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UK weekly edition, Wednesday, July 18, 2007

IPSWICH — Sometimes it’s good to act like a kid again.

Whether it’s chasing thrills and spills on roller coasters, beating a scorcher with a leap from a rope swing into the local watering hole or finding a cool new park to while away an afternoon, there’s something fulfilling in letting go of the adult world to frolic carefree in the summer sun.

Here in the county seat of Suffolk, adjacent to the Portman Road football stadium, is the Ipswich Village Playground, a park with a host of new-age attractions coupled with the standard playground fare that welcome kids of all ages with novel, and sometimes risky, attractions.

The rides are so cutting edge, in fact, they call on imaginations of all ages to try and discern what exactly to call them.

First, there’s a circular tube-like device positioned at a 25-degree angle that asks patrons to try and simply walk along the circle as it spins underneath. The result is a frustratingly fun endeavor that all but the most coordinated will simply find impossible. As you move faster, and at an angle, you’re inevitably whipped off.

The ride has no name — at least nothing obvious adhered to the plastic wheel and none of the kids around knew what to call it either — but whatever it is, it has that novelty fun factor good for a sure 15 minutes of fun.

Then there’s the pseudo skateboarding half-pipe in which the skateboard’s wheels are linked with a metal track and a chest-high set of handlebars that allows riders to whip themselves along the half-pipe track.

Only enthusiasts with excellent dexterity, balance and healthy insurance coverage might want to negotiate this sleek absurdity.

There’s also a giant rubber tire swing attached to a 20-feet high triangle wood base that gives riders room to spin, climb and drop without much real risk for injury. In fact, the rubber tire swing stands in stark contrast to the skateboarding apparatus in that it’s safe enough for even young kids to hop on.

There are also a handful of human gyroscopes that will turn any troubled stomach upside down or, at the least, induce a loss of balance reminiscent of the childhood spin-too-fast-and-fall routine.

The park is in one of the few truly urban sections of Suffolk. It’s the result of a recent renewal project that saw the tract of land in the shadow of the football stadium converted into this playground, adjacent basketball court/soccer pitch combo and a several-acre green space where Frisbees often glide into a cricket match.

Besides the New Age rides, the playground also offers the traditional slide, swings and bouncy riders. In sum, it’s a family-friendly, cost-conscious destination well worth the trip.

For more information on the Ipswich Village Playground, visit www.kompan.com/sw48115.asp.

Getting there

From RAF Mildenhall, take the A1101 to Bury St. Edmunds, merge onto the A14 to Ipswich. Take A14 to the final Ipswich exit and follow the clear signs to the football stadium.

The playground is on Alderman Road. The total trip is about 45 minutes.


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