You may already know this from the Facebook page, but yesterday, we made the epic trip from SE11 to SE12. It wasn’t as easy as it sounded. As any London geek knows, postcodes are ordered alphabetically rather than geographically, so Kennington and Lee are next to each other in the list, but miles away in reality. But some friends of ours, last seen heading to the north at Kings Cross, were back in London and making their home in Lee. So we went to see Lee.
We decided to catch the train from Waterloo East. A consultation with C’sMum informed me that Waterloo East didn’t have its own separate entrance, even though it’s a separate station. You have to go through Waterloo itself. If you go in from Waterloo Rd, as we do, this involves a lift up to the concourse, then another lift and a bridge to Waterloo East, which then has ramps down to platform level. So, step-free but complicated. The plus side was that we had this massive lift to ourselves, which was perfect for dancin’.
So, we got to Lee and promptly headed to Lewisham to raid the 99p stores with our friends. Yes, that’s SE12 to SE13…exciting huh? But it was too hot for shopping for long, so we bought a picnic and sought out the leafy heights of Hilly Fields.
I first heard of Hilly Fields years ago, when a friend was in Lewisham hospital. A funny turn after going diving had landed her in there, among the geriatrics as they didn’t have space on any other wards. We were visiting her and commenting on the view when a random old lady piped up, apropos of pretty much nothing, “Hilly Fields!” So, whenever anyone says that I hear it in her frail, old, slightly mad voice. And we were finally visiting!
It’s a fair old slog from Lewisham centre. You have to walk towards Loampit Vale, then take a turn after the brand new swimming pool, unmissable in its garish multi-coloured squares. And then you go uphill. Sharply uphill, through some twists ands turn until you reach the expanse of green that is Hilly Fields.
First thing to know about the Hilly Fields playground is that it contains the lethal combination of sand and water. Maria, a friend of LWAT, suggests that you can remove sludgy sand with a dash of talcum powder. It’s a handy tip which I yet again failed to test out, mainly due to the lack of talcum powder about my person. The big surprise was that it was Eva rather than Roo who got herself in a mess, dipping her white socks into a water-filled sand hole dug by some not-so-small boys. They looked despairingly at her for wrecking their hole. I looked despairingly at her. She looked joyfully back at me as she splashed about and wrote off her dungarees too.
So, what else was there? Well, a few climbing frames, including one shaped like a train:
An assault course like the one at Pasley Park:
You can imagine how well that went. The play equipment wasn’t the newest – a plaque suggested it was built in 1996 – but it was a nice park, surrounded by fields that were a bit hilly, strangely enough. On one side, by the cafe, there were glimpses of an impressive view over South London, annoyingly blocked by a line of trees. Still, there’s a good view of Canary Wharf.
There was also an ice-cream van, which is all the 4-year-olds really cared about. We visited, stocked the boys with enough sugar to get back down the hill, and then E, R and I headed back home from SE13 on the 436. Reuben fell asleep on my lap around SE14 and had to be rudely turfed out at SE15 so I could move the buggy. If only we’d gone back up the Old Kent Rd, we could have added SEs 16 and 17 too, but when you have two sleeping children, postcode games start to drop down the priority list. Turns out I’m not that much of a geek after all…
VERDICT: A nice spacious park with some good play facilities.