An Afternoon in Brixton

IMG-20130826-00237So let me tell you a story, all about my day. It’ll have some interesting bits, honest. We’ve been in rural Hampshire for a week, so decided to go for maximum contrast by spending our first day back in Brixton. Mainly cause I needed to review Planes.

Brixton was bizarrely busy when we got there, in contrast to the Bank Holiday ghost town of Kennington. It seemed like everyone was going to some kind of fiesta, without any evidence of such a thing happening anywhere in SW9 itself. My best guess is that people were gathering to travel to Notting Hill. That’s the only sane explanation for large groups of people wearing plastic fruit on their heads. Or it may be a fashion thing. I’m not sure.

We had some time to kill before the film, so we went to hang out in Windrush Square and enjoy the sunshine. It’s been redeveloped in quite a nice way, but there’s no avoiding the roar of the nearby A23 and the limits on just how fast a boy can scoot near the “big, busy roads”. Besides, this is still Brixton so it’s full of half-naked old men drinking Red Stripe. Nonetheless, it was a good place to have a sit down – at least Nathan and a sleepy Eva did, while Roo and I wandered around and took photos of the local features:

IMG-20130826-00238 IMG-20130826-00233IMG-20130826-00234Then it was time to watch Planes at the Ritzy and Eva woke up just as we were going in. Eva has been poorly the last few days and so has been a bit cuddly and lethargic. Today was not a cuddly and lethargic day. Today was a loading up on sweet popcorn and dancing about in front of the screen kinda day. At least one child knows how to sit and stare at a screen:

IMG-20130826-00243It was dark, obviously, hence the shaky photo and the bleached out look of the boy..

After the cinema it was still sunny, so we went off in search of a bit of green space somewhere near the centre of Brixton. A tall order, you say? Well, I’d seen a park on the map that looked promising. It’s called Papa’s Park and it’s not the most obvious place to find. You have to turn off Brixton Road just past the railway line, here:

IMG-20130826-00244We wandered past some tyre shops and down a desolate-looking street and then we found it! A community playground with a cafe attached! And it was….closed

IMG-20130826-00245Time for Plan B! Next destination was Max Roach Park, back along Brixton Road.

It’s a bit of a random park – you’re greeted by a wire statue depicting a massacre, go past more semi-naked men and then there’s a brick thing with slides coming out of it into a sandpit. I didn’t really get a good photo of it, but you can kinda see it in the background:

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And meanwhile, here’s Eva in the sandpit, burying my foot:

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And Reuben on the seesaw with his friend for the day, Mr Platypus:

IMG-20130826-00254It’s a decent size, with a playframe and couple of rope-hammocks as well as the three slides into the sandpit. And, of course, a see-saw that’s perfect for platypuses. It also had a deckchair-type swing that Roo wanted to go on so badly that he was prepared to fight the current incumbent for it. Luckily it didn’t come to that:

maxIt was getting late, but we had one more treat up our sleeves – ice cream! And this is where it all started to go wrong. I’d noticed a sign for a new ice-cream parlour called “Creams” a few weeks back, and had been watching progress eagerly. Now, it seemed to be open, and handily next to the bus stops home. It was a warm day, so we’d pop in there on the way home for a quick treat. What could possibly go wrong?

The short answer is: everything.

The long answer is eeeeeeeeeevvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyytttttttttttthhhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg

And I’ll start on the really long answer now. It’s almost too painful to recount it all and I honestly have some sympathy for people working in retail, as I did work in retail for a long time. I even worked in ice-cream retail and I have my Baskin Robbin’s qualification (see below). I know how tough it can be in a new store on a busy day. But, oh my. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like it.

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Let’s be positive for a moment. It looked good. The gelato was piled high, as it should be. The walls were glittery and they even had a discoball.. In fact, it did look a bit like a disco. But I like discos, so that’s OK.

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Let’s move onto the bad, quickly as if I’m ripping a plaster off….

There was no obvious queue. The signs just said to order ice-cream at the tills but no-one was really serving there. People everywhere. No labels on any of the flavours telling you what they were. Reuben whining for ice-cream. No credit cards. When we got served after 10 mins, he asked us if we’d been seated. Obviously, no-one doing seating. Had to repeat the order several times because it was “too confusing”. Managed to pay and get seated. Guy assured us ice-cream would come to the table. Waited another 10 mins. Different guy asked us why we hadn’t collected it at the counter. Reuben whining for ice-cream. Told him what first guy had said. Caused mass confusion. People next to us still waiting. Receipt brought back, with notes scribbled on it. Asked to write down exactly what we wanted. Charged for 4 scoops, not 3. Let it go. Reuben whining for ice-cream. People next to us still waiting. We got ice-cream! Not exactly what we ordered. Let it go. Reuben eating ice-cream incredibly slowly. People next to us walked out.

IMG-20130826-00260I hate to be all negative, and I really do try and support new businesses. But this was just chaos. People were queuing out of the door as we left, and it looked like some kind of system was being implemented but our experience was confusion and frustration on every side (i.e. not just us) And far too much time spent without ice-cream. Look how impatient my boys were getting:

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I like to end on a positive, so I’m happy to say that the ice-cream when it came was thoroughly delish. You just have to feel sorry for the people next to us who never got to try it….

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6 Responses to An Afternoon in Brixton

  1. Creams Cafe says:

    Hi, sorry to hear about your experience. We are glad you liked the ice cream. Sometimes it can be a lot to handle, especially on a Bank Holiday as so many people to serve. Yes a new branch open can be very popular hence the rush and manic to serve everyone. We hope and aim to please everyone but sometimes can get it wrong as we are human. Once again we apologize for any inconvenience you may have had on the day and hope we can serve you better next time :)

    • katese11 says:

      Thanks for the response – I really hate to be negative, but my readers rely on me to be honest, and it was so chaotic that I just couldn’t sugar coat it! Will visit again when it’s calmed down…

  2. Creams Cafe says:

    Please do, and if you still have a problem, please let me know through our facebook page so i could look into it :) Apart form that Enjoy the dessert ;)

  3. Pingback: Killing Time on the South Bank – 29/08/13 | London With a Toddler

  4. Penny from PAPA's Park says:

    Googling PAPA’s Park out of curiosity brought me to this post, and I thought I should point out that your photo actually shows the gate unlocked (we always leave the padlock attached, but that’s the unlocked position). If you’d pushed the gate it would have opened.

    The cafe is sometimes closed, but the playground is open 365 days a year. I’m afraid that news comes almost a year too late for your outing though.

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