I’m a special kind of tired today. The kind of tired that you get when you go out for a rowdy curry night with the local mothers and then get up for the school run and then wait ages for coffee and then go to a playgroup in Liverpool Street and then do some blogging and then do another school run and then walk a mile or two with tired kids in tow to go and play in the brand new playground at the Highams Park. That’s how tired I am. And that’s the extent of my devotion to you, that instead of lying on the sofa, eating Pringles and watching “You’re Fired”, I’m reporting back to you on this self-same brand new playground so that you can ooh and aah and plan your fun weekend hanging out there. Also, I don’t have any Pringles.
Let’s get something yikky out of the way first – if you’ve been paying attention to local affairs, you’ll have heard about a worrying smell that’s emanating from the Highams Park lake at the moment. I regret to inform you that the rumours are true but there are two bits of good news – firstly, that it’s being dealt with tomorrow by some people with a machine and secondly, that you can’t smell it from the playground. At least, I couldn’t today. So, please don’t let that put you off.
Because, in many other ways , the park is looking quite lovely and autumnal right now:
And Eva in her new mac quite nicely blended in with her surroundings:
But onto the main event – the newly opened playground, which has had a total renovation in the last few weeks. Disappointingly, I don’t have a “before” picture (please get in touch if you do!) but it was a pretty tired looking affair, with a giant metal climbing frame, a rusting roundabout and not much else. And now? Well, it has a train:
A rocking horse that goes really fast (hence the blurriness of these pictures):
A new slide:
A new, accessible roundabout:
Two sets of swings and a toddler-sized climbing frame:
Enough to keep the kids busy, as you might imagine. The sky was getting ever darker and the threat of rain wasn’t far off, so I encouraged them to try out as many things as possible before we actually had to run for it. Which leads me neatly on to what this park is missing at the moment – somewhere to shelter from the rain. Specifically a cafe, which sells brightly coloured cakes and strong coffee and probably icy fruit drinks in the summer. Luckily, this is already under consideration and a proposal has been put forward, which you can have your say on right here. With a caffeine source on site, along with a set of toilets, we’d have lingered much longer. As it was, we stayed for an hour which is good going on a chilly October after-school outing…but I know I wasn’t the only one craving a cup of tea and a sit down by 5PM.
So, back to the stuff that’s actually in the park already. Roo was delighted to see that there’s now a zipwire and I failed to get any photos of him on it because it’s outside the playground and, slack mother that I am, I didn’t follow him when he ran off to use it. He also enjoyed the obstacle course, which is outside the playground as well. The bits within the fenced off area are more geared towards smaller ones – the climbing frame is a bit too easy even for Eva – but both of them are happy with any space to play in, and Reuben amused himself by going down the slide in a variety of awkward poses and trying to catch the wind in his umbrella to make the roundabout take off and fly us home (sadly, it didn’t work. We had to walk). A favourite of them both were these rainbow bongos:
I’m guessing you’re meant to hit them, rather than stand on them but they took Eva’s weight just fine. And Reuben’s umbrella again came in useful, as an improvised drum stick:
It also got a sound out of these giant chimes, which seemed to be curiously lacking a beater:
But mainly, the umbrella was for jumping off stuff and trying to fly, a la John from Peter Pan:
I’m glad I packed that umbrella, even if it didn’t actually rain.
Eva’s favourite things were the brightly coloured mushrooms, and she insisted on me taking a picture of her on each one. I probably shouldn’t indulge this kind of vanity, but I’m a soft touch when it comes to cute pictures of my kids:
So, I’d say that the new playground is a hit with the kids and the trip was pretty much a success. (Ohgoodgriefletsnottalkaboutthedinnertimebathtimeandbedtimethatfollowed). I’d encourage all local HPers to go along and take a look and support the park and don’t forget to fill in the forms for the cafe consultation either. Mama needs caffeine….