After I returned from Kidzmania last Sunday, I popped to Tesco where I bumped into a friend. She’d been to A&E…and still thought she’d had the better deal when I told her where I’d been. Kidzmania is well-named – it is entirely manic. But it’s not all bad, it’s just a busy softplay on a Sunday afternoon, which some would consider the 7th circle of Hell.
Before I go on though, let me tell you how I got there. It was Boby’s christening. We’d arrived in customary fashion. bursting through the doors a few minutes into the service (apparently, other churches start on time). Afterwards we’d adjourned to a trendy Hackney pub and we were starving. Even after church snacks and cake, we were still in need of some actual food. The prices were suitably trendy, but with a selection of bar snacks we reckoned we could get enough food without breaking the bank.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. After we’d paid for the bar snacks, the barman came over and told us that there’d been a mistake – our only options were the roasts, which came in at a hefty £17. So, we took a look at the whinging, chip-demanding kids and chose the option that offered the best value – the refund. And that’s how we came to dine at the Village Cafe, opposite Hackney Downs station.
Unlike other places in Hackney, the Village Cafe is neither pretentious nor overpriced. That same £17 bought us chicken nuggets and chips for Roo, a cheeseburger for Nathan and sausage and chips for us two ladies. It’s not gourmet, but it was filling and the cafe owner was super-friendly and even picked Eva up for a cuddle. Suitably fuelled, Nathan headed home to pack up his comics ahead of the decorator coming in the next day and I was left with the two kids in Hackney, who were whiney and in need of a runaround.
Kidzmania it was then! We hopped on a probably unnecessary bus and wandered down a road which didn’t look like it would house a soft play…but there it was. It was crazily busy, and closing in an hour and a half for a party, but that was fine as the time slots are only an hour and a half anyway. Trust me, it was enough.
For Roo’s size, Kidzmania is perfect. Not so big that I ever lost sight of him for long, but challenging enough that he didn’t get bored. And there was a bouncy castle, which always goes down well. In fact, there were two bouncy castles, so there was one for Eva’s size. There was also a toddler area, with playhouses and a ball pool and that would have been just right for Eva if she hadn’t insisted on climbing up the big frame all by herself…and getting stuck.
I often think that softplays ought to have emergency adult access hatches. There are few things more humiliating than having to squeeze your 33-year-old self plus massive handbag through the obstacles of a soft play frame to rescue your toddler from the middle of a rope bridge. So, I mainly just stuck to following her around the outside, encouraging her to edge her cautious way across. One time, I spotted Reuben helping her over some of the bigger blocks and down some steps. It was very sweet, but I was very glad when she came back in to land and decided to play in the ball pool instead.
She was also wearing a giant dress, post-Christening. That probably didn’t help.
So, it was busy and noisy but which softplay isn’t? The food looked nice but, given how manic it was, I’m glad we’d already eaten. It’s fairly local so I’m sure we’ll go again…but I might try to keep Eva grounded to save my nerves…