I remember when my daughter Olivia started crawling and exploring but I still wanted to meet friends with or without kids, for good coffee and healthy food in stylish places. It was just impossible after a few months of age and we often felt a pain to others’ enjoyment if they were without kids.
I had a lot of experience with babies and toddlers, done a lot of volunteering for a large local parenting charity and it kept coming back to the fact that something was missing locally. I also found the options for hiring a toddler’s party venue, pretty limiting and wanted somewhere, less stimulating, with great toys and outdoor space that I wouldn’t want to escape from, quickly, with my overcharged toddler. I selfishly wanted to have a nice time too with my fellow parents!
So I approached the farmer at The Blue Egg, to transform a derelict old barn for me and create The Nurture Barn and he said yes! The interest and support has been overwhelming since Day 1 of the plans. To give you an idea, before opening we had over 50 party requests and over 1700+ people following ‘the build’ on Facebook and an interview in Essex Life, so I knew we were onto something….. this is what it looked like before we started building.
- Downstairs is the beautiful play area for babies, who have started to crawl and explore, with ride ons and climbing equipment with a strategically placed café area alongside, for those frazzled adults among us.
- Our 5* rated cafe, for three years running, serves delicious homemade food from weaning purees upwards: daily specials, quiches, salads, soups, wraps, sandwiches and very good coffee. Our sausage and bacon is from Priors Hall Farm and our veggy meat is Linda McCartney. We also make sure that there are lots of yummy options on offer for those with intolerances – who are often overlooked. After 2pm every day a slice of homemade cake and coffee costs just £3.90.
- Upstairs is a whole floor dedicated to toddlers and pre school kids with a wooden village including shop, kitchen and café, a treehouse, a climbing area and a building section. Books play an important role upstairs too and there are plenty of fancy dress outfits for those with imagination. The barn is intimate so works well, with multiple kids of different ages.
- There is also the stunning, star ceiling party room for kids’ parties to hire in 2 hour slots 10- 12 for party lunches or 1-3. We do everything, the invites, food and party bags and can even bake a cake if you wish. See our BIRTHDAY page for more details. Barn exclusivity is also available see here for info and we can feed them in the garden if you prefer.
- Classes take place inside, in our upstairs private room or, weather permitting, outside in the wild garden. See here for our activities What’s on.
- We run support groups including Multiples, Breast feeding and Babyled Weaning, Fussy Toddlers and Food Allergies.
- Outside are wooden huts , huge tractor tyres, outdoor kitchens and pirate ships, plus in the second garden is a huge wooden house for them to play mums and dads, basically everything I wanted to play with when I was little. We have regular miniature pony ride sessions and animal petting events .
- Painted Peppermint come in monthly to create ceramic memories.
As well as having fun, we have put an emphasis on ‘play through learning’ and ‘open ended play’ to support early learning and improve outcomes for their children (EYFS) – so all toys have been chosen for a reason and wooden.
There is no need to book and no max stay limit, you will be made welcome; mums and dads and grandparents and carers. Put your bags in a locker and then relax and watch your little ones interact with non plastic toys and best of all, play. Get involved and let’s push their imagination to the limit. We are all in the same boat here, provided your little ones are well behaved, no one will bat an eyelid. Your offspring will run off (they always do) but be in a safe environment and you might even meet some new friends yourself.
Costs are £1 for under 6 months, £3.50 for under 2’s and £5 for over 2’s for unlimited play. On a Saturday and Monday it is just £2.50 all day.
We believe in Total Inclusion. All babies and toddlers including those with special needs will be welcome. We think this is important and vital to all of us to learn more about the people around us.
I look forwards to meeting you there. Please click here to join our Facebook Page so you are kept up to date with what is going on.