As you might have noticed, it’s been a bit of a full-on half term, both in blogging terms and actually getting-out-of-the-house-and-doing-stuff terms. Funnily enough, they always seem to go together. So when I was contemplating how to mark the 400th post this weekend, my brain just began a slow shutdown. Every idea I had seemed like too much effort – a day in W4? Oh but, that’s miles away. A trip down the A400? Well, we covered a lot of that road on the 200th post. Riding the four rail lines that are just about to be handed over to TfL tomorrow? That sounds tiring. And we spend a lot of time on one of them anyway. In the end, I decided to just go somewhere we were planning to go anyway and somehow shoehorn a 4-ish theme into it.
In superhero parlance, the Thor Hundreth post would be Loki.
(Get it? I’m so proud of myself…and I have definitely spent too much time with Reuben lately)
As it happened, we did start our journey on one of those lines that tomorrow magically appear on the tube map. So, here’s Highams Park station on its very last day under Abellio Greater Anglia. End of an era etc.
I neglected to take one in Chingford because I was busy running for a bus that wasn’t leaving for another ten minutes. Our clue should have been when we barged past the driver of that bus, who was happily ambling along. Which bus, you ask? Why the most appropriate bus for a 4-based celebration – the 444. From E4. Four fours. Nice. Obviously, the 400 bus would have been even more appropriate, but it doesn’t exist. Also, we did that bus thing last year. Besides, this bus went somewhere I really wanted to go, albeit in a long and winding way. No wonder it didn’t seem overly popular:
Well, we were keen travellers even if no-one else was. Eva pressed her nose to the glass and told me all the exciting things she could see out of the window. Like a car. And a tree. And Chingford. Lots and lots of bits of Chingford.
You see, like so many 3-digit buses, the 444 likes to take its time and wander around a bit. It’s not a particularly efficient way of getting about if you start from Chingford station….but if you’re going to get a bus just for the sake of it, you should do it properly. There may have been mutters of dissention from Nathan when we’d been travelling for half an hour and a sign suggested that we were three quarters of a mile from home. But luckily, he and Roo were sitting miles away from me and Eva so I couldn’t hear him moaning.
It took a while, but we eventually left Chingford behind for an exciting game of Twister with the North Circular. I always find the idea of a London bus on a dual carriageway bizarre, but this is life in Zone 4. We ducked and dived around the road, went alongside it and I think onto it for a short while. The view from the window varied from leafy greenness to industrial scrapyards. And inside the bus, the view was mostly of Eva’s sparkly new shoes:
See, I told you they were impractical. Gotta dig the hand-me-down pirate socks though.
We were coming into Tottenham, which always has an odd kinda feel to it. I don’t think it’s ever been in the news for anything very positive, and it seems like a place that gentrification has passed by. Which naturally means it’s home to the actual hipsters – the struggling musicians and artists who really do live there before it’s cool. Give it a few years and it’ll be Hackney Part 2.
There were more dissenting noises from the boys at the front regarding the length of this bus journey, so I helpfully bluetoothed Nathan a screenshot of the route map. I was relieved that it was Nathan I sent it to, as his phone wasn’t named so it could have been anyone on the bus with an XPeria. It’s not the most embarrassing photo to send to someone by mistake though, and actually it verges on useful.
What doesn’t verge on useful, however, is the stop that we were getting off at being mysteriously missing from the IRL bus route. If anyone else is attempting to get to Lordship Lane Recreation Ground on the 444, be aware…the “Lordship Lane” stop just doesn’t exist. Get off at Granville Road and walk. That’s what Eva told me to do and gosh, I regret not listening to her.
For yes, Lordship Lane Recreation Ground was where we were headed. It doesn’t sound overly exciting but it’s got some remarkable features. The main draw for us was the Model Traffic Area – dating from the 30s, this was a section of the park laid out like a little town for kids to ride their bikes and scooters around. It’s still there, revamped with shiny new signs and it’s huge. In fact, the whole park is pretty vast:
You can kinda forget that you’re in urban North London when all you can see in front of you is green. And they have bridges that made Roo want to play Pooh Sticks:
(Yes, I know that’s Eva…Roo didn’t stay still long enough)
It is a very pretty water feature:
Let’s not talk about the slightly funky smell. Or the tantrum Eva had over some wild flowers she wanted to pick. Let’s move straight on to the Model Traffic Area:
From the photos, it’s hard to tell that it’s anything but an actual road system. But it’s all for play – faithfully recreated roundabouts, one-way systems and cycle lanes….all for kids to roam free on. Brilliant.
Reuben doesn’t really have a pair of wheels at the moment, since his faithful Scooty broke. His bike is a little small for him but we decided to take it with us anyway, as he’d definitely want to join in any mini-road fun that was going on. And he managed a lot of bike riding, despite not having touched it in years. He’s getting a big boy bike for his birthday, by the way…in case anyone’s feeling sorry for him.
There were also three play areas, in and around the road system. This was the smallest:
Then there was a much bigger playground just next to it, with more climbing frames, a seesaw and swings:
And a model train! Just in case there wasn’t enough for your transport-mad child already:
There was also a good range of accessible play equipment – an ability whirl and a accessible swing, for starters. The ability whirl didn’t move very fast though…almost like it didn’t really have the ability to whirl.
Eva watched a bigger girl hanging on to this thing, and twirling through the air:
She gave it a go but I’m not sure her arm muscles are quite up to it. Let’s just say I’m glad I didn’t let go of her.
The third play area was a charming little natural one, just outside the back of the playground. It had a little tree-stump maze, where you had to step on the ducks and avoid the crows and geese:
It also had natural stepping stones, much like the ones we found at the back of Warwick Services. Only these had probably been risk assessed and stuff:
Much to my amusement, we also found a woman dressed just like Nathan. I tend to be able to spot Nathan from a distance, thanks to his unusual Australian hat, which he inherited from Bang. But they’re clearly not so unusual in Australia and it was an Australian woman that was wearing an almost identical one, together with a green t-shirt and black trousers. I managed not to grab the wrong person but I’ll be honest, it was a close call.
It was getting late by now, and the cafe was shutting at 5 so I wrangled the three of them in there in order to get some sugar and caffeine before we headed home. Eva sulked about having to stop scooting about and then sulked again about the lack of blue ice pops. But she was impressed by the cafe’s large range of “That’s Not My” books. There was even one in Spanish!
See the face on that? A child cruelly forced to eat the wrong colour ice pop. We’re going to send her to gratitude school I think. And also Mr Freeze school because she made a total hash of that one.
Meanwhile, I relaxed with a fruit tea and a brownie in the serene surroundings of the Lordship Hub and tried to ignore all of this^^
Nathan had a cappucino and he and Roo read a Lego annual that someone had helpfully filled in the answers to. There were toys and crayons and games on hand as well:
And it was generally a pleasant place to spend half an hour, even with a girl in a not-so-pleasant mood. They take card for transactions over a pound, which is an added bonus:
On our way out, there was just time for one more play area and this was the adventure playground. I assume it was designed for bigger kids, as they were hanging around all over it and it wasn’t the best-maintained bit of the park. There were a few panels missing and nails sticking out which made it unideal for adventurous kids. Roo liked the rope swing though:
And, once again, Eva didn’t want to leave it:
She loves those wobbly bridges, even though Mummy is a bit phobic about them. We did eventually peel her away, squealing about the injustice of it all, and we found the charmingly-named 123 bus to take us back to Walthamstow. Getting on the last bus home, the driver told Nathan he shouldn’t have a bike on board, which was a bit random given it was the fourth bus of the day and Roo’s bike really isn’t much bigger than Nathan is. If anyone could shed any light on the TfL regs re a small child’s bike, that would be super helpful.
For that reason, and a few others, I think we’d probably drive if we went there again. It’s a lovely place to practise cycling and it’ll be super-useful once he has his new bike…but if we can’t take a bike on the bus, driving seems sensible. Obviously “sensible” doesn’t come into the reasoning behind an LWAT anniversary post, so we took a meandering bus route instead.
Another reason to return is that we didn’t even check out the paddling pool – the kids clocked it as we went past but we didn’t have their swimming things and it wasn’t quite hot enough. Lordship Rec, you deserve more of our time than we gave you. And on that point I’ll….