Because of its close proximity to home, Clissold Park may be a bit of a cop out comfort-zone jaunt on the adventurous daddy daughter day out scale. But it’s a local attraction with added benefits. Especially now that they’ve opened the paddling pool.
First stop; Church Street. If you time it right, 125 Church Street’s the place to go before hitting the park. But the sandwich shop’s so hip it’s never bloody open. Even at 1:30pm on a Tuesday afternoon! Trust me, it’s worth planning around. And the cupcake shop next door, Ooh Lou Lou, makes a perfect compliment.
Dejected, we walk on, heading down towards Whole Foods and Yellow Warbler, where we buy park snacks and a bad ass flat white respectively. After that it’s a quick walk back up to the park.
Generally, I visit Clissold Park as two alter-egos; as a dog-owner and parent, and then as a parent. This time, as a parent, I opt for the dog-free section of the park attached to Clissold House. I used to turn my nose up at the seemingly elitist dog-free park goers, but it makes sense now, with babies crawling around all over the place and learning how to walk.
Z loves this section of the park. Straight away she perks up and starts crawling all over the grass, giggling and slapping the ground. The park’s full of mom squads, with their prams loaded up to the teeth like corralled pack horses. Every scenario’s been experienced and planned for, and the amount of stuff they cram on them’s absurd – from push chairs to slings, scooters, balls, umbrellas, toys and more…
I get Z to crawl around chasing after her new ball, and she laughs, pleased with her own mobility and progress. Then she stands up, with a mixed look of nervousness, excitement and accomplishment, holding her balance for close to a minute before flopping back down and sucking on a rice cake.
When she’s done crawling on me and smiling at pigeons we head to the paddling pool. Before today, I’d only ever noticed the pool on the weekend, when it’s a sprawling, uninviting mass of bodies and babies. Today, it’s pleasantly uncrowded. We sit down on the edge of the pool and dip our feet in. Z can’t get enough of it, and I have to take her shorts off and let her sit down in the water in her nappy. Next time I’ll bring her swimming one.
On our way out we stop in at Clissold House and I pick up a surprisingly decent flat white. Usually, on the weekend, the coffee production line’s out of hand, with some agitated-looking manager type bashing through orders like a drone, one after another. Today, a woman takes her time stacking my espresso shots and frothing the milk. And the coffee leaves a perfect taste in my mouth as we stroll through the park.