Welcome to another Southampton Swing Watch – a waffly series of posts that will one day perhaps constitute a directory of my local playareas.
Where: Cobden Meadows Playarea, Riverside Park, Nursery Road. SO18 1PQ
Riverside Park is a large park that stretches for quite a length of the River Itchen. It has not one, not two but THREE playareas (I’ll try and get to all three at some point!) as well as a pitch & putt, a model railway, tennis courts, a pretend road, skate park and probably lots of other delights that I am yet to explore.
Website: No specific website for the playarea but links to the park generally include
Southampton City Council Riverside Park info
Friends of Riverside Park
Southampton Society of Model Engineers (for the railway)
Parking: For Cobden Meadows there is a good-sized car park on Nursery Road which is an easily missed lane just next to Bitterne Park Social Club, off Manor Farm Road.
Refreshments: Cobden Meadows is near to the glorious hub of Bitterne Park Triangle – a small collection of shops and cafés (including a microbrewery) with Southampton’s famous ‘willy-winky’ (wonky) clock. There’s also a pretty good bakery – I can vouch for the quality of the scones – the perfect refreshments for a joint 1st and 30th birthday party.
Toilet facilities: as above
Age groups catered for: The playarea seems targeted to older children. That’s not to say there isn’t good entertainment value for the littleys but no traditional equipment for very small people.
There’s a distinctly nautical theme to the equipment – think less bobbing sailboats and more swashbuckling pirates.
– Three lookouts over the River Itchen provide great fodder for the imagination.
– A wide slide leads down to the level play area with some extraordinary rope climbing frames – one of which actually spins round, it’s all terribly exciting.
– The swing section has NO toddler swings, but one normal swing, one net swing and a hanging rope/cage affair that brings to mind some unsavoury medieval punishment.
– In the corner there are a couple of other net things – one bounces and one spins
– Finally, and perhaps most unusually, there seems to be the inside drum of a washing machine for some sort of workout/play activity.
Our ‘offical’ Swing Watch visit
We arrived in a downpour. It was wet, really wet, in fact it was ‘I think we should drive back home Mummy’ sort of wet. But, hey ho, only a shower and I had packed a towel to dry the equipment, and actually my son really needs to become a bit less crickety about rain and bit more weatherproof.
Once the worst of the shower had passed we set out and wandered past the train track which looked like it could be a really nice little activity for a Sunday afternoon in the future:
And we were in…
First stop the ship’s lookout for views of walkers, boats, black swans and something industrial in the distance:
The slide was bypassed (too wet apparently)…
And we instead slid on foot down the grassy/rubber slopes to investigate the first of the rope climbing frames:
Once we had decided it was a bit too big to tackle it was time to check out the round nets in the corner. One bounces and one spins, quite marvellous, in my opinion:
Suspicion gave way to fun in the roundabout one but disappointingly no amount of coercion got my son into the bouncy one. Spoilsport.
In fairness he had spotted the swings. My son is a serious swing user –he can swing for HOURS. Even longer with a view, and there’s certainly a view from these swings…looking over the Cobden Bridge provides high entertainment value for a lorry, bus, motorbike loving little person.
The lack of a toddler swing meant he really mastered grown-up swinging facing the bridge and, oh yes, facing the other way too.
Part way through the interminable swing session I got tired and crashed out in the net swing which was one of the most comfortable I have ever tried.
After much coaxing we headed away from the swings and had a brief play pretending we were a ship’s Captain on this rather fabulous spinning climbing frame…
…before a stop at the pièce de résistance – the washing machine roundy thing. I am quite sure I have missed the point with this piece of equipment. If anyone wants to enlighten me of its purpose please do!
Overall I think this is a sweet little park – unfortunately it’s a bit cronky in places with a plethora of duct tape and a great deal of rubbish which is always sad…unless you’re my son in which case rubbish is an endless source of fascination and conversation.
You may think that rubbish and duct tape, combined with the lack of toddler-aimed play equipment, would result in Cobden Meadows being a fairly unpromising playarea for a very small person BUT the setting and the opportunities for imaginative play mean that we have enjoyed a number of lovely visits here.
But forget what I think – I’m handing over to the official Swing Watch adjudicator and his verdict was delivered on departure ‘I love this playground Mummy’.