After much persuasion from her children, Marina Fogle agrees to investigate the world of trampolines
It all started in Portugal – where our children discovered the joy of jumping. Before then, they’d always been rather wary of trampolines, after a few bad experiences with lots of larger children and rather too much bouncing, sending my fragile newbies ricocheting onto an unforgiving surface. But after spending a week in a hotel where, in their own time, they learnt what fun it was to bounce, they were addicted. And quite frankly so were we. Our children slept soundly and for longer, exhausted by their trampoline antics, and they would spend hours playing, learning to share, to be mindful of smaller children and all the while building their core muscles.
Since then, it’s been at the top of every birthday list, a letter extolling its virtues was written to Father Christmas, but to no avail. Because in spite of their desperate attempts of persuasion, I was reluctant. You can’t dig out a trampoline in a stamp-sized London garden.
But the older they got and the more time they spent on trampolines, the more they nagged me. And finally, after they visited their friend Fred’s house, where the Easter bunny had brought a trampoline, I agreed to at least look into it. A brisk search was not encouraging. All I found were links for sunken trampoline kits, which considering my husband Ben struggles with basic Ikea shelves, would probably spell the end of our marriage. Added to this were horror stories about injuries and water collecting in sunken holes and becoming infested with snakes.
I was just about convinced that this idea really wasn’t for us when I found a company that offered the whole package – digging the hole, installing the trampoline, ensuring its safety and then re-landscaping. I picked up the phone and spoke to Joel Paul, the founder of Sunken Trampolines, who talked me through the whole process.
A father-of-three energetic boys, he installed a sunken trampoline in his garden and says, 10 years later, it’s used as much as the day it was completed. He used a landscape gardener friend to ensure that it was not only inoffensive in the garden, but actually looked great. “My friends started asking me where I’d got this done and I realised that this was a service that no-one was offering but for which there was considerable demand.”
TIPS FOR TRAMPOLINE SHOPPING
• Using an above ground trampoline with no net is dangerous; but there are relatively few injuries from trampolines used safely. Yes, children get into scrapes (mostly when there are lots of children using it), but it is generally no more than they would get playing in the garden.
• If you are digging in, make sure you invest in a sturdy trampoline. The cost is digging the hole, so it’s worth investing in something that will last.
• Before you dig in, make sure you are not going below the water table. The last thing you want is a hole of water.
• Instead of hiding your trampoline away, have it in full view of the house. Sunken trampolines are not ugly and it’s better for keeping an eye on them.
Four years later his business is “manic” and they are doubling their turnover year on year. These trampolines don’t come cheap, but Joel caters for a market that want it done safely and beautifully. He tells me that he’s always sad when people want their trampoline hidden around a corner. “Trust me, sunken trampolines look great, and there’s nothing more wonderful than sitting down with a gin and tonic at the end of your day and watching the sheer joy of your children as they bounce.” The edge can be finished with astroturf and smart brick can be matched to existing brick in the garden. For those who are short on space, lids can be created so that when it is not used, the trampoline is invisible.
So we’ve now established that I want one, desperately, but exactly how much are we talking? He explains that the service for a sunken trampoline starts at just over £3,000, including installation and landscaping. Thereafter, your trampoline shouldn’t need much maintenance and you can expect to get a good 10 to 15 years from it. It is expensive, but actually if you break it down per year, it’s doable. But now I do see that the sky’s the limit with these wonderful creations. Joel tells me that builds which include electric lids sometimes go as high as £25,000.
And just yesterday I would have thought this ludicrous, but now I understand how clever they have been. They’ve turned something every child desperately craves but what every house-proud parent desperately tries to avoid, into something that both parties love. I realise that the excuses that I made to my children no longer stand – even our tiny garden in London is big enough, it won’t be ugly and it will be safe. And it will now happen – and I for one, can’t wait.