Wednesday 26 January 2011

The Chocolate Cafe*

For my regular Facebook friends and Twitter followers, its not secret that I love The Chocolate Cafe. Since it opened a few short years ago, the cafe has become an integral part of life in the small town of Ramsbottom.

The Chocolate Cafe is very thoughtfully located next to my doctor's surgery in the heart of Ramsbottom. I spent many days at my doctors surgery during my pregnancy, and would often pop in for a sandwich or a salad, and a Tea Pig herbal tea. Joseph, whilst in utero, banned chocolate consumption, sadly.

Very often would be mummies, with their little babies or toddlers, having a brew and a piece of cake, and chatting with their little ones, sometimes in groups of other mums, some times just on their own. I couldn't wait for my own little baby to be born in August so that I too could sit with my little one, drinking hot chocolate, and chatting about our day.

During my pregnancy I had counselling for anxiety, and I learnt lots of good things, the most valuable being creative visualisation. This becomes important later!

When everything went wrong with my pregnancy, I was shattered. Everything had suddenly become difficult, and sad. My baby was fighting for his life, and I felt like I was lying in the wake of this huge aftermath, trying to pick up the pieces. As hours and days went on, I remembered what I had been taught, and started to get stronger.

One day, towards the end of my admission, Joseph was a bit stronger at almost a week old, and I was sitting in my room in the maternity ward with my journal. One of the lovely midwives (there were two types of midwives up there - the lovely and the not so) came and sat with me.

"What's keeping you going?" she asked. "You are always so happy, and focussed, what is it?" I smiled and said  "The Chocolate Cafe". I explained to her that I was visualising, that come August, I would be sitting with my baby, drinking hot chocolate and eating cake. I used to sit by the incubator chatting to Joseph, and one of the things I would chat about was what our days would be like when he was finally discharged.

What I hadn't visualised, and couldn't have predicted is that I wouldn't be alone. The first time we came to the Chocolate Cafe in August. I wasn't alone. The first time we came, there was 10 of us, five mummies and five tiny babies. Every Tuesday for months we would come and sit and natter, drink and eat. As maternity leave has ended, mums have returned to work, and the remaining mums have tightened their belts, our meetings are infrequent. But the Chocolate Cafe remains a place we go to celebrate and to escape.

So what makes The Chocolate Cafe so good?

* It isn't all about chocolate. It's about local produce, best quality bread for sandwiches, fresh fruit and vegetables, making the most of what is readily available locally. Its about hearty soups, and cheese on toast, it's not all about chocolate.

* When it is all about the chocolate, its the very best, fine chocolate, not rubbish full of fillers. It's about really tasting it and savouring it, not gorging yourself silly on Dairy Milk.

*It's about having fun! The Zotter drinking chocolates in particular, are great fun, lots of different flavours. In the shop you can find chocolate flavoured with bacon bits, and all sorts of things you wouldn't associate with chocolate.

*The Chocolate Cafe is all about families, but it isn't childish. If you're looking for kiddies packs with crayons and colouring in books, you won't get that here. The children's menu replicates the adult menu, and contains good, real food. The Chocolate Cafe is all about treating the smallest guest as a person, and respecting their needs.

*Nothing is ever too much trouble. There is a buggy park in the shop and the cafe is upstairs. No one ever hesitates at helping you carry a sleeping baby in their pram, or moving furniture, or cleaning up when your baby specatularly vomits all over your brioche (not looking at anyone in particular, Mr Joseph, not al all)

*But most of all the staff and owners are passionate about what they do, and are passionate about making their customers happy and leave with a smile!

So if you visit Manchester, make the trip on steam train, bus or car, and visit The Chocolate Cafe, you won't be disappointed. (Unless you visit on a Monday, then you will be disappointed as they are closed!)

*This was not a sponsored post, I just wanted to blog about The Chocolate Cafe as its fab!

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