If I told you that the words “parenting genius” had been applied to this day out, would that be raising your expectations to an unmanageable level? If I told you that those same words had been used with a question mark, would that be more the level you’ve come to expect from this blog? Good. Now read on…
Fireworks! Oooh! Aaah! Exciting! I like fireworks. I’ve made an effort to go and see them most years since we’ve been in London. 2007 was a year when we made more effort than usual. We were homeless at the time, having sold our Camberwell flat and not quite bought our current house. So we were crashing in a friend’s spare room in Stockwell. One Friday we’d been due to exchange but once again it had fallen through. I chose to deal with this by going to Primark straight from work and buying huge armfuls of clothes. Nathan dealt with it by going to the pub and drinking huge amounts of whiskey. I was on the bus home, round about Victoria when I got a call from Nathan’s phone from a man called Dave.
Dave told me to go to Southend with him and Paul, the IT technician from Nathan’s office. I didn’t know Dave. Neither did Nathan. But Nathan knew Paul and Paul knew Dave and Paul and Dave had persuaded Nathan to go to Southend with them. I had nothing better to do, so I jumped off at Victoria, went to a shop that sold boy clothes so I could add them to my Primark stash, hopped on the tube to Fenchurch St and bought myself an Angry Whopper. Then we all went to Southend for the night.
In case you needed this realllllly spelling out, this was before we had kids.
So we woke up in Southend the next morning, got the train back to London to go back to Stockwell to change, then to Finchley Central for my Uncle’s 60th birthday party, then to Battersea Park for a pre-arranged fireworks date with friends from church. Don’t ask me how or why we did all that, but we did. Here we are at the fireworks:
That is not just a picture, it’s an EPICture.
Luckily, the fireworks at Battersea Park were epic too. Not so luckily, the admission prices were even epic-er, so we’ve never been back. This year it was a tenner!
The next year, we went back to our old favourite, Brockwell Park. They were pretty good, as ever. Afterwards, we walked up Denmark Hill and back to Camberwell and a curry at Indiaaaaaah. I toyed with my curry and toyed with the idea of telling people I was pregnant. I didn’t. It was still quite new news at that point.
The year after that, our lives had been turned upside down, so we didn’t bother. Then, in 2010, it was Clapham Common, as Lambeth were too tight to put on more than one show. No buses were to be found at Oval, but a friend of ours was so we walked all the way to Clapham with Roo in the buggy, a metal rucksack carrier on my back and painful new boots. The fireworks were alright – a little “budget” that year. We went to get the bus home and whooped as we squeezed on to the first one outta there. We weren’t still whooping when we were still at Clapham Common half an hour later. Walking is definitely the way to get home from fireworks in London.
All of which brings us slightly raggedly onto the fireworks at Coram’s Fields today. My friend (C’s Mum) and I had deftly avoided transport problems on the way in by arriving at Coram’s six hours before the fireworks were due to start. And staying there. There are a host of reasons why we did this, but the upshot was we spent a full day at Coram’s and hung on for the fireworks at 5:30pm. It was quite surreal, playing on the aerial runway as it got darker and darker and having tea at Kipferl, the Austrian cafe in the corner. Some would say that planning to spend seven hours in a playground when it’s approximately seven degrees outside is madness. Others would say it’s “parenting genius”. Or if you want to be exactly exact “parenting genius?”
So, this is how you spend a full day at Coram’s. Arrive around 10:30. Visit Waitrose and pick up lunch and snacks. Meet friends. Run around in circles going “aaaaahhhhhhh” (mainly Roo and C doing this, not the mothers or babies). Take 3-year-olds to toilet. Eat picnic lunch at 12:00. Play on the aerial runway. Round around in circles again. Get friend to buy your hot chocolate because your extremities are beginning to ice over. Take 3-year-olds to toilet. Eat fruit. Rain starts at 14:00 – hastily bundle children into cafe for star biscuits and pineapple juice. Wonder why they both chose pineapple juice when neither of them have ever shown interest in pineapple juice before. Feed babies. Rain stops. Chase after boys as they run in very big circles around the whole playground. Take 3-year-olds to toilet. Back to the cafe at 16:00 for boys’ dinner (sausages and a hunk of bread, plus ketchup). Feed babies again. Chase after boys again. Notice it’s getting dark. Take 3-year-olds to toilet. Find a spot and wait for fireworks. Buy glowsticks.
Or something like that. I forget. There was some feeding, a lot of boys eating and going to the toilets, a lot of playing and one nappy change (not for Eva, sadly. Poor girl). As it got darker and more crowded, I got steadily more paranoid about losing one of the boys as they ran about. There were a LOT of people there, and a lot of small children. So we bundled them into their pushchairs and at 17:25 we were positioned and ready.
So, what should happen next….Eva waking up and demanding a feed? Seems unlikely. But unlikely as it seems, that’s what happened! So I sat in the mud at the base of a tree and fed her quickly while those extremities froze again. She finished just in time for the countdown and then WHIZZ! BOOM! BANG! SHANG-A-LANG! The fireworks were off!
We rapidly changed spot as most of them seemed to be behind a tree, but once we moved, the boys just stared in rapt awe at them. They weren’t the most spectacular fireworks ever, but they were pretty good and definitely enough to impress a pair of 3-year-olds. Eva screamed throughout, maybe because of the bangs or maybe cause she felt her feed had been unfairly truncated. I took her off to check her nappy but it seemed clean enough so sorry, still no fresh nappy for you Eva.
The display lasted 20 minutes or so, and there was a small wait to get out. Once we got through the gates the crowds dispersed a bit and we dived straight down Lambs Conduit St. We had vaguely thought about getting a bus, but there were people everywhere so we just decided to walk to Waterloo where C’s Mum could get a train and I could pick up a bus. It was a nice walk, not as far as I’d expected and pretty bracing. I was still wearing four layers and a baby who was also in four layers so by the time I got on the bus I had a face like a small radiator. I think people were staring. I didn’t care too much. I had taken my boy to the fireworks and that’s what mattered. He woke up briefly when we got him home and put him to bed, to murmur something to Nathan about how much he liked fireworks. And that makes it all worthwhile. Didn’t even have to go to Southend.
VERDICT: A nice early start, which makes it easier for small children and an impressive enough display.