What a rubbish week of weather we are having! I shouldn’t have expected any less really, it being England and half-term at the same time. But still, this is really testing us. And after one morning of traipsing through Bromley in the pouring rain, trying to get haircuts for three separate people in three separate locations, very thankful that we decided to forego a trip to the zoo on that particular day, we decided that we would stay indoors for the foreseeable future. But we do need to be out of the house, at least for a few hours each day, mainly to stop A and E from killing each other, or indeed to prevent me from killing them (I’m joking, of course; they will kill me first). However, being half term, lots of our usual places are ridiculously busy and to be avoided at all costs; therefore, we are really being challenged to find new indoors-y things to do. And today we found a little hidden gem…
We went to Layhams Farm Shop with some of our best friends and it was just wonderful.
Everything about it was perfect: from the friendly welcome on arrival, to the cleanliness, the amazing service, the location, the local produce in the shop, the lovely choice of food in the café, the prices, the children’s play area, and even the half-term craft activity (run by Crafty Hands).
The farm shop and café (with small play area for pre-school children) are housed in a converted barn on what seems to be a working farm. There is also an amazing-sounding nursery, though we did not stop to browse this today as all we wanted to do was drink tea and shelter from the rain. The café is a good size, with a variety of tables near the serving area as well as next to the play area. There is also a little ‘nook’ with two large sofas, though it seems you have to arrive very early to bagsy them! Next to the café is a room with a small soft play area, and this contained today’s half-term craft activity.
So much seems to be going on here, with drop-in children’s activities taking place almost every weekday, extra activities for half-term, and even an outdoor play area opening later in the year. Details of all of the activities can be found here. I honestly wish we could try out every activity on offer, but I don’t think we would be able to get there on a daily basis! The shop is about a half-hour drive from Chislehurst, out in the countryside past Keston. We do not own a car at the moment as we live in London, where public transport is slightly less tragic than in Yorkshire, but we are able to borrow my mum’s car to go further afield now and again (hence our trip today). I did do some research to see if it would be possible to reach by public transport, but came to the conclusion that it would not be, which is sad (though I suppose most people are not as backward as we are and therefore have access to cars of their own).
On arrival at the café we had tea, and I eyed up the cake as we waited for our friends to arrive. When they arrived the children played for a while, and as soon as it started to get busy in the play area we moved into the adjacent room to take part in the craft activity; this was a lovely little addition to the outing, with a range of pottery and glassware available for painting and decorating. There was also a range of cardboard shapes, and lots of bits and pieces to stick on to them. I tried to persuade A to paint a piece of pottery, as she does gluing and sticking on an almost daily basis, but she decided that she wanted to decorate a cardboard fairy instead. The end result was actually quite lovely, though as soon as she had finished she realised that she did, in fact, want to paint a candle holder like her friends, so she did that too. E also went for the gluing and sticking option; he decided on a chicken, and he did an excellent job of sticking on googly eyes, feathers, and cotton wool (he is really starting to engage with craft, and it is fascinating to watch him work so carefully). I loved that all of the craft items were replenished regularly so that nothing ran out, and every customer was given a fresh tray of paint (simple things like this make such a huge difference to such an activity). And at the end, the lady only charged me for one of the cardboard shapes (as well as the candle holder) which was very lovely of her!
Once all of the creations were finished it was actually lunchtime and so I didn’t end up getting any cake (it looked sooooo good though, I will have to go back if only for this reason). For lunch the children all had lunchboxes, and the adults had sausage rolls or sandwiches. All of the sandwiches were freshly made to order, including the ones in the children’s lunchboxes, which was just brilliant. And, despite ordering five sandwiches, all arrived together with a friendly lady who didn’t seem too flustered by the lunchtime stampede, though naturally we had a few minutes to wait. After lunch, more tea, and a bit more play, we headed to the farm shop. This contains a large variety of local produce, including honey, chutneys, and preserves, as well as many other things. We picked up some very very reasonably priced vegetables for dinner and headed home.
I would highly recommend a visit to Layhams Farm Shop, particularly with babies and toddlers; the staff are friendly, the prices are very reasonable indeed, and the food is lovely! Opening times are as follows: Tuesday – Saturday: 9.00am – 5.30pm, Sunday: 10.00am – 4.00pm. Closed all Mondays except Easter Monday, May Bank Holiday, and Spring Bank Holiday.