Ten-pin bowling is a great family activity; it is perfect for the holidays when everyone can go and enjoy themselves in a bit of fun competition.
During the holiday time, the David Lloyds Centre in Raynes Park can get pretty busy. With twelve lanes, the place fills up quickly and without a booking you will probably end up disappointed. As The Christmas holidays have not yet begun, Dad and I were lucky. We went on a weekday afternoon so the place was literally deserted.
The guy at the desk asked us how many games we wanted, and I asked if they had their three for two offer on. They didn't, but he was very generous and let us buy two games at a children's rate. Although I've passed as under 16 several times, I think this will have been a first for my Dad.
We ended up paying £20 for two games, instead of what should have been £25. The more games you play, and the more people playing, the better price you get. There are also discount rates for members, but as we only play once in a full moon it is not worth it.
One of the balls didn't even have any finger holes. This was a very light ball designed for children pushing it off a ramp.
He asked us our names and set us up on lane six. Although he asked how to spell my name, he still managed to get it wrong. I've been called all kinds of things, but 'Brydie' is a first. It used to annoy me, but now I take it in good humour. Anyway, he quickly corrected the mistake.
In the last year or two, the David Lloyds Centre had a complete renovation. Gone is the fast food slush puppy cafe and the arcade, which screamed 'place for little kids'; now they have a swanky bar and evening lounge that suggests sophistication. The bowling lanes also look better maintained - although this didn't stop it breaking down in the middle of the game. Rest assured, you can always expect the pins to get stuck at the back some point along in the game. In comes the trusty staff member to the rescue, and play may resume.
The animated man pops up every now and then to tell you what to do.
Dad used to be a whiz at bowling, always leaving me behind in a trail of fallen pins. But a lack of practice has now set us on an equal footing and we managed to win a game each. I am proud to say though, that I was the only one to score a strike, and beat him by a total of four points overall.
After our bowling match, I thrashed him at a game of pool. Let me set this straight. That never happens. Dad plays snooker twice a week, and I can barely hold a cue properly. I don't know what happened, but I was on a roll.
By now it was about half past two, so we had a look at the menu. Although the fast food cafe had been turned into a bar-come-lounge, the food was still that of a fast food joint: nachos, burgers, spare ribs. They did have a few healthier options like Caesar salad and curry, but not much else. The kids menu actually sounded more up-market with breaded chicken or salmon goujons. I don't know why they called them this, because it is basically a fancy way of saying chicken nuggets, and a kid is more likely to order chicken nuggets than they are goujons.
In the end, what was on the menu was neither here nor there because when I went to order, they said that they don't serve meals until 4 o'clock. If this is the case, then why not state that on the menu?
David Lloyds Kids serves light snacks and has a soft play area.
The guy behind the counter did say they made panini around the corner, but that was in the kiddy zone, and there wasn't much choice. Not really in the mood to be surrounded by tots in a soft play area while we ate a sub-standard sandwich, we gave lunch a miss and went home.
David Lloyds is a great place to bowl, but not a great place to eat. But let's be honest, when you go bowling, you're not expecting fine dining. The David Lloyds Centre would seem to prefer you to disagree though, as they offer a range of party menus for adults and kids:
This December, the David Lloyds Bowling Centre are putting on an American themed Christmas party. You can book for a night of ten-pin bowling, music, and big screen entertainment, with a choice of three set menus.
At £20 a head, the New York Platter serves hotdogs, wedges, kebabs, onion rings, and chocolate fudge cake - like I said, not exactly fine dining.
For £25 a head, the New Orleans Package is a two course meal of either a creole burger or chilli tower, followed by a boozy fudge cake or cheesecake.
£30 will get you a traditional three-course Christmas menu. For the starter you have a choice of soup, crayfish cocktail or duck terrine, followed by roast turkey, beef, salmon, or an aubergine bake. For pudding there is Christmas pudding, profiteroles, tiramisu, or lemon tart.
3 Strikes Menu
The 3 Strikes menu is for celebrations or corporate events.
The 1st Strike menu is £15 a head and includes two games of bowling along with a food platter, and beer & wine.
The 2nd Strike menu includes 2 games, a two-course meal, beer & wine, nibbles, and a party host for £20.
A Super Strike is £25 and is the same as above, only with a three-course meal.
Birthday parties are in three groups: 1-4 years old, 5-7 years old, and 8 plus. Parties include bowling, soft play, dance, and sport, and include themes such as pirates, princesses, and superheroes.
There are three self-explanatory menu options: party picnic, pizza mayhem, or sizzling bangers.