If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll have the impression that Eva is not the bravest child in the world. Last time I’d taken her to a Better Extreme park she’d sat on the side for 45 minutes before dipping her toe tentatively into the under 5s foam pit. So you may be as surprised as I was by her request to go to the Clip N Climb at the Feel Good Centre – a fiendish array of climbing walls which you’re expected to scale with only the clip and the accompanying rope between you and a fate worse than anything you’ll see in the trampolining “Legmash!” video. But we’re keen to encourage her in new endeavours so it seemed worth spending a tenner on the off chance that she might get some kind of enjoyment out of it.
We started the day with a lively storytelling session from Craig Jenkins Storyteller. Nathan came to meet us with Roo’s bike at the end and we had a slightly chilly walk along the Ching to Hugs W Mugs, a regular stop off of ours on the way to swimming. The magic of it is that there’s a little kids play area right outside, so you can pretty much sit inside the cafe and have a coffee while the kids play. There’s an outdoor gym across the road, which is Roo’s play area of choice and you can more or less see that one too but it’s probably best left for the kind of kids that are old enough to be crossing roads on their own <sobs quietly at how quickly that baby boy is growing up> <pulls self together and thinks about drinking coffee without children bothering me>
In short, Nathan and I had a coffee. The kids were fed – they devoured chocolate cake in a matter of seconds before running off to play – but it felt unusually civilised.
We were almost reluctant to move on to the not-quite-so-civilised surrounds of the Feel Good Centre but we’d promised not just climbing for Eva but also trampolining for Roo so we had to go. More biking and scooting ensued, treading what’s become a well-worn path for us now. I must admit we’ve been slacking off on the biking to the Feel Good Centre over January – it’s the return leg in pitch darkness that’s the killer in winter – so have only done the trip once or twice since Christmas. It was nice to do it in daylight and it had even warmed up a bit while we were in the cafe so I could take off one of my many layers.
I’d been keen not to have to rush on a Saturday, seeing as we seem to be rushing every other day of the week, so I’d booked the Extreme Park for 2PM. Which, arriving at the FGC at 12:20, seemed a little bit like overkill. Still, we could get some lunch after all that exercise – I had a jacket potato, Nathan had a panini, kids had sandwiches from home plus a slushie each – and there were even some kids from Eva’s year at school hanging around so I had a few fellow parents to chat to. We did end up killing a lot of time out just hanging out by the track though. Lucky it was warm, really.
What to do out there? Well, Reuben built a nest out of sticks, they ran up and down the grassy banks and Eva retold one of Craig’s stories at length, enjoying the fact that she had a captive audience. Time didn’t fly, just as Reuben hadn’t when he performed his role of “generic bird” that morning. But eventually it was 13:50 and time for final loo trips, stuff into lockers, disclaimer signing, wristbands, “Legmash!” viewing and everything else you have to do before you’re allowed in. Eva and Nathan disappeared shortly before the trampolining video started, which avoided any trauma on her part, and they watched their own video just inside the doors.
From then on, Nathan was in charge of Eva and I loosely supervised Roo (at 8+ he’s allowed in on his own but I might as well hang out there in case he needs me….it’s not like I had anything better to do). Every now and then, I’d leave Roo bouncing off the trampoline walls and wander over to see how Eva was doing. The first few times I did, she was a foot or so off the ground but not showing any signs of freaking out so it seemed like it had been worthwhile.
Then, about halfway through, the Clip and Climb seemed to empty out except for Eva and at first I couldn’t see where she was either.
Up there! No, really! My timid yittle girl who won’t even jump off a doorstep without someone holding her hand was 7.5metres off the ground and about to press the button. I don’t know what kind of metamorphosis took place at Holiday Club to make her a Climber Girl but I wish it’d happen more. She ended up completing three of the walls and got to the seventh column of the terrifying Stairway to Heaven. My flabber is still slightly gasted now.
There was no way to top that really, so we settled for stopping at Sainsburys on the way home and getting doughnuts. With obviously some basic arguing about scooter/pedestrian etiquette on the way. But relatively little in the way of tears and screaming and look at this lovely rustic spot we found for eating our doughnuts:
Bag of dog poo balanced on tree stump just out of shot. Inches from Roo’s handlebars. No, really. North Circular, giant supermarket and car park and massive pylon all also out of shot. Doesn’t this look like a perfect Pooh Sticks bridge?:
Maybe that’s where the bag came from….a willful misinterpretation of the rules.
Anyway, I’d say that was a pretty successful day out by most measures and Eva truly astonished us all. And trust me, that’s not something I say often.
For more information and to book your own Clip N Climb experience, have a look here.