A few weeks ago, my dear MamaClaire posted on her facebook wall about a new craft cafe opening soon in our area, just minutes walk from our homes, school and my parents' home. I was intrigued by the idea, and then went onto the website and my intrigue ramped up to full-blown excitement. Knitting, food, tea, book clubs, family-friendly... what more could I ask??!
Opening day was today, and although I'd been asked to provide a cake for the Bishop's visit on Sunday, so needed time to bake (and boy what a recipe I chose, more on that another time...) I was not going to miss the first day excitement, and what a lot of excitement it was!
We trundled down on foot after a good giggle at GodPapa who asked if we'd be driving (he hadn't figured out how close it is!) and after an initial worry about whether it would be too crowded, we were happy to note that even very full and busy, there was plenty of space, to park the pushchair and spread out around their big table and relax.
Ben seemed to remember us from our stop-by a couple of weeks back, and was helpful in seating us to our satisfaction. And that seemed to be the theme of the place - nothing seems to be too much trouble, and everyone seems happy to help.
There were only drinks "menus" up on the blackboard above the till and counters, and that was choice enough. I plumped for a rooibos and cherry tea, Papa went for the Masala Chai, both supplied by Little Sparrow Tea and brewed in lovely cheery red teapots with removable strainers "because we hate over-stewed tea" (though I never know what one should DO with a removed infuser, even though I have 2 teapots with them at home too!) Tea was served in lovely eclectic china cups, and the food plates were random but lovely too. They also serve Monmouth coffee, which the coffee drinkers appreciated, and also Fentimans fizzies and Chegworth Valley juices. Littl'Un had the pear, and it was really smooth and creamy.
There wasn't a lot of savoury food on view, but there were some very tempting looking basket baked focaccia style breads (this really needs a photo to show you, so I will just HAVE to go back soon) so I plumped for one topped with leek and goat cheese, and it was GORGEOUS, and Papa had a beetroot leafy goatcheesey salad so we shared both, and they worked well. We recommended Womersley foods dressings to them to complete the salad, and Anna noted down the name, which was typical of how you feel the staff care and are listening. Littl'Un needed lunch too, and Ben was more than happy to make her a lovely simple (good quality) ham and cheese sandwich on lovely white bloomer bread, which she loved, and we also had a couple of bacon and avo baguettes which were perfect in their flavour and ripeness, which is rare when eating out.
We did have a few sweet things, and Littl'Un had a her face painted really spectacularly by Miss Lala, and was so happy there the whole time, that we never even had to break out the colouring books and activities we had brought with us!
I had a lovely chat with Anna about babies, knitting and more (her son is just a month older than mine) and I really felt included and a sense of belonging.
At the back of the shop, I finally found the knitting yarn and craft sales corner, having already spent a few minutes wandering and mentally building a shopping list of jams and breads and other groceries on sale from shelves tucked away in corners, but adding to the display effect in the shop.
Prices were very very reasonable, well within Credit Crunch budget, so not just an aspirational place to go to, it's very real and accessible.
We were all thoroughly impressed all round and look forward to becoming regulars, getting involved in events & I could even see myself looking for a job there when the Littlest is bigger... (and that's saying something from a die-hard stay at home mum!)