Ah, the curse of the working mother – having to fit the whole of half term into one day. That’s the way it worked out this term…the kids did three days of holiday club, one day of lazing around the house with Nathan and then I had one day with them to do Fun Stuff In London. And boy, did we cram a lot in.
The sun was shining, which always helps, and we stopped at the new branch of Pantry – Halex Vinoteca – so that I could fuel up on coffee, which I suspected I would need. Then we got on the train to Liverpool Street and changed onto the Central Line for Queensway. It wasn’t the quickest way but it was the way that Reuben chose because the Victoria Line made his ears hurt. And it was fine cause we had no particular marks to hit – it was all a bit of a spontaneous plan and were largely going where the (lack of) wind took us. Our first destination was somewhere we last visited in 2012, when Eva was a mere scrap of a thing in a sling and Reuben was proudly wearing a t-shirt with the legend “I am 3” on it. Which confirmed my suspicions that we haven’t been there since he was three. It was a playground commemorating Princess Diana, which would turn out to be something of a theme even the kids still have no real idea who she was.
Before that though, we needed to urgently pop to the loos. There are some just inside the gates of Kensington Gardens but they cost 50p and a fellow mother warned me as we went in that turnstiles weren’t working so kids had to duck underneath. I put 50p in anyway, because I’m just too darn British to do anything else…and then let Eva duck underneath to use them. I can’t explain the logic of all this, especially as there are toilets at the playground itself, so please don’t ask me.
I guess I thought there would be a queue to get into the playground, given it was a sunny day in half term. There wasn’t but it was insanely busy inside. I perched on a bit of wooden fence, called it “base” and let the kids loose on the pirate ship. Roo had his phone with him, so was allowed to roam a bit more freely but I tried to keep Eva in sight at all times….not too difficult as she had gone for contrasting pink and red clothes:
It wasn’t long before we had to break up play for lunch because I was starving and, as ever, had packed for the kids but not for myself. So they joined me in the queue for the hot food and I’m not going to say it was the calmest or smoothest part of the day but I got my extortionately expensive buttermilk chicken dippers, the kids found their sandwiches and we nabbed a perfect bit of grass which was, as Reuben requested, half in the sun and half in the shade.
If you’re thinking it looks remarkably sunny for February, it really was. That’s not just a fancy filter. Not quite warm enough for paddling but…we’ll get to that later. Both the kids were after some ice cream, which I agreed was a good idea but I wasn’t joining that food hut queue again. So I told them to do all the playing they wanted to and then we’d leave the park to get ice cream. So they played on the climbing frame at the back:
And on the swings:
And Reuben played “Baby Shark” in a minor key on some chromatic bells in the music area. Yeah, it was time to move on.
I’d found a gelataria in Notting Hill that had decent reviews on Google so we headed there. Our walk took us past the Diana Cafe, which always creeps me out a little. I mean, there are a LOT of pictures of Princess Diana in there. Like, a lot. Still, we’d taken advantage of her memorial so shouldn’t baulk at this particular tribute. It didn’t mean we were going to eat ice cream there though.
Badiano’s seemed like a much sounder choice. Their gelato was beautiful and they even had miniature tables and chairs for the kids to sit and draw at. It was a much-needed mellow half hour after the mania of the playground.
But we couldn’t stay inside for long on such a beautiful day. Eva wanted to go to the Science Museum but that seemed like a sunshine-less option, so I made some vague promises about going there later and took the kids on a long walk down Kensington Church Street. At first, they were fascinated by all the antiques shops and Eva especially liked the sparkly things:
But after the 20th antique shop, they were starting to tire of them. Luckily, Kensington is also a goldmine of Good Dogs and Eva was keeping herself busy by counting how many she’d seen that day. I think her day’s total was 28.
I didn’t really have a plan but thought once we got back into Kensington Gardens we’d find something to play on. I didn’t think there was a playground anywhere near but you never know. In the short term, they made do with a bit of tree climbing:
Then we walked through the Flower Walk but the main theme of the Walk seemed to be less floral and more verminous, as it was filled with squirrels and pigeons who were waging some kind of war against each other. I mean, SO many squirrels. It was like the doggyfnarea in Liverpool but for squirrels. We passed a few pretty landmarks:
But the kids were beginning to clock that no playground was in sight and were complaining accordingly. So, we made a rash and foolish decision. It was still warmish and we were hot after the long walk so what better way to play than in the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain? It would allow us to spend yet more time dwelling on her life and use up the last of the sunshine hours. As long as the kids didn’t get their clothes wet because we didn’t have any spares and it wouldn’t stay warm for long once the sun was down.
What happened? What do you think?
Ohhhhhh dear. Time to go to H&M in High Street Kensington. It might seem like we were doubling back on ourselves when we had got so close to the Science Museum and that would be a true thing to think. It involved turning in the exact opposite direction to the Science Museum, waiting for the bus (the 23 turned up first) and then sitting on the bus in ridiculous amounts of traffic for the three stops we were intending to travel. It clearly would be quicker to walk, so we got off the bus opposite the Kensington Garden Hotel and sped-walked in order to beat the bus to H&M, which we pretty much did. Pretty much.
Hey kids, this is just the kind of crazy fun you get on Mummy Days. Entirely pointless long walks, winter time paddling and then ridiculous detours back again. But at least you get brand new clothes, pants and all!
Next, another ridiculous detour on the 49 bus. Don’t ask.
We made it to the Science Museum, though. It closed at 18:00 but I’d neglected to check the last entry time which, it turns out, was 17:15. So scooting in through the doors at 17:13 was cutting it finer than I intended, although a helpful staff member later told me that they actually opened till 19:00 during school holidays so I really wasn’t cutting it fine at all. I didn’t tell Eva it was open that late though, because by that point I was trying to get her back out again.
It really wasn’t the most productive Science Museum visit. We got in at 17:13, spent around 10 minutes changing into our brand new and dry H&M clothes, went to the Pattern Pod, spent 20 minutes waiting around for the parents of small children to realise that there was a queue for the drawing screens, had a dance in the little dance area and left. It was 17:45 by then and, as explained above, we were still leaving Eva under the impression that it was closing time. My phone had died so I didn’t get any pictures, but you’ve all seen pictures of the Science Museum before, right? It also meant that the last leg of our journey wasn’t tracked as it would have shown yet another backtrack. I’ve added it in red paint on the map below so you can see just how ridiculous our day was:
Our final stop of the day was, of course, Burger King at Gloucester Road which is our now-standard Science Museum hack. It gets the kids fed before a long journey home and means that we avoid South Kensington station. Eva was delighted to get a Wonder Woman toy in her bag, which Reuben pointed was called Diana. Princess Diana. I know, spooky….