The great thing about meeting up with mates and their kids is – you get to play with the kids, serving the double purpose of taking them off their parents' hands for a little while and getting to have a go on the toys that no unaccompanied adult would be allowed anywhere near.
When I was a lass, there were none of these soft play areas, bouncy castles and CBeebies. We made do with cardboard boxes, sticky-back plastic and dad's old shirt. But times have changed and kids have much cooler toys. The continuing dreadful weather put paid to our planned riverside walk and barbecue with Amber and Sam. Instead, we burst through the soft-padded gates of Explore, tucked away in the rafters of Xscape, the real-snow snowdome in Castleford.
Naturally we've never been upstairs there. We're normally heading for the slopes to be charged exorbitant amounts of money to trundle up and down man made snow in temperatures colder than any slope I've ever been on. So what a bonus to find a whole new playground – and adults go FREE!
No sooner were we thrust into the multi-coloured cacophany, where the noise level was at eleven, than shoes were cast aside and Amber and Sam were joining what looked like a moving wall of children. I'm quite touched that they do read this blog sometimes, they call me StripeyAnne. Noel has become Mole, which I think quite suits him.
Amber, who is full of fearless energy came dashing back
– Can StripeyAnne come with us?!
StripeyAnne could indeed. No crag climbing prepared me for the tiny holes I had to clamber through or netting I had to bounce off to avoid squashing toddlers. We found ourselves at the top of what looked like a Black Hole. Suddenly I was alone. They'd gone down, I had to follow. No-one told ME it was a corkscrew slide designed for people half my size and weight. I'm sorry to say a tiny expletive came out as I hit the first curve in the darkness, followed by a few more as my nylon shirt set the static going. I must have looked like a bolt of lightening as I exited at speed, hair standing on end, sparks flying from my finger ends.
I staggered back to the grown-ups hoping the kids wouldn't notice I'd chickened out…..