It’s all happening down at Kings Cross in central London this summer. What used to be an absolute ‘no go’ area is now a bustling community area for families, students and office workers to hang out, eat, drink and relax. When I first starting hearing about the new Kings Cross and the family activities, I was completely dubious. My experience of the area to date has been to exit the train station (perhaps do a bit of shopping at St Pancras) and get on my way to somewhere else, certainly not to spend a whole day there. Then photos began appearing in my Instagram feed of little ones having so much fun splashing in the water fountains, I decided to try it out. Plus it’s easy for me to get to – I can take the tube from Oakwood to Kings Cross completely step-free. Well, I can when the lift at Oakwood isn’t out of action but never mind, I got help with the steps so that is OK!
We exited Kings Cross as if we were walking over to St Pancras (as you do when you come out of lift A) then sort of followed the path round to the right, as if going behind Kings Cross. Down a tree lined avenue which has a few cafes and a few more empty, just completed premises too. Then we crossed over the road which runs parallel to the Regents Canal and into Granary Square. The square is populated with over 1,000 individually lit and choreographed fountains which kids (and grown-ups!) are welcome to play in and look amazing at night too. There are benches on the sides, food and coffee vans, a couple of cafes, toilets (including disabled toilets and baby change), security and cleaners that come round and whisk away any rubbish every 20 minutes or so.
Imogen was asleep when we arrived, so I was able to grab a coffee from the Benugo van and sit back whilst Seren splashed. I took the girls’ UV swim suits, towels and spare clothes for the inevitable change. When Imogen woke up she joined in the fun. Her expressions were priceless. She would bend down to splash the water when the jets weren’t spraying, whilst down there she would suddenly get sprayed and would stand up with her hands over her mouth in amazement! She also really enjoyed chasing pigeons (she is really noticing animals at the moment) and trying to trip up hipsters spilling out of Central St Martins. There is a road that runs next to the Square that is sort of car free, but does have the occasional building site access vehicle so I couldn’t let her stray too far. If you aren’t spending your time chasing after toddlers then there is a Granary Squirt app you can download (I’ve linked to the iTunes version but it is on Google Play too) where you can actually control one of the water jets and play some games too.
When the running around and begging for snacks got too much, I bundled Imogen back in to the buggy and we set off in search of food. We found the KERB street vans in the adjacent Lewis Cubitt Square but there were quite long queues of office workers and not a wide enough offering to cater for fussy little ones and non-meat eaters. Though I also spied the new branch of Dishoom and made a mental note to come back for a date with Andy one night. There are little fountains in Lewis Cubitt Square too if Granary Square is too overwhelming. So we pressed on and found the Skip Garden Kitchen and stopped for lunch. Imogen and I shared a beetroot salad (with kale chips, I now get kale chips!) and Seren had humous and bread (which they offered her when they saw the look on her face when they told her the sandwich options). She loved choosing a juice bottle from the fridge and pouring it for herself too. The Skip Garden is an urban gardening project run by Global Generation. It looked very cool but my girls were keen to get back to the water so we didn’t get to explore too much.
We made our way back for more splashing in Granary Square via a bit of a play in the Lewis Cubitt Park. Seren made a new friend which she is always thrilled about. We spent a total of 4 hours at Kings’ Cross and made sure we were back on a train home before the rush starts.
I spied lots more to do in the immediate area too – Camley Street Natural Park, a cool astro turfed picnic area on the bank of the canal (probably not idea for toddlers!), Handyside Gardens and a swimming pond – so we will have to go back again soon.
The Skip Garden Kitchen is open Tues-Sat, 10am to 4pm.
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