When I was visiting Southern Road Recreation Ground in Thame to write this review something unbelievable happened. The kids were all playing so nicely by themselves that I actually got enough time to myself to start writing this review when I was still on-site. That basically never happens as I’m always doing stuff when visiting places. Even at playgrounds there’s always someone who needs pushing on a swing or helping up onto something. But not today!
The main reason for this miraculous five minutes peace is because there’s decent equipment and a good amount of it. No, Southern Road Recreation Ground isn’t the best playground, possibly not even the best in Thame, but it was perfect today. (p.s. Roundhead Drive playground is possibly a contender for the best in Thame)
The pre-school area
There’s a small gated area for younger children. It’s actually fairly separate from the rest of the playground so it’s quite good for keeping the older kids away, whilst still being able to see everyone. I couldn’t really get a good picture as it was quite busy when we visited. They’ve got a play-frame with slide, a little tunnel, some stepping stones, swings and a few other bits. It isn’t massive but it’s perfect for the smallest ones. There’s also a bumpy slide. You can see it on the hill on the left hand side of this picture. It’s quite a fast slide but do be warned, it’s in full sunlight and it gets HOT even on only warm days. There were several kids with hot bottoms when we visited, and it was only 10 in the morning!
The play equipment
For the older children there is a larger metal play frame. We have one like this in Aylesbury and it’s LETHAL. I know of at least three kids that have broken their arm on that piece of kit. Thankfully the set-up at Southern Road Recreation Ground is much better. It’s lower to the ground so when you get to the end of the zip line even Middle Child could just walk off rather than being flung to the floor.
They had multiple versions of metal see-saw wobbly swing things. Some were easier than others for the boys to both get onto at the same time. On a couple of them they still needed me to lift them up and they’re 8 & 10. They had versions you stand on, one you sit on and one you dangle off of. There’s also a couple of wobble platforms and a nest swing. No normal swings though which the boys were a bit disappointed about.
The rec ground has several pieces of outdoor gym equipment, including a funky climbing pole that I didn’t have a hope in hell of ever being able to do. The only thing I found slightly strange about this is that the equipment was very much mixed up with the kids play equipment. We all know that kids will inevitably play on the outdoor gym equipment, but when it’s this close to the playground I’m not convinced that adults would want to use it if any kids were around.
Other things on site
Other things in the playground at Southern Road Recreation Ground included a small basketball court (well one end of it) and a convenient smoking shelter for teenagers. I’m not sure the planners at Thame council intended this to be how the little shelter is used when they designed Southern Road Recreation Ground but, given the volumes of fag butts in there, it’s how it’s currently used.
The field itself at the rec ground is open for anyone to use. Apparently it’s often in use for local outdoors fitness classes. Have a look at the Thame Council’s website to check for the latest events. Make sure you have a look around the Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve as well whilst you’re here. The nature reserve allows access to the Phoenix Trail as well.
Our Southern Road Recreation Ground Review
This is a decent playground, with a large green space next door. It’s not an adventure playground, but there’s lots of equipment for the kids to play on. When we visited it was nice and clean (other than the fag butts), the equipment was well maintained and it seems to be quite a popular playground. It’s nice to have the addition of a small nature reserve nearby when they get bored of playing.
Parking / How to get there
Address – Southern Road, Thame. OX9 2EP
There are two free car parks on site. Some other mums I spoke to thought it was limited to two hours free parking but we couldn’t see any signs. They also said that, if there is a limit, it’s never enforced.
There is a toilet block on-site but apparently this is only unlocked when there’s an event or a class taking place. I’d plan for there to not be any toilets available if I were you. There are public toilets on North Street nearby.
There’s nowhere to buy food but you can take a picnic. There’s plenty of benches. You’re just around the corner from Thame’s town centre though where you can buy lots of lovely treats from local, independent shops (and Waitrose, Co-op, Costa or Sainsburys!!).