You’ve gotta love Instagram for providing the summer holidays inspo to keep little ones busy and keep parents from locking them in the cupboard under the stairs for sanity (Harry Potter turned out ok I figure)!
Jokes aside, I truly think I could plan my entire 6 weeks off the back of hidden gems I’ve seen others utilise.
One such diamond was the Uniqlo Tate Play sessions at the Tate Modern on London’s Southbank. Having seen three different accounts posting images of their littles getting arty and farty on the floor of the turbine hall, I figured it was something Harry would love.
As with all events and exhibitions in our current climate, booking ahead is a necessary evil. The Tate is free, as is this amazing summer programme. You are encouraged to book tickets and have the option of donating a well-needed sum to support their work.
For those who have followed us from the beginning, you’ll know that pre-covid, heading out on adventures was our staple. We were rarely at home, tapping in to all the wonders that London and Essex have to offer.
It felt like a slice of normal served up as we jumped on the tube.
Harry is more than capable of walking but I knew we were going to be putting in some kilometres today so I took the travel buggy with me. There was no way I was going to be carrying him and I didn’t want whinges about achey legs marring our exploration.
Considering we covered 10km it was a wise decision!
One of the things I love about London is the mish-mash of old and new. Harry loved checking out the buildings as we wound our way to the river and across.
We started with the big guns by exiting the underground at St Paul’s Cathedral. Ok… so he was more interested in the pigeons than the history of Sir Christopher Wren and it’s post-Great-Fire-of-London phoenix-like credentials.
However we had lots of chats about materials and spotted those made of glass (looking blue thanks the the sunny skies they were reflecting) compared to the brick monster that is the Tate.
Making his Mark
After scanning our tickets we left the buggy in the buggy park provided and headed to the toilets on the turbine hall floor. Buggies are left at your own risk: standard.
The instructions were clear. Draw anywhere on the floor. Walls were out of bounds. I’ve never seen a bigger collection of paint sticks in my life! You collect two each at a time and are asked to return them to the opposite side to be sanitised after use. There weren’t many people sticking to this so if over-cautious have anti-bac at the ready!
Then it’s free-for-all. Find a space. Create. Observe. Talk. Take in all the other work. Make bold, sweeping marks. Make circles. Make faces. Make mess. Make your mark.
Space holds a premium. There was very little in the way of gaps on the floor canvas but that didn’t put off Harry. He liked adding to the other drawings he spied.
You will end up with paint stick prints on your posterior if you sit down. If wearing white, or cashmere, firstly you’re brave and secondly you may want to take a plastic bag to sit on.
Wipes are handy – not that I know many a mother who leaves the house without packs strapped to her like Kevlar. I saw many a child looking like Rambo with camouflage paint stick stripes over their face.
Indulging my Inner Artist
After expressing ourselves vigorously on the floor, we headed up the escalators to the exhibitions.
Harry loved the space and the views from up high but it’s fair to say, modern art wasn’t floating his boat.
We had some interesting chats.
“What does that look like to you Harry?
To be fair, you’re not too off-piste there mate.
He enjoyed some videos of ants carrying sequins, although looked fairly perplexed. He loved some cabinets of toy cars (one ordered, one chaotic – probably representing our existential anguish or some such theme) but was utterly put-out he couldn’t play with them. My explanation of “it’s art my lovely” really didn’t wash.
But we managed to get a photo of Daddy’s favourite artist Gerhard Richter with his favourite creation ensconced in front of it.
After all the creative energy expended, we needed sustenance. We high-tailed it to ‘The Real Greek’ just past Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
It was the perfect choice. A lunch menu for £7.95 gave us a trio of nibbles. He had the hummus and flat bread and I had the chicken skewer and saffron rice. Perfect and well within my Noom calorie allowance with space for a Southbank ice cream to spare.
The big win was his train top trumps whilst we waited. It kept us entertained as we sorted them in to different categories whilst they whipped up our lunch.
On our hunt for an elusive ice cream van, we walked down the Southbank. I have to say, if you’re still feeling a bit nervous about crowds and busy spaces, it really got very lively around the Royal Festival Hall, just after the skate ramps.
Get Your Paint On
As days go, this was one of the nicest we’ve had in a long while. To be out with my favourite date, to spend the day chatting and experiencing new things, sights and sounds was one of the reasons I became a stay-at-home-Mum.
Although I’m still cautious, I am so grateful and happy that we have this opportunity to enjoy time together adventuring before he starts school.
Where are you heading? Share your adventures! What hidden gems have you discovered?
UNIQLO Tate Play: Mega Please Draw Freely is inspired by the Gutai group – radical Japanese artists who wanted to change the world through painting, performance and children’s play – everyone is welcome to scribble, doodle, sketch and become part of this collective artwork. You can be involved up until August 29th 2021.