Thursday, 11 October 2012

Child friendly and good food? You''ll be lucky.

Today I decided to take my lovely offspring to Peter Barrett's Garden Centre, they could play delightfully on the soft play whilst I ordered lunch and sipped my decaf Latte (I can't tolerate caffeine since having children)..perfect.

I parked the car with relative ease, plenty of car parking despite there being only three parent and baby spaces and a ridiculous high proportion of disabled spaces. On route to the restaurant we passed the colourful displays and were instantly drawn to the Christmas displays by three exceptionally large Polar bears, Reindeer and Penguins which moved far too convincingly- even their chests heaved which was a bit much in my opinion. Still, clever marketing on Barrett's behalf as it took my thirty minutes to remove my children from the deliciously sparkling decorations.

Into the cafe we go and I am instantly drawn to the prices. How much? The children's packed lunch box seemed like the best option so in went a cheese sandwich (noting that there was no other option) and some other bits that children love to eat. I struggled very much so with my tray, two year old and three year old and a long queue as the seating area is quite vast, therefore there is little possibility of leaving the children sat at a table whilst you do the hunter/gather thing.

On purchasing my items I was asked whether I wanted to use the soft play, I replied with a puzzled 'yes?' and was told that would be further three pound, I got a lovely wrist band for my money and was told that the children had one hour to eat their lunch and fill their playboots with soft play. One hour? £1.50 per child for one measly hour in a soft play area with the proportions of my living room? I paid the money of course, bitterly and sat down to endure one hour over over-crowded, noisy and stressful 'play'. There is no option of value here- no free play with every adult meal or free drink when you pay to play, Mr Barret is rubbing his hands with satisfaction as he greedily consumes your money.

I would like to say that the food cancelled out any grievance- it did not. One would think that a cheese sandwich was save- nope. Stale and flavourless. The menu is over priced and tasteless, perhaps this is why Barrett likes to target the elderly as their taste buds are no longer working. Once a local landmark for having a great outdoor play area, all that is left now is two swings and some dog kennels of which my children took a great liking too. At the far end of the outdoor displays are a few sheds. Do not let your children explore alone, these shed are marked as being up for sale and are unlocked but machinery  can be found inside which could do serious damage to curious fingers.

The toilets are adequate. The changing facilities are adequate  I suppose, though the area is somewhat neglected. The bin was emitting terrible smells which gave away the fact that it had not been emptied for sometime (in an airless room).

Peter Barrett- Great for over-priced gardening related items, displaying a large selection of Christmas goodies and for taking your ninety-nine year old Mother for a Sunday lunch as she can't taste it- a complete rip off for parents with bad food, neglected facilities and a over-priced play area with a time limit. My advice if you have children and taste buds is to stay well away.

I am beginning my mission to find the best places to take children in the North East and Yorkshire whilst shaming the ones that belong in the Victorian age- children should be seen and heard and fed good healthy food! Amen.