Monday, September 3, 2012

About this site

As of October 2010 this site is no longer updated but I know a lot of people still use it so I've left it up online. I greatly appreciate all the feedback and support I had while I was doing it- really, you guys made it all worthwhile.
Thanks- Eleanor

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Browning Park Playground- Saanich

We haven't been this excited about a playground in ages! Every time we drive up Shelbourne Street during the last two years we have looked over towards Browning Park and laughed at the old old little playground hidden in the long grass. I've always meant to visit there, fully expecting to give it a poor quality review as the type of playground where a child might need a tetanus jab. But those who snooze, lose. Because recently I was driving up Shelbourne, glanced over and almost crashed my car in excitement. Because not only was there a brand-spanking-new playground being built, but the entire park, which frankly had been overgrown and nondescript, was dug up and being redeveloped.

Kudos to the CRD and Saanich here because this is part of the Bowker Creek development project and if this part of Bowker Creek turns out as nicely as, or even nicer than the Oak Bay part then it will be a wonderful place for locals. And even in it's current unfinished state, it's looking amazing. Thanksgiving weekend finally gave us the opportunity to visit the playground and let's just say that when we tried to leave the kids kicked up a big fuss!

Located on Shelbourne Street and accessible from there or from either side of Browning St or from the Bowker Creek pathway that runs on the far side of the Creek, this lovely new park has smooth tarmac trails, a basketball court and a fantastic playground. Parking might be available on Browning St, but this is more the type of park that you walk or ride bikes to, and stop off at for a picnic. It looks like there will be nicely landscaped gardens and grassy areas but for now it's a bit of a mess with dirt and diggers- which hold their own attraction for little ones.

The playground has two main climbing structures, a small one for little kids and a big one for the bigger kids. The small one features various climbing options to a low tower and a double metal short straight slide. There is a double big kid, double toddler swing combo, a climbing frame car, a twiddly stem, and a rock feature for climbing over, under and across.

The larger climbing frame is the most exciting part of this playground according to my kids and my now 4 year old 'A' as the best climbing frame ever. It's a treehouse, and if I had my way this would be known as the treehouse playground- which it may well if it doesn't get called the frog park, but that's a different story. The treehouse climbing frame is built into a tree, and features several routes up which include a 'rope ladder', tree stumps, and tree climbing to the clubhouse up top. There is a long straight metal side down. It's beautifully made, fits in to the environment subtly and has great little touches such as a raccoon and squirrel hidden underneath.

So...the frog. Lastly, but not least, there is a giant frog squatting in the middle of the woodchip base in this playground. Oddly enough, my kids steered a clear path around it and my daughter definitely thought it was real. So whatever the local kids end up calling this fantastic playground, my betting is that it'll be between the frog and the treehouse and that the rest of this wonderful park, the creek and the bike trails will be forgotten in the playground excitement!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Community Park Water Playground- Parksville

Community Park Water Playground in Parksville is right next to the playground in the large, pretty park in the middle of the city's waterfront. Just as eclectic as the playground, the water park has a weird combination of features, though not as diverse as the at the playground.
There are two ways in, past the huge lion drinking fountain, or at the far end, where you can enter normally, or through a tunnel.

There is not a lot to say about this water playground other than it looked a lot of fun and was mobbed by happy children. Mine didn't have their swim stuff with them but were so distracted by the playground that they didn't seem to mind. If you want to know more about the park or facilities check out the review for the sand-based playground next door but in brief, the whole place is pretty well catered for with washrooms, parking, a concession stand and a great view.

Inside the railed off water site there are a collection of older water features, things that spray, squirt and bubble away while you run around screaming. The most popular feature seemed to be a long low water slide, but if you're a thrill seeker you might find it a bit of a let-down. Let's face it, it's for kids!

You could easily spend a day down at Parksville Community Park and between the beach, the water park and the playground there's a lot to offer.

Community Park Playground- Parksville

We've never been to Parksville before but this weekend we managed to sneak away from Victoria and finally got a chance to check out some of the things that Parksville has to offer. I'm not going to wax lyrical about the beaches and fantastic family friendly places to stay or visit, instead I'm going to do what this blog is all about and talk playgrounds. Well, one in particular- the Parksville Community Park Playground, located right on the water in the centre of town.

This park offers an almost bewildering array of playground equipment and without spending an hour documenting everything with a clipboard and pen I can't possibly list it all. I will, however, give a good overview. If you're thinking of going here and wonder if there is something for your child, I'm pretty sure that there is, although because the playground is more old than new and on a sand base, it's not very accessible and would probably not be ideal for kids in wheelchairs. There are facilities such as washrooms, drinking fountain and a food concession, which I expect are seasonal.

Located in the community park, there are large grassy areas, picnic tables, shady places to sit and the whole park goes right out to the beach and the sea. We have reviewed a few parks with glorious views and this is one of them, although because the playground is set back somewhat it doesn't reap the full benefit of the location so take a few minutes to walk out to the water and take it all in.

The playground equipment is a combination of old and new and looks like they have added to it over the years. Alternatively, they might have gone to a used-playground-convention...if there is such a thing...and bought a surprise bag and then planted it all down in the one park. There are literally restored vintage pieces here. There are a bunch of old metal bouncy things with restoration plaques on them, there are old fashioned diggers, a funky old fashioned merry-go-round and an array of old school metal climbing frames. There are some really interesting pieces here but they almost get lost in the sheer numbers. Mind you, with the number of kids around, it's probably a good thing. Our kids favourite climbing frames were the helicopter and the airplane.

There are some small scale climbing structures for the toddlers, and then there are several bigger ones that would suit all ages, but especially big kids. There is a multi plastic tubed slide feature that seemed to be the most popular and there is also a huge long continuous play style structure on the far side away form the parking behind the zip slide. Because, of course, there's a zip slide there too. Oh, and did I mention the water park? This large long climbing frame is a really good one for kids who like to climb because it offers a number of different climbing options to get from one end to the other, starting with low ramps and ending with a weird sort of climbing web hanging basket that I saw a few kids attempt but everyone gave up, not quite sure how to approach it.

There is too much to review the water playground in here so follow the links for more about that. In fact, there's so much here that I will leave the photos to speak for themselves. This playground is not the most glamorous around but it's got a lot to offer, especially when you figure in all the facilities around.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cordova Bay Road Playground- Saanich

I have no idea if this playground actually has a proper name, so I'm calling it Cordova Bay Road Playground. It'll come as a surprise then, that it's a tiny little playground perched on the edge of Cordova Bay Road between the road and the beach. We have driven past this little park many times but have never managed to stop and so it was exciting to finally visit it. Good things come in small packages!

There is roadside parking and a wall which protects playground users from harm and the playground itself is surrounded by trees which provide some shade. If you peek through the trees you can see down to the sandy beach or out across the sea in one of BC's stunning scenic drive views.

On a base of gravelly sand, the playground has a small climbing structure, a climbing frame car and a swing set with a toddler swing and a big kid swing. The climbing structure is a sweet thing with steps, a short metal slide, an alphabet climbing wall feature and underneath it has an ice-cream style serving hatch. I took a photo through it but the light was too bright to capture the amazing sea view. They should trim the trees in line with the hatch so that anyone bored of pretending to serve ice-cream can sit back and admire the view.

There is a picnic table and bench here, some grass, some shade and of course, if this place isn't the challenge that your kids need, there is a path down to the beach. This playground is an adorable little pit-stop!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Majestic Park Playground- Saanich

So we were cruising around today in an area that doesn't seem to have a huge number of playgrounds and just as I made some off-hand comment saying just that, we drove right by Majestic Park Playground. You can find the park on Majestic which can be accessed from Shelbourne or Ash in Saanich.

With parking places right along the road, Majestic Park is very well equipped for its size. There are washrooms, a tennis court, a baseball diamond and lots of picnic tables. There are some benches around too and whereas there is no shade actually at the playground, there are shady places nearby where you could set up camp under a tree.

On gravelly sand, the playground is well equipped though slightly older and worn. The main big kid structure is the type that you see all over Victoria, with metal bars and a bright curly plastic slide. There are lots of ways to climb up, an arched ladder, a normal ladder and tires, and the structure is made up of several climbing platforms. There are two slides, a double straight metal slide and a higher curly plastic one. In this part of the playground there are also an old school metal seesaw and a digging machine.

As well as this larger structure, there is also a double big-kid, double toddler swing set and then there is a smaller play area across the path. This is of a different style and has a low climbing structure with a ramp, a couple of climbing platforms, an activity feature and a toddler appropriate slide. This isn't however a structure that I could leave my toddler on by herself because the top platform- rather curiously- has an entire edge open, so no rest for toddler parents here!
There was also a climbing thing- not sure what it was meant to be- perhaps a big climbing worm, but my 3.5 year old son loved it- till he got stuck. No rest for bigger kid parents either!

All is all this is a good little place to stop. It's not the best playground ever but the package of everything at the park makes it an easy place to play. Oh, and it's got a bus stop right out the front by the parking for easy access.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Paradise Park Playground- Esquimalt, Victoria

Paradise Park playground is tucked into a small fanced park on Paradise Street between Lyall and Head. AND, it's really a toddler playground. It's older and a little worn and not very glamourous but our 1.5 year old LOVES it.

There is one main oversized plastic climbing structure with three slides. There are tiny little swings that look like they've been leftover from the 70's- one toddler and one big kid and then there are a selection of bouncy things, an old fashioned digger machine and a tunnel. I forgot to check if the calling tubes work, but there's a set of them too.

On a sandy base, this playground is safe, small and has benches for resting parents to relax on. There are no facilities or shade and the parking is street parking. There is come grass to play on too. If you want to go somewhere low-risk where your little ones can have fun, this is a great playground and it's popular for an out-of-the-way spot too- I had to return twice before I could get a photo without kids everywhere. If you want to make a day of it, the end of Paradise Street hits Head right where the West Bay Waterway path runs and so you can walk or bike along that for scenic views and sightings of birds, boat planes and if you're lucky, maybe a ship or two!