Spa Day & Afternoon Tea At Carrick Spa, Loch Lomond

The Carrick Spa is part of the luxurious five-star hotel Cameron House, Loch Lomond, even although it is situated a couple of miles down the road from the main estate. If you are staying at Cameron House, a concierge service will transport you to the spa and back, and if you are not, it is clearly signposted and easy to find.

Also at The Carrick is a golf course and clubhouse (housing the highly-regarded Claret Jug restaurant). However, on our visit, we were there for the spa.

The Carrick Spa overlooks the golf course and some spectacular fountains. The spa runs over three floors- reception and the main pool on ground level, the thermal and hydro experiences, changing rooms and cafe on the first floor, and a rooftop pool on the second.

Upon entering, we were given a tour and introduced to some of the thermal and hydro areas. These are a series of hot and cold experiences ranging from ice showers to exceptionally hot hydro pools.
The changing rooms are well-maintained at handily located right next to the entrance to the main spa area. There are an abundance of lockers, plus private curtained areas for those who like some privacy, and several hairdryers and straighteners. All guests are also provided with a fluffy white dressing gown, towel and flip flops to navigate the spa with.

When you exit the changing rooms, a stunning waterfall wall greets you. This is a beautiful interior design feature and instantly prepares you for the utter relaxation you will experience.

Credit: De Vere Group / Cameron House
We then started to work our way around the thermal and hydro experiences. The therapist who welcomed us told us to do them in any order, so we started with a Tropical Shower- warm water jet blasts in a dark and relaxing shower. Our favourite experiences were the Hydro Pool (very warm circular pool with massaging bubble jets) and the Aroma Sauna (a warm but not dry sauna with a cloudy mist of relaxing aromatherapy scents). We probably spent the most amount of time though in the Rooftop Infinity Pool. This half moon shaped pool also has bubble jets, but sits on the edge of the building overlooking the vast golf course. The cold air teamed with the warm water is very invigorating, and it's a great place to think and get some perspective on the world.

After a couple of hours going between these experiences, we just had to try their afternoon tea in the spa cafe. You can wear your robes and flip-flops here, as many did, but we chose to change to be more comfortable. The afternoon tea was visually beautiful, and a riot of colour that looked almost too good to eat. We were surprised that there were no sandwiches; but once we had started on the decadent chocolate truffles and delicious mini berry panacottas, we weren't bothered. This was such a nice treat to round of a relaxing spa visit with.

We couldn't leave The Carrick Spa however, without sampling a treatment. I opted for an Espa Age-Defying Facial (£89), and my therapist targeted the products she used to my skin's needs by asking me questions about it and by looking at it using a UV lamp. My skin felt amazing afterwards; but the best part of the treatment was the thick clay-like pink hair mask she applied. I left this in my hair overnight (it looks messy so don't expect a night out afterwards) to get the full benefit of it, and when I washed it out in the morning, it was so soft and had so much added volume. It smelt amazing too.
The Carrick Spa is a perfect place for a girly spa day as it has everything you could possibly need in one place. The staff are excellent too.

Spa day visits to The Carrick Spa (Alexandria, Dunbartonshire G83 8RE) cost from £99, and include a light lunch, express treatment and 2-hour use of the thermal and hydro experiences. Details of each individual available spa day can be found here.

Sunshine On Leith

We've been to Edinburgh more times than it's possible to count; but apart from the odd meeting, have never visited the Leith area. So, it was time for a trip.

We were surprised by its beautiful waterfront, and by just how much there was to do; without having to venture into Edinburgh city centre. Shopping, movie and dining complex Ocean Terminal has its home in Leith, as does the famous Royal Britannia ship and museum.

As we were going to an unconventional area of Edinburgh for us, we chose to stay in an unconventional establishment. We abandoned our usual luxury for the night to stay at the stylish and cultural bed & breakfast Wallace's Arthouse. It is part bed & breakfast, part art gallery space and part Wallace's home.

Its stark white decor and wooden floors puts all of the focus on the antiques, art works and assorted treasures from Wallace's world travels that fill every room. There is a story behind every single piece, and Wallace delights in recounting them.

From the moment you enter, you are made to feel as if you are staying with an old friend. His house is your house, and he even joins you for breakfast. This is a place that's great for the sociable and those who like to mingle and learn from their host. With only two rooms, you are in no way anonymous here; so if you have any hopes of seclusion or privacy, this isn't the accommodation choice for you.

Breakfast is continental, and Wallace puts on a real spread; with everything from freshly baked croissants to smoked salmon pate.

Rooms at Wallace's Arthouse are £110 per night. It is also worth noting that there are no TVs on the premises, that you need to climb several flights of stairs to reach the property and that all rooms have their own en-suite facilities.

For dinner, we ate at the popular Edinburgh Chinese restaurant Chop Chop. This family run business has restaurants in Leith and Haymarket.

This is a real authentic eatery that specialises in Chinese filled dumplings. The menu is divided into 'small plates' and 'large plates' and they recommended a good meal size to consist of either one large plate and two small plates each; or four small plates each. This is plenty- we stuck with their recommendation and couldn't finish everything.

Their prawn dumplings and chicken dumplings are amazing, and you are taught how to mix your own dipping sauce to go with them. They also serve the freshest Chinese fried rice that we have ever tasted.

For your large plates, we recommend the Northern Chicken (basically deep fried chicken in a sweet & sour sauce); and the spicy Stir-Fried Spicy Beef (beef strips in a thin chilli sauce).

Despite being full, we couldn't leave without trying their famous Sugar String Apples. These are Apple slices in a crunchy caramelised sugar and sesame seed coating. They are so sweet that we could only manage a few bites; but they were more than worth it.

The staff at Chop Chop are really friendly, and knowledgeable about the menu if you require any assistance. Full menus and prices are available on their website here.

Photo Credits: Wallace's Arthouse and Chop Chop images belong to each venue respectively.

Sponsored Video: #PictureBelfast Film vs App Challenge

This is such a brilliant video from Tourism Ireland to showcase Belfast. It's a must watch for any photography lovers out there like us. The video contains a fun game that shows several shots of Belfast landmarks, and you have to guess which are taken with a genuine vintage camera, and which have been edited using a filter.

We got some of them right, and some of them wrong. We all use filters all the time to edit our photographs for social media, so it has been really good in this video to see the actual differences. We definitely prefer the depth that a genuine vintage we didn't get round to visiting the Titantic Museum- it looks great!