New Year – new blog!

Ok so I have been ridiculously bad at writing blog posts of late so in 2016 I am going to try and improve somewhat! The wintry months have seen us being really busy at Lollipops which is amazing but perhaps my attention to the website has slipped as a result (tut tut)

So what have we been up to lately at lovely Lollipops? Well our new sensory equipment has been really really popular and we have had some great feedback. We love seeing more gorgeous babies coming through the doors (although it does make all the staff broody!)

Our new smoothie menu has gone down a storm too – we now have some amazing new flavours including Ginger Beets and Jungle Juice for you to work through over the next few months. They re so refreshing and good for you too – the perfect way to cool down after chasing the little ones around the play area!

Our party bookings are going crazy at the moment. I know I say it all the time but please do book exclusive parties early to avoid disappointment as we have had to unfortunately turn lots of people down lately:-((

We also have some exciting new classes starting this week too including a Drama class taught by the Helen O’Reilly Drama Academy ad a new cookery class on Friday morning with The Lovely Little Bakery School. Check out our What’s on Page for more information

www.lollipopsplayafe.com/whatson

 

Summer Salads, Smoothies, Ice Cream & Milkshakes

So the sun is shining now and we have once again opened our secret garden – perfect for the parents to grab a seat in the sun whilst watching the little ones play!

We have also updated our menu and re-introduced the popular Grilled Halloumi  Salad with minted couscous salad. I have just eaten it for my lunch and had forgotten how yummy and summery it is!!

Our selection of smoothies, milkshakes and ice cream are proving even more popular now that its warming up.

All our milkshakes are made with Churchfields ice cream which is made by my sister on my family farm that I grew up on in Worcestershire. I love that we are truly a family business and that I am in turn supporting their business by bringing their delicious product to sunny Bournemouth!

Party bookings have picked up this week following the return of some schools after Easter so please do call to check availability sooner rather than later to avoid any disappointment. We are now booking in for September already!!!!

We hope everyone had an amazing Easter holiday and look forward to seeing you all over the next term.

Also good luck to any nervous parents like me awaiting news on school places tomorrow. Fingers crossed. xxxxx

New changes to our soft play frame

We were super excited last week when we got our new slide in place. Since we took over the cafe in June my husband and I have been desperate to get a bigger slide in. I met the play frame specialist guys at the cafe at 5pm who had driven all the way from north Wales with the slide on top of their van! At first glace we had a panic wondering if it was going to actually fit but all was good and they worked until 3am to ensure it was all up and running for the next morning. My daughter Rosie was up early to get here to be the first to try it out – she gave it a big thumbs up:-))

We have also extended the ‘free play’ area back at the bottom of the play frame giving the kids more space to run around, play with the freestanding toys and play role play games etc. It always amazes me how versatile this space is and the different games it gets used for. We have also extended our baby area slightly too giving more safe space for our smallest visitors.

We hope you enjoy the changes we have made so far….. we are looking to continuously update and improve over time so do let me know if you have any suggestions.

Happy sliding!unnamed (2)unnamed

 

Some exciting changes for 2015

We are really excited because at lollipops HQ we have just had confirmation of our play frame changes booked in for just 2 weeks time! We are planning to make the baby/non-walkers are bigger, extend the free play space at the back of the play frame and put in a brand new slide and steps making  it even more fun for your little ones.

We have also ordered some awesome new chairs for the cafe in gorgeous colours. We do apologise for the state of the current chairs, they have had rather a lot of use over the busy winter months but bear with us some new ones are on their way;-) New tables are in the pipeline too to make the cafe an even more appealing place to hang out.

I’m also on a mission to find an amazing artist who can spruce up our party room and tie it in with the rest of our branding and designs so watch this space……

 

I hope your loving everything I  have done with the cafe over the past 7 months – I would love to hear any more ideas or input.

Erica. xxxx

 

A busy start to the year

I can not believe that January is over already. Being a working Mummy sure does make time fly by! The Christmas decorations are back up in the loft and thoughts are turning to events and offers for Spring/Summer. Our new milkshakes and smoothies have been a huge hit and we have also introduced our Play & Dine offer every Tuesday-Friday after 2.30pm which has become really popular. Customers can choose ANY meal off the kids menu:-)

So that life is not all work and no play I have also been planning a family break. After chatting to one of our regular customers about her recent trip to Disneyland Paris she has inspired me to make the most of the off peak prices before Rosie starts school in September and book a trip for March. So so excited…. the prices are fantastic value (not much more than centre parks and other UK breaks) and the girls are ridiculously excited. They are the perfect age for meeting characters and princesses! Bring it on!

Half term is only round the corner too and with it coinciding with pancake day we will of course be doing something yummy to mark the occasion- keep a look out on our Facebook page for updates.

Our exclusive party bookings have gone slightly crazy in the new year and we are now fully booked until the very end of March for the weekend slots. We do still have weekdays at 5pm or non exclusive slots left but please please do book early as we have unfortunately had to lots of customers miss out on dates they required.

 

 

 

Milkshakes & Smoothies now on the menu at Lollipops Pay Cafe

Lots of customers since I took over have been asking for milkshakes and smoothies so we have listened and we are excited to let you know that Lollipops is now serving both!

Jess, Leila and I have been busy getting the recipes just right… so here is what we currently have on offer;

SMOOTHIES

Exotic Blend – Passion Fruit, Pineapple & Mango

Green Goddess – Broccoli, Spinach, Celery, Mango, Pineapple & Banana (surprisingly delicious!)

These smoothies are healthy and a great way to fend off the colds and bugs!

MILKSHAKES

All our milkshakes are blended with the Churchfields Ice Cream, which is made  by my sister on our family farm in Worcestershire. We have the following flavours available:

Vanilla, Strawberry, Chocolate, Mint, Banana, Cherry & Honeycomb

Come in and give them a try :-))

 

A fantastic fun filled end to the year!

Well, what can I say it’s been an amazing first 6 months running my own business, and what an end to 2014 with the great Frozen Christmas parties.

With the hustle and bustle of running the café, organising the parties, keeping on top of marketing and stock control it’s sometimes easy to forget why I wanted to do it in the first place, but then I remember, balancing a great job with flexibility to see my family really is the dream, and so far so good.

Running Lollipops is hard but satisfying work and I’m so lucky that having incredible staff gives me a few precious days a week to spend with my two girls. So firstly here is a public thank you to Jess, Jody, Leila, Beth, Tori, Charlotte, Hannah, Emma and Ellis – you are all amazing.

Saying goodbye to 2014 was a blast at Lollipops. The Christmas parties were hosted by our beautiful Princesses Elsa and Anna, the children enjoyed soft play treasure hunts, a Christmas disco, Frozen themed party food and a visit from Father Christmas who handed out lovely gifts.

It was the first time we tried such a full-on party for the public and luckily all tickets sold out in two days for both events. The whole affair was topped off by a Frozen ice castle which we made at the top of our three storey play frame and as the children entered the café we turned off the lights, cranked up ‘let it go’ and invited them to go and find the princesses in their ice castle.  The look on their little faces was priceless and the feedback from the parents was great. So we’ll definitely look to do more seasonal parties! Bring on Easter.

Well, touch wood we have had a great start to 2015 Exclusive parties are pretty much sold out for the first few months, with only a few slots remaining for March and bookings coming in for as far ahead as September. Dave has been giving me crash courses in digital marketing and apparently: ‘SEO is dying and targeted paid media is coming of age’ – who would have known? Anyway it seems to be doing the job whatever it means, and I’m reliably told that our cost per click is very efficient – which is, I guess why are parties are booking up so fast.  So business wise we are on track to have the best January in Lollipops history, whilst the marketing is all well and good I think it’s a real testament to our staff going the extra mile for our customers, based on the continued lovely feedback I keep getting.

So what’s the plan for change in 2015? Well firstly we really hope to make some changes to our play frame, outside of repairs and maintenance we have plans to extend the baby and toddler area, introduce a big slide and maybe a fun ball pit. Let us know if there is anything else you would add? We already have stand-alone bits on the way like mini dinosaur slide and building bricks.

Our classes will keep running throughout the week with regular favourites like Minky Moos, Baby Ballet and Jo Jingles along with some exciting new classes. So watch this space or let us know any requests.

We are thrilled to announce that our soft play special offers have become a regular weekly occurrence  for 2015 too:

£1 Stay & Play - Monday from 1pm (term time only), Saturday 9-9:30am

£5 Play & Dine - Tuesday to Friday from 2:30pm, includes any child’s meal

Grandparents day - Wednesday all day, free tea of coffee for all Grandparents

Twin Tuesday & Thursday - £3 entry per set of twins all day

Childminders - Everyday £2 per child after 12pm

And happily we are going to keep running our special events outside of normal parties so keep an eye out on the website and Facebook as tickets go quickly.

Finally just a huge thank you for making our first half year in Lollipops a great experience. It’s be totally fun running the place, I have loved meeting and getting to know all of our regulars so thank you so much for the continued support, and here’s to an AMAZING 2015 @ lollipops play café..

p.s. my new years resolution is to blog more, and here are a few of my favourite shots from 2015.

Erica, xxxxx

The perfect weather for soft play and parties…..

So the weather has turned and Autumn has set in. As a soft play owner this makes me very happy;-)The last couple of weeks has been really busy and we have had loads of fun welcoming lots of regular customers as well as lots of new ones. Our new messy play session on a Wednesday has been a big hit and other classes such as ballet babes have been great with loads of new faces joining in the fun. For more information about all the classes we offer check out www.lollipopsplaycafe.com/whatson

It is amazing how the change in temperature makes everyone reach for the hot chocolates and cake too – we have been working really hard to keep up with rocky road and flapjack demand!

I definitely feel my age after a busy shift in the cafe but love that I get to come home and see my gorgeous girls for cuddles which makes it all worth while. For the first time since I took over lollipops Dave and I took the girls away for a mini break. It was only 2 days but it is quite hard leaving a business as I worry so much that something will go wrong! But I am so lucky with the amazing staff that we have that everything ran smoothly and we got to have an amazing couple of fun days at Alton Towers. I can highly recommend the Splash Landings hotel and the new Cbeebies land. (It was also a massive stress release to go and have loads of fun and screams on the rollercoasters including the new Smiller ride which was awesome!) I have got to learn to switch off once in a while as to be a successful business owner you definitely need to take time out to reflect and recharge the batteries!

Our new website has seen a huge increase in traffic to which I am hugely grateful to my lovely husband Dave – its sad but we get so excited when we see on the analytics a huge spike in visitors (the riveting conversations of our marriage!) It has also lead to a huge increase in party enquiries and booking too… we now only have 4 exclusive party slots left before Christmas and we are booking up for January and February next year:-)

Our Halloween parties have sold out too now and the Lollipops team are getting super excited thinking of all the fun food we can make and games we can play…. I love thinking about all the themed events we can do – makes the job even more fun. We have been planning all the fun things we can do for Christmas too – watch this space, super exciting!

 

Anyway after a busy week its time to have a long soak in the bath and chill out with Downtown Abbey…

Erica. x

Phoebe and I enjoying the In the night Garden ride

Phoebe and I enjoying the In the night Garden ride

Mini break to Alton Towers... so much fun. x

Mini break to Alton Towers… so much fun. x

Parties Parties Parties

Wow what an amazing start to the week. The Lollipops phone has been RED HOT with party bookings. We now have very limited availability for our exclusive party slots in both September and October and November also getting quite busy. So please please do not delay in calling us to book. We do still however have availability for our regular non-exclusive soft play parties which are a great cost effective way to host your kids birthday celebrations.

This week has also seen the kids going back to school and next week all of our amazing baby and toddler classes resume. We have got some really great classes in place including; Minky Moos sensory sessions, Jiggy wrigglers, Jo Jingles, Creation Station, Carousel drama, toddler Spanish as well as our very own gorgeous Jody hosting ballet babes – a brand new pay as you go ballet class for 18months up to 5yrs. I have tried to listen to our parents feedback and so now most of our classes operate on a pay as you go basis giving you more freedom with your payments. With all our classes you can stay and play in Lollipops soft play for just £1.  Check out our website http://www.lollipopsplaycafe.com/whatson.html for more information.

The ice cream bucket offer we ran on bank holiday Monday was a HUGE success with loads of yummy ice cream being served all day despite the rain! Thanks to everyone who came and also my my amazing staff who coped so well on such a busy day and allowed us to stay open later than planned to meet the demand.

This week I had my first experience of being ill whilst owning a business – I apologise for anyone who felt service was not up to normal standards on Tuesday but I was so so poorly. I tried to come in but had to go home unfortunately. With all my staff away or without childcare unfortunately Jess and Ellis were left to fend for themselves and coped remarkably well given the circumstances.

Fingers crossed that will not happen again in a while! Onwards and upwards and super excited about the month of September and seeing some regulars return after the summer holidays– I’m loving Lollipops Erica. x

Ice cream ice cream we all scream for ice cream

Rain….hooray! For the first time since I took over we have had some (still not lots) of rain. The change in temperature has also meant that we have been busy this week. We have also seen lots of new faces including quite a lot of tourists who are on holiday in Bournemouth who have found us through our new website which is really good news.

Our new wall graphic has gone up inside – thankyou so much for all your lovely comments on facebook. We are really pleased with it and hope you agree it livens up our indoor play area.

We have also had signs of distinction in to put up our outdoor sign. We have had loads of feedback saying that people found it really hard to find us and that people who lived locally never know lollipops was there! This will hopefully make it clear where we are as well as act as advertising to  new customers.

sign

When I took over this business I knew that there was going to be lots of things to do to get it to the business that I wanted it to be but the list just seems to keep on growing. I guess you are never truly happy with a business and nor should you be as I guess that signals you have stopped caring.

There is always improvements, upgrades, investments to be done. Every night I come home and have a long list of products to research, people to contact etc. Its hard to remember everything when I am also dealing with 2 children who are over tired from a day at nursery! I must admit that the occasional glass of white wine whilst getting the jobs done helps;-)

We have introduced our amazing new beach bucket sundaes to our menu this week. I have really tried to make them a size which our target market of under 8s can enjoy and at a price that is affordable. I cannot tell you how many hours of research I put into these buckets! Trying to find a bucket small enough and not too expensive is not easy. I did loads of market research with my friends and they all agreed that they would love it if their children could take them home.

image22

 

So eventually I sourced the right bucket at the right price and managed to find a supplier of ice cream tub inserts to fit it and hey presto! Putting together the menu was great fun with lots of taste testing off course!

I am lucky enough to have grown up on a dairy farm in Worcestershire who diversified into making ice cream 8 years ago. My sister now runs this part of the business with my father so it gives me the unique opportunity to get our very own bespoke flavour made. We have devised our very own ‘LolliPopper’ ice cream which is a mix of yummy ice cream, chocolate pieces, fudge pieces and popping candy! I am so pleased with it and it tastes delicious.

A huge thank you to my sisters for organising this for us – love you

You can now also add an ice cream factory or endless ice cream option to your party at Lollipops – please ask staff for more details.

Erica. x