Local activities, for local people

Since moving house I haven’t been particularly good at trying out local kids groups, and meeting local people. We have done a lot of stuff but not really in an attempt to make new friends. This week I decided to make an effort and go to a localish group or activity every weekday. 

NB. I’ve included external links for all the groups within the text. I have also added the details of each activity at the bottom of the post. These details are accurate and up to date at the time of posting (28/01/18).  

Charlotte goes to preschool on a Monday morning, and because it’s a slightly broken day with drop-off and then pick-up just 3 hours later, we tend to just hang around at home. However, I spotted a morning group advertised that I thought Benjamin and I could try out. Ready 2 Tumble is held at Launton Village Hall; a little drive from our home and very close to Bicester town centre. The equipment was varied and very clean. The hall is a great size and there’s plenty of space to run around and play. Steph, who runs the session, is lovely and, realising I was new to the group, made an effort to come and speak to me despite the fact she’d had a tricky morning and things weren’t going her way. (I wouldn’t have know if she hadn’t told me. Calm swan on the surface, feet paddling away under the water and all that!)

We haven’t tried out any of the local libraries since we moved. I thought that Bicester Library’s Tuesday rhyme time was worth a shot, especially as I had a few jobs I wanted to do in town anyway. The library itself is lovely. It moved to it’s current location in spring 2016 so everything is still looking modern, fresh and new. The huge open plan library seemed to have plenty of choice of books, lots of self service machine as well as the traditional manned desk and it really is such a welcoming space. 

The rhymetime itself was ok. It didn’t run with quite the same military precision as Reading’s rhymetimes seemed to but it was still enjoyable and included props and musical instruments.   

We have been to the playgroup at Heyford Park a few times, and decided to head that way again this week. It’s a brilliant, volunteer-run group, held in the huge church, with lots of different toys on offer. Some of the toys come out every week, but others are rotated so there is some variety, and always a lot of choice. There’s an hour or so of playing, followed by a story and some nursery rhymes with juice and a biscuit. Not bad at all for a pound! After play and song time, there is the option to stay for lunch. The volunteers request a £1 donation for sandwiches, soup and cake. I’ve never stayed for lunch before but decided to give it a shot this week. Benjamin loved the chunky soup on offer and most definitely enjoyed the lemon meringue cakes my friend Hayley at The Positive Baking Company  provided. A lovely friendly group, and most definitely recommended.

We were meeting up with some Reading based friends on Thursday. We had originally decided to try out the new soft play at Millets Farm  but from their recent social media posts it appears they are struggling with reaching capacity, having to turn people away, and were trialing timed sessions. We thought we'd be best saving Sprouts Play Barn for another day and headed to Snakes and Ladders in Abingdon. It was a good shout. I don’t know whether it’s because the weather was ok for the first time in weeks but it was so so so quiet. I’ve been once before but on a bad weather day so it was understandably a lot busier on that occasion. 

There was excellent play area for under 5s with various ball pits, small play frames, slides, sit and ride toys, 2 mini trampolines, and smaller sections with bricks, cars, and a role play kitchen.  

The large play frame for all ages was great too. Slides in a variety of sizes, plenty to clamber over and through, a football area, ball pit and so much space to run around - especially as we were pretty much the only group in there! I’m not sure who enjoyed it most - and that’s saying something as I usually don’t much like soft play.

We did eat at Snakes and Ladders. It was, typically, expensive for what you got. Just a word of warning about the highchairs. There were the standard Ikea high chairs (minus trays) and a couple of high chairs with trays, which my friend and I grabbed for our 1.5 year old boys. During lunch both boys lost the trays off the chairs. Unfortunately, Benjamin lost his, along with his very expensive fish fingers, chips and sweetcorn, onto the floor. 

Ok, I couldn’t do it. By Friday I had very much run out of local kids activities steam. Benjamin had a Danger Nap on the way home from Snakes and Ladders. You know the ones - fall asleep later than usual in the car, you arrive home and they are still snoozing but you know if you wake them they’ll be grumpy, but if you let them sleep they’ll be awful at bedtime? Well, after said Danger Nap bedtime happened a couple of hours later than usual but he also didn’t wake until about 7.45am. This threw us a bit out of sync. I didn’t want to go too far away as I wanted Benjamin to nap in his cot so that I could use the time to pack for a weekend up north. In the end we popped into Bicester town centre. I had promised Charlotte a new party dress for a 30th we were going to at the weekend. There’s not much choice in town, unless you want to pop to Bicester Village and spend a small fortune - and even then there’s little to no kids choice, but I figured M & Co or even Sainsbury’s might have something. She ended up selecting something from Peacocks and, as a Friday treat, we popped to Costa for a juice and biscuits. A very nice way to round off a busy week.


So, was my week of making local friends a success? I'd say so. I chatted to plenty of new people, I have some new friends coming over for a play date next week, and I'm helping out at one of the groups the week after. We're getting there slowly but surely.

Ready 2 Tumble
Langford Village Hall, 8 Nightingale Place, Bicester, OX26 6XX
Monday 9.30 - 11.00
Thursday 1.00 - 2.30pm

Babies/crawlers £2
Walkers £3.50
Families/childminders £5

Bicester Library Rhymetime
Bicester Library, Franklins House, Wesley Lane, Bicester )X26 6JU
Tuesday 10.00 - 10.30

Heyford Ark
Wednesday 10.00 - 11.30
Term time

Snakes and Ladders
Audlett Drive, OX14 3NJ
Open 7 days a week