May 16, 2013
If I have to go the Natural History Museum again this decade, I’ll cry. My ability to infect my child with enthusiasm for taxidermied animals is on the wane. Some days – of the 16 or so weeks of school holiday we have to fill each year – I just want to sit down, drink coffee and look at Facebook. I do not want to do anything that has even a suggestion of culture. For anyone who feels the same (even secretly), here’s what I do when apathy outweighs the desire to educate:
1. Sushi School, Camden
Yo! Sushi offers an hour-long ‘Mini Ninjas’ sushi-making class. Storm (a sushi-savvy young lady who has a great way with kids) teaches you how to make maki, nigiri, gunkan and hand rolls, and you leave armed with enough sushi (your own creation) to feed a family of four, your own rolling mat and a certificate – all for £10 pp. OK, so you’re joining in (your emails will have to wait) but gimme food over fossils any day.
2. Westfield, White City
You can kill the best part of a dreary day here between shopping, cinema and lunch. All you’ve got to do is trail around Build-a-Bear and the Disney Store for a bit, agree on a lunch you’ll all like (could even pass as cultural since there’s Japanese, Indian, Lebanese, Mexican and Malaysian), and catch the latest PG – an excellent opportunity to catch up on some sleep, once you’ve shared a big bag of pic ‘n’ mix, of course.
3. Eddie Catz, Putney or Wimbledon
OK, not the most serene of environments – kids running around like giddy goats, thrill (and noise) level escalating every time the costumed cat (or tiger, or whatever he is) appears. But, you can drink coffee and barely have to move (unless you, or they, need the loo), knowing they can’t get out and can’t bang their heads too hard in their padded (soft play) cell. Children over 90cm pay £5.75 to get in, and adults just £1 – unless you’re under 90cm in which case maybe you’d get a discount.
4. Pottery Café, Fulham, Richmond or Battersea
This verges on the enriching, surely (in a passive parenting way, at least)? But again, importantly, it allows sitting, caffeine, and a reasonable amount of zoning out, save for having to occasionally express interest and praise when shown a half-painted piggy bank. Armed with their chosen piece of handmade pottery – plus paints, brushes and sponge shapes – children get to decorate something they can keep (for collection a week later). The ‘studio fee’ is £5.99 pp, plus the cost of the pottery (from £6.95 for an egg cup).
5. Diana Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park
On a sunny day, if you plant yourself in the middle or on the edge of this great ring of Cornish granite, kids can roll up their jeans and wade around a moving, circular stream of water, splashing in its rapids and waterfalls. It’s one of London’s gratis treats, you can take a picnic, and it involves no physical exertion on your part. Bar an upwards glance every couple of minutes, you could even get away with reading a book.