Every time I drive to IKEA (which you’d know by now is quite often) I go past The Grounds of Alexandria; masses of cars are desperate to park around this newly established haven and it’s always swarming with people. Finally, at the weekend, I secured my parking spot and wandered in to see what all the fuss was about. Now I know: it’s heaven.
I was so glad to have gone in on a sunny weekend, because Lord knows Sydney hasn’t been blessed with these lately. The moment I walked through the industrial, rusted gates I could see why this venue attracts huge crowds; it not only speaks to my adoration of industrial decorating – with it’s rust, exposed brick, aged flowers beds and old chests – but it serves up amazing food inside too.
There’s a cute and traditional looking lemonade stand just inside the gates, serving up delicious drinks, so very reminiscent of a scene from a vintage film. Sat beside the stand is a flower cart, where the amazing pink flowers above were resting. I grabbed myself a cold bevvie and sat in the sun on an aged bench – a little doggy was flapping its tail about as its owners sipped coffee. I loved the open feel of the gigantic courtyard. You can purchase a drink, wander about a find a spot to sit; it’s so relaxed.
There is so much working in the outside organic garden, the least of which is the abundance of greenery. Herbs are everywhere, beautiful plants are nestled in old ceramic pots and trees provide a little shade. They even have vegetables growing. Creeping vines sprawl over crumbling brick walls and recycled planter boxes also make a very welcome addition. The vintage Coca Cola cart was particularly cute and I fell in love with the long, metal-top tables, which on this occasion were a setting for some birthday drinks.
I don’t think I can describe in words just how amazing the outdoor toilet area is. Just get a load of the exposed brick, the hanging lamps and the antique basin. I think I just died and went to designer heaven. And check out that mirror! This is exactly what I would like my outdoor area to look like. Dare to dream huh?
The work of interior designer Caroline Choker is so well thought out yet looks effortless. The grounds were started just a few years back by Caroline, her brother Ramzey and their business partner Jack Hanna (the site was a pie factor in the early 1900’s and was dormant for many years before they finally took on the task of converting it).
I did a little research on the place and discovered that they have a full time horticulturalist, Erin Martin, who works closely with the chef and is often about to answer questions from locals. For coffee lovers (as you’ll note from the sign above) they often run short courses on coffee making and more. I love that they’re so into sharing knowledge. This really is a creative community at work!
Just before I left I got caught up in what was possibly the cutest thing I have seen in a while – a PIGGY in their on-site farm area! I don’t think I’ll ever eat bacon again (don’t hold me to that). Little piggy was sleeping at the time but the chooks below were more than happy to give me a few clucks (shoutout!), making this whole experience about ten times cuter.
I don’t know about you but I am well and truly sold. A place just minutes away from me, bustling with locals, run by an amazing team who care about the community and spread information; I think I’m a little smitten with The Grounds of Alexandria. I see coffee school on the horizon for winter and I might just have to ask Erin for a few tips on how to perfect the herb garden I have been dreaming of.
Check out more details about this amazing local venue on their website – click here.
Check out other my other community adventures by clicking here.