Ambika Social is a converted horsebox cafe that launched in Linda Vista Gardens, Abergavenny this month.
It’s an idea that first flitted into my mind when my little boy, Noah was born. Not in a “one day I will” way – I was far too tired for that! More in a “it would be nice if…”. Because when he was tiny, and for lots of different reasons, I struggled to make it to many classes – he was what I’ve since heard be described as a ‘high needs’ baby, which meant he didn’t always adapt well – and I have Type 1 Diabetes which was hugely erratic when he was still breastfeeding; which meant I didn’t like being far from home either.
We found that we both did well outside – but it didn’t help with some of the loneliness I felt as a new Mum. As silly as it sounds, I also struggled to eat properly when he was very small. Noah didn’t like me to put him down at all; he would invariably cry – and I never quite mastered the art of the sling. He would tolerate it on walks but that was about it. So, home alone with no family near meant I found myself wishing for connection with others; even if was just to share how bumpy this new path was – if we could manage a snack that would be a real boost! And so that’s how the first seeds for Ambika were sown.
So the idea was in my mind but didn’t grow until life threw some funny twists and turns my way, which meant I thought again about what it might become. Working with Monmouthshire County Council (who have been brilliant), I started to plan an idea for an outdoor community cafe that would sell nutritionally good snacks and drinks, as well as provide the use of freely available picnic blankets and other things to enable people to connect and stay outdoors for longer. When you’ve got a babe in arms especially I know well the feeling of just not having the arm space to carry nappies, snacks, a picnic blanket, toys… never mind considering bringing myself a cuppa!
Alongside that, I have a long-standing interest in wellness and gained a diploma in naturopathic nutrition after many hours of self study. It means that I know the foods that taste good and help me feel good – these are very much at the core of what I want to do – and what I want Ambika to bring.
Obviously whilst all this planning was happening, Covid-19 hit, which meant that my original idea had to be put on hold and has once again evolved. Lockdown has shown us that connection, in whatever form possible, is absolutely vital to our health and well-being; which is where Ambika’s roots were lain down.
Traditionally I’m from mixed cultures that very much embrace community and families. Born in Wales, half Arabic and half Scottish my family is scattered across continents. I know they would drive me nuts if they were closer to home – but I miss them. My heart misses them. So that’s why part of my passion for Ambika is focused towards building communities and bringing people together – no matter who you are or what you do or where you ‘came from’.
So whilst Ambika’s drive is to support people with little ones; because I’m a mum who knows what it feels like to be desperate for that connection, it’s also about creating a ‘wellbeing’ space, building communities and providing good foods – to nourish and nurture – and so it’s a place for anyone who wants that too.
I’ll always have a huge soft spot for people with little ones who are trying to juggle everything from Mamahood to working to keeping their head together whilst washing little boys’ (or girls’!) pants; all the while just gagging for a cuppa… they are my drive and as soon as I’m able to I will bring them all the ‘extras’ that I originally wanted Ambika to be.
For now, though, of course everyone’s safety is paramount so it’s going to be take-away goodies till we can all gather together again. I’ve contactless payments, floor markers and an outdoor sink to help until then.
For now more than ever, it’s important to me to just encourage ‘togetherness’ in whatever form, even in its currently socially distanced one. After all, it’s the reason my strapline is “better together”.
Our trading days are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and the second and fourth Sunday of every month. In order to cater for as many people as possible I will have a substantial range of dairy free, vegan and gluten free options available – most of my menu will be one, if not all of those things.
Be sure to check our social media channels for special events and one offs. You can find me on Facebook as Ambika Social: www.facebook.com/AmbikaSocial