They say you can never properly switch off when you run your own business. So imagine my excitement when I saw the sign for Bark Avenue Bakery whilst out shopping one evening on our holiday in Florida! I was drawn to the shop front like a magnet and pressed my nose up against the glass to take a peek. There were lots of interesting things inside and was that an oven I could see at the back? Should I go in and take a look around? I looked at my husband....would that be a strange thing to do? One look from him and it was decided, he was as excited as me! In we went...!!
A warm, welcoming aroma greeted us as we walked through the door. The all familiar smell of biscuits baking and boy it was good, really good! It instantly reminded me of the smell of the LPBco kitchen when I'm baking.
We made our way around the displays of attractive leads, collars and harnesses and then we came across every pooch's utopia - located smack bang in the middle of the store was a big table crammed FULL of bowls of variously shaped and flavoured freshly baked biscuits. Wow!
I could tell straight away that these biscuits had been genuinely handmade because many of the shapes were exactly the same as the ones I use for the LPBco! Bones, hearts, stars and crinkly edges...we must use identical cookie cutters!
I made my way round the table looking at the delectable selection and picking up a few biscuits from some of the bowls to fill my nostrils with their delicious aroma. Yup! They did actually smell good enough to taste, but then they should!
Then I realised I might look slightly suspicious as 'oooohhed' and 'aaaahhed' at every flavour and shape, and looked up to talk to the lady who was busy at the back of the store in the bakery area, dipping biscuits into carob icing. I explained to her (she was called Linda), why I was so interested in her amazing display. She was delightful and asked me whether people in the UK are as crazy mad about their dogs as they are in the States. 'Oh yes!!' I replied 'We're all a bit bonkers about our pooches, on both sides of the Atlantic!'
I looked at the open plan bakery at the back of the store with a hint of jealousy. A huge worktop covered in biscuits at various stages of decoration. Plastic containers filled with finished biscuits waiting to be packaged or piled high into the glass bowls on display. A freestanding oven which was obviously responsible for the mouthwatering aroma. A large mixer and an incredible looking contraption that looked like a large pasta machine for rolling out the biscuit dough to a consistent thickness, before cutting the shapes by hand with a cookie cutter.
The Bark Avenue Bakery was a revelation. We spoke to Linda for ages, comparing notes, before we left her to finish icing more biscuits. Far from being a new concept in Central Florida, she explained that they had been operating for 14 years! That's 14 very lucky years for the pooches of Orlando!!
If you're visiting the Orlando area - and many of you do - then do pop into the Bark Avenue Bakery and take a look around. It is located in the great Dr Phillips area close to Universal Studios, taking exit 74A off I4. There are literally masses of great bars, restaurants and shops in the area as well as the Dr Phillips Centre for the Performing Arts, so plenty to do while you're here.
A little plug for a lovely villa we always stay in which is only a 10 minute drive to Disney. It's a large, spacious 4 bedroom property with bags of room for everyone and its own south-facing private swimming pool overlooking a lake and conservation area. If you're ever thinking of heading over to Florida and visiting the Bark Avenue Bakery while you're there, then take a look at this villa's website and say we recommended you!
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We love taking our dogs to the beach for some fun in the sun and a splash in the sea. We usually go to the beautiful West Wittering in West Sussex, but decided to try Camber Sands next door in East Sussex and check out the beach with the pooches.
It got a very definite paws up from Reina and Taffy who both had the best time there and slept all the way home. Read more about our day trip to Camber Sands with the pooches and maybe go and take a visit there yourself.
Everyone must have heard of Box Hill! Popular for school field trips, nature lovers, National Trust members and more recently cycling enthusiasts, as it was the venue for the more arduous stretch of the cycling road race in the 2012 London Olympics.
But for us it's one of our favourite places to bring the dogs for a good hearty walk, to pump some blood round your veins and give your lungs a good workout. Once you've climbed to the very top, you will feel like you're on top of the world!