It’s springtime! Kinda! For now, anyway. And springtime means hanging out in parks even more than we do in winter. Last Friday’s park of choice was St James’, with our good friends Tammy and Jake. I’ve been there a fair few times with Reuben but I was keen to try out the playground this time. But more on that later…
St James’ Park is a pretty park. That’s a good start. Some of the Royal Parks (e.g. Hyde) tend to be a bit flat and featureless for large sections, with the kind of grass that’s been abused by festival goers and protesters for years. But St James’ has a kind of landscaped feel to it, and (apart from the end of the Marathon) is largely free from the kind of crowds that ruin the grass. See, pretty! Springtime is probably the best time to visit, as the blossom’s out and it’s not yet overrun with tourists. It’s also green and not the yellow that Central London parks go by the middle of July. There’s a lake, which is always a nice feature, a cafe and a lot of green space. It’s long and thin, but for a park minutes away from Piccadilly Circus it feels remarkably spacious.
So, what is there to actually do? The first thing Roo was keen to do was play on the deckchairs but we were trying to get to the toilets at the time (I mentioned last week that you always need to know where your nearest toilet is at 35 weeks. Well, 36 weeks is no better) and I’m a little paranoid about him playing on the deckchairs in case someone tries to charge us. It’s £7.00 a day, which seems excessive to me – we paid 8 Euros for a pair of sunloungers last time we went to Spain, so it doesn’t seem great value in comparison. Basically Roo, I don’t care if they’re green and white and stripy – these things may be exciting to you, but they’re not worth seven quid to me. Sorry poppet.
Happily, he seemed quite content to sit on Tammy’s blanket and play with Batman toys for a while, eating a picnic at the same time. If this seems out of character, I should probably point out that it was his second park of the day and he’d walked much of the way there from home. Turns out that even hyperactive toddlers fancy a sit-down every now and then. Obviously, it didn’t last and he was soon off hitting trees with sticks (mostly harmless) and trying to breach the fence (also mostly harmless but try explaining that to all the “Ooh, is that your child? You should keep an eye on him” people). Jake had an ice-cream, so naturally Roo forgot that he had never previously shown any interest in ice-cream and wanted one too. Specifically an “ice-cream badge”, whatever that may mean. Anyway, he got one and we shared it so that it didn’t melt everywhere. And then he wanted another one, hence trying to breach the fence to get back to the “ice cream shop”. But he’s way too short to get over it. Bad luck once more, Roo!
In an attempt to distract him from more ice-cream, we went to find the playground. On the way, we saw all manner of duckies (I think the ones pictured above are herons. Or maybe pelicans. I’m not too sure), and there was a specified area on the north side of the bridge where you could feed aforementioned duckies. What you don’t want to do is what we spotted one toddler doing – feeding the pigeons. Once you attract those things, you never get rid of them. Eventually, we got past all the duckies (and there was a LOT for a little boy to stop and look at) and got to the south-westermost corner to find the playground – under construction. How disappointing! Why does this happen to me so often? No signs to say when it’d be open again but it looked like they were just giving it a clean-down and spruce up pre-summer, so it should be open again soon. From what we could see, it was fairly small, with a “natural” sandpit and wooden play equipment. I imagine it’d get overrun in the high season but beyond that I can’t really comment. We left the park and walked a couple of kilometres to Causton Street Playground instead
VERDICT: A lovely park but would have been nice to try out the playground while we were there.