Friday, 13 March 2009


It's Friday afternoon. Normally I would be readying Boy #1 for his judo class in half an hour, bracing myself for the "But I don't WANT to go!"s and "Can't I just stay here and watch television?"s, before ultimately chasing him down the road at breakneck speed as he changes his mind and scoots off to the class. Normally I would also be dealing with a grisly Boy #2 who is most reluctant to be woken from his Friday afternoon nap, manhandling him up the stairs to his buggy, and bribing him to stay put in it with offers of raisins and apples (he thinks of these as treats and yes, I know, I'm blessed...).

But this is not a normal Friday afternoon. Instead of judo, I am currently bracing myself for an onslaught to the senses that has to be experienced to be believed, and which will leave me begging for mercy and longing for the peace and sensory deprivation of a flotation tank by the time I get home.

For yes, today, I am taking the Boys to a birthday party. And not just any birthday party, oh no. We are going to the Hell's Mouth of birthday party locations.

This birthday party is at... Gambado.

Apologies those who don't know what I'm talking about. To quote from a post I wrote 18 months ago (and that in itself is depressing enough; I've been going to parties there for that long..?) 'Gambado is a swanky play-centre in Chelsea Harbour with the latest in kid-centric entertainment, and a jungle gym big enough to lose a battalion of kids.'

This is nice in theory but when you are there with two boys it can be just a little... tiring . I can't count the number of times I've found myself frantically searching for them having not had sight of either for far too long, having to crawl into, over and through obstacles intended for people less than half my size. And the friction burns I've collected on my elbows from accompanying Boy #2 down the not-quite-slippery enough slides are not a thing of beauty, I can tell you.

I look back fondly to when Boy #2 was still small enough to find the ball pit exciting and at least I knew where to find him. Nowadays it's all about the slides, ropes, stairs and running from Mama. And in addition to the enormous Jungle Gym there are also kid-sized dodgems (imagine the potential for fisticuffs in the queue there with twenty entitled 3 - 7 year olds all waiting for rides on 8 cars, and you won't be far from the mark), and - I kid you not - a mini-carousel. At least once they're on that, I know where they are for 5 minutes.

It's an explosive mixture - crazy, hyped up kids, stressed out and exhausted parents - as borne out by a friend of mine who was there last year and actually witnessed a knock-down fight between two mums over their childrens' behaviour to each other...

Whatever happened to a gentle game of British Bulldogs in the park?

Heaven help me...

Update: We're back. Gambado lived down to expectations, and I have no more to say on the matter. Other than, pass me the corkscrew and of course;

The Empress is tired. You must leave her now.

(See Belgian Waffle for source of obscure quote)


  1. I knew where it was beofre I read the 'G' word.
    My dear friend, sit down and have a glass of something strong, you've been through real hell today.
    I'm really fed up hearing about inflated heroics by so-called celebrities; about climbing so-called mountains and suffering for days without home comforts, when all along, all along, I know, it's you have suffered more than most. And you're a braver woman than I going there.
    I am in awe.......

  2. Oh lordy. I loved "Gambado lived down to expectations". Rest assured I will not be going there and am very glad indeed I've never heard of it!

  3. i have spent many an hour in gambado, but by then the children were older and didn't need constant attention or bandaging thanks to the third degree burns. my goodness, that's brought back the awful memories of the toddler years. you are right. i have to go and lie down now.

  4. These places are enormous fun yet terrifying in equal measure. Tasha (Coding Mamma) had her first experience of soft play recently (see her blog) - I have no idea how she's managed to avoid them for so long! It's just impossible to have eyes on all your children at the same time.

  5. I am unsure what is worse, going to these places without someone for your child to play with, hence you become the default, or going to a packed out party at such places and spending your whole time searching for your child, and in the process sorting out disputes between waring toddler factions, whose complexity compare to those in the Middle East.

  6. We've got a chain over here called "Pump It Up', (yes, I know - sounds rather rude doesn't it?). However, the year old can be left there with the hosting parents. Thank god.

  7. God.

    Hope the wine was good though?


  8. Sounds a real nightmare! Worse than the fifty kids in a church hall with a clown that I endured yesterday!

  9. Frog - if I didn't know you better I might think you were being just the teensiest bit sarcastic... x

    Tara, if they open up near you, move.

    Grit, you know if they were older I actually think it would be fun. Especially if I could order some of the wine the cafe sells!

    More Than, actually I've given up on watching both of them. Boy #1 has to look after himself - otherwise I would go stir crazy.

    SPD, love your description of warring toddler factions. It's so true.

    EPM, I'm living for that day of drop off!

    RM, no wine. Sadly. Next time I may take a hip flask.

    WM, actually I think you win...

  10. Poor you....deep breathing at all times!

  11. NH Mum; is there any other kind?


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