On play hard, play hard.

The noise splashed over you as you entered, roaring, screaming, shrieking, and yelling. It was loud. It was relentless. It was the sound of one of those huge wherehouselike soft play areas and it was your first visit.

Oh you’ve been to similar places before, but nothing on this scale.

This was a four-story, small row of terraced housing length cage for padded ladders, ball pits, rope bridges and the occasional four lane bumpy slide. With a side order of dodgems and a whirligig fairground ride.

The Star took one look and tried to climb over the gate to get in rather than wait for it to be opened.

Now the Star is three and this was a very wet afternoon at the tail end of the school holidays so the place was heaving with children of all sizes and shapes, and you did suffer a qualm or two about just flinging him into the maelstrom and letting him get on with it.

The Star himself had no hesitation, so before you could quaver, ‘I’ll be over here, sweetie, if you need me,’ he was off, dragging his little friend behind him.

And that was it for the afternoon. He would pop up occasionally, sweat soaked and carrying another balloon, to sit with you and drink some water or have a banana*, but before long he would be off again and you would have to be content with such meager contact as tripping over him on your way to the ladies as he raced around a corner in the middle of a gang of small but very feral looking boys.

Anyway, after thee hours you had started to think that the noise levels weren’t that bad after all.

And then you left.

Given that it was on a road in the middle of London, next to a railway track, opposite a helipad and directly under the flight path to Heathrow, it was surprising how blessedly quiet the world suddenly seemed.

The Star rested quietly on your lap for the entire bus journey home. ‘That was my birthday!’ he said happily as you opened your front door.

Higher praise there is not.

And just to prove that you can have a birthday every day, you went back the next day. Well £17 is £17 and they had a special offer on where it was free tomorrow when you signed up for your first go.

You rather regretted it when just after you had arrived at Granny and Grandad’s a few days later he woke up coughing and coughing and coughing until he was sick though.

But it was fun at the time.

Your advice to anyone thinking of going is take earplugs, invest in disinfectant and burn their clothes afterwards.

*It turns out that you are not supposed to take your own food into such places but buy the incredibly expensive chips they have on offer there. Yeeeeeeeees.

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2 thoughts on “On play hard, play hard.

  1. kelli says:

    I confounded the no-food-of-your-own rule in one of those places (it was mostly crap) by asking for the nutritional information on everything which they didn’t have as it was all bought in from central catering rather than made on the premises, saying I didn’t want my kids to have to eat highly salted and processed stuff, stuff with preservatives, refined sugars or e-numbers in. After a protracted argument (I was not backing down on this) they agreed that he had specific allergy requirements (he doesn’t, I just don’t want him eating shit if I don’t know what is in it) and could eat the sandwiches I’d brought.

    I love those places – I remember when we used to take our one year old eldest child and would glare at the parents who seemed to have no regard whatsover for their pre-school yobs, why aren’t they watching their children?! Now we sit as far from the playframe as possible and only acknowledge our own children if the screaming is accompanied by blood.

    • That is SUCH a good idea and I shall steal is if accosted with my bananas. I wonder of thee is a condition which means you have to drink fizzy water not still, because I doubt they have it. Never mind! Shall invent one!

      My dilemma is that the Star wants to play with me and the Comet in the under twos section, whereupon he dashes about scattering babies left and right. Ah well.

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