LOLLY does...a Ball Pool in Zone 4!

Ball Pool

I need a nervous poo” I shout.

“Death slide now, poo later” Sammy, a Nigerian student who I’d only just met, yells in my face.

I look around at the small group of strangers all beaming at me and chanting my name “LOLLY!  LOLLY!  LOLLY!”

I look back down at the sheer drop of the ‘death slide’, my feet dangling in anticipation.  I close my eyes, exhale and let go.  0.34 seconds later, I am catapulted to the bottom – smack bang into the leisure centre cafe, still screaming from white fear.  A man frying hot dogs stares at me like I am an odd-bod.  This is BRILLIANT!

No, this is not a weird dream sequence but an evening spent with my pal Pip, in an adventure playground for adults.  Anyone wanting to relive their childhood in the ball pools of Skegness or the spinny, big foam things of Bognor Regis, you are in luck!

The Idol

Even better, this place of wonder is (pretty much) in London and it only costs £2.  Yes!  £2!!  (Prices vary for children).

And why isn’t this climbing frame Eden saturated with trendies and splayed all over Instagram, I hear you cry?  Because it’s in Barking, Zone 4 - you have to board a tube for more than seven stops and own some imagination to tread there.

Pip explores some holes

Pip explores some holes

Designed by the artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, the structure is entitled The Idol and is ‘part machine, part totem’.  Having collaborated with the local Barking community, Chetwynd has created a soft play centre carved from ‘ancient civilisations and Neolithic figure; The Dagenham Idol’.  I don’t know about that but the upper rope canopy is pretty dreamy.  

Lolly Jones

Predominantly created for children and families, it is open to adults only on Thursdays 6-9pm 26 March – 14 May.   

I couldn’t help thinking this would be a great place for a first date.  If you had nothing to talk about, you could hide in the ball pool or race to the top, (although the journey back to central London may prove awkward if the sparks do not fly).

As it was, Pip proved the perfect date, she even treated me to some onion rings in The Barking Dog, afterwards.  What a lady.

I have to say this was one of the most fun things I have ever experienced in London town.  It is well worth the trip out to Zone 4.  And if you are an adult without a child, you don’t have much time left to play amongst the dreamy foam-adult only Thursdays end on May 14th!  

So top up your Oyster and fly child, fly… 

Soft Play Centre

Family Experience 5/5

Date Night 4/5

Solitary Fun 5/5


More information on The Idol

More information on the artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd


Website for Abbey Leisure Centre

Monday to Friday -10am-7pm (10am-6pm Thursdays)

Saturday and Sunday 9am - 6:30pm  

ADULTS ONLY!  Thursdays 6-9pm 26 March - 14 May 2015