I find play cafes to be a great fallback option during the cold and wet winter months when options for getting your little one to let off steam is limited. We’ve been fortunately to have had several local play cafes in what is a fairly rural area however I’ve been saddened to see two close in nearly as many weeks, meaning the search for new venues is on.
Little Beans & Co, Chorleywood closes
It was a surprise to discover the doors of one of our regular soft play haunts to be closed and the windows painted over a few weeks ago. It transpires they’re moving to Hemel, which I’m sure will bring a larger customer base and probably larger premises, but they’ll be missed from by locals in Herts and Bucks.
Farewell to Brindles Play Cafe, Beaconsfield
Tucked away within a nursery premises, we’ve enjoyed the play space in this cafe on a number of occasions along with a nicely thought out children’s menu. Alas this has just closed, which is a really pity. Although I didn’t ask why on our final visit, I imagine it’s due to its fairly secluded location.
So with two local favourites down, is there anything around locally to replace them?
New find: Little Orchard, Chesham
Too often parents have to compromise between quality food and a family friendly setting, so I was particularly impressed by this independent cafe, located next door to our soft play favourite Thé, Stay and Play in Chesham. The Little Orchard looks every bit the smart indie cafe from the outside, something that had put me off trying it with Tilly in tow but having heard they had a play kitchen I finally had reason to try it out.
There are straight-forward lunch options with sandwiches and soup, all brilliantly presented with fresh, healthy ingredients and salad. Although there’s not a children’s menu as such, I got Tilly a ham sandwich and was mightily impressed by the quality bread and sliced ham; no cheap, processed stuff here. What’s more, Tilly devoured it too, along with her fresh orange juice. We treated ourselves to a blueberry crumble slice, which in keeping with the rest of the food was top notch and very naturally sweetened; a far cry from the sugar-filled offerings of the coffee house chains.
If only more independent cafes could get this balance of atmosphere, quality food and family friendliness right, they’d be on to a good thing.
Review: LilyMae’s Cafe, High Wycombe
I’ve been on the look out for a child friendly option in High Wycombe for when we’re out shopping. The Eden Centre recently added a soft play area, which we’re still to try but I did see mention of LilyMae’s on social media so wanted to check it out.
As with Brindles there’s a play area rather than climbing frame with a baby area and ball pit downstairs and a more extensive play space upstairs with a range of toys and rides available. We didn’t have much in the way of food and drink during our visit but what we had was good.
LilyMae’s also offers paint your own ceramics and activities on different days along with special half term events. Looking at their Facebook page it looks like they need support to extend their lease beyond April so do get along.
Do you know of any other play cafes in South Bucks, South West Herts and around? I’d love to hear about any suggestions you have.