Yesterday was a busy day. A 6-tube, 3-bus, uphill-downhill kind of day. And our first destination was Little Dinosaurs at Alexandra Palace. We caught the Victoria Line as far as Finsbury Park and made a very easy change onto the Piccadilly Line, then I thought I’d take a photo to commemorate the moment.
We don’t take the Piccadilly Line very often and I may have once slagged it off as being entirely pointless and just being like the Victoria Line but slower, and for going to a whole bunch of places no-one would ever want to go to. ..but it came in useful for getting to Wood Green, so I take it all back. Besides, I like that Piccadilly Line over ground picture they have and it’s also reallllly useful if you’ve got Suede’s “Europe is our playground” stuck in your head and you’re wondering just how far it is from Heathrow to Hounslow. Answer – not far. But depends whether you’re going from Hounslow West, East or Central. . and also which terminal at Heathrow you need. Be more specific, Brett!
I digress. But I didn’t digress yesterday, and we completed our step free route by gliding up the escalator at wood Green and hopping onto the surprisingly regular W3 to go up the hill to Ally Pally. The park there is huge and the correct stop for Little Dinosaurs is about the 4th one after Alexandra Palace station. But I couldn’t resist jumping off a couple of stops early and taking some pictures of the view over London.
Then we dawdled a bit, taking autumnal photos of Eva as I tried to figure out how there could be a soft play in the middle of what looked like a forest.
But there it was – Little Dinosaurs! As you may have gathered, it is a dinosaur-themed soft play, in the depths of Alexandra Palace Park. It has the usual array of passive aggressive soft play warning notices, from the sign telling you to leave other people’s belongings alone on the front gate, to the multiple posters dotted about once you get in there. I think we abided by most of the rules, but I can’t say for sure.
Talking of rules, I was up there to scope out a potential entry for the Toddler-Friendly Cafe Awards but it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t a cafe – it’s a soft play with a cafe in it. If I included this one, I’d be opening a whole can of jelly worms so sadly, it doesn’t count. But happily, it is a cool place to hang out for a few hours (1 and a half, to be exact…or 2 if you buy food. See, I did read the notices!)
We were there with Eva’s birthday-buddy T and my friend T’sMum. Eva and T mostly got on well – just look how happily they’re playing together here:
Although that was shortly before Eva tried to bite a chunk out of T’s face. I think T’s Dad may well beat me up at church next week. Still, T didn’t hold a grudge and they bravely explored the Big Frame together:
as well as hurling soft play lego bricks (satisfyingly stackable) at each other in the toddler area (3-18months only – again, I read the sign).
The dino theme made me think that Roo would enjoy it here and he would probably insist on wearing dinosaur-themed clothes, as I saw many small boys doing. Weirdly, there were also a lot of mums in animal print, a la The Flintstones. They were clearly embracing the theme.
To stop Eva eating any more small children, I thought it might be wise to get some lunch. I ordered a jacket potato for me and a kids’ pasta for her, but regretted it as my potato was so huge that we could have just shared that. Especially as she snubbed her pasta once the potato arrived, and just ate mine. She also insisted on getting a highchair and sitting in it before realising it was far too high for the child-size tables. So, eventually she relented and agreed to sit on a tiny-person-sized chair. And no, she’s not suddenly using words to issue all these commands, but her emphatic pointing is pretty clear.
Our allotted 2 hours were pretty much up, so we had a quick romp around the outside area, which had a sandpit, 2 Wendy Houses and a rather nice leafy tunnel:
Apparently in summer they also put a bouncy castle out there. This being not summer, the ground was a little muddy and Eva could have done with her wellies. But she was getting tired anyway, so we put the two of them into their buggies and went for a wander to get them to sleep.
I didn’t have much time, because the school run was threatening, but I could have spent ages wandering around the park. There’s some kind of misconception about me that I can’t stand nature. It’s not true! I just like it in small, carefully controlled doses near reliable public transport. I mean, look at this gorgeous lake:
It’s lovely, and it’s got a cafe next door and other signs of civilisation and it’s on a bus route. That’s as much nature as anyone needs.
Look! Wildlife and everything!
Alexandra Palace itself was also lovely, with high ceilings and tropical plants inside. We couldn’t go far because there was an event on, but I did sneak a few photos. And I’m particularly proud of the first one, which Nathan said was “so good it could be a stock image”. High praise indeed.
But the afternoon was drawing in, so we jumped on that W3 bus again, then a couple of tubes, walked a mile and got to Roo’s school just before pick-up. What would any sensible mother do next, after such a busy day? Well, forget that – we decided to go into Central London instead.
So, another tube and this time we had a tube picnic. By this time, I’d jettisoned the buggy and Eva was on my back, smushing crumbs into my hair.
We were off to see some friends of ours who live near Regent’s Park. We shall call them Family Em_Phatic. They have a girl who’s Reuben’s age and two boys either side of Eva. Em_PhaticGirl chased imaginary dinosaurs with Reuben, while Eva raided the toy box and I enjoyed a cuppa with Em_PhaticMum. Getting the tube home in rush hour was possibly not my greatest ever parenting decision, but leaving Mr Buggy at home may well have been. It was cosy enough with just the four of us (Me, Roo, Eva, Scooty). But we made it home intact and well-socialised, so I call this day a WIN!
VERDICT: Not a cafe, but a very fine soft play in a lovely location
More information here (official website)