Tag Archives: Gift Ideas

and on the eighth day God created chocolate!

As our property manager Eelin reminded me, Easter is not all about chocolate, but I have to admit, for me it definitely plays a very big part of my celebration of the festival!  There is something about the taste of chocolate when it’s been made into the shape of an egg which somehow makes it that bit yummier.

I have a bit of a penchant for non-brand name chocolate Easter eggs which have not just come off the supermarket shelf.  I prefer an egg that is a little bit more unique, one fit for a special occasion such as Easter.  The decadence of a hand-made, beautifully decorated, luxury chocolate egg that holds a secret treat inside which remains unknown until you crack open that tasty oval exterior, now that’s an Easter egg worth breaking my healthy eating plan for!

Regular readers of ‘Our Unique Blog’ will know that here at Unique Cottages we like to share with you our specialist knowledge of Scotland and tell you about the hidden treasures of this beautiful country.  So, as an Easter treat allow me to tell you about a wee village in the Highlands that always comes to mind when I think of indulging in some very special chocolate, and a chocolate shop which you just have to visit if you’re in the area.

The former spa town Strathpeffer, just a 30-minute drive from the Highland capital of Inverness, is home to what has to be described as a chocolate lover’s heaven.  ‘Maya Belgian Chocolates’ is run by Maître Chocolatier Fabienne De Mulder who creates and sells a range of over 40 different chocolates from her shop close to the centre of the village.  Fabienne’s signature chocolates include ganache made from raspberry pulp covered in white chocolate, ganache infused with Earl Grey Tea covered in dark chocolate and ganache with Amaretto (Almond based liqueur) covered in milk chocolate (I’d tell you more but my mouth is watering with the thought of these 3 alone!)

As well as selling individual chocolates and truffles, boxes and bars, the shop is well known for its Hot Chocolate, which is truly ‘to die for’ and at certain times visitors can even watch Fabienne creating her exclusive chocolates right there on the premises.

If like me, a fabulous chocolate shop selling delicious melt in your mouth treats is enough of an attraction on its own to inspire you consider holidaying close by, then Unique Cottages have a number of delightful properties in the area which will provide comfortable and attractive accommodation for your chocolate pilgrimage.

Kinkell Castle Cottage (sleeps 2)

Red Kite Cottage (sleeps 3/4)

Peediequoy Cottage (sleeps 6)

A unique gift.

So, this Sunday is Mother’s Day which, for me, always brings with it the quandary about what to give my dear old Mum as a token of my appreciation for her and all she has done for me (a great deal if I’m honest).  When I needed her she was always there and continues to be there for me no matter what (Mother’s job you may say) but considering my poor attitude and obnoxiousness at times (especially during my teenage years), I really have pushed the limits of a mother’s love in my time!

I know that people often say that it is the thought that counts and that Mums especially will be pleased with whatever you give them because it’s from you, but still, considering all she has done, I feel the need to get her something that she really will be pleased to receive.  But this is not the easiest of tasks!

I’ve made my mistakes over my lifetime when it comes to choosing that all important Mother’s day pressie. In this particular matter is seems I take after my father, who also, more often than not, purchases presents for my mother that antagonise rather than delight!

After numerous mistakes and leaving my parent’s home with a feeling of failure, despite my Mother’s efforts to reassure me that she “really does appreciate the thought” (my mum could never have made it as an actress) a solution had to be found. And I think I have finally found one, which, over the last few years at least, seems to ensure a happy Mother’s day for all.

My secret weapon in the battle of choosing an appropriate present for the woman I owe my life to is (drum roll please)…..Gift Vouchers!   Yeah, I know sounds boring but I have found that the benefits of buying a gift voucher vastly outweigh the fact you are not giving a gift that you can wrap.  The joy of gift vouchers is that the recipient gets some element of choice, meaning that it is harder to go wrong when making sure the present is something they really like.

However, as with everything in life, there are rules to make gift voucher giving work for you!  Some thought is still involved. It would be fair enough to get your Mother a voucher from Halfords if she’s really into her car, but my Mum’s main concern when it comes to her car is that it gets her from A to B (with plenty of space for shopping bags).  Therefore, a Halfords voucher isn’t going to work for her.  My Mother works hard (keeping an eye on me, my siblings, and my Dad, as well as earning a living) so I find that getting a gift voucher which allows her to treat herself and take time out from the daily grind goes down well.  Last year I got her a gift voucher for a spa day, the year before that I got her a voucher for a posh meal so she could get some ‘quality time’ with my Dad and not have to cook.

With the increase in things you can get gift vouchers for, they really have become a very simple way of giving something that the recipient can tailor to their own tastes, therefore ensuring they like what you give and you can truly show your appreciation of them.  A potential idea for a gift voucher, which may suit some Mothers this year, is one that gives her money off a holiday and offers her a chance to escape and relax for a while.

At Unique Cottages we offer Gift Vouchers for a holiday retreat to Scotland available in multiples of £25 which are valid for 2 years, so your mum not only has a choice of fabulous holiday cottages to choose from but also plenty of time in which to book her well deserved break.