With Roo at nursery every afternoon, our spontaneous-outing count is at an all-time low. So, when he did a morning shift instead for a day, I seized the opportunity and picked him up at 13:30 for a Spontaneous Outing.
I’ll cut to the chase. He’s asleep. I’m writing this post from under a shady tree in the playground at Clapham Common, and both children are asleep. Guess nursery really does tire him out. Doesn’t he look comfy with his head like that?
So why Clapham Common? Why not? It’s fairly close by, it’s big and unexplored. It seemed like a good place to fly his kite on a windy day. But instead, he is snoozing. So, I’ll report back on what I’ve seen.
A big pond with lots of ducks and geese, flocking round a man with a bag of crumbs (mental note – next time, bring bag of crumbs), an empty paddling pool and most excitingly, this mosaic:
It may not look exciting to you, but I helped to make it, the first time we went to Ben and Jerrys festival. Back then it was only the central square – the outer bits got added on the year after. Good to see it’s still there. I do check every so often, to make sure no Clapham youngster has pinched my beautifully hand-crafted tile-leaves.
Clapham Common is not really a place you can entirely lose yourself. Although it’s big, it’s bordered by the As 3 and 24 and you never lose the feeling of being close to a main road. But I’m not much of a “lose yourself” type, so that’s OK by me. What’s the point of being in London if you wanna feel like you’re not in London?
I believe there are two playgrounds, and I’m sitting in the one near Clapham South and the Windmill pub. It’s nice. The playground, I mean, though the pub is good too. I remember it fondly from a birthday-party in our pre-child days. Ah, alcohol-y goodness.
But back to the playground. It has everything you need – two climbing frames (one tiny, one more challenging), a play train, baby swings and 2 sets of big-kid swings, and a roundabout of sorts. And childrens’ toilets. These are getting ever more important. Now, if only I had a child that could try it all out…
And then he woke up! I didn’t plan that, honestly. As you can tell, I am no longer live-blogging from the Windmill Drive Playground. My phone was running out of battery anyway. He woke up. Eva woke up. She wanted milk. He wanted to play. I wanted him to pee. You can see why the live-blogging went to pot. I fed Eva for a while, and then had to go and intervene in an altercation on the roundabout after a little girl made Reuben cry.
As you might expect, Clapham Common is Yummy Mummy Central. There are a few ways you can spot a Yummy Mummy hotspot – the school uniforms that come with hats are a dead giveaway. Another giveaway is that when there’s a fight and your child’s crying, they try to pick him up and comfort him. That doesn’t happen on the estate playgrounds. When you eventually feel shamed enough to go and comfort him yourself (hey, I had a baby to feed!) they say things like “Sorry, I’m afraid she was quite horrid to him”. It’s all terribly civilised. I don’t have the money to fit in with them, but I have the accent, if I Winchester it up a bit. I also don’t have the clothes, but given that one mother was wearing denim harem pants with studs, I think I’m OK with that.
Then we found a sandpit.Not the cleanest or newest sandpit, but that’s all it takes to make him happy. He climbed up the little tower in the middle and managed to interact with some other children without any tears. Then he moved to the smaller climbing frame, took his coat and wellies off and stuffed them in the tunnel, telling all the other children that it was his tunnel now.
It was time to go. I’d already broken my own rule of not travelling in rush hour, and suffered for it as we squeezed onto a very full bus. Luckily, all the teenage college students were trustworthy enough to pass my Oyster card down to the beeper and -more crucially – pass it back. On the way there, I’d got off the 155 at Clapham Common tube and trekked all the way down to the playground (ducking under the A3 sign to do so). This may have been a mistake. So on the way back, I caught it from just outside the Windmill but that was also a mistake, given that the bus emptied at Clapham Common, You live, you learn….Oh, and we never did get round to flying his kite.