Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Little People Who Lunch

Since having a child I spend lots of time in places I didn't before: soft play areas, the city farm, duck ponds, the library. I also find that my day is now firmly arranged around food in a way it never was before. It seems like it's always either time for a meal or a snack! I prefer to have lunch out if at all possible, otherwise I don't think we'd ever leave the house! Picnics are great but seeing as it will be a good few months before they'll be back on the agenda I've had to find some new lunch spots for Wiss and I.

The first one, I thought about not sharing as it's that good! But seeing as I was told about it by a dear friend it only seems fair to pass it on, plus it's a charity run place so the more visitors the better. It's called Discover in Stratford, E15 and is billed as a Children's Story Centre. If you are not a fan of the typical ball pit-type playground then this place is for you!

We met up with all our friends and their kids last weekend to celebrate Wiss's birthday. (You can book birthday parties there but I felt the little ones were too little for the planned activities.) It's large enough and varied enough to keep everyone happy for hours and there's a cafe for parents to get their caffeine-fix on an weekend morning! They have a permanent area on the ground floor and outside, and a changing exhibition space downstairs. At the moment it's 'Monsterville' but from the 1 April it will be 'Super Heroes'; they have readings of similarly themed books twice a day (our favourites are Where The Wild Things Are, Troll and of course, The Gruffalo.) I could go on and on, I love this place so much, so the last thing I'm going to add about Discover is that they have picnic tables outside and allow you to bring your own packed lunches. How cool is that? Check their website for even more details.

I live near Crystal Palace and are lucky enough to have lots of child-friendly cafes nearby. I've met friends for coffee with all our babies, or we've taken Lewis out for lunch with family but I'd never gone out for actual lunch, just the two of us. Until this weekend! The two of us sat down at a table (Wiss on a chair, not in a high chair!) and we ordered beans on toast, times two. It felt so different to be out with a little person rather than a baby. We played with cars between the salt and pepper pots until the food arrived, but my dining companion was on good form and best behaviour. I know it's a little thing but I was so proud and have been smiling all week about our lunch date.

Finally, I have a very secret spot to share with you. Wiss and I go swimming every week; he's been having lessons since he was 3 months old at Crystal Palace Sports Centre. In the summer we have a picnic in the park before swimming, and we had been having lunch in the cafe in the sports centre until recently, but it gets expensive and to be honest, the food is not great. Then a couple of weeks ago my husband suggested eating our sandwiches in the spectators seats alongside the olympic-sized swimming pool.

What a place to have lunch. It's warm, calming (almost hypnotic!), there's always lots to see and people to watch, and we're usually the only ones in the stands. And if the sun is shining, then wow! The light through the huge glass windows and on the water is beautiful. But sssshhhhhh... Don't tell anyone our little secret!

Maybe you have some good ideas to share for a spot of lunch with the little ones? But I've got to go now...I'm getting hungry!

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