A limp cheese sandwich and a public pee

September 3, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Posted in Daily Life | 7 Comments
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I open the car door as far as it will go and step out in the expanse of space, saunter to the boot, put the buggy up and park it next to the car.  I swing the bear out and into his seat and we make the short walk from the mother and baby spaces to the lift.  The lift is light and bright, we press the button and head to the shops.

Typical as typical can be, we need a nappy change almost immediately but no problemo, a short trip up to the baby change in the nearest department store and we’re sorted.  We take advantage of the complimentary nappies and wipes, and I spend a penny quickly in the cubicle within the baby changing room.  There is plenty of room for Grandma to wait on the chair by the fresh flowers.

A few wide aisled shops later, with happy chatty shop assistants who contribute to entertaining the bear while we pay, and we’re ready for lunch.

We head to a department store we know and like, and choose a nice table by the window to people watch.  Plenty of space to park up the buggy, and a high chair arrives from a helpful staff member.

We choose fresh whole grain sandwiches with a variety of fillings for me, Grandma and the bear (who takes a mini sandwich selection from the kiddies section), as well as sticky cakes and cups of tea, with a smoothie for the bear.

What a lovely day.

Hold up, hold up….. (as they say in rap type songs before they reeee-wind).

Now I live in Oxford, and I don’t know about your home town, but this certainly isn’t a picture of my average shopping trip.

The car park has no mother and baby parking.  I usually scrape the door on a pillar as I try to get the bear out.  Once I had to get the car seat out and place it on the floor, then park the car after failing to get him out from a miniscule space.  And the lift stinks of wee.

Baby changing facilities are grotty and never have a toilet in them, so if you’re alone and need to go, you either have to cross your legs or go with the door ajar so you can see the baby.

When we stop for lunch, I balance my son on my knee while we try to eat.  Although large, the eatery we’ve chosen only has a small number of highchairs, all of which are taken.

Now, the main reason for this post – children’s food options in department stores.  Ooh yes I’d like the crayfish and rocket on rye please, and yes of course my son would be very happy with the limp cardboard white bread and processed cheese sandwich.  A meal deal you say?  Great – a carton of bright e-number filled orange juice and a packet of Cheddars, perfect.

Not convinced…

Why is it that these places assume that children won’t eat anything you eat? Granted we’re pretty lucky that the bear is ruled by his stomach and has a very wide appreciation of all things edible, but come on – a little variety wouldn’t go a miss.

What are the general child/baby facilities like in your home town?  I feel a petition coming on!!!!

By the way, the department store we ate in was Marks & Spencer.  They really ought to know better.  However I should add that I forget now what the accompaniments to the floppy sandwich were, but they weren’t especially inspiring.

I’d also like to add that the best child-friendly restaurant we’ve found is ASK – good kids menu, colouring book and stickers for entertainment and no frowny looks from the staff when olives start being hurled around.

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7 Comments »

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  1. I find that most places cater for kids. There are a few odd looks when they make a mess but we are quite lucky. In our shopping centre they have a food court with a wide range from sandwich, fast food, italian to crepe places. We too are luck that our boys aren’t particularly fussy. The baby change are quite good too but my issue is what do you do with the buggy and two children when you need to piddle? I can’t take the buggy in and how to do carry a baby and a toddler while you piddle? Great post. x

  2. We have always had pretty good experiences with the boys, but… I used to carry round a handysitt on the bottom on the buggy (as we always needed two hair chairs). Also the boys eat what I do and when we were weaning them, I had a masher thing and a tub and I used that. If we go to M&S they have a jacket potato or soup and a role. They will drink milk or tap water and that is fine by me. I also always found that if you parked in a park far away then it was easier to get the boys out of the car. I don’t need to be close to the shops, just to have the space to take the boys out of each side of the car.

  3. Good to hear your experiences ladies! I think if you have good eaters it’s far easier as you can just buy an adult meal, even if it’s too big and you end up finishing it!
    I think when it comes to children’s meal options it would just be a refreshing change to see nice wholesome mini versions of the main selection/menu. If there is a great ploughmans sandwich, why not do little ones or even just half size packs for kids?

  4. Hey, just thought I would mention a recent experience I had. I went to an event recently with Molly (20 months old now) and the meal served for the adults was lovely, very healthy. I looked around waiting for the mini sized version to come for Molly, and was faced with a plate of fried chicken nuggets and chips……….and a fruit shoot. I echo your thoughts that it is frustrating that people assume children would prefer this as opposed to a mini version of what adults eat. xx

  5. The limp sandwich thing drives me mad too – I am so with you! And the toilet/baby changing is always such a nightmare. I always use a disabled toilet for myself – so that I can take the pushchair and toddler in there with me. Although you are usually faced with lots of tutting when you come back out again! But tough I say!

    • I went into Oxford yesterday and low and behold they’ve marked out loads of mother and baby spaces – must rant more often!!

  6. It seems no sooner did I mention the parking in Oxford, and we now have mother and baby parking!
    http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/sport/omboysleague/archive/2009_2010/2010/09/22/Oxford+news+%28om_oxfordnews%29/8405027.Family_parking_bays_to_draw_Westgate_shoppers/

    It also seems that it’s quite a touchy subject – oops for calling it mother and baby NOT parent and baby parking – does it really matter?! If you can get in and out of your car with a child, who cares what it’s called.
    And yes it does smell of wee, but if they’ve improved the parking maybe they’ll work on that next!!


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