By Alice Gall.
With the summer holidays well and truly here, parents all over Perthshire may be just about reaching that point where you scratch your head, rack your brain and search desperately for new entertainment for the kids. And if you can grab a reviving coffee at the same time, everyone’s happy.
I know Pitlochry as a bustling wee place with many attractions for locals and visitors. It’s a short drive from Perth, or a picturesque train journey - but what’s on offer for children? Look no further than the spell-binding Mrs Potts! Brand new on the scene, and currently situated in the Scotland’s Hotel, Mrs Pott's Pottery Shop provides a creative outlet for children of all ages.
‘Mrs Potts’ is the alter ego of local mum-of-three Donna Grant. With a passion for arts and craft, Donna was keen to provide kids with a relaxed environment where they could be let loose with pottery and paint. Vibrant colours, cool designs, and potentially a LOT of mess…how could any child resist?
I took my two-year-old, James, along with my mum, to visit Mrs Potts, and I must admit to being a little apprehensive. I’ve always been nervous of allowing James to get his sticky fingers anywhere near a pot of paint, and wasn’t sure how he would get on. I needn’t have worried. Donna has a natural affinity with children and James was soon happily settled with a ceramic tractor, paintbrush, and a selection of acrylic paints.
A wide range of blank ceramic shapes are available at low prices – pick out your favourite and get painting. Kids can choose a dinosaur, a football, a unicorn, a toadstool, a castle… the list goes on. Their chosen ceramic might be a coin bank, a planter, a tealight holder, a trinket box, a bird feeder or a decoration. Donna suggests painting with a small number of colours to create a bespoke keepsake or gift. And I think this is the beauty of Mrs Potts – your child ends up creating their very own work of art, to treasure or to give to a grandparent or teacher – but most importantly, has great fun in the process.
Kids can choose a dinosaur, a football, a unicorn, a toadstool, a castle… the list goes on. Aprons are provided, but I’d suggest neither parent nor child should wear their best frock! There is also a break-out area with books and toys if your child is of an age where their attention is apt to wander. Kids can take their time and parents can take a breather.
Mrs Potts is a growing business and Donna is full of fresh ideas. She plans to offer ceramics suited to Halloween, Christmas, Mother’s Day, and more. Mrs Potts is open during the summer holidays from 11am to 3pm Wednesday to Friday, and 11am to 5pm at the weekend.
We’d had a busy morning, and with James happily clutching his new brightly painted tractor, it was time to seek out some lunch. A couple of minutes’ walk took us to Donaghy & Sanderson on Atholl Road and, picking up my dad along the way, we headed in for sustenance.
Gregor Donaghy and Otto Sanderson opened their doors just over a year ago, and describe themselves as lovers of wine and coffee. They pick the best wines from around the world for sale in their shop, and roast and brew their own coffee. Oh, and they chuck in some pretty amazing food as well, which we simply had to sample. The coffee lounge is bright and spacious, and the eponymous Mr Sanderson himself gave us a warm welcome and seated us by their huge window, where we could watch the world go by.
We picked our meals from the light lunch menu which listed a decent range of sandwiches, salads and soup. My dad chose the tuna mayo sandwich, Mum went for the soup of the day which was celery and apple, and I couldn’t resist the Rannoch smoked venison salad. Two-year-olds are not known for their adventurous palates, and fortunately James was able to have his usual cheese and ham sandwich! As our food arrived, Otto explained that the café is passionate about supporting local producers and small businesses, and the ingredients they use reflect this.
We all enjoyed our lunch, and a menu that pleases customers ranging from age two to OAP is doing pretty well! We lingered over the delicious food, and then turned our attention to coffee. After two minutes chatting with Otto, you realise that a passion for coffee is the heart and soul of this place. My parents ordered a couple of Americanos and I had an espresso, and I have to say it was stonkingly good. So much so, that I didn’t even register the diverse range of teas on offer – including Sticky Toffee Black Tea, and Rhubarb Crumble Rooibos! I will have to go back.
There was an enticing array of home-baking on display, and Mum and I shared a piece of Hummingbird cake (a fabulous concoction of raspberries, banana, and pineapple). I made sure I got my half, and then went for a quick gander around the wine shop. Oils and vinegar, crackers, chutney, and jars of boozy berries are tucked in there with the bottles, and well worth a look. The wine shop and coffee lounge are open every day; for more information check out their Facebook page>
After lunch, we were free for a leisurely wander around Pitlochry in the sunshine. With James in charge, the whole family naturally ended up at the playpark…well, we all know who makes the decisions around here. All told, we had a magical day out meeting Mrs Potts, and visiting Donaghy & Sanderson. Pitlochry is a great destination for both the young, and the young-at-heart. Pop along, and prepare to be bewitched!
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