Soft Play at Bells!

Rhona Maxwell

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Soft Play: two words that strike fear into the hearts of many a toddler parent. All too often the experience leaves me exhausted and reaching for the paracetamol; hoardes of kids, whipped up into a frenzy, darting from one thing to another, while I act like a bouncer for my wobbly toddler who thanks to her height most people assume to be much older than she is.

I’ve seen Freya bowled over, dive bombed in the ball pool and most recently be trapped inside a hidey hole after a much older kid (who shouldn’t even have been in there) bricked up the exit.

Bells Soft Play slide climbIt’s important to point out that I’m not usually an anxious type of person about this stuff- in fact in our house I’m certainly not the health and safety cop (who knew that would happen to my once laidback husband?!), yet soft play has become an increasingly stressful experience. Until now…

I heard some time ago that Live Active have their own soft play area at Bells Sports Centre. A few weeks ago I finally got around to visiting, and am already a convert; in fact, we’ve already booked Freya’s birthday party there in February.

‘Buzzi Bee’s Hive’ as it’s called, is on the right just inside the main hall at Bells. It’s a permanent fixture, and available to use during the usual opening hours of the centre unless special events (or parties) are on- we usually phone ahead to check but it’s very rarely out of action.

There’s various play equipment over two levels, all of which is clean and well maintained (no duct tape in site!), including slides, cargo nets, tunnels, mini zip wire and officially the best ball pool we’ve ever been in (it actually has balls in it, lots of ‘em, amazing!!).

Bells Soft Play climbing up stepsThe whole place is fully accessible for adults who can join little ones to lend a hand. The horizontal cargo net is still a bit too tricky for Freya to traverse on her own so she prefers to travel via the ‘Dada Express’, otherwise known as sitting on his lap while he does all the hard work.

Should dada require a pit stop or not make the expected ‘choo choo’ noises during the journey she shoots a look which would turn lesser men to stone (she gets that one from me!).

I know you’re waiting for the catch, but there really isn’t one. You simply turn up at reception, pay £1 for 30 mins, or £1.50 for an hour. There’s also no need for you or your children to be Live Active members to use the facility. I don’t know about you but that seems like much better value than some other facilities, not to mention a much calmer more enjoyable experience for everyone.

On a Tuesday and Thursday morning there’s also ‘Bounce & Play’ sessions, where right next to soft play area they set up the bouncy castle…twice the fun!

See you in the ball pool!

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