OK, this’ll be a short one..it’s only a wee place. But a useful thing to know, I think.
Picture the scene – Roo and I, off for a walk to the sorting office. It’s a place we tend to frequent when someone has a birthday coming up (don’t worry if you haven’t got me a card yet – it’s not till next week). It’s also about a half-hour walk away, in the arse end of Walworth and as such is a bit of a mission. I once wrote a song about it, to the tune of Jingle Bells and I’ll reproduce it here for the sake of bumping up the word count:
Pushing through the snow
In my Mummy-powered pram
Buses won’t go slow
Cause they’d don’t give a damn
We’re off to Walworth Road
Where the friendly people are
We’re travelling by pram today
Cause they’d break into our car!
Jingle Pip, Jingle Pip
Off to Walworth Road
Oh, what fun it is to ride
When we’re skidding on the snow (x2)
Outside the County Court
Folks like to shout and scream
I have drifted off by now
And I’m having a nice dream
Onto Cleaver Square
I’m in my Elmo suit
People stop and stare at me
Because I am so cute!
Now we’re past the tube
It isn’t quite so clean
Mummy says that’s cause we’re in
I’m getting kinda stressed
In my furry suit I’m hot
But Mummy wants to get me home
Before we both get shot
That was Christmas 2009 – he was six months old and ever so cute, especially in that elmo suit. Pity the red fur came out in clumps when he chewed it. But just look!
Pip was his baby nickname, by the way (short for Pippin, his foetus name). Clearly. Incidentally, if I try and sing that song to him now, he either tries to sing along with the real words (spoilsport) and just says “Mummy, stop!” which is his standard reaction to my singing. Ungrateful child. You know how babies are supposed to be soothed to sleep by their mother’s singing? Not this one. And he doesn’t think much of my choice in showtunes.
Am I totally digressing here? I tend to. Sorry. So, Roo and I were on the way to the sorting office which, as you can tell by the song, is a dangerous task! (Not really, mother if you’re reading…I’ve never once been shot walking to the sorting office. Or back). We stopped along the way at an express retail outlet of a major supermarket – or “nana shop”, as we call it. But today, he eschewed the bananas in favour of a fairly unripe pear. His choice, OK?
We continued peacefully on our way. Roo munching his pear, quite happily. We got to the sorting office and i *reckoned* I could make it to the bank at Elephant on this roll. It was a big pear and you can’t eat something so hard too quickly, so that gave me time and time is a precious thing. But on leaving the sorting office, disaster struck! “Pear missing!”. Indeed it was – and it was found on the pavement, in a state that rendered it inedible to even my super-immune toddler. Not saying that Walworth’s dirty but…yup, it is.
So, good times were over. But I had determined to go to the bank and I wasn’t changing my mind, however much he whined. Good grief, that whine is a bit grating, isn’t it? I powered up Walworth Rd – renamed Hellworth Rd during my ten weeks covering a store there – hoping against hope that we could find something to distract him along the way. Just somewhere he could get out and walk about for a bit, without being on a main road. And preferably somewhere pregnalady could have a pee.
Then it loomed out of the gloom – the Cuming Museum. I had been past there a hundred times but never paid much attention. But this was its time. It had kids activities during half term (not today), which suggested it wouldn’t be completely averse to the sight of a small child, it had disabled access which meant I go could straight in with the buggy. And it had toilets. Nuff said.
So, what was there for toddlers? Well, it’s only three smallish rooms, so don’t expect too much but it definitely did what I needed at the time. As soon as we went in, there was a colouring station with paper and coloured pencils which was a good start. We spent a good five minutes there colouring in pictures of shoes (me) and arranging the pencils into colour groups (OCD boy). Then we had a quick look round the rest of the room – obviously I wasn’t allowed to stop and read or look at anything in detail, but essentially it’s the story of a Southwark family and the area they lived in. So local history, with a personalised slant.
Onto room two, which was a bit more interactive. There was a spinny thing (I forget the name, they have one at the Museum of Childhood as well), where you look into it as it spins and the bear seems to dance. I wanna say Velodrome but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong. Anyway, spinny thing will do. They also had a world map jigsaw, which would have been good if the pieces had fitted, and a pearly king jacket to try on. And a desk where you could make a cut-out pearly king or Charlie Chaplin. That danced! I have the pearly king bits but forgot to pick up some split pins at the office to bring the whole thing together. Don’t worry, I’ll find some. There were also screens to press and stuff, which Roo always likes.
The third room was a photo project of people who lived and worked around the Elephant itself. It looked really interesting but once again, no time to look before I was dragged out, via the office (in between rooms one and two). Roo popped his head in to say ey-yo to the frendly people working there. I swiftly popped it back out again. On the way out, there seemed to be a white book of entirely blank pages, with a biro next to it. I’m guessing you were meant to apply one to the other (there were some questions nearby, asking for reflections on the area) but no-one else seemed to have. Needless to say, Roo did. The prospect of a blank book and a biro is just too tempting for him. If anyone from the Cuming Museum’s reading this and is currently outraged about the vandalism of their pure white book (honestly, it’s like defiling The White Album) then sorry, it was us. It wasn’t some destructive teenager graffitiing for the sake of it – it was a 2-year-old, trying to put into letters and squiggles his thoughts about the area. There were some letters ( a “d”, i think. Yes, child prodigy is trying to write already. Before he can even speak properly). At least he was born in Southwark. I think. Where’s St Thomas’ again?
Gosh, 1200 words?! Where did that come from? This was in no way a short post, I’m sorry. And it included a song. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.
VERDICT: Small but charming and a nice stop off if you’re in the area