I was in Robertsons Coffee Shop in Oxted, Surrey, on a Saturday afternoon. I'd nipped in for a quick cuppa and something to eat, having enjoyed a cheese and pickle sandwich and a bowl of soup in the same establishment the previous Saturday. I've been here before, a few years ago, and there's now a sign outside exclaiming 'under new management'. Look, it's quite simple, I don't have a problem with women breast-feeding in public, but when it comes to changing a baby's nappy, surely that's why they invented baby changing facilities in the restrooms.
|It's a good place, but we happened to experience a nappy changing moment.|
There was an awning outside, it wasn't cold, but the weather was changeable: one minute sunshine, the next rain. Why didn't the manager point the woman in the direction of the fresh air, thereby allowing the aroma, if that's the word, to travel the length of Oxted's quaint high street and disappear into the atmosphere rather than mix with the more pleasing aroma of freshly ground coffee?
Robertsons is one of those quaint places that sells teapots and biscuits and different teas, not forgetting chocolates and cups and saucers and coffee beans. The teashop or 'caff' element of the business is through some doors at the back of the shop. It's an enclosed space, not ideal if you're baby's in the mood to pick up the phone to Mother Nature. Windows were good and it wasn't good for the nostrils, put it that way – or the appetite.
But let's take a look at the bill. There were four of us and the bill was just short of £18. A pot of tea for one was £2.50 (we had two pots) – more expensive than in a Costa. A hot chocolate was £3.25, those dry scones were £2.25 each and the toasted tea cakes were £2.50 each! The smell of a baby being changed? That was complimentary – on the house!
We left Robertsons Coffee Shop almost £18 lighter and let me make one last observation: the cakes on display were not exactly a welcoming selection. Most had been sold, but not replenished. There were small chunks of three different cakes under one of those clear plastic containers. It could be that the cakes were so good they had all sold out, bar what was left, but when I visit a coffee or teashop and there's a paltry display of cakes, it's always a little bit depressing, even more so if there's the unmistakable smell of babies.
Look, where the baby was concerned, these things happen and I'm sure Robertsons Coffee Shop isn't always choc-a-bloc with babies desperate to lighten their loads by answering the call of nature – twice. For that reason, we won't rule it out in future if ever we're in Oxted – and we will be – but I'll check the price of a cuppa in Costa first, although I'm sure there will be babies misbehaving in there too.