MY daughter has just bought a house and so instead of our usual retail therapy of shopping for clothes the emphasis is on goods for the new home.

This meant a trip to the Mannington Retail Park in Swindon where both John Lewis and Next have stores filled with tempting delights to make a house look like it has stepped out of the pages of a magazine.

But if I thought that fashion shopping was expensive then it was nothing compared with buying curtains, blinds and crockery. All of this meant that I needed a break for lunch and the cafe in John Lewis seemed like the perfect pit stop.

Usually in this style of self-service cafes the staff look bored, the cakes are a bit past their best and the sandwiches uninspiring but John Lewis scored well on all counts.

The staff were genuinely friendly and were focussed on serving customers rather than chatting to each other. It was a Sunday and they were busy but they kept the queue moving efficiently and above all the tables were quickly cleared. A pet hate is when even upmarket cafes that charge a fortune for a coffee do not employ enough staff to move used cups and plates from the tables and you have to clear up after someone else’s mess before you can sit down.

This meant that the whole experience was quite relaxing. The cafe has a modern feel that fits in with the atmosphere of the whole store and is in a light and airy corner with plenty of windows from which to watch the world go by.

The only downside of the cafe is the limited menu. It is fine if you want a lunch that you can eat quickly and get back out to the serious business of shopping but if you want to linger over a full meal this is not the place to go.

But there is a good range of both hot and cold sandwiches, soups and cakes that really take the biscuit. You only have to look at TripAdvisor reviews to see that the cakes are what people go back for time and time again.

I was pleased to see that other people’s views mainly echoed my own thoughts. One reviewer said: “The range of food is not extensive and it's more geared to a light lunch or snack, however everything is excellent in quality and well worth the more than average cost.”

While another commented: “I would recommend this cafe to anyone. The partners as John Lewis refers to them as are so friendly, so welcoming and make the experience 10x better than the food is. It’s a must try!”

Both my daughter and I opted for the hot sandwich option. My daughter went for the chicken and pesto panini (£5.50) and I went for a mozzarella and tomato one (£5.50). We shared a slice of bakewell tart (£2.95 ) and a chocolate brownie (£2.75) and a packet of crisps (£1).

I had a cup of tea (£1.90) while Francesca had a Diet Coke (£1.95). The total bill came to £21.55.

Overall the total price was quite expensive when worked out cost per minute that we were at the table but the quality and overall experience were both good so we would return.