. I can go away from the shop and not feel worried at all. I can even go away for a month and they will look after it which is fantastic and relaxing. Thank you ladies, the shop looks loved!!!

Charlotte x

A little mini-break in Scotland

Oh boy if you could only imagine how much I had been looking forward to this! A little mini-break, just Richard and I. So last Thursday, Stina did her last ballet lesson before the Summer holidays and we parents were allowed to watch and it was lovely. Their teacher Miss Walker is amazing, the excitement of a three year old is heart warming.

Stina at her Ballet
Stina at her Ballet

Richard got home from work, so quick dinner, packed the car, got the girls in to pyjamas and headed north to Aberdeen and to my in-laws. A few days of relaxation and being spoilt. I love it there, my in-laws are so helpful, enjoyable company and they love spending time with their grandchildren. And the girls enjoy it so much there, Stina loves spending time in the garden and their summer house with farmor (Swedish word for father’s mother).

Finally Richard and I were off for a night away, well needed! Had a few sleepless nights worring about Lovisa who is not a great sleeper. How will the grandparents cope, she will scream for hours! But farmor told me to relax and just enjoy the night away. What could happen? I think Lovisa actually did ok, only up once and settled quite quickly. My sister-in-law with family came up to Aberdeen that night we were away so they did get lots of help with the girls.

When we moved to Edinburgh in 2008, it was just the two of us and we had a lots of time. No children or business, these days I can sit down a Saturday evening and just wonder what we use to do instead of getting children in bed without a fight and then work a few hours in front of the PC or the never ending housework. And I guess we did go out more, had different conversations and we used to do weekend trips up in the Highlands. So during one of these weekend trips we came across Ard-Na-Collie, a fabulous guest house in Newtonmore. It became a place we just wanted to visit over and over again and we did not look for any other hotels or guest houses since we knew we would be happy there. Last time was in December 2009. And it was also the time when Richard FINALLY popped the question (romantically at Queens View in Perthshire)! Only took him three years! Then the whole business idea kicked off and I also got pregnant with Stina so we kind of stopped doing our weekend travels and focused on the business and becoming parents.

Silly selfie of happy people!
Silly selfie of happy and childfree people!

So on Saturday we left early, well not as early as we planned (due to rough night with both girls up).  Popped by Eighty7 Design in Aberdeen own by Danish Helena. Lovely lady, lovely shop. Clean, stylish and very Scandinavian. Do recommend a visit if you are in Aberdeen, we both do a few same brands and it is always so nice to have a chat with other shopowners. Headed towards another shop that had been recommended to us but got lost and just skipped it, and I was hungry which is not good (I get a bit grumpy when hungry) so towards Banchory and had a fantastic lunch at The Chatterbox. A comfortable tearoom with pleasant staff and very tasty food and cakes. Then off towards Balmoral, did the proper Balmoral tour a few years back when we had Swedish family over, so we just drove by it and of course managed to take a photo.

Welcome to the Balmoral Castle
Welcome to the Balmoral Castle
Stunning views
Stunning views
The Lecht Ski Centre
The Lecht Ski Centre

Headed over the Lecht and wow just wow, the views are breathtaking. None of my photos does it justice. The Lecht Ski Centre isn’t just for winter sports and there were and impressive number of cyclists heading over the pass. Some of them looked like they had a few doubts about why they had started climbing such an enormous hill…

Welcome to Ard-Na-Collie
Welcome to Ard-Na-Collie

Arrived at Newtonmore and the fabulous Ard-Na-Collie, I could probably do a blog just about this place. This former Hunting Lodge is on top of a hill with stunning views. The house is welcoming and it is a building you just want to move into and never leave. Imagine to wake up with those views every morning. Put on your wellies or walking boots and head out for long walks and fresh air, come back for a hot cup of chocolate in front of a log fire. I am not surprised this guest house is such a popular choice for many when looking for a romantic and comfortable get away. The owners Jacquie and Mike is a very pleasant couple who welcome you to enjoy your stay. The breakfast is fantastic, Jacquie is known for her award winning Eggs Benedict and I wish I had my camera with me down for breakfast (or even just my phone) because it tasted just as good as it looked. Plus I had a Bucks Fizz, yes for breakfast! I know, quite unusual for me, but hey Richard drove and it was my birthday.

The Hunting Lodge welcomes you
The Hunting Lodge welcomes you
Time to leave...sadly
Time to leave…
View from our room

Sadly had to check out and head back to Aberdeen but went up north first and drove along the coast through beautiful Aberdeenshire. We have not explored too much of Scotland, yet! But am getting quite familiar with Aberdeenshire and Perthshire. Think next year we can pack up the car and do a weekend trip with the girls. Maybe the West Coast or even north above Inverness is would be lovely to explore.

Aberdeenshire coast

Back to Aberdeen and lots of hugs from my two beautiful girls. I did miss them a little bit. Super tasty chocolate birthday cake and a BBQ for dinner. Perfect end to a great weekend.

Scotland is fantastic, beautiful buildings, green landscapes and stunning views. I consider myself very lucky to have this on my doorstep.

Charlotte x