Wasn’t today such a beautiful, sunny day? It’s as if summer has just started and the only option was to be outside. The reality is many kids are getting ready to go back to school next week (to the joy of the parents!) and today is the first day of autumn.
Anyway, we wanted to make the most of it and my budding adventurer today was hot Brazilian mama Claudia and her gorgeous twins Thomas & Bella. We met up at Maidenhead Riverside and Gardens where a large sandpit (with a hilltop) awaited the toddlers. They dove straight in, shovel and buckets in hand while Claudia and I topped up our vitamin D levels. Right by the sandpit, there are lots of playground equipment such as swings, slides, climbing frame and obstacle type course (whatever they’re called!) so there was plenty to do if they got fed up of sand. It was busy but it wasn’t overpopulated like other places can be (see my previous post on Ruislip Lido).
For lunch, we walked across the car park and went in to Jenner’s Cafe which has a very pleasant outdoor seating area and we plopped ourselves on one of the available benches. Just note that when it’s busy, there’s not many high-chairs to go around and unfortunately today, there were none 😦
Alas, we ordered lunch for us mummies – Claudia got a cheeseburger with chips and I got a jacket potato with cheese and coleslaw. I ordered Yara a cold lunch box and they gave me 2 tiny triangles of ham sandwiches which I found disappointing. My jacket potato was like any other potato I’ve eaten but Claudia’s cheeseburger was shameful! Put it this way, you wouldn’t kill yourself to have lunch at this place but it’s the only place around and it’s cheap and convenient (unless you fancy posh nosh with your toddlers up the road at the Boulter’s Restaurant).
The kids were then put in their prams and we walked up to Boulter’s Lock as Claudia wanted to discover it on Ray Mill Island (plus a quick stop off for ice cream, of course). It’s a gorgeous little island amongst the Cookham Locks; there’s water everywhere and plenty of ducks, swans and all sorts of birds. We went to the giant waterfall, which the kids enjoyed. Then we must have spent over an hour seeing the pet corner and playing on a makeshift bridge in the woodland area. The pet corner has got beautiful exotic birds and guinea pigs (did you know guinea pigs are native to South America?). The kids had a blast and Claudia kept saying what a great place it is to visit in the sunshine. In fact, I think that whole area is fantastic to visit any time of year, because I suppose the scenery changes along with the seasons.
Once the 3 kids were tired out and us mums were exhausted, we headed back to the car and home. I would say if you want to come here, come early in the morning (say 10ish) to get a good parking spot and make the most of your day walking up and down the riverside. Ray Mill Island is also a great place to have a picnic but beware, those pesky birds might try and steal your lunch.
On a geeky side note, having worked in news and current affairs most of my career, I was pleased to learn that Richard Dimbleby (father of David and Jonathan Dimbleby) lived in the vicinity. It’s probably why I am so drawn to this place.