I’m something of a recent convert to play cafés, having discovered the Hidden Tea Shop a few months back. Since then, I’ve become aware that there’s a few of them around.
In Chesham, ‘Thé, Stay and Play’ is making itself a name as fixture amongst local play venues. Soft play normally requires a trip to one of the larger towns – Wycombe, Aylesbury, Watford and the like so having something more local, even on a smaller scale, is welcome. Being in a smaller town also has its advantages, as the shop backs on to one of the larger car parks, making it an easy walk even for tiny legs.
Now I have an admission to make. I’d thought the name of the cafe to be ‘The Stay and Play’ having not closely enough read the script on the sign. Only when looking up their Facebook page did I spot my mistake. I quite like this little twist – Thé being tea in French.
The cafe is a good size for an independent and there are various places where a pram can be parked without getting in the way. The counter offers both an adults’ and children’s menu and has a few sweet treats on display too. The food offering seemed to be quite well thought through, with the children’s menu include a ‘tapas’ section, comprising selections of foods that little ones often enjoy devouring.
For our first visit we got that early as being on the smaller size I wanted Tilly to enjoy the soft play before the more rough-and-tumble older children took over. Everything was neatly set out when we started, including a block made of soft Tetris-like pieces and a small ball pit near the soft play entrance for the smaller ones, while a larger ball pit was available at the back. A solid ladder led up to the first floor, which unlike at some other soft play areas, Tilly managed to scale without trouble. Once up there, children can push through a door to a play area or head down a nice slide. While some of the obstacles offered Tilly a challenge, she didn’t find any impassable, nor were there any areas I had to keep a close eye on her in, which is welcome. All in all I liked the lay out. Although there were inevitably some boisterous older children later on, Tilly didn’t have any issues, which was great, although the balls from the small ball pit and cube pieces did get displaced elsewhere.
We were there for brunch so I got an adult’s ham and cheese toastie for £4.25, which I didn’t think was badly priced, which Tilly shared. A child’s toastie could also be had for £3.50. The soft play was £3 for children who explore the whole area, with discounts for younger ones with more limited access. There didn’t seem to be a specific time limit.
All in all we spent a good 90 minutes in Thé, Stay and Play with Tilly alternating between the soft play and replenishing her energy levels at the table. Followed up by a walk around the nearby park and playground, Tilly was all too ready to nap by the time we’d finished and my job to provide a morning’s fun and activity was well and truly complete.