Keep In Touch

Follow Mariahalse on Twitter Follow Mariahalse on Pinterest Follow Mariahalse on Instagram

Thursday, 22 September 2011

A plea for decent Coffee shops

I imagined motherhood to open the doors to a warm community of chatting mums exchanging ideas, laughs and doing plenty of things together but alas this seemed a myth. In my outer London town which deceivingly appeals to baby-breeders- there seems a distinct lack of cohesion and warm mummy vibe. We're spoilt for choice with beautiful green areas by a river, playgroups, music classes, sure- but where are mums meant to go and hang out? Not as many home coffee mornings as I had imagined- I've not invited many people round to mine, true- but I suppose we prefer to get out of the house.

If meeting friends or doing Netmums meetups we prefer to go out in the park or somewhere where toddlers can play, playground, walking by river, playgroup, some great pubs with climbing frames, cafés and going further afield to museums, bigger parks, soft plays etc. But I'd rather spend my day actually doing, making and creating things. I miss papier mâché modelling, playing piano, other music and want to make clothes for myself and Leon but find it hard to do it in the flat with him around. With childcare costs high and cherishing the enjoyment of spending time with my son, I'd like the advantage of a big space to make, play and learn things while he's happy doing something else.

And I'm not talking community halls or spaces- unless they've got a good vibe- but more like a decent coffee shop or hub. Somewhere where you enjoy hanging out anyway, and if you want to, you can make a dress, or knit a bit, or dance, or make phone calls, blog, tweet etc.

Like a big living room, but not at home. A super coffee shop!

The problem with Cafés
Coffeeshops today are crappy. There aren't any that I love or feel drawn to, and I often moan that they should add kids play area to keep them occupied while you can have a conversation or get on with something else. Play areas are springing up more often in certain Cafés (East Twick) restaurants (Pizza Express, Richmond) pubs (Teddington Arms Yummy Mummy lunch and Twickenham's Bear kids club) but not enough for my liking!

I'm fortunate to live in the town centre and have over 15 coffeeshops that I can walk to in under 10 mins. But man- if they were good I'd spend a lot more time and money there. Twickenham has it's popular coffeeshops, Zizou, Nero... But others lie empty most the day- never a buzz with people, conversation, comfort or decent music. I find them cold, cramped, without atmosphere that I wonder why no one has made a better one or made more effort to get more customers in. Why can't any café entice me to spend 2 hours there, spend £10 on drinks, snacks and wifi while the child is happily occupied with a few toys and meeting other children? Krafty Kidz play café is a good concept and nearest to what is needed, but it lacks that lounge feel that I'm after. Something for the parents with facilities for kids, instead of the other way round.

I suppose it's done purposefully to encourage faster turnover and of course, who wants to be in a cafe full of yummy mummies and noisy children? Not many locals, and I agree- but why not give us at least one decent coffeeshop where we can all go with our tots (buggy park anyone?) Make it a goodun!

Yes- I'd love to open my own parent-friendly hub offering comfy sofas to gas, read, knit, blog, chill; big tables, snug corners, mini offices, open spaces, decent coffee, work-space, tots' entertainment, free or cheap tutorials (make toddler trousers, make a fab dress, mend your clothes, wrap your baby, sun salutation, music lessons, make play dough, piñatas and pitchers of cocktails). I'd even call it Hubba Bubba. It wouldn't have to be too expensive- plenty of empty shops and offices available to use for cheap- but creating a great, welcoming vibe that makes women feel happy to be mothers!

Basically I'm frustrated that plenty of brands are tapping into the Mummy Market but not those that we need the most! Even Starbucks are ignoring us. I'm sure anyone else would appreciate better coffeeshops, more than just seats and beverages but stimulus, areas for collaboration, and communal activity as well as more comfortable, relaxing seats and lighting.

(Maybe I'd feel differently if I had an enormous lounge)


  1. I feel your pain, there is even less here in Cyprus. Yes you can take kids to any pub or restaurant but there is no-where for them to play, or no organised groups at all - no library sessions, no playgroups etc. They are missing a trick not doing something for our huge expat population like your local businesses are missing you out. It drives me crazy!

  2. I really wonder what's stopping people... Hmmm