City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Fun With An Inflatable - Airpuddle at Boxsmall

By edg - Posted on 03 August 2014

Airpuddle at Boxsmall

Even by Edinburgh standards, this seems like a fairly soggy start to the Fringe, especially as it has come after the streak of gorgeous, sunny days in July, which saw people flocking to Edinburgh parks and beaches. It must feel like an unjust blow from above for all those venues set up en plein air. George Street's restaurant terraces have looked derelict, where before people supped happily under a warm Edinburgh night sky.

Yesterday, as the clouds opened up in earnest our group of three - 'self, a five-year-old and a one-year-old - were exploring the Boxsmall pop-up market in Festival Square. If you've headed up Lothian Road recently, you may have seen this assembly of miniature retail cabins selling crafts, and scottish fare (from Nairns oatcakes to the quaffable fruit wines from Perthshire's Cairn O'Mohr). Nest Events, who are running the market, are organising live events throughout the Fringe, and the tented picnic area with its funky inflatable tubes, is a welcome rest area, especially for anyone wanting to let their toddlers run loose under a shelter for a wee while.

Our destination was the Airpuddle, the large inflatable enclosure that has been erected in front of the Sheraton hotel. This is like a big, enclosed bouncy castle with the difference that it is constructed of 16 large pillows. On the undulating surface at the centre of the inflatable mound, plays a sequence of video projections - underwater ocean scenes, lava, and butterflies fluttering.

Officially, Airpuddle can support up to 16 jumpers, but when we arrived we discovered not a single person enjoying the billowy delights of its bulbous, pneumatic architecture.

Perhaps it was the rain? Perhaps it was the name - who wants to escape the rain in a "puddle"?

Ironically, as it is a covered enclosure, Airpuddle turned out to be a great place to escape the pounding rain outside.

Standing at the threshold, the five-year-old could not contain his excitement on being told that not only was he allowed to bounce within, but that he had the whole venue to himself. Having slid up the sloped side to the top of the inflatable he proceeded to give us an excitable running commentary as he leaped and cavorted from side to side. And didn't stop for 20 minutes.

Younger children are allowed on the Airpuddle too, so long as they are accompanied by an adult. So I carefully took the one-year-old aboard. He seemed both fascinated by the shoals of fish and butterflies flickering across the rubbery surface, while simultaneously excited and unnerved by the airwaves emanating from his elder sibling's exuberant leaps.

The uneven topography of Airpuddle's mounds means that it's sometimes easy to find yourself bouncing off at an unexpected angle. The operator assured us that it was very safe, there'd been no accidents "other than a bloody nose". As more kids joined in, however, I felt safer taking the baby off to watch from below.

But the five-year-old would have happily bounced all day.

Airpuddle, along with the Boxsmall market, is open from 10am to 8pm, until the 31st August.

Airpuddle costs £3 for 10 minutes, although with no other kids in sight the friendly operator was not time-keeping.