Why didn't I know about Discover in Stratford before?It's brilliant! We went there on Saturday with HackneyChild and two of his chums (and their parents of course, I'm not capable of looking after three two year olds even with the help of Hackney_Bloke).
It wasn't a great start when HackneyChild wept bitter tears at being forced to get off the train at Stratford instead of continuing for half an hour or so to Essex which is what usually happens, although he enjoyed the many diggers going about their business on the Olympic site. And we were a bit dubious about being directed around a corner that looked like somewhere the drug dealers of Baltimore might ply their trade. But no, Discover is the best thing that you can do for £4.50 (or something, the payment system is weird) on a rainy Saturday.
I can't begin to list all the things that make it great, although HackneyChild keeps asking me to do so (he is under the impression Discover is actually the house of one of his friends - he's going to be really disappointed when we go to her house for real). It's hard to describe, but the laid-back atmosphere combined with the real imagination and creativity that has gone into designing the place makes it amazing. There are lights that you can jump on that make noises, a pirate ship with little caves and treasure, books everywhere, craft activities that you can take up and leave of your own accord, things to climb, things to post, buttons to press...
Also, you can bring your own food (well, you kind of have to) and it is brilliantly located on the line from us to Essex so any Essex-dwelling friends and relatives could meet us there for a great day out (hint). My only downsides are it's a bit pricy once you have paid for a whole family (you can get a year pass for £40 or something, which I guess would pay for itself after five visits with child and parent), and the presence of the shop just as you go in does tend to make children think they can play with all the toys in there, since they can play with everything else. But they didn't seem to mind HackneyChild appropriating handfuls of cars and fish which we put back later.
It would be a great place to go with a baby and a toddler as you could plonk yourself down with baby and toddler isn't going to come to much harm hurtling round the pirate ship. The only thing stopping me from doing that when HackneyBaby arrives is coming back I'd have to somehow get over the bridge between platforms at Hackney Central with pram, or take a long bus ride.
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