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
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?