The adventuring continues! We’ve left the borough again today, after Sunday’s jaunt to Islington. I know, this is WILD after so many months stuck in LBWF. Today was a trip on the 123 bus with some friendly friends and a very friendly dog to the magical land of Redbridge.
I’ll admit, I might have thought we’d made a mistake when we went past this shop on the way:
I know Ilford is to the East of HP but I didn’t realise we’d strayed so far east that we were on the other side of Europe. And yes, let’s not dwell too much on what a “Taste of Dracula” might be.
But Valentine’s Park was barely sinister at all. It was as pleasant as it had been last time we visited, when I think I’d been surprised by just how pleasant Ilford could be. What it was though, was extremely cold. Ongoing Covid restrictions mean that pretty much everything has to happen outdoors at the moment, which is fine when the temperature is in the late teens, as it was on Sunday. Today, my phone reckoned it was -1C and, although I don’t quite believe it, it certainly was the kind of day where I should have reminded the kids to take gloves with them. Despite the prescence of a palm tree, this was no tropical island.
They did attempt to play on the the equipment for a bit but quickly got fed up with having cold hands and not being able to grip on to the climbing frame because their fingers had gone numb. Bear in mind, they’ve barely left the house this winter so it was all a bit of a culture shock.
Luckily it was 10:30 by this point and that’s when the cafe opened. A chance to queue inside for a few minutes defrosted them a tad and a round of coffees and hot chocolates gave them enough inner warmth to play a little more. First on the outdoor gym and then on a giant swing just by the stream.
It’s not immediately obvious that there’s a stream there but trust me, there is. We’ll get to that.
The restorative powers of hot chocolate and an oreo muffin only lasted a limited amount of time and before long, we were being pestered for more food. By 11:30, we gave in and called it lunchtime. The cafe provided us with many portions of chips and we put our picnic blanket down behind a little hut that acted as a bit of windbreak, keeping us warm enough to be able to eat the chips and have a bit more time playing on the giant swing by the stream before leaving for home.
Ah yes, that stream. I said we’d come back to it. Given that the theme of the morning was children complaining about being cold, what would be the ideal mitigation against further coldness? Well, I’ll tell you for nowt that sodden feet as a result of standing in the stream is not the mitigation you’re looking for, Eva.
It was definitely time to head home. On the way out, we encountered what Reuben referred to as “the army of pigeons” which, naturally, the boys and dog wanted to run through and scatter. It was only after they did so that I noticed several people sitting in cars, clutching loaves of bread and giving us most disapproving looks. Apparently Valentine’s Park has a strong contigent of pigeon fans. Best to keep them away from boys and dogs…