Disappointing. That’s what this day was. But I’ll getI on to that later. First. let me tell you how much I love Brockwell Park. I first went there as a wee young thing of 21. It was January, I was staying at Nathan’s house in Camberwell and I had an eye infection which meant I couldn’t really do anything or go anywhere. Friends had told us about this area called Herne Hill, which had a couple of cool shops and a lovely park. Needless to say, it didn’t look the best in its winter state through my gunky eye. But I made a mental note to go back.
Later that year, we moved briefly to Herne Hill and took a couple of rooms in a houseshare there for the summer. That’s when I fell in love with Brockwell Park – I had days off in the week then, so spent them lazing in the park or at the lido. Since then, it’s been the scene of a couple of great fireworks nights, followed by curry. So, it has good form and I’d been meaning to take Roo there for a proper explore for ages. We’ve been to the playpark a few times and I went to see a friend over there for a snoop round the community garden and the rose garden when he was too small to really appreciate it. The park is huge, rambling and diverse – it goes from Tulse Hill on one side to Dulwich on the other, with Herne Hill in between. And this trip out had an extra new exciting attraction.
It was a boiling hot day, unseasonably so for the end of September. I had been crossing my fingers for a few days like this so we could do some more summery things before a winter hiding in the Transport Museum. One of the summery things I was keen to do but never got round to doing (due to the whole y’know lack of summer thing…) was to check out the new water play area in Brockwell Park. It looked lovely in the photos and I’m a sucker for paddling pools at the best of times. So last Wednesday was a gift of a day – off work, nothing to do, 25c. Water play time!
So, we go there and walked straight past the lido. I had considered going there as well but from memory, it was sponsored by Evian and the water temperature was about the same as Evian should be i.e. absolutely freezing. Even on a hot day, total immersion in arctic water didn’t seem like the kind of thing Roo would go for. Besides, I had only packed swimming stuff for Roo, not for me. Instead, it was onwards and upwards into the park, struggling up a hill in the heat as Roo intermittently decided to walk or be carried (but obviously not go in his buggy like a good boy), clutching a toy screwdriver. But the paddling pool was in sight!
There was no water.
No water! Picture it! Boiling hot, just walked up a hill, chivvying a toddler all the way with promise of a paddling pool, only to find it as dry as the sandpit. There was also a sandpit.
Have you ever seen anything sadder? Yes, I know it was the end of September but this was a well publicised “Indian Summer” – everyone knew that it was going to be freakishly hot last week. So, you’d think someone, somewhere would have thought to have put some water in there. Especially as hundreds of other parents had had the same idea. Especially as it’s darn near impossible to find information on facts like opening times before leaving the house. The sight of a dry sandpit was not welcome. Except by Roo, who quite happily dived in and played for an hour or so in the baking sun with not a drop of moisture anywhere, except what came out of a tap at the edge of the area.
So, it was disappointing. It kinda put me in a snappy mood, which is no kind of mood in which to deal with the precious sons and daughters of Dulwich’s finest. Roo and I got told off by 3-year-olds on three separate occasions, for offences ranging from sitting on the wrong rock (me) to stepping on a heart shape that someone was drawing in the sand (Roo). I have to say it looked like it would be awesome when operational – it’s based on a natural water play design, with rocks and bumps in the floor, with water pumps and fountains. Just a pity there was no fricking water. Can you tell I’m still bitter about this?
By now, I was as parched as the paddling pool so I dragged Roo away from the sand for a juice and ice lolly at the Lido Cafe (as featured in Vogue and Time Out). Again, a bit full of pushy mothers and their pushier children but the staff were lovely and attentive and my smoothie was good. Can’t vouch for Roo’s juice as it disappeared before I could try any but obviously he enjoyed it. They are very child-friendly and there’s a box of toys and books that you can rifle through while waiting (having said that, we didn’t wait long). Once the pushier mothers had left to dip Annabella in the aforementioned Arctic waters, I began to de-stress and rehydrate a little. Enough to cope with the bus journey back through Brixton anyway. It could have been so good…..
VERDICT: Lovely park, pity about the lack of water