London Fields and Hackney City Farm

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I’m writing this after a weekend of torrential downpours and intermittent drizzle, (though apparently quite localised because we got some funny looks turning up to church in wellies and coats). If you too have experienced the July showers you may be struggling to remember that 48 hours ago we were in the grip of glorious summer and on Friday Eva and I were heading to that most summery of destinations – Hackney. We were there to see our friend Bob and her baby Boby but first there was the important matter of naming all the colours on the fence of the playground:

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“Yeyyow, Wed, Boo, Geen!” said Eva. Once or twice. It’s a long, long fence they have there in London Fields, and a surprisingly big playground. We haven’t had a good play there since Roo was a 2-year-old and East London was being overrun by the EDL. Now, the 2-year-old was Eva and the EDL have largely fallen out of fashion with fascists in favour of Farage. So, it was time to revisit:

2014-07-04 09.27.58There were a couple of slides, which Eva climbed up onto and then decided were “too big” to go down. There was a natural play area:

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And the slide that you can watch the trains from – a bonus for any toddler.

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But it was time to go and show Boby some animals, so we walked through the park, avoiding the super-fast cyclists on the way and passed another play area:

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We didn’t stop and play because we were headed for Hackney City Farm, at the other end of Broadway Market.  I’d promised Eva some animals and she would get some. And Boby too, although she’s a little young to know all the words to “Old McDonald”.

We’ve been to a few city farms and are always keen to visit new ones. This was more the size of Vauxhall than Newham but still had donkeys, sheep and chickens in it, as well as some very large pigs, who were enjoying the sunshine and a roll around in the mud.

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Eva enjoyed pointing at the sheep and saying “baa” to them but was sad that the donkeys didn’t come close enough to stroke (or maybe I was sad…I don’t remember). She liked the “chicken babies” in the small animals shed and thought the guinea pigs were hilarious for some reason. It wasn’t huge, so you couldn’t spend very long there but it was nice to let our city girls get in touch with nature. Although farm-bred Bob said “it’s not a proper farm cause it’s got no cows.” So now you know…

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We’d planned to eat at the cafe, which was nice and roomy, but the mains looked to be around a tenner, which was a bit more than I wanted to spend. So we headed back up Broadway Market and found a lovely little cafe which made fresh smoothies and played the Wonder Stuff. They happily rustled up beans on toast for Eva and welcomed Boby, although there wasn’t a baby change for her (you forget just how often these babies need changing). I think it was called Caffe Villa D’avaeria but I might be wrong. Anyway, it was relatively cheap and very friendly and did some good sandwiches and salads.

Then onto the last Hackney-shaped treat of the day – back to London Fields for a paddle. The queue to the Lido itself was huge, so I’m glad we weren’t going there but we stopped off for a coffee at “Hoxton Beach”. Me and Bob had probably notched up around 8 hours’ sleep between us the night before, so we needed it. Besides, if I’m trying to gain some Hackney-hipster cred, supping a cappuccino in the paddling pool is the way to do it, right? Sadly I can’t quite pull off the bikinis that the other hipster mums were sporting, which would lead to some soggy dress issues later. But I’m skipping ahead.

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I was mostly relieved that the paddling pool was open. A post on a local parenting group the day before had suggested it was “closed at the moment” but a quick look at the sign revealed that it was closed on Mondays and Thursdays, so clearly the person involved had just picked an unlucky day. It was very much open, even if the cattle-grid just inside the gates was not conducive to pushing a buggy across. It helped to go at a kind of diagonal, but mainly it was just a matter of getting stuck and having the hipster mums laugh at you.It’s the price you pay for a paddle.

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And what a nice paddle. I love a bit of water play on a hot day, and Eva was very pleased to put on her flowery wetsuit and “wower hat” to do a bit of “splish splash”. A word of warning though – the depth of the pool changes quite dramatically and you can’t tell from the surface. It was around my ankles at one corner and up to my knees at the other corner. This was a problem in a few ways – firstly that I got my dress wet and secondly that Eva broke free from my grip when it was at her knee height and wandered off to the deeper part. I followed her but before I could grab her again she slipped over and couldn’t get her head back above water. Luckily, I was there to scoop her out and she didn’t seem too bothered (she was mostly concerned about her hat being wet) but if I’d been sitting on the side assuming it was all the same depth, there might have been trouble. And yes, I’m well versed on secondary drowning, so I kept a close eye on here for the rest of the day just in case. It’s been 48 hours and she seems OK…

Don’t let thoughts of drowning ruin what was a perfectly lovely afternoon – it’s just good to remember that paddling pools can get deeper without warning. Eva recovered very quickly from her unexpected dip and was keen to get back in and carry on playing.  Boby also dipped her baby toes in but looked fairly unimpressed. Just as unimpressed as Eva was when I made her get changed to go and pick up Reuben from school. I’m glad we got to enjoy some sunshine before the rain kicked in cause that might just be our lot for the summer…

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One Response to London Fields and Hackney City Farm

  1. Pingback: The Bucket & Spade List Part 8 – Spitalfields City Farm | London With a Toddler

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