As the mercury rises and it all gets a bit too much, we head for the water
1. We love Wimbledon Park. It is walking distance from Wimbledon Park tube station on the District Line or park on Home Park Road for free on weekdays (after 4pm) and on weekends. The park has two playgrounds, a sandpit, and a splash play area with sprinklers and fountains. The wider park has tennis courts, green space, a boating lake, beach volleyball court and a cafe.
One of our favourite things to do on a hot afternoon is to throw swimming costumes and towels in a bag, collect the kids from school, drive to Wimbledon Park (parking for free after 4pm) the kids get an hour in the splash park (it’s open from June to September, 10am to 5pm) then have dinner in the park cafe, before making our way home, feeling cool, tired and ready for bed. If I’m feeling particularly organised I even pack the kid’s pyjamas to change into!
The cafe is a bit tired but clean, well stocked and offers healthyish options on the kids menu. A child’s meal and a drink is around £5. We like to sit on the veranda and watch the world go by. Beware Wimbledon season as the area is very busy and parking restrictions are enforced.
2. Tooting Bec Lido is an enormous fresh water swimming pool between Tooting and Streatham commons. Adult entry is £7.50 and child entry (5-15 years) is £4.60. The main pool is 100 yards long and there is a small paddling pool for little ones. My kids hated the main pool as it unheated and very cold – during a heatwave i’m sure its a treat, sadly, it’s too cold for me- but we love the paddling pool which is fenced off from the main pool and prevents wayward charges making a run for it. TBL gets extremely busy so expect to queue. Lots of people make a day of it with poolside picnics, sunbathing and infrequent dips in the water. It does have a wonderful old-school charm about it but, if you value privacy and personal space, get there at the crack of dawn and secure you own little corner of the lido.
The lido has one very small car park that is often full before the lido has even opened. The nearest tube is Tooting Bec on the Northern Line and Streatham train station, although these stations are not in easy walking distance, especially if you are lugging swimming kit and picnic paraphernalia. The lido is served by the 249 and 319 bus routes. My advice? Again, get there super early to get a space in the car park and the queue, bring all your kit (and cash for ice cream) and make a day of it!
3. A hop, skip and a jump out of Wandsworth and into Kensington & Chelsea and you’ll find the Water Park at Kensington Memorial Park in North Kensington. This is a great find! A large play space full of fountains, waterfalls and jets- prepare to be splashed, sprayed and dunked. My two absolutely love this place and it feels very safe as it is staffed and fenced off from the playground. There is no charge to play and the changing rooms and loos are perfectly pleasant. The wider park has a substantial playground with sand, and equipment for little ones and big ones at opposite ends of the play space. There is green space and a cafe/kiosk – which my OH thought was extortionate when he paid £10.50 for two ice creams and two lollies!
Parking is reasonable in North Kensington – park for free after 13:30 on Saturdays and all day on Sundays. At other times you can park on a meter on St. Marks Road, W10.
4. Richmond upon Thames is home to the local gem that is Hampton Pool, a heated open-air pool with a balmy main pool and a kiddy pool for little ones. Hampton Pool is wonderful but, like Tooting Bec Lido, on a hot day it gets super busy super fast! There is a small car park that fills up quickly but you can find parking on the surrounding residential streets and walk back.
Adult entry is £6.50 and children (4-15 years) are £3.80 – well worth it if you arrive early, park for free, bring a picnic and make a day of it. A very short drive will take you past Hampton Court Palace – there is a great Pizza Express opposite HCP that is usually quite quiet. You can park on the street in the evenings and download a Pizza Express voucher…it all makes for a cheap day out! Then, with full bellies and a car full of tired kiddies, we make our way home to Wandsworth via Kingston.
5. Another little gem in Richmond is Vine Road Recreation Ground in Barnes. We discovered this park by accident one summer and make sure we visit often. It is a former orchard with green space, a playground and a decent sized paddling pool. With plenty of room, it’s a good place to meet friends for a picnic play date. It’s a bit in the middle of nowhere so take everything you need but there are loos and parking – although the on- site car park is very small so I tend to park on the street.
Enjoy! Amy x