Yesterday was a busy day. Forgive me if I don’t talk you through all of it, especially not the bits in a Brick Lane basement, but there are two bits I’m going to share with you – a performance by Slap Haddock and a trip to Ridgeway Park.
I was excited that Slap Haddock were coming to Chingford – it felt almost like home turf. So I rounded up a small posse and we headed to The Mount. Everyone was enthusiastic but as 11:30 ticked closer and there was no sign of any street theatre anywhere, I felt like my entourage were starting to doubt me. Panicked, I checked and double checked the location and time and I was starting to panic when we suddenly spotted this giant across the road:
Phew! There was, as ever, no need to question me. Remember that next time, entourage.
The giant in question was Alfred Hitchcock, local Leytonstone boy with an inexplicable Italian accent and a convincing rotund belly. The ushers were here to celebrate Mr Hitchcock’s films but, as so often happens, they had a technical problem with the projector (I think it was missing entirely) and so the ushers and crowd were going to have to act the films out.
Like an audience member seeing Marion stabbed for the first time, I did not see that coming.
First up was “The Birds”. Reuben always loves a bit of audience participation, so it was good that he could get involved early on – here he is, joining the line up of birds waiting to peck Usher Betty:
I’ve never seen that film but I think it would terrify me. I don’t like birds.
Alfred was pleased with our corporate reenactment of his classic, so we moved on to “Psycho”. You can guess which scene they went for – the only question was who would play the victim. So Ushers Betty and Billy both gave us their best death scenes and whoever got the loudest cheer won the part. Only there was some confusion and I think Billy forgot that he had won the competition, as he and Betty both started out trying to be the murderer. Soon though, he was lathering up as the crowd produced a Mexican wave of violin noises to accompany the scene. Eva was the clapperboard girl:
Then it was time for a couple of improvised trailers – I have no idea what “Spellbound” is but gosh darn, that trailer makes me want to see it. I have to nitpick the “Frozen” trailer though – when Elsa is dancing around in the snow, she is not a princess. She is a queen. There are audience members out there who really care about this kind of thing:
If you’re going to start fact-checking improvised theatre though, you’re setting yourself up for a world of despair. So let’s move on and just say that the Hitchcock tribte was everything you want in a bit of street theatre- interactive, hilarious, family-friendly and relentless when it comes to getting people involved. Even an old lady pushing her trolley straight through the set became part of the action. At the end, there was some bowler-hat-juggling and a group polaroid, which we got to take home.
In case you’re wondering, Reuben’s favourite bit was the death scenes. The gorier the better.
As you can tell, it was a gloriously sunny day, so I decided to take my boy to a park he’s never been to before. We were attempting a bit of “divide and conquer” – the kids have spent a lot of intensive time together this summer and they’re getting a little sick of each other’s company. So Nathan took Eva to “Oh My” for a play and a brownie, and Roo and I schlepped up the giantest hill in Chingford. Look, we made it to the top:
It’s not entirely obvious where the entrance to Ridgeway Park is, from this leafy residential road, but you need to take a veer off to the right just after the pub. It looks like this:
It looks like bits of the park have recently been redone – I believe the tennis courts are new, and there was a play area that looked all shiny too, Roo ran off to play while I lay down in the shade. It had been a long walk up that hill.
I knew there was an under 12s play area and an under 7s, so I assumed this was the bigger one. There were some challenging climbing frames, a zip wire and a swing. Roo did some climbing but soon complained that his head felt dizzy:
So he came to lie in the shade with me, and we played “Superhero Who am I?” while cloud-gazing:
Roo is never still for long though, and soon he was up again and climbing trees in the little copse behind us:
Sadly the miniature railway was closed when we were there – I think it’s open on Sundays and August-Wednesdays – but there was a mini funfair I’d forgotten would be there, and an exercise area too. Roo insisted on trying out every piece of equipment before wanting something to cool him down:
There was an ice cream van right next to the outdoor gym, but it was a close call between that and the slush offered at the fairground. Slush is flavour of the moment, so that won:
After that, he naturally wanted to explore the fairground, which I was a but wary about because these places inevitably burn through my money and bring nothing but disappointment and a stretchy chicken. But he was in a good mood after all this mother-son bonding and forgave me my refusal to pay £2.50 for hook-a-duck (guaranteed prize!). I let him have a go on the cork guns, where he demonstrated the family lamentable–lack-of-aim and the trampoline/soft play house where he demonstrated his usual Reuben…energy.
Wandering back through the park. we found the actual under-12s play area, and the under-7s one, so I’m not sure what the extra play area was. A bonus? These two areas were slightly neglected-looking but that has never stopped my boy having a good time, and he had a go on everything in sight, including a roundabout pushed by a Daddy at terrifying Daddy-speeds. He probably needed another lie down after that…
A lovely afternoon out with my biggest one then – it’s not the easiest park to get to from HP but it was worth making the effort for a full three play areas plus extras. I’d like to go back and try out the railway one day. More information here.