It’s taken me a few days to get round to writing this up, but thanks to Eva we’re no longer doing that sleep thing that everyone goes on about. So it’s nearly 1AM and I am updating you on our adventures in East London while she watches Macca Pacca washing some faces. Them’s the brokes.
So what would you do on a drizzly Sunday afternoon, other than go to Wanstead? I couldn’t think of anything either. Nathan was on rota at church, which tends to be horribly stressful for me herding both of them, so we decided to skip half of church and go and see Tammy playing her ukelele at the Wanstead Village Fete instead. You know Tammy - loyal friend to LWAT, mother of Jake and a writer with an occasional uke habit. We planned to get there in plenty of time to see the set but plans never do go smoothly. And after the faultlessness of Saturday’s complikated trip to North London, I thought you’d all appreciate some good old LWAT rubbishness.
First hitch occurred in the “getting to Liverpool Street” phase. We were with Nathan at this point and, co-incidentally, Roo’s bestest friends who were also on their way to church. So the three children squashed onto one double seat while Eva snoozed in her buggy and seemed happy…until we realised it was taking the best part of an hour to get a few miles. So we hopped off around Threadneedle St and walked the rest. So far, a little late.
Then we said goodbye to Nathan and put the first bit of my plan into action. We were going step-free from Liverpool St to Wanstead. Oh yes. We had a buggy, so we’d be buggyered if the plan failed. No pressure. First part was easy – small lift next to McDonalds on the upper concourse takes you right down to the Underground ticket hall.
Next, an escalator. Trickier. A trip to Walthamstow last year had opened my eyes to the problems of doing patented buggy-on-chest style of escalator ascension with more than one child (on that occasion, Eva was on my chest in a wrap and she objected) but I thought I had it sorted. Going down the escalator, Eva was going to be in the buggy, me clinging onto aforementioned buggy, Roo standing close behind me like a good school age boy is able to do. But I forgot one thing – Scooty.
“Who’s Scooty?” you may ask. Well, she is Reuben’s scooter and she goes everywhere. Except, clearly, down escalators. So I thought little of it and slung Scooty over the top of the buggy, and we stepped on.
But disaster! Scooty’s wheels started rolling along the side of the escalator, and she actually tried to escape, in a mad manner. Catching her meant I almost dropped the buggy but thankfully I held onto them all without doing that or falling over and crushing Reuben behind me. Note for future – keep scooter wheels away from moving, metal surfaces. And readers – don’t try this at home (assuming you have an escalator in your home)
After that, getting them both on the tube was child’s play. Persuading Eva that the tube isn’t the place for child’s play was harder. But a kind of peace reigned, with Roo sitting a few seats away from where me and Eva were, next to a “kind woman” who opened his biscuits for him. We were still late, but it was all going well.
But was it? Really, was it? I pride myself on my knowledge of the London Underground, but apparently I’m not too hot on the Central Line. Let’s take a look at a wee detail of it:
What’s that just north of Leytonstone? A split? Why yes, it is. But I don’t think I’ve ever really thought too much about the east end of the Central Line before, and certainly not enough to…yknow…look at a map before boarding a train towards Wanstead.
All of which, as you may have worked out by now, landed us in Snaresbrook.
Clearly, this happens a lot. So, I considered my options for a moment. Option#1 that came to mind was what they suggest above – go back the way you came and change at Leytonstone. There’s quite a large margin of error with that plan because it still requires looking at where you’re going – not my strong point, it seems. And then there was the steps issue. I’d planned our route carefully to avoid going up and down stairs with the buggy, and Wanstead had escalators only, no steps. Snaresbrook didn’t – to get back to Leytonstone, we’d have to go over a bridge with 30ish steps each way.
(And yes, I am aware of the irony contained in the phrase “I’d planned our route carefully” but we were in East London. You have to be a bit ironic in East London)
So I went for Option#2 – go over ground. I reasoned from the look of the tube map that the two stations couldn’t be too far apart, so there’d probably be a bus of some kind that we could take. And I was right! There were three back to Wanstead tube. So, we set off in search of the bus stop, pausing only briefly to chat to an ironic chap who was scrumping for conkers by throwing a stick at them.
We got down to the road the bus stops were on – High Street Wanstead. Hang on a tube-missing minute! Wasn’t that the road we wanted to be on? Had we been in Wanstead all along?
Yes, as it turns out. Snaresbrook is just the other end of a 500m road that goes back straight to Wanstead tube, and the Wanstead Village Fete was on Christchurch Green, around 400m down (I’ve worked this all out very scientifically, using Google maps and my fingers). So me and Scooty walked, and Reuben rode on Scooty’s back. And we got there in a matter of minutes. Moral of the story? Don’t trust everything that TfL tell you. Always choose Hidden Option#3.
After all that, are you really expecting me to tell you what we did at the fete? OK, go on then…We got there about halfway through Tammy’s set and found her under the trees with the rest of the Walthamstow Acoustic Massive. They were singing/uke-ing/banjo-ing up a storm. And I mean that literally. The gentle pluck of the banjo was overlain with the ominous rumble of thunder. This might be a short trip to Wanstead. Still, there was no rain yet and Reuben and Eva were busy dancing:
When the set ended, Reuben was keen to investigate the playground, but on the way we got distracted by some soft play and messy play things provided by a local children’s centre. Eva was particularly taken with a scuttlebug that was identical to the one she has at home. We played there for a while and then I saw an exciting puppet show involving a man dressed as a dragon. I wanted to watch but Reuben wanted a pee. And by the time we’d finished faffing about flushing chemical loos, the dragon was disassembled:
Oh, well. Time for a quick play in the playground before the threatened downpour turned into actual downpour. And it was a perfectly good playground, including a long, snake-shaped rope swing and a climbable tractor:
But it was time to go, and catch some of kids’ church. We walked back to Wanstead – cause it is definitely closer than Snaresbrook – and were back in Liverpool St 15 minutes later. A bit of a random jaunt, but what else do you expect? I’ll leave you with a picture of Eva…just because: