Whenever we go to Little Museum Visitors at Ditchling Museum, we head to Mister Magnolia’s for lunch. It’s relatively new and is named for the marvellous single-shoed protagonist of Quentin Blake’s book of the same name. The guy with sisters who play the flute, an enormous pet ‘brute’ and owls who have lost their hoot. (We’re impressed by the number of friends he can fit on his board when he goes for a scoot).
This is a café that is very pointedly for families, but is serene enough a place that you’d take your mum for a treat.
The menu is on the sparse side – just paninis, flatbreads and soup for grown-ups (the soup was store-bought not home made last time we went) and ‘toddler boards‘ of what we call ‘bits and pieces’ for kids – ham, cheese, bread, etc. That’s OK – who really needs any more than that? The prices are also entirely reasonable – £4.95 for the adult stuff and £2.50 for the toddler board. Reassuringly, they also serve booze.
It’s a warm place, with some enviable vintage styling going on – but without the precious attitude that can sometimes surrounds the old and the breakable. My son was allowed to play on the horse below, for example.
A wooden play pen is lined with a soft, soft sheepskin for babes.
Upstairs the ‘changing area‘ is an antique perambulator – the sort you’d like to have, but that would be entirely impractical for its lack of giant handlebar-hung caribiners and under baskets for the weekly shop. The sort I would hate to get poo on.
For children there are small desks and a farm of plastic animals, some cars and pencils and (when last we went) old hymn sheets from the church’s Christmas carol service for drawing on. For adults, there’s coffee, coffee, coffee – in almost any format you fancy – and good cake.
Mister Magnolia’s has various clubs – a baby morning, kids film club, homework club and arts and crafts. It also runs pilates for adults. There’s a big room upstairs that’s hireable for £10 an hour where you can do kids movie parties. And apparently there’s now a pizza oven in the garden, so they serve stone-baked pizza a couple of nights a week.
My only criticism of MM really is the access to the stairs. A stair gate here would make the experience even more relaxing for parents like me, whose toddlers just want to go where they’re not supposed to.
But that’s where it ends. Go! It’s a super-nice, comfortable place to load up on the black stuff that we all so rely on. And it’s entertaining enough to keep your kids quiet while you do.
Drive: 19 minutes
Address: 1 High Street, Ditchling, Hassocks, BN6 8SY
Tel no.: 01273 846 638
Disclosure: I did not accept – nor was I offered – any freebies or money for this post. We stumbled across Mister Magnolia’s a few months ago and I felt it was value to share it with Little Lewes’s readers.