We've been spending a fair bit of time in London's Bloomsbury recently and, when our need for a swing, a loo, a climbing frame, a sandpit, a bench shaped like a train, a cafe or some goats and chickens overcomes us, we head to Coram's Fields, a park that you are only allowed to enter if you are with a child. If those facilites don't sound enough for you, consider this - once, about a year ago, I even spotted Damian Lewis there.
Before I had a child I was desperately jealous of the friends who got to hang out there, not because there aren't other parks in London I could go to, but because when friends got together there for a day out it was just so excluding. Now I can go, I'm a bit ambivalent about the place. Because although in theory it has everything you want in a park, including a well stocked children's centre with a drop in play session for the under fives complete with craft materials, judgey staff, polite notices and children with ridiculous names, it seems wrong to have a park solely for people with children. It gives across a Daily Mail-esque message that all adults without children who wish to go to a park are paedophiles, and, conversely, that everyone with a child is not a paedophile, both statements being untrue of course.
The other day we went to the park next door to Coram's Fields, Brunswick Square Gardens. It has more flowers than Coram's Fields, and flowers, along with pigeons, are my daughter's favourite things at the moment, having usurped ducks and dogs. The sun was shining, the daffodils were trumpeting spring and the plane tree in the middle, which according to the Camden Council website is "the finest example of a London plane tree to be found anywhere in Camden" and listed as a 'Great Tree of London' by the charity Trees for Cities, was resplendent. One thing was missing however, for though it looked lke a park and smelled like a park, it wasn't the slice of society that parks usually are - for there were no children, and it was rather sad.