Play Factore

Trafford Way, Trafford Quays Leisure Village, Manchester, M41 7JA

 

Yep, a soft play review. I think there may be a fair few of these up my sleeve to write about. My best friend, I seriously wouldn’t have survived the past 15 months or so without the help of soft play centres. Play Factore is one we have always meant to visit, but for whatever reason never got around to. We took the plunge last week, Steven joined us which makes life so much easier!!

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Nestled underneath the Chill Factore, (are we supposed to pronounce it ‘Factory’ or ‘Factorr’?!) this place is bloody huge. And expensive. Especially with two 1 year olds and 2 adults, anyway, it really is impressive when you first walk in. Funnily enough it is based on a factory, who would’ve thought it? So it’s all grey and mechanical themed. Reminded me of that zone in Sonic The Hedgehog. You know, the grey, mechanical themed one. Oh and it was really cold in there, I know it is underneath a ski slope, but it’s not a real Alp, though have just been told it is real snow. Not that it matterered really, with all the running after two toddlers we soon warmed up.

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The baby bit was pretty empty and the area was a decent size. It boasted slides and spinny things, and lots of bricks. There was also an area with tricycles which would be good when they are a little older. It had a sensory tent, which wasn’t working when we visited, however, the twins seemed to enjoy running around inside the tent. Some little girls joined in and it was quite the party!! I sat down while Steven ran about with them 🙂

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The older kids bit did look amazing to be fair, it has a huge red slide, there was a zip wire and go carts. We went up to the football pitch which the twins loved. I was a tad nervous as it was so high up but no, they can’t fall down.

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The cafe had a large selection, again, not cheap. Steven had a pizza which he said was really good and I opted for the soup (am trying to lose weight, the soup was nice but the pizza look way better, obviously!) we ordered the boys a baby pizza but it didn’t arrive, which is fine as they shared our meals which saved money.

There are plenty of tables and chairs, and there was a dance floor next to the cafe which I think is a good idea and makes for something a bit different.

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All in all, we had a lovely time, but if i’m honest wouldn’t rush back in a hurry. The cost puts me off and with so many soft play centres around now, there are many who I feel are better value for money. Saying that, it does look fab for older kids. If you can afford it.

PEAK TIMES INCLUDE

Weekends, Bank Holidays and all School Holidays.

Facilities available: State of The Art Giant Play Frame, Interactive Toddler Play Area, Laser Tag Arena and Electric Go Karts. Zip Wire £3.95 per go (subject to availability)

PEAK PRICES

* Under 6 months  FREE
* 6 – 11 months  £1.95
* 1 – 4 years old  £7.95
5 – 16 years old  £11.95
Adults  £3.95
OAPS  £1.95

OFF PEAK TIMES INCLUDE

Term time Monday to Friday.
Facilities available: State of The Art Giant Play Frame, Interactive Toddler Play Area, Electric Go Karts.

OFF PEAK PRICES

* Under 6 months  FREE
* 6 – 11 months  £1.95
* 1– 4 years old  £5.95
5 – 16 years old  £8.95
Adults  £2.95
OAPS  £1.95

 

 

Our Kids Social 1st Birthday bash

Having read about http://ourkids.social/on social media, I have been tempted to go to a few of their events, and when this one came up on my facebook feed, I bit the bullet and got us some tickets. Their events are held at various different venues, this particular one was at Sale Masonic Hall.

The twins are at that slightly annoying inbetweeny stage, not quite toddling but definitely not babies anymore. We used to take them for walks of a weekend, but they get bored in the buggy and WHINGE!!! Soft play is a nightmare on Saturdays and Sundays and swimming, well, id need to shave my legs etc for that and I can’t be arsed. They aren’t walking just yet, though Luke has taken a few steps, so until then I feel a little stuck. Also, it’s winter and freezing cold so we cant roll about on the grass quite yet.

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This was a life saver, and just what we all needed. It kicked off at 2pm and there was a disco in the main room, complete with blow up instruments, bubbles and DJ’s playing pretty decent music to be fair. There were lots of disco lights and the boys were mesmerised and quickly crawled about full pelt. Trying to keep up with them is proving tricky, so apologies if you tripped over two little boys in puffin leggings!

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There was also a bar, yep a licensed one. I only had one beer, but the idea of getting a little tipsy and dancing like a loony with your little ones actually sounds quite fun. In the bar area was facepainting, dress up and cupcakes for sale. (am guessing for the kids, but putting it in the bar area might be more for the grown ups!)

Upstairs was probably best for the boys, there was a sensory room and Jo Jingles sessions all afternoon. If you haven’t been to a Jo Jingles before, expect over the top singing, instruments and clapping. Thomas got a bit scared of the parachute bit so I had to take him for some quiet time, daft bugger, but Luke was in his element.

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For the older kids, https://twobytwohurrah.co.uk/ were getting messy and making hats. It looked a lot of fun. Nice to see my old next door neighbour Zoe manning the stall. It’s her company and having had a mooch on the website will definitely be checking out their other events.

The whole event was brill for kids, and we had fun too. The venue was reminiscent of those days in dirty nightclubs, waiting to climb stairs to other rooms. Though with children in tow, and maybe not quite so much booze.

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We had a fab time (especially Luke!!) and will 100% be back.

Soft Play @ The Trafford Centre

First of all, apologies I haven’t posted for a while. I am back in work and the twins are as boisterous as ever and attempting to walk. I am not prepared for walking twins. As a result I have been absolutely knackered and have had no time to do anything. I am a mess.

Anyway, this is a guest review done by my much better, and much more patient half Steven, of The Ste Review (have a look he’s very good). I have been a bit apprehensive about posting this because he is a better writer than me!

I hope you enjoy it. x

 

So, forgive me if I’m being presumptuous, but my guess is that if you’re reading a blog about places to take your children in Manchester you’ve probably heard of, and visited, the Trafford Centre. Now, I grew up in Urmston. If you don’t know it, it’s the place you get to if you turn the other way when you come off the M60 at junction 10. I can’t claim to speak for all Urmstonians, if that’s the right word for us, but I know a lot of us had our Saturday jobs, or even full time jobs at the Trafford Centre. We’ve seen behind the faux marble, the oddly naked statues (especially in the newer bit with the home shops and the sea life centre – full of statue boobs), and the glitzy blue dome. We’ve been behind the scenes. A lot of us from Urmston – and this will shock some of you I’m sure – don’t like the Trafford Centre.

Personally, I’ve always preferred town, or should I say Manchester City Centre. It’s more vibrant, it’s got more character, there’s more going on. But nothing changes your perspective quite like parenthood, eh? The part of me that still thinks I’m eighteen sighs at the thought, but when it comes down to it, the Trafford Centre is a good place to go with your children.

For starters, there’s free parking. Bloody loads of it. Considering the sheer amount of parking spaces, parent/child spaces are a bit lacking, and I swear one day I’m going to see some people come to blows over them, but it would be a stretch to argue that parking’s a problem.

Then, of course, it’s all weatherproof because it’s indoors (except for the booby statue sea life centre bit). I mean we’ve all gone to bed planning an idyllic walk around Dunham Massey with our young cherubs, feeding grass to the young deer, getting back to nature; and then woken up the next day to pissing rain and said, “F*ck it, we’re going the Trafford Centre.”

And then, I don’t know about your kids, but our boys just seem to like it in there. I don’t know if the lights, the general hustle and bustle, or that frigging water fountain that shoots up to the ceiling (and grown human beings go “Ooooh!”), but as long as it’s not too busy something about the place just puts them in a good mood.

So, when one day I was looking after the boys on my own and my plans for the afternoon were to visit Grandma and Granddad in Urmston, since I was heading that way anyway, where else was I going to spend the morning?

Now, on this particular day, the boys were about 7 or 8 months old and were loving a bit of not-quite-crawling about the place, you know when it’s mainly dragging themselves using the arms and looking like commandos. They were a bit less happy to just be pushed around in a pram than they used to be so I decided to give the play area a try to let them have a play. If you don’t know, it’s in the Orient on the ground floor, next to Nandos. As if you don’t know where Nandos is.

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When you look at the price list, it’s not encouraging. When your first two choices are half an hour and 45 minutes, you have to wonder if it’s really worth it, but as the boys were under 1 they got in free, and because it was quiet the staff were happy for us to stay as long as we wanted. In the end I spent about an hour in there and I’ll explain why I didn’t hang on any longer.

One major drawback, at least as a parent with twins, is that you can’t take your pram inside. They have an area where you have to chain it up before you go in the door, and because our double pram is such a big ‘un they made me fold it up. So, I had a member of staff holding Luke, and an unsuspecting but helpful mum holding Thomas while I sorted the pram out.

I took Thomas back and the staff member let me in to the play area via a door with a combination lock – at least you know it’s pretty secure if the child catcher ever decides to make an appearance. They showed me around to the infant and toddler area and pointed out the toilets and changing facilities, and the problem was immediately obvious: without the pram, what was I supposed to do if one of them needed changing? I can’t leave one out in the play area to play on his own, and I can’t really take him in and leave him to drag himself around the floor of the toilets while I deal with god-knows-what’s come out of his brother. So I stuck it out for an hour, because sometimes I like to live dangerously, but then I got out of there before I had to deal with that particular riddle.  (although Jenny has just told me that she just scoops them both up and leaves one on the toilet floor!)

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For that one reason, I can’t recommend it for someone on their own with two young babies. The set up just isn’t designed to accommodate that. Apart from that drawback, I have to say it wasn’t a bad play area. They’ve made the most of a relatively small space, and there was a lot more in there than I expected, especially in the bigger kid bit. The smaller kids get quite a small area but there’s plenty of toys in there (mainly with dead batteries it has to be said) and a little climbing course and slide for those that are starting to toddle. I don’t know if Jenny’s mentioned it but the boys are happy if they’ve got something to spin, and there was plenty of that to be done.

Overall, if you’re out in the Trafford Centre and your kids are of an age that they won’t tolerate a day in the pram or get bored shopping, then a quick trip to the play area might be just the ticket to get you through the day. Not suitable for one parent with twins though – and that’s what this blog’s all about.

Pssst – one last Trafford Centre tip: sack off that baby change by the Orient – that place is hellish. Our advice is try the baby change in John Lewis. It’s probably the most luxurious baby change I’ve ever dealt with. It feels like when you treat yourself and pay the extra tenner to sit in first class on the train.

Oh and one last thing while I’m here – can people just get over pooping in the pub? I’m sick of waiting outside the disabled loos to change one of the boys, only for the door to unlock and some red-faced man or woman sheepishly walk out leaving an almighty stink behind. Everyone poops. It smells, get over it. Do it in the standard bogs because the stink from the nappies is bad enough without having to work around your stink too.

The crèche and play area is open Monday – Friday 10am-7.30pm, Saturday 9am-7pm and Sunday 11am-5pm.

Up to half an hour £2.60
Up to 45 mins £3.70
Up to 1 hour £4.50
Up to 1.5 hours £5.00

Father Christmas @ The Chestnut Centre

The Chestnut Centre, Chapel-En-Le-Frith, High Peak SK23 0QS

Our second visit to see Father Christmas was on Sunday. We all went this time, along with my brother, his fiancée and my gorgeous nieces. They had taken their eldest last year, and couldn’t recommend it enough, so we all got tickets to go this year. Tickets were £3.50 per child and worth every penny. 


We were due to meet Santa at 11am. We met in the coffee shop, where I had a lovely coffee and a mince pie (would have been rude not to, with it being Christmas and everything) we were told we could go to the grotto, which was behind a door next to the toilets. Magical or what! We knocked, and the door was opened by a lady dressed as an otter (worth noting, the Chestnut Centre is an owl and otter sanctuary) the room was all dark with twinkly lights and lots of Christmassy foliage. They also had real live chicks, guinea pigs and even a barn owl which was sitting on a Christmas tree behind Santa. It really was lovely.


My eldest niece has just turned 2, my youngest 9 months and Luke and Thomas 13 months so this would all probably be a bit more exciting for older ones, though we all enjoyed looking at the animals. Santa was sat on an arm chair, and we took turns sitting next to him. Martha covered her eyes, Molly looked disinterested, Thomas cried and Luke loved him. Standard really. Though I probably shouldn’t have laughed quite so much at Thomas’s distress. Mean mummy.


They were each given a little present and a sticker from Mrs Otter stating they had seen Santa at the Chestnut centre.

I have to say, this was a really lovely experience. They had pulled out all the stops and the added touches of real animals was brilliant.


The centre itself, is well worth a visit, Father Christmas or not. It isn’t pram friendly though, we made the mistake of visiting earlier in the year and missed the sign stating as much so spent a lot of time lifting the buggy up and down steps and roots. Our fault entirely for not reading large signs. A must do for walking children or carried babies. Or just people without babies!

As for the Santa experience here, it was brill. We will definitely be back next year and hopefully we will all be as excited as Luke (and the grown ups in the group!)

 

Peak Wildlife Park

Peak Wildlife Park, Winkhill, Leek, ST13 7QR

A good friend told me about Peak Wildlife Park, and I am really glad she did. It’s not close by, in fact it is on the same road that leads up to Alton Towers on your right. You will probably have driven past it on your way to Alton Towers when  life was a tad more exciting than animal parks and soft play. Although, to be fair, I probably prefer animal parks and soft play to being flung around until I puke. Weird.

The park is brilliant, really hands on. You aren’t just looking at animals in cages, or driving through gates where drugged up lions look miserable huddled together under trees. Here, you can actually walk amongst the animals and stroke wallabies should you want to. We took the pram through various different enclosures “Lemur Heights”, “Wallaby Wanderland” & “African Village” were our particular favourites. By our, I mean Steven and myself. The boys made some grunts to show their appreciation too. This place would be amazing for toddlers/younger children as it is really hands on and fun.


There are also some penguins, otters, tortoises and lots more animals to see. They also had some pigs and chickens wandering around to stroke and feed. Maybe not stroke, I mean good luck if you manage to stroke a chicken. Can’t imagine it is much fun.

For us, a HUGE bonus to this park is that it has an indoor soft play bit. It had only just opened so is all shiny and new. The baby bit isn’t huge but the older kids area looked a lot of fun. Not that I am complaining about the baby bit, the twins are more than happy just crawling around through tunnels and spinning upturned wheels. Worth noting, there are picnic tables in the soft play area so it’s advisable to bring your own lunch as the café wasn’t that great.

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The park also has an outdoor play area, which we didn’t go to as it was fooking freezing, wrap up warm. Seriously it must be quite high up so make sure you have snowsuits, hats, gloves, wellies, balaclavas, and that is just for the grown ups! I jest, but it was colder than we had anticipated.

There was another craft room, which again we didn’t enter but again, looked fun for the older ones.

The only downside was the café, it was small and we had to leave the buggy outside. There weren’t very many high chairs and the food was a bit crap. Maybe I missed something, but the sandwiches were ropey and there wasn’t much choice for little ones, so my advice would be take your own.

The park is open Monday – Sunday 10am-5pm

Adults £10.95

Children £8.95

Under 2s are free.

 

Peak Wildlife park is really worth a visit, so much to see and do and the up close and personal approach is refreshing and a lot of fun. We are looking forward to taking the boys when they are a bit older. And maybe in the summer.

xxx

 

 

 

 

Head over Heels, Chorlton

Head Over Heels, Unit 1A, Albany Trading Estate, Albany Road, M21 0AZ

We probably head to Head over Heels,Chorlton more than any other soft play centre, and that’s saying alot. Mainly due to it’s location and being the only one in that immediate area. It’s located just next to Chorlton tram stop. The car park can get full but there is always Morrison’s next door.

It’s a decent enough soft play centre, again verging on the more expensive due to having to pay for adults and the food is on the pricey side too. It can be a tight squeeze and I tend to leave the buggy in the cafe bit outside for fear of blocking the aisles. It’s also not the easiest in the way of carrying both babies into the toddler area. It’s become alot better now the boys can sit up. I just plonk one down while i open the gate, failing that there is always someone on hand to help out. Biggest downside for me is the sensory room. I have seen pictures and heard that it’s great but to get there you have to climb up the soft play equipment to get into the room which is impossible, and a tad dangerous with two babies/rugby balls under your armpits so we haven’t actually made the ascent.

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I sound really negative don’t I? It does have many positives too. The toddler section is big but not too big where i can’t keep an eye on the boys. They have some really good equipment and a ball pool and the staff are really nice too. The twins seem to like it there too, which I suppose is the main thing 😉

As mentioned before, the food is pricey but tasty and the menu is extensive. Lots to choose from for adults and children. Be warned though the inside cafe can be tight for double buggys during busy periods.

We went, totally by accident, one morning to the Kwirky Club toddler morning which is on weekdays between 9.30 and 11.30am. There were crafts laid out and we had a dance and a sing song with Big Blue Buddy. He was kind of scary, but the children bloody loved him. It was busy during this time but soon quietened down afterwards.

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Price per 90 min session
0-5 Months FREE
6 – 11 Months £2.55
1 – 2 Years £4.65
3+ (must be under 4ft 9 (1.45m) £5.60
Non Players £1.60
Discounted Extra Time £0.50 per complete 15 minutes
Discounts and Deals
Monday to Friday on School Days only
3 amazing offers in 1
1. No Time Limit
2. Discounted entry for childminders, twin groups, NHS workers, seniors, mums, dads, relatives….everyone, just £4.40 for children ages one and over. Non players only £1.50
3. Complimentary Kwirky Club toddler morning from 9.30 until 11.30 including crafts, toys and sing along with our big, blue buddy Hairy at 11.00

Chorlton Head over Heels isn’t the most twin friendly soft play centre, but don’t be put off. We do fit, but maybe avoid at weekends. The staff are more than happy to help. As are the other parents.

Cholmondeley Castle

Cholmondeley Castle, Malpas, Cheshire, SY14 8AH

Ahhh Cholmondeley Castle I bloody love you. This place was my favourite day out when I was a little girl so it was beyond lovely to take the twins there on Father’s Day this year (with their Dad of course!)

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The gardens are so magical and pretty and you really feel as though you can go off the beaten track a little and explore to your hearts content. This was quite a selfish visit really, was all for nostalgia purposes but it really is a super day out. The twins will probably appreciate it a bit more when they are older.

Aswell as numerous gardens, my personal favourite being the Temple Garden, there is a playground, little chapel and a farm you can visit.

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They also have a little cafe which has the most amazing home made cakes, but remember to take cash as they don’t accept card payments.

It is quite a drive from Manchester, but well worth the journey. In my opinion it is a hidden gem, but that may be because not many people I know have been. More fool them.

Definitely twin friendly, wide path ways and a changing room big enough for the buggy. We didn’t use high chairs when we went because the boys were too little.

The Gardens are now closed until April 2017 but please visit when they are. You won’t regret it. (I hope!) but note it only opens on Thursdays and Sundays.

Adults £7.00
Children £4.00 (under 5’s free)
Reduction for groups of 25 people or over to £6.00 per person.

Oh and they hold Tough Mudder there, if you’re tough and you like mud.

xx