In the past few years we have become so busy running after our children and their daily school and after school commitments that I realised we have very little time to do any family fun activities or outings...
So I am determined, (hear all the wingeing going on!) that once a month we will do a family activity all together... the kids have been told they can also add their activity to the wish list. The plan is simple: find something that we don't do on a regular basis and make an effort as a family to have a relaxed fun moment!
We attempted the idea previously and somehow not much eventuated so here is hoping that in 2015 we have better luck. The plan is to have a sunday experience/challenge every month and see where this takes us - (Especially since big travel trips are on the back burner this year with some changes in the air)
The first family sunday challenge was to go berry picking at Blue Hills - This is something I have been keen to do for a long time and decided to surprise the kids. I decided not to tell them of our plans for the day! - Mstr 12 did not really find this fun initially and complained the whole way - (he did eventually have fun and enjoy the moment.. I think)
There are plenty of U-pick berry options across Victoria and depending on the season they offer a different type of picking experience i.e. cherry season vs raspberry season etc... best to check the websites to plan your day.
Early on a Sunday, I got up and packed us a picnic lunch and we headed off on our adventure - it was a great sunny day and not too hot. We drove onto Silvan, located in the foot hills of the Dandenong ranges and is approximately an hour's drive from central Melbourne and onto Blue Hills Berry Farm.
We tried to arrive as early as possible, as the best berries get picked fast and I was surprised at how busy it was. On arrival at Blue Hills Berry farm, the kids were given a small punnet each to fill up with berries - as long as you could close the lid you did not need to pay extra and of course you could eat as many as you wanted along the way. This to be honest was the best part, the raspberries were sun kissed and delicious!
So we hopped from rows of raspberry bushes to strawberries to the cherry trees and ate and filled all 4 punnets to the brim.
After all our efforts and full punnets we paused at the cafe for a quick drink and then drove off towards the Silvan Reservoir which was to be our a picnic spot - it was rather busy when we got there, so not really realising we drove on thinking we would get a better spot on the other side - Instead we ended up driving through the most gorgeous eucalypt forest and found a little spot under the trees by the side of a dirt road to eat our sandwiches. (Check fire conditions before you go!)
The kids will never admit it but they had fun and had berries for the whole week to enjoy.
So then on our return home we found ourselves with way too many berries and not enough people to eat them! So during the week I made muffins which are great for school lunch boxes. (or I guess you could freeze the excess fruit) Simply use your basic muffin recipe and throw in a cup of berries.
Mixed Berry Muffin recipe suggestion from Kids Spot:
Mixed berry muffins recipe. These mixed berry muffins are filled with swirls of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries all the way through them. Using frozen berries makes this recipe economical and easy!
Prep Time:15 mins
Cook Time:30 minutes
-Method:Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan forced).
-Line a 12 cup muffin tray with patty pans.
-In a bowl, mix the flour and sugar.
-In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs, milk, butter and lemon rind.
-Stir in the flour and sugar. When the flour is just wet, fold in the berries.
-Fill muffins liners and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Blue Hills - Berries and Cherries - Silvan Victoria
$12 AUD - per Adult - includes 500g punnet per adult
$6 AUD - per Child aged 3-14 - includes 250g punnet per child
Raspberries - Mid November to January
Strawberries - Mid October to May
Cherries - November to December
More Berry picking options - Check out the Weekend Notes which has a whole list of options near Melbourne. Next would love to try picking blueberries at Tuckerberry Hill, Berry Farm & Cafe on the Bellarine Peninsula!
Take an Esky or cooler bag to store the fruit in so they don't get damaged in the car on the way home!
pack hats, sunscreen and repellant (for the flies) and a large picnic
Invite other friends and kids to join, the more the merrier.
How about you have you been berry picking? Where and rate your experience!
Please list any Sunday challenges in and around Melbourne that you would recommend it can be an experience or food and or Park!