I like to organise things; cupboards, shelves, parties, my family and myself. But sometimes it’s good to just relax a little and let a day go wherever it takes us. Today was one of those days. A chance to be spontaneous. A chance for Big S to come up with the plan, to say where he wants to go and what he wants to do. So often we end up going from scheduled activity to errand to home without him getting a say in where our day takes us and I think at 4 years old it’s important that he gets to follow his desires a little more than he used to.
So we had a free form day!
We started out with the one activity entered into the calendar; haircuts. We go to the North Laine Hair Company. I discovered it shortly after moving to Brighton and Kate (the owner) has been taming my unruly mop for me ever since. She’s great with the kids (all the stylists there are wonderful with Big S and Little D actually) so while it’s not the cheapest haircut for a 4 year old it’s our pick because Big S feels like a grown up, sat on one of their booster seats chatting away while his hair is cut and we know he’s going to get a great cut (which sadly we didn’t get when we tried one of the special kids salons).
All three of us got our hair cut then we were off, freed from any plans with a hopefully sunny day ahead of us!
We pottered around the shops for a little while, looking for a new summer coat for Big S (turns out a cheap-ish, brightly coloured summer coat is harder to find than I expected) and maybe some new clothes for me (I’m still in the cheap vests and breastfeeding friendly tops I bought after I’d recovered from Big S’s birth and they are starting to look distinctly ratty now, four years in). We failed on both counts, but had fun mooching around Churchill Square with no rush to get on somewhere else.
A quick stop for a nappy change for Little D at the Churchill Square changing room (Big S loves the Thomas ride they have in there, despite the fact that we never put any money in!) and a quick feed and we’re off!
Lunchtime is fast approaching so we head to Waitrose and buy some ham and bananas (quite possibly Big S’s favourite foods in all the world) then grab a baguette from the Real Patisserie on Western Road. I had in my head that we would wander along to Palmeira Square and picnic in the gardens at Adelaide Crescent, but Big S spies the seafront at Brunswick Square and wants to eat by the sea, so that’s where we head. He was so excited to get to choose where to go and so happy to be by the sea (something we’ve not been doing enough of recently thanks to the prolonged bout of the flu that I’m still recovering from). We find a bench right by the beach and get sat in the now baking sunshine. Extra suncream applied, ham baguettes made up and the three of us sit in companiable silence eating our lunch.
Silence, just for a few short minutes, while the waves on the shore lull us and soothe us after the chaos of town. I can think of little better.
Lunch eaten we move on. We decide to get the bus home and play in the garden for a while. But disaster! I’ve managed to lose my bus ticket, but nevermind, we decide to walk home instead. It’s one of the (many) things I love about living in Hove; everything we want to do in town is ultimately a walkable distance away. It might take a little while, but a few miles is perfectly do-able, especially with the buggy board for if Big S gets tired. So off we go, along New Church Road, up George Street, pausing to look in shop windows and chat about what we see. Into Poppets on Blatchington Road for a quick look at clothes and then we’re off into West Hove proper, along the Portland Road towards home.
But instead we stop at Black Radish, for some nice cold ice cream, for now the sun is positively beating down and we’re roasting hot from our walk. Big S won’t eat ice cream at the moment, declaring it “too cold” so the single scoop of Boho Gelato crème brûlée vegan ice cream is all mine. We swerve off to Stoneham Park for Big S and Little D to wear off some energy while I eat my ice cream and spend a happy hour swinging, climbing and covering ourselves in sand.
3pm rolls around and the local schools kick out, leaving the park heaving with big kids, so we call it a day and head home. Big black clouds are rolling in from the East and I start to wonder if we’re going to get a soaking, but luck was with us today, we made it home with minutes to spare before the rain came down.
Two worn out kids play quietly on the rug, while I potter about prepping dinner and tidying up. A gentle wind down at the end of a perfect sunny day.
With any luck they may even sleep tonight!
I love days like today. They feel quite quintessentially Brighton, with time in the North Laine, Churchill Square and the beach, and visits to wonderful independent shops like the Real Patisserie and Black Radish. Best of all we hardly spent a thing (haircuts aside), a few quid on lunch and an ice cream but Big S still felt like he’d had a treat and the day felt full of fun and activity. I hope we’ll have many more like it this summer.