Exploring Hackney: Kids and Play

Life get’s so busy sometimes. Trying to juggle my day job, my kids and family, baking and blogging as well as trying to maintain a somewhat clean and tidy home and everything else in between. It’s hard. My husband helps out but sometimes my OCD gets in the way and he would rather not bother. Like for example, when he hangs out the laundry it’s like he just throws the clothes onto the washing line. There will be a sock in one of the sleeves or a pair of underwear suck in a trouser leg. I end up having to take everything off the washing line and redo the whole thing. Yes! I am that kind of person!

As a kid, I never spent any real time with my parents. They were busy working 14 hours days to put food on the table. The long hours meant that family time was strained. Emotions were high and at times life was difficult. My parents were not the types of parents that would take you to the park or to the cinema. They were not the type of parents that I felt I could turn to for advice or emotional support. They were just parents who worked to put a roof over our heads and food on the table. There was a sense of detachment from them which I never understood as a child. It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I realised what kind of parent I wanted to be. I wanted to give my kids everything that I didn’t have as a kid. I don’t mean materialistic things like toys as such. But I want to be there for all the fun stuff. I make an effort to have a great work/life balance. Work hard but schedule time for the fun family stuff. Cinemas, playdates, parks and trips. I want to give my children the most memorable childhood that I can give them. A childhood that I never had. I want my kids to be able to say to me that they had the best childhood!

So on Saturday, we decided to have a family day!

I am so lucky to live opposite an amazing park. Victoria Park is one of London’s oldest parks and is over 68 hectares in size. It is a well kept park which has two amazing playgrounds, a splash park, ponds, cafe’s, sports activities and in the summer is host to many festivals and events. On Sunday you can pop into the park and visit Victoria Park Market. An ecclectic array of street foods – many stalls offering all types of hipster treats … although I have noticed that the market is leaning towards more of a vegan vibe. Definitely a great spot to visit if you’re a foodie.

Victoria Park is an amazing space of green, with a water feature to boot … it ticks all the boxes.

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It is also situated by the canal, where you can see all the lovely “house boats” moored by the side of the canal. It’s such an amazing view!

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The kids park is also something to be admired. I think it is one of the best kids play areas in East London. Mainly built out of wood – it is very well maintained and gets super busy during the hotter months.

After a good stretch of the legs and a big breath of air in our lungs, we headed off to the movies.

My son has been wanting to go and watch “The Kid Who Would Be King” ever since he saw the trailers a few weeks ago. The film was released on the 15th of February here in London.

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I took the kids to our local cinema on Mare Street – our local high street. This building use to be the local library. I remember as a child visitng this library often, it was a quite a big library. I am a bit of a book worm and love trawling the shelves for a good book.

In 1999, the building itself was transformed into a music venue called Hackney Ocean (the libary itself moved across the road to new purpose built premises). Hackney Ocean became notorious for attracting trouble as party goers started to cause havoc in the area. It closed it’s doors as a music venue in 2004.

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In 2011, Hackney Picturehouse surfaced and I am glad of it. It is so lovely to have a small cinema nearby where I can pop in with the kids on a weekend. It is a small cinema and I like that it doesn’t get too busy.

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As I mentioned, we went to watch “The Kid Who Would Be King“. It was such a lovely movie. The adventures of a kid who found Excalibur, the sword in the stone and went on to fight the evil Morgana before she destroys Earth. Yep, just your average family movie then.

My son absolutely loved it! He was couldn’t stop talking about it for the rest of the day. I asked him “what was the best part of the movie?“. He replied: “Everything!“. I would definitely recommend it. Funny in parts, full of action and a great message of friendship, courage and never giving up is hidden amongst the special effects and pyrotechnics.

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After the dinner, we headed down the road to one of my favourite local restaurants.
The Green Papaya. This restaurant has been there for years! It markets itself as a Xi’Viet cuisine which is a cross between Vietnamese and Xian food. Xi’An is the capital of Shaanxi Province in China in case you were wondering.

We met up with other family members for dinner. I love eating out … but don’t get to do it as often as I would like. My daughter in particular has turned into a little foodie. Very picky with her food and won’t eat any old junk. She is only 10 years old (see picture: my son Devon and daughter Skye both wearing the glasses, and my niece Bonnie in the pink jacket). But The Green Papaya is one of my daughter’s favourite places to eat so she was super excited to go.

Settling into the restaurant, I was super hungry. Did I mention that I had just started dieting … so salivating over the menu whilst trying to decipher what I should or should not eat was frustrating. I just wanted to eat everything!

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I was so hungry so we ordered promptly. The kids were starving! Here are a few of the dishes we ordered …

For starters, we ordered (to name but a few) a green papaya salad which was so refreshing and light with an amazing fresh flavour. We also ordered a beef salad which was slightly on the rare side for me. I bit the bullet and tasted it … and it was so amazing! I loved it! And also for starters we ordered (3 portions) of crispy squid. This is my children’s favourite starter – hence why we ordered three portions. So crispy and the flavour is so addictive.

For the main course we shared …

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Bun Thit Nuong –  a vermicelli based noodle topped with grilled bbq belly pork, a spring roll and salad with chopped nuts and crispy onions to garnish. One of my favourite Vietnamese foods. We also shared a bowl of Chicken Pho – a chicken noodle soup (not pictured). A staple in most Vietnamese households – the chicken pho when made well is legendary!

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This trio of deliciousness is Stir Fried Morning Glory (one of my favourite vegetables), Stir Fried Irish Sirloin with ginger, spring onion and lemongrass. We normally have this with a side of rice but opted out this time and also some Stir Fried Tofu with mixed vegetables.

If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend The Green Papaya. Simple but great tasting food. It gets busy there in the evening most days … that just says it all really!

We walked home after our meal … it was only a 10 minute walk but I guess I need to walk off the extra calories that I have gained today.

As my day came to an end … I’m glad I got to spend the day with my family. Time is so precious and the kids grow up so quick so it’s great to reconnect.

Remember, new blogs up every Wednesday!

Until next time …

~ The Cake Lady xxx

 

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