Christmas 2017 – Last Posting Dates by Royal Mail

International Last Posting Dates
Christmas 2017

International Standard and all International Tracking and Signature services

Saturday 2 December
Africa, Middle East

Wednesday 6 December
Asia, Cyprus, Far East, Eastern Europe
(except Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia)

Thursday 7 December
Caribbean, Central and South America

Saturday 9 December
Australia, Greece, New Zealand

Wednesday 13 December
Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland

Thursday 14 December
Canada, Finland, Sweden, USA

Friday 15 December
Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Portugal,
Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia,
Spain, Switzerland

Saturday 16 December
Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg

UK Last Posting Dates
Christmas 2017

UK Business Contract Services

Tuesday 19 December
Royal Mail 48®

Wednesday 20 December
Royal Mail Tracked 48®
Royal Mail 24®

Thursday 21 December
Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed®
Royal Mail Tracked 24®

Friday 22 December
Royal Mail Special Delivery
Saturday Guaranteed®

Whatever happened to Iceberg Lettuce?

We’ve just been on a short trip to Yorkshire – we stayed in the Days Inn at Wetherby for most of that.  It was convenient for visiting the Harrogate Home and Gift Show and for visiting various towns in the surrounding area.

Wetherby Whaler
Wetherby Whaler – Large Haddock Supper

Wetherby is a lovely town – full of colour, plenty of good places to eat – and some lovely little shops.  OK, there’s a Morrison’s supermarket too but we only found this towards the end of our stay …  basically, we didn’t need to do any supermarket shopping, so why would we look for one!

We also explored Helmsley (would love to go back) and were enchanted by it.  We arrived on the same day as a vintage car rally so attention was divided between cars and walking through the quaint town centre.

I admit it – I’m a plain-eating sort of girl  😉 these days.  We had breakfast in the hotel and then headed out for the day.  It’s easy finding coffee shops to have a quick snack at lunchtime – and we found several which were excellent.  Then, because there was such a choice of places to have dinner, it became much more difficult.

Our first meal in Wetherby was at Sir Dukes Bar and Grill in Bank Street.  The restaurant was busy – but thankfully we managed to find a table.  Looking through the menu, and watching meals being served to other diners round about, it was clear that we would probably only manage a main course.  The portions looked huge.  It took as a few moments to figure out our choices.  Sandy chose the “This is Clucking Fantastic” – Roasted breast, stuffed thigh, crispy drumstick, Bearnaise and chicken juices, skin on fries and wild rocket salad.  I went for an 8 oz (seemed bigger!) sirloin steak with fries and added a couple of garlic prawns.  The food was delicious.

We visited the Harrogate Home and Gift Show – a trade show for retailers – and had a challenging time walking through the various show halls and marquees.  We placed orders, made contact with existing suppliers and, excitingly, found some potential new ones as well!  More of that later.

I know now that I’m not fit to do trade shows in the heat of the summer – and I was a total grump because of the layout of the show.  At some points, trying to walk from one category of exhibitors to another became a nightmare because the halls only seemed to connect to one another at one point – so if you wanted to skip products which were of no interest, it wasn’t always obvious how to get to the next area quickly.  I now appreciate the Glasgow Exhibition Centre so much more – it’s well laid out, the routes to toilets and eating areas are well marked out and it’s all one one level.

Having said that, the quality of most of the goods on display at Harrogate is very high.  I believe we wished we had visited many years ago.

We ate at several other restaurants (we were in the area for six days) – included

Sant Angelo in Wetherby – also good.  Sandy enjoyed his POLLO ALLA CREMA – Chicken fillet marinated with fresh herbs, shallots, mushrooms,
white wine and cream.

The Golden Fleece  in Thirsk – I had the most delicious Lamb Rump – it’s a long time since I had such a tender piece of lamb (salivating just thinking about it!)

The Wetherby Whaler – and this place was really busy too – with a traditional fish and chip shop downstairs, this restaurant served a “Fish Tea” bread and butter, tea, fish and chips.  All freshly cooked, the haddock was fantastic.  The chips were great as well.

The only thing that I really missed when out and about in Yorkshire was a salad with traditional iceberg or little gem lettuce – “mixed leaves” are everywhere and, while I appreciate that many people really like them, I’m a rebel – I just need plain old lettuce 😉  The same comment applies to meals out in Scotland.

I really am an old grump!

 

 

Oooh, we’ve just had a sneaky peek

Margaret MacGillivrayThat made me smile – every now and again, we get the chance to see the pre-release images of the latest Steiff designs – and, yes, we’ve ordered three different designs which will be available in July – August 2017.  They’re adorable and we’re expecting that they’ll sell out quickly.  You can find our current Steiff products on our website at

https://www.macgillivrays.co.uk/steiff-bears.html

To all Steiff collectors out there – happy collecting 😉

Steiff Limited Edition Flora and Florinchen
Flora and Florinchen – Mother and Child by Steiff

This cute set of Flora and Florinchen is selling quickly 🙂

 

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Wedding China

As the wedding season gets into full swing, there is obviously a great rush to find the perfect gift for the happy couple.  I recently came across a cake plate which was part of a set of china given to me a long time ago now –

Cake Plate by Noritake

So, what kind of gift is suitable these days for young couples as they approach their special day?

We have just added into our inventory, two different sets of mugs by Dunoon China – and maybe one of these sets would be perfect as your selection for the bride and groom.


This set of mugs is entitled “Samarkand”.  Samarkand is a city in Uzbekistan known for it mosques and mausoleums, of which display some of the most intricate and mesmerising tile work found on the Silk Road. This art is found in beautiful detail throughout this collection of mugs from designer Marlee Fletcher and printed on the highest quality fine bone China from Dunoon. Geometric, three pronged shaped tiles, intertwined within one another across the mugs body effortlessly.

 

Fine bone china again – but this time, Dunoon’s artist has captured the look and feel of a day at the beach.  These charming mugs designed by Rebecca Hogg for Dunoon feature a beautiful blue and white colour scheme. Decorated with seaside scenes, these simple but charming pieces will look lovely on a kitchen counter or breakfast tray.

Spring in Scotland

Narcissus
Spring in Scotland

This is the time of year when new life can be seen all around Scotland – just love the video of blackface lambs racing around the fields.

Not so sure about this one – a scary cat https://www.instagram.com/p/BSbYv8ujYQR/

The only Lake in Scotland – and a priory to visit at Inchmahome

Want to get married in Scotland – Luss Church is one very busy church where brides and grooms from all around the world tie the knot.

 

 

 

 

 

Sylt in the off-season

Visit Sylt in the off-season
Windy day on the beach, Sylt

We did it!  Well, I guess it was fairly inevitable that we would go and visit my sister who was staying at the Asklepios Klinik in Sylt for some rehab.  Going off-peak, I think we managed a low-budget weekend break, booking ourselves on budget airlines, using the Trainline to buy train tickets from Hamburg to Sylt, staying in our AirBnB apartment and travelling on the local buses.

So, what would be our tips?

Well, flying from Edinburgh to Hamburg, the Easyjet service was great.  When we arrived, we walked through to the main terminal from the arrivals hall and followed the signs to the S-bahn which took us directly to Hamburg-Altona railway station.  The very helpful gentleman at the DB information office directed us to our train to Westerland.  We had to change at Elmshorn – and that was seamless.  We had a 10-minute wait, staying on the same platform.

The journey continued on to Westerland.  We crossed the Kiel canal, passed by pretty towns, were amazed by the number of windmills generating electricity and saw fields, some with arable crops, a few with livestock and some with solar panels.  The train crosses a causeway to Sylt itself and arrives at Westerland Bahnhof (ZOB).  We got a lift to our apartment in Wenningstedt and then had dinner in a lovely (busy) Italian restaurant.

The local bus service on the island is very good.  In the winter months, the buses run every half hour and that increases to 10-15 minutes in the summer months.  It’s possible to buy individual day-tickets or family tickets as well as 2-day and 3-day passes.  These are valid on all buses on the island.  If you buy ordinary tickets, the bus companies charge by the number of zones you enter.  We bought day-tickets because some days we just wanted to walk.

Because my sister was living in the Klinik, we were allowed to buy meals in the restaurant there so we didn’t do much eating out.  We did, however, walk into Westerland – and found the amazing Cafe Wien – where we couldn’t resist the waffles, Sandy’s topped with Rumtopf and Cream while mine came with cherries and cream.  The best waffles ever!

On our last afternoon we took the bus to List, at the north of the island and loved looking round the shops there.  We watched the Ferry coming in to the harbour and had a coffee in the ice-cream shop.  It was damp and miserable weather, so we were pleased to get in out of the wind.

Signs to catch the train to the Airport

Travelling back to Hamburg went like clockwork.  We caught the No 1 line bus into Westerland and walked onto the platform for our train – direct this time.  We had a smooth journey to Hamburg-Altona and then caught the S-bahn back to the airport.  I loved the consideration given to tourists on the S-bahn platform – the trains to the airport split before you reach the airport and it is essential to be in the first three carriages to make sure you reach your destination.  The thoughtful folk in the station had this well sign-posted in a banner as well as on the edge of the platform!

Such a shame, we had to get a flight home 🙁

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Sylt

Train from Hamburg to Sylt
Windmills on the way to Sylt

Wow, now there’s an idea.  I’ve just been speaking to my sister and she’s booked herself a bit of rehab in a clinic in Sylt.  Sylt is a small island off the coast of Denmark – but it turns out to be part of Germany.  Just having a quick look online, it seems to me as if it’s a long sandbar …. there’s a huge long beach of golden sand which looks amazing.

The island seems to be a holiday resort for the wealthy – exclusive, expensive and stunning.  It would be lovely to have a short break there; it looks as if there are a lot of quality hotels; holiday homes; even hostels.  AirBnB is well represented for those who like to do self-catering.  It is easier to fly to Sylt from Scotland during the summer season.  Off-season, the easiest way to travel from Edinburgh is to fly to Hamburg and then take a train journey to Westerland.  Online booking is straightforward and will probably save you money too.  Having looked through various sites, it seems as if there is also a good local bus service which will let you explore most of the island.  It’s possible to buy a family ticket which seems exceptional value.

Do you feel as if I’m talking my way into booking a break in Sylt??  I’ll let you know if I do 🙂

Happy New Year 2017

Now that we’re semi-retired, we get to explore a little.  Perhaps that’s over-stating it as we do sell online and have to be around to manage the orders, but if we didn’t afford ourselves the luxury of day-trips, life would be a little boring.

So far this year we’ve visited two different coffee shops.  The first was in Broughty Ferry.  We went to the amazing Visocchis – Italian Coffee Shop and Ice Cream Parlor, Broughty Ferry  in Gray Street.  As it was just after New Year, there weren’t many places open and the place was jumping.  We were lucky, though, and found a table for four.  Visocchis specialise in pasta and pizza and their own, delicious home made ice cream and cakes.  I ordered lasagne and the others ordered Paperdelle Visocchi and Fettucine Al Salmone – rave reviews all round.  The ice cream deserts met all expectations, too.  Would we go back?  Definitely!

Coffee Shop

The next day, we decided to visit The Smiddy at Doune – run by the Blair Drummond Estate.  It’s brand new (opened just before Christmas 2016) and looked interesting, set back from the junction of the A84 and A873.  The building is brand new and nicely laid out.  Walking through the farm shop and gift shop, you come to the dining area which has a view out over open fields.

I had the steak pie from the lunch menu – while Sandy had one of the specials, gammon steak, egg and chips.  Both really tasty.

Sitting and watching, the staff were very attentive and food was made to order.  We did notice that some diners were getting a little impatient waiting for a soup order but again, it was a busy day and the staff were obviously dealing with orders as they came in.

We would go back again!

 

 

Silly Saturday!

smallsteiffrabbit

This adorable, cute little Steiff rabbit found it’s way outside to check out the quality of the miniature carrots ….  It’s actually on its way to a customer but needed some breakfast before the journey 😉

#sillysaturday