A few weeks ago, we paid our first visit to Owls Play Centre at Fairlop Waters. It was a Saturday, it was wet and we’d fatally gone past the point when WE MUST LEAVE THE HOUSE (or one or all of us loses our sanity).
So instead of leaving in a leisurely manner sometime around 9.30am as planned, it was mid-morning by the time we left the house – and we were in a frenzy of stress. Or I was anyway.
In the circumstances, it was no surprise that Owls was busy. When I opened the door, I was hit by a wall of sound and heat that indicated children were burning up energy. Because that’s what soft play is for – isn’t it?
Owls has a large cafe that looks directly onto the soft play area, so I’d imagine during the week, it’s a relaxing place to sit while your toddler exhausts him or herself. But not on the Saturday I visited.
There’s a generously sized soft play area (but in my opinion it’s no rival to my favourite soft play area – the East London Gym – that I wrote a post about here). It has a baby zone. And a toddler zone but, like every other soft play I’ve been to, they pale in comparison to the facilities on offer to older children. So my toddler and her friend immediately made for main soft play area, which in this case is deemed to be appropriate for up to 12-years-old. I didn’t see any kids who looked as old as 12. But because toddlers are easily trodden on by older children, I saw quite a few thirty and forty something parents – forced into a workout in an attempt to stop their little one being squashed.
My other half had a ‘bad ankle’ that day. He doesn’t read this blog so I’m free to say how utterly delighted I was to be the one doing all the running about. But on a more positive note, my toddler had a lot of fun.
The highlight was the lovely big slide with lanes, that allows several kids to zoom down safely at the same time. Plus there are tons of other things that make a good toddler assault course – a mini zip wire type thing, netting to climb up and down, and tunnels to slither through.
After a while I think even she found it a bit hot and overwhelming, so she spent some time in a quieter corner with a ball pool which allows you to magically suspend the balls in an upward draft of air.
I won’t lie – it was a relief to leave Owls Play Centre, but that’s just because it was busy and hot. It had done its job and given my toddler a fun and energetic morning.
When we left, the day had turned a little nicer, so we took a cooling walk to the water’s edge. Owls is located on Fairlop Waters, so you can combine it with a walk round the reservoir and a look at some ducks, geese and swans.
I didn’t take any photos of Owls myself, but here are some I’ve found on their website or elsewhere.
What? Owls Play Centre
When? Open daily from 10am (check here). At busy times, you get a two-hour slot.
How much? Entry 1-3 year-olds is £4.10 (February 2016 – check here for latest)
Facilities and access If you’re travelling by car, there’s a carpark at Fairlop water (you have to pay). Otherwise, Owls Play Centre is a short walk from Fairlop tube. It has a cafe, baby change etc.