Leyton…the name just evokes images of glamour and rock n roll, doesn’t it? Well, the second bit is covered as the bassist from the band I like to call “The Maiden” comes from Leyton but the glamour? Prior to our visit on Monday, the only experience I had of Leyton was being stuck on the A12 on the way up to Norfolk once, when there had been an accident. It took us three hours to get from Leyton to Leytonstone, and our view was a concrete embankment and the glimpse of a giant Next. For entertainment we had only one kinder egg between five of us, which we made last for around two hours, playing quizzes and competitions for each bite or part of the toy. That was five and a half years ago and we haven’t been back since.
(What? You thought that was since we had kids? Nah…a kinder egg wouldn’t last two minutes around here nowadays…)
But now we were EastEnders we needed to explore the East End and I’d heard tales of an ancient pirate vessel marooned in a park in the aforementioned Leyton. OK, a brand new pirate vessel in the brand new Jubilee Park. It’s not the most obvious place to find, and is further off Lea Bridge Rd than google maps would have you believe, but if you’re on the 158 route it goes straight there.We aren’t, and our route was a bit roundabout. We got there in the end though:
You might notice that Reuben has dressed for the occasion. Eva was too, albeit it in a more subtle way..and she had fallen asleep by the time we reached the park, leaving the pirate ship wide open for Roo:
It’s a climbing frame in the shape of a ship rather than a climbable ship in the style of the Diana playground but it was lots of fun. There are no benches around it so I sat on the grass next to snoozy girl and Reuben went off adventuring, stopping only to drop off his sword and eyepatch when they got in his way.
It’s a complex beast, with fences dividing the toddler-friendly bits from the bits with sheer drops. This frustrated Eva no end when she woke up – she could climb the steps and potter through the middle but then was faced with either a big step or a fence. It’s a good idea to keep toddlers safe, but try explaining that to the toddlers. Reuben was big enough to climb over the fences and so had the run of the whole thing but Eva was restricted to the very same part as two ten-year-olds were using to have a fight. It wasn’t the most violent of brawls (they spent a long time discussing whereabouts they should have the fight before starting) but tween fighting seems to follow us around – two weeks ago it was a full-on catfight in Lloyd park that resulted in the police being called out. This had no danger of turning that way, but wasn’t the best thing to be happening around Eva…so we decided to check out the other side of the park instead.
The other area seemed more geared towards toddlers, but with an unusual feature – slides that toddlers couldn’t actually get on to. There was a little one that was just Eva’s side, but access was through a maze of balancing beams rather than steps:
Even Roo couldn’t get onto it (but then he is a bit unco-ordinated). Other slides had scramble nets to get to them, or were built into hills with no steps cut in. There wasn’t much that a 2-year-old could access absolutely independently. Which is strange, because it’s a very nice and child-friendly natural play area:
Eva’s favourite thing was a wooden recreation of the Stratford Rhubarb, which she spent ages peeking out of:
Reuben, meanwhile, was doing his cardio work on the mini treadmill. Because he never normally physically exerts himself, obviously. Apart from being a constant whirlwind from dawn to dusk…
And I managed to get Eva onto a slide, by pushing her up a scramble net far too big for her. She repaid me for this favour by sitting on the slide and refusing to slide down it, just wobbling precariously next to the top of the net.
So, a bit of an odd strategy – five slides and no steps on any of them. Obviously some were aimed at older kids, but even then some kids just don’t like scramble nets (neither do I, as it happens…). Still, they played for a long time there, dipping in and out of the trenches, wobbling on the bridges and just running about. It was almost time to go home, but before we did I wanted to check out yet another play area, on the other side of the “showground”.
Now, this really was aimed at older kids (it was an adventure trail for 8+) but seeing as it wasn’t busy, mine decided to give it a go too:
The slope was quite steep, and I was happy about Eva going down it on her bottom before I noticed a smattering of broken glass about the place. After that, I encouraged her to stick to the gentle pursuit of gathering sticks:
While Reuben went down the big slide again and again…still dressed as a pirate:
And swung on the swing:
Time was moving on and the kids had eaten lunch, but I hadn’t, and Kate gets cross when she’s hungry. i’d hoped there’d be a cafe in the park but there wasn’t even an ice cream van (Reuben did ask). So we headed off and tried to get the 158 back…but it was full of buggies, so we ended up on the 58 back to Walthamstow mall instead, where we went to Asda for lunch and ice cream with the pigeons. A very East London day out.
VERDICT: A welcome addition to the regenerated East London parkscape, but some of the equipment could be more accessible for the under 3s.