Henry Reynolds Gardens, Leytonstone

One of the residents of Henry Reynolds Gardens

Henry Reynolds Gardens is a small bowl-shaped park located a stone’s throw away from a busy roundabout on the A12, but you wouldn’t know it. When you’re in it, you feel far from the east London traffic. Like I said, it’s a small green space (although if you’re after more, Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats are just over the road) but it’s been turned into a magical place for children to play.

First up, there’s a playground split into two parts set on springy artificial grass – one part is for toddlers, the other for slightly older children. There’s everything you’d expect – swings, slides, climbing equipment – and it’s all clean, new and well-maintained.

Then, there’s a expanse of grass with trees dotted around, and some more climbing equipment. That’s when you spot the beautiful carvings.

There are several tree trunks set on the side for children to climb over and there are lovely animals and insects carved into them.

The badger catches your eye first, but there are also hares, caterpillars, dragonflies and more.

What’s great is you’re taken on a trail towards the trees at the edge of the gardens, encouraging children to swing from the branches and generally have fun.

We went to Henry Reynolds Gardens because we felt like exploring somewhere new, but we liked it so much that we’ve been back. You can easily combine a visit to the gardens with a picnic there or a meal at one of the nice pubs or cafes in Leytonstone. Or with a bigger ramble in Wanstead Park or across Wanstead Flats.

The badger – now decorated.


Other posts about small parks and playgrounds:

Mile End Children’s Park, Mile End

Tonkotsu park, Stratford
Abbey Lane Park, Stratford
Rounton Park, Bow
Victory Park, Stratford
Bob’s Park



Mile End Children’s Park

A couple of weeks back, we went to Mile End Children’s Park and I wondered to myself, ‘Why don’t we come here more often?’. It’s not far. There’s loads to do and we had a great time, but let’s face it, we’re spoiled when it comes to parks…

… So what has Mile End Children’s Park got to offer?

If you’ve been, you’ll know it’s located a little further beyond the leisure centre. It’s secure – with gates all round – so there’s no fear of any little ones bolting.

On a sunny Friday morning, we had the whole playground pretty much to ourselves and there was plenty to explore. Only the water spray was out of action. There’s a sand pit, swings, a seesaw and climbing equipment that were suitable for the one-year-old and the four-year-old. There’s also plenty of green space for a game of hide and seek. And a nice slide set into the slope.

The one-year-old really enjoyed getting a stick and playing the musical instruments.

If you’ve been to Mile End Children’s Park, you’ll know there’s also a pavilion with a schedule of children’s activities. Check out the timetable here.

A visit to Mile End Children’s Park can be combined with a session in the pavilion, a swim at the leisure centre, a trip to the Ragged School museum, or simply a scoot through the rest of the rest of Mile End park.

And there are the links to some of the other small parks and playgrounds we’ve posted about.

Tonkotsu park

We’ve eased off the small parks and playgrounds thread due to the freezing cold, but let’s make an exception for the new little playground that you can find opposite the London Aquatics Centre.

To find it, walk from Westfield, past The Cow, along Stratford Walk. Before the bridge over to the Aquatics Centre, turn left at the edge of the building that says it’s soon to be a Tonkotsu (yum). This area now has flats and the lucky residents have a small playground that you might like to visit if you want to escape Westfield or still have some energy after swimming.

Here’s what you’ll find:

Things to climb 
Things to whizz round on
Something to slide down
Not one, not two, but three things to bounce on (plus basket ball court in the background).

There are two much bigger playgrounds in the QEOP (and a nice one in Westfield), but it’s always nice to explore somewhere new, and small play areas like this have the advantage of offering a quick change of scene. You can try everything in it pretty fast so there’s no chance to tears/tantrums when it’s time to leave.

As mentioned, this combines well with:

  • A visit to the Aquatics Centre
  • A trip to Westfield
  • A scooter trip round the QEOP
  • A play area safari of the QEOP

I don’t know if this playground has a name, so I’m officially naming it Tonkotsu playground and it joins the list of little parks that I’ve posted about.

Here are the others:

With Spring on the way, there’ll be more…

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.

Abbey Lane Park

This is the third 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 Rounton Park, Bow and Victory Park, Stratford.

If you live nearby, these are the places you go to once, twice, three times a day sometimes when you need to get your toddler out into the fresh air – to use up some energy or get a change in mood. You really depend on them.

This time, we’re obeying the urge we’ve had for some time to investigate the rather fantastic slide that can be glimpsed to the right, near the Greenway, from the upper deck of the bus on the way to Stratford shortly after Bow Flyover.

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Victory Park

Victory Park, Stratford, E20

This is the second in an occasional series celebrating the smaller parks and playgrounds in our corner of East London (last time, it was Rounton Park). If you live near them, they’re a godsend – enabling you to nip out with your toddler for a change of air and, sometimes, a change of mood. If you don’t, you might never think to make a special trip out to explore them, but some – like Victory Park – are easily combined with another task (like shopping at Westfield) or indeed with a trip to another park (we popped to Victory Park on our way back from the QEOP) .

Victory Park is a small patch of green that’s now surrounded by flats for people lucky enough to live on the edge of the Olympic park. There are sometimes events held there as a local community starts to develop in London’s newest postcode (E20).

Continue reading “Victory Park”