I know it might seem strange writing an ode to a park but I think parks probably save us as parents, no? I can’t think of a single ‘terrible’ day that a trip to the park hasn’t saved? I mean terrible in the parenting sense. You know, when children are sniping at each other and there are arguments and slamming doors and spilt breakfasts and refusing- to- get-dressed kind of days.
Last week we didn’t have anything planned, Orla was itching to get out and little Archie was refusing to nap. I knew they would benefit from getting outdoors into some fresh air (as would I), so we headed to a lovely park we visit regularly: Crystal Palace Park. It’s been our go to park since we’ve had children, for fireworks, for boat rides, picnics…. because it has everything really! I miss not being able to walk there although in reality we did that so infrequently due to little legs.
The kids just love the vast expanse of the park to just be free, climb, & explore. I love to watch them from a distance and listen to their imaginary chitter chatter. You can take different walks around the park so you never get bored.
I took my camera but the weather was so grey, the shots just didn’t quite work so I’m sharing photos of the park at different times and whilst I was compiling, I realised how many memories had been made at Crystal Palace park.
There was the Conker collecting escapade with Fran and little Fin-Bob filling his pockets to the brim with Conkers so he could hardly walk. There was the muddy walk with Fin and the lovely picnic day where they played for hours in the sand. There was getting lost in the maze and my 10k run (also both with Fran). There was Daddy’s birthday boat trip and bouncy castle days and walks around the park with NCT friends. The one thing we haven’t done is sledging at Crystal Palace Park but it would be amazing due to the hills. If the forecasted snow ever does make an appearance this year, we’ll definitely head down!
It’s become a little tradition for Mr M to take a gorilla photo every now and then at a gorilla who sits in the centre of Crystal Palace park (note to self- I need to find out why the gorilla statue is actually there!) I’m not sure what I think to sharing a family photo with a gorilla but we’ll need to take Archie back to complete the tradition, it’s nice to see how our family has grown!
I haven’t even touched on the fact that there is a little farm at the park which we normally visit annually and a massive sports ground. There’s a cafe (although it’s under renovation at the moment) and a stage on the lake (I haven’t actually seen anything put on here but apparently it’s spectacular.) But what makes Crystal Palace Park so special is the dinosaurs. I mean what other park in South London has dinosaurs?!
(They are so special they even get their own paragraph) the dinosaurs are a display of models that date back to when the real Crystal Palace was built around 1854. (Little aside: There is a very exciting plan to rebuild Crystal Palace- find out more about this here.) They were the very first dinosaur sculptures in the world, and were based on contemporary theories of how dinosaurs would have appeared. This takes some explaining to little boys who may have studied dinosaurs and learnt all the names for the ‘Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs’ books as the models are not ‘accurate’ and look a bit more mystical and magical than a realistic portrayal of dinosaurs. There are also models of other extinct prehistoric creatures and a geological landscape, on the edges of the boating lake. It makes for a great game for little ones to find the hidden dinosaurs as you go for a wander round the lake.
And so this is why Crystal Palace will be our number one place to visit in South London with kids. If it wasn’t for house prices freezing us out, we would still live here and it would be our place of choice to live if we won the lottery. I’m going to dedicate a part two post to why CP is number one in our little chart as there are many other reasons besides the park.
But for now, I’m going to treasure these little trips to the park with my four special people, and hope that we can make many more memories in Crystal Palace Park.
Apologies for not having quite managed to write up all of my ‘Top Ten (almost free) Things To do in SE London with Children’. I’m aiming to get them all up on the blog soon, then the full list of 10 will finally be present!