A childless friend of mine recently told me that she and her husband had decided not to go to a popular local beer festival as it was now too ‘kid-friendly’ with a bouncy castle, face-painting and it also closed early.
I empathised. I remember when I lived as a childless singleton in Bristol in 2005 where I used to meet other adults in a really cool bar called The Tobacco Factory. Jump to 2010 and we were suddenly surrounded by pushchairs and crayons. Did loads of young families suddenly decamp from London to Bristol? The city became swamped with kid-friendly places.
My point? Of course I’m not against child-friendly places and places to go with my kids…I just believe that there should still be some places left where you can avoid them. I’m not really sure why beer festivals, gardens, flower shows started becoming more kid-friendly. Are there just more kids around? Does it bring in more money? Is the current generation of parents of young children keener to do things ‘with the kids and family’ than previous generations?
In a previous blog post of mine, Dear Hotels, When did kids become so important? I wrote, ‘pubs and other visitor attractions are becoming more ‘family-friendly’ with a multitude of things to do for the kids. How on earth did we survive childhood without the ‘treasure hunt’ around the castle we were visiting or the interactive exhibit at the museum? We got bored and we made a lot of our own fun. We are breeding a generation of children who are never in a position where they have to use their imaginations to make their own entertainment as it’s all on a plate for them.’
We visited the beautiful Rococo Gardens yesterday and it has a great new ‘puzzle hunt’ which we really enjoyed but would my son have enjoyed it any less without it? Probably not. He loves picking up sticks and exploring. Perhaps the ‘treasure hunt’ can actually distract from all the wonderful other things kids can see or imagine!
Joe Stange who writes in Draft Magazine would perhaps disagree. He said, ‘Beer fests are for kids (sometimes) ..The bigger problem is not with bringing the kids, but rather in the minds of those who would rather not see them.’
He continued, ‘In case I’m not being clear about my bias: I hate the fact that “family friendly” is an exception rather than the rule. It should be assumed, while those who want no kids at their events—totally fair, by the way—are the ones who ought to be explicit about it. My view is that kids and beer are both great—in moderation. Best if we don’t lose ourselves in either. If we can manage that, then the need to separate them begins to look silly.’
It’s an interesting one and I’m sure everyone has a view. Dogs are another subject altogether! Many places are becoming more dog-friendly too. As always, I would love to know your thoughts!
Joe Stange is on Twitter as @Thirsty_Pilgrim