Family Life London Life Wellbeing

A Summer afternoon on Southbank and Tate Modern Visit in May 2024

By Elizabeth Papalia,

Today was a good day.

Journey to Waterloo

While Duncan slept off his night shift, Gabriel, Mathilda and I headed off on the train to Waterloo on a little adventure. We caught the 12:29pm train which actually arrived at 12:31pm – no issue there.

After we left the house, I had a feeling that we had just missed a train, so after seeing when the next train was coming in twenty-five minutes rather than head back home to nip to the loo, we struggled over the train bridge. Struggled because I have to carry the pram over…

Coop Meal Deal

And then, after using the facilities at the local GP we popped to Coop and bought a meal deal. Gabriel loves his prawn sandwiches at the moment, and has watermelon chunks for the snack option and gets an apple juice to wash it down. I got a dairy free spicy chicken wrap with kimchi mixed in too, a scotch egg and a Fanta fruit twist. As back up nibbles I bought two £1.15 boxes of mixed nuts too. We sat at the station with about 10 minutes to go – perfect.

Already a bit peckish, Gabriel ate most of one of his prawn sandwiches and I noshed down my scotch egg: we both had a swig of our meal deal drinks. After that Gabriel enjoyed pottering around the platform and taking lunges across the yellow line while keeping an eye out for our train. He chatters quite loudly, purposefully, so that people around him could potentially be drawn into conversation with him. During this time, Mathilda was drifting in and out of sleep as she was tired but a bit unsettled.

Once the train came, we hopped on with the aid of another lady who was wearing lovely green linen trousers, green barefoot feet wraps – can’t call them shoes – and a loose floral shirt. She had a pale complexion and long copper hair that was a bit on the wild side of done.

The journey in was a bit of a blur, except I do remember a couple of young guys sitting near us talking about how odd it is that a woman asked for tips on how to get to the right platform at Clapham Junction so that she could end up a Streatham Common. They wondered how people coped before smart phones and Google. I resisted contributing my thoughts and focused on enjoying watching Mathilda soak up the world around us while continuing to subtly eavesdrop on the conversation in between Gabriel’s verbiage. Then when we finally arrived at Waterloo I got off backwards with the pram and Gabriel contemplated joining me and exiting backwards. I quickly encouraged him to face forwards.

Lost Changing Bag

Then the search began. About a month ago, on the way back from Mathilda’s first hospital check-up, at the Evelina Children’s Hospital Heart Clinic, since her operation on the 20th of February where she was based in Sky Ward. So on the train, Gabriel asked Duncan to put the changing bag up on the train shelf above the seats. As a family, we promptly left it there along with about ten of Gabriel’s favourite hot wheels cars (I’ve added a link to his favourite hot wheels YouTube channel: GHOSTJERKERS). Two days after that, I figured out how to make a lost property inquiry at and did it. Then about one day later we got a response saying that they thought they had found our bag. Whoo hoo.

Quick note about our bag. It is a German brand called Lassig and is made of recycled plastic bags. I like it because it is a sturdy backpack with good pockets and inner compartments. When Duncan realised that we had lost it he was a bit defeatist about it, which irked me and I told him so. I had spent hours choosing that changing bag make and was very pleased with the decision.

The day after or so, Duncan came back from Sainsburys with about thirteen new hot wheels cars to make up for the lost ones. To buy another one would have cost us about £60. Meh not particularly keen on spending that at the moment when the same bag could have been waiting in lost property. Anyway, after losing it I re-discovered the make on Amazon and sent a screenshot of it into the enquiry form, along with mentioning that it would have two sizes of nappies: 2 & 7, along with outfits for the respective nappy owners and a bunch of hot wheels cars.

Back to today. An information helper person told us that we needed to take exit number 2, go past Mac Donald’s, take the lift downstairs, go outside past Greggs and then take a right and head over to the Lost Property office. He said, “Good luck”.

Once we arrived, long story short – but we got it. Yes!

Then we picked out two hot wheels cars for Gabriel to hold. Then we took the back streets down to Gabriel’s Warf and walked through there to the river bank. In one of the back streets Gabriel spotted a pretty snazzy sports car, McLaren, with a toddler car seat in the front passenger seat.

He was very impressed and interested to know that that could be an option. And saw a good slope along the external body of the car that he could ride his cars on.

Gabriel’s Warf

On the other side of Gabriel’s Warf, we peeked over into the river and saw a man creating a sand sculpture on the little beach area that was there. By that time, Mathilda needed a feed. So, I was happy to let Gabriel head down the steps and play on the beach with sticks and pebbles.

He did that for about 20 minutes and then we headed over to a grassy area just a few meters away where I fed Mathilda while Gabriel finished his first prawn sandwich and ate his watermelon. One fun thing to watch while there, were two men working a cherry picker machine and fitting lights to some trees there. There was also a lot of pigeons around for Gabriel to shout at.

OXO Tower

I fed Mathilda and contentedly watched Gabriel explore. Then I realised that our girl needed a nappy change. So we walked on to the Oxo Tower and Gabriel convinced me to lug the pram up a few steps onto the fenced jetty for a perspective of the water.

It was nice enough, except for the quiet panic that I feel when watching Gabriel climbing the fence and leaning over the water. We headed back onto the main walk soon and popped into Café Nero to use their loos. Filthy. Useful to have but gross. He needed a wee, I went too and I changed Mathilda in her pram as it was all just a bit gross. Gabriel washed his hands twice because he touched stuff in there that he shouldn’t have. A few doors down we went into Suckuk, which is a fun little shop of funky bits and bobs.

Then it temptingly leads into another shop of bits and bobs… including lots of tricky puzzles, activity & conversation cards, teddies, mugs, stationary, umbrellas, bath bombs and more. We left without buying anything. Winning!

Then we kept walking down and Gabriel started mentioning food again. I was tempted to stop in the pub that is by the river and just near Tate Modern. However, it didn’t have the right vibe for me today. So as we approached Tate Modern I noticed a new café that I hadn’t seen before.

The Corner

The Corner Café. Inside I liked the look as it had a good range of seating choices and a fenced off outside section. I was pretty thirsty then so I asked what size their mugs were. Initially I was a bit disappointed by them, however after some discussion I realised I could have a pot of earl grey tea and an extra pot of hot water to top up the earl grey tea pot. Then I got a babycino for Gabriel for free and enjoyed getting two brown sugar cubes for my tea.

There were three dairy free cake options, but they looked too decorative than filling to me. So, I didn’t buy any nibbles. However, we cracked open the box of nuts and ate through that. Mathilda slept half the time and then woke up but was fairly happy.

Very happy with my tea, that I had with oat milk on the side, we packed up. My tea cost £3.10 and was well worth it. The sandwiches were about £10 and though I didn’t have one, they looked pretty substantial and tasty. There is also a fridge full of kid friendly cubed fruit, yogurt, Joose and other bits.


We headed into the Tate Modern and were helped by a friendly member of staff as I got my bearings and prepared to try and enjoy some art.

As I headed to the lift, I passed my Uncle Russell. He looked well. Dressed in his preferred vintage look complete with striped trousers, braces and a trilby hat. He was with a nice-looking lady who had short blue hair and they had met recently at the Colour Walk. I wanted to go to the Colour Walk years ago, but hadn’t due to the exhausting full time teaching job I had had and then having young children. The Colour Walk is a wonderful initiative for people who love to wear bright colours. It’s like a walking, joyful rainbow and is a great way to meet friendly, open people: and people in the fashion and creative world. So, after exchanging a few pleasantries and sharing a couple of pecks on the cheek we went on our way.

Taking the lift to the second floor was our start. As we entered the first circuit, I was reminded to give Gabriel clear boundaries about how to approach the art. This was after he leant against a wall and tripped the alarm by pushing the white cord that protects much of the art in there. He was so sweet about it. I highlighted that it is to keep the art safe and to let us come close but not to touch. And reminded him that we can look at the pictures and art and think about the colours and shapes etc…  

He then enjoyed showing me how well he could respect the white cord by standing in front of it, feet together in his little scuffed blue shoes, purposely on odd feet, about a foot away from the cord: “Like this mummy? Look!”

“Yes darling, well done. That is a great way to stand in front of the pictures.”

Mathilda eyeballed the artistic environment from her back. About eight rooms later a small man rushed over and told me that Gabriel couldn’t touch the glass. You know the thick glass that surrounds some of the smaller sculptures. I said “ok”, and then informed Gabriel. There were a couple of side rooms that we skirted around as they had sexual content or war violence… and other than that the second floor was a lovely experience.

However, after that it was time for Mathilda to have another feed. So initially I thought I would give her a feed on an armchair overlooking the huge centre area, but they were mostly busy and Gabriel would have had a limited amount of space to chill out and play without me craning my neck to see where he was every few minutes. So, I decided to head down to the family area on the ground floor. It was the right thing to do. I fed Mathilda and Gabriel played with his cars, about eight of them. I use a nursing cover (link shows a very similar one can’t remember if it is the exact one) in these sorts of situations as it reduces self-consciousness about giving people an eye full. The one I use has a structured arch that can be used to provide a viewer, and it is lightweight and not clingy.   

During that time, Gabriel was thoroughly complimented on his name by a staff member who is half Spanish and is called Lukas, and by an Italian lady who has a son called Mattia (don’t quote me on the spelling). They then played a bit of cars with Gabriel and then got absorbed in an intense chat with one another, about five staff members discussing how Lukas looked like a super hero. They also kept asking Gabriel which was his favourite super hero. He only really knows about Batman and Superman so far: I told them that he couldn’t really make an informed decision.

After about half an hour I needed to change Mathilda who was actually damp. I put the timer on for two minutes and as they team started packing up the family area, they played a little, more cars with Gabriel. Then we headed to the changing room for Mathilda’s nappy. Unfortunately, there is no toilet in the changing room so Mathilda had a full change of clothes and then we had to head out and que for an accessible toilet. The changing room is large and has a big arm chair in there too.

The toilet was clean and we sorted ourselves out quickly. Then headed off to the train station after putting Gabriel on my back using a baby carrier for older children. The entrance to the Tate Modern was a bit different and there were a lot of black barriers up, with people on the other side who looked like fans. I asked a couple of young ladies there what was going on. They told me that there was going to be a Gucci Fashion show that evening at the Tate so they were waiting for the celebrities. It was half five, and the show was going to start at about eight pm. I laughed and said that that was an interesting thing to wait for.

(Gabriel took the photo above and even took steps backwards to fit the whole canvas into the shot. He’s very interested in photography.)

Home Time

Off we went. Walking briskly to the station. Popped into M&S for some grapes and potato sticks. And caught the 18.07 train to Twickenham. We got off at Chiswick and were home by about 18.45 and enjoyed dinner cooked by Daddy. Breaded fish, broccoli, potatoes, sweetcorn, sautéed courgette. Yum. Gabriel was asleep by 20.15pm and so was Mathilda.

Duncan headed off to work by about 20.25.

And here I am writing this in the lounge, in the company of Dexter, Haribo Soda Twists, Potato Sticks and a pint of blackcurrant squash.          

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