Dobbies Santa Grotto in Edinburgh at Christmas 2018

I don't actually own a garden but that's never stopped me enjoying a visit to the Edinburgh branch of Dobbies Garden Centres. And in December there's all the more reason to visit, because Santa will be there most days up until Christmas. For £11.99, bookable in advance at Dobbies Online youngsters can have a chat with Santa in his grotto at Dobbie and get a wee present to take home.

This year they have also launched a new Breakfast with Santa activity which looks like fun for all the family. All guests have the option of a hot or cold breakfast and there are party games as well as gifts for the kids. (Tickets for adults start from £5.99)

Dobbies Santa Grotto in Edinburgh

Dobbies also has one of the most extensive arrays of Christmas gifts, decorations, cards and trees that I have ever seen around Edinburgh. There's lots of free parking and a food hall (admittedly pricey), where you can pick up some gourmet treats for later.

It's just across the way from Butterfly World, owned by the same firm, which is a great place to warm up in Edinburgh's cold winter.

Many weekends I head out to Dobbies with the family, for a cup of tea in their popular cafe, where you can get a decent, reasonably priced lunch or snack.

The aquatics and pets section is popular with young children, who enjoy looking at the fish, rabbits and small furry rodents (think they were guinea pigs but hard to be sure).

I often come home from Dobbies with another house plant for my collection and resolve that we must move to a house with a garden, so I can do more than just browse among the herbaceous borders.

Children also enjoy throwing pennies into the water features on display.

There's a great deal of simple pleasure to be had from a trip to Dobbies and it's given me much happiness over the many years I've been going there.

Dobbies Garden Centres Plc
Melville Nursery
Lasswade
Midlothian
Edinburgh
EH18 1AZ

Tel: 0131 663 1941