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Head Over Heels

Nadia Jaynes gets a little too involved at Chorlton's soft play centre

Published on July 15th 2010.

Head Over Heels

Tucked away behind Morrisons in Chorlton is a small warehouse which looks pretty uninspiring from the outside. Step inside though and you'll find much more than the average soft play area. Every space has been utilised to its full potential and the result for kids is fun on a massive scale.

I had to question who was enjoying the experience more as I watched Dad diving through ball pools, edging across rope bridges and soaring down slides with more enthusiasm than was necessary.

The venue is split into two sections: a small play area for babies and toddlers, and a larger area for the bigger boys and girls. We visited on a busy Saturday and were most excited to discover that under-fours are permitted on the larger apparatus if accompanied by an adult. This meant we had no choice but to jump right in there with our little man.

At times I had to question who was enjoying the experience more as I watched Dad diving through ball pools, edging across rope bridges and soaring down slides with more enthusiasm than was necessary. But it’s a great idea to let mums and dads loose with their kids until they have enough confidence to go it alone.

There’s a much wider variety of equipment than I’ve seen in any other soft play centre and it only cost us £3.95 to get in: good value considering that a month ago we paid £4 for Joe to walk around a 'Funhouse' at the fair in Prestwich. (Said funhouse actually consisted of four punch-bags and a slide, and took around 90 seconds to navigate). Head Over Heels has bucking bronco rocket ships, mysterious floating balls and lots more to feed the imagination.

Imagine our sheer glee when we followed the sound of music to the top of the slide, over a bridge and opened a velcro flap to reveal, dum dum dum...a disco room. What’s more, an empty disco room complete with flashing lights, mirrored walls and disco ball. I threw down my bag and made like Shakira on the dance floor, whilst Dad decided to take advantage of the crash mats and practise a few jujitsu falls mixed in with impromptu break-dancing manoeuvres.

The little man was eventually coerced into joining in and all three of us choreographed a dance routine befitting of the Beyoncé soundtrack – hair was flicked and booties were indeed shaken. Exhausted by our performance, which we unanimously rated ten out of ten, we made our way down to the cafe.

Although perhaps a little over-priced, the cafe has much better fare than the usual chicken nuggets, chips and cartons of dilute-able E-numbers. There are healthy drinks and snacks, pizzas, hummus with crudités and home-made cakes (this is Chorlton, don’t you know).

The cafe was busy when we arrived with lots of mums and dads kicking back while their kids enjoyed the adventure. Some read magazines whilst others watched a huge wide-screen TV playing in a live feed from...

“Oh God, please no. Is that? Is it? Say it’s not. Mark, what is that on the screen?”“Oh crap, it is. That’s the disco room.”

Suddenly it became all too clear why the room was empty. It slowly dawned on us just what these customers had witnessed whilst sipping on their organic Earl Greys. We sank lower and lower in our chairs. I was practically under the table. The shades went on and we coordinated a sharp and discreet exit.

Head Over Heels is the best soft play centre we’ve found in Manchester and the owners are in the process of building an even bigger one in Handforth which will boast bungee trampolines, a mini cinema and a sensory room.

I’m counting down the days until it opens. Thanks to Beyoncé, I can never show my face in the Chorlton venue again.

Head Over Heels, Unit 1a, Albany Trading Estate, Albany Road, Chorlton, open seven days a week, 9.30am-6.30pm, 0161 881 4433, www.headoverheelsplay.co.uk

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