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THE MACDONALD MANCHESTER HOTEL & SPA

  We always make our halfway stop in Manchester whenever we travel between London and Scotland and when we do, we often stay at the Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa. The hotel is part of the Macdonalds chain of luxury hotels and as such has very spacious rooms, several homely offerrings  and ensuite bathrooms. It is only just a few minutes walk from Piccadilly train station and a few more walking from the bus station. The hotel has different styles of rooms but the executive rooms which is what we stay in as they are spacious enough for a family of 4 have amazing views overlooking the mancunian highway and of the city.  

  The other floors have other rooms with views such as the panoramic room and their classic rooms.

  I have  family in Manchester but the draw for us is the complimentary package which gives access to the hotels thermal suite which has a sensation shower, both an infra red sauna and a hot rock sauna, the scented steam room and an ice igloo at no added cost to the regular room booking price.

    

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HOLIDAY IN SICILY

We broke with tradition this year to have a holiday in Sicily this year before going to Rome which is what we have done every summer in the last 8 years. When we have holidays, our destination of choice has always been dictated by how much fun we think the boys would both have. We also always go to the seaside ironically for a family that live yards from the northern sea in Scotland.Having two kids with a 15 year gap between them and us as parents looking forward to have fun and a nice break from both our hectic working lifestyles it is a difficult balance to strike. For our Sicilian holiday, we wanted a good sea view, nice spacious old Italian town and to be able to eat amazing food. We settled on the quiet sleepy in the day and vibrant city of Trapani. As  a small city, Trapani has everything, gellateria, amazing restaurants, bars,  beautiful beach and plenty of room for the boys to play on the streets. Trapani attracts a lot of tourist but despite its numerous hip bars at night, it seems to attract the more reserved calm and mature tourist. Trapani is more for families with young kids than Aya Napa or Kavos.

On the history side of things, Trapani also is rich in Italian old traditions which is told in many forms through the city’s beautiful architure which depicts the importance the city played in
Italy’s history. It also has several impressively restored old architure
such as the old town centre, the Temple and Amphitheatre at Segesta. Trapani
international airport was still functioning in the summer of 2014 with
flights to Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris, London( Luton), Brussels,
Frankfurt and Barcelona but our taxi driver adviced that it was due to
be shut soon although you can fly to another city and rent a car to travel in. In

gelleteria Gino ice cream in Trapani
Gelateria Gino

We stayed at the Garibaldi31 which is a very decent b and b. We had a back room with a window overlooking the Sea. Garibaldi 31 is right in the city centre which made it handy for going for nightly walks. There are a lot of specialist ice cream parlours that make one off ice creams such as the jasmine ice cream at Gelateria gino and the fish market where we were able to buy sword fish and other local fish on days that we cooked.

room in garibaldi, Trapani

There are several activities for both parents and kids to enjoy when visiting Trapani. One day we took a trip via cable cars up to the top of the mountains to visit the town of Erice a very beautiful ancient town perched at the top at 750metres. There are also several salt pans, which can be educative for kids to see and learn about where salt comes and how salt it is mined. San Vito Lo Capo beach has a back drop of a tall city like buildings and the wine town of Marsala is only about 20 minutes away when you drive.

good handmade ice cream in Italy
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HILL OF TARVIT

I love the many hidden surprises Scotland has to offer when it comes to historical sites that have been preserved and also serve as a serene location to visit. Although many people flock to Eastern countries in search of calmness I love Scotland for its suprising locations such as the Hill of Tarvit estate in the Fife area of Scotland(often called the kingdom of Fife).

It is a beautiful estate on the site a site that goes back to the iron ages, it is believed to have been around since 200 BC and AD 200, and rebuilt at least twice in that period. The estate is spread over 279 acres of woodlands with a well maintained a 20th-century Edwardian mansion that is now owned by the National Trust.

For a small fee, visitors can go inside the house to see the original design and accumulation of furnishings from different generations that were once owned by the Sharp family. The state of art collection includes porcelain, paintings, furniture and antiques. You also get a glimpse of life “below-stairs”for the servants that were employed by the estate

When I am in Scotland, we often drive up on Sundays to have picnics in the grounds which is free to access.There is a small tearoom and a nice shop selling made in Scotland items on the site. Kids would love going on a day out and trying the several Edwardian style games Hill of Tarvit has on offers during its opening season. On offer are the chance to play Crockett, billiards and other parlor games once you step back to early 1900’s.


The estate has a 40 acres garden and an original golf course in the original 9-hole hickory club. Hill of Tarvit is situated up on a hill with extensive views, it is a mile and a half south of Cupar which is a medium size town with train connections to Edinburgh, London and the rest of Scotland.
Contacts:
Cupar, Fife, KY15 5PB. Telephone : 0844 493 2185 Email : HillofTarvit@nts.org.uk

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VIEW UNDERNEATH SCOTLAND’S BIGGEST ENGINEERING WORK

The Forth bridge is a magnificent and majestic bridge that goes over the Firth of Forth in Scotland. Firth is an old Norse word which means estuary. The Forth river flows into the North sea. The bridge is awesome and every time I cross it I feel humbled and marvel at the magnitude of works that went into this piece of Scotland’s claim to engineering prowess. Scotland is famous for having some of the worlds amazing engineering pieces of work, but this bridge which is 9 miles West of Edinburgh spanning a total length of 8,296 feet it is almost Scotland’s biggest engineering work. It was opened on 4 March 1890 and is sometimes referred to as the Forth Rail Bridge to distinguish it from the Forth Road Bridge.The bridge connects Edinburgh with Fife and when you go over it in the train you get a great view of  South Queensferry from above travelling to Dundee or Aberdeen heading from Edinburgh.

 

To get underneath the bridge, you will have to travel in from Edinburgh crossing the river on the bridge and then take the first exit to North Queensferry . Follow the view of the bridge to reach underneath it.