Play Gym Friday 6/03/15 #Week 2

This week we decided to visit the newly refurbished play area at The Old Brickworks in Drighlington. Part of the Brewers Fayre chain I have to admit this really wasn’t somewhere we had liked to visit in the past. The whole place had looked a little tired and unlike other local pubs with play areas you had to leave the play room to eat and with little ones this wasn’t always an easy task. I’d heard a couple of weeks ago from fellow blogger Claire at What Elsa Wears it was having a facelift so thought we would give it another chance.

On first appearance it looks 100% better than it did, branded Dennis the Menace and Knasher, the walls around the entrance door have all been covered with pictures of the comic favourites and the bright colours and theme continue inside.

 image5 Play Frame Entrance

There is now a proper counter and you can buy drinks for the little ones as well as crisps, chocolate and pre-packaged cakes. On a previous visit we had noticed the usual male worker seemed pretty fed up and today he was enthusiastic and keen to point out some of the changes. He explained the area had re-opened on Tuesday and pointed out a new room with music and disco lights, the toddler section and the 2 different seating areas. At this point we were very pleased to discover a section of the seating now meant you could eat in the play area, something we all agreed was a much better set up. There is now a flat fee of £3 for all children that are walking and compared to similar places I thought this was very reasonable. A time limit of 1.5 hours is in place but we were told this only came into effect once capacity had been reached – at least that’s what I think is the case, if I’m honest we were a little confused about this and were there over 2 hours so obviously didn’t affect us. Both kids were given wrist bands to wear which I thought were a good idea, even though we had to put Georgia’s round her ankle. 

 Georgia Car Brickworks image2

Little miss is still too young to appreciate all that the new play area offers and so didn’t venture into the upper area. She did however really like the 2 new Little Tikes cars and needed rescuing from the baby walkers on numerous occasions. In the toddler area there was plenty of shapes and things for her to be interested in, including a Velcro wall so she could make a picture of a robot. There is also a short double slide, perfect for little ones and she had great fun using this. I was impressed that unlike some other places we visit the steps up to the slide were at a great height for those younger. At extra cost kids can enjoy a Magic Roundabout ride, get small toys and temporary tattoos (always a hit) or play on a video game machine

Unfortunately as with most things there are some things that could still do with a little work. You enter the play area through double doors which didn’t meet and had a gap in between. I suppose this should help stop any little fingers being trapped but it looked unfinished and I think the area is missing proper locked gates to stop anybody escaping into the main pub. This seems pretty standard in most play gyms and pubs with play areas that we’ve been to, especially when although big doors they do swing open and shut so only need pushing.

New toddler area

 Climb to the slide Double slide in toddler area

In my opinion the play area wasn’t that busy when we visited but every table in the eating section was occupied, I seem to remember there being about 8 tables. 3 of these tables are at the back of the room, between the wall and play frame so a side of the play area you don’t have sight of. In particular the toddler area is at the other side of the structure so I wasn’t able to sit at our particular table and watch Miss G. I appreciate space is limited and you can eat in the main restaurant area but I wondered whether it would be better if you could eat at all the tables, instead of having some for spectating only. 

My only other gripe was about a few cleanliness and hygiene issues which at times I felt let the great new changes down a little. There was a couple of children using the play area without socks (this is a ‘thing’ of mine) and unfortunately this didn’t seem to be addressed whilst we were there. A member of staff was working in the area to cover staff breaks and didn’t manage to properly clean the tables or seats when other customers left. They also told us staff weren’t able to wash their hands after clearing tables because there wasn’t a sink and they weren’t allowed to leave the area unattended. Not exactly a nice thought when they could also be selling refreshments and taking entrance money. However on his return soon after, the usual male employee was quick to give the floor another sweep and clean the vacant tables and seats around us. We took this as an opportunity to bring the lack of sink up with him and was reassured this was something he would be bringing up with managers, he also explained to us that he personally brought sanitizing wipes to work and always had a packet under the counter for himself and other staff to use. Throughout talking to this employee it struck me how dedicated to his job he was and that he took pride in the area he was working in, especially now it had been updated. He was explaining all the things that were planned for the launch the next day and I think it would be great if Brewers Fayre held events with activities like this regularly. 

On a brighter note the Old Brickworks does serve Costa coffee even if it’s from a machine and I was very pleasantly surprised to learn there was unlimited refills on tea and coffee after ordering one of each. Overall our visit had a thumbs up from us 2 adults and 2 children and based on the changes we are definitely more likely to visit in the future.

*I have not been asked for this review and all thoughts are my own*


Play Gym Friday 27/02/15 #Week 1

We decided to go to one of the smaller local play gyms called Buttons for our outing this afternoon. Ive been taking Georgia since she was about 8 months old as it has a designated baby section, a 2-3 years section and a bigger play area for the over 3s.  I’m a mummy who likes to encourage their child to have some freedom at the play gym, attempting to watch from a safe distance and hoping the child I can hear crying is not mine, or crying because of mine! Despite this, I do spend many Fridays on my hands and knees, unable to stand up, encouraging little miss to venture this way and that, go down the slide or swim in the ball pool (sure many parents know all about this) so today because it was quiet we (aka I) decided to be brave and try G playing in the area meant for the over 3s as this meant she could play more with her cousin who is 4 and that there would be more for her to explore and enjoy!

I’m always surprised at the heights children are expected to climb to move around different levels in any play gym and how some children, no matter how old or tall, manage this better than others. Georgia finds coming down easier than going up and although she will try, she often needs a helping hand, something her cousin is very good at giving. Not really able to climb in myself at the minute, I watched from the floor as G let her cousin give her a leg up each step and lead the way, before suddenly changing her mind and filling the small industrial estate unit with screams of “Mummy, Mummy”, closely followed by tears. Her cousin knew he had been beaten so rather than try force her to come down with him, he did what most 4 year olds would do and that was race down to get me. Luckily being ‘stuck’ as she told me, put G off venturing into unknown territory again and she stuck to what she knew after.

Note to self:- little miss is only 22 months old, despite me feeling like she’s been here forever some days.