Many’s the time I’ve sat for hours, bum and soul numb, as I’ve watched my child jumping herself delirious on a bouncy castle, flinging herself around on a soft play assault course or hurtling down a helter skelter, high as a lost kite on the thrill of it. The sad truth is, these things are just not built for well-upholstered middle-aged women. And I miss them. And playparks of the world, I resent you for not making yourselves in Big.
Which is why I am e-number-sugar-rush happy at the news that Betteshanger Park in Deal is playing host to The Beast this May.
The Beast is the world’s largest inflatable obstacle course. It looks like something invented by Willy Wonka after a cheese dream. It’s big – 272 metres and 32 obstacles big. It’s tall. It looks like it would make you feel like you’re six again, legs swinging off the edge of things that bit too big for you – things that need to be clambered and heaved over with the appropriate straining noises and a satisfied exhalation when you get to the top of them before swooshing down into something you can bounce up and off of before running with utter abandon and glee to the next exciting bit. No Tough Mudder nonsense. No hard edges or horrible get-through-the-pain-you-big-girl’s-blouse shocks. It’s all squashy. Lovely, brightly-coloured, squashy, laughter-inducing, endorphin-rushing, childhood-nostalgia-inducing, bouncy-castlesque goodness. It’s adult sized. And it’s never been to the UK before.
The Beast will be open to the public from Saturday 26 to Monday 29 May, with added-music party nights on the Friday and Saturday. You can treat it as a race, or bounce your way round it leisurely. Tickets will be released for anyone over eight years of age from 10 February. Go to www.betteshanger-park.co.uk/beast to sign up for email alerts.