When I take William to the park, the playground, a museum, the library or the shops, there’s always a grandparent or two like me, doing their share of childminding.
Not today. Sarah’s friends recommended the new adventure play at a local leisure centre as a good place to spend the morning. I’d be able to relax while William let off steam.
It didn’t work out like that. Towers, tunnels, trampolines and slides went from ground to way above our heads. Daunting at first if you’re only two. ‘Granny come too’.
Which is all very well, but safety netting was at small-child-head-height. We scrambled up padded stairways; inserted ourselves into cylindrical tunnels; dropped through chutes to the floor below, and zipped down slides that, were they removed to a domestic setting, would have to be sited leaving from the bedroom window.
At this point I noticed that I was easily twice the age of the next oldest carer. Just now, sore and creaky, I feel at least four times older.
And we had to visit the new exhibition about colour, The Rainbow Revealed. Here’s William, sitting in the light tent, soothed by the calming green light that followed the vigorous energizing magenta.
Just before home time, we came upon this dinosaur. He lives out his days in the primaeval forest created in the Horniman Museum Gardens. The primaeval plants are currently protected from the winter storms by very unprimaeval plastic, which slightly spoils the effect.
A fine day.
Click on any image to see it full size. These are smart phone photos. Not so smart really.
Winter’s not been around in recent years, not really. Those crisp snowy days we all seem to remember from our childhood, those snowball fights, those Jack Frost patterns etched our bedroom windows, those chilblains – all seem to be ancient history.
This week in London, where we had an early unofficial Christmas with William and family, winter arrived for one day only before becoming sunny and mild again. Look at these ducks and gulls in the local park, standing in puzzled uncertainty or ineptly skating on a frozen pond. One day only was quite enough for them.
Find the glass lift, and allow it to sweep you upwards to the sixth floor. Here, from this light and airy vantage point, you can enjoy views over the museum and beyond.
Contemporary Korean ceramics. That’s what you’re looking for. There are glossy ceramic tiles, reinterpreting Korea’s exquisite porcelain from the Joseon dynasty (you can see examples of these down on the first floor). There are wonderfully lustrous translucent vases, in luminous reds, yellows and blues. Oh wait …. they’re carved from soap.
But what drew me back, several times, was this house.
Here’s what its creator Kim Juree has to say about this, and the many houses she has created in the same idiom.
So what you’ll see if you visit won’t be what I saw. Don’t wait too long. This temporary structure isn’t long for this world.
I’m in London, doing a spot of childminding for two-year old William. But after all that city living in Poland and Berlin, my inner Country Mouse needed some attention.
A city farm then. This turned out to be a Good Idea. It involved an exciting trip through the waterways and futuristic high-rise building sites on the route of the Docklands Light Railway. It involved, in the smart business district of Canary Wharf, an exciting intermittent fountain that commanded William’s rapt attention for many minutes.
It involved a ferry crossing to get us from one side of the Thames to the other. ‘Did you see the seal?’ said one of the crew. No, we didn’t, but it turns out they’re rather common.
And it involved a saunter along the Thames views. Then we arrived. Surrey Docks City Farm. Path, through parkland and with riverside.
It’s a farm, but not as we know farms here in North Yorkshire. The animals are behind fences, and the crops are in beds rather than fields. But it’s nicely ramshackle, in a good way, and a real piece of countryside among the high-rise. William and I befriended sheep: monster woolly breeds from the South Downs and from Oxford, quite unlike their rangier northern cousins. Donkeys requested loving pats on the back. Here was the biggest sow ever. Ducks were a-dabbling, up tails all. Goats played King of the Castle to increasingly complicated rules, jostling each other off the heights: and hens busied themselves policing the entire site.
William was, if anything, even more interested in the vegetables. Those gourds! They were long, thin, and taller than him. Those pumpkins! So big, so h-e-a-v-y. And the long leaves of the cavolo nero! So tough, so leathery, and such an intense shade of dark green.
Everything in the cafe is home-made. So we had lunch there – an enormous lunch – before retracing our steps. The ferry was still as exciting, and there were workmen hanging off the gangway onto the boat, doing unimaginably interesting things.
The fountain as entrancing as first time round. By the time our train journey was over, William was fast asleep.
I had to be in London, because it’s not every day my son gets a chance to sing in the Royal Festival Hall. Admittedly, he was only one of some 400 singers from Lewisham Choral Society and the Hackney Singers, who’d combined to perform Bach’s B minor Mass. What a privilege to hear so many voices give such a finely tuned and moving performance.
The other treat was that I was seated between my daughter-in-law, and a new friend made entirely thanks to blogging. She’d discovered my blog after following up a comment I had made on the wonderful ‘Spitalfields Life’. She commented – often – on mine, and eventually we met. I do like this blogging malarkey.
London, as seen from dry land the start of my journey.
…. which changed to this, as we started, ploughing through the water at a busy fast rate.
Anyway, I got to the Festival Hall from Greenwich by way of a commuter trip along the Thames. And on this journey I got a sense of densely packed communities, sometimes in tower blocks; and of the densely packed offices of Canary Wharf and the City.
I saw too the Docklands area, where once tobacco, ivory, spices, coffee, tea, cocoa, wine and wool were unloaded from densely packed ships along the quayside to be processed in wharfside buildings – once busy, crowded industrial sites, and now transformed into desirable apartments and businesses.
I saw the Tower of London, with the city behind showing itself developed in a manner unimaginable to the many unhappy souls who entered, never to return to life as they had known it …. or to life at all.
This journey is a treat which some lucky Londoners can enjoy every day as part of their regular commute.