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Qype: Kidspace in Croydon

Croydon

Kidspace is a big indoor play area, with plenty of variety of things to do, such as a ball area (not a ball pit), mini-golf, (very slow) go karts, trampolines and the like.

Let me qualify this review upfront by saying that if you come here when the older kids are at school, this place would probably get four stars. It’s definitely one of the better play areas out there, in terms of equipment, albeit a lot more expensive.

Kidspace seems ill-equipped to cope with any decent number of visitors, however. On our last visit there, the queue just to place an order for food was massive, and the wait actually to receive the food was ridiculous. Anyone who’s got a young child knows that it’s a nightmare keeping them waiting for food, and there were a lot of stressed out parents that lunchtime. It’s a shame, because the food isn’t all that bad, but it’s unacceptable to be waiting nearly an hour for it.

I wonder if they’re very short-staffed here because the receptionist certainly shouldn’t have been working. She seemed to be suffering from a throat infection that she helpfully tried to share with everyone by coughing and spluttering over the parents and children. Lovely Christmas present, that.

There doesn’t seem to be anyone around to even keep an occasional eye on events in the play area. The under-5s area was invaded on several occasions by older kids, who proceeded to run amok and hurt several of the younger children. The system on the gate to the under-5s area, where the button is placed high up supposedly so that only parents can get to it, is about as useful as a chocolate teapot, since the gate is opened so often it might as well not be there.

It’s a shame, because Kidspace has the potential to be a really great place to bring the kids, but you have to really pick and choose your visits and hope that it’s not too busy.
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Qype: Costco in Croydon

Croydon

Flippin’ huge warehouse of cash & carry stuff that carries an impressively wide range of goods, with varying discounts on the prices you would see on the high street (or even online). You need to sign up (and pay) to be a member to shop here – you qualify for membership if you run or manage a business, or if you work in a certain profession, e.g. bean-counting.

Check out the Costco website to see the full list of types of stuff they sell, but suffice to say you could drive up here and leave your car to get its tyres changed, then go inside to get your photos developed while you take your massive trolley round the store, filling it with a MacBook Pro, an electronic piano, a vacuum cleaner, a platter of sushi, and a rump of lamb. If the car’s not quite done, sit down and get yourself a pizza or pie at the in-store cafe.

While the variety of stuff available is impressive, the range on offer can be limited, so don’t expect to find absolutely everything here. For example, there were only a couple of Wii games on offer during my visit – Mario Kart and Guitar Hero World Tour.

Probably the best discounts on offer are in the fresh meat department. The beef and lamb are British, although Costco could probably do more to provide more information on the provenance of the meat, since the initial assumption is that cheap meat can only have come from badly treated livestock.
Check out my review of Costco – I am logorrhoea – on Qype

Qype: Clippers in Redhill

RedhillBeauty & WellnessHairdressers

You can get a decent haircut here for a bargainous £8.95, which would be enough to earn 5 stars in itself, but you also get decent conversation from a barber who manages more than the usual ‘what are you doing this weekend’ and ‘did you see the football’ clichés.

I’ve defected here from The Complete Barber Shop near Redhill station because the last couple of times I’ve been there, the haircut’s been perfunctory and the barber seemingly so disinterested that he hasn’t even bothered getting the mirror out so I can see how he’s cut the back.
Check out my review of Clippers – I am logorrhoea – on Qype

Qype: China China Restaurant in London

London

You should expect low standards from an ‘all you can eat’ buffet (you are putting quantity over quality, after all), but this failed to meet even my extremely low expectations.

Prawn crackers were chewy (how on earth?!), the veg completely overstewed, and the pork spare ribs were more like sparse ribs, devoid of all but the most miniscule amount of meat, which was virtually incinerated anyway.

Now, you could say that I shouldn’t expect any better, but the quality of the cooking here doesn’t help the ingredients. Just because the ingredients are cheap doesn’t mean you can’t cook them properly.

The final insult is the £1 ‘optional’ service charge stuck on the bill. Yep, a service charge for a ‘help yourself’ buffet? Beyond cheeky.
Check out my review of China China Restaurant – I am logorrhoea – on Qype

Qype: Wacky Warehouse in Horley

Horley

Wow, this place is horrific.

We came here for a birthday party and had to fight our way in while another party was leaving, which is the first warning sign that they just pack ’em in here. The second warning sign is the uncleared and uncleaned tables – they’re either operating on a quick turnaround that isn’t conducive to good hygiene or else they’re just too lazy or understaffed to clean up properly.

The children’s soft play area is divided into two sections: one for under 5s, one for over 5s. However, the equipment is so limited that the over 5s charge into the under 5s section for some variety, and end up pushing the younger kids around.

You’d hope the parents might do something about it, but they’re too busy yakking with each other and not giving a monkey’s what their kids are up to. That might be ok if, as advertised, there was any staff monitoring the play areas, but the only staff around when we visited were too busy flogging sugary snacks and drinks. There was absolutely no evidence of any staff keeping an eye on the play areas.

Security here is also non-existent. It’s all too easy to walk in without being challenged at all. Given that they’re happy to have more than one party at a time here, it’s not as if you could even rely on the party host noticing gate-crashers. The connection with the pub/restaurant next door means that you can easily walk in through the pub then into the children’s play area, and none of the staff would get in your way.

Avoid like the plague.
Check out my review of Wacky Warehouse – I am logorrhoea – on Qype