The September sun has finally returned to
Friends who don’t live in
Luckily for us, each park has its own character, and its own particular clientele. So not only can you choose a parkscape to suit your mood or how energetic you are feeling; you can also morph into the surroundings and fit in with the prevailing tribe. (Hmm, do I feel like a Yummy Mummy today? Or is it a jeans, fleece and unwashed hair day?)
Here's the lowdown on a few of them:
Our nearest, and our most regular haunt. I am a big fan of the Common. It might be encircled by the A3; it might have a reputation as a gay cruising ground by night; and it might get horribly crowded at weekends. But during the week it’s relatively empty, has two good playgrounds, lots of green space, a beautifully restored bandstand that makes a perfect scootering ramp for kids. As well as the Bugaboo brigade, and a fair number of yummy mummies with their Boden-clad kids, you get all the local dogwalkers and the ordinary folk of Clapham going about their business.
Typical kids' names called out in playground: Harry, Mia
Typical pram: Phil & Teds
Conversation topic: House prices in Abbeville road
Coffee: Good Italian stuff at the bandstand café, which also (if you’re feeling more daring or have had enough of your screaming kids) serves prosecco.
Dress code: Anything goes, but jeans and fleece are fine.
This has an edgier and multicultural vibe, probably down to its proximity to Brixton, but is all the more refreshing for it. Even the middle-class crowd definitely look more bohemian. I've seen Dads sit smoking joints on the edge of the playground or, at weekends, young couples sitting swigging bottles of wine while their children play on the swings – things that would definitely be a no-no in other local parks, but somehow here it's OK. Somehow, even the ducks look a bit cooler here. And it's beautiful, with a fabulous vista over
Typical kids’ names: Noah or Ariel
Typical pram: Maclaren
Conversation topic: the local veggie cafe or latest arthouse film at the Brixton Ritzy
Coffee: Disappointly watery stuff at stunningly located cafe in old manor house.
Dress code: Hoodies and trainers / flowing ethnic tops, berets and ponchos
Home to black
Typical kids’ names: Hugo or Isabella
Typical pram: Bugaboo Bee
Conversation topic: Cornish beaches; Mark Warner
Coffee: have it with yummy cake at Common Ground- but you’ll fight to get a table inside in the winter.
Dress code: rugby shirts, Boden, green wellies.
This is what I love about London. You can choose who you want to be, even if it's just for a few hours. And best of all, you can people-watch and then write scurrilous blogs about it....