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The Secret Garden Soft Play

Today’s adventure has taken us to The Secret Garden in Horbury Bridge, which is situated between Wakefield and Huddersfield. This brand new soft play opened just yesterday, so we arrived early as we expected it to be popular. We were right! By 11am every table was full. However, there was a constant turn over of people, and we didn’t see anyone waiting for a table. The Secret Garden is right next to the Jet Petrol station on the main road near the main Horbury Bridge junction. It is easy to spot as there are stunning window decals. There’s plenty of parking at the front and rear. What strikes you first is how light and airy, clean and new everything is. The colour palette of greys is calming. The walls are accented by cute characters who all have their own story to tell. On the build up to the opening day the owners introduced each character which was a wonderful friendly way to engage children and adults. The staff were very welcoming. There were a large number of staff – I counted at least ten so we were dealt with efficiently. It cost £4.50 for each child, which we paid by contactless which was handy. The garden theming is everywhere from the window decals, to the leaves on the soft play area or the tables with their wood grain effect surfaces. Zingy accents of orange and lime green are provided by the tables and chairs. There were stacks of wooden high chairs. Rosie and Toby couldn’t wait to get their shoes off and explore. The soft play area is for under 10’s only. The main soft play frame has two areas – for over 4’s and the main more challenging area is for under 4’s. The Under 4’s area has two small slides; large mirror; scramble net bridge and large balls to push and sit on. The main 4+ soft play frame is 3 storeys high and is packed full of play experiences. There is a large spiral slide, a long bumpy slide; ‘zip wire’ button rides; rollers; climbing wall and more. At the rear is a football pitch with basketball net. To the side is a separate baby area with sensory experiences. There is a glowing tube; safety mirrors; a small circular ball pit and exploratory panels in the walls. This is the only ball pit in the area which probably was a sensible decision as small balls take a lot of cleaning! We loved that you can see straight through the soft play, so it’s not difficult to spot your child. The main seating area had a good mix of small and large tables. There were two long tables with benches and a couple of square tables to seat 8 (which could be split up). There are approx 20 tables in total all numbered using small wooden stumps. Obviously everything is brand spanking new, but the staff were regularly checking and cleaning the toilets and hoovering under tables. What really threw me was that the toilets are labelled “girls” and “boys”. Once inside the toilets all have doors, so that adults can look over the top. This totally unnerved me, so I washed my hands, and slunk out of the toilet thinking I had made a big mistake by choosing the wrong toilets. However, there were no obvious ‘adult’ toilets and the only other option was the disabled toilet! Lunch cost just over £25 for us all. The children had children’s lunch bags. We were delighted that they are very geared up to gluten free food. The owner has a friend has a child who is gluten free, so had tested cakes out before hand to ensure they were child friendly! They did white bread, bread cakes and wraps without seeds!! Hurray! We constantly get excited at gluten free bread on a menu but then find it’s covered in seeds and therefore not Rosie friendly! Rosie had the choice of three cakes so she was happy. The menu is set to expand but at present there’s snack sandwiches, paninis, jacket potatoes, spaghetti hoops with toast or soldiers, picky bits of vegetables and hummous etc. There were delicious cakes and tiny cupcakes too. The owners promise that there won’t ever be a deep fat fryer! The kids meals arrive in a paper bag which could be used as a ‘plate’, but a small plate would have been useful. The adults had paninis but the children’s food didn’t arrive for a while after, and so the paninis were cold by the time the kids got theirs. We loved how the grapes in the fruit pot were cut in half lengthways. A small detail but noted and applauded! The Secret Garden hosts parties in their hidden treehouse. This is accessed by stairs although these are fairly shallow so easy to climb. The children will get 45 minutes use of the treehouse at the end of their play session, and there music and the potential for games at the end. There’s a choice of four party time slots. At present the party times are shared with public opening times but there is demand for private parties so hopefully they will start doing them after hours soon. The downside of having the party in the treehouse, apart from the stairs, is that if you have another child, (who probably wants tea too) you have to decide which child to stay with, and the child attending the party will probably go to the treehouse alone. Babies would need carrying up. Other than the treehouse, accessibility is good. There is a ramp up to the front door , and a ramp down one side of the soft play to the football pitch, which has a ramp up into the soft play. There are a couple of steps down to the main soft play area entrances which is worth noting more for a toddler or baby who may fall down them. We had concerns about two fire doors directly out of the soft play area which can be opened by a pressing on a pushbar. One goes straight into the car park (next to a busy main road) and the other door is hidden behind the door by the steps to the Treehouse. Both are out of adult sight and a fair running distance from the tables! The doors are alarmed and a staff member is designated to run immediately to the doors if the alarms sounds. However, even the most reactive person would take a few seconds to get to the door and stop a running child….. We did raise this with the lovely owner, and she says unfortunately they could do nothing about making the actual door safer, although she did say she would look into some adult accessible fencing, even if it was just to slow an escapee down. There is free wifi which is a bonus for parents who need to juggle home and work life, or who simply don’t want to twiddle their thumbs for a couple of hours! We spent a total of 3 hours at The Secret Garden, and the children were not bored at any point. They would have stayed longer, however, we had to leave. We will definitely be back, and we are planning on having Toby’s birthday party here next year. Originally Posted 17.9.2017

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