October Birthdays (2)

Saturday, October 20, 2007 1:43 | Filed in Life, Local Interest, The Pickards

It’s my big ‘un, BTP’s birthday this weekend.

Last weekend we had a combined party for him and SWP at a place called The Giant’s Den, which is one of those warehouse jobbies full of soft play equipment where parents can sit and have a cup of coffee while the cacophony created by a horde of screaming children frays their nerves and deafens them.

No, it’s not my ideal place — how did you guess? — but the kids love it. It is absolutely brilliant for the kids.

So we booked a joint birthday party for the two kids there this year. We’d had a party there three years ago (back when we only had child singular) and it was really well organised and I couldn’t praise them enough then for how good the party had been, so I possibly had unreasonably high expectations for the party this time.

But they still managed to meet, and exceed, my expectations. Firstly, there was a 45 minute session with the children having an absolutely fantastic time playing on the soft play equipment (and various parents running around behind them, armed only with phrases like “stop throwing those plastic balls at your brother”, “not up there, it’s too high”, or “where’s the little bugger got to now?”).

It was a bit weird, ‘cos our kids are in day nursery three days a week, and we’d invited some of the other children from there, whom ours play with, and I recognised all the kids, but they were obviously also accompanied by various parents, approximately one of whom I recognised. He’s called “Lewis’s Dad”.

I’m fairly sure that’s not the name he was given as a child, but it’s the one he’s got now and he seems happy enough to answer to it, so that’ll do!

Castle Cake

Anyway, after the 45 minutes of mayhem, all the children were made the stand in a line and march through to the “Castle Room”, where the latest of the “Grandma Jenny Cakes” collection was revealed: the Castle Cake.

But there was one more surprise before it was time for the kiddies to chow down on their grub: the animal man.

Obviously, I don’t mean that there was some kind of half-human, half-animal hybrid like some 19th Century freakshow, I mean that we’d arranged for a bloke to come and bring in animals for the kids to hold, and pet, and look at. Well, it makes a change from a magician, doesn’t it?

mice on a string

For some reason, some of the kids seemed a bit nervous about this. Which is daft, really. I mean, what’s to be frightened of about a couple of mice crawling along a string?

But it wasn’t just mice; no, the animal man (also known as Steve from Party Animals Newcastle) also brought along some rabbits for the kids to pet; some gerbils for the kids to pet (and generally try to run away everywhere), some guinea pigs for the kids to pet, a chinese hamster called noodle (who appeared to be on a ‘vibrate’ setting when placed in my hand) and so on.

He also had some rats, which I’ve got to admit I was a little prejudiced against. Not because they were rats — these were lovely clean rats that had never seen the inside of a sewer — but because they were named Phil and Grant after characters from Eastenders. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

And then we got to the more interesting animals.

Tarantula on person's head

There were two tarantulas — one of which is pictured here on the head of one of the party co-ordinator from the Giant’s Den who was absolutely fantastic on the day, as well as being remarkably cool about having a tarantula placed on her head. Then again, the GLW had a tarantula placed on each trouser leg after being daft enough to volunteer for it, and apart from grimacing somewhat and seemingly trying to move the entire rest of her body as far away from her legs as possible otherwise suffered no ill effects.

I bet she’d have reacted somewhat if they’d suddenly started crawling up her, though.

Then there was a frog, some lizards, some tiny snakes — corn snakes, I think — which were about the size of a worm. Well, a small worm, anyway. They were tiny, with bodies possibly even thinner than a standard pencil. Then there was a slightly bigger snake, and then of course a boa constrictor which obviously we had to let the one of the birthday boys wear.

boa contrictor

I had a go of the boa constrictor too (I don’t like spiders, but I don’t mind snakes), and had to admit that it was quite comfortable and slightly warm to wear it around my neck. If it wasn’t for the nagging feeling that it would wind itself round and well, constrict when I was least expecting it, I’d be quite happy to wear one all the time.

[Hmm: I wonder if you can get thin ones you can wrap round your neck and pretend that they are a tie?]

And, after about an hour of having various animals handed round a circle of small children, that was it; while the animal man packed his animals away, everyone else washed their hands headed in the direction of the food!

If you’re thinking of having a party in the North East, and want something a little different, I’d suggest you consider the Party Animals idea. The kids loved it, the adults loved it, and it was a talking point well into the next week of nursery.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go for a lie down. I’ve got two more children’s parties to attend tomorrow and I need to conserve my energy…

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4 Comments to October Birthdays (2)

  1. mark fairlamb says:

    October 22nd, 2007 at 10:47 am

    we take ours to giants den at every opportunity.
    when our lass first suggested it i recoiled at the thought of being waste – deep in snot-nosed children, but once we got there we had fun trying to keep up with the little man, taking it in turns so one of us could have a cup of tea.
    now he’s big enough to go and get into trouble on his own we’ve got the little lady to dump – sorry, i mean amuse – in the ball pools.
    plus you know if you take them there for a couple of hours you’ll have a quiet afternoon as they’ll both be in the land of nod in the car on the way back.
    plus giants den sells booze now!

  2. louise(mum of two) says:

    March 10th, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    I have never before heard of entertainment like the ‘animal man’. Unfortunatly I don not live anywhere near you guys, but I have every intention of looking to see if there is something similar I can get hold of. Always interested to hear about good party ideas, however good the clown or magician, there are only soo many times as a parent one can sit through the act and still seem interested….

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