I know, I know…..this was months ago. But it was a happy day, and I think I’d like to write about it if I may. It wasn’t a successful camera day, so I don’t have a huge amount of photos but that’s pretty standard LWAT rubbishness, isn’t it?
Let’s start at the start. There was a teachers’ strike. I was pretty stropped out about it. Nathan and I carefully mapped out all our annual leave at the start of the year, to cover school holidays, half terms and INSET days. There was no wiggle room. No wiggle room for the two election days that had closed the school and forced me to splash out on paid childcare. And definitely no wiggle room for a teachers’ strike just two weeks after that last closure. But I gritted my teeth, rejigged some stuff, paid for yet more childcare and alakazam – I had a Tuesday off with both kids. From then on, I decided we’d just have a nice day. A “yes” kinda day. I would forget how very irritating it is to have work disrupted every week of the summer term and we would just have a day out…a trial run for our summer days out.
Unfortunately, it was not starting in a very summery way. It was 9AM, it was raining and we were in the unglamourous surrounds of Barkingside. What do you do in that situation but go to the pub? I’ve rarely been to the pub at 9AM before, even in my student days, but apparently it was not a crazy thing to do -the Wetherspoons was open and it was pretty full. I was not the only one to think this was an OK thing to do and, worryingly, I was one of the only ones sticking to coffee (and hot chocolate for the kids). It was a strange experience.
But the coffee was much needed and gave me the energy to walk to our destination – Owls play centre in Fairlop Waters. We were trying out the public transport route and so far, it was working fine. Hence being half an hour early to meet J&J&A just before Owls opened at 10. We’d successfully got the 275 for the first bit and I’d successfully ascertained that there was no caffeine to be had on Forest Road, hence the pub. All we needed to do now was pick our way along that long and apparently pavementless road.
There are two ways to do this – you could just stick to the Fairlop tube side of the road, and there’s actually pavement right the way along. We didn’t do that though. We took a path off to the right, which looks a little like this (thanks Google Maps!):
Luckily it had stopped raining by now. We found ourselves walking along the edge of the golf course, talking about shoes (that will become significant later) and it brought us out nicely at the turning to Owls. It was a very pleasant alternative to the main road and we didn’t even go out of the way. There were even some hay bales to play on:
We hit Owls at 9:53, 3 minutes after the designated rendez-vous time and we were the first ones in. We’d been worried about it being rammed on a strike day, but it wasn’t too bad. And naturally, we bagsied the best table.
Now, I was already loosely planning to go and get the kids new shoes. Roo had said his casual shoes were pinching and Eva’s bunny trainers had had a hard life and now were falling off her feet, thanks to her habit of treading the backs down. I’d already wussed out a few times though – shoe shopping with Eva can be an ordeal and proved time and time again. This time though, fate stepped in. Or rather Reuben almost stepped in some sick that someone else had left in his current shoes. Yes, a random child was sick in Reuben’s shoes and left it for us to find later. That one incident marred what was otherwise a very pleasant morning at Owls. Eva might have even eaten something at some point. I forget. It was months ago.
So, we really, really needed to buy shoes. In the spirit of spontaneity I decided we’d go to Westfield. It was actually a logical decision – Fairlop is on the Central Line and would get us to Stratford speedily and once we were there the East London world was our oyster. I’d toyed with ideas of Ilford or Barkingside Clarks but this seemed much sounder. And the transport link worked like a dream.
Of course, we got suckered in to the Disney Store on the way to Clarks. I’m not sure the kids had ever gone into one before but they were entranced. So much Marvel and Princess tat in one place! And they had a magic mirror and a Princess tower! I’m amazed I ever got them out of there and into Clarks, especially as I refused to buy them anything but shoes. No Eva, that does not mean sparkly Disney shoes.
Mission was eventually accomplished, though shopping at Clarks during the sale is a harrowing experience and even more so when you end up having to pay for two pairs of full-price. Ouch. By now, the sun was shining hard and we were next to the Olympic Park so I figured – why not? Let’s go play.
Fate once more intervened and this time it didn’t have carrots in it. Some friends of ours from church had seen a Facebook appeal of ours for Olympic Park buddies. They were there, in the fountains, and we were welcome to join them. Of course, we had no swimwear but this was Spontaneity Day and so they went in wearing just their pants. It must be liberating to be able to do that.
Then Eva set up a shoe shop, carefully balancing a single shoe on the top of each post. Lucky tourists now had the opportunity to buy Roo’s sick-splattered trainers but sadly, none did. That would have paid for ice cream.
Because there was ice cream. Of course there was. It was a sunny Yes Day. It was almost as painfully expensive as the Clarks trip but Eva managed to eat the whole thing without dropping it. I think. I forget. It was months ago.
Every silver lining has a cloud though, doesn’t it? And the kids’ lack of dry pants were that cloud. There were some complaints about chafing and so I decided that the solution was to buy myself some new shoes too. If I did that at Primark, we could get fresh pants for the kids at the same time. But have you tried queuing in Primark at the end of a crazybusy day with two crazytired children? This is one bit that I wish to forget but so far haven’t. Don’t do it.
But spontaneity, friends and ice cream? Yeah! Do it. It was pretty fun, after all…