Monday, 17 December 2012

{Snow, Santa & Sledging - Xscape Glasgow}

I was very kindly invited to take the kids along to Xscape for the morning to check out their soft play area, Gambado, visit Santa at his grotto on the slopes and have a bite to eat at the newly refurbished Bar Varia cafe.

I'd never taken the kids to Xscape before, so I was interested to see what it was like for young children (bearing in mind my little ones are 3 years and 1.5 years). I invited their dad along to join us for the morning. He was yet to take them to see Santa, and I thought he would appreciate the experience (and I also was thinking that I'd need a spare pair of hands to keep on top of the two kiddies in such a busy complex). He is also of the opinion that we should spend time together with the children even though we are not a couple anymore, whereas I feel the opposite - more on this later!

Anyway, on with the review! Xscape is great in terms of its location - easy to get to from the motorway and we got parked with no issues (we visited on Sunday and arrived shortly after 9.30am).

This was my first time at Gambado, and I have to admit I wasn't overly impressed. I think perhaps this may be down to the ages of my little ones, as the soft play area was so spread out that I had to keep moving around to keep track of the location of them! No sitting around to enjoy my cup of tea!! We purchased some breakfast rolls from the cafe... the service was poor, the two rolls took 20 minutes to arrive and they managed to get the order wrong too. There were a lot of ride-on machines located in the centre which you had to pay for (cue shouts from son for 'more pennies please') and I found my two spent more time climbing on these than in the actual soft play sections.

On a positive note however, the go-karts were great fun (no extra fee was needed either) and my 3 year old had a blast on the blue motorbike, and he did have a couple of shots on the massive slide which he also loved!! I particularly liked the sensory area and the role play area with dressing up clothes, kitchen etc.

I wouldn't be comfortable taking the kids there on my own, I would definitely need an extra pair of hands for assistance! I'm sure though that the soft play would be great for parents of slightly older children that are a bit more independent. My son did proclaim that it was the best soft play ever!

Trying out the arcade games!

On the go-karts!!

After Gambado, we rushed along to the Snow Factor to be met by Santa's elves. There was an area set-up in Bar Varia where we could colour pictures of Santa and write our letters to him whilst waiting for our turn. We didn't wait long before being taken then onto the slopes to Santa's grotto. We had a family photograph taken with Santa (slightly awkward!) and then I sledged with my son back down to the centre with our gift stockings in tow! I think the Santa at Eden Mill was better (less rushed) but this experience was made more special by the fact that we were on the snow (& I secretly loved the sledging part afterwards!). 

Checking out the snowman on the way to the grotto.

Sledging after our Santa visit!!! (hopefully this works ok - my first video on my blog!!)

We then had half an hour or so to wait before lunch was served at the Bar Varia cafe. The staff were great though and brought us over colouring sheets and crayons to keep the kids amused. As soon as it got a bit nearer midday, our waitress came over to take our order (without me having to ask her, which was fab - very impressed with the staff) and our food arrived really promptly. I ordered a chicken burger with chorizo, and it was yum.

Lunch :-)

No relaxing lunch for me then!!

Overall, we had a lovely morning and although I may not take the kids back to Gambado until they're a bit older, I would certainly go back to the Bar Varia cafe and check out all the other activities that are available at Xscape (bowling, cinema etc).

That afternoon I was kiddie-free and I left the kids to spend the rest of their Sunday at their dad's house. Thankfully my daughter was asleep, but I had to leave my son screaming for me not to go. I'm of the opinion that by spending time with their dad I'm just confusing them and that we should be doing activities like this separately. I don't understand why he seems to think it's better for us to do things as a 'family'. Yes, when they are older and understand the situation we might be able to do things together, but for the moment I think it's a bad idea. Having to leave a screaming child has just reinforced this. When we have a swift business-like changeover there are not normally that many tears and/or tantrums. 

What are your thoughts, and have you checked out the activities on offer at Xscape?

The morning of activities was organised for me and we received free entry into Gambado, our visit to see Santa and lunch as part of the review. As always, opinions are my own.


  1. I think that there's no right or wrong answer. I can totally understand why you would feel the way you do, especially if your little boy is distressed when you leave. That said, I work in a nursery and have a couple of kids who get very worked up as their parents prepare to leave and are literally fine before their parents have even left the building. It sounds to me like your son is doing the same thing, it's a desperate action to cause immediate action from his parents. Does that make sense?

    I split from my first husband when my eldest was 9 months and he's 11 now and I have to say that all the effort to be amicable while he was young has paid off now. Even when my ex and I weren't getting along, we managed to put it aside for F and he now has a sense of autonomy and is able to make decisions about where he wants to spend his time knowing that we will both support him along with his stepparents.

    Rambly way of saying - I think you have to go with what works for you & yours, bearing in mind your plans for the future with your ex. If you're resolute that you two are finished then why prolong the inevitable? But if you would contemplate reuniting then joint parenting makes sense.


    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment :-)

      Yeah, I guess he just knows how to pull at my heart strings, and it's more a manipulative thing rather than him being truly upset.

      It's definitely over. But is there a benefit to us doing activities as co-parents together for the children? I'm clueless about this and I would like to try and do the right thing for them. We're civil when we're together and we don't fight or anything in front of them. (not even sure that makes sense - I'm the rambler, not you!) x

    2. Well over the years we've definitely had to face F manipulating us ("Oh, Mum lets me do x" and that kind of thing) so doing joint activities presented a united front to try and demonstrate to him that we talk to one another? That said, I can't remember the last thing we did together although my ex comes in for a blether when he drops F home.

      For me, I think if you're comfortable doing things with your ex then that's fine but if you're not, the kids will pick up on it. They're bizarrely astute - try unwrapping a sweet and see how long it takes for one to be at your side ;)

  2. That was one of the Santa experiences I was thinking of taking BB to but the thought of going out there this late on petrifies me!

    1. You book in advance... I'd give them a call and see if there are spaces left. It was a rather rushed experience though and I think if I had paid the £30 (it's £15 per child) I would have been disappointed. The sledging part was great fun though!! Not sure where else there is to go. Really disappointed that House of Fraser didn't have one on the basis of the rave reviews from your visit last year.

  3. I agree with some of what Vonnie has said, your little one was probably fine after you left, my daughter could be horrendous when friends and family left the house or even just if I bumped intomy friends in the street and had a chat. From my experience being able to do things was definitely a positive thing, although at first I didn't think it was a good idea (and I did always and sometimes still do think that I was always right when it came to the kids) an extra pair of hands is always helpful and mine loved having their daddy around. You and the dad have common ground and a common goal - your kids. I found that I could do more with the kids with the support of their dad and didn't want them (or me) to miss out because we weren't together. Presenting a united front is important IMHO and doing things together will make it easier to work together for the good of the kids in the future. (p.s. I'm a bit of a rambler too!) Kelly x

    1. Just realised I didn't reply to this comment - sorry Kelly. Thank you. I'm in still in two minds about it if I'm honest. Really struggling to decide what's best.

  4. Nice to find another Glasgow mummy who blogs! We have been to Gambado and my wee man loves it. I like the separate toddler area actually as I can just leave him to it there and he does not feel intimidated by the bigger kids on the other one. Saying that we usually end up on the other one and I get dragged about it. I don't mind though as I enjoy experiencing things with him so don't miss the cup of tea.

    1. I find it really difficult on my own with the kids at larger soft plays because one will run off in one direction, and the other will go the opposite. Like you, I'm keen to go round with them and experience it too but my littlest is far too small for the big kids areas and my eldest is bored in the areas for the tiny tots.


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