Experience Exeter’s Menopause Café


Guest blog by Barbara Wheatley   

Exeter’s Menopause Café has well and truly launched.

Contributing to a nationwide drive, it’s every first Friday of the month, so it’s easy to remember. And it was so good the first time in October that I booked again for the second meet, and I’m already booked for the third meet – it’s literally that infectious.

So who amongst the menopausal ‘us’ doesn’t want to chat in confidence, in a safe, friendly environment, over coffee, share views and stories, and create new ones? In steps The Nest Southwest CIC (which stands for Community Interest Company) to provide just that. Courtesy of The Glorious Art House Café run by the unbelievably cheerful Rosie, she  knew she always wanted to host such meetings.

The Glorious Art House Cafe

How clever a name is The Nest which was set up to encompass the whole process from menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth to motherhood in their offering, through to the other ‘M’- Menopause. These are all milestones in the reproductive life cycle with which The Nest anticipated we might need help in our lives.

There’s so much more noise now about the menopause. We do really need to pause. We are in midlife, but menopause has been given a bad name for too long. Women have not known during that time what’s hit them. They still don’t. But they know more. At least the conversation has started, from documentaries to news items, (The Menopause Café Exeter Launch was filmed in part by BBC Spotlight), specialist doctors, to GPs. Word is getting out and round. The conversations are happening, choices and decisions are thankfully more informed, and we are being celebrated. We’re filling in the gaps and it’s causing quite a buzz.

Exeter Menopause Café in action

We should campaign to re-name the menopause to something a bit more user-friendly. There are needless to say a few contenders but I personally like the sound of Second Spring , as it is a second chance at life, a rebirth. Whatever it’s called, it’s being reframed. It has to be. With the menopause, so much feeds into it, and comes out of it. We will now hopefully get a lot more out of it. Finally we are less than just a label and more a force to be reckoned with.

Exeter couldn’t have picked a nicer, quirkier, inspired setting for its monthly morning meets to lift our spirits. The Glorious Art House Café really is glorious; two floors of a wonderful historic building with original features that have been so brightly furnished, updated and decorated, you’d consider yourself on holiday, so welcoming is the atmosphere. You won’t be surprised to learn it really is an arthouse. 

We are all beautiful

At that time of the morning it’s a perfectly fashioned coffee and cake to settle down with, quirky crockery and tableware to boot. The menopause meeting takes place on the first floor to ensure the safety and confidentiality of the menopausal (and non-menopausal) café customers. Half way through, it’s almost a game of musical chairs to encourage more getting to know one another by shuffling around, even enlarging a chatty group and of course a chance to grab another hot drink. 

It’s a chance to support local businesses and independents, (as many of the attendees here are) each other and fellow mid-lifers. There have been waiting lists both times so far, and it’s easy to see why this catches on.  There’s the desired 14 of us max at the moment. We are here with a common cause. We have our own personal narratives, we become a voice, a menopause community. Initially as strangers we are friends we haven’t made yet. Friends come with friends, and make new ones. You might come in alone, but you are never alone. You don’t walk out alone. And soon the faces become familiar and might well form a core, conversations can veer off topic, just as they should, when you realise you have more in common than you thought.  

carrot cake and hot drink

See, we can ‘google’ all we like the classic symptoms of peri-and menopause, the ones most talked about, the loudest ones and even post-menopause as we are all at different stages of this midlife. But the quieter symptoms, they are the most exciting ones to talk about. We all end up laughing.

A Menopausal Café -goer from the inaugural meet in Perth, Scotland, originally told The Guardian newspaper, “Now I know I’m not alone. I’m not going mad.”

One Exeter attendee most recently said “I enjoyed it SO much. The whole meet was so uplifting and inspiring; you provided a space where I could thrive, in a way I haven’t been able to for so long – I came alive.”  

Guest blog written by Barbara Wheatley. A former PR from London, with a BA in International Marketing, now living in Devon, writing flash fiction and creative non-fiction. Barbara is passionate about language and the written word, reading, writing, philosophising while researching and reviewing. Her work has appeared on Paragraph Planet and regularly on Friday Flash Fiction. She is a member of the SW Writer’s Register and proud to recently become a LITRO magazine contributor with her first ever 2000 word book review. She loves to take good photos, is into colour, music, all things pre-loved and is an advocate of mental wellbeing.

The Nest Southwest hosts the Exeter Menopause Café on the first Friday of the month at The Glorious Art House Café, on Fore Street, Exeter. 10am to 12 noon. All genders and all ages welcome. Entry by donation. Booking essential as space is limited. Book HERE now.

Published by Hazel Acland

Director of The Nest SW social enterprise Women's circle facilitator Doula Writer Mum

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