Treasure on the foreshore

We decided on another trip to London, I don’t want to bang on about how much i love art, but i do.. Galleries make my heart full, it was a huge part of my life when i was studying, and it continues to be, and it really does capture NJ’s imagination which makes it all the more important. We decided on Tate Britain this particular Sunday.

We headed down on the train, we drove to Epsom from Horsham as the plan was, NJ would sleep in the car on the way to the station and get a good 40 mins shut-eye, however, he proceeded to sing jingle bells most of the way there interspersed with some impressions of a pterodactyl and an Allosaurus. The journey on the train is only about 30mins from Epsom so it means a shorter train journey for us to endure the pain of NJ shouting at commuters and telling everyone he is a pterodactyl.

We get off the train at Vauxhall. It’s a short walk across Vauxhall Bridge, then down Milbank to the Tate, we stopped off opposite the MI5 building and watched the Duck Tours car/boat thingys coming in and out of the Thames, NJ told me this was ‘rubbish’ he is 2.5 years old??!!! We thought it was pretty cool! (That’s a blog post you wont be seeing anytime soon!)

There isn’t a charge for the Tate but donations accepted. We got there around 11am and it was busy..quick toilet stop for us as we are still only a month into potty training. The website states there are changing facilities, I didn’t have a look for them, but there was a baby changing drop down in the ladies next to a hand drier which with long queues isn’t really well placed.

As you walk in you are greeted with the stunning Cerith Wyn Evans light installation, its huge and you can walk underneath the length of it. It was quiet until we got there. NJ then ran the length of the hall screaming at anyone that would listen that there was a spaceship in the room. I don’t mind this, it makes me so happy that art can capture his imagination like this, and it makes me laugh… ALOT. We are not those parents that get embarrassed when our child is loud or is impersonating a goat whilst running down the street or telling everyone in a deep growl that there is a spaceship above their heads.

We follow NJ through the rest of the rooms, there are other families there and a few toddlers roaming around so don’t feel you can’t go to these places! If you are organised unlike us, go to the Tate Website (link included) and check out the top tips for visiting Tate Britain with families hindsight I probably should have!

NJ stops in front of a few of the larger paintings and we ask him what he can see.. “Terradactyl…Trex… goat..” we were actually stood in front of Mark Gertler’s Merry Go Round, a painting said to express the horrors of war…erm what was I saying about imagination?

After about 45 mins we start having to negotiate with NJ, he’s on the floor in the pre raphelite room, thrashing and screaming “my paint” over and over again, we have reached meltdown mode, we get to the point where he is demanding lunch even though he has made his way through a bag of pom bear, a large packet of raisins and 2 crackers.

There are two places to eat at Tate Britain Djanology Cafe and The Rex Whistler Restaurant bookings advised for the Rex Whistler, the Cafe was rammed, we left pretty sharpish as NJs screeching for chicken echoed throughout the gallery.

Screeching promptly stopped when we told him we were getting on a boat. Just opposite the gallery is the Milbank Pier, where you can get the Tate Boat between galleries and it will drop you at Bankside. It cost us £5 each on top of our travel cards. Having not been on a boat before, NJ quickly forgot about lunch. If you have a buggy with you it’s not the easiest way to travel and I would probably be more inclined to jump on a bus and walk if it’s a nice day, plenty to see along the river.

We got off at Bankside, by lunch on a weekend it’s heaving, but we make our way past The Globe down to Wagamamas in Clink Street. Safe bet for a quick and easy lunch where we don’t even need to read the menu, and we know NJ will be super quiet because he has a complete fascination with chopsticks and eats better with them than he does with a knife and fork, I’m not quite sure how this is even possible?

After lunch we head back down towards the Tate and as the tide is out we head down onto the foreshore just under the Millennium bridge.

So geeky fact about me, I LOVE TUDOR HISTORY, so period drama, books, paintings, literally ANYTHING slightly related to that period in history im all over it. When SJ just in passing mentioned I might find something medieval well, complete game changer for me!

We walked along the foreshore picking about in the pebbles, skimming stones, lifting rocks spotting all sorts of interesting objects that some how lost themselves in the Thames.  Now I did actually find something that i convinced myself was Tudor.. it’s a totally in love with it (my sister-in-law, a conservator has confirmed that yes its super old but it’s not going to make me rich) I’m completely chuffed with it and NJ calls it “mummies treasure”.

Be careful with minis that are unsteady on their feet, there is glass on the shore, and although most of it isnt sharp there are the few odd broken bottles, if you are a bit nervous of stuff like this or you have a new walker, i wouldnt advise a wonder down there. NJ will pick up anything that looks even slightly like a stone and lob it in the direction of water, if you have a mini like this keep a close eye, there are lots of dogs being walked some owners slightly more conciencious and you dont want a rock covered in dog shit being launched… its not the cleanest place so wet wipes and antibac at the ready people.

We carried on down the shore down to Blackfriars and make our way back up, we carry on walking down past the OXO Tower to Gabriels Wharf. Lots going on, A perfect place for lunch, dinner, or snack which was our main mission. Boutique independents selling everything from wooden garden sculptures, to baby clothes, to handmade jewellery.

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After a hunt about for sugary snacks turns out fruitless,  we decide to carry on down towards the Southbank Centre. With the aim to stop at the market there for a wider choice to get us through the journey home, which after NJs decision to skip a nap could be touch and go!

The Southbank on a sunny day is busy, so keep hold of those minis. There is so much to see, street performers, lots of boats up and down the Thames, lots of dance troupes blaring out hip-hop practising in sheltered corners, the book market is crammed to the rafters with second-hand books, old and new. We don’t stop but i’ve spent many an afternoon rifling through a pile of yellowing old books.

We stop at the Skatepark NJ picks a spot and we stand and watch for at least 30 mins whilst he gawps at passing borders, there were some older children (5-10 years old) on their scooters/bords , so if you have older confident minis what better place to let them have a go and get involved. (For some interesting reading on the skatepark follow the link.)

NJ is only enticed away by the promise of cake, we make our way round to the Southbank Centre Food Market. It’s not huge but rammed full of amazing street food, from Ethiopian stews, to Greek Spanikopita, to good old bangers and mash! Its open every weekend from noon through to 8pm, 6pm on a sunday. There isn’t a huge amount of seating, so if its busy you might have to wonder a little further to enjoy your food or just perch somewhere.

We find the cake we have been hankering for and make our way over to Waterloo just in time for the 1554 to Epsom. Armed with a brown bag full of cake and my ‘Tudor nail’ we sit down and NJ passes out as does SJ.

In hindsight we probably should have planned our trip to the Tate a little better, now knowing the things that are available we will go again, and make sure NJ has had a nap so there are no epic screaming fits.

Get down to Tate Britain, or Tate Modern or both, take your minis and let them run around and enjoy the space, dont worry about any of the tuts or stern looks you get, we bloody well dont! Art is for everyone, both galleries have space for buggies, changing facililties, places to sit and places to eat. There is so much to do inbetween.

If you time it right and you do get down to the river and the tide is out, get down onto the foreshore and have a treasure hunt of your own, you might be lucky and find a rusty iron nail too!!

In a bit

x SJ




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