A look back at summer…in pictures

 

1. Tea, cake & board games

2. Super Saturday at Turnham Green

3. Bluebell wood hike, up the Grand Union Canal to Osterley

4. Netflix pyjama parties

5. The circus came to town – Zyair in Boston Manor Park

6. Crocheting mandalas from the pattern at the lovely Attic 24 blog

7. How to Train Your Dragon 2 preview screening with lots of fun and games

8. A lactose free cooking challenge

9. Mysterious flowers – we never did find out what these were, despite posting on twitter

What was your summer like? X

 

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Home sweet home

We're just back from a glorious week of relaxation, joy and laughter at www.oneworldcamp.com

It was our 10th year at this very special festival. With professionally-run workshops and activities for all age groups, from 6:30am to 10:00pm it's the highlight of our year. From putting on a panto, to singing in a choir, to meeting wizards on woodland paths, to watching Chiswick Boy perform songs from Frozen with a group of tiny kids, to yarn bombing and zen doodling, to eating the homemade macrobiotic meals (included in your ticket), to falling asleep to the sounds of drumming – it was everything we needed for a week of rejuvenation.

I have a lot of blogging to catch up on and a very full email in box!

On a completely different note, I've had lots of press releases and flyers in the last week for Christmas (yes Christmas!) activities in London – both Chiswick and further afield. So I feel a festive post coming along! Just a little something to cheer us up as Summer threatens to end.

Right now it's time for a coffee and then a trip to Waitrose for some steak – after a week of veganism!

 

 

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That was the (Chiswick) weekend that was….

This was an odd weekend. Because I've been working so hard (read – procrastinating) over my post-grad diploma, I spent most of the weekend indoors working on that.

So there was none of my usual scoot down the Chiswick High Rd or nipping into Waitrose for my free coffee and newspaper (get thee a Waitrose members card for goodness sake, if you haven't already got one)

Because we're really quite outdoorsy (we eat outside at every meal in summer) this meant making the most of my breaks from studying.

This meant – ice lollies from the volunteer-run cafe at our new favourite park, Boston Manor Park. You can still get a rocket lolly for 60p there!

Making slow cooked lancashire hot pot in the crock pot.

Making handpainted 'password please' signs for the playhouse outside. Sorry, I mean for the secret agent den. Thanks Streetbank user for this lovely playhouse that has made the summer… free, for the cost of van hire, and dismantling and putting back together again. And a very welcome home where it has a good number of years left hearing the patter of excited feet…

Reading more Beast Quest. I must admit, Chiswick Boy loves this but I can't bear reading any more of them. And there's hundreds of them! So he's reading them himself now. And I get to read him Wind in the Willows in bed. We've almost finished this by the way and I'm not sure what epic classic to read next. Or I might go back to some more far away tree books. Or the lovely Moomins.

I loved reading as a child – you couldn't get my head out of a book. And it's lovely to see Chiswick Boy immersed in that same pleasure. That's why it's important to let them make their own reading choices. Beast Quest may not be my cup of tea – but for a six year old it's manna from Heaven. And so I'll keep on buying them…

PS My diploma project is due in this week and then I'm FREE! Next week we're off to the amazing One World Camp. There are still tickets available – a whole week of arts and holistic workshops, with gorgeous organic macrobiotic food handcooked for every meal… camping and rooms available – and a full programme of kids workshops for every age group. Once you buy your ticket everything's free. Check out at www.oneworldcamp.com and say that I sent you!

 

 

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That was the Chiswick weekend that was

I haven't done one of these for a while, but I want to make them a regular fixture on my blog. It's my way of remembering the little things that make up family life and celebrating the local things that make up Chiswick life!

So here is the Chiswick weekend that was…

1. Chiswick Boy and Chiswick Daddy finished making the built in BBQ. They used old bricks salvaged from a skip across the road (Chiswick Daddy knocked on the door and asked first of course – and the nice family were more than happy to see them going to a good home!). We bought the grill bit from Argos and it ended up having one bit missing, so it was a bit of a trek to go and get a new one. But Argos did apologise with a small gift voucher.

I love my BBQ!

 

2. We got organised and did a mammoth online shop with Waitrose. This is part of my trying to budget and meal plan, especially as we get through that horrid last week of the month empty pocket feeling!

I have to say that shopping online with Waitrose was as pleasurable as nipping around their airy store. They had a £10 off £60 or £15 off £100 offer. I took the opportunity to stock up on sparkling and still mineral water – enough to see us through summer. (Yes, we buy bottled water – I do feel ashamed, but it's my luxury item).

The only mistake I made was managing to order just 47g of liver! But apart from that, it was a pleasure! I'm a convert – especially to money off vouchers! I think I may do the rounds of a few other money off deals…

3. We played rounders/baseball in Boston Manor Park. Lovely to be outside.

4. We weeded flower beds, planted out basil and watched lots of little frogs jumping down our flowerbeds.

5. Now that Sky has fixed our broadband and it's been de-snail paced, we indulged in netflix!

We love to get into our pyjamas and snuggle on the sofa. We watched Tinkerbell and the Pirate Fairy, and a couple of episodes of My Little Pony. And yes I have a son! And we are proud Tinkerbell and My Little Pony fans.

After Chiswick Boy was safely in bed, Chiswick Daddy and I also watched World War z – which I loved.

And Before Midnight which was very engaging if you already know and love the characters from the first two films. It's one of those films that is slow to watch but which sticks with you for a few days – I'm still thinking about it. Such a compelling trilogy and I hope there's another one in 10 years time.

6. I played Skylanders with Chiswick Boy. Or rather, I followed him obediently around the screen for 45 minutes not understanding what on earth is going on. There used to be a time when my son couldn't even roll onto his tummy – how can he now be explaining computer games to me? :-)

7. We had lots of lovely bedtimes – Chiswick Boy has been read to every night since he was born. He always falls asleep while being read to. We've grown from hard cover books to picture books and now to chapter books. We're currently reading Wind in the Willows. What a lovely way for Chiswick Daddy and I to revisit childhood favourites – a few pages at a time, every night. Most of the time we fall asleep too. Sh!

How was your weekend? x

 

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Come into my parlour…. Review of the Parlour W4

You've probably passed the Parlour on your wanderings through Chiswick. It's on one of my favourite streets – Devonshire Road. A beautiful, beautiful street full of independent shop and trades.

But if you have passed the Parlour, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a dainty vintage teashop. It's the vintage hairdryers, in gorgeous pastel colours, hanging in the window which give a hint to its true nature.

For the Parlour is a boutqiue blow-dry and braid bar. And when I had a chance to try it out I leapt at the chance. The whole concept of going somewhere just to get your hair blow dried or put up in a pretty braid was new to me. (Although you can also get your hair dyed, highlighted and trimmed there).

“It's more common in America,” xxx the stylist explained, smiling at me in the mirror. “Jacqueline, the owner, came over here and realised there wasn't anything like it. And here we are.”

The salon is an impeccable homage to taste and delicacy. The style books, from which you can choose your braid, look like coffee table books. And upon arrival I was even offered a slice of home made cake. I had a (gorgeous) cappucinno which came in a beautiful vintage cup. There was a laid back feel – it really was like dropping in at friends for tea. This is girlie vintage heaven personifed.

So do people really come to a salon to get a braid? Well in the time I was there three separate people came in JUST to get a braid done. Including one woman who rushed in, having arrived at Heathrow, googled braid bars and got a taxi to drop her off. I had instant envy. For a good 20 minutes I fantasised about being the kind of person who arrives at airports and dashes into black cabs in need of emergency hair braids. She looked stunning when she left – with a beautiful up do that managed to look highly complex and yet carefree at the same time.

“People come in with their friends to get their hair put up before a night out,” Victoria explains as she trims expertly away at my ends. “It's a great present for someone too – you can have a few cocktails, get a blow dry or a braid – have some fun.”

Sighing, I realised that it was a long time since I had an event to go to that required an up do. But you don't have to be going on the town to have a treat night in the salon.

“We get mothers and daughters coming in,” Victoria continues. “Often mum gets a blow dry and the daughter gets an upbraid. They both have a great girlie time.” Luckily I was cheered up from my case of life envy, by the offer of a Bellini. It was still only 3pm and I felt guilty – but had my arm so twisted by the smiling stylist that I said yes. I order any type of cocktail – and this was deliciously made.

The Parlour is definitely our local treat – but it's got London-wide acclaim from mags such as Time Out.

Hmmm... selife

I had a lovely hairwash, trim (with immaculate fringe), foils re done and my roots. (It's a fact that pains me that I need to get my roots done. I started going grey in my 20s and have no intention of going grey gracefully or even disgracefully). It looked gorgeous. Particularly with the caramel toner that my colourist, Danielle, put on my highlights. Like you'd expect, my fringe was perfect… and the blow dry impecabble. (Stylist – Victoria).

By the time I left I felt like I'd spent the afternoon with good friends, watching a steady but gentle stream of clients drop by. I had a warm fuzzy feeling (not just the Bellini I swear) as I left and walked down Chiswick High Road. Peeking at myself in every shop window until I got home…

 

Who I saw

Cut and blowdry – Victoria

Colour – Danielle

 

What you need to know

Main price list: http://www.theparlourlondon.com/menu/

There's some great deals available. Including:

Trendy Tuesday – Blow dry for you and updo for a friend or daughter. £20 (usually £50)

Contact details

http://www.theparlourlondon.com/

 

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A piece of cake – review

This is the very first review on my blog from Chiswick Dad! So please do leave me a comment letting me know what you think! Should I let him loose on my blog again? ;-)

Here he talks crafts, cupcakes and holiday fun – in his review of Cupcake Avenue.


On a bright half term morning we set off for Cupcake Avenue, a place of everything cake and also a fine coffee shop. Situated on Actons, Churchfield Rd, which has become somewhat of a small mecca of interesting shops, which is well served by Acton Central station.

We'd been invited to a Children's Cake decorating workshop run by Alpa in a spacious but yet cosy room just behind the cafe.


Today's group of 5 lucky children donned their aprons and settled down to a demonstration of how one colours icing, then of rolling it thin and finally the cutting out flowers and butterflies.


The Children now set about the task, selecting their favourite colours and working them into the icing, rolling it out and selecting a cutter for their first decoration. A fun process, with Alpha on hand to help where needed and provide additional coloured icing and ideas such as marble effect.


Lots of Giraffes, Robots, Butterflies, Lions, Flowers, Hearts, Stars and Marbled Creatures began to appear before we moved on to a multitude of moulds. Once more Alpa provided a short demonstration and the Children became engrossed in pressing the icing and tapping out their magical designs.


Then time for a well earned short break for drinks and chocolate fingers in the cafe, the children gathered together on soft comfy seating round their own table, instant friends chatting away of their experiences.


But then back to the decorating, this time the mixing of the buttercream. Firstly a check of the texture, then the filling of large icing bags, of which none was wasted on what turned out to be generous sized cakes. Each child was given several cakes with which to fill with their very own crafted decorations and moulds.


Cupcake Avenue has been in business now for 5 years and in the present location just over a year (the other shop being in Rochester), running Children's Birthday Parties and workshops for us older Children on Evening & Weekends.


Overall we has a lovely time and wandered off with a fine bounty of our very own beautifully decorated cakes, which strangely seemed to disappear very quickly.

 

http://www.cupcakeavenue.co.uk/

 

Acton, London

69 Churchfield Road,
Acton
London
W3 6AX

Telephone : 0208 896 1831

 

Rochester, Kent

137b High Street,
Rochester
Kent
ME1 1EW

Telephone : 01634 830656

 

 

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5 mins with… Sarah from Two Little Boys

I'm super happy to share the latest in the series of '5 mins with'…I was amazed to find out that Sarah is the person who made my much beloved 'Christmas Book'. It's a journal which you fill out at Christmas every year as a keepsake of the family gatherings, rituals and traditions. I've been keeping mine religiously since 2006. So it was remarkable finding that a local bod was the lovely person behind it.

I love finding out how Chiswick folk spend their days juggling home, kids and business. Thanks for all the emails telling me how much you guys like these pieces too.

Sarah Watts

Keep the emails coming! I love hearing from people that read my blog. It still blows me away that people read this little bit of the interweb! I do reply to everyone who emails me, so if you haven't heard from me yet, it will be coming soon. I promise! Email me at chiswick_mum @ yahoo.co.uk

So here we are – it's time to meet the lovely Sarah Watts from Two Little Boys. Read on and find out why ice-cream, the river and micro-sized handbags help make up Sarah's busy Chiswick life…And read right to the end for possibly the coolest hidden talent that I've featured on this blog :-)


Name: Sarah Watts

Business: Two Little Boys Ltd

How long have you been in Chiswick: Pretty much my whole life, was brought up here, moved to Notting Hill in my 20's for a bit but came back to start a family.

Favourite place to unwind in Chiswick: The riverside. There's a particular spot near The Black Lion that I remember watching the boat race from with my grandmother, it has a perfect view of the life on the river and I've often spent a lot of time there sitting and putting the world to rights.

What's your local top tip? Our local independent shops are such an important part of what makes our high street special. So my top tip would be, simply, to support them.

Chiswick's hidden gem? Fouberts! When I was looking for my first job aged 18, I used to meet up with a friend at Fouberts for a toasted sandwich. Now that it has moved around the corner, the ice-cream is the main event and it's delicious!

Vacation or Staycation? I'm really bad at travelling and don't really like holidays. I convince my best mate to come into town with me for a weekend of good food, sightseeing and afternoon naps now and again and it works brilliantly.

If you weren't in Chiswick? If someone gave me a flat by the river next to Tate Modern, I'd be tempted to move. Otherwise, Chiswick is just right for me!

Tell us aboutTwo Little Boys. I created Two Little Boys Ltd to fit around bringing up my children. For instance, my first ever trade fair was 3 days after my twin sons started at school which was fun as I seem to remember picking up Selfridges, Liberty and Fenwick at that show and still sitting down to eat with my children in the evenings.

The range is eclectic as it all comes from my head, but most products have the family in mind, whether it's facilitating 25 years of a family history in a single book (The Christmas Yearbook), activity gifts for children or our notebooks that make great stocking fillers. I often work on the basis that 'just because they're children, they don't have to put up with bad design'. I really wish I had had some of my Snap cards to play with when my children were small – I hated the generic illustrations on the ones I'd bought at the time!

Apart from the business, what other hats do you wear? I gave birth to three babies in a year which has been pretty time consuming!! Now that they're teenagers, my life seems to revolve around work and filling out application forms or permission slips for them all (no-one warns about that in the mum's manual). I have an enormous photographic library and whenever I get the time, will wander around snapping. Anyone who is with me has learned to be patient as I suddenly stop to take a shot at any given moment.

What's on your bedside table? Sleep can be a real issue for me – either waking up way too early or not being able to nod off. I was given a lamp that turns off with just a touch which has revolutionised my life as there's no jolt awake as I stop reading and turn out the light. I read alot, so there is always a pile of books I've read and a pile of books I'm going to read on my table, I start to panic if I don't have at least 2 in the 'to read' pile.

How cute are these IOUs for kids? Lovely lovely lovely...

Is there a book in your bag? As soon as I ditched the baby SACK that I had to carry around for an eternity, my handbag went micro-sized. No room for a book.

Glass half full or half empty? I'm an optimist neurotic, so half full but I would wonder who drank half of the glass.

Secret talent? Haha! I do have a ridiculously useless ability to write joined up mirror writing very quickly. It has served no purpose whatsoever in my life.

 

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A Chiswick 5 mins with….Tiana from Le Petit Bonbon

I'm delighted to say that here is the latest in the series of '5 mins with'…I love finding out how Chiswick folk spend their days juggling home, kids and business. Thanks for all the emails telling me how much you guys like these pieces too.

Keep the emails coming! I love hearing from people that read my blog. It still blows me away that people read this little bit of the interweb! I do reply to everyone who emails me, so if you haven't heard from me yet, it will be coming soon. I promise! Email me at chiswick_mum @ yahoo.co.uk

This time we catch up with the lovely Tiana Rassam from Le Petit Bonbon. Read on and find out why Chiswick House, parking meters and blow drys help make up Tiana's Chiswick life…


How long have you been in Chiswick? Almost 5 years, we moved here about a year after we got married from Surrey.

Favourite place to unwind in Chiswick? When the weather is nice, it has to be Chiswick House and its beautiful gardens. We live in an apartment so outdoor space is missed.

Top local tip? Locals should definitely have the Ringo application downloaded on their mobiles and set up an account. Having coins for the meter will never be a worry again, within a few seconds you can pay for parking and then you can top up if you’re running late and get text reminders 10 minutes before its going to run out. Love technology!

And Chiswick hidden gem? The Parlour on Devonshire Road – a gorgeous boutique blow dry and braid bar. Lovely staff and they really do great hair!

Vacation or staycation? My husband and I love to travel and discover new places so its vacation for us, especially as our families both live abroad so we get to spend more time with them and get a holiday at the same time.

If you weren't in Chiswick where would you be? I would like to try a few years abroad, perhaps in Dubai (my parents live there, so that helps!) Its somewhere where the sun is almost always shining and family life is fun and pretty easy with lots of help!

What is Le Petit Bonbon, in a nutshell? We specialise in handmade and bespoke baby gifts. I design personalised artwork for baby nurseries as well as our unique baby sushi sets which are sushi rolls made from tiny baby socks. We recently starting retailing some up and coming brands that we’re very excited about such as Amy and Ivor baby chrome free leather moccasins.

Apart from your business, what other hats do you wear? Being a wife and a mother to one energetic and bubbly little boy plus my business keeps me very much on my toes, I have so much respect for people that have lots of children and work full time in an office – I just don’t know how they do it!

What's on your bedside table? There always used to be a good book on my bedside table but recently social media and good parenting blogs have taken over my reading time.

Is there a book in your bag? Sadly not, these days its normally an iPad and a folding toilet seat (oh so glam these days!)

Is your glass half full or half empty? I would love to say half full but I think I consider myself a realist (denial for pessimists haha)

Secret talent: I studied fine art before my university degree and I love painting with oils. I used to get commissioned to do artwork for various projects including a huge 7 foot canvas in a Covent Garden restaurant. So sad I no longer have space (or time!) to paint these days but hope our next move will allow me to have a tiny studio space one day.

Website: www.lepetitbonbon.co.uk

Blog: lepetitbonbonlondon.blogspot.co.uk

Twitter: @_LePetitBonbon_

Facebook: facebook.com/lepetitbonbonlondon

Instagram: lepetitbonbonlondon

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5 mins with…Nisia from Out & About mag…

I love these '5 mins with' interviews and you guys have told me that you like them too! It's great to find out more about the people who help make Chiswick and West London such a vibrant place to live. So I'm delighted to say that here is the latest in the series.

If you know anyone you think should be featured – or you'd like to be featured yourself, just shout! Or alternatively email me at chiswick_mum @ yahoo.co.uk ;-)

This time we catch up with the lovely Nisia from Out & About magazine. Read on and find out why poetry, farmers markets and notebooks feature heavily in her West London life…


How long have you been in West London? I have lived in Isleworth for about 7 years. Before that I was in St Margarets and before that in Earls Court.

Favourite place to unwind in Chiswick? Chiswick House, Dukes Meadow.

What's your top local tip? The Farmers markets in Brentford and Chiswick.

And what's your Chiswick hidden gem? Well actually, I have just stumbled across a lovely cafe, called Stokers at the Water and Steam Museum – Kew Bridge: a neighbouring hidden gem.

Vacation or staycation? Vacation anytime, somewhere with sunshine and wine, bit partial to Italy.

If you weren't in West London where would you be? Somewhere by the sea.

Tell us about Out & About, in a nutshell. We are an enriching local mag that targets the heart of the community, knitting communities together and all things local. We want to share people's ventures and stories.

Apart from your business, what other hats do you wear? I write, I am a poet and have a second collection out in October, called 'What Things Are'.

What's on your bedside table? Too many unread books in a pile that is serving well as the bedside table.

Is there a book in your bag? There are notebooks in my bag for ideas for the magazine or for my own writing.

Is your glass half full or half empty? Sometimes it's very full and then I get very thirsty!

Secret talent: indecisiveness- is that a talent?


Twitter @outandabout_mag
Facebook: Agnieszka Studzinska

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bank holiday weekend theatre in Hammersmith (plus June dates in Richmond)

I'm very excited to have a discount offer which has been set up especially for readers of my blog – how fantastic is that?!

It's for Up and Down by the Gaga Theatre Company. It's based in the Oliver Jeffers picture book and it sounds simply enchanting. The age guide is 0-5 years but all ages are welcome. Under 2s go free (if they sit on your lap). I'm taking my six year old to see it on Sunday. And I will be reviewing it here!

The special discount code gets you a whopping 20% off at Hammersmith Riverside and Richmond Curzon shows. Enter CHISWICKMUM at the checkout on the website http://www.gagatheatre.co.uk/book-tickets/

Full ticket price is £12 – same price for adults and children. So 20% off brings it down to £9.60 a ticket.

Show times:

THIS WEEKEND! Hammersmith Riverside – Sat 24 May 10:00am and 11:30am; Sun 25 May 10:00am and 11:30am

Plus Richmond Curzon –

Tuesday 3rd June – 10.30am

Wednesday 4th June – 10.30am

Friday 5th June – 10am and 11.30am

 

Putting families at the heart of theatre

Co-producer Rachael Richards told me that Gaga theatre was set up to “localise high-quality children's theatre and make it a stress-free, fun experience for all the family.”

She speaks from personal experience:

With two young boys, I've been surprised to discover how many parents don't take their young children along to the theatre (other than an annual panto trip) because of the perception that they wont sit still or get anything from the experience.

“One of the key aims of Ga Ga Theatre is to make a theatre experience as stress-free as possible, both in terms of local (independent cinema) venues and making parents/carers feel relaxed by creating a truly enriching and engaging performance for all the family.”

More info on this production

It had a sell-out London tour last Autumn and a four star review in the Mail.

The producers say it's a “highly innovative production which integrates live theatre (two actors) with magical projections on the cinema screen based on illustrations from the book which tell the story of the penguin who wants to fly and the boys who tries to help him.”

See you at the theatre! Don't forget the discount code – 20% off with CHISWICKMUM

 

 

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