It's the summer break, and it's raining outside. What do you do? Well, think O2 this summer (well up until August 27). They've laid out tons of sand and made a sort of waterless oasis with fake palms, deck chairs and a bar that stocks cocktails, drinks and chocolates to the kids' delight. No UV rays to worry about, no weather forecast to dampen the mood, it's all indoors and there's no care in the world.
The kids all around me were eagerly participating in the pirate training carried out by pirate-clad friendly staff who do a really excellent job entertaining the young ones. There's also volley ball for the older ones (children up to the age of 14 are allowed inside I'm told). The whole area is dotted with spades, shovels, buckets, balls, even inflated dolphins here and there. This was a fully equipped beach minus the heat and waves and nobody seemed to care. To the kids this was their own piece of heaven. And did I mention that it was all FREE?
Junior was having the time of his life, bouncing from one activity to the other. He managed to make a shaker, dig for a treasure and paint his own silk pirate hat. He gleefully did about all he could do with the sand from building castles to literally burying his friends' legs in it. This was sand galore and it was several hours before I could coax him to leave. The only break he took was when the picnic was laid out and he hungrily and quickly gobbled it all down before he could miss any of the fun still in store (note: you can buy food on the premises but you can also pack your own lunch).
Us moms enjoyed it too. We just felt so at ease as the place was definitely set up with kids in mind. So there were no safety worries at all. Besides the doors were heavily watched by at least three staff members to ensure that no kids just wandered out of the premises unattended. So it was just great to lounge on the deck chairs, gossip and check from time to time what our kids were up to.
My only point would be the coffee and the toilets. The bar as I mentioned stocks soft drinks and alcohol but it does not offer your handy cup of coffee or tea. As The Beach is situated at the far end of the O2 I had to walk the whole distance back to the entrance to buy my coffee at Starbucks. So a note to the wise: get your coffee at the doors before you head to the beach, or else you'll be dragging unwilling kids all across the O2 just for your java fix. And avoid the toilets beside the Beach like the plague (they stink), walk the small distance to the toilets by the cinema. You have been warned.
I've been told that the Beach caters to the young ones up until 5pm each day, and then it turns into a really funky bar with live music and all. So as soon as I visit it by night I'll tell you all about it. But for now, I've got to sign off as I've still got my little pirate trekking sand all around the house bouncing the beach ball they gave him there and waving his sword. We've had a great day at The Beach and it's still pouring rain outside.