Sprouts Play Barn – the farm-themed soft play extravaganza at Millets Farm – turned one on Friday and threw a big party to celebrate. My two boys (one age 3 and one 5 months) and I were invited along to join in the fun: a morning at Sprouts, lunch and the ice skating on the indoor ice rink at Frosts (the garden centre at Millets). Yes please!
We arrived at 10 and were welcomed with a drink and Mr Sprout himself (a huge fancy dress brussel sprout). Now, I’ve had mixed experiences of soft play in general, but I can truly say a glass of bucks fizz (which I was forced to neck as my son immediately pegged it into the depths of the soft play) set me up very well!
Sprouts is my favourite soft play of the ones we’ve tried in Oxfordshire. Despite being the grand old age of one, it’s still really clean and in excellent condition. I also really like that lots of it is farm-themed – like jumbo carrots and apple trees – and it’s big enough that there’s loads to explore and maintain interest for a whole session.
The ‘imaginative play’ bit is brilliant too: there’s a little shop, butchers, post box, ice cream stall and mechanics complete with soft play tractor.
We haven’t been since before my second was born and I was really pleased to see how much more confident my first was than the last time we went. We spent most of our time between the ball pits and the imaginative play bit. I found a cool little thing for babies too – a sort of downwards tunnel with loads of lights in it. Mesmerising!
As these things matter to parents, I must mention the toilets! They have automatic basins and dryers that are child height. I also saw a sign in the loos that there is a feeding room in Sprouts, complete with a baby weighing machine. How cool is that?! Get all your baby admin done in one go!
After lots more play we were served a lovely lunch and cake, and then headed over to the ice rink for party part two.
I had my baby in the sling which you cannot go on the ice with. Makes perfect sense, if you fell over, the baby would be in pretty big trouble, I just hadn’t thought it through. You can take prams on the ice though so I will definitely be doing that in future.
I was wondering where to deposit my baby. One of the members of staff kindly offered but she was pretty busy with her real job so it didn’t seem fair. Then, as if by magic, a friend appeared – she was there with her family, but sitting out with her youngest while her husband and older child skated… What are the chances?! She very kindly took my baby. I couldn’t believe this stroke of luck and was so excited to spend some one on one time with my oldest.
They’ve got these amazing bright orange plastic seals that your child can either sit on or push. My son, thankfully, just wanted to sit on it which meant I could hold onto the back of the seal and push him. I cannot skate AT ALL but with this seal it would be almost impossible to fall over. I still thought I would fall over, mind, and hung onto the seal so tightly that my forearms are pretty sore today, but it’s about as secure for you and your little person as it gets.
We had so much fun going round the rink together. They were playing Christmas carols and when Fairytale of New York came on, I got that excited-about-Christmas tingle which I very rarely get as generally I’m not a huge fan of it!
My son then pipes up, ‘Why does everyone whoosh past us, Mummy?’ Hahaha! Zing! I asked the lady working there if she would mind whizzing him round the rink a couple of times so he could have a leetle more excitement. She was so sweet and seemed very happy to, and he loved having the wind in his hair!
Ice skating done, we got the baby back from my friend and went next door to the Moose Lodge café for the final part of the birthday festivities – a hot chocolate each and a well earned rest. Lovely.
We then had a good old mooch around the Christmas section of Frosts which is looking amazing and extremely festive. Our favourite thing, closely followed by the singing reindeer, was a miniature Christmas village which has a little glass dome in the middle that kids can look through (hard to describe, think meerkats, see photo!). My son spent AGES in there.
I said he could choose a Christmas tree decoration as a memento of our lovely day out. I then put that one back when he wasn’t looking and got one more in our price range…
THANK YOU so much Sprouts for a very special day out with my boys! It was so much fun and I definitely recommend both Sprouts and the ice skating for guaranteed family fun.
The orange seals ‘skating aids’ are available at all sessions at £4 each – though they limit the number for normal skating sessions. For the ‘Parent and toddler skating sessions’ (Wednesdays at 10am) the seals are included in the price. Ice skates-wise, children are given ones which go on over their shoes.
For more info about Spouts go here, and for the indoor ice rink go here.
Oxford Mumbler’s Christmas listings are here:
Christmas Events and Markets
Christmas Shows and Pantos
Oxford Mumbler is your LOCAL parenting community – a website packed with information for families in and around Oxford. Visit oxford.mumbler.co.uk for everything from what’s on over the holidays, days out, weekly clubs and classes in Oxford, to support groups and services for pregnancy, babies, parents and more. Follow us on Facebook here.