• With Kids in the Westcountry

Pottery painting (and an epic Oreo milkshake) at Honiton Pottery and Milkshake Bar

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

#rainydayactivity #wetweather #thingstodowithkids #honiton #eastdevon #milkshakebar #wafflehouse #childfriendlycafe

Well. It’s mid-August, it’s been blowing a gale for two days running, and every time we dare to step outside the monsoon rains soak us from head to toe. I’d just pulled together a bumper ‘thing to do with kids in wet weather’ list (- give it a little read if you haven’t already!) – mainly because I realised that my summer holiday survival guide had rather a large hole in it, in the form of a section dedicated to wet weather just in case the great British summer failed to deliver the goods.

So with the rain putting a halt to the day I’d originally had planned (a family daytrip to Exmoor with Granny Sheil – my mum), we decided to give one of the things on my own wet weather hit-list a try instead – and off we went (after a classic ‘I don’t want to put my shoes on’ stand-off in the hallway) to do a spot of painting at Honiton Pottery & Milkshake bar.

I’d not been before, possibly because up until recently, Livvie would have preferred to paint her own face than a delicate ceramic item, but now she’s hit the grand old age of 3 and a quarter she’s just that little bit more civilised and ready to release her inner Picasso.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Honiton Milkshake and Pottery Bar, let me give you an overview. Based on Honiton high street, it’s a cross between a café and a painting/pottery studio, open to walk-in customers and pre-booked parties and offering crafty activities like pottery painting, clay baby hand/foot imprints, and throwing a pot.

(My husband looked quite baffled when I mentioned throwing a pot. I explained to him that it doesn’t mean you physically throw a pot, Greek style - it’s the term for creating a pot from wet and slimy clay using a spinning potter’s wheel, you’ve probably seen people getting it disastrously wrong on tv!).

They also offer a fun menu of treats and snacks including a huge range of milkshakes with a vast choice of flavours and toppings; waffles, pancakes, cream teas and an all-day breakfast along with burger and chips-type meals and free coffee refills that perfectly compliment the 50’s diner-style décor of this quirky place.

We arrived like a family of drowned rats and were shown to a table laden with 25 different coloured paints, where our friendly host explained the process and got us started on our projects.

I hovered in fear as the girls browsed the HUGE range of pre-fired bisquewear (I copied that off their website, can you tell?) while they chose what to paint, praying that they wouldn’t knock anything over and cause a domino effect of destruction, until a campervan and a dragon’s egg were finally selected.

I’ll say at this point that I was initially a bit startled by the prices. I hadn’t really given it much thought that morning so when I saw that many of the items were around the £15 each mark I realised that, with milkshakes etc, and drinks for Mum and I, it was going to be a bigger spend than I’d anticipated.

But as our visit went on, I realised that the price per item includes the item itself, a choice of 25 specialist paints (and trust me, Livvie used a LOT of paint), use of their brushes and kit, staff, a venue that isn’t my own hideously un-painting-friendly white kitchen, cleaning, and firing the ceramics in the kiln, so I concluded that the prices were absolutely fair enough.

Items start at £7.50, so there’s something to paint or create for a range of budgets.

I didn’t paint anything on this occasion but if I did, I’d have been tempted to do a fancy serving plate for food, a couple of egg cups or a candle votive – there were hundreds of things to choose from to suit every taste so you could happily paint something yourself while your children are occupied.

The girls rather surprised me by how much care and attention they gave to their projects, painting happily for nearly an hour. It was such a tranquil activity and the atmosphere in the studio was really calm and relaxing for the mostpart, that is until the Oreo milkshake sugar hit struck, but thankfully that coincided perfectly with leaving!

Once you’ve finished decorating your plate, mug or whatever you’ve chosen, you leave it in the shop for them to fire, on the basis that you pop in to collect it at a later date. I didn’t ask, but I’m sure they must have a postage mechanism if you’re not from round ‘ere or if you’re here on holiday.

It’s quite a bit bigger than the shop’s frontage would suggest – I was a bit worried that every man and his dog would be flooding in with the weather being so bad and was envisaging a hustle to get a table – but there are more tables on the floor upstairs and while there were plenty of customers we all had plenty of space. I did ring in advance to check and was advised there was no need to book.

There’s a handy baby/toddler playpen on the ground floor if you need a safe area to contain smaller ones while you sit with older siblings to paint. The ground floor is pushchair accessible (up a little step into the shop if I remember rightly) though I didn’t clock any baby change facilities.

Parking-wise, we chanced a 1-hour space on the road right next to the shop praying that the Parking Officer wouldn’t clock us (risky but it was hammering it down and I was feeling lucky), but if you want to be a bit more sensible there are two pay and display car parks within a 10 minute walk, I’ll drop a map of the location below.

All in all a really nice peaceful afternoon spent doing something creative, and an activity that would appeal to a wide range of ages. One thing that struck us was how calm and engaged all the young artists were, carefully painting their pottery and choosing from the array of colours, brushes and sponges – so if you’re looking to do something a bit more focused with your kids, definitely consider giving this place a try.

Honiton Pottery and Milkshake Bar is open Monday – Saturday during school holidays, and on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays during term time. Check out their website or facebook page for opening hours and full info.