So what is Zoomania? Well for those of you that have ever been to the children's play area at Wyevale, it is a bit like that, except miles bigger, miles nicer, and not massively overcrowded. Well not while we were there anyway. That is why we went at 9:30am.
Generally I have found Wyevale stressful - too many people crammed into one small area, massive queues to get in, can't get a table, time limits. Well none of that here. Oodles of room. In fact - I can't fault the place. You pay according to the ages of your children on a sliding scale - I think we paid a tenner or thereabouts.
The place has a huge imaginative climbing frame on several levels, with various slides and tubes to go down, there's a ball pool, a smaller area for the little ones, giant lego, little karts, and more. Amazing - I never had anything like this when I was a kid - don't think such places even existed, or if they did, their existence was unknown to me.
Unfortunately for us - and this happens every time we go anywhere, as soon as we got in there, the kids started whingeing and complaining. Now I am used to this with Ollie - as you will know he was diagnosed some time ago as being on the autistic spectrum, however I have developed ways and means of dealing with this, and generally, we get through these issues. But today, it was Jamie that started all the screaming and shouting and refusing to go on things, which then rubbed off on Ollie. As a parent it is incredibly frustrating, as it always seems that every other kid there is having the time of their life, with happy smiley parents, perfect nuclear families and it's only us in meltdown. As always this is a very stressful situation for me and Claire in a public environment, but I keep calm and try and find something to engage their interest and eventually we got there - by about half past ten they grudgingly consented to start enjoying themselves.
It's so upsetting for a parent when you go to all the effort to take the kids somewhere nice and do something special for them, and you get there and they play you up. But I keep persevering - it is my purpose in life after all and we can all see in society the examples where the parents gave up.
I am really hoping and praying that Jamie's behaviours - exact carbon copies today of what Ollie used to do are just terrible twos and I'm not going to have another SENCO situation on my hands in a couple of years. The fun we have way outweighs the bad, and I have even managed to turn some of Ollie's obsessions into fun and try and indulge in them with him - e.g. he is obsessed with the design and layouts of supermarkets - the aisle numbers and such like and talks about it all the time - rather than ignore it, or get irritated about it, "stop talking about aisles all the time" I indulge it, take him to supermarkets, praise his elaborate floor plans that he designs for them, that sort of thing.
|The one picture I managed to take in this area|
in which Ollie was not picking his nose.
Ollie calmed down a bit when he found the giant lego and arranged all the pieces geometrically with precisely planned distances between them. Until another child knocked them over anyway. And Jamie once he stopped screaming and went down the slide - with a little encouragement, realised he liked it after all.
|Here I come, Daddy!|
So once we got the kids over the wobbly hump, they were not too bad, and we went into the big climbing area which goes up very high. The great thing about Zoomania is that the adults are allowed in to, and both Claire and I managed to get up to the top - with much wheezing and puffing and squeezing ourselves through tight spaces. Here is a picture Ollie took of me struggling between two rollers. He is getting quite good with the camera.
|Not suitable for fat blokes|
I also went down the big tube but got a bit wedged half way down - fortunately I did not have to be airlifted out like Homer Simpson was all those years ago as some kid came down behind me and booted me in the head which got me moving again.
I was quite knackered by the time I got off there. We then discovered a little soft play football and basketball pitch at the back so I was able to take the boys on for a little match. Despite the fact that it was 2 against 1, I was easily able to cruise to victory, it was like England against San Marino all over again. Two years olds don't put up much resistance in a tackle either I find. Claire meanwhile demonstrated some hitherto unknown basketball skills - not something I have ever been any good at.
|Ollie and Jamie test out their new goal technology.|
"That was definitely in, Frank"
After a couple of hours, the place was starting to get quite busy so we headed off to Morrisons for the next leg of our exciting day out. Now might not sound a dream place out, but bearing in mind what I said about Ollie earlier he was very excited. Unfortunately he was not happy at the layout of the aisle numbers - they didn't follow a very logical pattern and he was most upset that some areas e.g. the fruit and veg section didn't have aisle numbers at all. Not that we lingered there for long, I was quite keen to get to the meat.
Morrisons in Aylesbury is a bit old and tired really - not a patch on the more modern Banbury store. It used to be a Safeway, and they took it over. You can always tell the age of a store by the floor I think, and this one had that sort of marble flooring with the pebble pattern in, popular back in the 70s which is probably how long it has been there.
The final leg of our journey was McDonalds - a good old standby - I feared more meltdowns here over the fish fingers but surprisingly the boys did eat well if a little slowly. Claire however was not happy - she is on a carb free diet at the moment and she ordered a salad which she said was really lame. I will have to take her word on that as I am not an expert on the subject. I was most pleased with my chicken nuggets though as I ordered the box of six but when it came, I realised I had got two joined at the hip - like siamese twin nuggets so really I got seven, which represents a gain of 16.666% recurring. Which was nice.
It was pretty packed in there, being a bank holiday, we were there about an hour watching the boys see if they could set a new slow eating record. Main bad thing about McDonalds in Aylesbury? The absolute ridiculous car park design. I won't elaborate but I am sure you are nodding you head in agreement if you have been there.
And so home for a nice leisurely afternoon, on one of just 3 days a year when no racing takes place, so no distractions there. And do I need it - I feel absolutely knackered as well - don't think it is just because of the efforts on the climbing frame, but five hours out with two little boys playing Superdad takes it out of me. Looking forward to vegging in front of the TV tonight with a couple of nice regional beers I bought from Morrisons. Cheers!
If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.
PS: Tesco hot cross buns are rank, I should have listened to Duncan and got them from M&S.