Describe your area in three words: The Brighter Borough 😉
Coolest coffee spots: Graveney and Meadow in Tooting Broadway is a pub by night and brunch spot by day. There’s loads of buggy space, a huge back room, tables in the sunshine and a ground-floor changing table. Tartine Artisinal in Tooting Bec is buggy-friendly with plenty of highchairs – and no angry stares when you stay four hours and get your boobs out. Skylark has toilets and a changing table and is handily placed right in the middle of Wandsworth Common, while Flotsam and Jetsam is on the edge of the common and has a solid changing table, happy Aussie staff and outdoor buggy parking. Hallowed Belly (previously called Mel’s) in Earlsfield also has friendly staff and a garden out the back with a decent patch of sunshine.
Best family-friendly restaurants: The Leather Bottle pub in Earlsfield has a vast back garden for buggies/crawling, and sheltered space for greyer days. The staff at Pizza Express in Balham always have endless patience and napkins to mop up mess.
Favourite park or green space: Tooting Common offers well-trodden paths for buggy rambles, while Wandsworth Common has ducks, a cafe and playgrounds for extra-small people. Battersea Park has plenty of (meter) parking, great views across the river, enough paths to get lost on and a children’s zoo.
Best local museum or gallery: The Horniman in Forest Hill is an endlessly interesting museum with a separate, kid-friendly aquarium. It also features an external exhibition space and is located inside a public park. Dulwich Picture Gallery is a neat and friendly gallery with kid-specific events and opening hours – nice cafe too.
Coolest kids’ shops: FARA Kids has a huge turnover of clothing, gear and toys due to the vast number of children (and fancy kids’ shops) in the area. There are branches in Balham, Earlsfield and Clapham Junction so grab yourself a bargain – they’ll only wear it for two months anyway! Independent toy shop QT Toys has been a staple of Northcote Road since I was a lass (bloody ages ago) and is a treasure trove to wind through and find books, figures, toys and gifts.
Favourite under-5s class/activity: The Bright Emporium is a children’s illustrators’ agency in Clapham Junction and offers a Messy Toddlers drop-in weekend ‘art class’ where little people get to splash paint and giggle. Eddie Catz has branches in Earlsfield and Colliers Wood, with chaotic soft play areas where little ones can run off their satsuma highs. Pram Chorus (held at The Bedford in Balham) is an a cappella choir for parents, where kids are very welcome. Sing your heart out (in perfect harmony) to retro classics and disco belters while your little ones stare up in amazement at your pitch-perfect skill (ahem…). Baby Sensory is the “I will never do that kind of class” class that’s actually really fun and a good way to meet other mums/dads. Vauxhall City Farm is a free little farm where small people can ogle chickens and laugh at pigs, and adults can have beans on toast in the cafe. The Baby Swimming Company‘s purpose-built pool in Tooting Bec offers baby swimming lessons for those first splashes, and Tooting Bec Lido is a great outdoor swimming pool with a separate shallow paddling pool area for little ones and nice shaded grass area for summer picnics. Screaming With Laughter runs daytime stand-up comedy sessions for parents and welcomes squeaking babies and pooey nappies. A saving connection to the ‘real fun’ you had before kids.
What makes your area great?
It’s slap bang between the upcoming cool of Tooting Broadway (and those restaurants/bars you wish you still went to) and the established mummy monster of Nappy Valley, with a wealth of options and activities whatever your style.
What’s the best thing about living in London?:
The endless mishmash of cultures, influences, flavours and styles.
And the worst?: Traffic, pollution and a lack of seaside.
Photo credit: Katie Parsons