Walthamstow Wetlands – part 2

A few days ago, I wrote about a visit to the newly opened Walthamstow Wetlands. Did you know there are special activity days for children under fives and their adult companions on Mondays and Wednesdays, 10am-3pm?

There’s the promise of story-telling, crafts and wildlife activities – and it’s all free.

You can find the details here, where you’ll also find information about other sessions that the London Wildlife Trust offers at various sites.

 

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Walthamstow Wetlands

If there’s a blue sky over London, I can’t think of a better place to be than the Walthamstow Wetlands – Europe’s largest urban wetland – which opened to the public only a few weeks ago. There’s something incredibly heartening about being encircled by huge skies, and seeing the sunlight cast reflections onto the reservoirs, rivers, channels and streams that run through the reserve.

And it’s not just for walkers, birders or fishing enthusiasts, it’s a fine place to be as a family with toddlers. The principle paths are stony, so although I’m sure they get muddy from time to time, they’re also a good bet for pushchairs and scooters. There was one section where we needed to carry the pushchair up some stairs to walk on the bund of the reservoir, but I noticed an accessible path has been constructed – it’s just not yet open.

Walthamstow Wetlands get the seal of approval from my four-year-old who passed her verdict (‘beautiful’) and is keen to return. So are the rest of us. We only walked round a small part and it will be interesting to see the whole reserve change through the seasons. On our first visit, we spotted a heron, but we’re already looking forward to next year’s ducklings, goslings and cygnets. If you have binoculars for your little one, be sure to bring them.

The old Engine House has been beautifully restored and there’s a nice-looking cafe inside as well as a viewing point and what looked like a spot to eat your own sandwiches. The cafe had a long queue when we visited, so I can’t tell you what the food tastes like, but it looked pretty appetising.

As the website advises, the car park is small. If you can, you’re better off coming by train, tube or even by bike up the Lea/Lee valley.

It’s free to visit and open 9.30am-4pm (October-March)

All the details you need to plan a visit are here.

 

Set sail for a mini maritime festival

This weekend – Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 – from 12 noon the Museum of London Docklands is the place to be for free songs and stories that, despite being terribly nautical, are entirely suitable for families.

Together with your toddler(s), you’ll have the chance to sing a sea shanty or two,  hear stories from the sea in your shell-like, and try your hand at craft activities including making a pirate hat.

All the details are here. Simply drop in and enjoy.

 

 

 

Take to the stage…

Now that Halloween and Bonfire night are behind us, we can all get well and truly stuck into the mince pies that have been on the supermarket shelves since August. And perhaps plan a festive day out because there are loads of lovely things on at the theatre in the run up to Christmas and in its gloomy aftermath…

No pantomimes listed here – I’ve gone for other toddler-friendly performances that look like they’ll make a memorable seasonal treat.

  1. Stickman 

21 October 2017-7 January 2018, Leicester Square Theatre.

Needs no introduction, surely? Julia Donaldson’s lovely story about Stickman, his Sticklady love and their family – featuring a guest appearance by Father Christmas.

Click here for info

2. Santa’s little Workshop

1-24 December 2017, Little Angel Theatre

See ‘Twas the night before Christmas, then enjoy puppet making yourself.

Click for more details

3. The Velveteen Rabbit

17 November-31 December, Unicorn theatre

The classic story of the rabbit who dreams of being real becomes real (on stage)

Find out more

4. The Ramshackle House

Monday 4-Sunday 24 December 2018, Stratford Circus.

Dance, acrobatics and clowning from the theatre company that created Bedtime stories (we saw this at Stratford Circus last year and it was fab).

Click here for info

5. Ugly Ducking

Saturday 6 January, Half Moon theatre, Limehouse.

The heartening tale of the ugly duckling that turns into a beautiful swan reinvented into a tale of self-discovery.

You can also see it at The Albany theatre, Deptford throughout December.

Find out more here

6. Snow Mouse

13-23 December, Barbican

A child finds a sleepy mouse in a show especially for under threes.

More details

7. The Gruffalo’s Child

22 November–6 January 2018, Lyric Theatre.

Aha, oho, a follow up to the Gruffalo – for all those who do not fear the big, bad mouse.

More info here

8. The Little Match Girl

13-24 December, Sadler’s Wells.

Dance, song and live music – this looks beautiful, but is probably for school-age children (guidance is 5+). Performance is one hour 5 mins which isn’t bad…

Find out more here

Discover downstairs…

GRUFFALO_WEB_BANNER

Who likes Julia Donaldson stories?

Why everyone, of course!

That’s why the latest installation downstairs at the Discover Children’s Story Centre is bound to be a big hit. We went to check it out earlier this week.

I think this is the fourth thing I’ve been to like this at Discover – the others having been based of the writings of:

  1. Oliver Jeffers
  2. Michael Rosen
  3. Dr Seuss

Until now, the Oliver Jeffers one was my favourite. Not because – at the time, anyway – I knew the stories particularly well, but more because the activities  kept a toddler busy, happy and stimulated.

The good news is, ‘A World Inside a Book: Gruffalos, Dragons and Other Creatures’ is just as good.

You assemble in a room with your storyteller who asks everyone whether they agree with Charlie Cook – that a world can contain a book. Whatever the answer, there’s a chance to find out because (in our case) she then read us a Julia Donaldson story. We got Room on the Broom. I won’t spoil it for you by telling you what happens at the end. Okay, so it’s a fabulous broom. I mean, I won’t spoil it for you by telling you what happens after the end of the story, but let’s just say there is a little world for toddlers and their companions to explore for the following half hour or so.

Inspired by some of Julia Donaldson’s most popular books, there’s a row of tiny houses that makes you feel like the smartest giant in town. There’s a room that’s a squash and a squeeze. There’s a chance to sit on the fabulous broom, paddle with a whale and dress as a monkey.

Oh and have I mentioned the Gruffalo yet?

If you’ve been to Discover before, you’ll know how it works…

You can pitch up on the day and, when you buy your ticket, book a slot in ‘A world inside a book’.

All the details are here.

If it’s the weekend or a holiday, you might be better off booking ahead online.

Whatever you decide, there’s plenty more to do at Discover on two other floors and outdoors in the garden. There’s also a cafe with plenty of high chairs and toddler suitable food.

It’s on until September 2018, so you’ve got ample opportunity to enjoy it again and again.

Prices for Discover are here.

Springfield Park and cafe

This is my new favourite destination for family cycle rides.

Springfield Park cafe

If you’re coming through the Olympic Park from Bow or Hackney Wick, you can carry on up to Springfield Park entirely off-road on lovely, flat paths.

Exit from the North of the Olympic Park and there’s a variety of routes, along the Lee navigation channel or beside the River Lee and across Hackney Marshes and Walthamstow Marshes.

The Marshes (which I’ve posted abput before) have big expanses of sky and a scruffily wild feel that feels like entering a new landscape, even though they’re crisscrossed with an urban veinage of busy waterways and giant pipes.

Which is quite a contrast to the feel cycling on the other side of the Olympic Park… Though my 3-year-old is convinced that the Greenway is a “country road” and that these are mountains. Continue reading “Springfield Park and cafe”

Bob’s park

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The dragon of Bow

What’s this?

Why it’s the shiny scales of a dragon catching the sun as the season turns from summer to autumn, of course.

You can meet said dragon, or even run along her, at Bob’s park at the back of the Bromley-by-Bow centre. Even though this is very much our manor, I’ve never before visited this lovely little park with the baby and the three-year-old. There was a great deal for them both to enjoy.

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Dragon’s eye view

Bob’s park is another of the smaller local parks that might get overlooked with the Olympic Park and Victoria Park not far away, unless of course you live in a neighbouring street at which point it becomes a godsend. It’s locked at night, which keeps it relatively litter-free. It’s also clearly loved…

There’s a small fruit and vegetable garden that’s well tended. There’s a small playground split into two for smaller and older children which has some interesting equipment including a wobbly, wooden balance beam. And there’s a dragon.

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Balance beam

There’s also plenty of green space to run about. And there’s a cafe in the Bromley-by-Bow centre for refreshments (Open Monday-Friday 8.30am-3.30pm – check here).

Bob’s park has a nice feeling about it – like a secret you’re pleased to discover. You can access it from Bruce Road or St Leonard’s Street.

We’ll be going back.

In case you’ve missed the others, this is the fourth post in an occasional series featuring smaller local parks and playgrounds which you may have passed by, but never visited. So far, we’ve covered:

PS If you’re wondering, Wikipedia says it used to be called the Bromley Recreation Ground, but local people named it Bob’s park after the local park warden. And it’s a much better name.