Approximately 40 minute’s walk from Highbury, or a short journey away on the 38, 19 or 341, is Coram’s Fields. If you have read the novel Coram Boy, the name will be familiar due to the Foundling Hospital that was set up on the site in 1741. There is now a museum dedicated to the hospital.
However, the main event for Islington mamas and papas is the fields themselves. Adults are only allowed through the gate if accompanied by a child, and once inside, you will find… (take a breath)… sandpits, paddling pools, climbing frames, swings, adventure playground, aerial swing, sports pitches, small farm, a cafe, beautiful old historic colonnade buildings… and all part of an expansive grassy park, sheltered from the sun by convenient plane trees. There is even a Children’s Centre! The park is a real find – a safe, fun place to play, entirely dedicated to children.
We popped along to a Tiny Tempo session at That Place on the Corner, as we had heard that the class is good fun.
We weren’t disappointed. Lots of songs and dances to get the babies going, with old favourites alongside some I had never heard (just how many verses of Row, Row, Row Your Boat are there? Who knew?!), and all accompanied on a ukelele for good measure. At first, however, I did find myself drawing comparisons to Baby Bounce at the library, which is free, but towards the end out came the instruments, scarves and bubbles, which of course added to the general fun. There was a teaching element with a focus on rhythm and dynamics, and a gentle sensory experience with the scarves.
The regulars at the session that we attended (Friday, 2.15) seemed to range from about 3 months to 18 months, but see the class schedule here for suggestions for other age ranges.
Getting there: the classes run at Full of Beans, Clissold House, Nancy’s Pantry, That Place on the Corner, The Russet (Hackney), The Royal Inn (Victoria Park), The Boiler House (Stoke Newington) and The Hornbeam Cafe (Walthamstow), so there is likely to be one near you!
Last month, Baby Dam ran a photo competition to win one of their products, and we were lucky enough to win.
The Baby Dam such a great concept, and I have since been raving about it to all of my friends with littlies. Essentially, it is a plastic ‘wall’ with rubber surround that sections off a small part of your bath. We have found two big advantages to this: we use far less water these days; and the bab can grab her toys without them disappearing off to the other end of the bathtub! As you can see from the photo, she is pretty happy about this.
The Dam is easy to install or remove in 3 seconds flat, and so far has been very reliable. Our bath has a shower guard around the taps, so we dam off the top end instead, and fill it using the shower head. It lies flat when not in use, so could even be put in the bottom of a suitcase if you really can’t live without it on holiday.
I was so excited to actually win a real live competition, and even more pleased that the prize is so useful!
The best things always happen when you least expect it. A pal and I were touring Islington looking for a particular baby class that turned out to be cancelled anyway, so on the spur of the moment, off we popped to That Place on the Corner instead.
This venue and coffee shop is, unsurprisingly, on the corner of Newington Green. It’s been there for years, but has been taken over by newer management, and is now less of a cafe and more of a friendly party and class venue.
Bright and colourful (if a tiny bit tired in places), you can get a decent coffee and piece of homemade cake, and an Ella’s Kitchen pouch, while you wait for a range of classes from Tiny Tempo to Baby Ballet. There are plenty of toys to play with and lots of space to run about, let alone stash your buggy! Changing and high chair facilities are good, too, and I was particularly impressed by the gate between the kids and the front door – a really great idea when next to a busy road.
Location: That Place on the Corner, 1-3 Green Lanes, Newington Green, N16 9BS;
Getting there: the 236, 73, 341 and 467 all go past, or it is a ten minute walk from Canonbury overground or High&I;
Each year, a blanket sale is held in Arundel Square to help to raise money for the fireworks party in November. Last year, there were some great baby bargains to be had, so it is worth checking out – or bring your own blanket and sell some of your old baby clothes and bric-a-brac.
While I’m at it, did you know that Cook also do a discount card for new parents? 10% off until your baby is 6 months old – they literally kept us alive for the first couple of weeks after the bab was born!! See their website here.
Every Thursday at 10am, a singing group takes place at Paradise Park children’s centre. Babies lie back and enjoy the music in the first session, and toddlers wiggle, sing and accompany in the second. This is fun if you enjoy a really good singalong – the music is folky and you will definitely learn some new songs. I really felt as if I was learning, particularly in the ’rounds’; I certainly threw in a few duff notes, but luckily it didn’t seem to matter too much!
Think of the more fun music lessons or assemblies you had at school, if you went to the cool sort of primary that had abandoned the old Come and Praise hymn book (picking the plastic off the front must have been a national past time for the under 11s in the 80s and 90s, right?!) in favour of songs from around the world with a great beat.
Time: Thursdays 10am (babies), 10.45 (toddlers)
Getting there: upstairs at Paradise Park childrens centre, which is ten minutes walk from High&I or Holloway Road tubes; or get any Holloway Rd bus to Liverpool Road; or the 153 to MacKenzie Road. If you get there early, there may be room to park your pushchair in the secure buggy park.