‘Ok! Starter for ten. Name six places to take the kids when it’s raining.’
‘Cinema. As Kevin Marwick of Uckfield Picture House says, “If it rains, they will come.”’
‘We’ve already seen Cars 2 and Horrid Henry. That’s four hours of my life I won’t get back.’
‘Swimming pool. Soft play at the swimming pool. Um.’
‘I’m going to have to hurry you.’
‘Oh god. Brighton Museum. Tescos.’
‘Sorry, was getting a bit desperate.’
We were all a bit desperate. Halfway through the school holidays, and my Weatherpro app said the percentage likelihood of rain was 110%. Clearly my phone had watched too much Apprentice.
‘Spring Barn Farm’s got some indoor bits.’
‘Baxter’s Field has big sheltery trees.’
‘Let’s face it,’ sighed Honesty Girl, taking a long drag of her hookah, ‘It’s challenge enough to find forty-two days’ worth of things to do in the sunshine. But in the rain, fuggedaboutit.’
‘Last summer we used up three blinking days in Churchill Square,’ said Sweary Mary. ‘I spent £200 in flipping Build-a-Bear.’
‘Cooking is the answer,’ said Nigella, who had recently moved to Lewes. ‘Morning – get them to bake healthy orange muffins for lunch. Afternoon, chocolate muffins for tea.’
‘Are you trying to shift a muffin-case surplus?’
‘Then let them make sandwiches for supper while you relax with a gin sling.’
‘Now you’re talking lady.’
‘Pay them two quid to clear up and that’s another rainy day sorted.’
We looked at our busty new friend with respect.
‘I find technology is terribly useful for these indoor situations,’ said Hoxton Mum. ‘We make little animated movies on Lysander’s iPad.’
Those of us for whom ‘technology’ meant letting our children play Moshi Monsters all day stared at our toes.
‘I need somewhere new,’ said Sweary Mary. ‘I’ve been every-blimming-where. You know those jackass parenting gurus who say it’s healthy for kids to be bored? I need their damn phone numbers.’
I looked round at my friends’ fraught faces, and made a decision.
‘Okay, I’m going to reveal my secret weapon.’
‘I knew there was a secret weapon,’ cried Honesty Girl happily.
‘Trading Boundaries near Sheffield Park.’
‘But that’s a furniture shop!’
‘Yes - it can certainly fulfil all your dreams of Mexican-inspired wardrobes. But it’s so much more.’ I ticked off its delights on my fingers. ‘Toy shop. Cool restaurant with Etch-a-Sketches on the tables. Veritable warren of rooms to explore. Tolerant staff. And a playground, in case it ever stops raining.’
‘Are you on commission?’
‘We’ve been there four times already these hols and the children are begging to go again.’
Honesty Girl looked out of the window. ‘Quick! It’s stopped raining.’
We scooped up our television-watching children and yanked them, protesting, to participate in improving outdoor activities. When we needed it, Trading Boundaries would still be there.
Beth Miller, 10th August 2011. Published in VivaLewes.com. Photo by Alex Leith