West Berkshire Family Life

your recommendations for families in west berkshire

For the past few months we have been asking for your recommendations on our Facebook page. We began doing this after a few people contacted us wanting to recommend places to our followers. We didn’t have a specific ‘recommendations’ page on our website so we thought that social media would be a good place to start and we could then gather all the recommendations and put them in one place. You certainly didn’t disappoint us when we asked! We’ve had around 70 recommendations! We have listed these below and under the following categories:

  1. Food & Drink;
  2. Groups & Classes;
  3. Fitness & Wellbeing;
  4. Hair & Beauty;
  5. Activities; and
  6. Others.

If you would like to recommend somewhere to other local families then please get in touch!

Food and Drink

Weavers Walk Coffee Shop, Newbury

Recommended by Jo C who said, ‘Weavers coffee shop is great – good value, friendly staff and understanding of mess made by babies eating!’

Hog & Hedge, Newbury

The future of this cafe on Newbury high street seems a little uncertain as it has not yet reopened after lockdown but it was popular with all of you having been recommended three times. Rebecca M, Amy P and Sarah B all recommended this child friendly cafe for reasons including its play area and plastic cups.

Sainsbury’s Cafe, Newbury

Recommended by Shihana CC who said, ‘my boys love eating at Sainsbury’s Cafe. The kids meals are good value, you get a free piece of fruit with it plus the sides (peas, carrot & cucumber sticks etc) are healthy too and generous portions.’

The White Horse, Hermitage

Another recommendation from Shihana CC who said it ‘is lovely to have a bite to eat & play outside.’

Saddleback Farm Shop, Brightwalton

Recommended by Rebecca M who said, ‘yummy food and they’ve got a climbing frame and giant sandpit outside with lots of space for little ones to run around in whilst still being able to see them.’

Darling Buds of May Farm Barn Cafe, Headley

Another cafe that is yet to reopen after lockdown. This lovely cafe was recommended by Victoria K who said, ‘it’s got a great little play area indoors which you can see from all tables so you can keep an eye on the little ones whilst having a coffee (plus cake!).’ Also recommended by Jenny D who said that it is ‘lovely, good food and an excellent toy corner.’

Lonely Lentil

Recommended by Zoe L, Lonely Lentil is a local business that provides whole foods, allowing you to fill your store cupboards with a wide variety of nutritious staples & buy only the quantities you need. Zoe said that she would, ‘definitely recommend the ladies from Lonely Lentil, very friendly helpful bubbly staff. Great recipe ideas and plastic and package free foods/ herbs and spices that taste amazing.’ Lonely Lentil was also recommended by Kayleigh P.

Fink Street Food

Another recommendation from Kayleigh P who said, ‘I’m loving indie inventives like Fink Street Food – selling mezze boxes and for every one sold donating a meal to the soup kitchen.’

Colline’s Kitchen

A couple of you recommended this small, independent cafe based in Newbury, Zita said it’s a ‘lovely little cafe for healthy, tasty lunch or cake.’

Wendy’s Community Cafe & Juice Bar

This one was recommended by Emma who said, ‘it’s slightly over the border into Wilts (10/15 mins drive from Hungerford) but it’s really bright and colourful (kids love the crazy cushions, soft toys and books) plus serves great coffee for the grown-ups, and lovely smoothies, healthy home made lunches and cakes. Plus it is right on the field next to the kids’ playground. It’s fun to catch the train with the kids from Hungerford to get there and combine it with a walk along the canal. Very friendly too and dogs allowed.’

Mrs B’s Kitchen

Another of Newbury’s independent cafe’s, Mrs B’s was recommended by Emma G who said, ‘fab customer service and amazing cakes!! (they will even do them to take away too!)’

Kingsland Cafe, Thatcham

This one was recommended by Claire T who gave the following reason: ‘when my girls were around 6 and 9, one spilt practically a whole milkshake on the floor. I was embarrassed, kids upset but the lady there just helped us to another table, asked what flavour it had been, cleaned up and brought a fresh one at no charge. A real, friendly, old-fashioned style cafe (and gorgeous coffees too.) And the same lady is still working there. She is so calm and pleasant, to customers young and old.’

Teashop by the Canal

This one was recommended by three different people! Lizzie, Hayley and Rebecca all recommended this Newbury cafe giving the following reasons:

‘My (not so) little girl loves a cuppa there – it feels like a proper tea party, veggie breakfast sounds amazing too!’

‘My boys love it there. Lovely finger sandwiches and fairy cakes for small people (and the best leaf tea in town!) Their veggie breakfast is awesome! They have books for little people upstairs and down and booster seats if you ask.’

‘Had such a lovely lunch there with my daughter. The finger sarnies and books were a definite hit.’

Pineapple Palace

This cafe used to be located in Thatcham but at the time of writing is in the process of relocating to Newbury. It was recommend by Swimkidz Berks/Hants/Wilts who said that it is a ‘lovely shop and coffee shop.’

Groups & Classes

Tiny Talk

These baby signing classes were recommended by Jenny D who said that they are ‘amazing, couldn’t recommend enough. Kids loved it, learnt to communicate early and I actually learnt something too. Plus biscuits!!’

Imagine More with Thembi

Sadly Thembi who used to run these classes has moved back to the USA but Shelley N recommended her sessions, ‘I honestly couldn’t recommend Thembi Palmer enough! She is truly talented and the children all love her. Thembi offers amazing storytelling & drama classes as well as engaging music & movement sessions for pre school children! I feel like we hit the jackpot when we started attending sessions with Thembi – I am truly grateful that my son gets to benefit from her classes and he really loves them!’

Wolf Pack Forest School

These sessions were recommended by Gemma M who said, ‘I didn’t realise previously that there were any forest schools in Newbury so was very excited when I found this one through word of mouth! It’s a lovely setting and includes free play – tree climbing, chalking, painting, mud kitchen etc and usually an organised craft. It lasts two hours and lunch is cooked by Dave who runs it on the fire and people bring packed lunches for the preschoolers too… then he finishes with a couple of stories… mine loved it!’

Corn Exchange, Newbury

Hannah recommended the Corn Exchange saying, ‘it does a fab range of sessions for parents and young babies. I’ve taken my youngest (now just turned 2) to Rhyme and Shine and loved the relaxed setting, and a free coffee in the Corn Exchange bar afterwards. Great idea. Lots of lovely family sessions too. Friendly staff, family orientated spaces and good prices.’

Ilsley Under 5s

This local toddler group was recommended by Ellie B who said that it is ‘great fun.’

Moo Music Newbury

This music group for babies and under 5s was recommended by Lauren B who said, ‘we’ve been attending this class for sometime now and it is the highlight of our week.’

Little Quavers

This music group was very popular, being recommended by five different people! Chloe, Leanne, Natasha, Alison and Claire all recommended the Thatcham based group for under 5s for the following reasons:

‘It’s amazing and we’re gutted that we can no longer go after 4 years there with both of my children. Anne and Liz who run it are amazing with kids and somehow manage to remember all of the children’s names, they also teach children makaton signs each week, each week is themed with what props are available for the middle section and it always ends with a drink and a biscuit! It’s also a pay as you go session so if you can’t make it one week it’s not a problem!’

‘Amazing ladies, many fond memories of this group when my daughter was preschool age.’

‘My son is six now so haven’t been for a while but it was a fantastic morning activity.’

‘Definitely another vote for Little Quavers here! Been going for 4 years now and it will be sad when I can’t go any more.’

Pop Up Play Village Newbury & Thatcham

These role play sessions were recommended by Alison M who said; ‘these guys are fab and not only do they do sessions but you can even hire them for parties!’

Boogie Mites Newbury & Hungerford

Another music class for babies and under 5s, Boogie Mites was recommended by Karen M who said, ‘Boogie Mites classes are simply wonderful. Cannot recommend enough.’

Caterpillar Music

At the time of writing our local Caterpillar Music branch (Newbury) was looking for a new franchisee so sessions were not running but a couple of people recommended this class. Sommer C said ‘ Caterpillar music is fab! Nicky is amazing so fun and keeps all the little ones engaged! It’s such a friendly environment to be in as well.’ Gemma A attended online sessions during lockdown 2020 and said class leader Nicky was, ‘doing a fab job of keeping us entertained, we love her online classes at the moment.’

Music with Mummy

Another music group for babies and toddlers that was recommended more than once! Fiona H said, ‘my two children have loved singing with Ruth and still sing her songs today, years after!’ Nicola D said, ‘my daughter loves Ruth! Highly recommend.’


These music and sensory sessions were recommended by Beth W who said, ‘Hartbeeps is amazing. I used to take my son since he was a baby for a few years. We loved it. It is so fun and interactive. Jo is so lovely and smiley, amazing with the children and I found it is much cheaper than other baby sensory groups which always helps when on maternity pay. [sic]’

Mess Around

These messy play sessions were recommended by Steve N Mandi who said, ‘took grand daughter to Mess Around at riverside community centre for Christmas and was amazing so much to do was well set up and lovely hostess can’t wait to go again next month on 14th Feb look them up Facebook Mess around berks & Wilts [sic]’

Steps Ahead

These dance classes were recommended by Lucy who said, ‘Natalie is a fantastic dance teacher, my daughter loves going to her classes. She’s so friendly and my daughter’s confidence is blooming with her teaching her.’

Fitness & Wellbeing

Spin City Newbury

These classes were recommended by Caroline F who said, ‘I love Spin City Newbury for their fab classes and lovely instructors (and is my little bit of me time!).’

Yoga with Tessa

These classes were recommended by Picu G who said, ‘really great pregnancy yoga and mum and baby yoga lessons.’

G-ILATES Pilates

Although not strictly a local business, Rosie from Newbury recommended the online post-natal Pilates classes from G-ILATES, saying that she thought other mums might find them beneficial too. Rosie said, ‘I started out attending the Postnatal classes and really enjoyed them, not only did I feel my core strength improve drastically, but also my back pain started to go and I definitely felt my posture improve. I am now attending the regular classes each week and loving them. Plus the first class is always FREE!’

Fitter Mother

These child friendly fitness classes were recommended by a couple of people, Rosanna H attended online sessions during lockdown 2020 and said, ‘positive vibes over Zoom classes for mums and little ones during lock down.’

Hair & Beauty

NJ Hair

This local hairdresser was recommended by Hayley who said, ‘my boys adore Natalie and don’t trust anyone else to cut our hair. Natalie has a lovely, calm manner, nothing is too much trouble and everything is with a smile. She is fantastic with children, my boys never want her to leave! Highly recommend as a relaxing pamper for parents or a stress free haircut for little ones. Please support this local small business, Natalie is awesome.’

The following hairdressers were also recommended by various people but they did not provide reasons for their recommendations:

  • Ross Sargeant at the Hair Shed
  • Helen Ayres at the Hair Shed
  • Ellie Fox Hair


Shaw-cum-Donnington Park

This park is in Newbury (opposite The Castle Pub on Oxford Road) and was recommended by Sophie who said that the park ‘is lovely. Great, clean play areas for little ones and bigger ones with a huge (and well kept) grass area for running around. It’s a very clean park. Dog friendly too which makes it suitable for our whole family.’

Harcourt Aboretum

This was recommended by Felicity for the geo caching that they do during the holidays.

Roves Farm

Another recommendation from Felicity who said that it is good, ‘when it is wet and miserable.’

Blue Beetle Ceramics

This pottery painting place in Thatcham was recommended by Carol who said, ‘I visited today for the first time with my two, we enjoyed a lovely few hours painting there. Great choice of items to paint. Lorna made us feel very welcome. Offered advice to my children when they asked her for help and my kids enjoyed their hot chocolates too. It’s nice to have a pottery painting place back in Thatcham and we’ll look forward to going back to this one.’

Rosebourne Gardens Halloween Trail

This was recommended by Natasha K who said, ‘My 5 year old has been telling everyone about it since we did it on Saturday!’

West Berkshire Family Hubs

The Family Hubs were recommended by Hayley B who said ‘they offer great activities and services to parents and children. Staff are wonderful.’

Dinton Pastures Country Park

This was recommended by Anisa who said, ‘excellent playground and dogs are welcome too, something for everyone.’

KD Gymnastics

This gymnastics centre on Hambridge Road in Newbury runs open play sessions for 0-5s on weekday mornings (and afternoons on some days). Rochelle recommended them: ‘my toddler’s confidence has come on so much since taking him to the open play gym . I was sceptical on the first week as didn’t think it was for us, but I take him back every week now. I think they also deserve some recognition for actually being the only affordable place open for toddlers in Newbury right now.’


Akanksha Agarwal Photography

A local independent photographer recommended by Jo T who recommends Akanksha for ‘family/maternity shoots (my favourite!)’

Isla Boo

Based in Bucklebury, Isla Boo offers handmade children’s clothing and was recommended by Caroline who said the ‘clothes are gorgeous!’ Isla Boo was also recommend by Swimkidz Berks/Hants/Wilts but they did not provide a reason.

Not Just for Nanas

This local handmade crochet business was recommended by Caroline who said the ‘hand made dream catchers are something else!!’

West Berkshire Community Baby Bank

Jenny said ‘I’d recommend West Berkshire Community Baby Bank for those in need of a lifeline. Chief baby banker Kayleigh Powell is a superstar.’

Hungerford Book Shop

This was recommended by Kayleigh who said, ‘[I] have recently discovered a real local bookshop, Hungerford Bookshop who are lovely – and I’m sure would appreciate your book business more than Amazon right now.’

Emporio Green Army

Thatcham Refillable

These two local businesses were also recommended by Kayleigh who said that, along with Colline’s Kitchen and Lonely Lentil, they are, ‘just lovely – the epitome of community based businesses run by loving people – with the spirit of cooperation and collaboration over competition.’

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