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!!!! 😋

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An Enchanting Time

The crazy Christmas lead-up in early December saw me say “no, I want MORE mayhem!” as I headed over to my second bloggers meet-up at The Enchanted Adventure Garden.

Only ‘crazy’ was not what I felt as we wound up higher and higher up Arthurs Seat road, watching the Eagle chairlifts hover over us temporarily as they made their casual descent/ascent…
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and ‘crazy’ was not what I felt as we first passed Bowens Point

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And then Franklins Lookout

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Murrays Lookout

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and then finally, Chapmans Point

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It was serene, with a small dose of beautifully scary as I viewed the perilous drop from the cliff face. No, my memories of last travelling on that stunning Arthur’s Seat Rd hill, were from about 7 or so years ago before baby girl came along, when Hubbie and I, having not even considered the words ‘Sea change’ then, were heading to our beautifully intimate Arthurs Seat hill accommodation for the night, and as I observed that it was pitch black and almost scary how there were no lights around, he turned to me devilishly and gave me his best ‘Michael-Jackson-as-possessed-zombie-in-Thriller’ face look, to which I screamed and started to cry.

So no. These views were NOT scary compared to that strong memory.

And crazy was suddenly so far from mind, so removed from my being, that the Christmas rush was only a faint memory as we parked and observed the car park and surrounds…

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And I realised, we are not in Kansas anymore baby girl. But that’s what happens when you come to the Mornington Peninsula now, is it?

Us bloggers were greeted to a lovely morning tea and a brief introduction to all that the Adventure Ground is, and does.

Immaculate gardens, picnic area galore, mazes, Adrenalin-junkie fun, kids paradise, relaxing walks, and even a sweet-tooth’s dream! Why, is there anything Enchanted didn’t cover?

I was soon to find out. Off I went with baby girl with my map of the grounds, my critical eye out and ready for my review…

Statues – tick. √

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Finely trimmed hedges – tick. √

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Brightly coloured flowers – tick. √

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Ok, so this was all well and good for the adult eye, but I needed to keep my daughter happy, and looking at trees was something she had not grown to appreciate as yet.

We followed a path and soon found ourselves in the Turf Maze, a fantastic and relaxing premise based on a practice by Monks in the Middle Ages, used as a meditative tool as they would walk around and around in repetitive circles in silence, aided only by their feet and their thoughts. I got baby girl started on one end as I started taking photos of… the trees.

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I LOVED that tree. Just l♥ved. I developed some serious tree envy as I took several dozen photos of it, and baby girl skipped through a few maze lines, and then was suddenly at the exit of the maze.

Right-o. I don’t ‘quite’ see her meditating in that space, but at least it kept her somewhat busy.

I had promised her a playground (with absolutely no idea whether they had one or not – massive parenting risk), and so that is what we were looking for when we came across this sign.

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It seemed the only fun active activity we could do together, in lieu of getting my 4 year old to tree surf by my side, which I was not going to do solo (again, parenting-risk doing it ALONE). Zip-lining was out too.

W observed the tree surfers in the trees up ahead of us, blending in quite nicely I might add, and immediately decided I would come back there with my adventurous, scare the living daylights out of me Thriller-seeking Hubbie.

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Finding the tube slides was fairly easy, as it is actually hard to ignore five 100-metre long slides that steep down from the hill decline.

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There are tube slides for littlies, from 4 and up, so baby girl could have very well gone on it by herself, since the smaller weight actually makes them travel down slower… but no. I decided to take her with me on the adult ride…

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and then plummet down super fast while I thought “oh shit we’re going to flip.”

We didn’t. In fact we went up twice, and on our second trip down the tube turned backwards, so that I really was freaking then “we’re going to flip! We’re going to flip!”

WE DIDN’T. It was the best fun, but the fact of having to haul a huge tube up a steep hill, carrying a fairly heavy handbag, in heat, and while wearing inappropriately heeled shoes, well, it kind of influenced me to cap the tube slides at TWO.

Baby girl was left thoroughly captivated. And yet still, as we headed off down some other paths to explore, she had not forgotten about that damn playground I had promised.

She looked here and there

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She did the usual whine and moan and unsatisfied toddler routine. Damn me. Why had I gone and said something I had no clue about?

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(Baby girl going all 14 year-old hormonal on me)

I stopped to view some interesting sculpture art along my tree-lined walk.

Art and sculptures from Aboriginal, Australian and European artists collided and worked magically together in this most wondrous of gardens.

And then we got to another maze, the Blue Gum Gallery, and I followed a fast baby girl around it, as she laughed at how incompetently slow I was.

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This cheered her up somewhat, and since by this stage we were close to the café from where we had started our walk, it was soon time to go, and clearly I had come across no such playground from the depths of my imagination. I shut down another protest from her with an insane idea, but it worked.

“Do you want lollies?”

And just like that, a 4 year-old’s face lit up.

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We went inside, paid $5 for a cup, and filled it to the brim with all kinds of devilishly sickly sweet goodies. She ate them slowly in the car, stopping every so often to mumble “mmm, yummy…”

Parenting done right. 😉

The deets!

The Enchanted Adventure Garden

55 Purves Road Arthur’s Seat

General Park Entry for Adults: $30; Child/Seniors $20

this includes:

Mazes, Giant Garden Brainteasers, captivating Gardens to picnic at and view in all of their pristine natural glory;

Tube slides – of which there are 6 to choose from: 3 Big Twisters, 2 Straight Giants, and 1 Kids Only slide. Kids need to be 4 to ride on the Kids slide on their own, any smaller and they must ride with an adult.

Canopy Walk – a suspended path that brings you in amongst the trees, that runs through the park, ideal for small children, older people and people with prams.

a 3D indoor spooky maze – pop on your 3D glasses and watch things pop out at you! Ideal for teens and older kids.

Plus MANY more fun things to discover as you meander around.

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Both kids and adults alike can experience the Tree Surfing on offer. The little nippers course is for kids aged 4-12, though kids aged 4 and 5 need an adult to accompany them on the course.

The tree surfing has various degrees of difficulty for both amateur and professional, mild and reckless adult thrill-seekers alike! Includes bridges, zip lines, obstacles and tree platforms, prices for both Nippers and Grand Tree Surfing courses start from $50 for Adults, and $40 for Children/Seniors, with a 2 hour limit per activity.

But if you need your adrenalin rush and lack the time, need not fear! The Tree Zip Line may be just what you need, and those competitively charged, you can even Zip alongside a friend and see who gets to their destination first! Prices are $40 for Adults, $30 for Children/Seniors.

Active wear highly recommended for these ACTIVE activities, and closed-toes shoes a MUST!

I must reiterate again, despite baby girl’s temperamental attitude towards a lack of playground, there ARE kid-friendly activities and things to do, and they abound. However on that day there were several tree-top renovations happening up above, getting all geared up for the crazy holiday season, and so a couple of areas of the Gardens appeared incomplete. The above is an indicator of what is up on offer, but isn’t a complete list, as there is also a Children’s Maze, something we didn’t see on that day but I think would be perfect for a curious baby girl.

Tips:

Need I say again, closed-toed shoes?

Make your life easy and don’t wear heels.

More advice? Carry light. When I hauled that tube up the hill twice, in my heeled shoes carrying my heavy handbag, I developed lower back pain two nights later and immediately knew where it had come from.

For God’s sake don’t be like me, wear appropriate footwear, pack light, and carry the tube as unforcefully as you can. Or bring Hubbie along and he can do it.

And if all else fails, remember…

LOLLY SHOP.

(Mwa ha ha!)

At first glance perhaps pricey on entry, but when you see all the beauty and fun, relaxation and learning that these Gardens have to offer, you will see that it is well worth the price.

Our visit there was rushed, so I cannot wait to go back and explore some more.

And for something different, an alternative and highly entertaining present would be the Tree Surfing and Zip Lines as a fabulous and inventive gift idea.

So, what are you waiting for… Upwards! ↑↑↑

Lantasia Lights

I thought it was a one-off event, back when I saw the lit-up advertising in the Summer of ’16 – ’17. There were huge bright characters and animals, but being so soon after our Sea Change move, the thought of exploring when I needed to explore rather the dozen (or 50) boxes we had still packed up in our home, was too much to bear (and we still have boxes!)

However this year, this Summer, was different. More than 1 year after moving here, when I saw the familiar lights and pretty hanging things being showcased around online and in local advertising, I knew I had to take baby girl to go and see them.

Hell, I wanted to go and see them.

Armed with my trusty Mornington Peninsula ‘Penny Saver’ book, Hubbie, baby girl and I made our way over to Fingal to see the Fantasia Light Walk display at Boneo Maze and Mini Golf.

We started our tour of the grounds via the boardwalk, that led us through native flora, fauna and light installations –

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Which then led us to a Hedge Maze early on, which we weaved our way through. Surprisingly cool, a great place to hide out in on a hot Summer’s night! We headed through it easily, though with a couple of twists and turns you could find yourself looping the same path on repeat if not careful! Keep kids close, just in case. Just a small maze, nonetheless.

Back onto the boardwalk, which led us through wetlands around us, and MORE light installations.

 

 

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A little House of Mirrors (or should I say, horrors) greeted us at one point, made more horrific when after viewing our reflections in the mirror, I noticed some ghost-like black and white photographs staring at us from the wall, and got baby girl the hell out of there before she could even think about starting on nightmares.

Annndddd…. another nightmare.

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At a fork in the boardwalk, one path led us down a Bird Hide through which you could view birds in their natural habitat via a window-ed cottage… but the other path is the one that led us to something more exciting.

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A large games area, which the beautiful boardwalk framed as it wove around the parkland, was the perfect focal point of the grounds, especially for kids. There was a vintage carousel

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Giant games, including Chess, Checkers, Connect 4 and Hookey.

And lights were on display amidst the trees and gardens, shining brightly as night fell.

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So much to see and do, for both kids and adults alike. And set in amongst such beautiful settings, calming nature, stunning scenery, and bright lanterns and light installations.

In fact, there was soooo much to see and do, that we didn’t get to see and do. A major feature of the park is the Mini Golf, so much so that you get a score card on the back of your map of the grounds upon entry.

Also at additional cost, is the Adventure Zone, open on school holidays and weekends, that include things like climbing walls and pedal boats.

We were only there for a short time, since I had squeezed the whole visit in. The Lantasia Light Walk at Boneo Maze ends soon, on Jan 27, and I really wanted to check it out before then, seeing as I had missed it the year before.

In turn our visit was rushed, yet really you should be spending a good several hours here, 4 at least to get your money’s worth.

And speaking of money, the Lantasia entry prices are on the ‘up’ side, as I would say in my Food Reviews… $20 for adults, and $18 for children. Just as well Hubbie got in for free with our Penny Saver voucher!

A café resides in the first half of the grounds, allowing you to enjoy yourself for a bit amidst exploring for those 4 hours or so, where you can indulge in some fine fare and drinks (licensed too, so take your glass of bubbly to the lawn and chill!)

My only gripe out of the whole evening, was that there are only one lot of toilets up in the café. Seeing as baby girl had to go tot the toilet twice, both times while we were half-way to the Games area, it was really annoying to have to turn back and walk ALL THE WAY BACK to the café, instead of keeping forward and finding, I don’t know, at least one outdoor toilet or something, somewhere, anywhere, near the Games area. It would have been so much more convenient.

The deets!

Boneo Maze and Mini Golf

695 Limestone Road Fingal

Prices:

Lantasia Light Walk runs from 7pm every night, and finishes up on Jan 27th – so get in quick!

Lantasia entry for adults is $20; children are $18

General Boneo Maze entry prices:

Adults $18; Senior/student/concession $16; Children (3-17) $15; kids under 3, Free!

Your general entry allows you unlimited Mini Golf (something I will be learning for next time!) access to games, mazes, wetlands, boardwalks, the carousel, and special workshops.

The ‘Adventure Zone’ is an extra $5 per activity/person, or $15 for unlimited wristband (go the wristband, who wants to limit themselves to ONE activity?!)

Tips?

Make sure your littlies have had their bathroom break before embarking on any walks or games, especially as you head away from the café.

And give yourself a good few hours to really enjoy and explore the grounds.

Final say…

Although rushed we still had fun, and further testament to this was baby girl asking me the next day to take her back to the merry-go-round. 🙂 When your kid doesn’t forget, neither do you. I will need to take her back, but there’ll be no twisting of my arm to do it either… that’ll be the job for the Mini Golf…

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Winning at the season

Today my daily calender told me this:

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And if you follow my carcrashgratitude blog you may have seen this post, where I posted this pic:

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Baby girl’s Christmas tree.

In baby girl’s bedroom.

Which baby girl decorated herself.

Winning at Christmas AND parenting.

Score 🙂

Turn towards this Bakery

Turners Bakehouse Eatery
107 Schotters Road Mernda

We decided to head out to Turners Bakehouse Eatery for breakfast one Sunday in mid-January. We had ventured there before, pre-blogging days and when baby girl was still learning about her tastebuds. Now, she would have a meal of her own. And a babycino to boot.

Turners is a boutique bakery originally established in 1892, and recently restored after being closed since the 1940s. It’s a beautiful and quaint building, reminiscent of a working farm house back in the day. It sits on a residential street just past the Fire Station but before the Church. That in itself paints a pretty picture right there.

It was the start of a hot Summer’s day, but sitting underneath the tall trees out in the yard of the café, it was perfect. There is seating inside, though it always looks so squashed to me, that I think even if we went there in Winter I would rather rug up and be amongst the plants and birdlife.

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And there were birds alright. The cockys were flying overhead and squawking from perched branches on trees above us. The surroundings felt rural, yet being a short distance from other neighbouring, more built-up suburbs, it was only a stone’s throw away.

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I had ordered the Eggs Florentine – Poached eggs served on toasted ciabatta, with wilted spinach and hollandaise sauce

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Hubbie got the French Toast – Bakehouse brioche, topped with whipped mascarpone, berry compote, pistachio crumb

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While baby girl got a Cheese Toasty

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All our meals looked great, even baby girl’s simple melted cheese on bread. She seemed to enjoy it, as did we, eating her leftovers.

The hollandaise sauce on my meal was of the perfect quantity, and not swimming in it like other poached egg meals I’ve had. It can be so overwhelming when you have eggs dripping in hollandaise. Thankfully this was not. The first poached egg I had was perfectly runny, while the second one had a stronger formed yolk. Lucky I had the runny one first, since I had been craving poached eggs for a while. And the bread was light, not hard, which I was grateful for. There’s nothing worse than slicing your gums against too-tough bread because the crust is super-sharp/over-toasted.

Hubbie enjoyed his meal, saying it was just enough for him… well maybe he could have done with a tad more. But he wasn’t left with that over-full feeling he usually gets when he orders meals like a ‘Big Breakfast.’

Funnily enough, I had felt like I had had the big breakfast! I couldn’t eat for hours after that meal, as I just felt so bloated and heavy. Maybe it had nothing at all to do with the meal, and just the way I processed it that day. I don’t understand it, I’ve had eggs Florentine before… just this time it really weighed me down, to the point that when I did eat at 3pm, it was 2 minute noodles from the pantry. I just couldn’t fathom anything more.

I know, I know – a food blogger to eat 2 minute noodles? That’s blasphemous. However I am a time-poor Mum, and I need emergency food for ‘in case’ situations, which this was…)

After our meals we got some coffees: latte, cappuccino and babycino

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I found my cap exceptionally strong, yet it was still smooth, so I enjoyed it.

The rest of the morning there was spent looking at the watering can fountain (and advising baby girl repeatedly not to touch!), wandering the yard a bit, and waving to fellow breakfast-goers – oh that’s right, that was baby girl, not us. It was actually a perfect morning, so warm, so peaceful, yet there were plenty of families around so we felt right at home. The best way to feel on a lazy Sunday morning.

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Food: 7.5/10. Filling.

Coffee: 8/10.  Strong, smooth.

Ambience: Really peaceful, I loved it. There were a few people out in the yard that day but everyone was in Sunday mode and just chill-axing. Trees, birds squawking, sun shining… it really was ideal.

Staff: All of the waitresses were very friendly, and our waitress was very kid-savvy which was great. She was genuinely friendly and good with our princess.

People: Generally families, but there were a few duos, and people without children arriving in groups to brunch away.

Price: $49 for the lot, which I considered a bargain for what we got and what we experienced.

Advice: Sit outside. Maybe buy one of their famous loaves of sourdough bread to take home (something I’m yet to do and reading their website I’m sorry that I didn’t!). It’s made in their traditional wood-fired Scotch oven, built way back in the 1890s (!) while their sourdough bread is made with a natural, long-fermenting yeast that not only tastes amazing but is good for you too. Man, I’m going there tomorrow since we’re currently out of bread!

In a nutshell: It’s a fabulous find up in the North that is well worth the venture, not just for the serenity, the service or their famous breads, but just because it’s a little piece of history that has been restored, and that alone should inspire you to Turn around and check it out…

Turners Bakehouse Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato