Big Fish Little Fish Tufnell Park – 24/11/13

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Last time we went to Big Fish Little Fish, it was a 30C day in July and we were fresh from the paddling pool. Today was a bit of a stark contrast. Firstly, it was in North London not South. Secondly, it was blimin’ freezing outside. But it’s OK, upstairs on the dancefloor things were nightclubbingly sweaty.

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First, though, we had to get Reuben past the play area which wasn’t going to be easy. Eva was asleep in the sling at the time, so we decided to just let him play for a bit while we sat down. We needed to preserve some energy for dancing, and it was fun to watch the various panto-themed people milling about (all our clothes are packed up, so we weren’t themed, sadly). A woman breastfeeding while in a giant red wig was something I have definitely never seen before. There was an ice-cream stall downstairs, next to the buggy park and the chill-out area, but weirdly the thought of ice-cream wasn’t quite as appealing as it had been in July.

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Eventually we prised Reuben out of the play tent and went to have a look upstairs. It was packed, and warm. The venue is way bigger than the Brixton one we went to, but it was sold out and full. Daddies filled the dance floor with little girls one their shoulders. Mothers swayed with babies in slings (mainly FFO baby bjorns, for anyone who likes spotting babywearers). My own baby in a sling had woken up as soon as we got upstairs and was staring blearily around in the manner of someone who’s just woken up in the middle of a dancefloor (her father often fell asleep while clubbing too). Meanwhile, Reuben was on a quest to find somewhere dark to see how bright his glowband was, which involved diving under one of the stalls before being hauled out.

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Nathan and I never quite manage to divide and conquer, but we went for our usual divide and cope instead. I turfed sleepy Eva out for a dance, Nathan chased Roo, we got some free smoothies and bear snacks and swapped kids. Then swapped again. Last time, it was me trying to keep track of both of them in a dark and crowded room. This time, there were two of us and the room was significantly lighter. But there was still a lot of chasing about as an over-excited Roo kept haring off to see what was going on. Somewhere in it all, we managed to find time for a dance to “Step On” by the Happy Mondays and “Justified and Ancient” by the KLF. Then Eva went off for a wander, dragging Nathan about by the finger and Reuben tried to catch the bubbles with his glowband.

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At some point, we also spotted Danny Wallace. I was too shy to say hello, as I’m still reeling from meeting SidBeebies a few weeks back. But I did tweet Danny because, yknow, after he published my letter in his column it’s almost like we know each other. And here was his response:

Aww, and bless. What a lovely celebrity he is. Word on the street is that there were a few other celebrities there too, but I’m not the best ‘sleb-spotter so I wouldn’t have recognised them. Instead, I probably shoved past them as I was trying to follow Reuben around. Sorry ‘slebs.

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So, we danced, we didn’t quite make crafts (but picked up a craft kit to take home) and Roo demonstrated the event’s signature moves, for all who are unsure. I think this is the little fish:

2013-11-24 15.15.10And these two are different bits of the cardboard box:

2013-11-24 15.15.11 2013-11-24 15.15.14The dancefloor had definitely thinned out a little by 3:30, which gave Roo more room for his “moves”. He also sat on the edge of the stage for a bit because the boy just cannot resist a stage. Especially after his starring role as “second gingerbread man from the right” in his class assembly on Friday. Besides, the stage was a prime spot for popping bubbles with his glowband:

2013-11-24 15.34.39As you can probably tell, there was quite a Christmassy theme going on, hence the panto-dress code and the tinsel on the stairs. It still feels slightly early for all that, but I’d come straight from a choir practice at church where we’d been singing carols, so I guess it’s time to Christmas up.

2013-11-24 15.34.27Overall, it was fun. It was a bit like you’d expect a rave that’s filled with toddlers to be – sticky, noisy and crowded – but as long as you’re expecting that, it’s fine. The play area downstairs was good for taking a break from the madness, and we stopped off there before heading home. Then left before Reuben carried out his threat of finding a whistle from somewhere. Next to the tube, we found a shop bearing our initials (NK) and, be still my beating heart, it stocked every flavour of Transform-A-Snack. A tasty way to end an afternoon of ravin’

More details here (official site)

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Wauwaa Winner Announced!

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But I won’t announce it just yet because I’ve been stung that way before (darn spoiler-y preview text)…so first off, here’s the most popular name in our Doctor Who-inspired baby poll. It’s David! The handsome 10th Doctor, as he’s traditionally known, was played by David Tennant and right now he’s threatening a rabbit (Thanks to ToddlaGirl, we’re watching the episode on delay TV). David Tennant’s hobbies include mud-wrestling Ewan McGregor in giant chocolate pies.

Anyway, enough of this stalling. It’s time to announce the winner. Co-incidentally, she is the only person who attempted to bribe me in this giveaway but LWAT and random.org remain as unbiased and incorruptible as ever. Congratulations to…

Cassie Pearse! Enjoy that puppy bag 🙂

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Gobaby App, a Sponsored Post in Association with Wauwaa

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Have you entered the wauwaa giveaway yet? You totally should. There’s only one day left, and you could win a £50 voucher, to buy puppy rucksacks or whatever it is you like.

Meanwhile, in association with wauwaa, I was asked to test a new app called Gobaby London, which helps you navigate Central London with a baby by showing you where the nearest step-free tube stations and baby changing facilities are. It also shows shops, restaurants and places of interest where you can hang out with babies. The new wintery edition also has Boots pharmacies listed, so you can pick up spare tissues and cough syrup if your baby develops a cold while out and about. Boots also sells chocolate, which is an essential part of any Mama About Town’s tool kit.

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In some ways, it’s a natural fit for LWAT. After all, this blog is all about getting out and about and this app facilitates that. In other ways, I’m not the ideal person to review it because a) the changing tables of South London would be my specialist subject on Mastermind and b) I tend to go to pretty obscure places. So this week, the app and I have been to Highams Park, Lee, Liverpool Street and Maze Hill and the only time I went to Piccadilly Circus, I was child-free (but I did have that little person I mentioned in the last post). The app info is definitely more centred around Central London, which is ideal for visitors and people who don’t make a habit of hanging out in Zone 3 just for giggles.

There are a few blips, naturally as this is still in development. But it always managed to find us on the GPS and, looking at the area around Oxford St and Soho, it gives lots of options for changing places and child-friendly restaurants which are all pretty accurate as far as I can see. I’ve also taken it for a virtual spin around Covent Garden and, again, there are lots of places listed and they are all coded according to whether they offer highchairs, baby changing and a kids’ menu. So for the average person who wants to visit London, the main areas they’ll be heading to are covered. It’s a massively ambitious idea to try and plot all the shops and restaurants of even just Central London so I imagine it will be a work in progress for a while now, but it works fine as long as you don’t go too far out.

The tube station info is all very useful as well. It’s not a route planner but it does tell you how many steps to expect, if any. Certain stations, like Battersea Park, as marked as “not recommended” because they are too inaccessible, which is useful to know before you get there. The reviews on the app are user-powered and as such there aren’t loads on there yet, but again this is something that will increase with time.

And, of course, it looks stylish, with a signature colour of what I like to call “Alice Becker purple”. I love the added snow for winter, and it’s arrived just in time for the extreme weather warnings. It’s very easy to use and find your way around, even for an app novice. It does occasionally crash out, but that might just be my phone…

So, in general, a thumbs-up for Gobaby London. I’ll be interested to see how it grows over the next few weeks and months.

Disclaimer for ASA purposes: I was given (non-monetary) compensation for this post but, as ever, all opinions remain honest and my own. 

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Competition Time!!! With Wauwaa!

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It’s my 250th post, and as my old boss knows, I love a round number. So to celebrate, I’m giving a £50 voucher for fab new parenting site wauwaa. It’s got a shop full of cute things, which happen to be on sale right now (I’m eyeing up the puppy backpack), so it could help buy some lovely Christmas presents for the small people in your life, like Eva’s godmother Ellie.

Wauwaa has parenting advice, NHS videos (one of which features me and Nathan), streamed LWAT blog posts and articles written by the ridoinkulously funny Jo Gatford (if anyone has any better idea on how to write ridoinkulous, do let me know). All you have to do is fill in the contact form below and the winner will be selected by random.org. It’s only running for two days, as I’ve decided to entirely arbitrarily tie it in with another 50 milestone – the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who episode this Saturday. So, the winner will be announced at 21:05 on 23rd November, just after the episode finishes.

It’s a Doctor Who themed question, with a baby-link too. Remember, it closes in  48 hours so enter now to win!

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Where Do We Go From Here?

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A week ago, I made myself a jacket potato in the microwave. While it was cooling down, I wrote a little post about a certain Professional Hater who didn’t know how to argue. I ate my potato. And the internets went mad. Turned out a few people agreed with me on the subject and it got passed around Facebook from one group to another. I learnt a lesson that day – if you’re going to illustrate a post with a cheeky selfie, make sure it’s a good one. Don’t just take a snap of yourself in working-from-home-eating-potatoes slobbery. You never know when the population of a small town might see it. That’s why I normally use  my children as models, and that’s why today’s post has an entirely arbitrary photo of a tube train with an identity crisis (it’s clearly a Piccadilly Line train, but it’s on the Northern Line. What The Actual Heckatty?)

But it all got me thinking. Every time I rant about something, it gets me a spike in my stats. Admittedly, this spike was a bit bigger than the others.. so clearly slagging off celebrities gets me way more readers than reviewing sandpits. Should I diversify into celeb-slagging then? It’s tempting, but I’m thinking no. London with a Toddler has a clear objective – it’s a blog about London with toddlers. It’s a positive kind of thing and (hopefully) encourages parents to take toddlers out in a city that might seem scary at first. Happy happy. I enjoy a rant every now and again, but if it was the sole focus of the blog, I think I might lose the will to live. It wouldn’t be long before I was as shrivelled and bitter as the people I’m criticising. Hate breeds hate etc. So, nothing’s going change, but that doesn’t mean that Hopkins et al have carte blanche to attack parents in any way they like. I will be watching closely. And, as a person who just used two French phrases in a word, I am clearly not to be messed with*.

One thing that will change is that I’m finally “manning up” and going self-hosted. Hopefully, the transition will be smooth and I won’t lose any content into a black hole named Technical Incompetence, but I can’t guarantee that. It means that I can start to “monetize” the blog, if that’s not too appalling a word, but I’m hoping to do it quite subtly. Eventually, I would love to have some sponsorship from nice, local businesses who fit the LWAT ethos (i.e. like cake, don’t slag off parents all the time). If anyone’s reading this who has one of those businesses and would like some very reasonable advertising rates, do contact me at londonwithatoddler@gmail.com. We’ll talk.

So I guess that’s where we go from here. Much the same. Two stops and then change at Bank. I’ll be reviewing an exciting new London-baby-app later this week and there will be a giveaway soon too. Continue to wait on the edge of your seats…

*An imaginary friend has just pointed out that “et al” is, in fact, Latin. I guess that means I am someone to be messed with after all…

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A Heartfelt Plea to Katie Hopkins

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Katie, there’s something I need to tell you and I feel like it’s best coming from me. After all, we have the same name and names are so important, aren’t they? I mean, no wonder you didn’t want to enter into a dialogue with Peaches Geldof – she has a stupid name. How could her opinions possibly be worth anything with a name like that?

So, here it is, Kate to Kate…and it pains me to say this to you, because I really am a devoted fan but you need to hear this.

Oh Katie, the problem is you keep making yourself look stupid. Your arguments have no logic or even any point and that, I’m afraid, is letting down the Kate side. It used to be that just having a posh voice meant that people thought you were intelligent, and so you could get away with appearing on live TV without a single well-formed argument in your armoury. But this is the age of social media, where people pick apart everything you say and I’m sorry to say this Katie, but some of the things you say don’t really stand up to a second hearing.

Take the end of the segment, for example. Peaches presented a study from Harvard on the detrimental effects of controlled crying and how did you counter that? By saying “Attachment Parents are crap parents”. That’s not really an answer, is it Katie? I mean I know it’s only data from an American University, and you probably have some views on just how good they are, but apparently people respect that particular one and it kind of looks like Peaches may have won the argument there.

I’m sure you could have come up with some great arguments against Attachment Parenting if you’d tried. You’re educated, aren’t you? You went to the University of Exeter, which is pretty much the Harvard of Devon. If you’d only had a fact or two at your disposal, you could have blown that young thing out of the water. But saying that Swedish children are spoilt brats with nothing to back it up…it’s a bit weak.

Listen to me Katie, I’m here to help. You’d like me. I’m middle-class, I have a posh accent and a degree, my children all have nice, middle-class names. True, I might be one of those parents who breastfeed their toddler and sleep in a bed with them, but that’s OK as long as we have the same name, right? Names are the most important thing.

I also wrap my baby in a long bit of material, which I know you deem unacceptable but I’ll find an alternative, honest Katie. Anything to make you happy. The problem is, I don’t know what. You mocked Peaches for using a pram, so that option’s out. Maybe I’ll get a 4×4 and use that to get the children around every time we need to go anywhere. I mean, I live in London and the nearest shop is 100 metres away but if it makes my parenting more acceptable in your eyes Katie, I’ll do it.

The problem is, I just can’t seem to get away from the material thing. I heard your point about how you see mothers with babies wrapped in material and although you didn’t say why this was a bad thing, I assume from your tone of voice that it was. But everything my baby wears is material based. Should I stop clothing her? Or look into plastic clothes or vacuum-sealing into her carseat? Help me Katie, I really am a loss with this one.

But on one point, I am totally hearing you. And that’s on not letting the baby rule the household. What an absurd notion, letting a toddler with no sense of reason dictate what everyone does! No, that doesn’t happen in our household. The 4-year-old is firmly in charge and we all know it. The baby has no choice at all – whatever he tells her to do, she has to do it. After all, he’s got an education behind him (7 weeks’ worth now!) so he’s the logical choice to be the decision-maker. I cannot abide people who let their toddlers choose what to have for dinner or which park to go to. That’s the 4-year-old’s job and everyone should know that!

So, help me out here Katie. Just a weeny bit of research, just one statistic here or there could make such a difference. Because I want to agree with everything you say, as a fellow Kate. I want to be behind you 100% and then some. I admire you so much. I often pick on people because of their names, or slag off arbitrary groups of mothers just because I can. Hopefully one day I’ll get the chance to be filmed having sex with someone else’s husband in a field, because that’s how much I want to be like you. I even spend hours in front of the mirror, practising my pursed-lips look, to get it Just Right. So I’m urging you to just be careful what you say in front of the cameras. We don’t want to have to kick you out of the Kate Club.

Thank you Katie, and God Bless you for your outstanding contribution to society.

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Mumsnet Blogfest’13

badge It took me a while to gather my thoughts on Mumsnet Blogfest – so many interesting speakers, so much to think about. In the end, I gave up on gathering my thoughts and just started writing without many thoughts at all. One of the seminars I attended advised to only publish a tiny fraction of what you write, and self-edit the vast majority of it…so this is probably the type of content that deserved to be edited out. And for that I apologise. (Although, as a freelance writer I have to pretty much use everything I write. It’s a great notion to “write all the time and be very selective” but I write all the time just to get stuff done. If I was more selective those wispas and slushies would have to buy themselves…) So, where to begin? I’m not going to bore you with a blow-by-blow account of everything that happened, so let’s pick out the 5 most interesting moments:

5) Stella vs Toby

Why not start the day with a rumble? This is Mumsnet, after all, where people call each other mimsywoowoos at the slightest provocation. But there were few arguments going on among the Mumsnetters when it came to Toby Young and Stella Creasy MP debating the issue of Twitter trolls. Stella testified that she’d been on the end of some very unpleasant messages on Twitter over the summer and what was Toby’s response to that? Well, once he’d stopped frantically googling things on his laptop, he tried to make some kind of weak point about freedom of speech and Saudi politicians. The room backed Stella. As one tweet read, “Stella for PM” 20131109_143503

4) AL Kennedy vs Bad Writing

The “Cracking Yarns” session was a highlight for most people. I was going to write about Lionel Schriver’s footwear, but thought I might incur the wrath of the feminists for concentrating on a woman’s appearance instead of what she said (but for the record, I would comment on a man’s appearance if he was wearing pink wellies on stage. Or any other colour wellies.) So, I’m going to instead mention writer and stand-up AL Kennedy tackling the subject of  how it feels to read bad writing. If I live to join Busted in the Year 3000, I doubt I’ll ever forget her succinct way of describing it – “it’s like a little bit of $#!+ in your stew.” Haunting. 20131109_152712

3) Jo Brand vs An Atmosphere

I’m imagining a phone call here between Mumsnet Towers and the veteran female comedian: MNHQ: Hi Jo. Fancy a tough gig? JBHQ: Bring it on MNHQ: Great. You’re going on straight after the feminism debate. Good luck. Byeeeee! Credit to Jo Brand, she did a fantastic job in lifting the Atmosphere that had settled over Hall One following the Keynote Panel. A few jokes about impotence and how she gave lesbians a bad name (she’s straight) and everyone visibly relaxed. She then gave us some straightforward, deadpan advice on how important our blogging voices were and she soothed some of the  bruising that our egos had all suffered a few moments before. She’s never been my favourite comic, but she was an excellent choice for keynote speaker and worked some kind of a miracle.

2) Jon Ronson vs Jon Ronson

This made it to number 2 for me because it was by far the funniest moment of the day. I almost cried with laughter. Watch this video to get the idea, but essentially it was deadpan northern writer Jon Ronson taking on a group of academics who had created a fake Twitter account in his name. If you manage to find a more pretentious group of diggers than this lot, then let me know…it’s probably an even bigger miracle than the one Jo Brand pulled.

1) Feminists vs Mummy Bloggers

And here’s the biggie, the one that Blogfest’13 will always be remembered for…the debate on whether you could be a feminist and a “Mummy Blogger”. Short answer was yes, long answer was that feminists don’t seem to understand what “Mummy blogging” entails (if you’ve read my blog and thought my life was perfect, then I strongly suggest you get your eyes tested). It was ugly, with breastfeeding, Joss Whedon and university degrees all being thrown into the mix. It was almost like AIBU bingo at one point. So many people have blogged about it better than I ever could, so I’m not going to try and pick the issues apart. Let’s just summarize it with the tweet from Older Mum, fuzzily reproduced below: “I’m a feminist and I bloody love jam.” 20131109_162609 But in case you think it was all mud-slinging and hostility, think again. It was also a great day for meeting fellow bloggers some of whom I “knew” from the network but had never seen in real life before.  They were all lovely. There were cheeky cocktails at lunchtime, copious amounts of caffeine and a very fancy goody bag at the end of the day. I got some very good advice from Jax Blunt on going self-hosted and it was the only conference I’ve ever been to where everyone is encouraged to be on social media all through every talk. It helped to break the ice, being able to chat to people on Twitter as well as in real life. It did feel a little schoolgirlish at times, as when WonderWebWoman and I were seating a few seats apart and sniggering over my very off-topic tweet on the screen above Sarah Crown’s head.  And then there was the very funny “In it for the LOLZ” session, with some excellent comedy writers and some good tips. The less said about Tumblegate the better… Who’s in for Blogfest’14? 20131109_152723

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Defaming Mr Tumble

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Disclaimer: This article is obviously a spoof and so there’s no reason for anyone at CBeebies to sue me even a little bit. It’s two years old so some of you might have seen it before but I’m sharing it by popular demand after I mentioned defaming Mr Tumble in a seminar at Mumsnet Blogfest today. It was originally written for a spoof website, but taken down because it was too derogatory. It may require a geekish level of CBeebies knowledge to understand. Hope you enjoy it.

The genteel world of children’s television has been rocked after one of its prime ambassadors – Justin “Mr Tumble” Fletcher – went on a foul-mouthed and -handed rant against rival CBeebies Misters -Bloom and -Maker. Of newcomer Bloom, Fletcher allegedly said “He’d better watch his ~*?!ing back. This channel is getting overrun with wannabe Misters and he’s gone one singing vegetable too far.” Regarding Maker, Tumble’s primary issue was again one of power stealing. “He’s doing presenting slots in the afternoon, the little #£@#” ranted Fletcher “How does he get to do that? It’s so unfair! Sure, they let me play the comedy oversized guitar just before Rastamouse but it’s not the same. Do they think he’s got something special? I’ll give him something special alright. In a minute!”

The tirade of four letter words – and their accompanying symbols – has shocked Tumble’s loyal fanbase but BBC insiders say it’s been on the cards for some time. A leading psychiatrist says that Justin suffers from multiple personality disorder. “There is his primary delusion – Mr Tumble – but there are also the secondary delusions – Aunt Polly, Grandad Tumble, Lord Tumble – and even tertiary delusions, such as that other aunt who turns up every so often. And the entire cast of Gigglebiz. Some people say it’s just “any excuse to drag up” but I think it’s symptomatic of something more serious”.

He also suffers from that most common CBeebies disorder – Third Person Syndrome. This is where someone is incapable of using the first person, choosing instead to transfer their actions (and the associated responsibility) to the third person. “This is most definitely an individual that’s lost touch with reality” concluded the psychiatrist, Dr Charles Bhare.

After the outburst, Fletcher went on a vandalism spree around the BBC, spray painting large coloured spots onto every available surface, screaming “Is this…FUNNY? Does this make you…LAUGH?” He was finally sedated with a large dose of Waybuloo and was last seen rocking himself to sleep in a small boat, specially reserved for these kind of emergencies.

His future at CBeebies is currently unclear. Whatever happens, it is inevitable that the Tumble generation will grow up with a tainted view of the man they once regarded as second only to Timmy Mallett.

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A Look of Terror Ahead of Blogfest’13!

roo adjusted2jpgThis morning before school, I asked Reuben to show me his “look of terror”. We had quite the photoshoot, and a lot of them were blurry while the few clear ones ranged from “uninterested” (above) to “happy”:

roo adjustedBut in the end, we had a winner. Asked to imagine a herd of dinosaurs chasing him, he flailed about and hid behind a cushion. But asked to imagine mild apprehension gave us this:

roo adjusted3jpgSo, why was I asking Reuben to enact “terror” when he was clearly trying to concentrate on CBeebies? Well, because “terror” is the exact feeling I’m feeling whenever I remember where I’m going tomorrow….Mumsnet Blogfest’13!

It’s a blogging conference for bloggers and it’s my first ever blogging event. There’s no-one else going that I know in real life, and I’m envisaging rooms full of snarky mothers swearing at me and telling me IABU (I’ve been lurking on a certain area of Mumsnet a lot lately…it’s my guilty pleasure at bedtime). These theoretical bloggers will all have super-high heels, super-skinny jeans and every one of them will be wearing the Mumsnet scarf.

Yes, I’m petrified.

So, if you’re reading this and you’re going to, take pity on me and come and say hello. I’ve just dyed my hair bright red and I’ll be wearing a silver spangly jumper. I’ll probably also be clinging onto my phone for dear life, tweeting updates every two minutes using #blogfest and trying to talk to Jo Brand because I sometimes get confused with celebrities and think I know them.

Anyone else feel the same?!

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Crystal Park Children’s Fireworks – 05/11/13

20131105_191019Deciding which firework display to go to this year was somewhat of a tricky decision. As I explained to H’sMama the other day, I’m good at making snap decisions when it comes to huge life changes but little details? Not so much. Last year we went to the 5PM display at Coram’s Fields, which was perfect in terms of timing and loudness, although why C’sMum and I decided to hang about for the 7 hours before the fireworks started is anyone’s guess.

Sadly, we missed the Coram’s display this year by being in The Countryside. But not to worry – I had an invite to the display in  Brockwell Park, which started at 5 and featured Fireman Sam! Perfect! But no…the gates opened at 5 but the fireworks weren’t on till 8, which was very late for a schoolboy’s schoolnight. I found this information out late, and imparted it to Maria, who agreed it was a bit late. But we had some alternate options.

There was Crystal Palace, which had a children’s display at 7PM before its main display.

Pros: Near the bus route. Less noise. Less bottlenecks if leaving before the main attraction.

Cons: It cost money.

Then there was Southwark Park, which had its main display at 7PM.

Pros: Free.

Cons: Likely to be crowded. Tricky to get to.

I hope you can appreciate the mental anguish I was going through trying to choose, at the same time as dealing with some Other Complicated Stuff, and trying to get some work done on borrowed laptops because Lappie is threatening to give up the ghost. In the end, a 3PM consultation with Maria produced a snap decision – we would go to Crystal Palace.

I left for the mega-version of the school run ( pick Reuben up from school, then Eva from baby school, then home…1.7km in all) and told a very excited Roo that we were going to the fireworks. He jumped about and did his best “kaboom!” noise in anticipation. We had a rapid tea and turnaround and got ready and were just putting on our extra layers when Maria called to say that Thomas had come home from nursery with a temperature so they couldn’t come. I was considering scrapping the whole mad idea, but the kaboom-ing Roo didn’t seem to be overly receptive to that idea. So, we set out – me wrapped up like a mummy with a similarly-wrapped Eva in the sling, Reuben padded out so much that his bag barely fit on his back, with the faithful Scooty.

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At the bus stop, we met a boy from Roo’s nursery whose Dad had been similarly misled about Brockwell Park. While we were on the 3, he started considering coming to Crystal Palace instead. By the time we had actually crawled our way to Brockwell Park, he had re-re-considered again and they jumped off the bus, desperate to be off that bus and into the fresh air.

Trust me, by the time we had got as far as Brockwell Park, we were ALL re-re-considering the plan. And we were all desperate to be off that bus and into the fresh air. When I say “all”, I’m including anyone sitting within 5 rows of us, who’d had to put up with Eva’s overtired wailing all the way down Brixton Water Lane. Even people who weren’t going to any fireworks and just wanted to get to their homes in Crystal Palace were considering abandoning the bus and going to the funfair instead. Eva was THAT loud. Given that the display at Brockwell Park wasn’t starting till 8, I’d figured that going past at around 5:30 would miss the worst of the traffic.

I was wrong.

I’ve always liked Herne Hill, but at 0.02mph with Eva screeching and trying to climb out of the sling, I’ve probably seen enough of it to last me forever. People around us gave us eye-rolling dirty looks but then the man sitting behind me asked “Why is she crying?”

How do you answer that? Cause she’s hungry/sleepy/thirsty/none of your damn business? I went with “Because she’s a baby. They do that”

(OK, so she’s not a baby anymore but he didn’t know that. And you can’t tell when she’s in the sling and you can’t see her legs)

Next question: “Can I hold her?”

Err, no. Because you are a random man on the bus. And a complete stranger…or so I believed.

I was wrong. Again. Maybe.

Apparently, as a Christian I knew the man behind me very well. Apparently he was Jesus.

He stretched out his hand to Eva and I wish I could report that she stopped crying, but she didn’t. I was in a tetchy mood and starting to doubt his messianic credentials. So, I ignored him. As we finally left Herne Hill behind, he leant forward and asked to hold her again. I refused again. When would this bus journey be over?

I know….you’re waiting to hear about the fireworks. But I really wanted to make you feel just how tedious this bus journey was. We spent a lot longer travelling than we did watching fireworks. And that’s the nature of fireworks in London – they are invariably annoying to get to and barely worth it. But for a 4-year-old, even a bit of fireworks makes it all worth it.

And then eventually…we started going uphill and we spotted the BBC mast, followed by the bright lights of the fairground. We were nearly there…

20131105_182955Fortunately getting in and finding the fireworks area from the bus garage was a doddle. I’ve been to Crystal Palace Park before and got hideously lost, so was glad that we were at the right end of the park to start with. I was also glad that we’d taken the sling – there were a couple of flights of steps to be negotiated and it would have been un-fun with the buggy. The ground was also squelchy underfoot, which would have been equally un-fun. So, we had found the fireworks, we had found undercooked chips and we even found Nathan, which was easier than I thought it might be. Let the whizz-bangs commence!

20131105_191010 20131105_190734 20131105_190725It lasted a massive 13 minutes.  Reuben enjoyed them, Eva was quiet and wide-eyed watching them and I had fun too. They were easily as good as grown-up fireworks and pretty noisy, despite being billed as “fewer bangs”. There was a peacock made out of fireworks and lots of “ooh” and “aah” moments. It was worth it. It was probably worth it. Reuben would be able to tell his friends at school that he saw the fireworks, which would make it worth it. I hoped.

20131105_190521And then it was time for home. I couldn’t stand the thought of the 3 again, so we got the train from Crystal Palace, and with some speedy connections were back at Vauxhall 40 minutes after the last rocket had gone off. By the time we got home, the display at Brockwell Park would have only just been finished. I think we made the right decision, even though it was a bit of a trek.

The next morning, I asked Reuben what he did last night and what he was going to tell his teacher. His answer? “I played at home and watched CBeebies”. Maybe it wasn’t worth it after all…

Posted in Creating precious childhood memories or something (days out) | Tagged , , | 3 Comments