Monday, 24 February 2014

Hobbledown - the stuff of dreams or a living nightmare?

I should admit, before going any further, that I am not a great lover of huge soft play areas with adjoining areas for adults (we've got wifi, don't you know) in an attempt to pretend the areas suit adults and children alike. Website images of parents serenely sipping a latte and enjoying a healthy snack, while the children all play nicely together on the overgrown 'ark', or whatever monstrosity the soft play is supposed to look like, rarely exist in the real world. Or, if they do, I haven't found one. I live in hope.

Eldest Martini was invited to a party at 'Hobbledown - A Mysterical Adventure' in Epsom this weekend, and because Mr. M. was already to committed to a work event, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to take the rest of the clan for a day out. Little did I know that I was actually expected to stay with, and monitor, Eldest Martini, which somewhat hampered the plans. 

The utter chaos in the Play Barn didn't help either. Absolute mayhem is the understatement of the century. The tables are far too close together for pushchairs - there is an area for them near the entrance, but that's not overly helpful if your seven month old is sleeping in it - and the seats aren't really suitable for smaller kids that have clearly outgrown high chairs. Youngest daughter fell off the bench. Twice. 

Image from Hobbledown website. No parents, serene or otherwise, in this one. 

The food was actually pretty good - both daughters had the lunch boxes and were particularly impressed with the yoghurt straws. Although now they want to know why we don't have them at home. Another fail in the 'Best Mum in the World' stakes. I don't know what the party food was like, but I'm reliably informed the chocolate doughnut went down well. It certainly went all over his t-shirt. I hope he did eat some. 

Once we'd left the Barn, though, things were much better. There are various animals to see and some great play areas, where the kids can dig for treasure. This kept them entertained for hours. Plus, there are some lovely big tables that you can sit at and watch them do their worst. Wellington boots are essential. As is a hoover for the car - if you're anything like us, you'll be taking half a sandpit home with you.

We certainly were lucky with the weather - it was a beautiful day yesterday - and I admit that the outside areas certainly made it for me. I think we'll definitely visit again in the summer. Would I recommend it? Yes. But don't go in thinking the Play Barn is a sanctity of inner calm. The quest for that one continues.  

Tickets for children over 2 cost £8.50; adults are £7.50 (both weekend prices). There are discounts for the forward planners among us. For further information on prices and opening times, click here

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