WHAT'S AVAILABLE FOR KIDS TO DO AT BATTERSEA POWER STATION?
By Jodi Bartle
As a confirmed North-of-the-River kind of family, the idea of spending all day with two kids at the hulking Battersea Power Station seemed a bit of an alien concept.
But it’s a cracker down there; there’s a new developed space filled with kid-friendly events, stylish restaurants, gorgeous little pop-up shops and hardy, interactive places for kids to run around and explore.
There will be many more openings into the new year and the space is set to grow, offering families so much more than the windy, concreted riverside walk on the way to somewhere better, which is what I thought it would be.
As a Battersea Power Station new convert, I stand thoroughly corrected.
We started the day with a Christmas-themed session with Sharky & George - kids’ entertainers whose USP is that they look and feel like cool older brothers who are having as much fun as the kids are themselves. Alex and Andy won my 7 and 9 year old boys over immediately, dazzling them with energy, jokes, a constant stream of chatter and a slightly haphazard crafting session involving a lot of icing, sweets and ice cream cones. It was messy, it was sugary, it was brilliant.
After a little interlude involving bubbles and stories, Alex and Andy went for another round of Christmas decorating, this time encouraging the kids to make jazzy Christmas jumpers out of biscuits and, again, a lot of icing and sweets. It was a total triumph of stickiness, noise, and uneven blood sugar levels. My boys left feeling delighted with themselves, clutching their biscuits and buoyed up by exposure to Cool Older Boy Alpha Male Greatness, even if it was only for an hour or two.
A little hungry for protein, we got to No.9 Power Station West - a large, glass-fronted restaurant overlooking the Thames - through a very festive-looking twinkling tunnel filled with pop-up shops and other great-looking places to eat. No.9’s interior has an airy, stylish, eclectic look; all high ceilings and windows with a muted New York loft kind of palette, with industrial furnishings set against deep velvety banquettes - the sort of place you would move into, if only you could.
The vast space absorbed my wired kids, as they squirmed and wriggled around on curving teal cushioned seats, and the staff were so kind as to throw colouring pens and books my way once I asked, as well as plugging my phone into their charger as soon as I realised things were getting empty.
Stomachs too - but we ordered breakfast burgers, fries, the house lemonade, eggs benedict for me and a round of excellent desserts to finish. There is a reasonably priced kids’ menu which includes dessert which kept my two happy, and a very impressive brunch and all day dining menu.
The food was great - the kids’ burgers were in glossy brioche buns, the avocado smash was lemony and fiery, the fries salty and piping hot and the hollandaise sauce properly thick and a little garlicky. Crucially, the coffee was good. The staff were completely cool about the kids and nothing was too much trouble - in fact, we could have probably stayed and had a sneaky nap in our luxe booth such was the cosiness and relaxedness of No.9 - but we had a river bus to catch.
A minute’s walk or child’s slightly longer meandering dash away from the restaurant was the dock of the half-hourly Thames Clipper, a smart, efficient and (important on that day) warm boat that took us on a scenic tour from Battersea to the Tower Bridge.
It raced along the Thames and allowed us to get a totally unique viewpoint of all the usual London sights - from the water, way down below. The Clipper docked frequently, bringing in a load more people or letting a load off, which was good, because my kids were being a little bit annoying and wouldn’t sit down for long and leading to a few Death Stares from people who wouldn’t have minded a quieter cruise.
I took the boys out the back of the boat where they could watch the rushing, brackish, foaming water stream behind us, under the shadow of the Thames bridges to keep them from jumping on the seats. It was cold, but cool, and they loved it.
We docked back in Battersea under the looming smokestacks of the Power Station and found our way back to the north side of the river via an interactive kid-friendly playing area and a walk in the dark over the Chelsea Bridge.
It was a fantastically fun day for all of us, and we are most certainly coming back for a little more of whatever Battersea Power Station has to offer. Watch this space.