Little Liscombe is the brand new soft play area at Liscombe Health Club, just outside Leighton Buzzard. Farmyard- themed, it’s suitable for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers up to 5. We went along to try it out last week.
I’d never visited the health club before, but the directions and parking were all clear and signposted, with plenty of spaces available. On entering the club there are stairs straight ahead of you that lead to the cafe, which is next to the soft play room. You do need to book ahead, and check in at the cafe when you arrive.
The soft play is small but beautifully designed! There’s a handy shoe storage rack as you enter, and some of the flooring is artificial grass to fit with the farmyard theme. The first section is the baby sensory area, which actually, both of mine seemed to enjoy a lot! There’s lots of attention to detail and unusual features, like a textures wall and light- changing tube. The two small soft-play steps and slides kept the 18 month old occupied almost the whole time we were there!
The next section has a tractor to climb onto – perfect for imaginary driving. It’s big enough to be fun for the older kids but low enough for small ones to climb into too. I didn’t notice for ages, but the wall behind it has giant foam forks and trowels for would be farmers to unhook and use for ‘digging’. There’s also a big ‘busy board’ on the wall, which my 4 year old loved. It had loads of interesting cogs and strings and fastenings to play with, and was big enough for several children to use at once without squabbling for space.
The main frame is next, with a variety of ways to climb up to the hideaway, a net tunnel to climb through (18 month old was not sure what to make of this until his sister went up to show him it was actually safe!) and two slides down. These are both super slippery – luckily there are some extra foam mats at the bottom to avoid bumps! They’ve made the underneath of the frame an excellent play space too. Here, there’s a lit mirror section that became the focus for lots of games for the older ones – I heard it being used for a beauty parlour and Witches cavern amongst others! The younger children loved the sensory aspect of this too. There are also some hanging ‘punch bags’ under another section, again great for hiding in and making up imaginary games.
There are some soft play animal shapes to sit/ ‘ride’ on and some mazes and games attaches to the walls too. For a small space they have really packed the equipment in, thinking of lots of different styles of play.
As it’s small, you can see the whole area easily, and take advantage of the ‘viewing area’ thoughtfully added for grown ups. This is a bar-style table running in front of the play area. You can take food and drinks in with you, although there are only high stools for adults to sit on, so we decided to come out into the cafe area when it was time for a snack! The cafe serves hot and cold drinks, homemade cakes and biscuits, as well as ice cream with lots of toppings There is actually a roof terrace too, so I imagine a session of soft play followed by an ice cream in the sunshine would make for a great morning out in the summer!
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