That was the Chiswick weekend that was…

It is a bit bonkers to write up last weekend, when we're about to hit the next one. But I'm sitting in my garden, and it's one of those gorgeous late September golden sunny days. So I'm feeling that I need to capture here as many happy Chiswick times as possible.

It's my way of trying to remember that it's the small moments that make up a family life, rather than the big earth-shattering events. It's good discipline for me to remember this – I feel so angsty sometimes, worrying about the big picture (what should I do with my life? No, really do with my life. Should we move back ooop North. Should we travel the world on a family gap year, or two, or several). That I need to remember to slow down and plant smell the roses.

So last Friday was a special day in a selfish way as it was my birthday! I was very spoilt – home made drawings from Chiswick Boy, gooey card from Chiswick Man, and lots of lovely packages, with the little treats (paperbacks, shiny new notepads begging to be filled with notes) that we don't buy ourselves enough of.

My mum was also down for the weekend. Now I need to tell you here how hideously spoilt and loved I am – because every year my mum has given me one present for every year of my life. This was cute when I was 16, but now is outrageously epic now that I'm older than 16.

There's so much wrapping paper knocking about after family birthdays that it looks like Christmas morning. And I never wane of the thrill of opening a package.

I took mum to lunch at Cote Brasserie. We'd dilly dallied and by the time we got there were in one of those famished states. “Please, please,” I begged the waiter dramatically – “Bring us a bowl of olives before we order or we'll pass out.” He smiled with good humour and the olives appeared pronto.

The acoustics in Cote are clattering – and it was chocablock full, so there was lots of noise from the other tables. But that's part of the fun of eating out isn't it? Somebody was having a 70th birthday there and that's always lovely to see a big multi-generation family out for lunch.

I love going to lunch. It's a much nicer experience than going out for dinner – much less formal, and I feel you can take so much longer over your food. I had an entire roasted camembert for my main, and a flatbread with anchovies etc on for my starter.

Mum had the eggs benedict for a starter and the steak for main.

In the evening it was the 'making a cake' – Chiswick Man, Chiswick Boy and a school friend all in the kitchen, with the sounds of Chiswick Man just about holding it together. I think there was a lot of spoon licking and dropping going on, and every so often a sheepish looking boy would come out, having been banished to the bathroom to wash their hands again.

The cake was gorgeous. We played silly musical statues, and it was lovely.

Then I'd meant to go to the Kidsorted event on the Saturday but we all felt coldy :-( so ended up mooching about the house all Saturday feeling under the weather.

But Chiswick Man fired up the BBQ in the evening and we had one of those splendid September evenings I spoke about at the beginning. September has the added advantage of getting dark a bit earlier – so we could light the nightlights and chat by candle light, with the heady scent of flowers. And the roar of traffic from the road outside. That's the glorious mix of London for you.

What's on the cards for you this weekend? I'm looking forward to the Devonshire Road Street Party. And I'm hoping to pop in to the Chiswick Book Festival. Have a good one :-)

PS This weekend of course we'll still be praying and hoping that Alice is found safe and well. #findalice

 

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Hartleys Jelly pots – slurpy review

So when I got sent a bag of Hartleys Jelly pots to review, I thought:

The proper shot

“That's nice enough. I'm sure Chiswick Boy will love them. Not that I'd ever buy jelly in a pot of course – have to make it up yourself don't you. At parties.”

Then I had one. Just to be sociable you understand.

And blimey – these were the tastiest, fruitiest, juiciest jellies I've ever tasted. They were simply delicious. They contain zero sugar too – which I've never bought in packets as I always thought it meant zero taste. Plus zero fat and none of those nasty artificial colours and flavourings.

You know what else? In my high and mighty, sniffy 'I'd never buy jelly in pots' attitude I'd forgotten the things about making real jelly:

1. The tears

The shot I clearly should not use - with shameful wine bottle in background & general table mess.

2. The fact it's never set in time for the party

3. That my bunny jelly never looks like a bunny when I've walloped it onto the plate.

4. That you need to plan the thing a day in advance.

So I'm a convert… Plus I've seen that in some places they're on a half price offer – I saw them at Morrison's today for example at 25p until 21 Sep. I'll have a look at Waitrose tomorrow and see what price they are there.

Slurp.

 

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September 2014 highlights for Chiswick mums

Whether you're feeling pound rich, or feeling broke – here's my round up of what to do in Chiswick-ish in September. This is a hand picked selection – with the stuff that I genuinely want to go to myself. Living in london the choice can be bewildering so this has been cherry picked by me to make your life easier. :-)

This is my first monthly round up so I've gone for speed / short & sweet!! (I'm conscious that we are almost a week in already). More coming next month!

 

Worth getting a babysitter for

Sat 6 Sep, 6:45pm Kew the Movies – Top Gun

http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/kew-the-movies

Around £16.50

 

Free and fabulous

Sat 6 Sep from 10am, Back to School event with KIDsorted – sample free kids classes

Piccolo Play Centre, Duke Road, Chiswick, W4 2JR

Book: http://www.kidsorted.com/

 

Devonshire Road Street Party

Sat 13 Sep, from 11am

http://devonshireroadw4.com/

Sun 28 Sep, 11.00am – 4.15pm, Chiswick House Dog Show 2014

Chiswick House Gardens

http://www.chgt.org.uk/?PageID=524

 

 

Raid the piggy bank

Thurs 11 Sep- Mon 14, Chiswick Book Festival

http://www.chiswickbookfestival.net/

 

Sat 13 Sep, 11am BOOKING ESSENTIAL (in my experience!), Earth to Echo at Watermans

http://www.watermans.org.uk/

Thurs 18 Sep, 1-4pm:Back to work event – from West London Mum and London Mothers

Crown and Anchor, Chiswick

Cost: £10

 

Fri 19-21 Sep, River Weekender, Watermans

http://www.watermans.org.uk/

 

From 23 Sep, Lady Windermere's Fan, Tabard Theatre

http://www.tabardweb.co.uk/windermere.htm

 

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That was the Chiswick weekend that was…find Alice

This week I'm dedicating my usual 'that was the Chiswick weekend that was' round up to the campaign to find Alice, a local teenager who has been missing since Thursday.

Like all local families, our thoughts and prayers are with Alice and her family.

So here is our weekend…

 

 

 

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A Chiswick 5 mins…with Jamie Betts

I'm thrilled to share the latest in the series of '5 mins with'…I love finding out how Chiswick folk spend their days juggling life and business. Thanks for all the emails telling me how much you guys like these pieces too.

I love hearing from people that read my blog. It still astounds and thrills me 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 local personal trainer Jamie Betts. Read on and find out why the Chiswick twitter community, nutrition and the lure of piano lessons help make up Jamie's Chiswick life…

How long have you been in Chiswick? I have lived in Chiswick since February this year.

Favourite place to unwind in Chiswick? This is a tough question, there are so many different places to consider. I enjoyed this pub down on Turnham Green called The Bulls Head. I went there with some friends on a sunny day. We got some drinks and stood by the river which was really nice.

What's your local tip? My local tip would be: if you are new to the area and don't have any friends you need to be on twitter. The Chiswick Twitter community is great and even organises a monthly Tweet up for everyone to get together for some drinks etc. This is a great way to meet new people, I found!

Passing through or here to stay? I would like to say that I am here to stay but I guess nothing is ever set in stone. But I like it here very much and have no intentions on leaving anytime soon!

If you weren't in Chiswick where would you be? Tough question. I really don't know. I have lived in a number of places and right now Chiswick is my favourite of them all.

Who did you spend last Saturday with? I spent last Saturday with a client that has become a good friend of mine – the joys of personal training. Me' him and his partner went to Westfield together, and I did not buy anything (miracles can happen).

Tell us about personal training….Personal training is a 1-1 service where an exercise professional delivers sessions specific to the individual's needs, whether they be weight loss, weight gain, sports specific or simply general fitness.

Apart from you business what other hats do you wear?Currently just the one hat, but I am looking to do some fitness modelling soon.

What's on your bedside table? Always a glass of water, watches, lamp and some aftershave.

Is there a book in your bag? Yes. It's called Fat Chance: The hidden truth about sugar, obesity and disease. I understand that won't sound that appealing to a lot of people but it interests me.

Is your glass half full or half empty? Half full.

Secret talent? I have played basketball for most of my life, although I haven't been able to play for a while due to work commitments. I am currently looking for something new, I'm considering learning to play the piano.

The info

Jamie Betts, Personal Trainer, JCP Body Construction

T: 07768119954

E: Jamie@jcpbodyconstruction.co.uk

@jamiebetts_PT

FB: jcpbodyconstruction

Want to be featured on my blog? Whether you're a local business or a groovy stay at home mother, Email me at chiswick_mum @ yahoo.co.uk

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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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