Dim T – Winchester – 3rd Time’s a Charm?

It’s fair to say we’ve had mixed experiences in Dim T in Winchester. This latest trip was for respite from a Christmas shopping trip that ended up being woefully unproductive. When you have kids, the amount of presents required seems to at least double (kiddie friends, friends’ kiddies, nursery worker, and on and on) but the time you have to buy all this stuff halves. Getting out of the house before noon can be a challenge, halving your time again. I love Christmas but have no idea how anyone coped before the dawn of Internet shopping.
Here’s baby sister asleep outside the Hambledon, formally a favourite of mine (the shop, not the child), now reduced to waiting outside for Husband to enjoy looking at stuff that he won’t buy as the multi-levelled shop means pram access is incredibly limited.

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So to psych ourselves up for the choc-a-bloc Christmas market in the cathedral cloisters, we started off at Dim T. It’s not the first time we’ve attempted the place with Weasel in tow.

Experience 1: December 2010 – Weasel aged 10 weeks. No food eaten (obviously), screamed continuously for an hour. This was dinner at Christmastime, meaning full of loud drinking people and music. These are things that not a few months prior would have attracted me to the place. The only refuge was the quiet changing facilities, which sadly seem to lack a heater. Total meltdown for Weasel and her friend Roo (over at London with a Toddler). Waiters too busy trying to understand our over-complicated, giant party to talk to us.

Experience 2: Sometime in 2011 – Weasel aged around a year. Kids meal ordered (noodles, chicken, broccoli), no food eaten. Although she behaved impeccably, she ate nothing apart from the odd prawn cracker at the beginning. Service was good and friendly.

Experience 3: December 2012 – Weasel aged 25 months. Kids meal ordered (noodles, chicken, and since it was us who would be eating her sides anyways, we ordered the edamame beans for ourselves), chicken and noodles eaten. Her starter never came and we had got looked at like scroungers for asking for the ice cream at the end, although we were charged for the full meal deal. Service was poor and inattentive, and we had to spend ages in a now half-empty restaurant with a fidgety toddler asking repeatedly for the bill. I never understand why restaurants don’t want to clear my table sometimes, I’d want to get rid of me! Weasel played up but ate her food.

Does this look like a toddler who is psyched up to eat lunch and do some Christmas shopping? Well that would be us waiting for our table. Good times.

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So it was a real mixed bag. I would say the learnings are:

1) Go at lunchtime with toddlers, 2) Avoid having to use the change facilities in winter if possible if your kid hates the cold, 3) check you get everything you ordered.

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Verdict: It is a good place for kids in the day time, and it certainly was full of them. The kids meal comes in an awesome bento box and if your kid likes fruit, there’s a chocolate dipping dessert to die for. There are great colouring menus and crayons (helpfully they even provided some crayons for my 4 week old daughter) with which you can enjoy the game of ‘what’s that mummy?’ and trying to identify the nondescript, unidentifiable animals for her. Just don’t go in if you’re in a hurry.

PS -The Christmas market is not, it turns out, somewhere one is capable of purchasing anything with a pram and a toddler on a busy weekend. Avoid if you can’t make it on a weekday unless you like being that close to 100’s of other grumpy Christmas shoppers looking at crafts they probably don’t want but with the added joy of all that cathedralliness.

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