Welcome to the first post in my Southampton Swing Watch series – what will probably turn out to be a small but waffly directory of playarea reviews and information of interest to those only in Southampton. Hurray, let’s get started!
Where: St James’ Park, Shirley SO15 5SD
St James’ Park is a small park (I’m not great at spacial awareness but it’s probably bigger than a football pitch, but smaller than a largue cricket pitch) with big entertainment value.
Website: Friends of St James’ Park http://www.fosjp.org.uk
Parking: on road parking – free for 2 hours. It can get busy but I have yet to resort to practising my dormant parallel parking skills, we just sometimes have to walk a bit
Refreshments: on-site café (worth a look – great community hub)
Toilet facilities: in café
Age groups catered for: Toddler through to adults/teens plus two tennis courts
The playing areas are sort of split into three ‘zones’ –
The teens and adults are catered for away from the children’s ‘compound’ (technical term). They have concrete, metal, curvy benches, outdoor gym equipment, a climbing wall, a basketball hoop and a roundy net swing of their own.
The children’s compound is one big area but definitely zoned into two distinct parts with a zip wire and green hillocks for bikes I imagine; a dividing wooden climbing frame with two HUGE metal slides and then the more traditional playarea behind it.
In the playarea section, where with a toddler we spend our time, you’ll find slides, 3 types of swings, a roundabout, a small climbing frame, a little playhouse (with a steering wheel – because every house should have a steering wheel), a bouncy floor, a bouncy running thing and – somewhat randomly – a concrete river complete with a dam that may or may not become a real water feature in the summer…?
The overall effect of adventure is heightened with large stones, ‘mountain paths’, and lots of well-placed foliage such as bamboo and palm trees.
Our ‘official’ Swing Watch visit:
Sunday morning dawned dry and having publicly declared my intention to launch Southampton Swing Watch only the day before I felt I should strike while the iron was hot or while the sun was shining at least.
I underestimated the power of said shining sun and was emphatically chilly on our visit – the playground is mostly shaded by beautiful big trees, so don’t go to bask in the sun while pushing small people on swings.
We headed straight for bouncy running thing and did a few lengths:
We then enjoyed playing house/cars:
Before pretending we were (dry dock) boats:
Followed by habitual bouncy floor peering (the reason for this will become clear in a later post!):
Finally we plucked up the courage to go down the tunnel slide:
On our way back to the car we admired the Southampton frieze on the window of the café and negotiated heavily about when the right time for ice cream is (not at that time, I won).
We got a good 30 – 40 minutes play on the equipment we could manage before my son uttered those immortal words ‘Mummy, where’s the fireman’s pole?’.
Yes my Southampton swing users – this is a great park with varied appeal, good refreshment options, interesting landscaping and a large enough accompanying green space for dogs and ball games, BUT a word of warning there is NO fireman’s pole.