When I told people I was planning on taking Roo to Westfield a Saturday, they thought I was crazy. “Are you crazy?” asked one, which is where I got this impression from. And to an extent, I agree that going to London’s biggest shopping mall/small town on a Saturday is madness but there was method in my madness. Captain Barnacles of Octonauts fame was making a personal appearance and we had to be there. The man is a legend. Well, less of a man, more of a polar bear. Unless it was a man in a polar bear suit. Which it wasn’t, it was the REAL Captain Barnacles. The same one that rescued the narwhal and other such heroics.
As you can see from the picture above, we met him. It would appear from the photo above that Roo was unimpressed but honestly, he did enjoy it. He pointed at him and said “Naut!” And that was worth a hour-long Saturday morning trek to West London.
Besides, it gave me a chance to scope out Westfield with a toddler. He had previously been there as a foetus (he was no trouble) and as a 6-month-old (quite some trouble, including a non-stop screaming fit in M&S). So I was curious to see what it would be like with a 2-year-old and whether I would get any…y’know…shopping done. For meself, like.
Despite my friends’ misgivings, it wasn’t too crowded. We were there by quarter to eleven, which helped, and it was a Bank Holiday weekend, which also helped cause I think we’re the only people staying in London all weekend. We got to the ELC to see the Captain, spent about half an hour looking at some toys and did some colouring for the chance to win Octonauts toys. I’m not holding my breath. While the child has talent, it’s clearly not in the art sphere. He gets that from his Mummy, as I am reliably informed that his Daddy won a drawing competition when he was a child. So there.
While in the ELC, a chance arose to try out the baby changing facilities (you can draw from that what you will) and they were fab. I remember the private feeding rooms with comfy chairs from the 6-month old trip and sadly we didn’t require them this time. But we did take advantage of the well-designed changing surface (baby lies down with feet pointing towards you on a padded mat, nappy bin on one side, sink on the other), even if Roo didn’t fit on it as well as he used to. Best bit though was the Iggle Piggle themed ride and big soft seats in front of a screen showing Peppa Pig. We could have stayed in that room for hours.
Notice how they have the same vacant look on their faces? I love it. So, I left Nathan and Roo in there and snuck off to buy me some shoes. Which I did, for £8 from New Look (and they’re lovely soft black ballet pumps. Thanks for asking). Meanwhile, the boys entertained themselves in the little play area outside ELC. I didn’t really see what was in there but it looked like various surfaces to climb on, under etc. A handy diversion if you need one between the toy shops and the Peppa Pig screen. Then we went to buy Nathan some shops, in Deichmann, which also had a screen showing Peppa Pig, but stuck on the DVD menu, which isn’t ideal. Roo amused himself instead by finding some monster-feet slippers and going round saying “Rawwwwwrrrr” at random shoppers.
By now I was flaking. Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit
sniffing glue coffee. So it was time for lunch a la M&S, eaten on the seats just outside. And yes, Roo kept up his record of M&S tantrums. Something about only being allowed to go on the escalators when Mummy wanted him to…Needless to say,a hasty post-lunch retreat was beaten…!
VERDICT: Shopping with a toddler is never, evereverevereverevereverevereverevereverever going to be the fun day out it was when you were childless. But good facilites, a play area and an appearance from a cBeebies favourite all take the edge off.