Sweet Shards at Sunny Ridge

The ideas for school holidays can sometimes feel lacking, or too-familiar, or too boring…

“let’s go to the park”

“let’s go to the library”

“let’s go to the movies,”

And although these are all great ideas, things I would do again and again, we all need something different sometimes, don’t we?

And even though it ain’t strawberry picking time, it doesn’t mean you can’t go to a strawberry farm, right?

I mean, part of it was for my own indulgence too. Other than strawberries (yum) and other café indulgences (drool) it was to satisfy my own little curiosity, something that has been brewing for years and years, ever since my very first visit to Sunny Ridge with Hubbie, while I was pregnant with baby girl.

Back then it had been high strawberry picking season. I had picked myself a punnet (or two), gotten some other take-home goodies, and also indulged in a most fabulous strawberry sundae on that superbly warm day.

Before…

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And, after.

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Both myself and growing baby girl had been in agreeance: delicious!

So this time we headed on down again, at the end of week one of Sunny Ridge’s school holiday program, which unbeknownst to her, was her second visit 😉

Week one saw an activity where kids could let their inner Jamie Oliver/Heston Blumenthal/Nigella Lawson soar with a creation of what was basically, a giant chocolate freckle!

(Maybe even Gordan Ramsay, if the chocolate was not melted to the right temperature?) 🤣

The workshop started at 10:30am, with the general café and store opening to the public at 11am as per their Winter timetable (see website for opening times below).

A small group started off, soon growing into a large group of kids ranging from about 2 to 9 years of age, with parents to boot, each expressing their foodie selves onto their own personal piece of melted chocolate on a plate…

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Throw in some things like honeycomb, coconut, cocoa pops, and of course freeze-dried strawberries along with their own cup of mini marshmallows, m&ms and other little chocolatey goodies…

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The decorating part took as long as the fussy or not so fussy kids allowed. Let’s say, about 15 minutes. Into the giant freezer it then went, and while they waited for their chocolate to set, the colouring paper came out.

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A nifty idea and cute little activity to keep them busy as they waited for their take-home treat.

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I have to say at this stage, the staff were pretty awesome. There were two main women helping out, one was the host of the crafty bit, going around and getting personal with the kids and their creations, while also providing some sweet feedback, and then there was another one who was busy running around putting plates in the freezer, and hurriedly attending to kids with a sharpener for the flat colouring pencils. Top marks for care factor.

I was meanwhile, busy eyeing off the corner coffee machine and the specials up on the wall. DRRROOOOLLLLL.

When baby girl seemed to be getting overly decorative with her drawing, (it must have been at least 20 minutes) I gently prompted her by telling her that we would get some drinks and treats when she finished…

And suddenly she was finished! Fortunately so too was her chocolate freckle, as the host went into the freezer and brought it out all set and ready to eat!

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What a fantastic and fun idea. Melted chocolate on a plate? Who knew? (Actually we all know, chocolate is delicious).

The deets!

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm is located at 244 Shands Road, Main Ridge

During the Winter school holidays and in general during their ‘off’ season, which is May – October, they are open Friday to Monday, 11am – 4pm (plus public holidays and VIC school hols)

In the ‘on’ season (sunshine time!) from November – April, they are open 7 days a week, 9am – 5pm (excludes some public holidays).

‘Pick your own strawberries’ is available during the ‘on’ season. You pay for entry (kids 4 and under are free) and pay for the strawberries you pick.

***In the second week of the school holidays from July 8th to 12th, kids will be making their own hanging strawberry origami and berry page munchers! Starting 10:30am, this fun activity is only $12!***

Check out their website here or call 5989 4500 to book.

And let’s not forget the cafe…

They have a selection of strawberry-themed and other warming desserts on offer, and their food store displays a range of strawberry jams, biscuits, candles, chocolates, candies, and other local fares from the region…

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Even if you don’t like strawberries, there is something for you:

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We got a deliciously scented strawberry body cream, and a fresh but sweet soap.

You know how I said baby girl was perfectly happy with me eating strawberries when she was in my tummy? Well she ain’t so much a fan nowadays… never mind, because…

You know how I said we were getting treats after her activity?

SCONES!

HOT CHOCOLATE!

COFFEE!

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It was amazingly warming enjoyed in the crisp and sunny Winter’s air. There is nothing quite like sitting amidst nature and taking some time out to satisfy your sweet tooth.

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Let me finish on this image…

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Sweet. 🍓

P. S. The chocolate freckle was, AMAZING!!!! 😋

What is the deal with February anyway?

What is it, with a date? Or even, a time of year?

I came to realise months ago that there was some peculiar, truly funny business concerning a certain month, and in particular often, a number.

The offending number was 27.

And the all-encompassing offensive month was February.

Specifically, February 27.

Because you see, on that date, a few things happened. Well, this year one BIG thing happened, but then it reminded me of other like things, and soon I was scratching my head and looking up at the planets and asking ‘what the?’

Was it a cyclical phase? Were the planets aligned a certain way the same time each year, making certain life-changing events happen? Was it coincidence (of which I don’t believe anything of…)

Chance? Hmmm…. nah.

Let me divulge.

I received a phone call on February 27. It was in the afternoon, from an unknown mobile number.

From my bosses, bosses, BOSS.

It was my great grand-daddy of bosses. Immediately, without even being in my industry, well, being a person of any workplace or industry… this was NOT a good sign.

I immediately thought to myself amidst the shock of it all, “some heavy shit is going down.”

I imagined bosses getting sacked.

A huge weather disaster.

A terrorist attack on our work building (I am not even kidding).

But as he began to speak, I started to see where he was headed…

What he said meant major changes NOT just for me, but for me and practically every person I knew and worked with and came into contact with in my daily work operations.

We, and I, were being given notice, of a more than likely redundancy in a years time.

I was in absolute and profound shock. I somehow managed to string some words together and sound somewhat professional talking to this grand-daddy of bosses. He expressed his need to talk to all involved, even if they weren’t at work that day when the news bomb had dropped. It was a hardening business, the industry was changing, and in doing so they were downsizing and moving on over interstate to help themselves, economically speaking.

I remember sitting with baby girl only minutes after the call ended. She kept asking that I play with her dolls. I sat on the floor with her, holding up some barbie doll, it could have been Ana, Elsa, Ariel, hell it could have been all of them for all I know. All I remember though, were the whirling thoughts in my head, the shock, the getting to grips with things. The adjustment. The profound sadness for myself and all of our team.

The acknowledgment, that this good thing, was coming to an end.

It wouldn’t be for another year. They didn’t know when the official move and migration would happen… at this stage, all we had was indicators, and we were given lengthy notice to help us in this massive change of our lives.

And we had known for a while. We knew this was coming. My favourite phrase was “if we’re all still here in 5 years, we’re VERY lucky…”

We weren’t lucky anymore.

And as I sat there, my mind bursting with all of this new information, I remembered something.

Something from that morning. Something that wasn’t shocking. Rather, something that had made me smile.

Because it had been a facebook memory.

You know how facebook reminds you of something you posted years ago, and it will say “on this day X years ago…”

Well I got one of those that morning. I got a “On this day 5 years ago…” and saw with absolute delight that February 27 had been the day I had made my birth announcement on facebook, that I was expecting baby girl. I didn’t share the memory again, instead I opened up the photo, remembered the comments, smiled so hard at the joy expressed from family and friends, and reminisced about a major and truly important milestone of our lives.

From Feb 27 2013. And on that day, Feb 27 2018, I was getting made redundant… soon.

But no, that wasn’t even ALL. Because the previous year, I had walked into the family room with baby girl at the start of the day, and upon opening the blinds, felt it odd I could only hear…

ONE BIRD.

We had two then. We had our trusty and loyal male cockatiel who had been with us for well over a decade. He had been hand-reared by both myself and Hubbie, and had travelled through houses near and far to be with us.

The other one was an Indian ringneck, recently given to us by some family members who could not give the bird the attention it deserved in light of them having had a baby recently.

Then, our cockatiel had been with us for about 15 years – the Indian ringneck, 6 months.

Both males. Yet both so different. The ringneck was cheeky and clever.

A dangerous combination. Because that morning as I decided it was all too weird that I could see one bird from the side view of his cage, yet I could not see the other, I decided to open the back door and take a closer look…

I gasped when I stuck my head out. The cage door was ajar.

The ringneck had escaped!

Feb 27 was whirling in my head. What? A Feb 27 incident from this year, last year, 5 years ago, and that wasn’t even the entire list of everything that had ever happened in February.

2 years ago I had had an accident, literally 20 minutes after jumping in to drive my new car. 20 minutes. My new car. Out of nowhere. This upsetting event was the precursor to my carcrashgratitude site being born.

And then 6 years ago in February, we found out a family member had a terminal illness. The ending wasn’t happy.

I couldn’t believe the insane symmetry of it all as I sat on the carpeted floor alongside baby girl. It was just too much. It couldn’t be a coincidence. Though one event was a happy one, the others were generally upsetting, with another one a shock, but one common theme threaded them all together…

They all indicated CHANGE. Whether the change was good, bad, or just a new adjustment. A learning curve. All these events brought with it major change and adjustment, a different way of coping or looking at life, of trying to deal, and grow in amongst much uncertainty around us.

An illness change – Someone passed away and it gave us an important life lesson in life and death.

A pregnancy change – The most beautiful life change you can get, that equally drives you insane as it does heap rewards on you.

A car accident change – It sent us on a spiral but I started my carcrashgratitude blog, a personal exercise in writing daily and finding gratitude in each day and in everything. 

A bird disappearing change – Some things are just there in your life for quite literally, a season.

And now, seemingly a career change – to be continued…

It must be planetary, there must be something above us making the same wheels turn again and again at the same time of year. I don’t understand it, though I don’t think I am meant to. I think I am just meant to do what I always do.

ADJUST.

And I have. I have had a long time to get used to my new adjustment. My new work change. I haven’t been able to talk about it though, and I don’t know why. Very few people know, and for some reason the words to talk about it can’t seem to find their way out of my mouth…

I think it is because saying it out loud, makes it more real. It means it is actually happening. Sure, it is about the only topic we talk about while at work, but away from work, when it becomes spoken of, well… then it becomes MORE real.

And when it is more real, you know what else will come?

“What are you going to do?”

And that is the clincher. I don’t know what I’m going to do next. I have a million ideas. But I just don’t know where to turn to. And it is this unknowing that has me holding back.

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Roman Bozhko at Unsplash