Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Plumpton on Thames - Why this mother loves her little part of London

Hello. I’m Mummy Plum.  This is my brand new blog and my first ever post.  You can read more about me on my aptly named ‘about me’ page. But in brief, the main protagonists of this continuing tale will be myself, Little Pip (2) and Big Daddy.  We live in an enclave of London continually filled with pre- and post partum women, a place I call Plumpton on Thames.

Plumpton is in a leafy part of London by the river.  A land of pavement café’s, independent children’s shops, an abundance of kiddy activity classes, mummies and mummies- to- be.  Three prams can be wheeled along the pavement here side by side, great for mothers cruising; but a chaos causer for normal pedestrians.  If you stroll along the main highway, plump, bump stroking, mums to be can be found in their droves.   Which is why I call it Plumpton.  People seem to be drawn here to have babies.   

We lived here for nine years before starting our family.  At that time it was just a convenient location to commute from, as well as a nice place to live. Little Pip was somewhere light years ahead of us, and had only been considered in moments of cosy, loved-up closeness in our tiny little flat, when we were sipping wine and bravely talking about ‘the future’.

For those nine years, we knew no-one here except the Dry Cleaner. And we only saw him once a week, (to collect clothes that is, not to be social.)  It didn’t seem to matter to us back then.  We had each other, thought nothing of traveling to the other side of the capital to see friends.  I can say in all honesty, we weren’t lonely at all.  We conceded it would be nice to know more people on our doorstep, but we were never bothered enough to get out there and do anything about it.

When we did eventually decide to start a family, Plumpton seemed the perfect place.  Then we found that the baby we longed for was not quite ready to come along yet. In fact, our baby didn’t come along for quite some time. The lovely place in which we lived somehow seemed to amplify the ache of childlessness, weekend after weekend seeing plump, bumps and smiling, expectant couples strolling along hand in hand.  I found myself wistfully gazing at small baby clothes in shop windows, or at the maternity section in Gap, silently bartering with some imagined fertility god;  “Let me have a baby and I promise to be a good, kind person, do charitable deeds and never waste frivolous amounts of money on designer jeans ever again.”  All I wanted was to wear those trousers with the HUGE elastic waistband.

There was a happy ending.  Little Pip (LP) was born in 2009, and I was at last able to join the ranks of Bugaboo pushing mothers along the main high street just as I had always imagined.  Actually, not quite.  No peaceful pushing and window shopping for me. LP hated his pram, and would scream constantly from the moment I put him in it, until the moment I took him out.  I spent most of my time carrying him in those first few months. Bugger. Boo. Yes, indeed.  At times it felt like a rather expensive shopping trolley.

Before LP’s birth the fact I knew no-one here started to bother me.  We had no family or friends on the doorstep. I started to worry that my slightly reserved self would become introverted without the world of work, that maybe I’d never speak to anyone again, in my life, ever.   I feared I’d be like a goldfish in a bowl, mindlessly pushing my pram around the same circuit day after day, and not even realizing it. I don’t think I even could comprehend at that stage, that my new baby would be great company, albeit, with limited conversational skills, and that babies are a free pass to start a conversation with pretty much anyone you like.

Two years on, life here is a hum drum of activity classes, swimming, trips to the park, playdates.  I have met many wonderful mum friends and thankfully have never once felt like a goldfish in a bowl (although I may have had the appearance of one after so many sleepless nights.) Since having LP, I love this place even more. Being here in Plumpton, this constant mecca of child friendly activity, has probably saved my sanity.   Motherhood has been a harder challenge than I ever expected, especially having a toddler whose batteries never seem to run down.  I’m thankful for the fact that I know so many mums within walking distance of my house, the numerous sets of swings, playgrounds and green open spaces; the 3 Surestart children’s centres in walking reach and the plethora of usual kiddy franchises for music, gym, dance, art and football. On frazzled days, it has made life bearable knowing we can leave the house, and for one hour or so, Little Pip can participate in some supervised activity that I do not need to be the sole provider of. 

Wooed by the idea of a bigger property, fresh air, and good state education, Big Daddy recently thought it might be a good idea if we moved to the country.  We lost our hearts to a huge, family house, overlooking an area of outstanding natural beauty. I was filled with emotion as I watched Little Pip running with joy around a garden bigger than any other he had ever encountered.  But in the end, I couldn’t do it.  The little lanes were so rucked that taking the buggy out would have been more an expedition than a walk. There were no neighbours. There wasn’t even a shop. Who would I talk to?  Would I find myself getting up extra early just so I could have human contact with the milkman?  I might go for days without seeing anyone at all except some woolly sheep.  And where would I get a decent Latte?  It was too far removed from everything I loved about London life.  So that was it – the future in town for us. 

It was at that point I realized living here has become part of my motherhood coping mechanism.  It isn't just the wide number of facilities and activities that Plumpton has to offer that appeals to me, it's also the fact that, after eleven years of living in this part of London, we finally know people here.  We have friends here.  We can now walk down the road and see people we know to say ‘hello’ to, (not just the dry cleaner.) Having Little Pip has made us feel part of a community.   Pre children, I didn’t think about it, and I certainly didn’t miss it, but now I have it, I don’t want to give it up.   Finally, our little piece of London feels like home.


  1. Welcome to blogging! I just started this week too, and haven't really got going yet - I saw you were a new blog so thought I'd pop over and I enjoyed reading your first entry!

  2. Hi Pictorial Mum. Thank you so much for your comment. I'm such a novice at this, I only just noticed I had a comment! (My first ever. Thank you! Will pop over and have a look at your blog now.

  3. HI welcome to the wonderful world of blogging,look forward to watching you grow,have joined your site, you can come see me at love these conventional first posts, mine was anything

  4. Hi - found you on Showoff Showcase. You sound like me, almost exactly the same story in a place so similar it could easily be Plumpton - what would a new mum do withough lattes for goodness sakes! Glad to have found you

  5. I think you should copyright "bugger. boo" - made me snigger muchly.

  6. Thanks for all the comments. As a newcomer - it's rather good to know that somebody is actually reading!

  7. I totally and utterly agree with you! We live in Primrose Hill, it's lovely and green and full of bugaboos. Yes, we all live in tiny shoeboxes that cost the same as a 3-4 bedroom house somewhere, but I can't bring myself to leave it. People keep telling me that I'll change my mind, maybe I will, who knows.