Monday, 25 July 2011

Our visit to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground

Yesterday we decided to make the most of the lovely sunny day and head over to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens which is alongside Hyde Park. We had been there before as we used to live right by it, but this was the first time Ben got to experience this magical playground for himself. The playground, which is free to enter, was opened on 30th June in memory of Princess Diana and it is a very fitting tribute to her, more of a wonderland than playground inspired by Peter Pan.

It was pretty busy when we arrived which meant we had a short queue as they operate a twenty out, twenty in system. I took Ben to look at the Elfin Oak which is at the entrance to the playground while my husband queued. The Elfin Oak is an ornate carved trunk covered with lots of beautifully painted elves, gnomes, small animals and fairytale creatures who look like they live in the park. I have always loved this so it was lovely to finally show Ben who was fascinated by all the little people and in particular a little white mouse. He did lots of pointing and saying 'oh wow!'

Once inside the playground there are lots of different areas to explore. Our first stop was a little play area with wooden houses, a wobbly horse and Ben's favourite, a tractor and trailer. Ben made a beeline for it and the tractor seat soon became Ben's chair. He spent ages 'vroom vroom-ing' and 'beep-beep-ing' on it and was reluctant to leave.

Next stop was the sand area which is great for babies and toddlers with wooden boats and a wooden crocodile amongst other things. This was Ben's first proper time playing with sand and he couldn't get enough of it. He was in his element digging, filling his bucket, emptying it and filling it again. He was amazed at the sand, loving picking up fistfuls of it and watching the grains fall through his hands. I think he could have quiet happily have sat there for the rest of the day but there was lots more to see.

The centerpiece is the large wooden pirate ship with it's surrounding beach. The pirate ship is fantastic for older kids who like to climb and explore with a crows nest, lots of cabins, ropes and pulleys and most importantly the ships wheel which they all seem to scramble to control. Ben went straight for the beach area and he was in his element playing with the squishy wet sand and splashing in the puddles. The kids seemed to have a little system going with the older ones fetching buckets of water and sand and the younger ones like Ben having fun making a joyful mess with it. There really was lots of very happy kids who were strangers to each other playing away together - it was lovely to watch!

It was off to see the teepees next in the Indian camp which Ben enjoyed running about and hiding in, this follows through a large climbing area to the sensory trail which is fantastic with lots of music and sound features for kids to experiment with. Ben's favourite thing here were the large wooden chimes which he really enjoyed. We had to prise the 'hammer' as he called it from his hand so the other kids could play. Yes, lots of tears resulted but were quickly forgotten when we got him an ice cream in the cafe which serves snacks and refreshments.

Ben had a fantastic time at the 'big park' (as he refers to it) and we will most certainly be going back again and again...


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