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Billy Badger's Play Den: Moreton Park Hotel (Chirk, North Wales).

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Address: Chirk / Wrexham LL14 5DG

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      01.03.2012 18:50
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      A great place to entertain young children without breaking the bank.

      Where is it? And what's near by?~

      My Granddaughter Olivia and I visited Billy Badgers Play Den recently. It is situated adjacent to Moreton Park Hotel and very close to Moreton Park Garden centre. It is in North Wales on the junction of the A5 and A483 quite close to Oswestry. There is ample free parking close to each of the amenities. There are 'Disabled' spaces close to the entrances and wheelchair access is very good throughout as far as I could see. Nearby Chirk Castle is well worth a look as is Chirk itself and, if you find yourself there on a pleasant Sunday, the car boot sale at the next A5 junction is a must for enthusiasts!

      ~Entranced at the Entrance~

      The play areas are accessed by a corridor from the Hotel and by a door into the corridor from the side car park. The room is roughly circular in shape with table and chairs set around the perimeter and a nice lounging area at one end with two couches and a low table. Courtesy newspapers were available at the entrance. The room is well lit and the bright colours of the play equipment are very welcoming. Olivia, who is two and a half, couldn't wait to explore! To the right of the entrance is the reception and cafe area. I ordered a drink of tea for myself and a child's meal for herself, wondering if I could tear her away from the toys and climbing area long enough to eat it. A friend was meeting me there and as she came in she exclaimed about how pleasant the room was.

      One area towards the back wall was given over to a very nice log cabin play house. I would have loved to play house in there if I was a little one!

      Leading from the main room there was a door to a securely fenced outside play area. It was furnished with picnic bench seating and some play equipment. As it was raining I didn't go out into it but from the windows it looked tidy and expansive.



      ~Acts of Faith!~

      Olivia dove straight in and caused me some anxiety as she started hauling herself up into the tower of the main play structure. It was high and accessed by steps contained in the four supporting corners. The triangular, alternate, corner steps/platforms are cleverly designed so a child has no chance of falling far. I watched her hoist her little self up the first two steps and then she disappeared from view! I could hear a slightly older little girl talking to her and telling her what to do. (Thank Heavens for Mumsy type little girls!) I couldn't see her and was too big to get to her if she got into difficulties.

      I waited for her to re-appear, and then I waited a bit more, hovering anxiously at the bottom of the winding chute type slide that would deliver her to me (I hoped). I could hear her scrabbling about, the tube echoed her movements. After a while I heard a tremulous voice coming from the tube near my feet.

      "Nanna?".

      "It's okay love, I'm here"..........I bent down to call up the tube.

      "Nanna!?? Nannaaaa, I stuck!"

      Hmmmm, don't panic Gill!...........I called up the tube again, trying to sound reassuring

      "You are okay Olivia, you just have to let go, Nanna will catch you!"

      Silence....

      "Just let go Sweetheart!"

      There was dead silence for a while, then a tiny doubtful little voice issued from the tube

      "Okay Nanna".

      Next thing she came sliding sideways to my feet at the bottom of the chute. I was about to pick her up and comfort her for her fright but, laughing with all of herself as only two year olds can do, she jumped up and hurled herself back into the fray. I went and drank my tea to recover. She, the little madam, was as happy as Larry and spent the next fifteen minutes clambering up the steps, bum wriggling ferociously as she pulled herself up and laughing uproariously as she roared down the chute. She absolutely loved it! Never mind that 'Nanna' had aged ten years!

      Scattered around the floor were many children's toys, mostly of the 'sit on and scoot along' variety. I think Olivia tried most of them! She was fascinated by children playing on the see-saw toys too but declined to try them, possibly because she had seen a little girl being tossed off the back of one of them when an over enthusiastic and much bigger sister had plonked herself down on the other end! No harm was done fortunately. Most of the toys look well used and some were a bit dingey but all were clean.


      ~Dining with Badgers-Sett Meals~

      Olivia's sausage and chips arrived delivered by a smiling and helpful member of staff. She asked if we wanted a high chair or anything else and went off to bring another round of very drinkable tea and coffee. Olivia was more than ready to eat and sat down promptly, I had thought that I wouldn't be able to pry her away from the slide but all that mountaineering had given her an appetite. The chips were french fry type and the sausage was good quality, a bottle of soda or juice came with the meal. There were free sauces available to go with it. (and plenty of napkins to remove excess tomato sauce)

      Considering that so many children ate in there, the tables and carpets underneath were spotless. Our table was curiously pockmarked as though it had been used by smokers but, as I said, it was very clean. The staff cleared up as soon as a meal was finished, they were efficient and unobtrusive.

      I particularly like the fact that if you buy a meal the child gets free entrance to the den. The entrance fee for a child is £2.50 the meal cost either £2.99 or £3.99 (I was so diverted by Olivia disappearing up the tower that I can't remember!) so it's a bargain whether you eat there or not. I think £2.50 for a child to be so entertained in such a pleasant clean place is very good value!

      The children's meals included Chicken nuggets (presumably a chicken's nuggets are close to it's Goujons), fish fingers, sausage all served with chips and a drink. There was more on the menu that I don't recall. For adults there was a choice of sandwiches served with salad or chips and some lovely toasties. I had a cheese and onion one and it was full and delicious!

      I might be selling the menu short here because I was distracted! The prices were very reasonable and the service was polite.

      To the left of the reception were the toilets. The Ladies toilet was spacious and well equipped.

      ~Billy No Mates? Not at all!~

      I have always thought that having a children's party anywhere but in your own home, is the only sane way to proceed. Having it somewhere else means....no vomit to clean off the carpet or the dog, no preparation, no making thousands of butties, no little accidents to mop up and disinfect, and no thinking to yourself "will the littele beggars never go home!" Billy Badger very helpfully solves all these problems by being available to host parties in. What bliss that would be! There is even a room set aside for all the partying little darlings to eat, drink and be obnoxious in. And the staff entertain them And the staff feed them And the staff clear up after them. It's a no brainer!

      Joking aside, I think this would be an ideal place to have a childen's party, there is plenty of space and a lot of scope to entertain the children and keep them occupied. The staff here seemed to genuinely like and care for their young guests. (unlike some play areas I've seen)



      ~Some very minor quibbles~

      The same girls that made the meals were answering the telephone enquiries, taking bookings, seeing to admission prices and keeping everything tidy so sometimes you had to wait whilst someone else was being seen to.

      Some of the padding on the supports was a bit tatty and took away from the neatness of the place.

      Part of the play area was being used for storage and was unavailable to play in.



      ~Overall~



      Billy badgers Play den is not the largest or most elaborately designed play area I have ever seen but it is more than adequate. Olivia enjoyed the play, the freedom and the food enormously. Prices are very reasonable, the staff are hardworking and charming. Car parking is free and the place is easy to find. I will be taking Olivia back. I would reccommend a visit even if you have to 'borrow' some children to take!

      Opening hours


      Sunday to Monday - 11am till 5pm

      Friday and Saturday - 11am till 7pm

      Details of prices etc can be found online at.

      http://www.moretonpark.com/billybadger

      Or by phoning 01691 776661

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