I haven’t been to the Tate Modern for a long time. Not in fact, since I had a baby boy who was the same age as my baby girl is now. We were overdue for another visit, especially as Roo’s friend C was there, checking out the under-5s area. I didn’t even know there was an under-5s area. There you go, we’ve all learnt something today.
So, the kids area…it was small but interesting. It was based on two cubist paintings – one of a bottle, the other of some fruit and a violin. The structure above is a bottle, or a cubist interpretation of one. It had “bottle” written on the sides in various languages, which is how I know. Otherwise I would have said it was a “big blocky blue thing”. I really don’t understand art.
But I do understand what entertains a 3-year-old. And one of those things is a big blocky thing with coloured lights inside. The lights changed colour and Roo got very excited when it changed to red. “Issa my favourite colour!” he said, repeatedly. Apparently, red is still his favourite colour, and has been for a few weeks now. That’s a rare moment of consistency for Roo. Roo and C spent ages running through it and pointing themselves in the mirrors. And pointing at any other hapless small children who ran through – “that girl gone red too!”. Eva also enjoyed it:
The other main features were a slide in the shape of a violin and a chair in the shape of an apple (with a built in seat that was handy for Eva’s friend R to have his milk). Both in a cubist style, obviously. The slide was a big hit with all the small children there, and Roo particularly liked going down it backwards, hand-in-hand with C. It was just about wide enough for two boys to go down together and when they did, it made a violin sound. That was pretty cool.
There were also some small stepping stools in the shape of grapes (again I know this by the labelling) and a spectacular, if scary, view onto the Turbine Hall below. The boys clung to the glass and looked at what appeared to be a group of people standing around randomly. After a while they moved position and stood around in a different place. I think it’s art, but as I said before I really don’t understand art. I just liked looking at the tiny, tiny people far below…
What else do you need to know? Baby change facilities were located handily nearby, even if the change table was very near the handdryer, which freaked R out. There was a small cinema room, showing films about past installations, and surprisingly both the 3-year-olds sat and watched for a while. There were also some “interactive” tables, with a challenging art quiz. That’s challenging for a bunch of 30-somethings, let alone small children. I didn’t even try it but Roo would enjoy pressing the buttons randomly. Weirdly for an under-5s area, it didn’t seem to have buggy access so we had to leave the buggy at the top of 5 steps.
After a while everyone was getting hot and bothered so we took the boys for a run-about on the lawn downstairs. Luckily, there was a small kiosk next to the lawn which sold innocent smoothie pouches and muffins. It also sold coffee and some weird fresh juices and smoothies. I was feeling adventurous, so went for the apple and elderberry juice but it was a bit odd. Probably better to stick to the normal apple juice. Again, the boys sat quietly for a bit, before running off to chase the pigeons with Nathan in hot pursuit. At some point C fell into a muddy puddle. At another point a little later, Roo and C both tried to escape down the steps towards the river. From where we were, you couldn’t see that there was a small beach at the bottom of the steps so it actually looked like they were just about to plunge into the river. I’m not sure who left the gate at the top of the steps open. Needless to say, Nathan was in hot pursuit again.
It was nearly time to go home. Granted we hadn’t seen much in the way of actual art (except people moving around), but that was never really the intention. However, within the space of a few metres, we did see a fire-eater, a jazz trio and the Globe Theatre. That’s enough of the Arts for anyone, no? So, we headed home. And that’s where the Troubles started.
C’s Dad wanted to get the boat home to Greenwich, which was reasonable enough. C liked this idea and also wanted to, which is still reasonable enough. Roo also liked the idea and wanted to get the boat back to his house. Still reasonable. There is a special Tate-to-Tate boat service, which goes as far as the new pier at St George’s Wharf, Vauxhall. So, that would work perfectly!
It didn’t work perfectly. There was a queue for the ticket kiosk when we got there, so we joined the queue. The queue didn’t move. At all. For about half an hour, The man in the ticket booth said that he didn’t work for the Clippers, so couldn’t sell us the tickets. Eventually, a woman turned up who did work for the Clippers and told us that we couldn’t pay on the boat, and had to buy a ticket. But she couldn’t sell us a ticket. Apparently, the reason the queue was moving slowly because they were busy. I pointed out that “busy” didn’t normally involve being tenth in the queue for half an hour. “Busy” would suggest a lot more people and a little movement. Eventually we gave up. Cue simultaneous 3-year-old meltdowns.
We started walking towards our respective bus stops/stations, stopping at the whiskey exchange along the way. Roo wanted to buy a bottle of wine in the adjoining wine shop “for my Daddy”. The bottles of wine were arranged on a pretty rack like this:
What were the chances of a stroppy preschooler extracting a bottle of wine safely without toppling the whole lot? I didn’t fancy them. so quickly put a caboosh on that idea. Cue more meltdowns. To try and cheer him up, I suggested going through the tunnel with the pretty lights. C’s Mum agreed. I said to go right. She said to go left. Turns out we were both right. There are two tunnels in the Borough Market area with pretty lights. In fact there were three! So, just for C’s Mum here is a picture of the one I was thinking of:
VERDICT: A fun place for a play but could do with being a bit bigger.