April 13, 2014
#SilentSunday One photo, no words
Walking through Kew Gardens with two toddlers is quite a departure from the last time I visited with my mother before having a baby. We had walked and talked undisturbed for ages, taking in the beauty quietly and enjoying a leisurely coffee afterwards.
With toddlers, the adventure never stops yet the journey is so slow. Endless snack breaks, fighting over those snacks, putting Teddy and Doggy in the buggie, taking them out again, waking sleeping ducks, being chased by a hissing goose, slipping in goose poo, trying to jump into a stagnant pond, stickfights, pine cone arguments, and pushing each other in prams off the path and into protected shrubbery. It must have taken us an hour to circle the pond, but we were too busy to notice. The children had a fantastic time (until we ran out of snacks) and the fresh air certainly made bedtime a breeze that evening.
Kew Gardens children’s play opportunities are vast. There is the lovely Sackler Bridge, the Mink House which feels like posh camping, and even the Treetop Walkway can be managed when it’s not too crowded. Climbers and Creepers offers an indoor soft play area as well as a lovely outside playground for children 3 years and older – although my friend cautioned me that once they know it’s there, they will never be satisfied with a mere ‘nature walk’ again.
For parents, the highlights include free street parking outside the Victoria Gate entrance from 12-18:30 and annual family passes for £100 that allow you to bring up to two guests with you on each visit. Otherwise the entrance fee is £14.50 per adult and children under 16 free entry. Kew Gardens station is connected to the London Underground District Line and London Overground between Richmond and Stratford and Kew Bridge station is connected to South West Trains from Waterloo, via Vauxhall and Clapham Junction. The 65 Bus also runs from Ealing Broadway, which can be reached by the District and Central Line tube as well as national rail from Paddington. Kew Gardens is the newest location to be added to Gobaby App.
The Victoria Café has lovely cakes, baby changing, space for pushchairs and lots of highchairs. The lovely barista gave us cow’s milk and soy milk for the children free of charge. But we may not be welcomed back, after my toddler got trapped in the automatic glass door, arms akimbo with his little cheeks literally squashed together while the café goers gasped in horror. #reallybadparenting He was fine, thank goodness!
How would you answer this question? Dining out with a toddler:
a) makes me abandon all table manners to consume my food in the time allotted by my toddler
b) requires me to tip the server A LOT to make up for the horrific mess by the end
c) must include restaurant-issue crayons and child-activity themed place settings
d) is great fun and we do it all the time!
If you’ve answered d, please stop reading now. After experiencing a, b and c several times, we virtually stopped taking our toddler out for meals lately, except for a few Sunday roasts with friends in child-friendly pubs (preferably with gardens.)
So we decided to head out for an impromptu family dinner last weekend at our local Nandos – just to test the waters. Nandos across London are usually child-friendly and included in Gobaby app for parents as most have nappy changing spots, kids menus, and wide aisles for pushchairs. We entered as though we planned to live there permanently, carrying his booster seat, stuffed toys, bowl of cereal, and a massive bag full of books, crackers, fruit, milk, a toy computer and extra nappies.
Everything started well. The Nandos colouring book and crayons were a hit and there were lots of people to stare at. But as the food began to arrive, things went pear shaped. We are never quite sure what he will eat, so began peddling every type of food on his plate, our plates, and the plates from the next table. He jumped up and down in the booth, throwing himself over daddy’s shoulders and standing on the table. (I forgot to mention table dancing on the quiz above.) Eventually a bribe of Peppa Pig on Daddy’s iPhone resulted in one large mouthful of mashed potato. Removing said mobile phone from him later caused a tantrum, so we backpeddled and removed the contraband once we’d exited the restaurant.
Our last experience wasn’t perfect. How is it that when we visit family and friends in Brussels, the babies and toddlers in restaurants seem to be calmly eating with knives and forks and discussing fine wine? But we will keep trying and I’m confident we’ll soon have a lovely family dinner out.