Toddlers and Trains

Tom is obsessed with trains at the moment. And cars too. But mostly trains. He has a little set of the brio ones that he was given for his birthday and he loves to push the trains around any available surface, whilst saying ‘beep beep’ softly to himself (he hasn’t learnt ‘choo choo’ yet although he has got ‘nee naw’ for ambulances).

His obsession is quite a useful one, as it means we have a new source of entertainment when out on the Marshes. There’s a train track which runs along the top of our favourite bit, and a bridge that goes over the track and road. Anytime I let Tom choose our direction he heads straight for that bridge, which can be awkward if we have the buggy with us instead of a sling.

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He also loves to stand by the track and watch the trains go past. I’m trying to teach him to wave, but so far he prefers just staring in amazement.

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I don’t know that trainspotting really counts as engaging with nature, as such. But as long as it means he’s happy to come for a walk on the Marshes with me, this is a love of his I can get behind. Choo choo!



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A New Park and a Winter Picnic

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Brr, it has been chilly the last few days. It’s taking me much longer than usual to get Tom and myself dressed in the mornings – we’re both wandering around wearing enough layers to be cosy in the arctic!

We’ve been trying not to let the cold scare us off going out. Mostly pretty successfully. We’ve walked to and from nursery every day that Tom goes, he and Mr Techno have started their weekly nature club, and Tom and I spent a great weekend wandering around the Marshes and Springfield Park.

Wednesday is my day off, and Mr Techno had to work, meaning family day has had to be postponed until Sunday. Irritatingly, the parcels that were supposed to be delivered earlier in the week hadn’t turned up, so we had to make a trip to the sorting office, a half hour walk away. As Tom has taken to napping late into the afternoons, it had to be a morning trip, which wasn’t going to leave us much time to get there and back before Tom wanted lunch.

I was determined not to give up our outdoor playtime, so had a good look on Google maps and spotted a little park close to the sorting office; one we had never been to before. And so a plan was hatched – we’d pick up the parcels, have a play in the park, then have a winter’s picnic before heading home for Tom’s nap.

The park turned out to be pretty small, with not much open space. But that didn’t matter at all as it had a huge play area. My one complaint about our local park is that even the toddler equipment doesn’t have easy to climb steps, so Tom needs help using it. No such issues here – there were perfect Tom-sized structures.

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After a good play, we settled down on a bench to enjoy a sandwich and grape lunch.

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By this point we were both pretty cold, despite our layers and the winter sun. So it was time to walk home for cuddles and naps.

I’m glad we made the effort to fit in some outdoor play and discovered a new park into the bargain!



Life Unexpected

Outdoors in East London with a Toddler: Springfield Park

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Springfield Park is one of my favourite parks. Partly because it always seems to be sunny there (although I may be getting cause and effect the wrong way round) and partly because the walk there from our flat either takes us over the Marshes or along the river. So getting there is almost as lovely as the park itself.

The park really is beautiful. It has both cultivated gardens and open green spaces. There’s a kids play area, tennis courts, fountains, and a cricket pitch. Best of all, there are stunning views out over the river and the marshes beyond.

That stunning view does come at a cost – the park is very hilly, which can be an issue with the buggy. But it is worth it, not just for the view but for the lovely park cafe. There’s not loads of indoor tables, but a huge outdoor seating area. And since it’s always sunny there, who needs to be indoors? Plus they do yummy hot chocolate. And a range of light meal options, many of which are veggie friendly.

Tom and I met a friend there on Saturday and I remembered all over again why I love it so much. Hurray for our local green spaces!

Life Unexpected

Weekly Report: W/c 04.01.16

After the lovely long Christmas break, it was a bit of a come down to have to go back to work last week. Having said that, getting back to our normal routine was beginning to look attractive after having had so much going on.

We started on Monday with a much needed trip to the shop to stock up on some extra groceries. It then started raining as we ate lunch, but fortunately was clear by the time Tom woke up from his nap. Expecting more rain, I opted for water play in the garden, which was a huge success. I’ve resolved to do more with the space and am on the look out for inspiration.

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Tuesday was my first day back at work. I left Tom and Mr Techno to enjoy each others’ company, returning to find they hadn’t actually left the flat all day! Big fail on the outdoor front.

We had to wait in on Wednesday morning to have a new lock fitted. So I was keen to get out in the afternoon. Sadly, Tom and I had different agendas for our walk, making it a bit of a disastrous one. Isn’t parenting fun!

Thursday started rather wet, with a walk to nursery in the pouring rain. Tom was dry under his buggy’s rain cover, and I had my waterproofs, but it wasn’t the most pleasant walk we’ve ever had. Fortunately it had stopped by the time I picked him up again, though we skipped our normal stop off in the park, since I had to get us both packed and ready to go to Suffolk the following evening.

 

Friday morning was much nicer – dry and quite sunny, though cold. Tom was not in a great mood: it took us ages to get out of the house and he then grumbled all the way to nursery. I wasn’t in the best of moods either, which didn’t help. Bad time of the month! We didn’t have our usual walk back that evening, as Mr Techno came to pick us up so we could all drive to Suffolk to see my in-laws for the weekend.

Saturday and Sunday were spent in Suffolk, enjoying the beautiful countryside. Mr Techno went shooting on Saturday with his day, and Tom and I enjoyed lots of walks and exploring.

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It wasn’t the greatest of weeks – I was in a crappy mood and so was Tom, though I suspect his was at least a bit caused by my lack of patience and empathy. I’m fine at this parenting lark when everything is going well, but don’t seem to be able to cope with things going wrong. Must work on some techniques for maintaining standards even when I’m having a bad day (tips very welcome!)

Weekly Report: W/c 28.12.2015

The last week of 2015 started with us still in Suffolk, where we had spent Christmas. After spending the morning alternating between packing and pottering in the garden, we headed back to London in the afternoon.

Both Mr Techno and I had Tuesday off. After a week in Suffolk and a week before that being ill, I was missing our familiar green spaces, so Tom and I started the day with a trip to the playground. I then left the boys to it in the afternoon, as my parents had offered to take my sister and I for a festive afternoon tea at Claridges. Which was delicious. And a bit ridiculous. But lovely all the same.

Wednesday started windy, as Storm Frank, the latest in a long list of winter storms, was hitting the UK. As usual, we seem to have gotten off extremely lightly in the South, whilst the North is taking yet another battering. My heart goes out to the people trying to cope with more flooding and disruption.

Since we had only strong winds, Tom and I headed out onto the Marshes for a morning walk, whilst Mr Techno, sadly, had to go back to work. Tom then took a very long nap, not waking up until almost 4 pm. By that point it was starting to get dark, so we settled for some painting with food dye at home instead.

Thursday was New Year’s Eve. Tom and I started the day with a short walk through the woods.

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After lunch, we headed out for a longer walk over the Marshes, with Tom in the sling. I’ve been struggling to get him into it whilst wearing a bulky winter coat, but have been taking advantage of the mild weather to get it out more often. I always notice that Tom is happier to play independently at home on days we use it a lot, which I guess must be down to it being more bonding than the buggy. Tom is very chatty in it as well, with constant exclamations of ‘hiya!’ and pointing at random trees.

Friday was the first day of 2016! We started well, with a trip to the park to try out Tom’s new wellies. He had a great time splashing around.

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When we got back to the flat I checked my pockets and realised the little wallet containing my oyster card, front door key, and five pounds was missing. We retraced our steps, but didn’t find them. Mr Techno was at work, but, after a slightly panicked phone call, popped his keys in a cab and sent them round to us. It took about half-an-hour for them to reach us, which we spent exploring the front garden.

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The space is normally occupied by our neighbour’s scooter, and is where we store the bins, so it’s unusual for us to spend any time there. Tom was occupied for a surprisingly long time, exploring the gravel and looking at the plants, so I suppose the silver lining of getting locked out is that our eyes were opened to the play potential of even the least promising spots. Fortunately the keys arrived just as Tom was beginning to lose interest and get hungry for his lunch. After the morning’s dramas, I didn’t feel much like meeting friends as I had planned to, and had to be in anyway to let Mr Techno in when he got back from work. We spent the afternoon playing with Tom’s trains and chasing each other round the flat instead. The friends were hungover understanding and happy to postpone to Sunday.

Saturday started a bit drizzly, but we headed to the park anyway in the hope someone might have found my keys and posted a note on the noticeboard. No such luck sadly so I guess it’ll be a call out to the locksmith when our landlords’ office reopens on Monday (we did call their emergency number when I realised the keys were gone, only to be met with a very unhelpful ‘nothing I can do’. Thank goodness it wasn’t both of us locked out!) Tom enjoyed some more puddles though, so it wasn’t a wasted trip.

After all the toing and froing with the keys, I was longing for a proper outing. So we headed out for a long walk over Hackney playing fields and along the river to Hackney Wick. Luckily the rain held off until we were almost home, but I still managed to get completely drenched. Tom, on the other hand, was warm and dry in the buggy.

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Sunday was a day of unrelenting rain. We actually went shopping in the morning – to buy me some new walking boots which was my Xmas present from Mr Techno (much better bought in the January sales!) Can’t wait to try them out. I then headed to Soho in the afternoon to see the friends I had cancelled on on Friday. Meanwhile, Tom and Mr Techno built a blanket fort.
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Next week we are back to nursery/work and our normal routines. I’m going to miss all this time off!