Walthamstow Wanders

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December was both a busy and a sickly month and January has not – as yet – been a massive improvement. But in between the stomach bugs and theatre trips we have occasionally managed to do some wandering around Walthamstow, finding new and interesting places to tell you about. I’m not saying they’re all both new and interesting, obviously. That would be an overpromise and a half.

Let’s start with a trip to the new cinema, the Saturday before Christmas. Now, I remember opening a cinema. Twice! I remember the pain and the constant disasters. I especially remembered it when I got into the lift at the Empire – thanks to the power of contextual memory, stepping into the lift at a new build cinema will always fill me with a sense of dread and a literal plummeting feeling. But the lift worked fine!

The concession stand? Now, that was a bit more creaky. We were going to the Saturday morning kids’ show –  an old film (“Arthur Christmas”) at a bargainous £1.75 a pop, including adults. The last time we’d tried to see that film we’d failed dismally, but did meet Rastamouse, in a bizarre twist of events. Now, it was time to stop messing around with chillaxed rodents and actually see it. It seemed to be a popular move – the buggy park was filling up, and the foyer resounded with the joyous noise of childish enthusiasm. So I was a bit surprised that asking for the “family combo” (2xSnack Packs, 2xAdult Drinks, 1xPopcorn=£9.99) almost completely floored the girl serving us. Had no-one else wanted that? We did get it eventually, but everyone seemed terribly unsure about what might or might not be in it, despite the big sign advertising it behind them.

But hey, I remember. I sympathise. I was that confused popcorn seller in 1999. I was (Heaven help me!) trying to manage a team of those confused popcorn sellers in 2002. I do know what’s it’s like. But be aware, Walthamstow Parents. It’s not slick yet.

We were also sitting very close to the screen, a position that many of the aforementioned Walthamstow Parents have also found themselves in. And the screen is pretty much floor to ceiling, so it feels verrrry close, especially when you’re a bit long-sighted. However, the kids seemed fine with it – they do glue themselves to the TV regularly – and the showing went off well, without a technical hitch in sight. No loss of sound, no showing “Saw” trailers before a kids’ film, no lack of subtitles on a hard of hearing screening….I’ve gone back to that Bad Place again, haven’t I? Oh, so many painful Warner Village memories.

Then we went to Nandos. Look how excited Eva was ^^. Again, it was a little bit “newly opened” and the staff weren’t quite confident yet so there were some hiccups. Like bringing us crayons for the kids, but nothing for them to draw on. I had to grab the menu off Eva before she turned it into a Jackson Pollock (and no, not in the Red Dwarf sense. I tell you, we were stomach bug free that day) and give them a stack of napkins to draw on instead. The food also took a little while to come, by Nandos standards..but altogether not a bad experience.

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Onto today then, and a trip to St James’ Park. Some friends of ours have just bought a house nearby, which sounds dead impressive until you realise it’s St James’ Park E17, not that one with the herons. Still, it’s a sizeable park, not far from St James Street station. There’s a big open area, an under 3s climbing frame and swings and an aerial runway, which I don’t yet trust Eva on (I held onto her and whizzed her down a few times but she’s not going solo yet). There’s also a little play tunnel, which was a bit wet today but would be grand in the summer for holding secret meetings in and that kinda thing. There are two bigger playframes as well, one with an assault course leading to a slide…and even a little gazebo thing in the middle. Well worth a visit if you’re perusing the market nearby. On the way, we also spotted a yard full of vintage buses, which turned out to be the Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum. It’s being renovated at the moment, but is due to reopen on 1st March, which is exciting. I shall be reporting back…

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