Do you ever worry that LWAT is losing its edge? That we have complex days out that seem to go well, with barely a hint of preschooler meltdown? Well, fear no more. Here’s a tale of a day that should have been simple but didn’t take into account that most unpredictable of elements…the Eva element.
It started well. We were going on a field trip to Stratford with some of our local mum friends, so started out with a long bus journey with Bunny and BunnyMummy. That worked pretty well, as the small girls could just talk at each other rather than at their long-suffering mothers (but why are you long-suffering, Mummy?). We got off the bus at Stratford International because that was the closest stop to the bit of the Olympic Park we wanted to get to – take note, transport fans – and it also handily provided me with cash, coffee and cake. We were well prepared for a day at the fake beach next to the Aquatic Centre. The weather wasn’t looking particularly awesome, but that would just mean more space for us, right?
Probably, but first we had to find it. It’s not far from the Aquatic Centre, so from The Street in Westfield head out towards the Orbit, cross Westfield Avenue and then, just past the Aquatic Centre, you’ll find a lift that takes you down beside the waterway. From there it’s easy to find Beach East. If the first sentence of this paragraph reads like a foreign language, then clearly you don’t spend enough time in E20 (no, not Walford..)
From above, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s more of a funfair than a beach:
But sure enough, once you get to ground level there’s a massive sandpit, a pretty big paddling pool and palm trees in pots (more on those later). There are also rides, a bouncy castle and eye-wateringly expensive Hook-a-Duck (£4!). There were also more of those ominous grey skies:
This didn’t deter us, being British and all, so we settled down on the sand on in deckchairs to enjoy our muffins:
Which blatantly would end up in the sand later, but never mind. Bunny had very bravely gone for a paddle, although reports say she found it a bit chilly. BunnyMummy was equally bravely muttering things about “bracing dips” and it being “just like Cornwall” but really, I’d say Scotland was probably closer to the mark at 10AM on a cloudy day.
None of which deterred Eva from following her BFF into the pool. Except she didn’t really paddle, just kinda faffed about on the side. I, on the other hand, was in the water up to my ankles…which is how I knew it felt a bit Scottish.
You can see in this photo Bunny’s discarded “hat”. You can also see how Eva’s own hat isn’t quite fitting. Apparently her swimsuit is 6-9 months. Whoops.
A few minutes’ looking at the water and she decided that sand play was the safer option:
Although even the sand had an element of danger to it, given that there were PE classes being held all over the place, and the strip of sand between the deckchairs and the paddling pool had teenagers on it, throwing balls to each other. Who thought it was a good idea to combine these things? Eva kept wandering into cricket pitches and hula hoop classes and I felt a bit like she was getting in the way. But also, it’s a public space and having so many different things going on seemed like bad planning.
At one point, the threatening weather turned into something less of a threat and more of a reality. It rained. And we sat on the beach straight through it. Told you we were British.
But then, miracle of miracles, the sun broke through! We could start relaxing now, couldn’t we?
Well, no. Eva was hungry and it was almost lunch time, so we checked out the food options. There was a noodle bar, a Turkish pizza stand and of course, the traditional Ye Olde English hotdogs:
Eva wanted chips, so we bought a £3 portion from the fried chicken stand and used this most curious contraption to ketchup them:
If you ever wondered what a ketchup dairy would be like, here’s your chance to try.
Getting back to the sand, Eva tried one or two chips before spitting them out and saying “I don’t like chips anymore”.
She what now? Huh? She liked chips 10 minutes ago…
Spitting isn’t on. Neither is making your mother sacrifice a mortgage payment to get you food you then don’t eat. I let her know that this kind of behaviour was going to lead to a swift exit from the Fun Place.
She called my bluff “OK. I want to go home.”
I don’t make idle threats. We visited the toilets, got her changed, picked the sandy chips up and put them in the bin and started walking off. Happily for her, Bunny was being equally erratic and also wanted to go home. After an hour in the Fun Place! Tsk,kids today. Well, at least we had company on the way home.
Although that way home was very nearly diverted to an A&E department after a particularly strong gust of wind knocked a palm tree onto Bunny. And we’re not talking about a tiny pot plant here:
I’m not quite sure how Bunny was unscathed, given it fell right across her buggy, but she somehow was. We called a security person over to deal with him and let him know how close we’d been to disaster and how close they’d been to a lawsuit.
“Yeah, they do that all the time” he said.
They fall over on children’s heads all the time?? Well, LWAT readers don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Slightly shell shocked, we headed back through Westfield, stopping at Westfield to buy ourselves some lunch and to try and entice the small girls to eat. Eva asked for a packet of chorizo, a packet of cocktail sausages and some cucumber and carrot dippers. Lunch attempt #2 was a little healthier than expensive chips, but would any of this actually end up in her stomach?
Yes, as it turns out. Because, in the concrete plaza behind Stratford International, she and Bunny were happy. There was nothing there to entertain them, but they made their own fun playing hide and seek:
and “Bunnies go to Bed”:
And generally climbing on these hard, chewing gum-covered, star-shaped benches:
Really?? This was more fun than that whole beach thing we’d just left behind? Apparently so. Once again, never try to understand how these tiny minds work. Sigh.
So, Beach East is a fun place to visit but be aware that your crazy child may prefer playing “Spot the Hipster” outside the Craft Beer bar and chasing pigeons. Also, they might get hit by falling palm trees. Enjoy!