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
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Weekly Report – w/c 16/11/2015

Well winter definitely arrived this week. After a mild start, the temperature plummeted at the weekend and we’ve been having to wrap up warm before venturing out. Here’s how we got on:

Monday started well, with a woodland walk in the morning. Well sort of a walk. Tom was in charge, so in fact it was more like the same patch of woodland over and over and over again. But he seemed happy! We popped to the playground in the afternoon and Tom enjoyed some playtime with a friendly 2 year old.

We started Wednesday back at the playground, which had been invaded by a preschool group on the hunt for autumnal goodies. They had a work-sheet and everything. One kind little boy tried to get Tom involved, only to be met with a blank look. Tom then toddled off mid-explanation. Those social skills have a little way to go!

We had planned a trip to Brooks Farm that afternoon, but it was grey, wet and miserable. Mr Techno was very reluctant to go out, so we made oobleck to play with instead. I thought it might interest Tom for 15 minutes or so, but in fact he was enthralled and played with it for an incredible hour and a half. The adults were pretty interested too.

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Thursday was clear for our walk in to nursery. In the evening, Tom explored happily. He was especially pleased to find a massive puddle, which needed to be walked through repeatedly. With giggling.

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Friday was much the same, though colder. I was a bit concerned about Tom’s hands, which he kept insisting on dipping in cold puddles. He was probably fine in fact, but my overprotective mother head kicked in and I made him get back in the buggy. Of course this did not go down well. I think it’s about time I read up on techniques for keeping calm in the face of tantrums.

We were amazed on Saturday morning to see snow falling. Sadly, it didn’t last long, but it did highlight a rather gaping hole in Tom’s wardrobe – his rain footies are fine for the wet, but wouldn’t be warm enough in snow if it was too settle. Time for a pair of barefoot shoes after all.

We wrapped up warm in the afternoon and headed to Lloyd Park in Walthamstow. Post to follow on our adventures there.

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Sunday was another cold day. So cold in fact that I could see my breath inside the house. Mr Techno gently pointed out that this was probably not healthy, so the heating is now on two hours in the morning and one in the evening, which has already made a huge difference. We spent the morning in Leyton Jubilee Park and I was hoping for a nice long walk in the afternoon. This was rather scuppered by Tom taking a three hour nap. By the time he woke up and we had done milk and nappy change, it was 4 pm and starting to get dark. Boy must be about to have a growth spurt or something!

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I have to say, I’ve been a bit uninspired this week. Rather a lot of time at the playground and being scared off by the weather. Time to buy some warmer clothes and head out for more exciting winter adventures!

Weekly Report – w/c 09/11/2015

The weather this week was less than fantastic. We’ve still been getting out (almost) every day, but not for as long as we normally would, and we are sticking a bit closer to home so we have easy access to changes of clothes if we get caught in a downpour.

Having been at my parents’ house last weekend, Tom and I woke up there on Monday. I had an appointment locally, so Tom and my mum explored the garden, chatted to the hens, and splashed about in some puddles. You can read more about our visit here. We drove back to London in the afternoon, but didn’t have time to head back out again before it got dark.

Wednesday, we headed into town first thing for a second attempt at banking some cheques. Fortunately, I remembered my purse this time around. Banking achieved, we popped into a charity shop (scoring a new book and jumper for me and a couple of toys for Tom, all for under a tenner). Chores out of the way, we had the afternoon free for play. We headed out onto the Marshes, where I let Tom out of the buggy and gave him control of our route. As usual, this meant we were off in a completely different direction to what I had expected. And had to stop regularly to investigate sticks.

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Thursday, we walked to nursery as usual. On the way home that evening, Tom was walking back through the park with me when he discovered his shadow. I wish this photo was better because he was so cute trying to work out what it was. He also thought the shadows of the hanging baskets were puddles and was very confused when his feet didn’t get wet.

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Friday, again walk in to nursery as usual. We had some pretty extreme rain and a bit of hail during the day. Though it had cleared by the time I picked Tom up, I had forgotten his rain footies, so he had to stay in the buggy on our way home. He was probably relieved – it was pretty windy but he was kept sheltered and warm snuggled in his footmuff.

Saturday, the rain settled in for the long haul, so we headed to Sutton House for a drier, indoor visit. Thumbs down on outdoor play, but there was no way I was tempting Mr Techno out in that weather.

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Sunday, the rain had stopped, so we headed the park first thing. We didn’t bother with the buggy, as it is so close, but that did mean it took so long to walk there that we only had 10 minutes to actually play. Tom met a little 19 month old girl, who sweetly took his hand and helped him walk up and down the slopes in the play area (whilst her mum and I stood nearby going ‘ahhhh, cute!’ to each other). Unfortunately, the wind was pretty fierce, so they kept getting knocked over by it! Wind was the theme of our afternoon – we headed out onto the Marshes with some props for windy day play. Post to follow.

Verdict: not bad, considering the weather

Outdoors in East London with a Toddler: Walthamstow & Leyton Marshes

London has a good amount of green space generally, but we are especially lucky to live just by one of the largest areas of common land in the city. The Marshes are semi-natural wetlands, part of the Lee Valley Regional Park. Though parks and playgrounds are great for kids, it is wonderful that we have such easy access to a space that is a bit more wild.

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There are paths cut through the long grass to make it easier for cyclists and walkers to navigate the terrain, which are also ideal for buggies and toddlers who can’t quite manage long grass yet.

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There are plenty of walks of different lengths, which you can find here. Whilst we’ve explored a number of different routes by now, we have our own preferred walk, which takes us down behind the WaterWorks Centre, over the river, under Lea Bridge Road, and out the other side behind the Ice Centre.

During the summer, events like Countryside Live are often held behind the Ice Centre. It’s a bit quieter at this time of year, but there is still the occasional activity, normally guided walks. There is a cafe at the WaterWorks Centre, though we’ve never actually used it, preferring to save our pennies by bringing snacks or popping back home for a cup of tea. During the early autumn we made great use of the copious numbers of blackberries growing round the area.

During the week the Marshes are usually really quiet, which is great for us as Tom can explore without worrying about being run over by cyclists. It gets busier at weekends, but there is plenty of space for everyone – I just have to be more careful to keep Tom out of the path of oncoming bikes. Rainy days tend to be pretty quiet as well.

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Friends of mine occasionally take riding lessons at the Riding Centre. Tom is a bit young (and it’s an expensive hobby!) but we do enjoy hearing the horses neighing as we walk past.

The Marshes are the perfect antidote to city life, especially with a toddler encouraging you to take your time and explore thoroughly!