In a unusual move for the LWAT family, we’re trying to keep it local this half term. The kids and I are all a bit knackered so they’ve had a couple of days watching Indiana Jones movies with Nathan and then we have some low-key outings planned. Yesterday he took them to the Better Extreme Park at the Feel Good Centre, which has changed the age rules so that Eva and Reuben can both be in the same room now (trampolining is 5+ rather than 6+ now). The bad news is that Eva was so freaked out by the safety video that she refused to do any trampolining for the first 50 minutes. When I turned up to take over for the swimming lesson carnage, she was happily bouncing away…2 minutes before the session ended. That was money well spent. Roo, on the other had, had a “awesome, awesome, awesome time” trying the Ninja Run for the first time (now 8+ rather than 13+) so it wasn’t a total waste.
Today was the start of my shift with them and we opted for another Walthamstow day out. This time to the newly opened Wetlands with Cousin Leo who is the same age as Roo and much the same mentality. There may have been some jokes about bottoms. The people on the top deck of the 123 thanked us for it.
Luckily, we didn’t have far to go on the bus and we hopped off by the Ferry Boat Inn. The Wetlands is divided into two by Forest Road/Ferry Lane but the bit with toilets and coffee is on the south side, so we decided to explore that first. The Engine House is pretty much the first thing you see as you come in from the bus or the car park. It’s an imposing sight and has been lovingly restored. More on the interior later but here’s the outside:
We followed the path round and found the first reservoir. The kids ran up and down the slope a few times then said they were tired of walking and could we have a sit down? We’d been walking for all of five minutes by then but we obliged, and sat looking out over the water at what the children called “Duck Island”:
If you look beyond Duck Island, you can see Canary Wharf (there’s something of a bird theme developing) and the Mallard…I mean the Shard. I swear I got confused about ducks on here once before.
It was blissful with the sun shining down and a gentle breeze coming off the lake. Then one of the children made an announcement that necessitated a quick walk back to Engine House, stopping only for surprise catch up with T’sMum, who was one of my chief partners-in-crime back when I was on mat leave with Eva.
So, the Engine House. It has toilets, as you might have guessed, but I was disappointed to find a lack of toilet roll in the Ladies’ and a slightly dodgy lock on the door. The lift was also out of order. But the refit has been beautifully down and this statement artwork that goes down from the mezzanine to the cafe below was absolutely stunning:
We didn’t try the cafe right then as we’d only been there for a few minutes still and there a queue that looked a bit scary. I’d like to try it some time when it’s not a sunny half term day. So we hung out on the mezzanine and the viewing gallery, playing with the screens that told the children more about the newts, birds and even snakes they could expect to see out on the wetlands.
But it was far too lovely a day to stay inside for long and we headed down the spiral staircase outside to look around the northern side. It meant that we didn’t visit the shop (which probably was a good thing) or have a bit more of a look at the display of knitted birds in the main entrance. But we did find this massive hill, which was to entertain the kids for the next hour or so.
What to do with a massive hill? If you’re Leo and Roo, run or roll down with furious abandon. If you’re Eva, roll down with extreme caution.
Roo and Leo also enjoyed having a grass fight:
And Roo built a snowman out of cut grass, which he intended to be a life-size model of me…but he ran out of enthusiasm. Still, I think he captured my general shape:
I can’t really explain how much they enjoyed just running around up and down the hill. I walked up to the top once, a bit less crazily than the boys were, and took in the views over the reservoir and towards the North Circular.
It was fast approaching caffeine o clock and we made the slow walk back towards the cafe, hoping that the queue had died down a bit. The walk was made slower by Eva’s stone collection, which weighed her down somewhat, and Roo’s insistence on tickling us all with slightly mangy feathers he found by the water’s edge. Think they may have belonged to these fellas:
So slow, in fact, that we never made it to the cafe. The Ferry Boat Inn was closer and hopefully quieter so that we could get some chips and some ice cream.
It wasn’t quieter. There was an hour wait for food so we just got mango juices and crisps and let them climb the tree in the beer garden. The curse of the sunny half term day again!
But I can’t complain. What a glorious day to be exploring a new space in our city. Look at all these pictures of skies and kids and clouds. I didn’t even need to use filters:
It’s great for kids to stretch their legs and spot wildlife and if you have a genuine toddler thing then they’ll love the views of the trains from almost every angle. It’s worth saying that dogs aren’t allowed in the wetlands because it’s a protected habitat, so Eva’s class pet Pluto sadly stayed in her rucksack the whole time we were out. Or maybe I just completely forgot to get a photo of him there. At least he made it home.
The Wetlands are currently open from 9:30am-4pm every day. More information here.