It was a rainy day in Wood Green and Eva and I were off to meet T’sMum and T. In fact, this is the third time we’ve been to Wood Green to meet T’sMum and every time it’s been raining. I’m beginning to think there is no other kind of weather in Wood Green. But it was OK because we had a wet-weather kind of destination – Kids’ Adventure Zone. It’s only a few soggy minutes’ walk from the station but it’d be easy to miss, with a small sign leading you through a car park into a typically soft – playish industrial estate. You can get soft plays that sit in pretty looking buildings, but they tend to be the smaller ones. If you want space, you need a huge unit that could double as some kind of meat refrigerator. And this was pretty big.
I’d got pretty wet on the way. My boots were wet, my scarf was wet and even my phone was a little wet, which you can tell from the “soft-focus” look of the photo above. I was keen to get in and get dry, but there was a hitch. The entry fee was £4.00 for under 4s but the minimum card payment was £5.00. I had exactly £3.30 in change in my purse and scrabbled around to find
Reuben’s pocket money some money that legitimately belonged to me, but the lady took pity on me and let me just pay £5.00 and get a free Ribena at the cafe for Eva. The entry fee also included a free cup of tea, but the urn wasn’t ready yet, so I sat and thought about tea while Eva scampered around the under 4s’ area and slid down the little slide. But before long she was wanting to tackle the big frame, which she is clearly too small for:
But when has a thing like that ever stopped a child of mine? She shimmied up the first bit and then paused, waiting for me to come and lift her onto the step that was around her shoulder height. I refused. She climbed back down. I thought about tea and how wet my socks were. But then she was up again:
Sooner or later I would have to follow her, but for now I had other things on my mind. A recent Facebook discussion on the joy and improbability of enjoying a hot cup of tea when your kids are around and right then – in a slightly chilly soft play with wet socks – I really wanted to do the impossible and drink my free tea. But no sooner had I got it, then she was off again and this time she insisted I follow. So here’s my tea:
…cooling down rapidly, as I chased Eva around several metres in the air. But she loved it – once she’d got over the first big step, she could do most of it herself, often disappearing too quickly for me to take a photo of her:
She even got herself down some drops that were around the same size as her. I swigged some tea when we got to the bottom, and then we were off again. Which was handy, as I could pick up all the stuff I’d dropped out of my handbag on the first circuit.
By now, T and his Mum had arrived and joined us in the scramble around the frame, including a trip down the big slide. And trust me, it was pretty big:
I was going to take Eva down with me, but once again fearless girl went off without me and slid off all on her tiny ownsome. They grow up so fast. You can just see her in the picture below, as a tiny dot on the bottom of the slide.
The upshot of all this charging around was that I wasn’t so cold any more and even my feet were beginning to dry out. the downside was that to get to the top level, I had to get through some seriously tight spaces, one of which was the size of my handbag. I had visions of myself appearing in “Closer” magazine with the headline “Stuck at Soft Play: What Motivated Me to Finally Lose That Baby Weight”. Luckily, I didn’t get stuck, which is good because it was time for lunch.
The menu wasn’t exactly extensive, with half of it masking taped out, and I still only had £3.30 to spend. We considered going to a nice-looking cafe called “Caramel” next door, but a teethy T had taken a while to warm up so it seemed silly to move him just so we could eat. In the end, I chose sausage and chips for myself, at £2.95. They didn’t have the big sausages, so they asked if mini sausages were OK instead. Sure, I said, thinking only of how hungry I was after all that chasing about and how I would agree to anything to get some food. 20 minutes later, my order was called over the PA (possibly unnecessary as there were only four families there). I went to get my sausage and chips and it turned out I should have read the menu better:
No chips. Just sauasges. Ah well, it only cost me £2.50 so what would you expect for that? Eva helped me eat the sausages and then threw a tantrum because I wouldn’t let her eat neat ketchup. It was almost time to go. It had been a full-on 2.5 hours and she and T both needed to sleep. So, what did I think of Kids’ Adventure Zone? OK, as soft plays go. Could be warmer. Could have more exciting food. But it kept the toddlers happy and it had a magic ball-hovering thing that makes you feel like a magician:
As well as a big cafe area, a mini football pitch and some birthday rooms. I think they do after school clubs there as well.
So, we walked back to Wood Green, said goodbye to the Ts and Eva was asleep before we got onto the tube. So she missed the excitement of the new Piccadilly Line poster. I get nerdishly excited about “Piccadilly:Above Ground“, so imagine how thrilled I was to see a new version – fantasy ”Piccadilly:Above Ground”! We were only on for a few stops and the train was quite jolty – as trains tend to be- so I didn’t get the best shot. But these will give you an idea:
I must admit I don’t really see the “Chelsea Algae Ponds” catching on, and there might be some protests if they covered the Royal Parks entirely in adventure playground equipment (even I might think that was more slides than anyone needs. And we need a lot of slides). But I liked the idea. And the Palace of Fun sounds fun.
Emerging at Vauxhall, I was still thinking about food. It’s hard when you expect chips but only get sausages – this has happened before. I mulled over the options for supplementing lunch and fuelling me for the long trudge to school pick-up with now very saturated boots. I could got to Little Waitrose and spend £2 on an essentials sandwich. Or Sainsburys. Or £4 for a Pret Hot Wrap. Or….or….!
I had an inspiration! A eureka moment! Remember what we now have in Vauxhall? For the price of a sandwich, I could get peri-peri chips! It was an amazing idea. I stood and waited for my chips, inhaling that warm peri-peri scent and went back out in the rain, chips perched in the lunchbag on the bag of the buggy, peri-mayo balanced on top. I still had wet feet but I had that salsa music in my soul and I felt like I was in some kind of Nandos advert, fighting off the persistent rain with a bag of chips and some spices. It brought joy to my heart, and made me feel warm inside, even with my very cold outside. Just as well I hadn’t got stuck at soft play. Salad in the rain never brought joy to anyone’s heart, did it…?