Molly and Sophie have afternoon tea: Review of Lionmouth Rural Centre

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Why should adults have all the fun? Is presumably a question that the LionMouth Rural Center in Esh Winning, County Durham asked themselves when they came up with the splendid idea of putting on afternoon tea for children. Having heard about this I suggested to my friend that we take the littlies there for her little girls birthday treat (Molly has taken to celebrating everyone’s birthday if she thinks she’s going to get cake!)

LionMouth is a community interest company designed to offer support for local people suffering with mental health problems and learning difficulties. Their location among woodland and alongside a beautiful riverbank provides the perfect location for relaxation and mindfulness, two of the things the Center encourages, but they also offer workshops such as pottery making, painting and drawing for people to get involved in, learn new skills and meet new people. It also has a really lovely sensory garden where we hunted for dragonflies and picked blackberries to scoff straight from the bushes.

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It is, of course, a beautiful place to visit even if you’re not in need of support, let’s face it, who among us wouldn’t benefit from some relaxation and mindfulness in this day and age? The littlies had a lovely time stomping through the “deep dark woods” looking for the Gruffalo and then plodging in the river (glad we brought the wellies then!)

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On occasions they host “meet and greet” events where children can meet the characters from their favorite  books and take part in some fun activities with them. Not long back Molly went to meet the Gruffalo there and I’ve never seen her so excited in all her little life!

The lovely little tearooms “The Lions Den” provides a beautiful selection of food all made daily using local produce and a warm and welcoming atmosphere is created by the recycled and up-cycled furniture and retro decor. The littiles has afternoon tea which consisted of a sandwich of their choice (we went for cheese, can’t go wrong with cheese), crisps, jelly and a little cake. They even (quite alarmingly) trusted us with proper china tea-pots, and tea-cups and saucers for the littlies to pour their own tea (aka water or squash) into their own cup. They obviously felt super grown up and despite my immediate concerns that it would all end horribly with bits of broken tea cup floating around in a sea of water, they were both really careful and drank beautifully from the tea-cups, which just goes to show, perhaps I should place a little more trust in my daughter!

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Half way through the afternoon tea, the lovely waitress, who was so kind and friendly, appeared with more goodies which she thought they might like, explaining that she always likes to try and think of new things to add to the tea. The marshmallows and raisins were definitely appreciated so I think they could certainly become a permanent feature of the tea.

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After a really good feed, we headed back to the car with two sleepy but happy children, stopping to pick plums from the plum tree on the way out. I believe the words “best birthday ever” were muttered as we left.

I would definitely recommend checking out LionMouth rural centre, even just for a wander or to buy some of the plants that they grow onsite but if you have time, do try to pop into the Lions Den and sample some of their fares as you won’t be disappointed!

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