One of the things that always strikes me when I’m in central London is how few small children there are around. There are of course other areas of the city as you move further out where little people are much more commonplace, but in the centre they are rarely to be seen.
It’s a shame, really, given how awesome London is. I’m not necessarily talking the major tourist spots, but just the experience of meandering around on the tube and on foot, soaking up the sights and sounds and experiences the city has to offer. Having said that though it is not the most child friendly of places – especially when compared with other European capitals – so perhaps it is unsurprising that parents choose to steer clear.
I am more stubborn than that. Having left London for Devon eight years ago I am determined not to lose my confidence in the city, even now (especially now?) I have two small people in tow. I try to make it up to visit as often as I can, and am quietly proud that my five year old is as confident walking the city streets as he is clambering over rocks at the beach or exploring in the forest.
Even I, though, was a little nervous last weekend as I set off solo on the train with my babes for three nights in London. Turns out I needn’t have worried – with the littlest safely stowed away in the sling all three of us were able to have a brilliant time.
It was great not to feel constrained about where we could go. On Friday we zipped across town on the underground to meet my brother for a birthday drink, meandering back westwards on foot as streams of office workers filled the streets. We watched the sunset over the river from the Millennium Bridge, then walked along the South Bank in search of sushi for dinner.
Even when we ventured into serious crowds I could be confident that both my boys were safe. On Saturday we met friends to join the People’s Vote march with 700,000 other people. Orson peeked out from the sling, and with both my hands free I could make sure Arthur was never far away.
The carrier gave us the freedom to find some quieter spots too. When we had to cross town again on Sunday to meet some friends for lunch we bypassed tube line closures by cutting through on the canal for the first part of the journey. It was a beautiful October morning, the leaves glowing in the autumn sun.
Wherever we were, the Integra provided a familiar place for Orson to chill. And when he was relaxed then I could relax too. It was not nearly as daunting as I feared to take the trip on my own with the boys. In fact we’re already planning the next one…