Sunday, 4 July 2010

Ah ooh, paddling pools of Hackney

That title is supposed to be sung to the tune of Werewolves of London, by the way.

For the last week we have been enjoying the sultry weather by visiting different paddling pools,so here is a highly scientific review of them all.

Victoria Park paddling pool 

Vicky Park boasts the most exciting paddling pool so far, with different levels and cascading water. It's located in the adventure playground near Queen's Gate. I don't know what the opening times are but I imagine the same as the park itself. I have been there 11am on a weekday and it was open then.

GOOD - Afore mentioned different levels and cascading water make it exciting; it's pretty big so doesn't seem crowded even on a hot Sunday (today); room for picnics around the sides; different "rock pools" have various depths for various ages and abilities; the pool is in a playground so there are swings and slides for when the kids get bored of water

NOT SO GOOD  - Not much shade on the pool although shade around about. The different levels can cause slipping and falling, and the design means you can't stand in one place, say with a baby, and watch your toddler, as they keep disappearing from view. The playgournd includes massive slides any self respecting child will demand to go on, but you have to be seven. Not easy to find. No nearby cafe, although there is an ice cream van.

ALL IN ALL: A brilliant pool but best to have one on one adult/ toddler

London Fields

London Fields paddling pool is located next to the Lido and tennis courts at the park end furthest from Broadway Market. It is closed on Mondays and Thursdays and opens at 11am, purportedly, although I have had to wait til 12 before. It's a normal kind of squarish pool with some trees around it.

GOOD - Well, good for us as it's a mere five minutes away but that doesn't really translate for any reader. It is fenced and gated making it difficult for toddlers to abscond. There is shade around the pool and usually a bit of the pool is shaded. The Lido cafe (Hoxton Beach cafe) serves among other things Lebanese meze, sausage toasties, lollies and the best coffee I have ever tasted, although that only happened once - usually it's just normal coffee. There's a friendly atmosphere with kids sharing toys (sometimes under sufferance).

NOT SO GOOD - It is relatively small so can get crowded at weekends and on Fridays for some reason, also after 3pm when the big kids arrive from school. The opening hours are erratic.

ALL IN ALL: This is our default option. I like it as you see the same people there all the time so it feels friendly.

Clissold Park

Clissold Park paddling pool is located next to the deer park on the Church Street end of the park. At the moment Clissold Park is undergoing a lot of regeneration work but the paddling pool doesn't seem to be affected.

GOOD - It's a large pool, the size of a swimming pool, with a slope at one end like a beach (no sand). Plenty of green around the pool for sitting. There's a playground nearby with a sandpit. Clissold Park cafe is lovely but currently being renovated, however there is a temporary cafe which serves a really good range of food including a children's menu by the playground and an icecream van. Tehe pool was not at all crowded when we went on a weekday. I don't know the times but it seemed open when we got to the park at 10.30am. It might not have been though - we went to the playground first.

BAD - The cafe is not cheap, but what in London is?

ALL IN ALL - It's a bus journey for us so I wouldn't go there especially for the pool, but the pool/ playground/ cafe combo is quite winning.

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