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Monday, 29 October 2018

Honestly, I thought I knew of all of the shopping centres, parks and outlets in Glasgow and the surrounding areas so when I was invited along to The Centre, Livingston I was surprised I hadn't been before then! It was a miserable Saturday morning, but one of those days where all you want to do is get up, grab breakfast and quickly get out the door. That's exactly what we did, blaring 'The Greatest Showman' soundtrack the whole car journey - yes, we are that family you see at the traffic lights belting out our best!

This is a total 'mum comment' but my initial thought when we arrived was ah - plenty of parking. Great! I know it's so basic but with the two kids I want to be able to get parked easily and know I won't struggle to juggle all the bags back, that's one of those things that can make or break a day out.

When we walked through the centre I couldn't get over the size of it. It has all my favourite shops all under one roof - H&M, River Island, Next, Topshop, PRIMARK (eeeeek!) but we will get to all of those in a second! We headed to the information desk that was impressively manned by 2 lovely members of staff, happy to point people in the right direction or lend a hand. Kids being kids, Charlie was just having one of those mornings where he didn't know if he was hungry, tired or just a bit bored so when we found out there were little car trolleys available for rental it really made a difference. We parked & locked up our pram and swapped it for 2 cars, one pink with flowers on and the other red and sporty - much to the kids delight! Now we were now ready to have a wander.

The Centre prides itself in it's ShopEatPlay message, reminding families that's it's the ideal place to take children as an all day experience, fulfilling all your needs in one visit, under one roof. You know you just get a vibe walking around somewhere for the first time? I could feel a real sense of warmth and happy atmosphere when we were finding our bearings. Keeping in mind this was a Saturday mid-morning, it really should have been carnage but it has to be said it was surprisingly peaceful.

With the keys being handed over to us pretty soon at this point, we were desperate to have a nosey in Debenhams especially since I spotted they had a sale on. The idea of looking at homeware for the new house is dreamy to Fraser and I, but the kids? Hmmm... I knew better than to take them there undistracted unless I wanted a bill for damages in the store ha! So usually if we are out shopping for the day we like to make a bit of a fuss of the kids and let them pick a toy, particularly if it's a day like today and we are out for hours - I can understand how they could get a bit bored and I always feel all the mum guilt for dragging them about the shops. This way it's fun & exciting and lets face it, a small price to pay for a peaceful easy life! The Entertainer and Build-A-Bear where the two they debated over but with Ella's want for a new LOL Surprise doll The Entertainer toy shop tipped the scale. With one in hand and a Paw Patrol Fire Engine in the other they were delighted and Fraser and I felt smug knowing we had bagged ourselves some time to have a good look around Debenhams.

To our delight we found that most things were on sale individually and if not then it fell under the 20% off selected homeware range! I spotted an item on my wishlist for less than half price and could hardly believe my luck, a Nespresso machine for £65! I knew that had to come home with me along with a beautiful marble utensils holder from Julien MacDonald, the matching chopping board, some good quality knives and some clever JosephJoseph drawer storage. Shop one complete and we had certainly worked up an appetite!

Although the choice of eateries is vast in The Centre, being the creatures of habit that we are we decided a good Nando's was in order. Luckily its located right beside the entrance point so we didn't get soaked in the typical Scottish weather. In Nando's I had to laugh, the managers shirt was literally the EXACT same as charlie’s green and black plaid one, the only difference being that his had the Nando's logo embroidered on, he had the same hair colour and literally looked like the mini and big versions of each other. The manager thought it was funny too and soon after the kids tummies were full and ready for some play time.

The Centre is not only home to many great shops but they know how hard it can be at times to keep the kids amused (and sometimes the husbands!) Inside you'll find their incredible softplay area 'Aerial Adventures!'. Its a super futuristic space theme with dark areas of play as well as lots of ball pit, climbing frames and also a basket ball shoot game that Charlie and Ella adored. It made for a fantastic sensory experience and the age range of the kids was wonderful catering to all family types. Fraser & I were able to grab a coffee, get a plan of action into place for afterwards at the same time as catching a breather and letting the kids tire themselves out.

For older children or as kindly displayed by the big kid that is my husband, you can take advantage of the HiClimb - a vertical assault course 12m above the ground, HiFall - a 12m free fall set to make your adrenaline pump, and HiRide - a 20minute Aerial adventure course, zipline and obstacles 13m in the air. Both Fraser and I agreed that it would be a brilliant laugh to do this with friends or even as part of a works christmas night out coming soon! 

Both thrilled after their fun time in the softplay area, the kids were tired out and Charlie decided to go for a nap. This gave us a lovely chance to spend some time with Ella who has been so excited about moving house for the same reason as myself ... for the BATH! We made our way to Lush & Ella picked out a few delicious bath bombs for herself, and of course I couldn't resist one either! It was a little milestone for Ella going in and picking her own things, like a big girl! 

Since we had our essentials for the home, some nice bath bits, it only felt right to head to Primark and pick up some pjs, bedding and socks too! I was amazed that The Centre actually had a Primark! It's a nice one too, well laid out and has 3 floor levels! We managed to pick up some pjs and a dressing gown too!

I have to say, we were more than impressed with the centre itself, the staff we met were all wonderful and you can really tell they're adding more value to the shopping experience especially to cater to families. Its design is beautiful, spacious and modern as you can see from the photos and we can't wait to head back soon to see the Christmas decorations as they're going up next week! So exciting!

Thank you so much to The Centre Livingston for having us, we thoroughly enjoyed our day. You can expect to see us more often. If you fancy taking a trip there for yourself I've left a link to the website here and directions below to get there.

*sponsored by The Centre Livingston

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