If you live in the Surrey/Hants area and your Little One(s) is mobile, Little Street is a place well worth knowing about.
It is exactly what it sounds like: a street for little people, billing itself as ‘the UK’s first role play centre for young children’. Cool!
The unlikely setting for this toddler’s paradise is Frimley Train Station. The station itself appears to run solely from the ticket machines and a small booth, while the main part of the building has been converted to accommodate this mini street: it includes a hairdressers, a cafe, a doctors – even an area of roadworks (Yes, truly lifelike, though not to the point of massive Guildford-style potholes you’ll be relieved to hear!).
Let me tell you, the supermarket at Little Street is a toddler’s dream. You know all those intriguing cleaning products in your kitchen cupboard that are out of bounds? Well, this shop has those in spades.. empty of course, along with oodles of plastic food that Eva always insists on sampling…. Just watch those little people clearing the shelves of Flash Floor Cleaner, and carrying the stuff gleefully around in their mini shopping baskets. And, oh my gosh, buttons, buttons, buttons! Fake computer keyboards, phones, cash registers. The place even has little postboxes round and about, if running off with your mail is your child’s favourite pastime (And they are laminated, before you start worrying about a frenzy of paper destruction!).
For anyone fancying a more physical pursuit, there is a big fire engine to clamber onto, complete with hose and fire extinguisher. And a big highlight of Little Street lurks in the farthest room: a little ‘stage’, complete with a dressing area featuring all sorts of ridiculous goodies to get dolled up in. Costumes, hats, masks, scarves (Although Eva wasn’t quite sure what she thought when suddenly confronted with a gorilla on a motorbike!)
Not to be a buzzkill, but I would hesitate to recommend Little Street to pre-walkers, as rather a lot of charging about goes on! On our first visit, Eva immediately collided with a shopping trolley, which was being very energetically steered by my friend’s little boy. But there is a small area for pre-crawlers to sit and play in the waiting room, and this waiting place can be a godsend for mums with a small baby and an older child who can blow off steam as they grab a quiet moment in the waiting area to feed Baby (or themselves). There is a small area selling cake, drinks and child-friendly snacks, as well as beverages from what seems to be the World’s Slowest Coffee Machine. Though, incredibly, I spend so much time shadowing Eva, taking funny photos and generally chuckling at her antics that I find I rarely have serious time to devote to cake, which is a first! No doubt this will change as she gets a bit older and more independent.
Each session lasts 90 minutes, and its not as long as you’d think with so much going on. It’s quite entertaining to note just how jumbled up the place becomes by the end of the session. Last visit I spotted baby doll in a shopping trolley wearing a wig (which looked surprisingly good!) and found a plastic banana in the dentist’s cupboard (Well, you know what they say: A banana a day keeps the dentist awa…. Oh hang, on, thats not right, is it?)!
Bear in mind that the place is pretty darn warm. Dressing them in layers is probably best so they can strip down if needed (as well as to make room for the many fancy dress layers that will no doubt be piled on!). And please be aware that no shoes or bare feet are allowed once they are in the ‘street’ so they must wear socks!
I’d recommend booking if possible. The times I have been there have been busy, and it is easy to book via the website.
Parking: There is parking on site but it’s the station car park so you’ll need to purchase a ticket (NB: this is £1 from the Ticket Machine to the side of the building rather than a parking meter, or a ticket booth). The Car Park is fairly snug, so have a back-up plan. There is a Waitrose car park at the other end of Frimley High Street (less than ten minutes walk). There are also residential streets dotted about though these can be quite awkward to get to in heavy traffic. What I’m saying is: leave time for other options. I wasted a good ten minutes trying to find alternative parking arrangements last time, though one residential street across the high street came up trumps in the end.
Another more obvious option, of course, is to take the train! Couldn’t be any more convenient as far as drop-off points are concerned!
Buggies: Little Street does have partially covered buggy parking outside, and locks available from reception. They don’t have room for buggies inside. So, overall, I would suggest a sling is a good option if you have a tiny tot and not too far to walk from the car (or train!)
So that’s Little Street. And it’s not cheap at around £6 a session but, my goodness, they do have fun. So, if funds allow, give this hidden treasure a whirl.