There’s nothing better than spending a day getting lost in Harrogate’s bustling town centre and discovering the unique collection of independent shops, cafes and restaurants.
While pounding the pavements of Cold Bath Road or Commercial Street sounds like a dream for most, for others it can present a slight dilemma.
For families with young children, traipsing around the streets of Harrogate in search of trying somewhere new to eat can often turn into a nightmare.
Whether it’s fretting that the restaurant isn’t ‘family friendly’ or worried there won’t be enough choice for the kids, eating locally becomes a thing of the past.
This is why many families end up reverting to the tried and tested high street chain cafes and restaurants, according to Lucy Playford.
Lucy runs her own blog, Harrogate Mama, which aims to help families break away from the routine of relying on the chains and encourages them to support their independents.
Her blog shares what’s on around Harrogate for parents and kids as well as championing local independent businesses offering family friendly services.
Lucy explained that the blog was a way of promoting Harrogate’s fantastic independents to families who may not be confident testing new places.
She said: “Families are sometimes nervous about trying different independents because they’re not sure what they’re going to get.
“They wonder if they’re family friendly and sometimes they resort to going to a big chain restaurant because they know they can get that.
“I decided to start the blog because I thought it’s important to educate people that independents are family friendly, they’re there to support families.”
Starting off with Caffe Marconi, Crimple Hall and Stuzzi, Lucy and her twin eight-year-old girls, as well as her three-year-old son Joseph, have embarked on their mission to shine their light on family-friendly indies.
The family has also left glowing reviews for Prologue Cycling, Fodder and Farrahs, and Lucy said her next objective is launching her ‘Amazing Mamas’ series.
She said: “There are a lot of mums who run independent businesses, it’s not always easy but they really do a fantastic job.
“So, I decided I will interview them for my ‘Amazing Mamas’ series which showcases these fantastic local independent business owners who are also parents.
“I’ve been surprised at just how many independents there are that are owned by mums, it’s not just restaurants but it’s gift shops, cafes and hair and beauty salons.
“I’ve really been inspired by them. I am amazed that they’re doing the same thing I am, raising a family day to day but they are also running these amazing businesses.”
Lucy also praised the town’s independent businesses that focus on selling family and child friendly items, including Little Alligators on Cold Bath Road.
Her informative blog posts and enthusiastic approach to the town’s indies have seen Lucy’s readership quickly increase in recent weeks.
But, Lucy believes, that the success of her blog is mainly down to families wanting to know how they can support local businesses whilst keeping their kids happy.
She said:“People who have lived in Harrogate for a long time, have been telling me that they are surprised at what I have found.
“I think we have got a really good independent scene here in Harrogate, we’ve got a lot of great ideas and a lot of originality around the independents.
“The independents are great because there’s usually a much more diverse range of meals to choose from but mainly it’s the customer service.
“You just don’t get that in the big chains, but you feel valued at the independents, you feel looked after and you feel that personal connection.”