THE PARENTHOOD: BOW
The best views, coffee and family activities in E3 and E20…
Thinking of moving to east London? In the latest in our 'Parenthood' series, Bow blogger Celine Bell writes about being a parent in her area...
Landscape: To the east of London, Bow sits south of the huge expanse of Victoria Park, and to the west of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park. Both benefitted from generous funding before the Olympics and the benefits remain to this day. Quiet Victorian streets and modern tower blocks provide an urban and diverse landscape, reflected in the locals. Still in zone 2 of the London Underground, and on three tube lines and the DLR, Bow feels pretty central, but the multitude of green spaces justify pulling your wellies on at the weekend. Trendy Shoreditch isn’t far away, just jump on the No 8 bus and enjoy the colours of the saree shops and clothing market along the way. In the other direction you’ll find Westfield Stratford, home to shops, numerous cafés and restaurants, a cinema, play area and a bowling alley.
Hangouts: Hot summer days see kids splashing in the water play at the V&A playground in Victoria park, while the child-free sunbathe on the huge grassy stretches (lucky bastards). You can take a pedalo out on the boating lake or feed the swans from the side. The park is just as full in the winter, but with more parkas. Two cafes mean that kids can fulfill their babyccino needs while parents wake up on good caffeine. Pavilion wins hands down on the view, placed as it is right next door to the lake. Watch the mummy coots teach their fluffy chicks to swim and, as it opens at 8am, it is a lifesaver for anyone who has had an early start and needs to get out of the house.
Parental leave parents can choose from baby cinema screenings at Rich Mix or the Picturehouses in Stratford or Hackney.
Zealand Road café is small but manages to squeeze the prams in, and other cafés along the Roman Road offer variety and highchairs.
Exhaust the kids by cycling down Regents Park canal, refuel at Broadway Market then visit the pigs, chickens, donkeys and sheet at Hackney City Farm. Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park is a spacious and spooky area, with Forest School activities in holiday times to allow your kids to get mucky and learn lessons from nature experts.
Bow family events: On Saturdays, Roman Road Yard Market has a range of hot food, vintage curiosities and occasional children’s entertainment, and the Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday clothing market means you can grab a bargain to make your maternity leave pay stretch further. Chisenhale Art Space offers performances, exhibitions and weekly kids’ dance classes. The annual Roman Road summer festival hosts film, music, food and drink events, and there is a Christmas fair in the Yard Market for a spot of gift shopping and a visit to Santa’s grotto.
Parents: Bow parents come in all shapes and sizes here, mirroring the diversity of the area. Sporty parents run with their buggies down the canal, professionals who spend their weekdays being all corporate in nearby Canary Wharf or the City take the kids to soccer classes in the park. The high street offers a variety of small independent shops, adding to the community feel. The local NCT is very active in the area, with plenty of events for parents and kids to make friends.
Local celebrities: Idris Elba hangs out with his (very cute) son in the V&A playground, Robert Pattinson and his fiancée FCA Twigs live in nearby Hackney and have been seen cycling round the area, and Tinie Tempah lives on the smarter side of the park.
Instaparents: Angella Newell, co-founder of werkin and TantrumXYZ contributor Bell from Bow (that's me..) live locally, and Digital Mums was set up down the road in Hackney.
Kids’ classes in Bow: Daily free storytime sessions at the library are a godsend in the rain. Piccolo Singing, Music and Dancing gives toddlers a chance to learn nursery rhymes and shake a tambourine, and Kiddikicks and TryTime allow kids to decide between football and rugby from a young age. Tower Hamlets offers a first rate breastfeeding support service and the local SureStart Centres offer Stay and Play sessions and support for parents.
Mothers wear: Woollen knits, skinny denims and brogues.
Fathers wear: An excellent tattoo collection, vintage rock tees, slightly grubby jeans.
Kids wear: John Lewis, bargains from the sale rail of local luxury kids’ clothes store Jakks, Baby Gap, muddy knees.