Mezzanine Level, National Maritime Museum
Last week I promised Pram-o-philes somewhere where you can easily manoeuvre a pushchair, meet up with other parents and spread out, knowing your little bundle of joy is absolutely safe. And here it is. Despite its being on the first floor, Paul at the NMM is a parent’s paradise.
The mezzanine is a wide, virtually empty area that for some time has puzzled me as to its purpose, its exhibit-to-available-space ratio being – well – sparse.
But whatever the failure to put much to actually look at in this part of the museum, this area provides a perfect spread-out space for your entire post-natal group to ascend the great glass elevator and meet, whatever the weather, in a bright, dry environment with halfway decent coffee, slightly overpriced sweet-treats and no sharp edges.
Service on the day I went was, frankly, hap-hazard, probably a combination of busy-ness and, perhaps, a bit of a language issue. I had a cup of coffee, which they got right second time around, and a half-warmed-through quiche which tasted perfectly fine if a little undecided as to whether or not it should have been reheated. Although this is Paul, and therefore never generally a bad option, the very fact that the chain seems to be becoming as ubiquitous as Starbucks has seen service slip since the cafe’s finding its way to our shores.
I was the sole lone-customer on the day I went. There was one other group – some bemused French tourists – but everyone else seemed to be part of one of several baby/toddler get-togethers. I wondered whether by the end of the day, they would have formed one huge posse, but I confess that it was all a little bit much for me (besides – staying would have run the risk of my looking like some dodgy pervert hanging round. It’s the cloak and mask that does it…) – I finished my coffee and left the small people to explore the further reaches of Fluffy Rug Land.
So – not one for pram-o-phobes (especially since the glass roof’s acoustics are perfect scream-o-conductors…) But if you have lots of pushchair pals, a wriggly two year-old and the desire for not-bad-coffee, this is a fine destination.