Celine Bell explores Summer in the City
We parents have spent months cladding our offspring in macs, hats, woolly scarves and waterproof onesies. Walks in the park have become a puddle-jumping obstacle course, and I’ve comforted frozen tiny toddlers with sodden socks and blue fingers. Anyone who says there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes, hasn’t realised just how wet a young child can get, even through layers of waterproofing.
And then, all of a sudden, the sun came out. We scrabbled to squeeze our children into shorts they’d outgrown at the end of last summer, and we dug out the – no doubt – out-of-date sun cream that was last used on a balmy September day. The bells of the ice cream vans drew us back to the park, and we kicked balls around on the hottest bank holiday in years.
Then it got cooler again. It’s hard to keep on top of the weather when it changes so fast. And it’s such a pleasure to be outside that it’s worth the odd goose-pimpled day when the spring sunshine isn’t quite as warm as it looks.
It’s got me thinking of summer in the city. Those blissful three weeks in August when so many frazzled families join the queues at Stanstead and enjoy a well-deserved escape from the school run, the Central line and the damp squib that is so often our Great British Summer. But that’s not for me. That’s the time I like to rule London, enjoying the empty roads, the tables in restaurants I usually queue for, the fact that my kids can be the first in the water area in Vicky Park.
And this summer I want to rediscover the parts of East London that get forgotten in the summer months. I’ll go back to the damp, shady woodland in the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. I love when it’s decorated with yellow daffodil heads, but haven’t ventured in without my wellies. What secrets does it harbour in the summer months for little ones to discover and enjoy?
I last saw Hackney Marshes on a rain-lashed day where I had to take the kids out or they’d climb the walls – how wonderful to return with a picnic, a football (and sneakily, a bottle of cold white wine).
All too often I use the excuse of the sunshine to take the easy option of an ice cream in the park. But this year, when school’s out, I’m finding the lidos, the parks, the sunspots and the pub gardens and all the other delights that our brilliant East London boroughs have been harbouring patiently throughout the winter months.
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