There are very few things on the box that Dan and I will agree on watching together. We are stuck in a black hole of ‘must see’ golfing re-runs when the PGA tour is having a rest day, or playing catch up with Eastenders- justifying Dot Cotton’s presence in our living room every few minutes.
Sofa Time is precious, and TV is our high five for getting both of the kids off to the land of Nod.
It is therefore a rare thing to discover a series which appeals to the both of us, equally. No negotiating needed. It is rarer still for a series to prompt us to actually engage in conversation past 9pm. Jack Bower used to take the gold for that. And mostly because I needed the plot translated into novice-24 lingo.
And then we discovered ‘Extreme World’.
A program so shockingly gritty, so real and so goddamn ‘ard that we were hooked. Ross Kemp is what I’d politely describe as a ‘straight talker’… He makes Grant Mitchell look like Milhouse, y’know- Bart’s mate.
What makes this gripping TV stand out from the rest is the bravery of this team to travel to some of the most dangerous places on earth. Treading a fine line between life and death, Kemp never fails to break into the heart of whatever abomination he is exposing.
Jamie Welham, Extreme World Producer, international hard hitting journalist and owner of a passport with some seriously impressive visas, agreed to share his thoughts with me on this hotly anticipated final series:
“It’s been a real privilege working on such an ambitious and wide reaching series. The team continuously manage to get access to people and places others can’t, to shine a light on some of the world’s most urgent and underreported issues.
My personal highlight was travelling to the Sahara desert to document the brutal migrant journey across Libya – a situation that desperately needed to be brought to wider attention and with a humanity that has been lacking.
At a time when the world seems to be becoming more inward looking and scared of people from different cultures, I think foreign reportage like Extreme World has never been more important and necessary.
It’s a real shame it’s come to an end.”
I would love to know just how Welham manages to contact and, what’s more, pursusade the underbelly of the world to divulge dangerous, often gruesome and usually incriminating truths. It is undoubtedly this access that leaves me utterly captivated.
True hard-man stripes were awarded having been held at gun point in Papua New Guinea in 2014 by proper thug-life guerrillas. Instead of wetting himself and running away like the majority of the population might have done, the cameras continued to roll.
His distinctive husk came out with:
“Are you gonna kill me? No one’s gonna f*****g kill me!”
We believed him.
Thankfully so did the mob carrying the AK47’s.
We fought back the tears as we watched ‘Libya’s Migrant Hell’, a one off aired late last year and Welham’s Extreme World highlight. We had read and watched various updates on the migrant crisis, fed to us by the mainstream media; only death rates and percentages seem to sell papers. What the team from Extreme World did, and always do, was trace this global problem back to the source. Exposing humanity in it’s most desperate, and dangerous of states. It was completely captivating and led me to write this.
Just when you think Kemp has interviewed his last sickening criminal, the viewers are slapped around the face with a trump card. The human traffiker who admitted killing 400, or maybe 500 girls (he couldn’t remember) having taken and sold over 7000 girls, some as young as 12 is without doubt the worst, most shocking revelation the Extreme World team have ever uncovered. Kemp and his translator were left speechless, understandably shaken by this monster’s disclouse.
It is this depth of reporting, and this insight into the murkiest of worlds that raises awareness by getting these issues into our front rooms.
It’s easy to forget as we rush about on the school run and supermarket sweep the hell out of Asda, that we do live in an extreme world. There is nothing else on the telly box which gets to the heart of the matter, nothing else picks off the scabs of society quite like the team at ‘Extreme World’ do.
So they’ll be no fighting over the remote in our house this Sunday evening; We’ll be on Sky 1 at 9pm a hot choc and custard cream in hand as Kemp takes on Texas and the much feared Ku Klux Klan in the hugely anticipated 6th and final series of Extreme World. Set Poldark to record: there’s a new hero in town.
Extreme World airs Sunday 9pm Sky 1
With special thanks to Jamie Welham: You can follow Jamie’s adventures on twitter @jamiewelham
There is something to be said for hitting up a restaurant chain rather than taking a chance on an unknown non-tried non-tested eatery when you have small kids in tow. I’m all for hipster independents but somehow I just can’t find the courage to branch out. When you find a restaurant or cafe which you can just about bare to sit in public with your whiny, fussy, fidgety critics, it’s worth repeat visits. Even better if that chosen restaurant or cafe is a chain – wherever you are, it can be relied on. You will know the score. Do not deviate from what works, never shake up the system… This is my dining out mantra with my under 5’s.
This is why I could recite the menu at Bill’s to you. Ask me anything?! Blueberry pancakes: check. The Bill’s awesome breakfast (no halloumi sides allowed until midday) is always a total delight, guaranteed to put me in a good mood. Bacon is done extra crispy on request. The Bread basket assortment can indeed be made up entirely of Pain au Chocolat for your precious 5 year old. Viola! It seems to be no problemo. That is what I like, no, what I LOVE about Bills: Great food, no hassles.
I feel quite hip and cool when I’m in there too – I imagine this is what all the haunts surrounding Borough market must look like these days. Selling produce on crate shelving, mis matched battered chairs around scrubbed wooden tables. Giant metal tea pots that sort of go together but never 2 the same., cutlery in old battered looking tins in the middle the tables and chalk boards suspended from the exposed ceilings: Feeling totally current right now…!!
Quirky: In just the right dose to be acceptable with 2 minors in tow.
They still have highchairs and a kids menu but somehow this place doesn’t make me feel like I’m sitting in a germ infested clinical box, like many ‘child friendly’ cafes I have sipped weak coffee in, seem to do. Somehow the staff seem to enjoy waiting on children, the novelty factor clearly didn’t wear off on them at 6.10am that morning. They are fresh and ready to appease the demands which are muttered – or screamed. For try as I might, there is no in between. (The kids that is – I have a perfectly normal decibel level… when in public.)
Our latest Bills breakfast sesh was on Lila’s 3rd birthday. Talk about spoiled, the girls were each given a flower at first, then along came a couple of stickers (proper sub-5 year old goals) before out of nowhere our Topshop-cool of a waitress produced 2 beautifully wrapped bags of chocolate drops. I’m not saying this is the norm for birthday shenanigans – it might be! But it prompted me to shout about what a blooming great all rounder Bill’s is.
I don’t know many places that I would happily take the kids too, AND have a boozy night out with my girlfriends. Oh yes, it’s happened at Bill’s. Their dinner menu is gorgeous – with plenty of halloumi on it at this time of the day! There are cocktails and prosecco to fest on, and a candlelit atmosphere that flatters even the most trowelled on contour-less make up (that’s me – this place rocks after dark!).
Our favourites are the Lewes (the original and legendary 1st Bill’s), Eastbourne -which is brand new, but somehow looks like it has been there for decades with its distressed interior) and Brighton, which I struggle to get a table in it’s so popular! There are over 60 Bill’s around, so there is bound to be one near to you!
Thanks Bill – we totally dig your vibes.
(This post was in no way sponsored or affiliated with Bill’s – it’s just me, telling you, what a blooming cracker of a family friendly shindig it is.)
This weekend my Mum and I treated my eldest daughter to a big girls day in London. Darcie is 5 going on 15, so a show and lunch seemed fitting. I love London at this time of year and try and make a trip every Christmas time. The festive buzz, the lights, the window displays, random Christmas fairs- as an interloper from the sticks, what’s not to love?!
20 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 7EU, Piccadilly Circus tube – on the dark blue line!
I remember being taken here when I was little, and I have never forgotten it. So, off we toddled to see if the magic still existed 25 years later…
Rainforest Cafe has a great position right on on Sharftesbury Avenue, a stones throw from Piccadilly Circus. Leicester Square sits right behind it, and the famous Trocadero money pit is right next door: handy…!
What’s right with it:
The atmosphere. This place is jaw droppingly impressive. I have never been to a rainforest, but if I ever did, I’m pretty sure it would look just like this place. The walls and ceilings are alive with foliage and wildlife.
The animals. Meet the gang of actual sized Gorillas who come to life at random intervals, admire the huge elephants who twitch their ears, marvel at the massive Butterflies and Parrots suspended from the vines overhead, and if you really have your eyes peeled, you will spot a Cheetah catching some zzzz’s on a branch of a tree.
The waiting staff. This place runs like a well oiled machine, every member of staff seemed to know exactly what they are doing. We were asked if we had any allergies or if we were celebrating a birthday at the time of arrival. You are given a ‘passport’ with this info on it to pass over to your waiter. Our’s asked Darcie her name, and used it when speaking to her which was a really nice touch. It’s the first restaurant I have reviewed which has taken the trouble to do this. They were all super friendly and even the toddler projectile voming over his Dad and the floor didn’t phase them…
The Food.The children’s menu was a big thumbs up. There was plenty of choice, from pastas, burgers, and chicken, mostly with chips. Nothing ground breaking here, BUT it’s all stuff that kids tend to love. Rainforest’s Rascal Menu – £12.90 a main, desert & drink. OR upgrade to Total Kids Adventure Menu – £15.90. for an additional side and a super duper activity pack. We did this (I must have been feeling generous) But I must say the better activity pack was worth it. It came with stickers, a wallet, mask, puzzle book, pencil rubber ruler set and probably a few things I’ve forgotten about, all in a handy carry case.
Adults Food: There was a wide rang of options, from Chinese noodles, to a huge rack of ribs, pastas, and burgers. It’s all clearly marked with allergy information. The food was pretty good, but its not the reason I would go back.
Entertainment. Apart from the obvious sights and sounds of the Rainforest, you are given a child menu with an activity sheet on the reverse. You can upgrade your child’s meal and have the Total Kids Adventure pack – as above.
Changing facilities & loos were spacious and I would have been happy to change my baby in there.
It’s FULL of kids. Every table has children, babies or toddlers on it.There were tantrums, squeals, laughter, stern “one more mouthful” and other go-to parenting phrases being banded about all over the place. Rest assured you can feel totally at ease here should your Treasure break into the mother of all tantrums. We are all in the club. We all understand.
What’s not so right
It’s FULL of kids. Tinder users take note: DO NOT go here on a first date. Or any date actually. Unless of course you want to be put off having a 2nd or 3rd date in fear of morphing into the 2.4 lifestyle sprawled out around you.
It’s pricey. I say this with slight trepidation; Considering it is London, and there is a real theatrical element attached to this dining experience I thought it was justifiable, as a one off. Our lunch for 3 was £75 without any booze.
You cannot book a table in advance from now until after Christmas without booking a trip to Santa’s Grotto as well, which is £45. It does include the standard 2 course children’s menu! As we didn’t visit I couldn’t say if this is good value for money or not.
Arrive early! If like us you haven’t booked in advance then arrive early. W arrived at 11.45, it doesn’t open until 12 noon, and were in a queue to be seated.
Watch out for the thunderstorm! It’s loud, and very realistic. Babies faces were a picture…
If it’s your birthday you will be given the royal treatment and invited to stand up on your chair while the restaurant serenade you!
This is Child Friendly Dining at it’s peak. This place will capture even the biggest kid’s imagination and run a mile with it. It’s a must do – if you can. A definite treat, and if I’m anything to go by, the memory of your visit should last until your children have children. Now there’s a thought…
(Oh and here’s what went down later on that afternoon: Beverly Knight was on form, she is one fierce performer. Her standing ovation said it all.)
Blackpool: A bit like Vegas, there’s a casino, a roller coaster or 2, loads of hotels, and a tower. Totally the same place.
Viva Las Blackpool.
I’m pretty vocal when it comes to the subject of holidays and kids. Our eldest is now 5, and toddlerMonster is smack in the middle of her twos. We have never, until this week, been away just as a family of 4. I’ll be honest: To me moving your family to a temporary alien location, kissing goodbye to normality, and undertaking this alone was a step too far. We have always gone on holiday with my parents and siblings – a bit like the Khardashians, but with Easyjet not the Learjet. In my book, this is by far the best way for everyone (except probably my parents and siblings…so just me then) to have a holiday.
Anyway, without banging on too much about the dear god merits of cross generational holidaying, I’ll get back on my Blackpool bandwagon:
We did it, we took the plunge, and scarpered to Blackpool as a family of 4, for 2 whole nights, and 3 whole days, amounting to a total of 12 hours of car time. I think I may have had a little too much Isla Negra the evening we booked.
Here’s a little summery of the trip, including our top tips, in case you fancy hot footing it up to January. Blackpool.
It is literally big and blue. So it was pretty easy to spot. That and the fact that it backs onto the Pleasure Beach theme park, so has 3 sodding great rollercoasters for a back yard.
I couldn’t recommend this hotel enough, the location is great and has its own entrance to The Pleasure beach which is open between 10am-11.30am everyday. The hotel offers discounted tickets, AND more importantly 50% discount on speedy boarding. I’ll get onto this point later, but suffice to say it’s an essential add on if you value your marriage.
We opted for a family room (because we are mad) which consisted of bunk beds (aka climbing frame) which were tucked away by the door and buffered by the bathroom before reaching the main bedroom. Anyway, bla bla it had a bed, it had a bath. It was comfy… and clean. Big tick. Oh and room for our travel cot (which the 5 year old slept in. Don’t ask). The 2 year old slept in our bed and so actually it was a total waste of money paying for a family room after all. We may as well have opted for a sardine can.
The girls LOVED the hotel, although there taste is a little warped – they also loved being taken to PoundLand to spend their holiday money…
The Hotel’s Restaurant was a thumbs up – and another tinkle on the high chair. I fear this may be becoming somewhat of a signature move for ToddlerMonster, perhaps tablecloths make her nervous.The Kids were really well catered for, a really impressive full menu just for them. Most guests were staying with children, so I shrugged the Peepee incident off, as did I the red wine going all over the table and carpet; they just replenished my almost gone glass with a full one. FOR FREE. They totally get The Issue of Kid.
If you have really young children then this theme park is ideal. There are 19 rides which are considered ‘family friendly’ and as long as the Dinky is on board with an adult then there is no height restriction. We did have to purchase a speedy boarding pass pronto after waiting an hour for a truly shite racing car ride though. This was purely a move to save our marriage from the cursing pit of horrors into which it was falling after that queue.
As I said if you stay at the big blue then the speedy boarding, beat the queue, walk into the exits (feeling a bit of a tit for doing so) and ride with no wait, is half the price. Of course we only found the half price voucher AFTER we arrived back at the hotel. Law of the sod at work once more.
With an hours wait on most rides we would have only got a few in, with the passes we managed to ride everything. Every. Signle.one.
Yeh yeh I was getting my money’s worth and refused to leave before it closed, frog marching the fam from one Kiddie coaster to the next.
It’s raining its pouring, it’s actually January.
So what I thought to have been iffy weather the previous day was in actual fact the height of the Balckpool summer. Normality reigned for the rest of our stay in KissMeQuickLand, but actually that was ok because there is a tonne of stuff to do which is on the inside.
We bought a Blackpool Tower ticket which allows you access to all of the attractions which are inside the Tower building. I had no idea all of this was there – I assumed the tower was just that.
Anyway, this ticket got us access to the Blackpool Tower Experience which is a 4D film of Blackpool which strangely is all done to a background of sunshine and blue skies. Perhaps the makers were having an ironic moment. We also got to go and stand on the glass floor hundreds of feet up which totally freaked both girls out – and Dan. I don’t mind heights , just queues. It was alright, but let’s be honest, the view was just a grey town, with a sea.
Blackpool Tower Circuswas also on this ticket and was one of the highlights of the trip – it was Darcie’s No.1. Set in a really ornate area at the base of the tower, it even had a sinking floor which flooded for the final act. I was impressed. ToddlerMonster slept through most of it. Bonus.
If you venture to Blackpool I really recommend this!
Blackpool Tower Ballroomwas also included on our pass. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, I certainly hadn’t been expecting to step into THE BALLROOM, The Strictly final ballroom. It was stop-in-your-tracks stunning. You are allowed to just rock up and take to the floor, lots of oldies were being persuaded around the shit-you-might-slip shiny dance floor. It was a hard sight to process. I just stared on hoping there wasn’t about to be a hip op situation. Darcie did cartwheels, ToddlerMonster got YouTube out, Dan bought coffee.
Soft Play at the Towerwho sanctioned this? I thought we would escape the foam rollers and contagious ball pits for a few days, but no. Some bright spark decided to put a fat soft play IN the Tower. Christ… it was included, so in we went. I cannot recommend a soft play, it’s against my beliefs. (kid’s loved it).
The Blackpool Dungeons – obviously we didn’t take our girls into the attraction which has a severed head on the poster. That would be asking for trouble. So I can’t comment – I’m just letting you know that if you want to take your kids into a living nightmare, then you can. It’s included!
We did this on the morning before we came home – the beach plan flopped due to January invading. That’s ok, we thought. We’ll go to that waterpark, the largest indoor waterpark in the UK.
So did EVERYBODY else in Blackpool. The queue was out of the door to go in. If you venture here then arrive for when it opens at 9am, and book on line, 24 hrs ahead. You’ll also get a 10% discount. Obviously we didn’t do any of those sensible for-sights.
Again, the kids loved it. I felt like I was taking part in a capsized boat epic and we were all the extras. Hundreds of bodies, all bobbing about, water cannons going off, buckets filled with the wet stuff coming down on you, a lazy river which was actually quite the opposite, squatting whist a 5 yr old tags on for dear life (even though they can touch the bottom).
It’s worth a visit – just be prepared for The Masses.
Blackpool was brilliant, I honestly do mean that, equally it was great to hang out as a 4. It’s totally geared for kids which is half of the battle when taking the fam away for a few days. I don’t want to see another chip for a while, but then, that’s not exactly a bad thing. If you are wondering about a few days away somewhere then there is plenty to keep a family occupied in Blackpool, come rain or rain.
Today is the first time in a long time that I have had to bite my lip to stop myself from crying in public. This used to happen a lot in the early days, and mostly because we were making Rookie mistakes like attempting to go clothes shopping with a baby in tow. Or supermarket shopping with an 18 month old hooligan. I have since discovered shopping on line is the only way to remain clothed, and fed. You adapt.
A while ago I began a quest to seek out the most child friendly eateries around where we live, East Sussex. I have now become a fully fledged food reviewer (dream gig for me… Nom Nom Nom!) So far we have been to Uber-kid friendly territory, easing ourselves in gently if you will.
Today we had what I thought would be a real treat of a review: one of the best restaurants in Brighton (and one I’ve been dying to try but can never justify the huge price tag) wanted us to come and review their Sunday lunch menu, with a true family slant. Careful what you wish for: Family slant is exactly what they got.
How can I put this; we were the Ying to their Yang.
The restaurant wasn’t just classy, it was classy with a touch of Mega Chic. By contrast our 2 year old ToddlerMonster was living up to her namesake, whilst our fiveanger was exactly that. I naively assumed that the girls would be as excited as I was to try 35 day dry-aged roast sirloin of beef. They were not. Not remotely.
The food and service were top notch, seriously outstanding, unfortunately today was the day that our children decided to turn up the notch on Demon Mode.
Lila, (The ToddlerMonster) would not be consoled. A machine-like-whinge had been especially programmed in and it would not be stopped for anyone. Oh, hang on, it did stop to watch her beloved YouTube as our last ditch attempt to save the other diners ears and tempers. She likes to watch this American family who film themselves going about their daily business: Today she was watching them in a traffic Jam. I’m not kidding.
Darcie sat with her fingers in the ketchup, stuffing some chips down whilst Dan and I tried to make conversation over how to write up the ribs, We don’t know many ponsey foodie words so it went something like this:
“Mmmm it just falls off of the bone, Darcie please put your legs down, cor what a marinade, sweet, sticky DELICIOUS. Darcie please take that napkin off of your head…ohh don’t eat it all, oh shit we haven’t taken a photo of the dish…Lila don’t spit your water over the table. Darcie could you get down from the windowsill NOW”
Yey, It was dreamy. I could feel my stress levels rising as the restaurant filled up with lots of people adulating, all set for a swanky splash the cash Sunday lunch.
The waitress staff were on the level, They were lovely! In fact I wanted to ask them to join us. The 1:1 ratio needed bumping up a bit.
The main event arrived and I have to say it looked incredible. The kids were delighted to see enough gravy to sink a battleship, the largest, thickest cut of beef with the biggest roast potatoes I have ever laid eyes on. It came as one big Sunday roast sharing platter which is a really lovely idea. The girls were finally quieting down. I had a glass of Melbec.
“Maaaaaaa I done a weeeeeeee. I done a weeeeeee I done a weeeeeee”
Toddlermonster had indeed ‘done a wee’. Her nappy had clearly hit capacity but as I had been so busy farting around trying to get some decent food shots, I had failed to notice.
The wee was spilling off the highchair and splashing onto the floor tiles below.
A sort of waterfall effect.
Oh dear god.
Our daughter was peeing on the floor, we had to let her finish. I would have been horrified if this had happened in McDonalds, let alone this Uber-Chic haunt.
I’m not sure who was more mortified, Lila or I. The oversized napkins came in handy as I wrapped it around her waist to make the trek through the length of the restaurant slightly less conspicuous!
The waitress deserved a gold medal (or the huge tip we left), by the time we arrived back at the table it had all been cleaned up. Good as new!
By this point the girls were past the point of being reasoned with. I bribed them with a chocolate lolly each to buy Dan and I a few minutes to throw this decadent roast lunch down our necks. I have to say, it really was the king of roast lunches.
The straw that broke the camels back, or should I say, the point where the prickly eye cry feeling crept up on me wasn’t the peepee incident. It was when Dan made a dash for the loo before we left. That was it, as soon as dear daddy was out of sight ToddlerMonster kicked off BIG TIME. She went shitcrazy bonkers. Right in the middle of the restaurant, screeching,“My Daddy, my Daddy”, at the top of her voice in between deafening sobs.
She had been working up to this very moment, and the girl let rip.
The dead weight back arch was in play. No amount of consoling or begging was going to stop her. Everyone was looking up from their fortune lunch plates. I had to carry her out to the street, leaving our bags behind, like she was a hot sheet of screeching metal.
I have no idea if we shall ever be asked to review somewhere ever again.
For now, I’m not sure I really care.
If you have a disaster dining story, please share. I really think I would take comfort in your nightmares right now!!
I remember as a tweenie watching Eddy and Pasty get their swag on; a Stoli-Bolli in one hand and a Marlboro Light in the other, swamped in fur all topped off with a crazed hair do: bigger is better. (It’s their booze, fags n fur I might add, I was all set with a lemon squash thanks – my eyes on stalks.) Let’s just say it set the benchmark for adulthood… although I may have taken a wrong turn somewhere – right into Lynnet Scavo’s life. *shakes head* The universe had other ideas!
‘Paddy’s’ friendship is infectious. I want in.
I want to be their sidekick. To be in their gang wearing a hideous Versace medallion perfectly clashing with my Alexander McQueen cape and Burberry knee highs. Crashing flash parties whilst they desperately try new fads to stay hipity hop hip. They don’t notice that all around them are raised eyebrows, a daughter who must have a great relationship with the receptionist at The Priory by now, and a totally bonkers mother. They are oblivious in their bid to keep up with the twentysomethings, loving life – one bottle of bollie at a time.
“The last mosquito that bit me had the check into the Betty Ford clinic” – Patsy: just saying.
I would actually like to be patsy… For a day. Please?!
This latest instalment is promised to take us right back to the 90’s – which isn’t a bad thing given the shenanigans of 2016 so far. The hey day of our Pats n Eds dahrling; where the cocaine flows, and the fash pack are on speed dial. This time around Eddie gets blamed for killing Kate Moss (accidents will happen…) in true Thema and Louise style the gruesome twosome make a run for it to the playground of the super rich. A little bit silly, bound to be a lot funny.
If the trailers are anything to go by this is going to be worth the gazillion squid for the cinema ticket, the parking, the popcorn and the drinks. Oh yes, seeing these 2 lunatics lording it up on a 2o ft screen for a couple of hours is most definitely worth a score my ‘sweetie dahrlings’.
Who else shares my uber love of this scrumptious double act?
My quest to seek out the most child friendly eateries in Sussex has taken me to Baca’s Coffee Bar this week. Set just a few hundred yards from the seafront in the little town of Seaford, Baca’s stands proud to serve unique coffee and tea blends alongside locally sourced food. I have often found this organic approach to be exclusively accessible to those amongst us who are not steering their laden down buggies along the high street, complete with a demanding toddler in tow. I had heard that this was not the case at Baca’s…
Armed with my ToddlerMonster, we stepped into the very chic coffee bar. A cool grey is the back drop for a collection of vintage mirrors, with shelving crates from the local farm shop, and coffee pots from all corners of the world. A stripped back bar gives off a relaxed rustic feel, but, more importantly, is keeper of the most delicious looking homemade cakes and pastries. The vibe is effortlessly cool here. Not mumsey. Not one bit mumsey. Hurrah! You would be forgiven for momentarily forgetting you were in Seaford, and instead bang in the middle of the Brighton lanes.
The owners of Baca’s Coffee Bar are a husband and wife team who have small children of their own- so they get it. They get that children don’t sit still without a very good reason. They get that children can be fussy eaters. But most importantly they seem to appreciate, and not mind, that their pint sized clientele come with the loudest of voices!
The warm welcome immediately put me at ease – there were plenty of highchairs, and the buggy was stored without fuss. But the best surprise, the bit that had ToddlerMonster’s eyes on stalks was the toy bag tree! Let me explain… Here, was a giant pencil standing in the corner, with different coloured drawstring bags hanging from it- all for the taking. A different surprise in each one (yes Lila checked..!). Farm animals, a train set, books, stickle bricks, card games. What a frankly genius idea! I must mention too the well stocked big-enough-for-a-buggy, loo. Spotless, with a change matt, wet wipes & paper towels. All that a parent could wish for!
But let’s get to the crux of it. The coffee.
It’s quite clear that coffee is at the heart of Baca’s. Namier, the owner, explains that the Horsham Coffee Roaster supplies them with a unique Benchmark single origin Brazilian coffee – only available on a seasonal basis. Now, I’m not going to pretend that I understood exactly what that means, but what I did understand is that this is rare and makes Baca’s unique in this area. I was urged to try the coffee without my usual large dose of sugar, reluctantly I did. Smooth, rich, naturally sweet, not bitter. No, I’m not talking about my husband.
For 20 years I have been drinking coffee with sugar, until this day. The flavour of this coffee is so good I didn’t miss it, with double shots served as a standard. I’m assured that the drip coffee changes every 2-3 weeks too. For the tea connoisseurs amongst us there is a vast selection from the Bluebird Tea Company Mixologists. As for ToddlerMonster? She was quite happy playing with her zoo animals sipping her Montezuma’s hot chocolate thank you very much…
Not forgetting the food.
Great lengths have been gone to, to ensure that everything served at Baca’s has been locally sourced. The cakes are made by a fellow Muma in the town, the meat comes from a butchers a few miles down the road, as does the bread. Even the milk is bought directly from the dairy farmers rather than a wholesaler. This is a café with a conscience, and with such I can enjoy the crumbly almond croissant, or a slice of the delicious Bakewell cake (almost) guilt free. On this occasion I devoured the Portbello mushroom, gruyere cheese and thyme toasted on Norfolk multi grain bread. D-E-licious.
I’m getting caught up in the organic abyss here – ToddlerMonsters are of course catered for, or ‘Little Munchkins’ as the menu calls them. Offering kid-simple sandwiches, a soup and the much loved hummus / breadstick / cucumber combo. Great for keeping busy fingers occupied…
Hiding behind that rustic, urban decor is a café that has munchkins firmly at their heart. A great addition to the towns thriving café culture and a welcome new addition to my weekly routine!