Yea you read that right, I achieved it, I managed to get Mr TM to soft play, on a Sunday, MEDAL please. Sunday is generally the only day Mr TM doesn’t work, it’s nice for the babies as they are stuck with me all week but come Sunday they get the Brucie bonus that is Dadda. Sometimes however finding something to do can be a bit of struggle, especially on a wet weekend when everybody else is looking for indoor activities. It is quite common that actually we don’t do a great deal and probably end up going for a walk somewhere just to ‘get out’. But this Sunday, things were going to be different, we had a plan that would get us all out of the house bright and early. I for one was excited.
Courtesy of the guys at The Quest Merry Hill we were invited to attend a bloggers event. This meant we had exclusivity of the facilities for a few hours, breakfast (I am sure this is what swayed Mr TM) and a goodie bag. Firstly Mr TM is a Brummy born and bred so he is familiar with Merry Hill shopping centre. I however have never been to Merry Hill and had absolutely no idea what to expect.
We arrived to an empty car park and quite frankly a bloomin massive shopping centre. It rivalled the shopping malls I have frequented in America. I had to ring the venue to find out where exactly Quest was, the place was so big. We were helpfully directed to the correct entrance but how we missed it I do not know, you could see the bright yellow high ropes a mile off.
Essentially The Quest is a collection of entertainment facilities for the kiddies, a way of bribing them to the shops or pacifying them once you are there. It is home to, a 4 story high ropes obstacle course (think Go Ape in a shopping mall), a mini high ropes for the little ones, a crazy golf course, a soft play, Nerf target range and Nerf combat area (this wasn’t open when we visited but for more information click here, think paintball come Laser Quest).
On arrival we fuelled up (delved into our free brekkie) strapped our ‘VIP’ wrist bands on and B-lined for the soft play – once little miss Z had seen it there was no getting away from it. I must say it was different to any soft play I have encountered, which is stacking up now I know how well it tires out entertains the kids. It wasn’t the usual mix of red green and yellow but neon pinks, blues and greens and see through inflatables. Baby T loved staring at the colours and lights. There was a large blow up slide that you reach by multi coloured steps and a see through inflatable platform. I didn’t think Z would walk over the platform or indeed be comfortable enough to go down the slide alone, she is only 20 months after all and it wasn’t a small slide, but as always, she showed me what she was made of and threw herself over the edge. Over and over again. She loved it, she was constantly clambering up the stairs to hurl herself over the top. She’s so tiny she practically flew down the slide and bounced on the inflatable landing area.
There was also a balloon pit, again it is reached by colourful steps at the top of which you enter into a clear box with lots of multi coloured balloons beings kept a float by a small but notable breeze. Z was a little more apprehensive about this but she got in eventually and loved it. Below are some photos of the various other pieces of equipment for your children’s entertainment.
There was also a soft play area for the under twos, although if your under twos are like mine chances are you won’t find them there but in the big kids part. Nonetheless the baby soft play was a fair size, had the seemingly compulsory ball put and lots of soft play type blocks to play with. It is an ideal space for the smaller ones.
Also part of the facilities were the high ropes and boy were they high at some 17 meters – it feels high from the top, trust me. You get yourself all harnessed up (not the most flattering admittedly) and you are attached to a steel yellow frame via a metal contraption and rope – a strong one. You then drag this rope round as you climb up four flights of stairs and work your way across various obstacles. These obstacles include thin ropes to walk across and/or hold onto and a variety of different balance beams. Now before we were a family of 5 and there were just 3 we did something similar to this in Florida – outside on a very windy day. The winner there, hands down, was L who clambered to the top and took on all the obstacles. I think I made it to the second level before wussing out and Mr TM climbed the first flight of stairs, promptly decided it wasn’t for him and went and sat in the car with a coffee – he ain’t no fool! But suffice to say we all had something to prove here. So L, myself and Mr TM all tacked the high ropes. I must say for someone who has a fear of heights Mr TM did well by completing the first level, he did wonder up to the second but swiftly retreated to the safety of the ground. I managed obstacles on three levels, I did venture to the fourth level but decided I had probably been too long and should get back down to look after my babies (obviously). The view from the top was very impressive, although with the sun shining on the glass shopping centre facade it did get quite warm up there. Anyway once again the winner was L who did all obstacles on all 4 floors. Hats off to you L. Sure is true what they say about being more aware of danger as you age, that being said it really is a case of mind over matter because you are perfectly safe and couldn’t possibly fall. As some uber smug 8-year-old showed by performing acrobatics on the ropes and practically running across the beams.
There is a mini version of these ropes for your little ones. My little ones were too little but I do think it’s a fab addition to include those too small for the main structure. For your older kids there is also an imaginative crazy golf (I say kids but I don’t know about you but Mr TM and I always find ourselves battling over a bit of pitch and put wherever we see one) this too is brightly coloured with fun and challenges holes. The Nerf target range allows you to take aim at different targets to score points, he who scores the highest wins. This is an excellent addition for the young ones, with there being no other in the country. Finally you can also grab yourself a tea or coffee and cold drinks oh and of course a slushy.
Before our departure we were handed our goodie bags, a nice little touch. They were full of sweets and E numbers along with stationary, balloons, cards and a voucher for a return visit. Oh and parents got Argan oil hand cream, definite the way to win me (and Mr TM for that matter) over.
I was pleasantly surprised with the event, all of us had a really good day out. All the staff were chatty, friendly and helpful (especially those who may need to come to your rescue of the high ropes) the place was very well-kept, clean and brightly coloured. There is plenty to occupy your little (and big) ones and is a fab addition to the shopping centre. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it anyone with children. The only slight gripe I would have as a paying customer is the rules on entry to the soft play. Once you are in you can stay as long you like, great, but once you’ve left, you’ve left, there is no coming back without paying again. You can however tag team – leave dad with the kiddies whilst you nip off and hit the (what felt like) infinite shops, come back to relieve him, sit with a coffee whilst he wonders off to find his sanity.
I couldn’t end this post without mentioning the shopping centre, we had a look round after but having not brought the double pram or any pram for Z we didn’t think we’d be there too long. That was until we found out you could hire small cars to push your little ones round in for £2 for the entire day. £2, what a bargain. Z was so happy to sit pretending to drive her car we could quite literally have shopped all day, which would have been unheard of without it.
The shops were fab, there is something for everyone and it felt like you could walk round for miles. If you think all that walking would be doing your figure any good think again, on your travels you will find no end of sweet treats, from ice cream, to doughnuts to pretzels and so many more. For our part, we couldn’t resist the pull of a Krispy Kreme…
We then bundled back into the car (the real one) and mosied on home to a Sunday roast and a glass of prosecco. All in all it really was a really good Sunday, everyone enjoyed themselves, we had zero toddler strops and minimal baby crys. For once the day lived up to the hype. Amen to that.
For more information about The Quest at Merry Hill, including birthday parties, large groups, school trips, opening time etc please click here