Becoming a new mum is the most amazing thing in the world. The best adventure ever. We had little Eva Rose in April and she is 6 months old already. I have no idea where the time has gone. However, being a mum is not without its challenges. Completing once simple tasks have suddenly become very large victories...
One of these daily challenges is managing to drink a hot beverage. Ninety nine times out of a hundred, duty calls and your brew is left to ice over. When you're so sleep deprived and in desperate need of caffeine, you take a deep breath, brace yourself and get it drunk.
One of life's little pleasures as a mum is to break out of the house, find a cosy place to meet with friends and have a chat over a brew. Magical places where you can get away from the incessant "eh-ohs" of the Teletubbies for an hour and cross reference topics like nappy contents and weaning recipes without judgement, where no one bats an eyelid if your baby decides to kick off. It also makes a nice change to have someone make a drink for you during the day. You may even get to eat! These safe havens are a special and much needed retreat for mums.
One such place is the new Reading Room coffee bar at the Barlow Institute.
The Reading Room Cafe inside the Institute itself is lovely and quaint. There are old, Victorian pictures on the wall and it looks no different, aside from the little pops of colour from the furniture and squidgy sofas.
I decided on a latte... I had 3 loads of washing waiting for me at home, make it a strong one. It was amazing to drink something hot and yummy, what a treat! Ten minutes of bliss. They also offer a selection of Suki teas and hot chocolate. Fairtrade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified.
The cakes on sale, handmade by Bekah's Little Cakery, are amazing. Aussie Crunch is my absolute favourite. I went straight up to the Barlow when my dear friend, Bekah, told me she was selling her cakes at the Reading Room. She's been making Aussie Crunch (and cakes in general) since our school days so I can vouch they have been crafted to perfection and made with love. Elliott had a slice of Carrot Cake which lasted about 2 seconds. Says it all!
The facilities are great at the Barlow. You can comfortably fit a pram in the cafe and the bathrooms are spotlessly clean with baby changing. An important selling point for a new mum; you don't want to spend 2 hours getting out the house just to come home again if the inevitable happens!
There is plenty going on to entertain the little ones. There is a quite a large play area and woodland for the older kids towards the back of the building next to the cricket ground. There are also baby classes, a playgroup and crafts during the week if you get stir crazy like me. The cafe is handy because you can grab a brew whilst you're there.
The Barlow also serves as a quiet place for meetings. There's free wifi in the cafe so you can get some work done in a comfortable setting. Or if the baby is asleep, have a 30 minute browse on Facebook! It's also a great place if you're holding a function or party as they offer room hire in the hall.
Mums (and dads!) if you are in need of sanctuary, this is the place. Great prices, comfortable, baby and business friendly, hot drinks and cake. It's a resounding thumbs up from me!