If you Google “parks in Clerkenwell”, you won’t get a lot of hits. It’s not the greenest part of London. If you Google “St James’ Churchyard”, well we’ll get to that. For now, let’s not spoil the innocence of a nice lunch in the sun.
We were heading to Clerkenwell on a sunny day, to meet a friend for lunch. I wasn’t optimistic about finding anywhere grassy to sit. When Nathan worked near there, back in the year 2000AD, he used to sit out in a dusty and dismal strip of grass just off Benjamin Street (Google maps tells me it’s called St John’s Gardens) to eat his Benjy’s sandwich. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see a gate next to a church that advertised some kind of play park. We went through the narrow gates, bumped up a few steps and found a massive churchyard, with a play area in it. Perfect for a catch up with a friend, while Roo ran round like a mad thing. There were some bouncers, a slide with playhouse underneath and a roundabout.
Now, I was dubious as to what this sign could mean. All kinds of thoughts flashed through my head, but I assumed I had the answer when the whole place flooded with office workers on the lunch break. For the hour or two we were there, Roo and Eva remained the only children in the place. Even the benches inside the play area were occupied by young professionals, looking cynically on as Roo attempted to pee into his potty on the grass. But it would be a hard person indeed who didn’t crack a smile when he escaped the play area and went running off around the back of the church, shouting at the pigeons while only wearing a t-shirt, pants, socks and shoes (on his hands).
In case anyone needed any extra entertainment, there was also a couple of tree surgeons trimming a tree at the edge of the play area. The chainsaws made conversation difficult, but Roo loved it. He thought it was like the bit where Tom and Moose get stuck up the tree in Fireman Sam. Sadly, he was asked to step back when he went in for an extreme close-up. He also loved following a little path around the back of the bushes and playing hide and seek.
I slightly regret letting him do that now. When googling this place to check the name, it came up on a list of “hot cruising spots”. The bushes got rave reviews. Ho hum. Turns out I was right about the dubious origins of that sign….
VERDICT: A nice green spot in the middle of office-land. The office workers may put your potty-training toddler off his pee-pee. And the contents of the bushes may put you off your lunch.