As you may have discerned from this blog (if you are indeed the discerning type. I do hope you are), I like things that are either a) free b) cheap or c) something I can get my money’s worth out of (see the London Transport Museum post. I am going back to that place if I have to crawl every step of the way, dragging Reuben with me. But we’d probably get the no 59). I have Jewish blood on one side and Scottish on the other – two races not famed for their generousity. So, it’s not my fault!
What then could be cheaper than a stroll ? The walk along the South Bank is one I’ve done many times since he was born (and once, entertainingly, while he was in the process of being born). In the olden days, he would sleep happily in his buggy while I walked up to the Royal Festival Hall and the delights therein (see here. oh, I’m all about the pingbacks today). Now, with the buggy resistance movement, leisurely walks are a thing of the past. It’s all distraction, diversion and …I can’t think of another d-word. But, point made.
So today, I took the bold step of having a leisurely walk with the toddler running free as I did it. “Hold on!” I hear you say “Isn’t this the self same toddler that has no road sense whatsoever?” Why yes, it is. You may not actually ask that question as I don’t know that I’ve ever mentioned it on here (damnit! No pingback!). But yes, you’d be right if you did ask that question (don’t feel like you have to). He has no sense of danger yet and a compulsion to touch different types of wheeled vehicles….not ideal for an independant man about town. But the beauty of the South Bank is that very long strips of it are away from the road. From Lambeth Bridge to Waterloo and beyond (at least Blackfriars off the top of my head, but the top of my head gets a bit confused sometimes), you can walk on gloriously big paved areas with just the occasional cyclist, the more occasional Banksy and the not-at-all occasional living statue to bother you (oh, and all the tourists. And today a giant penguin). In the other direction, towards Vauxhall and Battersea, it all gets a bit further away from the river and a bit more road-sy but that’s mainly to do with that big Power Station and M..I…6…being in the way. Interestingly, I am listening to the James Bond theme on the proms coverage as I write this.
OK, 430 words in and I have said very little of sense or interest so far. So, here goes. If you fancy taking this walk with your own bundle of scrumptiousness, leave lots of time. We gave it an hour before having to meet people at Waterloo (that’s a whole other post…but I haven’t written it yet so again damn! No pingback!) and were still running late, even though the walk should take less than 30 minutes. I guess Roo was enjoying it too much, which is kinda the point. He liked climbing on every one of the benches (there are a lot of benches) and he liked looking over the wall at the boats (being on the bench facilitated this). He liked shouting in the tunnels along the way and hearing his voice echo.
And….this is a top tip if ever I heard one…he enjoyed a fantastic new treat called “watching Mummy get a coffee”. To be fair, the man making it was an artist. And Reuben watched in suitably awed wonder. It’s a little coffee portakabin type thing that has sprung up on the Albert Embankment (just past Lambeth Bridge, against the wall that marks the edge of St Thomas’ Hospital) and although this isn’t sounding promising, trust me. It was gooooood! Not too expensive (given that double shot is standard) and made with such love that even Roo appreciated it (being held up by me, toddler weight thankfully taken by the shelf on the edge).Of course, I had the awful moment when – having taken my beautifully presented, gravity defying cappuccino – I had to put a lid on it and both spoil it all, and splurge hot milk over my hand (which was better than the alternative – not using a lid and spilling it all over Roo). Luckily the man’s back was turned, making Reuben’s apple juice, otherwise I believe he would have wept. Real tears. I probably could have got away without buying Roo a juice, entranced as he was by magic coffee man, but I was feeling nice. And it was a kick-ass juice too.
Artistry takes time and by this time we were in serious danger of running late. Roo had abandoned the idea of climbing on the bench to watch the boats and was attempting to climb over the actual wall. Buggy time. On another day, we shall walk further and commune with those living statues and the giant penguin outside the Aquarium (did I just imagine that?!) but today was not that day. If you have the time and inclination for a little walk away from the traffic and with lots to see, I would recommend it to you. And go visit magic coffee man. But really, bear in mind the time thing….