Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Half-term Melee

Half term has descended upon us and the air in Kensington & Chelsea is thick with panic. What to do with the kids? WHAT TO DO WITH THE KIDS? ANYONE?

Mummies stand on street corners (well, they do if they live in a basement and can't get a signal in their flat), desperately texting 'is there anybody out there?' to other mums, hoping against hope that their childrens' potential playmates are still ensconced in Credit Crunched London rather than zipping happily down some snow-covered slope in the Alps.

I struck lucky this morning and found a similarly holiday-challenged mother gagging for company and a break in the constant pressure to morph into a Butlins Redcoat, and together we decided to mount an assault on the Princess Diana playground in Kensington Gardens. It's really not far from us, but we don't go that often. If you read the following list of indespensible items I suggest you pack for this expedition, you might work out why...

Satellite tracking devices for your childrens' shoes. This is a fairly sizeable playground and part of it's charm for the kids is that it's divided up into different sections that they can - gasp - get lost in. All very well for the kids, but panic-inducing for most London-based mums of kids of, oh around 18 and under.

Pulse monitor for you to measure how fast your heart is beating when said children disappear from view for at least 5 minutes. Of course you're going to find them again - probably 30 seconds after you realise you can't see them - but you might as well be able to calculate the amount of calories burned during your panic session. Which will then help to justify the...

...change you spend on the cappucino / hot chocolate / sticky bun you purchase from the handily sited cafe at the entrance, and which you can enjoy whilst blissfully ignoring the jealous glances from the skinny blondes in their Uggs and 7 jeans who are sticking to their fresh-air and wheat grass diet.

A selection of phrase books in a variety of languages to help you communicate with the children of different nationalities you will encounter. If you must limit yourself to just a few, I suggest the following:
  • French - main phrase required; please stop pushing / ignoring / being rude to my child
  • Italian - main phrase required; No, my son does not want to dress up in your spotty sunglasses and matching hat
  • Russian - main phrase required; I know you like to steer the pirate ship / using my child's bucket and spade but you've been doing that for half an hour now and sharing is always a good idea
(Note; the above shocking generalisations are based purely on my own observation and are of course not representative of nationalities characteristics as a whole. Much.)

However, you can ignore this post; its just Control Freak Mummy speaking. The Boys loved the playground, and as ever came home two hours later hungry enough to eat their lunch without complaint. It's free. It's outside. And they sell Green & Black's hot chocolate in the cafe. And you can't ask much more from a trip out, can you really?


  1. Green & Blacks HOT CHOCOLATE??????

    Oh god. I've never heard of such a thing.

  2. I've been to that playground. You are right, it's a nightmare. You can't see them anywhere, and it really is full of spoilt international brats. The boys love it, though.

    If you ever fancy venturing south of the river, there are some great parks round here. (And if you dare go as far as Crystal Palace, there's even a lake with huge dinosaurs around it. Really).

  3. I lived in the suburbs with big front gardens and empty sidewalks and we just turned the kids outside to play with each other and their bikes and roller skates and other assorted toys. There were always other kids around to play with, thank goodness. Down the street there was a park with a playground and the neighbors had a swimming pool. This was in California, mind you. Those were blessed days. We didn't know how good we had it.

  4. I didn't know Green and Blacks did hot chocolate either!!


  5. Oh Lord, the Diana memorial expat banker assembly point as I know it. NVG and I have discussed this before!

    Getting flashbacks. Maybe Brussels not so bad.

  6. Laura, check the supermarket by the vastly inferior Cadbury's version. You won't regret it...

    NVG - something tells me you won't miss that one when you set off for pastures new, then? (And the Crystal Palace one sounds fantastic!)

    Irene, it sounds wonderful. Not jealous. Not at all...

    Aims - does that mean that you liked the chocolate you found in the drugstore that time?

    Jaywalker - you know you love it as much as I do. Which is not much, actually.

  7. i have so many comments about this pm, i'd better not say anything...!

  8. Havn't you heared that old proverb, "The more harrassed the parent, the more fun for the child".

    At least they were ready for their lunch!

  9. The park at Crystal Palace is well worth a visit or several. We had friends who lived near it and we would generally go there when visiting them, 4 boys between us and great fun was had by all.

  10. Can't you tether them to a tree with an extendable lead?

    Or is that dogs?

    I never can remember.

  11. I was quite looking forward to some time with my children this half term but they demanded they be allowed to go to holiday club.
    Sniff. Mummy must be really boring!
    I relented and let them go three mornings and instantly regretted it when they came home and we baked cakes and my kitchen looked like something from one of those before and after features on homes in need of help.
    Clearly they are allowed to just throw things around when they go to holiday club . . .

  12. One day, I will write a post about the time I called 911 because I had indeed lost a child. (It ended well.) All I can say is, it took so many years off my life that I think a satellite tracking device would be a great idea (are you joking about them, or do they really exist? one never knows these days...)

    Green and Black's hot chocolate? Wow. Mind you, they do Swiss Miss hot chocolate over here, which is pretty good.

  13. Grit, am not sure what to make of that - should I be hiding my head in shame that I don't know how to keep the children entertained in just one week? (Don't answer that...)

    AM, and thank heavens for it. Haven't seen Boy 2 eat that well in weeks!

    Sharon, crystal palace it is then!

    Mud, hmmm. Are you a cat person, by any chance?

    Tara, at least they must have been quiet whilst they ate the results...

    Iota, I'll send you some (G&B's, not the satellite tracking device. Which I think do exist although there may still be minor problems with radiation leakage and the small issue of price being in NASA's budget but not ours...)

  14. We've been to the park. With the dogs, without the dogs and with David which was an experience bordering on the hysterical.

    We've been to Keston Lakes "looking for tigers" and encountered a couple with a passion for alfresco romps who were NOT expecting a nearly five year old barging up to them in the bushes and asking if they'd seen "any tigers" with accompanying roar.

    We've been to see Daddy at work. For five minutes. And then we came home.

    And it's only Wednesday!

  15. This was the one half term that went off swimmingly. We spent the whole time in the pool at the local leisure centre. Five and unders swim for free!


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