Ok, so the sun has sown the seed of spring time pursuits with the kids. No longer is digging in with a Star Wars box set and packet of Hob Nobs an acceptable way to spend an afternoon. Oh no, we’re off out into the daylight! It’s time to embrace the call of the wildrs and don our best parenting clobber, North Face, SuperDry, Hunter, all present and correct.
In my experience the suggestion of an afternoon at the park will be met with formidable resistance from my five-year-old son.
Once the wailing has subsided and we are out in the sun, the boy decides to hit the climbing equipment/rocks/trees with impunity. Small boy becomes the super charged Ninja Turtle of small town Sussex, agile, unstoppable and relentless. This is what I signed up for in those intrepid months of pregnancy/new fatherhood! The excitement and exuberance are palpable as he whoops and yells whilst leaping imaginary buildings, wrestling Storm troopers and dispatching baddies. I am that oft spotted 40-something dad whizzing along the zip with small boy in noisy pursuit.
For me this is all gravy, I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I have become quite astute when it comes to tackling the outdoors with Dougal. I feel that there are chances to get it very right in my local area so why settle for second place? I will use the next few paragraphs to share some favourite outdoor spots around this fine locality.
Buckingham Park, Shoreham
A little way out of Shoreham town centre this is a local hotspot and an army of parents (mostly dads) can be found there on a Saturday morning. This could be due in part to the numerous football and rugby fixtures that occur at the park or the quality of the bacon sandwich served in Cupcakes Café in the park.
Either way Buckingham Park is a great find. It has recently been overhauled to provide a more varied play experience for kids of all ages. This includes a substantial zip wire, sensory area as well as a full complement of clambering, leaping and tumbling equipment. There is also a basketball court, numerous tennis courts and outdoor table football. For the athletic there is even one of those outdoor gyms that were introduced after 2012 to turn us all into Olympians. My son, Dougal, thinks that they are great climbing frames.
The café serves a broad selection of hot drinks, provides papers to read at the weekend and does a great line in homemade cakes and snacks. In the summer this park comes into its own there are loads of suntraps and shady spots to sit down and chill while the kids play safely within sight. There isn’t a wifi signal to be had but the 4G is great. This park and its café are a great addition to my parklife.
Perch, Lancing Beach Green
Situated on Lancing Beach Green, this place has Lancing Beach, rock clambering aplenty and a play park as neighbours. The café is high end, they serve excellent restaurant quality fayre in the dining section of Perch. The fish and chips are legendary!
Perch offers a great selection of snacks and cakes and the coffee is of the highest quality, as you would expect. Dogs are welcome and there is often a bowl of water out for our four legged friends.
Perch is situated on the cycle track that links Shoreham Beach to Worthing so if you’re a cyclist this is an ideal stop off. I can also vouch for the wifi signal for those all important “Faceboasts”.
For the more budget conscious, those who like to keep it real! there is a great little tea kiosk by Widewater Lagoon that serves old school ice creams, tea coffee and the guiltiest of guilty pleasures, deep fried fish finger sandwiches, no kidding!
Hove Park, Hove (Actually)
Now this park is triangulated by some great middle class parenting landmarks, Waitrose, Toys R Us and Nando’s. Welcome to your Shangri La!
The park is superb, with climbing equipment and toys to suit all ages from tots to pre-teens and even a zip wire for us dads to play on. This is easily a park that you could spend the day in, due it’s size and the range of activities available. If you choose to stay in the play park a coffee van and ice cream will be on hand to provide caffeinated or high sugar refreshment.
Hove Park Café operates at “peak Hove” with a superb menu of delicious high end sandwiches, snacks and legendary cake. The coffee is also great. Seating is available indoors or outside, so this hits the spot for a bit of time out with a paper/electronic device. I can’t remember if there is Wifi though, sorry! The park also has great basketball courts, rocks to climb on, football pitches, tennis courts, a miniature railway (open seasonally) and often hosts events for kids.
So there we go. My penny’s worth on how to win at being outdoors in a parenting type way. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. If you have do share this with your friends.
For a cheap and relaxing family outing do come and try out my Lego Club. On Saturdays I run a session from 10-11am and then another session from 11.00am-12.00pm in the Browning room at Heene Community Centre. The next session at Heene will be on Saturday 23rd August.
I am also running sessions at The Railway Inn, Portslade. The next Portslade Lego Club is on Wednesday 9th August (3-5pm). These sessions have been really popular so booking is advised, it could be the great selection of food (vintage tuck shop) and drinks available at The Railway…
Thanks for reading this. Al. x