Words & pictures by Donna Bednarek
As a mum of 2 very adventurous and energy filled children, I’m always looking for things to do at the weekends, and with 7 weeks of summer fast approaching, the pressure is on to find things to keep us busy without having to re-mortgage the house!
So when the opportunity came up to experience something new that was only a short drive away from Perth, of course I jumped at the chance. I’ve driven past signs to Crieff Visitor Centre before, but to be honest I thought it was more for tourists and just a gift shop, so never thought to go, or to take the kids along for that matter.
Turns out I was wrong! We arrived at 12 and headed straight to the restaurant. It’s big, bright and has a fantastic selection from light bites to a full on meal, lots of local produce and some amazing tasty treats for pudding too! The highlight of the menu has to be the Speciality Drovers Burger – a steak burger with Scottish haggis, cheese, bacon, a fried egg and a side of whisky sauce! My 9 year old Evan decided he HAD to have this -minus the whisky sauce of course – and he was loving the fact he was having an entire farm in one bun!
The rest of us went with scampi, chicken goujons and Roxy’s favourite – a ham sandwich. It was all lovely and fresh, and we treated ourselves to rocky road and lemon meringue slice for pudding. Perfect. Next we decided to check out Caithness Glass. I remember when they were based just up the road from us at Inver almond, and we had lots of visits there as kids, as my mum happens to collect paperweights. So it was only right to bring her along with me, now I’d found out this is where they’d been hiding all this time.
Evan was loving the fact that he had a whole farm on a bun
We went to the glass painting studio – you can pick from two different glasses or a paperweight and you can pick a design to trace or be super brave and go freestyle. You draw an outline with a thick black paint, bake it in the kiln, then colour in with the glass paints, bake again and you have yourself an original masterpiece! Now it’s fair to say that neither me or my mum are the artistic type, Evan & Roxy love to draw and easily put us both to shame. We all had great fun trying to be artists though, and now I have a lovely art collection including SpongeBob, Elsa from Frozen, a highland coo and some kind of green boxy character from Minecraft that Evan reliably informs me is a creeper.
We had a good look round the Caithness shop & Antiques centre. There’s so much to see and everything is very reasonably priced. You can pick up Caithness seconds at bargain prices and there’s the most gorgeous art deco coffee serving set in the antique centre which makes me wish I was one of those sophisticated “let’s have a coffee party darling” types – or at least that I had the room to keep it on display somewhere. There’s also loads of amazing jewellery, ornaments & art prints to pick from. Definitely don’t forget your purse – you won’t leave empty handed.
We headed out to the play area for an ice cream. There’s a fab spider net for the adventurous ones (that’ll just be Evan then!) and a lovely wee bit next to the café perfect for the wee ones. Plenty to keep them busy and it’s closed off from the road & car park so they can play safely while you enjoy a coffee.
There’s so much more to do including the Highland Drovers museum and Garden Centre, you could easily spend an entire day, not just an afternoon.
We decided to finish off our trip with a trip to the gift shop. There’s a huge selection for all ages and tastes, with lots of traditional Scottish gifts and some really unique and quirky things too. The staff in the gift shop and all throughout the Visitor Centre were helpful, happy and friendly. I think we’ll definitely return over the summer and you should check it out too. All in all, I can certainly say it was an afternoon well spent at Crieff Visitor Centre!
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