I know I’ve covered Walthamstow once or twice already, but here we go, back up the Victoria Line. It was a glorious sunny day, so perfect for an open-air ukulele/banjo/violin/vocal gig. Particularly when the lovely Miss T is playing her ukulele, as part of the Stow Festival. For all our previous jaunts to East 17, we have rarely ventured into Walthamstow proper. My hazy recollections of the Walthamstow Mall when Roo was around six months were that it was a bit scary but it all looked so much friendlier in the sunshine. Roo ran off to play in the playground with Nathan, and Eva and I went to Costa to buy toasties and coffee. A text from my cousin to tell Roo to watch out for needles didn’t deter him too much. I think she might have been exaggerating slightly (exaggeration may run in our family). It doesn’t look too bad, does it?
In fact, it looks huge here. It’s not that big, but it is a perfectly clean and servicable playground, handily located near the shops. So, we ate our toasties and then it was time for me and Roo to go to the toilet. Oh yes, Reuben is toilet training. There’ll be more on that another day.
Found the loos and there was a massive queue. Not ideal with a train-er and someone who gave birth just 20 weeks ago. So, we went to the Mother and Baby Room , which had changing tables and a feeding chair, and also a pushchair-accessible loo. Woohooo! We had left the buggy in Costa but I figured our need was great enough to skip the queue. So I opened the door and…my eyes! An old woman on the loo, pants down. I’ve seen some darkside stuff recently (anyone who’s completed toilet training will know what I mean) but that image will stay with me.
Let’s talk ukeleles. The gig we were there to see was the “Walthamstow Acoustic Massive”, a collective of several different acoustic groups. They were performing together for (I think) the first time, in the Town Square, as part of the Festival. One of my favourite bits was the Natural Voices Choir singing a medley of various adverts and TV themes. Then Agadoo, and a Bob the Builder/Teletubbies mashup. Roo was restless at first (obviously – he’s Reuben) but sat for a long time on the steps in front of the choir with all the other small children. There were a LOT of small children. Turns out Walthamstow is more yummy mummy than you’d think. And for a time Roo decided to stand up and conduct:
And do some dancing. It was kinda cute. Then he ran around in circles, chasing Jake and Jake’s friend. And then a baglady touched Eva’s face. It was all fun. As each group joined in, to make an ever greater noise we were invited to join in with our own instruments. Yknow, for anyone who’d brought a ukelele along. Which we had.
Me and Nathan had both learnt a few ukulele chords for the occasion, but as you can see Reuben decided that it was his ukulele and he wanted to play. To be fair, it was his, so he had a point. I was relegated to his homemade shaker. It was so hot in the sun that the uke had gone out of tune anyway, but that didn’t matter too much. With a whole host of banjos, ukuleles, violins, audience members and singers all joining in on “I wanna be like you”, you could do anything you felt like. It was fun.
It was time to move on. Having been disappointed by a-playground-under-construction last time we went to Lloyd Park, we wanted to give it another chance. We stopped for ice-cream at what may have been an Islamic Fundamentalist ice-cream parlour (but they did good ice-cream), and then Roo and his cousin walked hand-in-hand through the park. Awwwwww!
Apparently, the playground has caused quite some controversy, due to its lack of gate and low wall (“to enable play without boundaries” goes the official line…or maybe they just ran out of money). Either way, it’s easily escapable by a bored toddler. Luckily, there is lots and lots to do to stop the toddler getting bored. Sand and water play, with a water spray controlled by a stand-on seesaw thing. Slides, swings, assault courses and lots to climb on. Heaving with kids, obviously.
Roo enjoyed himself. At least I think he did. Nathan was chasing him while I sat in the shade, feeding Eva and chatting to my cousin and uncle. There were lots of benches in the shade, which was another plus point. I only intervened, when the already sandy and wet boy asked to change into his wetsuit:
I didn’t have a wetsuit, so he had a massive meltdown. Home time. We didn’t have a chance to check out the cafe, but apparently the coffee is not up to yummy mummy standards. The automatic door didn’t work, and the loos were out of order but I’m sure it’s lovely otherwise.
VERDICT: A nicely designed new playground and a fun day out at the festival.