In my new life as a pregnant city dweller with a toddler in tow, I've come to have new respect for a good old fashioned park.
It doesn't need to have a playground, although it helps.
It just needs to have space for a little one to run off some steam.
When my mom was in town we were walking near the British Museum and stumbled across this little place. For a girl who had previously been stuck in a stroller for hours while her parents and grandma looked at mummies and such at the museum, it was the perfect little treat.
Bonus - most of the parks we've visited around London have fences and gates around them. That way my little monkey-meets-wanderer doesn't have the option of giving me the slip and finding her way into a nearby road.
We live in a flat that's gratefully pretty spacious. Caroline has plenty of areas to play in right here within our four walls. But nothing inside compares to the nearby park (which she pronounces a bit like "cock") and a good buggy ride to get there.
The nearest playground is about 200 yards from our building, and we're there all of the time. It isn't fancy or large but it provides a much-needed break in our day.
I've even been able to meet other moms there with their tots, and a couple of them seem to have adopted me into their group of friends. I now get regular texts about meeting at this park or another, and today was asked out to dinner to celebrate a little girl's birthday. So grateful for these kind little gestures from all-but strangers that are turning into friends. While it's nice to meet people who live in all corners of the city, it's especially encouraging to start making a few friends right in my own neighborhood.
I'm dying to pepper them with questions, but try to keep it to a minimum in hopes that they keep inviting me to hang out.
Where do you buy kids' wellies?
How do you handle two kids in the city?
Where do you grocery shop?
What is there to do around here?
Where do people go to ski?
Tell me about British politics.
You can see where it's best for me to hold it in as much as possible as to not scare off these poor souls.
But at the end of the day, I'm grateful for parks and new friends. And my sweet girl, with whom I get to experience all of these things.