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While working as a nursery nurse, my colleague came in and asked if I had heard about the new fantastic play centre which she had read about in the paper the night before. As it happened I had. I read about a playcentre which would have soft play climbing area's, ball pools, slides, a wibbly Farm with soft shapes like weebles, and a village where children could ride round in little cars and have pretend play. There would also be a cafe and seating area as well as facilities to have parties etc. It sounded Fab. So when Eilidh was 18 months and walking my friend and I decided to take the girls and see what this jelly club was all about.
Located in Peffermill Road in Edinburgh, The Jelly Club can be found in the old Jolly Giant Toy Store. It is well signposted but please watch that you watch were you are going or you may get lost in the industrial estate.
It was a dump to say the least but the idea was a good one. But in 2002 about 6 months later we heard it was closed for refurbishment. So just after it reopened we went for a visit.
They had changed the entrance to where the exit had been and now people couldn't just walk in as they had been able to before. They had to go in and pay before they would be buzzed in. There isn't much room in between the front door and the buzzer door. So if it's raining and there is a queue expect to get wet. The prices I always felt was expensive. The last time we went it was £3.50 for Murray for 2 hours play and £4.50 for Eilidh. That works out at £8 before you've even set foot in the place. I believe nurseries and toddler groups who pre book get a discount making it much cheaper for them to all go. The Jelly club opens at 10.30am every day and close at 6.30pm. The last entry is at 5.30pm. They also do night time opening after 6.30pm to youth clubs and groups and this must be prebooked.
Once you are in the door, on your left is the Cafe. The menu used to be more varied but seems
to have been cut down. Chips feature heavily, but I believe baked potatoes and sandwiches as well as hot filled rolls are available. There is a variety of biscuits and cakes too. Hot and Cold drinks are available too. There is a good deal of a jug of juice with as many cups as you need for under £2. This works out well if you are in a big group. The food is better when ordered early rather than at busy times as a few times we have had a long wait for food. I once ordered Chicken Caesar Salad. I was not impressed to get lumps of chicken in a dressing and 2 small pieces of lettuce 3 cherry tomatoes which were sliced in half and no cucumber. Since then I have stuck to bacon rolls and Chips. Kids meals are huge. Probably better to share 1 meal between 2 children. The meals are expensive compared to other places in Edinburgh. I wouldn't mind the expense if the meals were worth it but they aren't and you are better off heading to either Fort Kinnard or Cameron Toll for a better choice of food.
The seating area is very modern chairs but often you find that there are not enough chairs per table or the tables are just too small. They are an improvement on the previous plastic garden furniture that they had but not enough thought has been put into the seating areas and a lot of improvement could be made.
The softplay sort of interlink. The little ones have a big area with shutes and a ball pool at the back in which children who are little enough can disappear and have you in a mad panic. There is also many little tikes toys in here such as different sized slides, seesaws, and a soft play with lots of funny shapes. It is very nice but I find it better to supervise Murray at all times due to the amount of unruly children who are left to run wild while their parents stand outside and have a ciggie. Surely you can manage to have a ciggie in rota's while one person supervises the kids.
The older ones have a large area which a couple of the bridges run over the younger ones area. Eilidh has managed this big area from when she was 2. The recommended age is 4! But she was more than capable when she out grew the under 3's bit as it was no longer challenging. The Jelly Club also have right at the back of this area a huge slide which is basically a large drop. There are various twisty slides but this one is only open at certain times and are for children over the age of 7, so we have never tried it out but it scares me too see it. The rest of the area is various climbing levels with slides coming down from them and bridges.
On the opposite side of the softplay and climbing area is a mini village. The background is a village type setting with a phone box and shop fronts. There are around 20 different pedal cars and vehicles. These are no longer allowed to be pushed meaning that younger ones who need help don't really get the help and encouragement which they need. Children must also wear shoes in this area. Unfortunately at busy times fights over the cars can break out causing major problems.
As well as all these play area's, there are 2 bouncy castles. 1 aimed at 2-6 years and one aimed at 6-12 years. Both can get very busy and the older ones castle has an entrance and exit but you can't actually see what is going on inside. A lot of screaming comes from it so I prefer Eilidh to go on the younger one. There is never anyone supervising the bouncy castles so it can be manic.
Birthday parties can be hosted. 2 hours of fun but no party host is provide. You have about an hour of play followed by 45 minutes of hot or cold food and juice and then the birthday cake and finally more play. You have specially reserved tables and you must supervise the children at all times. The party food is provided upstairs in a very basic area and nothing too exciting about it apart from all these tables. I was quite disappointed when Eilidh went to a party here and I stayed. It was like the children were on a conveyor belt the way the food got flung at them and no help was offered up here. The hosts parents had to do it all. Party bags can be added on at a cost, but it is about £5.99 per head now.
The toilets are clean but not exactly exciting. The baby change is in the female toilets and no nappy mat is provided, just a hard surface. The sinks are high up too which mean that little ones need help in washing their hands. There is a disabled toilet and Mens but never used either.
There are lots of highchairs available but carry wipes to clean it down as everyone we have used has been disgusting. The staff are very young which is something which worries me. I like to see a variety of age ranges working in a childrens setting and the staff all seem to be teenagers who couldn't care less. We once visited and for the whole of our 2 hour visit a jug of juice lay on the floor despite numerous requests from parents for it to be cleaned up. The staff just didn't care, giving me the feeling that the Jelly Club is run for it's profit and not really with the children in mind. I e-mailed a complaint concerning the Caesar salad and never received a reply. I phoned and had the phone put down on me. Also since the first time I have visited everytime it rains, the roof leaks. Instead of actually getting the roof mended they stick buckets underneath. I think that this is disgraceful considering the type of centre which it is meant to be. I'm waiting on a serious accident to happen. In theory the idea is excellent and with the correct management and enthusiastic staff, the Jelly Club would work Brilliantly. But unfortunately, the profit seems to be a bigger concern. I believe they have opened another one in Glasgow. I hope that is better run. There is a website but it hasn't been updated for 2 years. But it is somewhere else to go when the kids could do with burning off some energy.