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Posts Tagged ‘family friendly’

‘This time last year I was mooing like a cow.’

The café assistant gives me a dead-eyed smile, the facial equivalent of backing away and hoping that I’ll go quietly.

‘It’s my son’s first birthday,’ I persist. ‘This time last year I was giving birth.’

‘Uh-huh,’ says the girl weakly, taking the money I proffer for my coffee.

It’s not exactly the feedback I was after. With a sigh, I add her ‘uh huh’ to my list of Inappropriate Responses to the Things I Say. Already on record is the 12 year-old shop assistant in Coast who, after asking me if I was buying my dress for a special occasion (to which I replied, ‘My wedding’), just said, ‘Right.’ Then there was the acquaintance who asked, ‘Is that a good thing?’ when I told her I was pregnant. I didn’t know how to answer, which was probably just as well, as she’d turned on her heel and made for the bar while I stood dumbly, mouth agape like a guppy.

The girl in question works at the Lowry; Simon, Milo and I are here on a wet and windy Tuesday to celebrate Milo’s birthday. He’s had the party (at the weekend) and today is just about the three of us. Sadly, Simon and I have already had a blistering row, caused by me turning feral when I realised Pizza Express wasn’t yet open for lunch.

I can’t help it. I get bad tempered when I’m hungry.

Simon and I nurse our drinks. Milo is snoring in his pushchair. The steam from the coffee thaws our frosty relations and, as my blood sugar returns to normal (thanks to a revolting sarnie), I make my usual cack-handed apology.

‘I can’t help it,’ I say. ‘I get bad tempered when I’m hungry.’

Simon raises an eyebrow and shows me the pictures he took earlier. They show Milo, careering around the Lowry’s play area, a huge grin on his face and pieces of giant Lego in each hand. He’d spent a good half a hour picking up the Lego chunks, gnawing on them and then chucking them on the floor before repeating the process. For some reason, perhaps to do with our huge and unending love for our son, Simon and I thought this was hilarious.

So we had a lovely day together, this family of three. A few days later I was on the phone to my friend Liz, whose son is just four weeks old. She sounded so happy, I told her, and she agreed, saying, yes, she just felt so much in love. ‘The best thing is,’ I replied, ‘is that it never goes away.’ And it really doesn’t; it’s here for keeps.

dsc01892

Ratings. Babychanging facilities: Yes. Cafe: Yes, but no children’s menu. Buggy-friendly? Yes. Cost: Free. Worth it? Yes. There’s an under 5s play area, plus, at the moment, a good hands-on exhibition (Pop-Up) with activities for older kids.

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Milo, sporting a slightly garish, red-and-blue striped top, is legging it around the Whitworth. He is squealing in delight. The cause of his pleasure is the gallery itself: not so much the artworks hanging within but its wide-open spaces. To his tiny eyes, the polished wooden floor is a baby-friendly autobahn that he’s free to roar up and down as fast as he possibly can.

As we wander into the sunlit south gallery, Milo lets out an almighty scream. The people sitting on the nearby benches give a collective wince, and Simon hurriedly scoops Milo up and bustles him away.

‘Why d’you do that?’ I ask, but I know why.

Simon has a sense of shame; I lost mine around the time that half of Trafford General got a good look at Milo as he squirmed his way into the world.

We take Milo into a textiles exhibition, and he is temporarily entranced by the sight of an artwork that, laid out on the floor, is made up of hundreds of coloured buttons. His eyes goggle; his mouth falls open.
And then he runs towards it, chubby hands outstretched. I know what he’s thinking. He doesn’t want to look at the buttons. He wants to eat them.

I distract Milo by showing him another, safer (and wall-hung) artwork, but he’s more interested in the rope barrier in front of it, quickly working out that if he simply walks into the rope it will stretch and he’ll be able to reach the jewel-like artwork beyond.

So we move into the next room. On the wall hang square panels of fabric, lit from below by a bank of lights. Now, Milo has a bit of a thing for lights. And, assuming these lights will be covered, I let him waddle over to them while I look at the caption on the wall.

‘Er, no, no, don’t do that!’

The attendant rushes over. Simon, whose lightening reflexes are, frankly, suspicious, moves Milo away as the attendant points out that the lights are a) uncovered and b) very, very hot.

Sometimes, I am such a rubbish mother. Not only am I not at home baking cakes, I have almost allowed my son to destroy a rather lovely artwork. Oh, and hurt himself into the bargain.

So we head into the next gallery: Milo (happily), Simon (shamefully) and me (slovenly). Spotting a kids’ activity centre, I slump onto the adjacent beanbags in a post-lunch, pre-coffee stupor. Milo grabs an abacus, throws it onto the floor and runs off. As Simon and I listen to the sound of our son thundering harmlessly around the room, I realise Milo’s stripy top reminds me of something. If he only had darker hair, he’d be the spit of Dennis the Menace.

two-at-the-whitworth

Ratings. Babychanging facilities: Yes. Cafe: Yes, with children’s menu. Buggy-friendly? Yes. Cost: Free. Worth it? Yes. A decent number of activities for kids, including an Art Cart and dressing-up booths.

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