The Princess & Her Playgrounds

The Father Figure has made friends with the six year old daughter of the owners of his favourite coffee shop in Prince Albert. Her name is Katie. The other day, Katie came bounding over to show him her new pet hamster.

“Where’s his friend, Katie?” the Father Figure wanted to know.

“He doesn’t have one,” replied Katie. “He’s a loner.”

The point of this very sweet story is that we had a resident mouse whom I’m really hoping was a loner too… About a week ago, I thought I spied something scurrying around in the garage. A few days later, the sight of a dark mouse against the kitchen’s cream, travertine, could not be disputed. The Pied Piper was called in and that afternoon, our housekeeper reported a twitching, whimpering Mickey, behind the fridge. Mickey duly went in search of water outside and so, kindly passed on in the garden, but I am just holding thumbs that he operated alone…

Last week was a week of home maintenance and besides getting pest control, I also booked a household carpet clean. Clint, the owner of the business saw our giant canvas of The Princess in the living room and said:

“She’s gorgeous! You’re so lucky to have a little girl. I only have boys.”

“How many?” I politely asked.

I was expecting an answer of two, perhaps three.

“Five,” came the reply.

Wow! Five children!

“We really tried for a girl.”

No kidding, Clint!

“And how old are your boys?” I asked.

“Eight, seven, six, five and three.”

Wow, wow and wow again. Apparently, at one stage he could fit all five of them in a trolley and was somewhat of a celebrity in his native suburb of Boksburg. Not surprising!

Naturally, a few hours after Superman with Five Kids had transformed all our carpets, The Princess decided to crouch down and have a wee. I have warned The Husband that he needs to be pronto about putting her nappy on when she gets out of the bath, but he says she’s so funny to watch, running around naked and showing off in her birthday suit. So, it was really only a matter of time before we had a weeing episode after the bath.

This past long weekend, The Husband went off to Mpumalanga to ride in a four-day stage race and so The Mother Figure flew up to keep The Princess & I company. Over the the past five days, we have been discovering playgrounds across Jozi. At thirteen months and walking, it’s such an exciting time seeing her beginning to climb and slide and crawl through tunnels. Here’s where we’ve been and what we though of each of them:

Mushroom Farm Park (bordered by Daisy & Linden Roads in central Sandton):

Only a few weeks ago, an afternoon visit to Mushroom Farm Park (behind the Radisson Hotel, where the unsightly Hyandai balloon is parked) was not all that eventful. Now, since she’s grown in confidence, she crawls through the swinging barrel and has an absolute ball with the other kids in the giant sandpit. Mushroom Farm is a lovely, central spot with a pristine playground and feels very safe in the afternoons and at weekends when it always seems to be busy. A coffee shop for the mommies would be nice, though. Not a bad idea to take along a bucket and spade and/or a ball/ and or a scooter/ car etc.

Grand Central & other spots on the Melrose Arch piazza

On Friday afternoon, The Mother Figure and I took The Princess and her Barbie car to Grand Central on the Melrose Arch piazza. There are usually plenty of other kids zooming around there on various forms of transport and you do need to look out for speeding older kids. The road is also deceptively close, but far enough that if your child sticks more towards the centre of the piazza and you keep an eye out, you could dash after them if they started heading in that direction. The Princess ran into a crawling little boy from her Clamber Club class who was most interested in her Barbie car, as was another little girl there. The Princess was having absolutely none of it and guide her pink pride and joy with her life, swatting away and violently shouting at, anyone who came near it. Sharing is not caring, at thirteen months!

The Garden Shop nursery in Bryanston

This is a good spot for the entertainment of plant-loving grannies, as well as toddlers. There are heaps and heaps of jungle gyms and sandpits. The only snag is that only one section of the playground is next to the coffee shop and there are so many pathways amongst the flowers to explore, it’s very tempting for little ones who’ve just become mobile, to run amok, so be sure you are energised before heading out there.

Delta Park‘s playground in Victory Park

This is HEAVEN for toddlers and parents of toddlers. We went with friends for a picnic on Sunday afternoon and it was very busy, but there was still more than enough space for everyone. The ideal is to set up camp near the playground, which we’ll definitely do next time. Besides the fact that there is a ton of play equipment, what’s also great is that there are little mini slides and other things for babas who have only just started walking and climbing. The Princess had an absolute ball. She couldn’t get enough of the baby slide and I think just loved the excitement of being surrounded by so many kids having so much fun. At one point, we were standing at the top of the slide behind a seated kid who must have been at least five years old. He was taking ages to slide down because he was waiting for his mother to come over and watch him. The Princess thought this absolute nonsense so she decided to push him. Luckily the weight of her little 10kg body can’t budge a five year old, else we would’ve hand one irate older kid on our hands.

Bambanani Restaurant in Mellville

If Bambanani hadn’t come so highly recommended, I think I would have continued to avoid Mellville for the next seven years. It feels like an area that used to be cool and trendy when you were partying until all hours in your twenties, but in the light of day, in your thirties, it looks…er… less cool. Once inside Bambanani, however, you forget that you’re in dodgy Mellville. We went straight to the play area at the back of the restaurant. The Princess thought she’d died and gone to heaven. Baby slides, toys, mats, baths of balls, things to climb, dolls’ houses, you name it. What I love about Bambanani’s play area is that it’s totally enclosed so you feel as though your child is safe and you can relax, without worrying that they’ll wander off. There are also numerous, wonderful childminders who are on hand to help, while you eat, sip your cappuccino or glass of wine. We didn’t eat but I’ve also heard that the food is actually good – very unusual for a kiddie spot. I just wish it wasn’t so far from Sandton although it’s definitely worth the drive.

Serendipity in Rosebank

The Princess’ very runny nose stopped us from heading to Serendipity yesterday. The last time we went there, The Princess was only ten months old, so I am dying to see how she responds to all the play equipment when we head there tomorrow.

And that, dear readers, sums up our action-packed girls weekend. More fabulous playspots will be added to the list as and when The Princess and I discover them.

Natalie xxx