Today was a day of discovery. Like the discovery that we could make a half mile walk last half a day and other, more useful, things, Let’s start with the discovery of the Tardis of North London – Canonbury station.
Where is it? Oh so tiny and hidden behind those leafy things..there it is! This is us doubling back from up the road having walked past it on the first attempt – you can barely see that there’s a station there. So, you squeeze through the doorway and through the miniscule ticket hall and then down the steps and oh…oh…it’s….
Bigger on the inside! Four generously sized platforms, all behind a secret entrance. Magic!
We were, as you might have guessed, travelling to Wapping. Our end destination was St Katherine’s Dock but we had time to kill so we decided not to take a bus, to walk instead, and possibly find a park along the way.
Mentioning a park to Reuben was the first major mistake of the day (there will be more). He has certain ideas about what a park should contain, and he instantly rejected the first one we came to:
I think it was called Wapping Rose Gardens and was dismissed as not having “the right equipment”. Or any equipment. That’s fine. We were just out of the station and there were more to try on the way, according to Google Maps. In fact,t he next park was just across the road. It was called Waterside Gardens and scored slightly higher in Roo’s estimation, for its river views and pagoda:
We spent a few minutes sitting there discussing the marine police station that you could see out in the river. That interested him, though he raised some concerns about what would happen in Galactus was on the beach, throwing stones at the police boats. He has many concerns about Galactus and I can’t answer them all. I also couldn’t answer his questions about playgrounds because, as I explained to him, I’d never been to Wapping before and so I had no idea if there were any playgrounds with the “right equipment” there at all. A quick google had left me feeling unoptimistic but I didn’t tell him that. Still, Wapping is pretty:
All cobbles and clean streets. That’s the 100 stop you see there – I briefly considered getting that bus to the docks until I saw that it seemed to head to Shadwell on both sides of the same road. I may have got that wrong, but the confusion threw me enough to abandon the bus plan altogether.
The other motivation for walking was to find some food. I’d packed sandwiches for the kids, which Roo ate on the tube and Eva steadfastly refused on the tube. I’d hoped there would be a little Pret or even an Itsu somewhere on the route but all I could see were expensive-looking brasseries and even more expensive-looking blocks of flats. Lots and lots of them. Even if we’d gone to the Pret that Google suggested, it would have been closed on a Sunday anyway. So, pioneer-style living it was then. With no firm plans for food or play, we ploughed on, getting increasingly agitated by the prospect of finding neither.
(Like any good pioneer, I’d bought some Branston Pickle flavoured Mini Cheddars at Canonbury, but their effects were short-lived).
Roo was getting whiney. He tried explaining a few more times exactly what he was after – a playground with slides and swings and things. I don’t call myself an expert on many things but I pride myself on knowing what a playground is, thanks Roo. He just sometimes doesn’t explain that we make these long and arduous journeys so that other children don’t have to. If we could establish definitively that there were no slides in Wapping, then someone else could just Google it, find this post and go to KidZania instead.
I didn’t even try to explain that, to be honest. We would have come unstuck around the SEO part. But I’m building to something, because I said this was a day of discovery and we did indeed discover a playground. Ladies and Gentlemen, give it up for…
The Hellings Street Open Space! We spotted it by chance from Wapping High Street and approached carefully, just in case it was some kind of residents’ only deal. As we did, Roo explained that this was what he was looking for and, furthermore, he knew that it was open because he could see someone swinging on a swing. Thankfully, he was right and the kids spent a blissful half hour or so playing on the climbing frame:
And climbable rocks on the side:
I say the children played…well, that’s true….but it wasn’t just the kids:
There was lots of nice landscaping around the park, which Eva couldn’t quite get up by herself. She too felt the need to explain things to me that I pretty much understood already. “I keep syiding down”. Yes, I see that:
Roo was a little more able, but still needed a bit of a bunk-up on these hills:
You’ll be glad to know that my usually-ungrateful children actually appreciated this playground and didn’t even kick up a fuss when it was time to leave. It was 3PM by now, I still hadn’t had lunch and I had a destination in mind:
Make no mistake, this is a middle-class part of town. But it provided not just lunchables for Nathan, Eva and I but also a birthday present for Bob. We perched on a wall outside, ate our food and wrote Bob’s card. I hope she realises what a momentous piece of family history she’s holding – the first time we’ve all signed our own names in a card:
You can also see from this card why I don’t handwrite my blog posts.
Yes, it was Bob’s birthday and that’s the reason we were Wapping about all afternoon. So, it was probably time to actually go and meet her at the Dickens Inn. There was just one small problem:
Hmm, that’s a lot of water between where we were and where we wanted to be. Roo, as ever, had a blue-sky solution that involved finding someone to sail us across in a boat. I suggested walking around the edge of the quay instead. And that came with a few unexpected bonuses. Like finding the Queen’s barge:
And this wobbly bridge, with particularly hazardous sides (or lack of):
You’d think that would be the kind of bridge that only a man would tackle. But you’d be wrong. In fact, it appears to be for women and children only:
Anyway, women and children and illicit man made it across safely and by now, I had definitely earned this well-garnished Pimms:
When it was time to leave, I made another very poor decision. Perhaps it was joining the crowds milling around Tower Bridge that did it, but I decided we would use the tourist way of getting to Liverpool Street – go on the tube. Now, we should have caught the bus and we possibly could even have walked it, but the signs for Tower Hill kept promising it was but a matter of minutes away. So we followed them.
At one point, we definitely seemed to be going round in a circle. I had the roughest idea of where the tube was, so walked around a dock, down a road, up another road, under a tunnel…
This was not going well. This was not the easy solution I was hoping for. We popped out by the Tower of London, so that was something interesting to look at at least:
But we still weren’t at Tower Hill tube and a tunnel that looked like it might be a tube just led to a gift shop and a massive flight of stairs. I caught sight of some TfL blue at the top, so we ascended and sure enough – the station was there. But we got to the platform and there was no sign of the Circle Line. Even when the sign finally appeared, it was still 6 minutes away. I have no idea what caused me to pull such a tourist move, but I regret it. Should have jumped on the 78 when we had the chance.
And that’s the final discovery for today. I hoped you’ve all learnt from our mistakes…but also, I hope you’ve learnt that there IS a climbing frame in the vicinity of Wapping High Street. Hooray!