On any weekend I stay clear of Stratford. I associate it with Westfield and of course come the weekend the shopping centre is just heaving with people, and visiting becomes a tedious experience with children. Even if it’s just for lunch. If you’ve ever been yourself at a weekend you’ll know what I mean.
However a few minutes walk away from the shopping centre you’ll find East Village London, the former Olympic athletes village for the 2012 games.
There are lots of pedestrian signs to help you navigate your way there. Or you can park for free just off of Sunrise Close after 10.30am.
On a Sunday this little hidden gem in London is bustling with activity that’ll not only keep you entertained, but it’s also somewhere perfect to bring the kids. It’s the perfect parent’s playground.
That’s a win win situation.
In the mornings CBeebies (the holy grail of parenting) is played on a large big screen, making it the perfect time to grab a takeaway coffee from one of the independent cafes. Chilling-out outdoors is by far a better Sunday morning ritual than the monotony of being at home… again.
With a DJ spinning tunes, wandering around the market brings a festival like familiarity. You can relax back into one of the many large bean bags strewn across the bank just behind the market set up and watch as the traders start to display their wares. Or make sure you’re first in line for some fresh Vietnamese street food.
In the distance you can see Stratford’s skyline slowly being built up, which is the reminder that you’re still in the city. But in yourself you’ll feel a million miles away.
With costumed characters wandering around the kids will be excitedly looking out for what they’ll see next.
There are multiple ping-pong tables to be played on, and large floor games for any age to enjoy.
Yes these are all free things that are available for you and your kids every Sunday at East Village Market.
The most exciting part of our recent visit to the East Village was being able to absorb ourselves in the story of Hobgrumble Joe of the Waterglades.
We picked up a free family story map and set off on an adventure around the water glades trying to search for the swamp troll created by Anja Phoenix.
We were lucky that we had Anja with us to bring the story to life for the little adventurers, but the map itself is full of information, hand drawn illustrations and the story of Hobgrumble Joe, that any parent would be able to create the same excitement for their own children.
It’s the perfect way to get your children enjoying the outdoors whilst having fun and it not costing a penny.
Well that is unless you’re tempted into one of the many restaurants or cafes in the area… and I wouldn’t blame you.
Signorelli, which is where you can pick up the free story map serves the most beautiful nutritious baked goods and perfect coffees.
Or to treat the kids and yourselves after doing the Hobgrumble Joe trail, head to award-winning LaGelatiera. With gelato and sorbet flavours changing with the season you’ll have an excuse to frequent it… you must try their honey, rosemary and orange zest gelato.
The area is beautiful, and there’s so much to do and explore- much more than I’ve even managed to say or see myself. If you find yourselves with a free Sunday I highly recommend taking a trip on the central or Jubilee line to visit for the day. It’s certainly worth it and should be a highlight on the map of free things to do with your children in London.