Was talking to my friend on skype the other day. She's German and has been following my blog. We were talking about playing and the fact that I've been using the sofa so I can play with Amelie where I can reach her as I can't get down to her level on the floor. She told me they have these things in Germany called a Laufstall and that they are really common. Basically it's just a raised playpen that sits quite high off the floor so babies are safe and can play in it but still feel a big part of what's going on around them as they're at the right height to join in with their surrounding activity. I found one on eBay and bought it. Things like this can unfortunately sometimes result in a somewhat unsuccessful and expensive experiment but the thing is, you don't know till you try. So we'll see.
Still waiting on more progress with the sling, am really hoping I can use it. Is always good to know things are possible if you're prepared to hunt things down.