Wednesday 21 January 2004 10.39am
I don't think I am likely to forget the days of pushing a buggy round the Elephant and Castle on a cold wet January afternoon simply because I was so desperate to get out. And though my list may seem long most events are only once a week, clashed with my children's nap, or have waiting lists. There is a real problem about facilities for children in SE1, which the recent (on-going?) campaign to save Bernie Spain illustrates.
A couple of further thoughts. The Durning library at Kennington Cross had popular children's reading sessions and you may find the library in Lower Marsh
does as well. We got the Durning one going by asking for a meeting with the librarian and then saying that if a reading slot was set up, mothers would volunteer to read if no staff were available. In this way we could also help non English speaking mums who wanted their pre-school kids to be exposed to English. As it turned out interest by library staff plus support from local nurseries meant that it was popular from the outset and was soon oversubscribed. Worth phoning both libraries.
Westminster Council used to publish a really good booklet listing activites, shops, facilities, schools etc for under 8s. I guess their education department would be a good place to start. Worth looking at, inter alia because there are some very good primaries in Westminster that take Lambeth kids.
One Westminster playground worth knowing about in Causton Street. Just a small area next to the Millbank Estate, and behind Tate Britain, but has a big sandpit, paddling pool, good seating, toilets and is staffed. The best example I know of getting play value out of a small space. Worth going with a good book on a sunny afternoon as kids will spend hours running in and out of the paddling pool, but there are always people there even on the coldest day. You can get an 88 bus from Parliament Sq. The playground in St James' Park is also good, again with a big sandpit. Westminster have also been putting nice playgrounds on other nearby estates (eg the one just to the east of Horseferry road) so it is possible to spend an afternoon going from one to the other.
Worth also phoning the Queen Mother Sports Centre as they may well have toddler activities. Many friends went to the Peckham Pulse (buses from the Elephant) which had lots of stuff on. There is also a soft play area at the Elephant Leisure Centre, though don't know when it is open. You could hire it for children's parties - it was quite cheap. There are also soft play areas at the Brixton Rec though worth checking in advance whether any school parties are booked in, and there was one at the Surrey Keys Shopping Centre.
If you want to email me I am happy to think of people who have kids of a similar age to yours and introduce you. It is much more fun doing things with other people.
It woudl be good to have support from a new generation of mothers on our campaign to preserve and improve facilities in Archbishops. After three and a half years we are running out of steam - though don't want to give up as we have got so far.