“Where are we going today?” asked the boys excitedly. “To see the trains?”
We’d just pulled up at a railway station, so it was a very sensible guess. But this was no ordinary railway station, and something far more exciting lay behind the door of the ticket office at Frimley Station, as we were about to find out…
It was as though we’d each been handed a cake labelled “Eat Me” on the way in and, in an instant, tripled in size. We’d just stepped into Wonderland – a perfectly scaled-down version of a typical high street, complete with supermarket, doctor’s surgery, café, beauty parlour, theatre and building site, not to mention a big shiny fire truck, just waiting to be manned. The boys simply couldn’t believe their eyes – absolutely everything was tiddler-sized! For we had come to “Little Street”, brainchild of Shay & Hannah Elbaum, where they’re small on everything – except for fun!
Each shop or building in “Little Street” is all set up for little hands to play with, together with miniature uniforms, to complete the experience. Children wanting to play at being ‘Dr Ranj’ in the Mini Meds surgery, have the choice of a white doctor’s coat or blue nurse’s uniform to dress up in, as well as a range of stethoscope’s to choose from. They can sit at the desk and assess their patients – either a friend or one of the child-sized dolls that can be found in and around the street, (usually enjoying a cake in the cafe or a blow-dry at the salon). And, of course, no surgery would be complete without a waiting room, baby weighing scales, a height chart, a sink to wash your hands, a skeleton on the wall and a big 3D diagram of the body’s organs!
Next door, in the Little Savers supermarket, miniature shopping trolleys and baskets are filled to the brim by eager little shoppers. Pretend croissants, loaves of bread, fish and fruit & veg are piled high at the check-out, as little cashiers ring up the goods. Jardine’s toddler, 3, made his mummy very proud as he selected a number of cleaning products for his trolley, while my tiddler, at just 14 months, opted to loiter amongst the fruit & veg… Secretly hoping, I’m sure, to catch a glimpse of his hero, Mr Bloom.
Both boys adored the fire truck, which takes centre-stage in the street and offers ample opportunity for children to scramble all over it. A fantastic wooden structure, hand-painted by the owners, it has blue lights on top and a steering wheel that turns, plus a selection of fireman’s outfits & hats, as well as fire extinguishers, hatchets and a loud hailer. Surrounding the fire truck is a painted-on road, frequented by tots on various push-along cars, bikes and vehicles, and alongside that is a building site. The three year old loves diggers (as many boys do) so, to have a whole digger area cordoned off by cones… Well, he was in heaven! The building site has two sit-on diggers, which each have an arm that children can raise and lower to pick things up with, as well as plastic boulders, piles of bricks (perfect for stacking up and knocking down again) and traffic cones. Oh, and not a wolf whistle in sight…
Next door is the much more civilised setting of Chicco’s Café, where I was served some delicious cream cakes and a cup of tea by my little one. This was a firm favourite amongst the girls at our session, who darted effortlessly between the café and Belle & Beau, the beauty salon opposite, while munching on faux patisserie and coiffing each other’s hair.
At the very end of the street lies Starlets, the theatre and dress-up area, where tots can slip on any number of fancy-dress outfits and perform on the stage. Costumes range from fairy princesses to pirates and many children choose to dress as their favourite character for the duration of their session. The juxtaposition of seeing a mini Cinderella drive the fire truck or Tinkerbell doing the weekly shop is priceless.
There aren’t a lot of places that you can say are truly different these days and the word “unique” is drastically overused, but this beautifully crafted play centre, custom-made for tiddlers, really ticks all the boxes. A brilliant concept, lovingly created and wonderfully executed by the owners, Little Street offers a very different proposition from the various soft play cafés located in every town centre.
We’d definitely recommend a visit to the ticket office in Frimley. Drop down the rabbit hole and see for yourself just how much fun you can pack into 90 minutes. Rummage through the dressing up box and, you never know, you might just find Alice in Wonderland… But, either way, a visit to Little Street will guarantee to boost your ‘street cred’ with the tiddlers!
01276 423 100 / www.little-street.co.uk
Things You Should Know
- Away from all the mini-fun is a large seating area for adults to enjoy a drink or a snack or to feed their babies. No (real) food or drink is allowed in the play area, but it is available at the café by the main entrance. In the centre of this seating area is a small baby play zone, with stacking cups and teething toys, for non-walkers (who, incidentally, are admitted free of charge).
- Male & female toilets and baby changing facilities are located at the far end of the street. They are very clean and spacious, have an Ikea stool in each cubicle to help little ones reach, no noisy hand dryers (just paper towels) and toilet seats with built in toddler seats and soft close lids. Very well thought out.
- If arriving by train, please note that Frimley station has a footbridge and no lift so best to bring a small collapsible pushchair, if possible, to make it easier to carry over.
- Pushchairs and buggies are not allowed within Little Street, for health and safety reasons, but a buggy park is provided outside and locks can be borrowed free of charge. Car seats for infants can be accommodated inside.
- If travelling by car, parking costs £1 all day in the station car park (available from the same ticket machine as the train tickets, at the front of the station). Alternatively, there is another car park on the other side of the road that offers free parking.
- Although booking isn’t essential, if you’re travelling some distance to get to Frimley, it’s definitely worth pre-booking your place at one of the four daily sessions. The sessions last an hour and a half each (with a half hour gap between them to allow staff to reset the play area for the next session) and start at 9.30am;11.30am; 1.30pm and 3.30pm. The venue can hold a maximum of 60 people (including adults, children and babes in arms).
- Socks are required (for both adults and children) in the play area. Should you forget, a pair of adult socks can be purchased for 50p. This is important to note, especially during the summer months, when you and the kids are living in sandals.
- The sessions are really interactive and parents are encouraged to engage in role play with their children. We had a tiny baby in tow too and found that using a baby sling gave us the freedom to get down on the floor with the boys. We’d definitely recommend bringing one if you’ve got a non-walker and an older child, to get the most from your visit.
- As the sessions are only 90 minutes long, you’ll want to ensure the maximum play time for your child. Therefore, for the lunchtime slot, it’s a good idea to make sure your child has eaten beforehand. Snacks are available at the Little Street café but, for a proper meal, Frimley village has various places to explore, including a large Waitrose.
- Little Street is open seven days a week, except Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Easter Sunday and New Year’s Day.
- Prices are as follows: (Peak prices apply at weekends and in school holidays and are shown in brackets)
- Pre-walkers – Free when accompanied by a paying sibling or a paying adult
- Child, which also includes free entry for one adult – £5.50 (£6.00)
- Additional adult – £3.50 (£3.75)
- Childminders receive a discounted rate – please contact Little Street for details.
- Parties are offered on an exclusive hire basis, seven days a week, from 3.45pm onwards (self-catering). This includes hire of the venue for two hours and 15 minutes plus helium balloons, decorations and unlimited fruit squash for children. Party size is limited to 60 people (children and adults). Prices start from £250.