Monday, 7 October 2013

Holidays and how to survive them

Last week I went on my holidays. For the first time in a long time it was just our little family, with no grandparents to help – me, my husband, our three year old daughter and our 10 month old son. We went to a cottage in Mull – a little place on a farm, just near Tobermory (or Balamory, as it will always be to my daughter!). The weather was mostly lovely, the views were incredible, the cake was served in massive slabs with steaming hot tea. Marvellous.

My goodness, but it was hard work. And it made me think a bit about people that must visit Edinburgh with their children – is the information we give them useful and accessible? How easy do we make it for them to visit our city as a family?

Mull is really geared to tourism and there were some great resources in the Tobermory tourist information centre, including a Balamory trail and a list of ideas for things to do in Mull. We went to a castle one day, Iona another. One day we had a walk in a forest which had adventure equipment for children to play on. At Calgary Bay they had an amazing Art in Nature trail that you could follow in a wood, with fantastic sculptures made from natural materials – that really was a highlight.

But I must confess that after a visit to the great Harbour Visitor Centre in Tobermory, when our three year old threw a screaming tantrum after being dragged away from an interesting computer game about the sea, it was the new soft play that had just opened in the middle of town that saved our bacon. Spotlessly clean, just the right size for our daughter, with nice plastic toys for our son to chew on too, it was a brilliant distraction. Tea and coffee were served for the parents, healthy snacks for the kids. We visited it twice and were very grateful for it. After all, cafes are great, but can be expensive (we should know – we visited three on one wet day!) and not always the most relaxing with two little ones. Our cottage was beautiful but had a stone floor, which was actually quite stressful with one child deciding that this was the week he would start to pull himself up onto the furniture. And as the same child really dislikes the car and screams unless ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ is sung loudly and continuously to him during a drive, we couldn’t just cruise around and enjoy the scenery for long, either.

Our holiday made me realise that parents and carers who are away from home and trying to enjoy themselves need to know about the places that they can go to and just let the children run free a bit before all heading off together for the next worthy outing. Otherwise it all gets just a little bit much! I’m sure Edinburgh for Under Fives has a part to play here. I’m not saying we should ask tourists with young children to buy the whole book, but maybe we can produce a helpful digest for them – from one set of parents and carers to another. Let me know your thoughts by emailing me at

Until next time!




  1. Cathy - if there was an efuf app maybe there cd be a bit of that for tourists, with a small price tag? Visit Scotland could promote it?

    1. Good idea - we're still working on getting help for the app (slow process). Maybe there will be something in time for summer 2014!

  2. Hi,

    Hope you don't mind me asking where you sourced your Mull accommodation?


  3. Hi Sally

    Friends recommended it. If you'd like to find out where it was, send me a message at and I'll tell you all about it!