Now you'd call me a liar if I said I didn't love being wine and dined and told how fabulous I am while sipping a Foxey's Hangout Pinot Noir and munching on Margherita Pizza within one of our many stunning peninsula restaurants. I love it. However, much to my distaste, this Valentines day myself and my lover decided we weren't to spend money. I know, I know- shock horror. Saving for a house, starting a business- reality, right? As the Beatles put it: you can't always get what you want. But I'm here to tell you bloody well can! Money shmoney- I have collated 10 AFFORDABLE ways you can celebrate your partner, your friends, your family, your love of life.
1) Picnic by the bay, or by the ocean
It's easy my loves. Grab a picnic rug, a blanket, a towel for all I care- some pillows, some candles (pray the wind won't ruin it for you), a basket or some containers with your dinner - or just buy something on the way, and pick your location. Not only is this inexpensive and simple, it will give you time to relax and have a genuine, present conversation. The motions of life sometimes steals this from us, so enjoy the present moment, by the sea, eating food. My picks include: Olivers Hill Jetty (by the rocks), Davey's Bay Beach (Mount Eliza), Coral Cove (Mornington), Mount Martha South Beach, McCrae Foreshore, Rye Pier, Cameron's Bight Beach (Sorrento) and Rye Ocean Beach.
2) Sunset Watching and Fish & Chips at Murrays Lookout
It's one of the best sunset spots on the peninsula, so planning a romantic dinner while rugged up in the back of your car (You'll need it with todays winter-like weather, jeeeeez!), will definitely put you in the good books. I promise. This is still one of my favourite dates I have ever shared with my partner- a whole two years ago, so get on organising! Murrays Lookout is the second lookout spot as you come up Arthurs Seat. It offers 360 degree views of Port Phillip Bay, the Southern Peninsula, to Mount Martha, all the way to the rolling hills of Hastings and Bittern. It's a one of a kind spot, that even long after the sun has set remains stunningly beautiful.
3) Dromana Drive-in Cinemas
Again, this is a cheap and unique way to spice up what can be an ordinary date. This fabulous venue is so close, and yet I can't even remember the last time I visited. Can you? Treat yourselves this Thursday, book the 8.45pm session and eat some popcorn- with extra butter, obviously. Whether you want to use this time to get cosy, or facilitate the ULTIMATE out-door cinema set up (I'm talking chairs, I'm talking tables), this opportunity gives you the time to shine and impress. Bring some blankets, bring some treats... I'll let you take it from here!
4) Try something new thanks to Lunar Dumplings Mornington
Have you heard of the hottest new restaurant to bless Main Street in Mornington? Not only is it absolutely delicious, it's affordable. I would describe this venue as very "Melbourne", very chic. The interiors are bright, with a wall covered in modern, colourful art, and a full-length mirror. It's a quirky and different restaurant unlike anything else on the peninsula. You will no doubts be impressed yourself, so if you want those brownie points, share it with someone you love! Perfect for the expansive eater, or the specific (vegetarian and vegan). My favourites are the garlic bok choy, the prawn and chicken dumplings and the bao buns- any of them. For my third visit I plan on trying the noodles and soups, given this icy cold weather we have so sadly been dealt with, I don't think the temptation will be hard to fight!
5) Sunset walk along the Esplanade- bring the whole family!
This is one of my favourite walks. It's flat, it's long, it's pram friendly, dog friendly, but most importantly: Steph friendly. No hidden hills or inclines, just a nice easy walk. Fabulous. I would suggest parking your car in the dirt carpark on the esplanade in Mornington, a few hundred metres from the Strachans Road exit. Take a left and walk towards Mount Martha. You will be greeted with little sunset watching chairs, private beaches and cliff access points (for those who love an adventure). Again, this may seem simple, but ask yourselves: when was the last time you genuinely took some time out of your day to a) walk together and b) appreciate the beauty of our home, which for some of you, may only be a short drive away? Think about it.
6) Wood-fired Pizza and wine tasting at T'Gallant for lunch
Would you believe me if I told you that you can do all of that, and enjoy it with a stunning winery view all for $46... for TWO. Yes, so now you can see why T'Gallant is one of my all time favourite peninsula wineries, and definitely my go-to. Get the "full" size pizza with half-half flavours (I recommend the Al Funghi and Con Salami... cue: drool), after enjoying a very entertaining wine tasting at $5 a head. Take some photos, have a chat over pizza and take in the landscape of the ever-beautiful Red Hill. Affordable and enjoyable- my two favourite words.
7) Star-gazing in the comfort of your own back yard, with a bottle of Red Hill Estate's Pinot Noir
This locally made wine is a winner, every damn time. If you are wanting to keep this Valentines Day super chill and cheap, then head on down to your local bottle-o and pick up a bottle of this liquid heaven. Pop it open back at home, rug up and check out the night sky after dinner. If you want to go even further, then why not spice up dinner as well. Set up some candles, pick some flowers- you don't need to spend money to make something special, you just have to get creative and use that noggin of yours.
8) Explore the wonders of Flinders Blow Hole
I would suggest partnering this adventure with a bottle of local roseade spritzer each while admiring the wild ways of the Flinders Blow Hole. This rugged cliff sits high above the ocean and offers a unique Mornington Peninsula view- one for Instagram, that's for sure. Best enjoyed at sunset as it provides a killer view, but it is just as beautiful at any time of the day. Get your comfy shoes on, charge the camera and get on exploring! The walks are both beautiful and a little daunting, so this will be a killer way to spend this V Day.
9) Sweet treats and Lavender Fields at Red Hill Lavender Farm
This hidden gem is one I am going to be dedicating an entire blog to. Located in Merricks North, sitting below the Johnny Ripe Café, awaits endless fields of lavender and buzzing bees. No matter the weather, the contrast of purple and green to the peninsula sky is just simply stunning. Free entry and a fabulous photo opportunity, this true unique peninsula experience is one you won't forget. After frolicking, laughing, and enjoying all the good things, head on up to Johnny Ripe for a coffee and a sweet treat of your liking. I'm a lemon tart kinda gal if any of you were wondering what to get me.
10) Get your Boardwalk on
My picks: Mount Martha Balcombe Estuary and Warringine Park/ Bittern Coastal Wetlands Boardwalk. They are each stunning in their own right, and offer you and your date, your friend, your family, or just you and you only, a lovely setting to take a moment and appreciate our home. Balcombe Estuary can be accessed via the dirt carpark at Mount Martha Shops (to the left). Warringine Park begins at 40 Salmon Street, Hastings. These walks can be enjoyed with a coffee in hand, or finished with a vino by the beach (both of these walks are within short-driving distance to the ocean). Again, these unique walk are pram and pet friendly and just a great way to spend a Thursday night.
SO, there you have it ladies and gents: my top ten. Give it a go, mix it up, change it to your liking, and let me know how you spend your valentines day this 2019 on our ever-lovely Mornington Peninsula.
Sending you big love,