Highland Show Day

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Most years we take a trip along to the Royal Highland Show, and it's always been a day out that everyone has really loved. This year was no exception and on Friday we spent a great day out at the show.

We headed off early in the morning, taking the train in to the city and then the tram out to near the showground. There were extra staff out selling tickets for the trams so that they could cope with the huge increase of travellers, and they were also handing out little squishy tram toys to little kids. We didn't have to wait long for a tram at all, and although it was quite busy and we had to stand most of the way, Fraser rather enjoyed being able to hang onto the 'monkey bars', with a little help of course!

The tram stop is about a 10 minute walk away from the showground, and the closest gate to the tram stop takes you in at the area with all the vehicles. We had only been in the show for about 2 minutes when we picked up these bags of freebies from Arnold Clark. Inside the bags were these hilarious sunglasses.

Fraser's favourite colour is yellow, a colour that suits his sunshiny personality perfectly. He loves anything that is yellow and so was delighted to see a yellow car on display. He had to have his photo taken beside it, as well as a wee sit inside it too.

Moving away from the cars takes you towards the farm vehicles, and first up was the quad bikes. I have an almost identical picture of Fraser sitting on a quad bike at last years show, where he was making the exact same face. (You can see that one here.)

Within about half an hour of arriving at the show there was a heavy shower of rain. We had seen the weather forecast and so were expecting it. The forecast also said that soon afterwards the weather would brighten up, which it did. but during that short heavy shower the boys found a particularly classy place to shelter. It wasn't big enough to fit us all in though, and so I just stayed outside in the rain!

The tractors were a big hit, as always. This one stood out a bit from the others! 

Calum (14) would love to be a crofter one day, driving his quad bike out to see his sheep, with his trusty collie dog by his side, so he has titled this next picture 'goals'.

We didn't stop to watch of the animals showing in the main arena, but briefly saw some of them each time we walked past on our way to the next areas.

We always have to pop in to the Lantra tent, where my hubby's sister is located as part of her job for the Department of Rural Affairs. I have no idea what it is exactly that she does on a day to day basis, but I do know that she is involved in rural policy. 

As ever, there was so much to see as we walked about the show.

I'm not sure if I should be offended that my husband has replaced his Facebook profile picture, which was a lovely one of the two of us taken on our anniversary last year, with that one above of him and a giant pig!

The main supermarkets were all there, sharing about the sources of their foods, giving out lots of free samples and other extra things for kids.

One exciting thing about this year's show is that I had something on display there myself!

I had entered a crochet blanket into the handcrafts competition. You were to make a 'knee rug' in the theme 'By the Stream.' I made up a blanket using the Attic24 neat wave pattern that I used for my sister in law's birthday blanket, and using blues, greys and greens. The colours were meant to represent the colours of a clear stream and the moss/grass around it.

I didn't win anything, although I didn't expect to anyway, but I was so pleased to see it on display on the wall in the handcrafts hall. That's it on the right below. The winners are in the middle, and took the theme more literally than I did. I'll bear that in mind if I enter next year! Look how lovely the winner is, and how much work went into sewing all those hexagony shapes.

We only stopped walking around to have our picnic lunch, and when we were eating we spotted the Army inflatable assault course. Ally (8) challenged Calum, and with a little head start managed to beat him too!

Everyone was engrossed watching the guy from the wilderness survival skills tent light a fire using only some fungus called chaga, a couple of stones and some cats tails.

It might have taken a lot longer than it would have done with a match and some firelighters, but it was far more impressive.

The toy tent, with the great display of toy vehicles has been a favourite since the older boys were small. James (17) said how it used to be one of the things he looked forward to seeing most when he was little.

Fraser and I hopped on board the Play bus for a visit, and he made a very cute little lamb mask.

After a long day walking around the show, we hopped back on the tram and train home again, and indulged in a chippie for dinner. It had to be a haggis supper for me.

But we didn't have long to sit, as it was the Armed Forces Day parade in the evening, and James had to be dropped off ready to march with the Army Cadets before 6. He's at the opposite end of that line below.

After the parade there were some stalls to wander around and see, as well as the annual challenge between the Army, Air and Sea Cadets. 

The Army Cadets gave the young kids there the chance to try on a helmet and some camo cream, which Fraser was calling 'face paints'.

James was on camo cream duty, and when we went over to see him we did a double take as the trailer used to advertise the Army Cadets has a huge picture of him across the back!

There was another inflatable assault course at the Armed Forces Day event, and again Ally challenged Calum. This time there were cadets scattered throughout it, ready to try and make it harder for the bigger kids, while helping the littler ones.

Ally won again!

Eventually we were able to come back home and sit down again for a well earned rest. We went through our bags of freebies from the show, some of which are shown below, and checked our step totals for the day.

It was a new record for both Calum and I, and one that will take some beating - over 22000!

Recipe of the Week - Strawberry Cake {Gluten Free & Dairy Free}

Thursday, 8 June 2017

A couple of weeks ago I shared a photo on the Housefulofboys Facebook page of a cake I had made to bring along to a pot-luck supper. I also promised to share the recipe soon, and so here it is at last.

This is essentially just a sort of all in one Victoria Sponge, with some chopped up strawberries added into the mixture and isn't very challenging to make at all, but it looks impressive! The fruit in the cake mixture gives it an extra bit of moistness - if moistness is even a word? If you've ever been concerned about gluten-free cakes being dry then you have no need to worry about that with this one.

{I also use this recipe to make Strawberry Cupcakes. This mix will make about a dozen cupcakes.}

For this cake you will need:

125g strawberries
225g sugar
210g gluten free self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
25g cornflour
225g dairy free margarine
4 eggs

And for the icing you will need:

100g dairy free margarine
300g icing sugar


~ Blitz the strawberries in a food processor until they are small pieces. Don't overdo it though, you don't want them completely liquidised, but also don't make them too big as you don't want big chunks of strawberry in your cake either!

~ Add the rest of the cake ingredients to a bowl and beat well together with either a handheld or freestanding mixer. Beat it until you have a smooth and creamy looking batter, then add in the chopped strawberries and mix them in.

~ Divide the mixture evenly between two greased and base lined 8 inch sandwich tins and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for around 20-25 minutes.

~ Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack while you mix the icing together. 

~ For the icing just beat the dairy free margarine and the icing sugar together. To get a really fluffy textured icing, continue beating it for a few more minutes after it has all come together. 

~ Once the cakes are cool, sandwich them together with the icing. If you want to make the cake look fancy then use about 2/3 of the icing for sandwiching it together and then pipe the rest of the icing around the top of the cake, finishing it off with some sliced strawberries and a dusting of icing sugar. I don't always do this though, and it looks (and tastes) just as good with just a dusting of icing sugar on the top. 

Birthday Fun Day

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

At the weekend we celebrated Ally's 8th birthday.

The presents above weren't just from us, but from other family members too!

He didn't want to do anything fancy for his birthday. Just to have his cousin round for a birthday tea and sleepover. We decided it would be best to have his birthday tea and cake on the day before his actual birthday, as on his birthday there was a big family fun day organised by the charity dad works for and we were all helping out at that. I thought that we would all be tired after the fun day and might not be able to enjoy the celebrations so much if we left it until afterwards. It also meant that he would have longer to play with his cousin if we did things that way round, even though the cousins were all coming to the fun day too.

Anyway, Ally agreed with my suggestion, and so on Friday afternoon he and his cousin Matthew spent the afternoon playing together while James and I finished off making the birthday cake, which was a surprise for Ally this year. In previous years he has requested the design (see here and here for his 7th and 6th birthdays) but this year he wanted a surprise. Ally has recently got into Pokemon and a few weeks ago I found the perfect cake on Red Ted Art here.

It was a simple Pokeball shaped cake, nice and easy to decorate, but with the hidden surprise of being filled with little Pokemon figures. I found the figures really cheaply on EBay, about £5 for nearly 50 of them. They were the perfect size to go inside the cake.

Ally's request for his birthday tea was super simple this year too - fish fingers and mashed potatoes! So we had a tray of free from fish fingers, a tray of far cheaper 'normal' ones, and a steak each for me and daddy. I didn't think he would appreciate fish fingers for tea!

Here are most of the boys waiting for the cake to come in. One of many, many out-takes whenever I try and get a good photo of everyone.

And after several more silly photos, and including James in this one too, with the request, 'please can we just take one proper one to send to Granny?'

Here's that simply decorated cake then.

I used my free from Victoria Sponge recipe, but made one and a half times the amount that I usually make (6 eggs, 12oz sugar, free from SR flour and dairy free marg)

Ally loved the cake when he saw it, and was probably wondering why I said he should cut the first slice rather than me. At first he thought it was going to be a rainbow cake inside, but then he was so excited to find Pikachu and his friends inside!

You can find the full instructions of how to assemble and decorate the cake by following the link to Red Ted Art above.

After cake, and once jammies were on, we all snuggled up to watch the movie 'Sing'.

Despite a late night after watching the movie, Ally came through to our room to ask me if it was time to open his presents at 5am the following morning, which is very unlike him as he is always last up in the mornings! I told him that it was far too early, and thankfully he went back to sleep again before coming back through again at about 8am. Much more reasonable.

As he did last year, his main request for a present was Lego Nexo Knights, which he was delighted to get.

After breakfast James made up a Pokemon treasure hunt in the garden. Ally, Fraser and cousin Matthew had to find where all the little figures were hidden in the garden.

We were all delighted to see that the weather carried on the tradition of sunshine on Ally's birthday. He was born on a hot sunny day, and every year since then the sun has shone on his birthday.

At lunchtime we all headed off to Midlothian, to the beautiful Arniston House, where the Family Fun Day was taking place.

The Fun Day was organised by the charity that my husband works for, Safe Families for Children Scotland. They help families in crisis and hope to reduce the number of children who are taken into local authority care. You can read more about the charity and how they help on their own website here.

One of the ways they help families out is by having Volunteer Families help out other families who are facing a crisis. The Fun Day was a way to thank these volunteer families, as well as to give the families they work with the chance for a fun day out together.

There was a bit of a Pirate theme going on, and the main helpers on the day dressed accordingly.

James helped his dad out on car park duty, as well as being the first aider. I was the face painter for the afternoon and the two of them were my first customers!

An old friend of my husband's is a magician, and he kept the kids entertained all afternoon with his tricks.

Also inside the empty building above was a band playing some lovely live music.

And sitting just outside it, enjoying the warm sunshine all afternoon, were me and the face paints - which actually began to melt in the sunshine! Ally chose to be his favourite super hero, Captain America.

I was thankful that my sister in law was able to jump in and help me with the face painting as it proved very popular. The only time we got a break was during the main magic show below.

There were also some parachute games for the children, a BBQ for everyone, and then to finish off there was a visit from an animal encounters experience. I didn't see any of the animals or get any photos as I was busy painting faces the whole time, but the boys all loved seeing all the animals and told me all about it. Ally had a snake around his neck, as did Calum! There were also lizards, insects, a tarantula, a chicken, a rabbit and a tortoise. 

It was a great afternoon. Every single one of the children there behaved impeccably and Ally declared it the best birthday ever.

I just hope he doesn't think that every birthday has to include a Fun Day from now on!