I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey. A journey to places unknown to the working man and woman. A journey to places you forget exist during the week. I am, of course, talking about out of town retail parks, garden centres and parks. In fact, anywhere with a tea shop.
As unexciting as these places are, they are nevertheless full during the week as retirees, groups of people with learning disabilities and mothers with small children all seek distraction. You can’t be stuck in the house all day and there’s only so many times you can walk round the local park. Wandering round a new supermarket might be all there is to do on some days, especially when you’re on your own. It’s a scary thought.
With this in mind, I decided that E and I needed to do something that reflected the life I used to lead before she came along. So this week we ventured to the cinema. We’re lucky in Nottingham to have the Broadway cinema, a fabulous independent arty cinema with in-house food-serving bars, which I frequented as a childless sort (especially enjoying Staropramen on tap and their potato wedges…) Twice a month, during the day the Broadway offers baby-friendly screenings. The lighting is not quite as dark and the volume isn’t quite as loud as a normal screening, there are bean bags at the front and babies (and their parents) are welcome. All for £4.50 per adult.
Coincidentally, the film was in the same screen where S and I watched a film (Jane Eyre) the day we found out that I was pregnant. I whispered this to E but the romance of the situation was lost on her. She demanded food. The film was a surreal French farce called The Fairy and quite odd but it didn’t matter. E fed, spent a while staring at the lights and then fell asleep. I was tempted to nod off myself as we’d had a bit of a long night (incidentally, isn’t it so much easier to keep calm and cheerful with a baby in daylight?) but managed to stay awake.
Buoyed by the success of this, I headed out into the city centre for a spot of shopping, stopping in at Waterstone’s to see former colleagues and to feed E (again) in the travel section, planning a fantasy trip to San Francisco with the help of a nearby pop up map as I did so.
And finally to one of Nottingham’s many independent coffee shops. We have lots of these and I’ve been in most of them but since I was last in town a couple of new ones had opened. We stopped in at Hartley’s which came across as a very new venture being run by someone’s mum. I mean that in a good way – the staff were lovely to us both, making up my sandwich fresh, carrying it all over so I could maneouvre the pram and, most importantly, when I asked for a large Americano with no milk, FILLING THE MUG UP TO THE BRIM WITH COFFEE. A lot of other coffee shops give you half a cup of coffee and tough if you ask for a bit more to make up for no milk. Bless you all, Hartley’s staff!
This may not sound like the most exciting of days to you but to me it was quite a boost. Each time I go out with E, especially alone, it gets easier and I get more confident. It’s also really good to see how many people do help a lone mother with a baby – somehow I’d been led to believe that this wasn’t usually the case.