Experience world-class exhibitions and frolic in the paddling pool at the V&A

What?: I’ve taken Bab to the V&A a few times, with mixed results. There was the time we went for an aimless wander and she got absolutely covered in museum-floor filth, kept trying to prod the priceless artefacts and pissed off a waitress by recarpeting the cafe floor with Petit Filous. There was the time we tried to take her to the You Say You Want a Revolution? exhibition and she shrieked throughout the entire thing, loud enough that even though everyone in attendance was being blasted with deafening psychedelic rock through their massive Sennheiser headphones I still got enough dirty looks and barely concealed whispers of “who brings a baby here?” to shame me out of taking her to another exhibition for several months.

Then there was today, which – aside from the bloke manning the door of the members’ cafe scornfully eyeing Bab before (wrongly) informing us that there was “much more room in the main cafe” – was absolutely delightful, comprising a a delicious mezze lunch followed by a dip in the lush paddling pool and ending in a squawk-free mooch around the Balenciaga exhibition. I think I have worked out the two controlling factors in whether or not we have a good day, and they are my daughter’s mood and the proximity of dickheads.

Where?: South Kensington tube (Circle, District, Piccadilly) is just a short subterranean stroll away.

Facilities: Baby changing, step-free access, cafe offering children’s meals and high chairs, padding pool.

Best Bits: V&A exhibitions are generally excellent though on the whole not massively suitable for under-fives, depending on the whininess of the child in question. The paddling pool is an absolute lifesaver where kids are concerned, although there isn’t actually anyone there to save your child’s life should the day take a sinister turn so do keep an eye on them – like I didn’t when Bab slipped on the step and did a 360-degree roll into the water (relax, it’s like a centimetre deep). There are also regular drop-in activities for children and families.

Worst Bits: Considering the museum is allegedly step-free I did find myself lugging the buggy creature around more than I would have liked.

Would We Come Back?: Yes, I’m going to buy a family-sized tent and set up camp in the courtyard for the remainder of the summer.


Bab plays with the water feature in the courtyard approximately 2.5 seconds before she rolls into the paddling pool and smashes her face on a stone slab at the V&A, South Kensington