I’m at Kidspace in Romford which, as the name may suggest, is an indoor play area for the kids. It’s a 25 minute drive away, so we don’t come here often, but as I am due to lose my car soon I thought it made sense to go somewhere far away as we won’t be able to do it again for a while without jumping on buses and trains.
The kids have only been here once before, a few weeks ago when I met Chelle and her kids here, and they loved it. That day we stayed for four or five hours, and even then they didn’t want to leave. The maximum stay is supposed to be two hours, but given the huge cost of entry (£2.50 per adult and a whopping £8.50 per child aged three and over), I try and stay here as long as I possibly can to make the most of it.
The reason it’s so expensive is because it offers so much more than other indoor activity centres. There’s the normal ball-pit and slide combination, as well as a manned climbing wall, manned go karts and a manned sky-walk. It’s a big place and so far today we’ve been here over two hours and the only time I’ve seen the kids is when they come back to where I’m sitting to get a drink.
The downside of being here so long is boredom. It’s one thing to sit here for five hours when there’s another adult to chat to, but today I have no friends here and although the guy sitting to my right has made small talk, it’s bloody noisy in here and I’m struggling to hear him. That, and the fact that I can’t be arsed with small talk means I shouldn’t moan about boredom, but that’s what I’m going to do.
I’ve often thought that Chelmsford could do with a big activity centre like this somewhere near town, and seeing this place, this is probably the ideal model. You wouldn’t need a High St location for it, as you could fit it above a shop somewhere (Sainsbury is beneath us here). The cost of getting all the equipment bought and installed must be quite high though, and the ongoing cost of the staff that work here would be an issue too, but then again they make huge amounts of money not only from the entrance fee but also the food that the sell here (£1 for a 4″ high tube of Pringles, anyone?) must bring in a decent wedge.