I love holidaying at home. When abroad or in another city I always want to explore, do new things, go to galleries and museums and wander around beautiful outdoor spaces, but I find it’s really easy to forget to do that at home and to get stuck in the save old groove of doing the old same things. Taking the time to really enjoy where we live can feel just as restorative, and leaves me feeling so much happier about living in the city and all of the not-so-fun things that also entails. So with S taking a couple of weeks off work, we are both keen to actually make the most of the time we have together as a trio.
Having Frida on the scene means we’re slightly more limited, both in terms of what we can do (bye bye cocktails, going to the theatre, or spur of the moment nights away) and in terms of affordability (taking a full year of maternity leave plus having recently bought our first home sadly means financial restraint). HOWEVER. This does not mean we cannot leave London. Enter a day-trip to Margate to see Grayson Perry’s latest offering, Provincial Punk at the Turner Contemporary.
I was feeling so smug that we had saved some money by booking our train tickets from Victoria a few days in advance. Thus I was quite annoyed when we got to our local station to catch a train to Victoria only to see that the train was cancelled! Cue huge panic about us missing our connecting train and an extravagant black cab journey to Brixton to get on the tube instead (guilt-inducing but so easy with a buggy and cheaper than buying new train tickets).
I managed to read a few pages of my book on the train – so nice. I don’t really get much of a chance to read any more unless F is asleep (and then there always seems to be laundry or tidying or showering to do), and the pile of books on my bedside table is starting to look at me accusingly.
We walked along the seafront to the Turner, then stopped in the gallery’s cafe for some obligatory cake and coffee before tackling the exhibition.
The exhibition itself was really good; a manageable mix of Perry’s pots, maps, video art, and tapestries. S and I are both big fans on Perry, so we knew we would like it, but it was nice to be proved right. The tapestries were probably the highlight for us, and despite sleeping through most of the exhibition and then waking up grumpy – nothing a bit of boob couldn’t fix – even Frida enjoyed looking them, staring in open-mouthed amazement. Although probably her favourite thing was being put back in her pram so she could play with the exhibition booklet. So fascinating, so pink.
S and I both love showing Frida art, and experiencing art with a baby definitely makes you see it in a different way. Colours become vital, bold shapes are amazing, patterns inspire awe. You take a step back and ask yourself how it would feel to experience the art without any preconceptions. It sounds very corny, but having a baby definitely makes you look at things in a new light. Flowers, trees, sunlight coming through curtains, the way wind feels on your skin, the sparkle of light on water – you start to appreciate these things again.
Although Perry is probably not entirely suitable for an older child due to the explicit content in some of his art (unless of course you are feeling in a very frank and open mood, in which case go for it!) it was a great exhibition for a baby.
Exhibition aside, I really liked the layout of the gallery. There was an activity station for children where they could practice weaving with neon wool, an interactive cymbal structure (pictured below), good baby changing facilities and the biggest lift I have ever seen. It all seemed very child-friendly and some of the gallery assistants even came over for a little chat and to say hello to Frida.
After we were done we went for a little walk along the sunny sea front and Frida enjoyed some nice nappy-free time in the sea breeze, and then some poems and cuddles with her daddy as we listened to the waves lapping.
The train journey back was fairly depressing as were were near two mums travelling with young (still in buggies) children, who were speaking to their kids in such a horrible way that at one point I suggested to S that we might want to contact social services. It’s sad that it’s not an uncommon experience to witness behaviour from parents towards their children which is bordering on the abusive, and I’m never quite sure what to do in those situations.
Having a baby has definitely made me more sensitive when it comes to worrying about the well-being of other children – the thought of harm befalling Frida, or her being spoken to in the way that we were overhearing, makes me feel physically sick. A bit of a downer to end the post on, so here is a photo of Frida “standing” on the train table in her lovely crocodile jumper.
Cost: £30 train tickets, £14 cab fare, £14 for snacks and drinks in the cafe, £2 ice cream
Travel: black cab (oops), public transport
Would I recommend it: Absolutely. Brilliant (free!) exhibition, sandy beaches, ice cream. I also actually really enjoy train journeys, and with a two adults to one baby ratio you can even take it in turns to read. A lovely day-trip from London.
This post was one of my “holiday at home” posts, read more of them here.