As I opened the door to ‘Sweet as a Button’ for a photo shoot with my friend Anna a couple of days ago, all my senses were tickled. The sweet shop was giving off the familiar aroma of sweet treats and my taste buds were crying for a strawberry-flavoured gummy. Although my mouth was watering, I managed to control my urge to reach for one of the jars and take a handful of sweets.
I guess that is partly because I can be a reasonable adult (at times!), but the truth is my four little ones were there. They came in shyly behind me. Sheer happiness and wonderment were obvious on their faces. Those little faces, half overjoyed, half wondering whether they would be allowed a treat were quite a sight! If I could encapsulate those moments and preserve them for sad, rainy days, I really would.
Muffled screams of delight came out of their mouths when we told them they could have a bucket each and help themselves to whatever they wanted. They could not believe it! The fact they were allowed to look around, open the flaps to the ‘Pick & Mix’ section and choose the sweets they wanted most really appealed to them.
They also had a few of the old fashioned treats displayed in glass jars, and we helped them with those to avoid a catastrophe.
Even Jumpy, despite her allergies, could be completely in charge of her own bucket, thanks to a clever labelling system. As an allergy mum, this was by far my favourite feature in the shop.
The simple system to identify allergens is painted on the wall by the till. The same symbols are stuck on every jar and ‘pick & mix’ flap around the shop. Not all common allergens are included and cross-contamination is still possible (people must have used the same scoop in different containers), but the system worked beautifully for us.
Jumpy is already aware of the symbols for wheat, eggs and nuts, so it was pretty simple for her to know which sweets she was or was not allowed. I was so incredibly impressed by this! Using symbols rather than a complicated chart is a wonderful way to let my little girl take charge!
I cringe whenever I mention Jumpy’s allergies and waiters immediately pass on a huge folder with long complicated charts or an iPad with an overwhelming amount of information organised in a way that does not work very well. I did not have to check the allergens for each sweet or read labels like I would normally do. Yippee!
Despite the complete freedom we gave them, the children were rather reasonable when choosing their treats. They only went for a small selection of sweets each. As soon as the contents of their buckets were weighed, they tasted the sweets and happily let me get on with the photo shoot.
As I was snapping away, they pretended to be in charge of the shop (look away, Miranda!).
I still cannot believe Miranda gave us free rein in her shop. What were you thinking, lady?
As the children were helping themselves, I took in the delightful design of the shop. It really is the stuff of dreams, for children and adults alike.
Opening the door was like stepping into a childhood dream, with lights changing colours intermittently, every sweet imaginable within reach of little hands, a playful atmosphere and a genuinely welcoming space.
If you are ever looking for an unusual day out with children in Hertfordshire (North London-ish), I would recommend brunch at the Café in the Park in Rickmansworth, followed by a walk and play at the Aquadrome before a short drive to Kings Langley to feast your eyes on this pleasantly old-fashioned sweet shop.
I had looked at the website for ‘Sweet as a Button’ as soon as mention of the photo shoot was made, so I knew what to expect. When you are blown away by the description of a place online, the actual visit can be a tad disappointing, but let me tell you something: Miranda’s sweet shop exceeded my expectations.
It made me happy and nostalgic at the same time, with sweets from my childhood, traditional boiled sweets and also treats I always love to share with my little ones, like strawberry strips of peaches.
How often do you go somewhere and genuinely feel like you would not change a thing if you owned the place? It happened to me about a year ago when I found my dream craft room, and when first laid eyes on Miranda’s quaint sweet shop. If anyone wants to buy me a sweet shop (just saying!), I want one jut like that!
Oh, by the way, I was not compensated in any way, shape or form to write this post, I just loved the shop and am grateful Miranda did not kick us out after seeing all the kids running around her shop! My friend Anna paid for all the sweets by the way. Thanks, honey!
‘Le Coin de Mel’ is a finalist in the MAD blog awards in the ‘Food’ category. I would love your vote!