So, I started this post in an Instagram caption after having had some DM questions following my Instagram Stories. I soon realised that a caption would not allow me to tell you everything that I need to tell you, hence the blogpost. You are very welcome…
Yesterday, I took the girls to the Beach. Not the seaside, but the beach…at Brent Cross…the shopping centre…in North-West London 😐
The Beach at Brent Cross is a thing. It comes every Summer and stays for a few months. There is (I imagine, garden centre wholesale purchased/imported) sand. There is sea. There is not sea. There is water pumped into an inflatable paddling pool. There are artificial palm trees and portaloos. There is Punch & Judy. There are striped deckchairs and hammocks. There are a helluva lot of traditional pierside/fairground rides. It is as described: the beach…Brent Cross.
Yesterday, the weather was not as fantastic as it has been for the past week or so. It was ok. I mean, it didn’t full on rain (there was a slight shower at one point), but, it wasn’t the 30+ degrees that we have grown to know and love more recently either. However, do not fret, because the British Summer did not stop my girls from having the time of their lives at The Beach! And don’t let it stop you! For those of you who are London-based, or can get to London easily for the day, I would thoroughly recommend that you get yourselves, and your kids if you have any, along to Brent Cross for a day of full on fun.
So, grab a seat cos Auntie Cee is going to tell you everything you need to know before you commit yourself to a visit.
Firstly, before you even hit the road, find yourself some wi-fi or use your remaining data and download the Brent Cross Plus app from the Apple App Store of Google Play Store. This gives you one entry free per smart device. Now, my kids don’t have phones (6 and 8 is kinda too young, right?), but I do, so I bagged myself free entry and paid £3 for each of the girls (you have to pay for any child over the age of 3).
Then you need to pack some stuff. If you have kids who enjoy building things in the sand, please pack swimming cossies, towels and perhaps a change of clothes. You may also wish to pack your own bucket and spade from home, or, depending on the strength of your resolve, you may be forced to buy a set when you arrive. A picnic blanket would also be a good idea (in case you can’t secure a deckchair when you arrive). You can bring your own food and drink to The Beach, so feel free to bring snackage too. BUT, NO ALCOHOL ALLOWED. NOT EVEN HIDDEN HIP FLASKS 😒 Basically, pack everything that you would usually pack for the beach except for the alcohol 😒
Next thing to sort is transport. For me, driving is most convenient, but there are also buses that take you straight to the shopping centre. Don’t ask me which ones, cos I’m not the TFL website and you can look that shit up yourself (full address is at the bottom of this post 🙂 ). If you are driving, there is free parking available. You may be driving around for a while to find a space if the weather is nice or if the sales are still on, but do persevere cos you will find somewhere…eventually.
So, you’ve arrived and got your free entry. Now, RUN to grab some seating! There are limited deckchairs and hammocks on the sand and they are free to use on a first come, first served basis. Show no mercy. Just get you something to sit on.
Next thing you will need is some tickets for the rides and games. Although there is the option to buy online tokens, there is absolutely no need as you can purchase them easily on the day of your visit. tokens are £1.20 each or 10 for £10. I bought 20 tokens for £20 and told the girls that I wasn’t going to top up, so they better choose their rides wisely. From what I could ascertain, rides range from 2 to 4 tokens, (bumper cars were 4 tokens, as were the water walkers, but the mini-kiddie rollercoaster was 2 tokens and Kid 1+1 found that exhilarating), but there is a handy guide on the website that tells you exactly how many tokens you will need for each ride so you can plan in advance, if you are so inclined.
Yesterday, there were absolutely no queues, hence Kid 1+1 got to ride the rollercoaster solo. However, it was a majorly overcast day and there were about 10 people there, not including staff. So, I would be prepared to queue for some of the more popular rides, especially, if you go during the Summer Holidays or on a nicer day.
Please bring some cash! Cards are accepted at the token machine, but I’m not so sure about all of the food outlets. Plus, there are no cash machines onsite. The closest ones are in the shopping centre across the road, which is long when you’re starving or parched and have run out of pre-packed snackage.
Food is obviously expensive in there, but you would expect that anyway, right? Fish and chips was £7. Just chips was £3. Slushies were about £3, from what I can remember (I didn’t buy any). There were also doughnuts, candy floss and all the sweets you could ever imagine (I didn’t buy any of those either). There were a number of food stands selling hot food, so you won’t go hungry, unless your kids make you spend all your cash on tokens for the rides 😒
I did end up topping up the tokens with another 2, so total spend was around £35 for entry, 7 rides and some chips. Luckily, we brought our own drinks. Obviously, the kids were STARVING as we were leaving, so we popped across to the shopping centre for our dinner, as there are a few eateries in there too (Wagamama, Nando’s, Leon, etc). So, I guess total spend for the day out was closer to £50, once dinner was included. However, this is totally avoidable if you do not fail to prepare and you pack ample food and drink, which I could not be arsed to do yesterday.
The girls really enjoyed themselves, and this may even become a bit of an annual event for our family. They went from splashing about in the paddling pool, to the bumper cars, to digging massive holes in the sand, to splashing about to the trampoline bungee to…well, you get the idea. I enjoyed sitting back and relaxing in between the requests for more tokens and food.
Feel free to ping me any questions or you can find out everything else you need to know here: http://www.thebeachbrentcross.com/
The Beach is currently located at Brent Cross Shopping Centre, London, NW4 3FP and is open until 10 September 2017.
PS. I didn’t get a penny or any freebies for this review. Just trying to be helpful 🙂