Gravity Force St Albans Review – heaven or hell?

So as you know I don’t do many reviews, but when my kids heard I’d been asked to review gravity force in the summer, they kind of forced me to go!  Here is Curly Headed Boy’s reaction:

Gravity Force St Albans

So here are the things I was worried about and what I thought about it all ….

Is it dangerous?

Trampolines as we know cause havoc in home gardens and there was certainly some dodgy stuff on the internet about trampoline parks.  But I really liked this team.  There was no scrimping on first aid training and they took their roles seriously.  It seemed well designed, so that there less opportunities for problems as well.  Curly headed boy felt that some of the trampolines are actually a little under powered – maybe a very sensible precaution!

There are of course waivers you have to fill out – do it before you go and there is hardly any delay.  Make sure on your first visit that you do arrive 30mins before to do your waiver

Were they party-poopers?

Whilst worrying about safety is paramount, it is a trampoline park and Curly Headed Boy had been to a party at a rival location and hated it.  He felt they were hardly able to do anything and kept being pulled off.  Whilst getting into devilish moods at time, he’s a pretty well behaved boy, so he was really upset with the other location.  He loved Gravity force – the perfect combo of control and fun.

Did I have to get involved?

Gravity Force square trampolines

With my Lyme disease I was most worried that I’d be forced to bounce by Little Dimples, as she is often unhappy alone – this would not have been a good plan.  But after the first 5 mins I was free to watch, and on the next visits I didn’t have to do anything at all (oh yes, we have been again, and again, and again!).  This is a big deal as she normally gets nervous in chaotic situations.

Do you have to pay as a parent if you aren’t bouncing?

Nope – unlike other similar parks.

Whats the noise like?

I HATE Gambado’s – sorry Gambado’s, but the noise is like a living torture to me!  It was slightly ‘Argh’ in the coffee area when there were parties on, but the main area was fine.

Tip to help the kids enjoy it more:

Gravity Force Little Kids

Take the kids around the whole area before they go off jumping and explain what the different areas are for.  For example, there are 2 dodge ball courts (for different age groups), 4 long trampolines for doing tricks on, a trampoline with a basket ball hoop and a more professional trampoline.

Food & drink & socks & lockers

Gravity Force Food prices

You can’t take enough water.  I don’t think you are meant to take your own drinks or food, but honestly you are going to need to sneak water in your bag.  There is nothing you can do however, they will be hungry and thirsty at the end, expect to visit the cafe! The good news is that I think the prices were reasonable, they could have put them completely off the scale and they haven’t.

If you don’t have trampoline type socks from another park, then you’ll need them on the first visit (they are sticky on the bottom), but then can keep reusing them.

We didn’t worry about lockers, you won’t need one if you aren’t bouncing.

What if there is a party?

I’m not keen on going to kids play parks when there are other parties there.  But when you book online you can see which session are the busiest, so avoid those ones.

How long do you need to go for?

Personally I don’t think that you need more than an hour.  It’s actually a perfect thing to do for a short time in the day to let the kids let off steam.

Any improvements?

CHB would love them to do classes on acrobatics, but they can’t because of the insurance.

Toddlers, Disabilities & Grown Ups

There are morning sessions for toddlers, special sessions for those with disabilities and exercise classes for grown ups (The hairy northerner is actually rather keen to try one of the classes out, we just haven’t sorted it out yet).

Word of warning!

Don’t park in the private car park next door – I did by mistake and got a nasty message on my car – I can get a bit confuddled about parking sometimes, it was an honest mistake.

A Surprise Bonus

We ran into Anton from Xfactor – I have to say he is a real gent.  He didn’t stop smiling the whole time he was there, and happily made my kids day by taking a selfie with them!

Anton Stephans Gravity Force

Overall

My kids love it.  It’s a simple and quick thing to add into a weekend or holiday to help them let off steam without costing a fortune.  We’ve become regulars and will be back there this half-term.

 

Disclosure: I was invited to the pre-open day and given some tickets in return for a review.  We have however been again and paid for our own tickets, so that kind of proves it’s worth it.

My Big Secret Project Is …….

I’m at last going to tell you what my ‘Big Secret Project’ is!

It might seem a bit random, but I’ll explain myself in my next vlog, as it’s a really interesting story of how things all add up together sometimes.

So drum roll please …….

(Oh yes and as you can see Little Dimples was REALLY helpful with the whole videoing process – not!).

 

 

Feather Bowers at Just So

Go on try something new – a festival or camping?

Life’s still hard with the recession and we all need some fun and adventure in our lives, so for this month’s Lifestyle feature over on Radio Verulam with the lovely Danny smith on his Drivetime show, I talked about festivals and camping.

I first decided to got to a festival when Little Dimples was 18months (two years ago) and Curly Headed Boy was 5.  I’d NEVER been to a festival and felt a bit mortified by it.  I decided if we started now with the kids, they might TAKE ME when they go to Glastonbury in 15yrs time!

Since then I’ve actually become a fan of camping too.  We started glamping, but due to the cost my practical side chose camping with a touch of glamp last year.

Listen here to me chatting with Danny here:

 

Why Go?

Music is good for the soul, it feeds our spirit and gives us a much needed lift.  One thing you can be sure about is that the quality of the music will be MUCH better than anything you see on Xfactor.

It’s great for kids because they learn to sit and listen to music, and the festivals I go to they tend to get to chill, run around and dance.  If you go to a family festival there will be all sorts of lovely things for the kids to do as well.  CHB says that a 3day festival is like going on holiday for 10days!

If you are brave enough to go for several days and try camping it is even better.  There is something about camping and it’s closeness to nature which is relaxing and healing at the same time.  We tried a motorhome at the beginning of this year, but despite being more practical it just didn’t have the same benefits for me.

my son and me in a motorhome
Top bunk is always best

 

 

Tips and Concerns

I know it can be intimidating, so I’ve put together my top tips for you to get you inspired to go!

The biggest reason to go is if you haven’t done it before, then NOW is the time to try it.  Be ADVENTUROUS.  Make memories to look back on and say ‘I did that’!

 

1) Start Small and Local

The key is not to go to Glastonbury on your first year (although they do have a family area)!  Go for small ones (5000 and under).  Look for local one day festivals so that you don’t have to camp.

Local to me in hertfordshire are:

St Albans Folk Festival Sorry I didn’t manage to publish in time –  (22-23rd June) – terrible website btw guys!

Folk by the Oak – Hatfield House – Sunday 21st July – I’m really looking forward to this festival.  Check out this youtube of Kate Rusby:

Folk Stock – Aldenham country park – 21st September –

Here is a fab way of hearing all their artists on a sound cloud.

They have got my FAVE artist coming – JonPaul Palombo

Celtic Harmony do a Beltane (See my video review here) and Samhain Festival each year.

Plus we had loads of fun at Hoo Bookfest, so I really recommend that for next year.

 

2) Planning

Feather Bowers at Just So
You are never too old for a feather bower or hair garland!

Plan ahead so that you know what is on BUT also go with the flow as it can be too stressful to keep to a schedule.

Go with friends.

Explain to your kids about safety, and make sure that you have one of those wristbands with your mobile number on it.  Or this weekend at Britmumslive I was given a Kattoo which looks brilliant (tattoo for your mobile no).

Bring Ear defenders for the kids and a picnic blanket to sit on.

3) Family Festivals

It really helps your sense of safety if you go to a family festival.

Lollibop – This is a London festival with a big kids TV orientation.  I’ve never been, but I’ve heard that it is great.  It would probably be a bit too commercial for me.

Camp Bestival – This is in Dorset and looks to me to be incredibly well organised.  Again there is a bit of a Cbeebies theme going on.  It feels to me like they try to make sure that all the practicalities that a ‘middle class’ family would worry about are covered.

Just So – This is a magical, more artsy festival with a hugely magical vibe.  Here’s my mammoth review from 2012 (same location as this year, so you might like last year’s planning post too) and my review from 2011.

 

4) Weather and what to wear

An example of what I wore
Festival style from the back!

Remember this is all part of the adventure!  We went to the Penn Festival (eighties music) last year, which was more of a mudfest.  The kids LOVED it.  All you need to make sure is that they are covered from head to toe in water proofs.  We also had a small pop up tent, that we used near the stage.

Bring lots of layers so that you can take stuff on and off.

What to wear – Leggings or skinny jeans are the easiest, with a pretty dress or long top over them.  No heals, instead go for daps/wellies.  A flower garland is essential (BE BRAVE!).

Check out my what to wear to festivals post with lots of ideas for you and links to my Pinterest boards.

 

Money

I don’t like the ones with lots of things to spend money on like the Herts County Show, buy, or things that kids will want to do that cost a fortune; so we tend to avoid those ones.

What you can also do is give the kids a budget, so that they know they just have £x and that is all.

Food can be expensive, so make sure you take water, squash, snacks and fruit.  Check if breakfast is provided if you are camping otherwise brioche is fab.

 

Loos and Showers

Actually again because I go to small ones or family ones they aren’t too bad.  But always take LOO PAPER and anti-bacterial spray.

Some actually have great showers BUT you can get away with a day of showering with wet wipes (it’s not as bad as it sounds!).

 

Camping

How to make your tent look Glam
Camping with glamp

Take ear plugs (just incase you are near someone having too much fun or kids that wont sleep), a wooly hat, socks, and extra jumper for night time.

Bring something to put mudding shoes in, so that they don’t come in the tent.

If there are just a couple of you then you can get a festival kit ever so cheaply with everything that you need.  There is nothing wrong with going for ‘cheap’ shops like argos etc.

If you have a little more money to spend then check out the pop up tents (a bit tricky to put away) or the Vango blow up tent we have.

The best beds are the mats that puff up; air beds are actually cold.

Bunting is a MUST!

Here is my ultimate camping list (you don’t need it all!).

 

Finding

Festivals for all – great site for all types of festival

Festival Kidz – specifically for taking kids

Forestry Commission – I’m an ambassador for the FC and was gutted to realise too late that they do concerts.  How gorgeous to see someone like Olly Murs AND be in a forest.

 

At the end of the day

Go on, try it.  It’s fun.  It’s simple.  It’s pretty cheap in comparison to a package holiday.

And you’ll have something to tell your grandchildren that will give them the impression that you didn’t wash up all day long!

Have you started camping in the last few years?  What do you reckon?

Have I inspired you to try a festival this year?

 

I need five minutes of your time for an itsy bitsy vote!

Inspire Finalist

Guess What?!!!!!!!

I’ve been jumping up and down for the last couple of weeks because I’ve reached the finals in TWO, yes that’s the TWO main parent blogging competitions this year.

Thank you to everyone who nominated me!

The first is the ‘BiBs’ or Brilliance in Blogging run by Britmums.  I’m up for the ‘Inspire’ category, and thankfully just have to sit back with all my fingers and toes crossed for the next few weeks until the BritMums Live blogging conference.

 

Mum and Dad Blog Awards 2012

But I need your help with the second!  This is for the MADs ‘Mums and Dads Blogging Awards‘ run by the Tots100 and hosted by Parentdish.

I’m defending my title as Small Business Blog and really need your votes as I’m up against some great blogs.

 

Click here to vote for me!

 

Winning last year really helped my blog take off, so winning again would be a huge bonus.  The more things like this that happen, the more I ‘get out there’ and can help Mums who aren’t enjoying their lives right now.

Plus I’ve realised that I kind of feel like last year was a fluke, but if I won this year it would be a massive confidence booster!

 

Whilst you are at it, some of you might not know many blogs, so can I give you a little hint of 3 other great blogs, and friends of mine for St Albans also up for a vote?  I wouldn’t suggest them if I didn’t think that they are great!

 

All Baby Advice – Mirka has just had a new baby and so is up for best baby blog.  I love her blog because it talks about raising bi-lingual kids

Actually Mummy – the lovely Helen writes a fab blog from the perspective of her eight year old daughter and is up for the school days blog.

Dorky Mum – Ruth is a new blogger who is unusual in that she talks about politics and is up for the best new blog

Thank you from all of us!

 

 

Video Wed: Bristol, the simpler things in life and sunshine

Bristol is a weird place, it has an odd magnetic nature.  I remember a social worker telling me that they recommended that families didn’t move elderly relatives out of Bristol because they hardly ever reacted well to it.

A few weeks ago we went back to my home town of Bristol to meet up with some old friends who were over from the states.  As we drove in Curly Headed Boy said ‘Oooh Bristol is lovely, why don’t we live here Mummy?’.  I must admit I felt at ‘home’ immediately.  However much the place has grown up (it now has an aquarium and a science museum), it still felt the same.  It’s such a colourful place.  St Albans is lovely and all, but people do tend to wear the same colours, have the same coloured cars, and look pretty similar.  Bristol is a mass of difference.

I popped out to a chemist and suddenly was faced with something I hardly have in St Albans; someone SMILED at me, before I smiled at them.  Wow!  It’s not that people are unfriendly where I live now, it’s just that they are more reserved.  Plus local Bristollians look like me, there’s a lot of the ‘hobbit’ look as I call it; short, with curly brown hair, and rosey cheeks.

It took me a day to remember something that is most different.  It hit me when we went to a local festival (which was by pure chance, as we didn’t know it was on), and I realised that in St Albans I’m always ‘doing’ things with the kids.  But in Bristol as a child, it was more that you would go somewhere and meander around in a chilled sort of way.  You kind of look at the docks, or the downs, or the ‘stuff’ and meander around with a pile of other people just meandering around.  It was a big reminder of enjoying ‘the simpler things in life’.

Hopefully at the moment I am enjoying the ‘simpler things in life’ on a beach, paddling in the sea with Little Dimples and Curly Headed Boy.  I’m assuming it is really sunny where we are in Cyprus (did I mention my excitement at our first every family summer holiday in a previous post?!), so I thought I’d send you some sun!  So here is the video wednesday with Katrina and the Waves ‘Walking on Sunshine’.  (I’m particularly fond of her because she played a gig for us at Uni, and she has sooooo much energy, she was really fab).