A Review of Tigh Gorm, Tobermory

For our August Summer holiday this year, we knew that we really wanted to visit the Isle of Mull, in particular beautiful Tobermory. On a limited budget, finding accommodation for a family of five during school holidays, was always going to be something of a challenge. That’s why we couldn’t believe our luck when we discovered this little gem! We stayed here as regular paying visitors and our only incentive for writing this review is to share our  knowledge of this fabulous place.

Tigh Gorm is a two bedroom wooden cabin situated in upper Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull. It is part of a development of several similar cabins, some of which are holiday lets and others which appear to be residential. There is undercover parking for your car right outside the door (useful for unpacking and packing your car in the lovely Scottish weather!) Outside the cabin, there is a lovely patio with a picnic table, a beautiful view over Tobermory Bay and a grassy slope, which proved very popular for roly polies with the kids!

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The view down to Tobermory from just outside the bottom of the garden

Having paid an incredibly reasonable £400 for a week’s booking in August, our hopes for the interior of the cabin weren’t particularly high but we were really pleasantly surprised! The decoration and facilities were lovely, with lots of attractive homely touches. We particularly liked the paintings and pottery by local artists. There was a double room with comfortable full size bed, a second bedroom with two sets of bunk beds, a lounge diner, modern kitchen and surprisingly spacious bathroom.

Being located in upper Tobermory certainly had its advantages! It was very quiet and peaceful and very handy for the children’s playground which was literally a two minute walk away. The playground was a big hit with our youngest daughter. She loved the fairy toadstools and the willow house with tree stump table and chairs! Even more exciting was the fact that we were literally next door to the Park Lodge Hotel, which was used as Josie Jump’s House during filming for the BBC’s Balamory childen’s programme!

We really enjoyed our week at Tigh Gorm! It was very comfortable and cosy when the weather was bad and the patio area was fantastic when the sun came out. The unexpected bonus of wifi was also a nice surprise, as it wasn’t listed when we booked.

We booked this accommodation through the Island Holiday Cottages agency but it can also be booked directly with the owners at Hebridean Island Escapes. If you and your family are interested in visiting the Isle of Mull, check back soon for more blog posts about this amazing island.

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An Island Adventure by Coach

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My lovely mum and step-dad have just returned from a fantastic week away on the Isle of Bute, with Shearings Holidays. This obviously isn’t an “Island Adventures With Kids” holiday but as it involves part of our family, I think this blog post is worthy of inclusion.

After being collected from their local pick up point, Mum and Keith were transported to the lovely port of Wemyss Bay, where they caught the Calmac ferry to Rothesay.

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They stayed at the Glenburn Hotel in Rothesay, which my mum described as “very comfortable, with lovely food”. They are regular visitors to Bute and always look forward to staying at the Glenburn. The pictures below show why; what a fantastic view!

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Whatever age you are, the Isle of Bute has many charms. It has the lovely, relaxed island feel, yet is within commuting distance of Glasgow. It is steeped in history from its heyday as a Victorian holiday destination, offering impressive architecture from this period. Mount Stuart is one of the best examples of a Victorian mansion in the whole of the U.K. Bute also has stunning, quiet, sandy beaches and secluded bays. It really is a lovely place to chill out and unwind.

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Their holiday also included excursions to Glasgow and Campbeltown, located on the Mull of Kintyre. Mum said that it was “really good value” and they thoroughly enjoyed their time away. If you fancy an island holiday but have concerns about the transport aspect, this trip that Shearings offer may well be for you.

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Rothesay Harbour

 

 

 

What can the Scottish Islands offer children, as a holiday destination?

This is the question around which, my desire to write this blog evolved. Three years ago, I nervously bundled my then ten year old, eight year old and two year old into our over packed car and set off for the Isle of Arran. I actually felt worried that they might be bored if the weather was bad and I felt very responsible, because IT WAS ALL MY IDEA! I had wanted to visit Arran for years and had persuaded my husband that even though our two year old was potty training, our car was ancient and the weather forecast wasn’t exactly optimistic, it would all be fine. Do you know what? It wasn’t just fine, it was absolutely FANTASTIC!

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Waiting to board our ferry – 3 very excited children!

I could of course, give you the usual guide book speil about all the available activities that the islands have to offer but I thought that it would be interesting to ask my own children why they like to visit the islands. The results surprised even me!

“It’s not too full of people.”

This was the top answer from both my oldest daughters and really not what I expected, from a thirteen year old and an eleven year old. In the past we have stayed at popular British holiday parks and endured endless queues for overpacked entertainment venues and swimming pools. All whilst trying to dodge noisy arcades and evade the constant sell, sell, sell of commercialised, overpriced tat being constantly rammed in our kids faces. We endured this because we thought that this kind of holiday would be fun for the kids. It turns out that actually they weren’t that bothered and would far rather play on a deserted beach!074

“I like the ferry.”

This was my youngest daughter’s contribution. At the age of two she was obsessed with “my boat” and the fascination still holds. The iconic Caledonian Macbrayne (Calmac) ferries are fantastic for families, offering really good facilities, especially on their larger ferries. There are good value cafeterias and even shops, offering a taste of local produce but nothing really beats being up on deck, watching the mainland retreat and the islands approach. If you are really lucky you might even see a dolphin!

For young children it’s also very exciting to drive right inside the ferry. My daughters loved doing this.020

“Beaches!”

I guessed that this would be a top response. The Scottish islands boast stunningly beautiful, unspoilt, sandy beaches. If the weather is good, it feels like a day in paradise but even if it is a bit chilly, the kids can always wrap up warm and enjoy rock-pooling and hunting for pebbles and shells. Here are some of our favourite beach photographs.104

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“Swings….everywhere!”

This comment refers to the Isle of Arran. Everywhere we visited there were swings, usually with a beautiful view out to sea. I couldn’t believe the amount of play equipment on offer to our visiting children. The pictures of playgrounds below were taken in Brodick and Lamlash. There may seem an excessive amount of photographs but I personally would like to have seen a post like this, before I decided to take my children to Arran. I don’t think that enough of this kind of information exists for parents.

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“Interesting places to visit.”

The islands are filled with unique attractions which are both educational and fun. We particularly enjoyed visiting Brodick Castle and the Isle of Arran heritage museum. On the day we visited the museum there was a vintage tractor rally, so that kept Ian entertained too!

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This summer when we visit Mull, we are looking forward to visiting the aquarium and local museum.

“The food!”

Whilst on holiday we have been known to indulge in the odd (okay, numerous!) Scottish delicacy. Our kids are big fans of ‘square’ (Lorne) sausage, Scotch pies, tablet and the local cheddar. At the Home Farm Visitors Centre on the Isle of Arran, you can watch skilled cheese makers at work and sample the produce. Their cheese is sensational! This summer we are hoping to visit the Isle of Mull cheese farm, near Tobermory. Because of the islands’ location, they rely heavily on fresh local produce and this really shows when you eat out.

 

I hope that this blog post has been helpful in showing that the Scottish islands have so much to offer younger visitors too. Personally, I can’t think of anywhere that I’d rather be with my children this summer. Happy Holidays!

 

 

The Waiting

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Waiting for what?… I hear you ask.In this case, our summer holiday in beautiful Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull. This holiday has been booked since January and it still feels like it is a long time off.This week, as temperatures have soared and the sun has shone down upon us, it feels like summer has started. My mind is full of a desire to pack our bags and head North but sadly I am going to have to wait a few months. However, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have some summer fun whilst we are waiting. I think that the problem is that we can become so fixated on a future event, that we forget to make the most of the time in between. This has been a bit of a strange week which has reinforced the old clichè that yes, life really is too short.

It was brought to my attention, in last week’s soaring temperatures, that my older two children had completely grown out of all their Summer footwear. Whilst trainers might be considered ‘cool’ in some respects, they certainly aren’t in others. So off we went on a girlie shopping trip.

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Frozen flipflops? Who knew…

It was really good fun. The girls had a giggle trying on sun glasses, several pairs of flipflops were purchased and we all enjoyed spending some time together. It made me think that holiday anticipation and planning can actually be a fun activity in its own right.

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Nice hat!
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Cool shades
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Probably an essential purchase for Scotland in August!

It all went marvellously until we got home and realised that Tasha’s lovely new coat still had the store security tag attatched (and yes I did pay for it and obtain a receipt)! Oh how I laughed (I actually said several naughty words)! When we left the store, someone else had just set the alarm off and the security guard was testing their purchases to see which one it was. It beeped as we walked out but everyone assumed it was that. So that’s my Sunday morning sorted, taking it back to the shop, because you really can’t remove those things!

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Pretty toes!

Out came the nail polish as soon as we got home. My eleven year old and five year old soon put me to shame with their summer ready feet!

In other news, this week I have managed to get myself a new job as a social media administrator, for a local company. I would never have had the confidence to apply for this position if I hadn’t of started this blog and begun to promote it on social media. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my ramblings. It really is appreciated. I need something to keep me busy whilst I’m waiting for my holiday!

The End of an Era

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Our lovely tent

After much deliberation, I listed our lovely Outwell Montana tent on Ebay and today the auction ended and a part of our family history was sold to the highest bidder. I have been feeling distinctively melancholy all day and that is no exageration! I used to love going camping and I mean I really loved it, with a passion.

For years, we camped at the fantastic Brighouse Bay Holiday Park in Dumfries and Galloway (if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in that area, I would really recommend it). A small group of us would head off there every summer and despite the weather and other minor disasters, there was always fun, laughter and nights of gazing at the stars in the fantastically dark skies. I often look back and wish that I could have freeze framed the moments somehow and appreciated them for what they were, there and then. What you don’t realize in the present, is how things can change.

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Brighouse Bay Holiday Park

When our third child was nearly two, we took her camping for the first time. It was a hellish struggle to get Natasha to go to bed / sleep on a daily basis but I was fairly confident that all the fresh air and running around the field and the beach would wear her out. After all, it had worked with her two older sisters. How wrong was I! I think the most lonely and desperate I have ever felt, was pushing Tasha in her pram around a freezing campsite at 2am whist everyone else was tucked up in their cosy sleeping bags, just to get her to shut up. When the only walls are made of canvas, people really don’t appreciate a screaming child! When that didn’t work, I resorted to driving in the car, for bloody miles. That didn’t work either! At the same time, our eldest child developed really bad hay fever out of the blue, which aggravated her asthma.

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Bedtime? What’s that?

We returned from our camping trip exhausted and disheartened. Then one of our camping friends very sadly passed away. The tent was deposited on the garage floor and we couldn’t really face the thought of using it again.

The following summer, we fulfilled a long held ambition of mine to stay on the Isle of Arran. This time we upgraded to the dizzying luxury of a static caravan. It was old but clean and so cheap, it didn’t cost much more than camping. Tasha still didn’t sleep but at least at 2am I could have the fire on and watch TV! Better still, she didn’t disturb anyone else! Arran was so beautiful, I fell in love. I’d visited Skye and Mull as a child and been fascinated by the ferries and the wild beauty of the islands. That was the start of our island adventures! In future I think we’ll be sticking to static caravans and lodges but what I’d really like is a camper van. Maybe if I win the lottery…although my husband isn’t too keen!

This is not intended to be a negative post and I wouldn’t want to put anyone off camping with young children, because it can be fantastic. We had a brilliant time when our two eldest children were tiny. I just wanted to say, appreciate the special holidays that you share and treasure the memories that you make. Also, sometimes you just have to embrace change and move on to something that is right for your family. Happy holidays everyone!

 

 

 

A Trip to the Isle of Arran (for the day???)

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MV Caledonian Isles arriving at Brodick

   Bewilderment, disbelief and general questioning of my sanity. These were all reactions I was met with, whilst informing people that we were going to the Isle of Arran for the day. Why? I hear you ask, as Arran is a fantastic place to visit. I have to confess that we don’t actually live in Scotland. We live in the Morecambe Bay area of the North West of England, so visiting a Scottish island, with three kids in tow, just for the day, could be classed as ambitious, to say the least.

   My daughter Tasha, being five, loves trains and seeing as we were now the proud owner of a Friends and Family Railcard (they really are great; adults get a third off travel and kids get 60% off!), I decided that the Easter Holidays would be a great time to go on a long train journey. The question was where? Imagine my excitement when I discovered that if we set off really early, we could be at Ardrossan Harbour (the port where the main Arran ferry leaves from) by 9.20 am. Not only that, if we used our railcard and booked cheap advance tickets it was affordable too! I roped in my lovely mum and step-dad (who are always up for an adventure) and we duly booked our tickets.

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Lancaster Station with the clock clearly showing 5.44am!!!

We excitedly (but with blurry eyes) boarded the 6.00am Glasgow bound train. The weather forecast was for sunshine and showers and it was freezing. The only downside to advance train tickets is that you can’t change your mind and ‘go on a nicer day’. However, we have years of camping etc under our belts and luckily the weather doesn’t really bother us. The kids were all togged up nice and warm with fleeces, waterproofs and gloves etc.

After a quick change at Glasgow Station, we soon arrived at Ardrossan. The majestic MV Caledonian Isles was already there waiting. It was a lovely reminder of our holiday two years ago, watching the vehicles driving onto the ferry. We purchased our tickets and waited until we were told to board.

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Tasha couldn’t wait to get on the ferry!

I absolutely love Caledonian Macbrayne ferries and my mother is equally besotted. Once you’re on board you start to feel the stresses of every day life seeping away. The sea and the beautiful scenery just make you feel totally relaxed. Even in the mist and rain, the journeys are still stunning.

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I think this definitely classes as quality time with Grandma

The weather was a little wild (even for us) to stay outside for the whole crossing, so we made ourselves cosy in the comfortable interior of the ferry and tucked into our packed lunch (a little early but we had been up since 4.00am!). Calmac Ferries have very good facilities, I feel I should point out. If we had wished to do so, we could have purchased reasonably priced hot food, drinks, souvenirs etc.

After a fifty five minute crossing, we arrived at Brodick. Brodick is a bustling little place, which provides just about everything you could need. Stepping on to a Scottish island is like visiting another world. As cliched as it sounds, time seems to just slow down. Taking deep breaths of icy, island air, I commented to my mum, that I felt more chilled out than I had for months. Emily, who is eleven, bemoaned the fact that we were only there for the day and couldn’t stay for a holiday!

It was really cold and it began to rain heavily, so we decided to find a cafe. The Little Rock Cafe was just a couple of minutes walk from the ferry terminal. Hot chocolates were enthusiastically consumed by all and we soon warmed up.224

The rain soon stopped and in typical April fashion, the sun tried to peep out. We had a lovely walk along the front, enjoying the views of Goat Fell and surrounding hills, in their snow capped, dramatic beauty.

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Is that a hint of sunshine?

We also had a really pleasant potter around some of the lovely shops that Brodick offers. I was very happy to buy some of my favourite Isle of Arran flavoured cheddar (the caramelised onion one is to die for!). Arran is known as a foodie paradise and for very good reason. I think I will perhaps write a whole other blog post just about the cheese! We also visited the Co-op supermarket, which sells everything you could ever wish for, to buy some food for tea, on the train journey home. We decided on Scotch pies made by the Arran Butcher.

Our three hours on the island sadly came to an end all too soon but as we boarded the ferry for the return journey, the sun magically made an appearance. We headed straight for the top deck, making the most of the views.

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Looking down on Brodick
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Brodick Castle under blue skies

The return ferry ride was the most magical part of the day. The sunlight collided with ‘rainbombs’ of clouds, creating rainbows just above the surface of the water. I sadly failed to capture this on camera but I think that the picture below demonstrates the lighting conditions.

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Looking back towards Arran

The train journey home ran like clockwork and we made our connections with ease. Sitting munching scrumptiously meaty, Scotch pies aboard the comfortable Virgin train, we agreed that we had all had a fantastic day out. We arrived home just a little after 7.00pm. The other bonus was that Tasha, who is commonly known as the child who won’t go to bed / sleep, was fast asleep by 8.00pm for probably the first and last time in her life!

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We finally tired her out!

So, would I visit a Scottish island for the day again? I definitely would. We all had a fantastic day out. Now, what was the name of that online train ticket site again….I’ve run out of cheese!

 

A Winter Trip to Mull and Coll

This week, my lovely mum and stepdad set off on another of their island adventures. They stayed in the bustling port of Oban, on Scotland’s west coast and visited the Isle of Mull and the Isle of Coll, on two separate days. She has very kindly allowed me to publish her photographs on this blog.

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MV Isle of Mull
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Leaving Oban
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The many coloured houses of beautiful Tobermory
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Passing Lismore lighthouse
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Snow over higher ground on the Isle of Mull
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Arriving on the Isle of Coll
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Looking back towards the ferry

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Isle of Coll post office
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Church with a stunning view
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Traffic jam on the Isle of Coll!
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MV Lord of the Isles arriving at the Isle of Coll

Photograph credits: Lynda Kennerley 2016