We’ve noticed of late that soft play has been getting a bit of a bad rep. Now don’t get us wrong, we aren’t so keen on the distinct smell of sweat, the loud colours, loud noise or even the abundance of mini dictators running around like maniacs either. However, our babies are just about to turn ten months and it’s been a game changer. Long gone are the days where they would sit still playing with their toys; instead we spend our days constantly trying to keep them alive. Plugs in mouths, fingers in sockets, lamps used as aids to stand, the sofa treated as if it’s Everest to climb…you name it and it’s a hazard. Soft play has therefore been our saving grace and saves our home from complete devastation.
Now we haven’t been to the huge, over-populated ones but we have found a little gem in the Apple Tree Children’s Cafe. It has a small soft play area with a ball pit and enough space that children can thrash around in but also it’s small enough that we know our little ones won’t get trampled in an adrenalin-enthused stampede. There are also mini kitchens for the children to play with, a shop, till and a reading area. Importantly, it isn’t just aimed at the kids. There’s a lovely cafe for parents to have that much needed coffee or even a cake fix if you are in need.
They have a menu tailored to kids of all ages from weaning onwards and the staff are extremely lovely and helpful. My mini dictator demolished a weaning platter and left various bits on the floor (we love the drop the food game at the moment!) and the staff were so relaxed about it and stopped us from trying to salvage the floor ourselves.
It’s located in Herne Hill and is a three minute walk from the station (overground). It overlooks the beautiful Brockwell Park and is in the hub of Herne Hill so why not make a morning or afternoon of it? Have a walk too in the park and there’s plenty of choice for food. Our favourites are: Cafe Provençal, the Half Moon Pub and if you walk just 5 minutes down the road, the Lido Cafe (see previous post for details). All are baby friendly and have changing facilities and high chairs.
We are also in love with the enchanting Tales on Moon Lane, the sweetest children’s book shop. They do storytelling every Thursday morning at 9.30am for free during term time. We can’t help but buy a book each time we go and this time we bought “In the swamp by the light of the moon” by Frann Preston-Gannon. At one point the book says, “My friend…your song’s unique and important like all of the rest. Even small voices count, so let’s hear yours – only you sing your song best”. Amen to that.
⚠️ On Saturdays Apple Tree closes at midday and does not serve food on the menu but has a small selection of food pouches, pastries and cakes. On Sundays it is closed.
Per Play at Apple Tree Cafe is free for 0-6 months, £3 for 6-12 months and £5 for 1 years – 5 years. They also offer a ten visit pass for £42 online for 1 years – 5 years.
Easy with pram or sling, all on the same floor.
Baby changing facilities are available in all the cafes we have mentioned and there is buggy parking at Apple Tree.
Feeding friendly ⭐⭐⭐
Easy to feed in the cafes at the tables but don’t expect a sofa/armchair!
General vibes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Apple Tree Children’s Café makes soft play bearable, we would go even so far as to say enjoyable. Herne Hill, though it only has a small hub has so much going for it: make a day of it and you won’t regret it!