More of a sail than a perambulation, but this made for a fun and interesting experience for Lily and I.
I was very pleasantly surprised to find how straightforward and accessible it was to take a boat on the Thames with Lily in her perambulator. We travelled from Tower Bridge Pier to Westminster.
There are ramps from the street right up to and across the doorway of the clipper boats so no lifting was required. Once on board there was space at the front of the clipper for Lily in her pram. She could have very happily stayed in her pram for the duration of the journey, which lasted around 20 minutes or so. However, I took her out of her pram and sat her on my knee so I could give her a bottle and provide her with a better view out of the window.
There is a little shop on board selling snacks and coffee, which was nice. There are toilets on-board, but baby -changing facilities are only available on the larger vessels. We didn’t use them so I can’t comment on cleanliness, quality or range of facilities I am afraid. It was only a 20 minute journey.
Once at Westminster Pier, again, there were ramps taking you from the boat all the way to the footpath on the Victoria Embankment. From there you can find step free access if you turn right and travel towards Embankment, however, you will come across quite a steep set of stairs if you turn left and head towards The Palace of Westminster.
This perambulation lasted around 35 minutes as we did wait a while for the boat to arrive. They do have a timetable online and at each pier so time could have been saved with better research and coordination. The Thames Clipper cost £7 if you pay with your Oyster Card or contactless credit or debit card. There was no charge for Lily.
This was a nice little perambulation, and there are step free tube stations at both Tower Hill and Westminster.
Changing facilities – unknown
Baby feeding facilities (including seating) ****
Enjoyable Perambulation ****
Today to the Dior exhibition at the V&A – hottest museum ticket in town.
First of all it is important to say that the V&A is very good in terms of level access. There are a number of lifts at both entrances of the Museum and near the large staircase at the back right hand-side section as well (near the Cast Courts). This is particularly useful if you want to visit one or two galleries, but avoid other, busier areas. The museum also has plenty of ramps which are useful, but more particularly for a museum of design – they are really beautiful and make a genuinely valid contribution to the aesthetic of the architecture. Well done V&A.
This exhibition was very beautiful both in terms of the collections on display and the display techniques used. Thought, design and investment have clearly gone in to the installation of this show and the lighting, room dressing and decoration made an exciting contribution to setting the mood of the House of Dior. I could review this exhibition in far more detail, but I must confine my comments and limit my focus to include only how the exhibition and the museum worked for Lily and I during our perambulation.
The Dior exhibition is beautifully lit and includes some music and movement in the second to last room. Lily is really stimulated by museum lighting, particularly moving light and light that casts interesting shadows. This was plentiful in the “garden room”. Bold and successful use of colour could also be found in a number of rooms, which I think made a strong impression on all visitors big and tiny. There is very little seating in the gallery, which was unfortunate. We did linger and had the opportunity to take a closer look at displays that had seating nearby.
The Dior exhibition sold out many months ago and so must have been at capacity during our visit. Tickets are timed and there was a medium sized queue to get in. Having said this, there was still plenty of room to move around the exhibition with Lily and her pram plenty of opportunity to look at key pieces up close and in detail and also space to stand back and admire the rooms and the objects from a distance. This is a one-way exhibition layout of sequential rooms so once you are in it is hard (impossible?) to leave quickly or easily should you need to. This may be an issue had Lily needed some space, a nappy change or a cuddle. On this occasion she was happy to watch from her pram, or from my arms. As we left the exhibition we were informed that the lift was now broken. Happily there was already a plan in place and two front-of-house staff had been positioned to guide us to a service lift, which was very near. I didn’t mind one bit seeing the less decorated “behind the scenes” staff area in order to access the lift. We felt really “looked after” that the team had found the problem and arranged a solution so swiftly.
Back to the V&A in general. The bathrooms and changing facilities were clean, plentiful and again, design led. There were unisex changing facilities in a disabled access loo and a pull-down changing table in the sink area of the ladies (sorry I can’t comment about the gent, but I hope they had a baby changing table too.)
A successful and enjoyable visit for both of us. We stayed for 2.5 hours and travelled to the museum by taxi because I couldn’t easily find the nearest step free tube station and wanted to arrive feeling calm and looking neat.
Changing facilities ****
Baby feeding facilities (including seating) **
Enjoyable Perambulation *****
An excellent perambulation – suitable for all weathers and very straightforward with a pram.
The museum is set out chronologically, but knowing my time limit and conscious of Lily’s temperament on the day I deliberately skipped the eras I am personally less interested in. It is possible to take short cuts and miss out sections by using the walkways to the left or right of the exhibits. The museum forms part of the Barbican complex, 1960s architecture, and is ideally suited to perambulating with a baby – plenty of lifts and ramps and space. There is well constructed and sympathetically achieved level access throughout. The museum is free to enter and there are lockers – £1 charge – that can store belongings you don’t want to take into the museum with you.
Lily was really happy to see the shapes and lighting in the Pleasure Garden exhibit, to be found in the eighteenth century section. There are stars on the ceiling, benches to sit on, music and lots for her to look at. There are a number of really interesting places across the museum where you can have a sit, think about the realities of living in that era and see different and unusual sights. This is a really nice way to break up your perambulation, have a rest and feed your baby or give him or her an opportunity to have a crawl or cuddle while remaining submerged in your century of choice. The front of house staff were particularly chatty, helpful and encouraging – they seemed to really like having babies to visit.
If you want to take some time out or give your baby some space there is also the opportunity to do this. There are two cafes, lots of bench space outside of the exhibits and there are a lot of windows with interesting views to look at – so many museums have no windows and I know natural daylight can bleach and damage collections, but it wonderful that the MOL have overcome these difficulties.
Baby changing facilities are ok. They have pull down changing tables in disabled access loos on the ground floor and lower ground floor. We travelled to the museum by car because my husband happened to be driving past on his way to work. If this wasn’t the case we would probably have taken the tube to either Blackfriars or Liverpool Street tube stations. It is possible in the cold February wind that I may have taken a black cab from the station to the museum.
Changing facilities ***
Baby feeding facilities (including seating) ****
Enjoyable Perambulation ****