The blog I read the most (apart from this one, of course) is Spitalfields Life. I love the way the Gentle Author finds inspiration in his/her home patch of London, uncovering story after story – which, in turn, inspires me to try and do the same. Because I’m a firm believer in the idea that if you keep exploring – wherever you are – you’re never bored.
And to let you in on a secret, I spent much of my childhood feeling very bored indeed. As a result, if there’s any one thing I want to equip my children with, it’s an enquiring mind, so they aren’t needlessly bored, and find interest and inspiration around them.
So when my three-year-old looked out from the bus and spotted a small park with a play area and said, “Mummy, one day can we go to that playground”, I was only too pleased to oblige. Not the same day, mind, I was in need of a sit-down and cuppa, but the next morning when we had an hour or two to fill, and needed a jaunt outdoors.
We set off by foot (me), in pouch (baby) and on scooter (the three-year-old) with me clutching my Oyster card in case it worked out further than I remembered and we needed to hop on the bus. But we didn’t.
Thankfully, we hit a section of pavement that was given the seal of approval, ‘Very smooth’ and we made speedy progress to the park.
Shortly before we got there, we passed under the tube line to find the pavement and road covered in hundreds and hundreds of ‘helicopters’ – the seed pods from sycamore trees that go round and round. I didn’t think my little girl had seen any before, so we carefully picked some up and took them into the park, hoping to find a suitable spot to fly them.
Rounton Park isn’t big, but it packs a lot into a small space. It sits in the middle of an attractive square and I’m sure is often busy, but we had it pretty much to ourselves during our visit. First, we explored the play area which had brought us there. It has a nice slide, a large see-saw that can carry multiple children, some swings, a tyre swing and – I think – that’s about it. There are some boulders – ‘stepping stones, mum!’ – that are good to hop on and off.
Beside the playground, there’s a small area that has been left to grow wild. I’m not sure why more parks don’t have something similar, because it’s good for kids and good for wildlife. When we walked through, we glimpsed some long-tailed tits in the trees, and plenty of flowers and bushes flourishing. It would have been a good spot for hide and seek, but we had other business.
It was snack time. We sat at a bench and chairs in the grass, and saw – dead ahead – the perfect tree. It was crying out to be climbed. My fellow explorer was helped into its inviting arms and had fun pretending to be an owl. It also gave her the perfect vantage point to throw down her sycamore pods – again and again.
After that, we had another quick play on the slide, swings and seesaw and we were done. It was time to go home. We’re very lucky to have so many parks – large and small – around us. And our trip to Rounton Park was a reminder there are still some only a short scoot away that we haven’t yet enjoyed.