I think Bicester Bowl is very underrated. It's great value for money to bowl there compared to the bigger bowling centres you have to travel out of town for. Not only that, you don't get ripped off for food and drink when you are in there. The prices are very reasonable compared to what you would pay in a cinema, for example.
So, what about parties for kids? Well, for £8 per child, you get a game of bowling, a meal and an ice cream. Knowing that a lot of people would be on holiday, and wanting a round number of kids (divisible by six), we decided that 12 would be a good number to invite. Why does it have to be divisible by six? Well it doesn't have to be, but it just makes more sense that way as you can have six people on a lane, and that way you can have two full lanes. I also felt 12 would be a manageable number for myself, Claire and Jane (the mother-in-law) to look after.
I have to say, it all went brilliantly - the staff were very helpful in getting us organised and explaining the rules. All of the children that were invited arrived in good time, and also a couple of parents stayed to help out (Thank-you Hannah + Laura!) The children were all in good spirits and pleased to see their friends after nearly six weeks away from school for the summer holidays. We got them organised into two teams and got the bowling under way. They were all really well behaved and not for the first time, I noticed how well they all got on together. There is a real feeling of support between the children in Ollie's class. When one is upset, the others all rally round. It's a credit to both the school and the good families these children are from. Ollie is very fortunate to have such good friends. I dread to think how he would have coped (bearing in mind his recent diagnosis of autism) back in the 70s in the far more hostile environment that I grew up in.
With the lanes up, and a bit of help for some of the children with those yellow slides you can roll the balls down, all of the children achieved good scores. The lowest was 70, and the highest 107, so it was all pretty close. They enjoyed themselves tremendously. After the game, we moved to a table around the corner where they all had their meals. These were really good - they had a choice of various things with chips, but it all looked good. In fact the chicken nuggets they had looked gorgeous. I was hoping some of the kids might leave some (as kids do - well mine, anyway) but they were all eagerly gobbled up. Fortunately Ollie didn't want one of his sausages, so I didn't go hungry.
By the time they'd eaten, had their ice cream, we'd sung Happy Birthday and cut the cake, it was time to go home. Two hours had passed in a flash. A real success and all the feedback I've had suggested the children loved it!
Jason Ayres is the author of time travel novel "The Time Bubble", set in a small market town near Oxford, available now from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Time-Bubble-Jason-Ayres-ebook/dp/B00L3K1B8G/ref=pd_ecc_rvi_1