The Garden House, Marple

The Garden House, Lakes Road, Marple, SK6 7DH

A few Sundays ago me and the twins went with Becky and their cousins to The Garden House.

Steven had been on my brother’s stag do in Vegas for the past few days, so I had been trying to keep myself very busy. This place had been on my list for a while so seemed like the perfect time to give it a go. Not quite Vegas but much cheaper  with fewer gamblers and slightly less lunatics.

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It’s free, but run on donations and there are lots of boxes dotted about for you to make a donation, they also have a café which sells tea, cakes and snacks.

My first tip would be to wear wellies, and puddlesuits and that’s just the adults! Also take your pushchair, we walked from the car park down to the farm which meant walking down a very muddy sloped pathway. Walking down was fine, but trying to get two toddlers to walk up hill and not jump in every single muddy puddle proved a little more difficult! When will I learn..

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The farm itself is great, they have a large play area with a slide and swings and a load of free standing plastic stuff, and some bikes. There are a fair few picnic tables dotted about which is good if you bring your own food.

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We spent most of the time in the playarea, licking muddy rain water and jumping in puddles! Of course there are farm animals too, which I are very smelly. I know farms are smelly but this one particularly so, maybe because the pigs are right next to the play stuff.

They have a small enclosed area near the café which has bunny rabbits and you can have a pony ride for a few pounds.

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One ‘highlight’ was a guy dressed up as Peppa pig who came out to say hello and walk around the farm with a helper, sounds ideal, but unfortunately for us this was where it all went wrong. My almost three year old niece and Luke were both petrified, Luke just got hysterical whenever he/she walked by. Martha was devastated and kept shouting that it wasn’t Peppa, why is Peppa so long!! I mean it was hilarious but the worry was they would be put off Peppa for life, which is not good! Luckily this is not the case, but the scary man dressed as Peppa was definitely an imposter we named Ben. Obvs.

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Unfortunately, we had to leave shortly after as the prospect of long imposter Peppa walking passed us again was too much to deal with..this meant we didn’t manage to look at all of the animals and take the woodland walk which is supposed to be worth a butchers.

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All in all, the place is a winner complete with animals, large play area and a café. Peppa wasn’t a hit with us but I am sure there were lots of kids that weren’t so scared. It’s muddy and dirty and very, very smelly but if that dosen’t put you off make the trip. It wasn’t too busy and kept us all entertained.

Parentfolk Weekender, Chester

Parentfolk Weekender, Whitehorse Chester, June 24th-25th 2017

First of all, apologies for my radio silence. I have just started a new job plus the twins have decided that self settling is for losers and it takes a squillion years to get them to fall asleep, by which time we may watch one tv show, wolf down some dinner and then it’s time for my bed too. I really lead a crazy life.

Anyhoo, yep this is massively delayed in writing. I had the good intentions of reviewing this on the evening of the event, but as per usual life got in the way. Damn life.

I was lucky enough to win family tickets to the Parentfolk weekend via the wonderful world of Instagram. If you haven’t checked them out have a butchers at their website, it’s brilliant with loads of info and ideas for mums and dads in the North West, (Parentfolk that is, not Instagram, doubt they need plugging by me..other way round please thankyou!!)

Steven was working so I took along my Mum. The event took place in the grounds of a pub called The White Horse, slap bang in the middle of Chester race course. Parking was free which is a thumbs up, and although we won our tickets the entrance fee was minimal so well worth it.

We went on the Saturday and luckily for us it wasn’t raining as the event was pretty much all outdoors, not that we mind a bit of dancing in the rain.

There was lots to do for kids of all ages, there was a playground, mini soft play area, drawing tables courtousy of Toddler Fun Learning a silent disco and DJ,  circus skills, Baby Brahms, t-shirt printing, make up, football, gorgeous stalls including my good friends Amie and Carlie with their lovely baby wear shop Albie & Sebastian. (not so subtle plug there ;)).

There was stuff for adults too, well booze. Gin you know that kind of thing.

The twins are running around now like maniacs, so my initial idea to bring them along by myself was bad! Thank goodness for my Mum. We basically kept our eye on a twin each and hoped for the best. Luckily I dressed them in bright yellow raincoats so I could always see where they were.

The boys particularly enjoyed playing with the inflatables and the giant sunglasses and dancing to the DJ. Though, think I preferred the dancing more than they did. Their dancing pretty much involves spinning round in circles or swaying slowly from side to side. Not too different from how their dad dances to be fair.

The only down side was the food situation, I am guessing because it was held in the grounds of the pub food could only be purchased from there. They had opened a BBQ kiosk and a pizza stall. We opted for BBQ, which was yummy but REALLY expensive for what it was. My lamb burger, which was more like a posh donner kebab in pitta cost over £13.00. You had access to the pub, obviously, so drinks could be purchased and you could book a table and have a proper sit down meal should you want to.

All in all, we had a great time. The places that get massive ticks from me at the moment are places where the boys can run around safely, ideally with activities to keep them entertained and I can sit for at least 5 minutes and have a drink of some description. The Parentfolk weekender ticked all the boxes.

Thanks for picking us as your winner Nicky and we can’t wait for the next one, which is on the 25th November at Camp and Furnace Liverpool. Tickets available via Eventbrite.

 

 

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

 

 

Monkey Forest

Trentham Estate, Stone Road, ST4 8AY

After a recommendation over on the Facebook site, we decided to head to Monkey Forest last Sunday. Slightly further afield, but we timed it with a nap and the twins are still ok in their car seats, most of the time.

The park had reopened for the season as it was half term on the Monday, we arrived as it opened at 10am, which is something I like to do, mainly because I flap at the idea of places being too busy and no seats for lunch or long queues with screaming babies (mine, might I add). I was right of course, was a good time to arrive as it was still fairly quiet.

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We started off with a coffee, which at 2.80 for a machine coffee wasn’t great, but who cares really. It did the trick. We then headed over to the forest entrance, passing a play area and facepainting stall. Again, the boys are probably a wee bit little for both but not long to go i’m sure.

There is only one type of Monkey at Monkey Forest, the Barbary Macaque, this is mainly due to the climate, they must thrive off the sunny climes of Stoke, I mean who wouldn’t?

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We thought it might be a bit of Jurassic park moment, whereby we wouldn’t see any monkeys. (Not that we were about to get eaten by a Tyrannasaurus Rex) But after a quick stroll we came face to face with loads of the buggers. Thomas and Luke love pointing, and there was a hell of a lot of pointing going on. They seemed to be pretty interested in the monkeys, and the trees, and the magpies and most of the surroundings not so bothered about the Monkey’s bottoms yet, think that was just me. We had to cover their eyes at one point when we saw what looked like a couple of monkeys entertaining one another in an ‘adult’ way. Maybe they were just licking one another’s tummys. Who knows, but Steven and I found it pretty funny.

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The walk round the forest is fine with the pram. There are a few steep bits, but I cleverly thought ahead and made sure it was Steven’s turn during these points. There are sign posts along the way with various facts and questions about the Monkeys, which would be great for older ones. Apologies to the bloke with the camera who saw Steven’s impression of a Monkey mating when we played “guess which action off the sign I am doing”.

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We hung around for the talk given by the staff, who all seemed very knowledgeable but after a while the twins got a bit squiggly and we meandered back to the café for lunch.

Lunch was fine, the twins had sandwich boxes and Steven and I had average meals. I had a mediocre Jacket Potato and Steven had sausage and chips. Again, fine but nothing to write home about, but then I don’t suppose you come to Monkey Forest for the food.

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All in all we had a good time, but I think the boys would really love it in a few years time. Personally, if you are heading this way I would head to Peak Wildlife Park but again, just my opinion.

We also should have purchased a joint ticket with Trentham Gardens (sorry Katy, you did say but we didn’t see any sign of it when we arrived!)  which looked really pretty but at £8.50 each per adult to enter we decided to head to a Soft Play Centre as the boys needed a crawl about. We found one, it did the trick but I am pretty sure we all caught something there..I jest, but, well, I am sure you can imagine.

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All in all, I would say go and have a visit. If monkeys are your thing you will love it as you can get up really close to them and maybe if your kids are old enough to enjoy play areas and facepainting it might be an even better experience.

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Have a look on their calendar as they have various events on throughout the year which may tickle your fancy.

 

Adults: £8.50

Concessions: £8.00

Children 3-14 years: £6.50

Disabled & Carers: £5.50

Under 3: Free

 

 

 

 

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.

Dovestone Reservoir

Dovestone Reservoir, Greenfield,Saddleworth, Oldham OL3 7NE

I’m writing this hiding in my bedroom tucked up under my duvet with the boiler man doing his thing downstairs! We have had a bit of a crazy Christmas with a broken boiler so have spent our time between both of our parents. It’s actually been quite nice being looked after and having help with the twins (who are currently with my mum and dad while the new boiler gets put in)

Coldness in mind, I have decided to write about Dovestone Reservoir in Saddleworth. We visited in the summer on a gorgeous warm sunny day and I have to say it was just stunning. I had never heard of it, but again, was recommended to me by a friend and makes for a brilliant walk.

dovestones

We took what looked like the most straight forward route around the reservoir and it was fairly easy, there were a few little inclines but nothing we couldn’t manage with the buggy. There were also a few stones and lumps and bumps but again, the buggy was fine. I wasn’t, as I had stupidly worn flimsy flip flops..flip flops, I can’t remember a time when it didn’t feel like I had icicles on my toes! Thick socks and boots, nevermind flip flops! Anyway, yep wear sensible shoes.

I would also advise taking a picnic, there was a pretty spot with rocks and streams which would have been perfect for a spot of lunch. (or a flask of hot tea, if you were to go at this time of year!)

Worth noting, there isn’t a café and the parking was pay and display so make sure you have change.

We had a lovely time, Steven enjoyed skimming stones while I spent time shaking stones out of my stupid flip flops. The scenery was stunning, all trees and hills and shimmering water.  I really felt like I was in France, not Oldham. Oh and we lost our gorgeous Lala & Bea picnic blanket while walking around. I have a tendency to load the buggy up with stuff and most of it falls off. If you found it, enjoy it’s lovely.

(Apologies for crap pictures, this was all before i decided to start this blog. Any recent ones the pictures will be amazing, naturally 😉

We didn’t take a picnic with us, instead we went to nearby Uppermill where there are a handful of really nice pubs and a quaint little park where we had ice creams and rolled about on the grass. Definitely worth visiting too.

We are looking forward to visiting again, cannot recommend highly enough. In fact I think I might go over the weekend and see what it looks like all frosty and pretty. I will 100% wear boots.

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

 

 

 

 

Walton Hall & Gardens

Walton Hall & Gardens, Walton Lea Road, Warrington, WA4 6SN

Another recommendation, we visited Walton Hall back in October and am very glad that we did. It’s a decent enough park, nice walks round the formal gardens and the not so formal ones. The twins were in really bad moods that day. Teething poops, which basically means we have to take lots of pairs of trousers and nappies with us, puts all of us in a bad mood to be fair, so what better way to cheer us all up than a brisk stroll on a freezing Autumn morning!

walton

The biggest selling point for us was the children’s farm. It was really good, quite large it had all sorts of different animals; pigs, peacocks, donkeys, chickens and red squirrels to name a few. The boys were mostly excited by the pigeons. Apparently they run regular events throughout the year for children to learn about the animals (Walton hall does, not the pigeons) so well worth checking that out

farm

The playground was fun too, as the boys aren’t old enough for slides and climbing frames, they have only ever experienced the swings, which to be fair they love. This park had a little round about for smaller people too. Look how thrilling it is!! White knuckle ride for babies.  The playground really cheered the twins up. Makes me feel guilty for not having a garden for fun stuff like swings. Instead we have a grotty back yard for not so fun stuff like slugs.

swing

We visited the Heritage café to give the boys their breadsticks, it was fine. Steven and I just had a cup of tea but the food looks pretty standard, potatoes, paninis, sandwiches. Worth noting they only had the big wooden high chairs which aren’t ideal for littler babies. TIP ALERT: We have found this a big problem with the babies, especially when they were first using high chairs, the majority of eateries only have the big wooden high chairs which are far too large for the average baby. We took our Ikea highchair inserts out with us when we went out and they worked a treat.

Worth noting, you have to pay for parking but it isn’t very expensive, £2.50 per day.

Walton Hall and Gardens is open every day of the year from 8am until dusk.

The children’s zoo 

The children’s zoo opens daily at 10.30am and closes at 5pm in the summer and 4pm in the winter.  Entry is free of charge.

Feeding times are 2pm in the summer and 1pm in the winter.

Heritage cafe 

The heritage cafe is open:

  • Monday – Friday: 11am – 3pm
  • Saturday and Sunday: 10am – 4pm

Car parking

Walton Hall and Gardens operates a pay and display car park.

Daily charges:

  • Mon-Fri: £2.50
  • Sat-Sun and bank holidays: £3.50
  • Coaches: £6.60

Walton Hall is deffo worth a visit in my opinion for the farm yard alone. The pigeons were awesome.

 

 

 

Jellybugs & Cafe Nest @ Mothercare

Mothercare, Manchester Fort Shopping Park, Cheetham Hill Road, M8 8EP

I have to admit I am pretty sad and love Manchester Fort. Having recently moved to Salford from South Manchester I stumbled across this gem of a shopping park. It is fab for babies, as in shopping for babies, especially the Mothercare there. It’s all shiny and new and I like things that are shiny and new, probably because at the moment I feel the complete opposite of these things. I feel dull and old.

Cafe Nest is situated upstairs next to the Early Learning Centre, as is Jellybugs, but I will come on to that later. The cafe is bright and airy and the high chairs are something else. It is quite pathetic how excited I now get over bloody high chairs, but really these are something else, apparantly they are made by Stokke, nice if you can afford it. We’ll stick to our standard white Ikea ones thanks.

The Menu is small but decent, note that the tea is shit. Coffee is good though. I like taking the boys to lunch there, a) because its bright and there are lots of lights and a few toys to play with, and b) you can be as messy and loud as you want and no one bats an eye lid. Same goes for the twins too.

twins-eating

They have kids meal deals, the usual sandwich, juice, pomme bears etc. The far end has a blackboard and chalk and some craft tables for older kids. They also provide microwave, bottle warmer etc. (Picture above was taken in Summer, note the bare legs. I am not a mean mum who freezes her babies during winter months. Also note the ever present breadstick. I would say breadsticks but as usual the majority ended up on the floor waiting for me to stand on)

Next to the cafe, is Jellybugs soft play. It’s small but perfectly formed. We have been twice, we went today. The baby bit is tiny, the sign says it fits a maximum of 13 children. I’m not entirely sure what size of childthey are referring to. Maybe a few Borrowers chucked in for good measure. Today, at one time there were 5 kids including my two and that was more than enough. There is a small ball pool, which my two hogged. Sorry everyone else, can’t be helped. They are obsessed with ball pools, they find them hilarious, as in piss funny. Each to their own I suppose. There are a few toys and some soft play favourites but that is that.

manchester_soft_play

It’s not cheap, time is limited to an hour and costs £3 per child. There is a sibling discount of £1. So it cost me £5 for an hours play. Not great value considering there isn’t enough room to swing a cat. However, the twins enjoyed it and the ambiance is fab there. The equipment is new and clean and the lady who worked there was lovely. The space for older children looked better and you can get a decent cup of coffee and watch them play.

luke

Also worth noting there is one toilet with baby change upstairs. If you go back down stairs there are a few toilets at the back of the store near the shoes.

In a nutshell, I have this strange love for Mothercare in Manchester Fort. Please tell me it’s not just me?!