The crawling and cruising stage has already been quite long for us, and it looks like it’s staying around for the summer. Sometimes I’ve found it quite hard to think of places to go and just let Tibbs ‘be’, without facing the challenges of more mobile older children or the usual risky things that babies are drawn to like magnets. They do seem to love a park bench area strewn with fag buts and glass, concrete stairs and revolving doors, don’t they?
So, for anyone in the same boat, here’s my favourite places to take a crawling or cruising baby in Bristol. Be warned though – if you’re a dirty hands and knees phobic, some of these aren’t for you! Also, it goes without saying that most of these are more fun at quiet times, like early mornings and weekdays.
Colston Hall, main foyer.
Look at it! Huge swathes of lovely swooshy floor! Little leather cube seats to pull up on! Small raised stage to aim for! And very, very decent baby friendly food in the cafe in the corner. This is my top pick.
The fountain area, The Mall, Cribbs Causeway
So, John Lewis doesn’t open till 10am but the Mall opens a lot earlier. Get there at 9ish, get a parking space, get a coffee, and the baby can totter around the edge of this bad boy, unable to fall in until they can heave themselves over the edge (so depends on the size and ability of your baby of course) and then patter about on the shiny marble floor. Yes, this one not so good on busy days. But ideal for killing time until JL opens (I enjoyed joining the gathered crowd of outraged retirees and new mums literally limboing to get under the security doors at opening time)
Millennium Square fountains and open space, town centre
Quite an obvious one unless you are keen on totally clean or very new to Bristol, but this place is absolutely joyous on a hot day. Watching all the children unable to resist playing in the water is just fab. There’s no reason why on a quiet time a crawling baby can’t watch from the shiny, flat tiled areas, or join in a bit if supervised. Having spent my own hen do there, I’d avoid Saturday afternoons though!
Tyntesfield, lawns and parkland
I know it’s National Trust, and if you’re not a member that means stumping up to enable the baby to stump about, but I promise you, you won’t regret it. An entire day exploring the lovely lawns and gardens, totally dog mess and litter free, with plenty of cows and deer to look at. Can’t go wrong with that. If there’s anywhere to take the visiting Grandparents to show them what junior can do, this is it.
Bristol Central Library – Children’s section
Surely the ONLY library in the country with a pirate ship in the middle of it, which has multiple cruising functionality. There’s row upon row of books to pull out and throw on the floor (I think you might have to put them back though). There’s friendly staff. And the best bit – THERE’S A REALLY GOOD RHYMETIME ON A SATURDAY MORNING. Yes, Mums, you can now inflict rhymetime on your partners on a weekend and there’s no excuse not to go!
The picture here is of the amazing Book Hive celebrating 400 years of public libraries in Bristol. Also worth cruising down to.
Atrium Cafe, Arnos Vale
Lush coffee in a beautiful setting for you. Nice large flat space with pull up opportunities on the many ledges and chairs for them. Dogs to pat, really friendly mums to chat to, nice staff and changing facilities too. Ideal. Also cannot be beaten for a ‘challenging’ buggy walk – you’ll have buns of steel after two visits.