A Chiswick 5 Mins with… Kelly Reeves

Our regular feature catching up with the local folks who help make up our Chiswick life. Today it's local mum and photographer Kelly Reeves.

You can't go far in Chiswick without running into one of Kelly's photographs. An active local Twitter user, Kelly's beautiful images capture local events and people perfectly and provide a literal snapshot of life.

As a portrait photographer, photography is her business as well as her love. She's also the official photographer for local Foucan Freerunning Academy and the Super Saturday of Sport.

Read on and find out why unwinding with coffee, Spring blossoms and social media help make up Kelly's Chiswick life. Plus get Kelly's lowdown on her love of photography, and the answer to the ultimate question – can you take a good photo with an iphone?

How long have you been in Chiswick? I have lived in Chiswick for 15 years.

Favourite place to unwind here?

I love to unwind with a coffee in one of our local coffee shops. Badger & Earl is one of my faves – it has such a relaxing vibe.

Top local tip?

Get yourself on Twitter and come along to the Chiswick 'tweet up’. It’s a great way to meet fantastic local people :)

And what's your hidden gem?

My hidden gem has to be Gunnersbury Triangle nature Reserve. Tucked away opposite Chiswick Park station. This truly is a hidden gem! Offering lots of daily activities or just a pleasant stroll away from the hustle & bustle of the high road.

Favourite signs of spring in Chiswick?

The blossoms in Stavely road – just beautiful!

Tell us about your day job, in a nutshell…

I am a local portrait photographer & official photographer to Sebastien Foucan’s Freerunning Academy & Super Saturday of Sport.

Apart from this, what other hats do you wear?

I am a bit of a social media geek – you can find me on pretty much every platform! I am a mummy to 3 and nanny to 1.

Is your glass half full or half empty?

Definitely half full.

Night in or night out:

Night out – we are spoilt for choice here in Chiswick, right?

Secret talent:

I am a netball goal shooter.

Philosophy on life?

Live and let live.

And now a few questions about photography:

First camera you ever owned: My first camera was a polaroid given to me as a child by my dad.

Best shot you've taken: Has to be of a newborn just minutes after birth.

Black & white or colour? Black & white.

Favourite photographer: I love the work of Lee Jeffries. His portraits are simply stunning.

Does the camera ever lie? Hmmmm the camera not so – the edit most definitely.

Photoshop or no photoshop? Personally I love natural shots, however my clients can’t get enough!

Settle this question once & for all – do you need a posh camera or can you take a good photo with your iPhone?

IPhone picture quality has improved so much & combined with all the apps you can now purchase, great results can be achieved. You can’t beat a camera set to manual partnered with a quality lens and a good light source though! Knowing how to use them together helps :)

Website: www.kellyreevesphotography.co.uk

Twitter Tag: kel02100

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kellyreevesphotography



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Have you been hit by the fear?

Twitter user @MrsLeapOfFaith posted this today – which sums up nicely what I've been feeling lately:

Torschlusspanik (n.): the fear, usually as one gets older, that time is running out and important opportunities are slipping away #German

I'm a big fan of language and one delicious linguistic oddity is the way that different languages have words for whole concepts that other languages don't.

For the last few months I've been pursued by a feeling that time is running out and that there's something I'm meant to be doing, that's on the periphery of my vision… but which I just can't glimpse.


Are you a list maker?

I'm a big goal setter AND a big list maker. I have a new year routine where I set out my 10 year goals, 3 year goals, annual goals. I then divide each of these annual goals into dozens of baby-step tasks, and try and slot these into various weeks – or at least tackle some every week of the year.

My lists drive Chiswick Daddy mad – but if you're a list maker then you'll know the allure of bullet points on a page!

My goals centre around five key themes:

  1. Children
  2. Family, friends and community
  3. Financial and career
  4. Creative (writing and performing)
  5. Healthy mind and body


So do you feel the fear?

Yet despite this goal making I still feel that there's something I'm meant to be doing, but that I'm not. Something that I should have achieved but haven't – but can't put my finger on it.

There's certainly things I'm striving for. On Children for example, I have my son which is absolutely amazing. I think being a mother is a wonder and despite all the goals I haven't met yet – when I remember that I have a son I breathe a deep sigh of relief and say 'yes – thank goodness!'

As you may know if you are a regular reader of my blog, I am trying to conceive number two at the moment. It hasn't happened as quickly as I'd like and this is really one of my key focuses at the moment. It just doesn't seem to be happening for us. Whereas child number one appeared so unexpectedly that it came as a complete (pleasant) shock!


Family and friends

I am a family girl at heart. My year revolves around the family celebrations – birthdays, christmas, Easter…and I'm happiest when I have my brother, his girlfriend and their baby, my mum, and my aunts and uncles around me playing silly word games or having a singalong. I love any excuse for a family gathering.

Friends are harder. It's very hard to keep up an active social life when you have a child. Not many of our pre-child friends have gone on to have kids themselves. And while I thought that once my son started school we would make lots of friends with other families, it all centres around the kids parties.

So I now have built into my daily schedule a reminder to text or email a friend – basically I'm trying to remember that you only get out what you put in.


Social media is a godsend for community

Even though social media is global, for me the wonder of twitter and blogging has been the ability to connect with the local community. I've 'met' so many wonderful people this way that I count people I've only met virtually as people I know well! And I'm lucky that in Chiswick there is plenty of opportunity to go out and meet twitter friends in real life. While blogging has helped me connect with both local people and other mothers from further afield.

We're still largely homebirds in the evening – let's face it, getting a babysitter takes time and energy that as parents we're short of! But it's great to know that the opportunities are there – and I'm planning to make more of them!

I'm lucky to live in an amazing part of London where there's always something happening at a weekend – most of it free, and very kid friendly.


So what's glimmering out of sight?

So what is this Torschlusspanik that I feel? The book I've yet to get published? The musical comedian I long to be? A lurking feeling that maybe one day we should move away from beloved Chiswick and London? Or is just a sense that life is so short and fleeting?

What do you think?




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Our adventures at the Park Club – part two

As you may know if you follow my blog, we've joined the Park Club which is on the Chiswick doorstep, in Acton. And I'm sharing our journey here on the blog, as we explore a new world of fitness and relaxation, as a family.

We love being outside as a family – but this is the first time any of us have been members of a gym (well I had a brief dally with the subsidised one at my place of work, but it didn't really work for me – going to work early or staying late just isn't a fun option when you have a child. And who has time for a lunchbreak these days?)

Now I'm not a big fitness freak – for us the primary aim of being part of the Park was to spend time together as a family. In particular the swimming. The facilities are excellent at the Park Club and getting changed is really chilled there – no queuing for changing room space, rooting around for locker change or slippy floors.

A big surprise

So in all honesty Chiswick Daddy and I are really surprised at what seems to be a side effect of all this – WE'RE FEELING HEALTHIER and have more energy.

This is the conversation we had this morning at breakfast (in between running around finding clean shirt for Chiswick Boy and finding keys etc).

Chiswick Daddy: It may sound strange but I've been feeling like I've got much more energy since we started going swimming at the Park.

Me: Me too… But I didn't know you did…

Chiswick Daddy: And I'm not feeling knackered running up stairs at the station.

Me: I've been feeling like I have loads more energy. My chest is feeling better when I'm walking... (Aside for readers – I suffer from asthma and have had a persistent cough for months)

Chiswick Daddy: But we've only been a few times… is this really the effect after a few times? Imagine if we went all the time…

Me: Exactly what I was thinking. Can it really be that simple? Is there actually something to this fitness lark? By the way, where's Chiswick Boy's book bag and have you hidden my keys?

So it's almost as if we've had a Damascus moment. If we can keep going swimming – which Chiswick Boy absolutely adores and it's so lovely to do it as a family, and do some classes… then I think we're really going to see some benefits. Keep watching this space!

Guilt free half hour to myself

I always feel guilty going in somewhere to get a wax / have my eyebrows done / ge a hair cut. Because it normally means leaving Chiswick Boy and Chiswick Daddy in a cafe somewhere while I rush off.

Then the texting starts.

'How long are you going to be?'; 'We're cold'; 'We'll meet you in the bookshop'; 'We're now out of the bookshop – what's taking you so long?'

(Some day let me tell you the story about when I was getting highights and Chiswick Daddy came in to the salon at half hour junctions with a crying Chiswick Boy aged one asking me how long I'd be. NOT a relaxing piece of 'me time'!)

So I was really pleased to find that there's a spa at the Park. It meant that I could leave Chiswick Boy and Daddy happily swimming, while I nipped to the spa for a leg wax and then went back to wave at them from the viewing station.

The spa is really tranquil too – calm music playing, smells gorgeous, and a candle-lit hallway leads you to the treatment rooms. A really unstressful experience all round – and my beautician was really lovely, and was raving about how great the Park Club was for kids. It's great to get such enthusaism from staff.


It's a class thing

The other thing that we've been braving at the Park is classes. Chiswick Daddy has been going to Pilates. He's the only guy in the class but doesn't seem to mind. (I don't mind either, in case you're wondering!)

Chiswick Daddy does a lot of yoga and says that the class is paced really well – challenging but not too challenging. Plus all the mats etc are provided, so all you have to do is turn up in your fitness gear (simple jogging pants & a t-shirt for Chiswick Daddy).

I'm a little shy about classes and I've been building up my courage. Tomorrow (Friday) I'm going to take the plunge and go to a Stretchworks class. I've picked this because it says it's suitable for all abilities and can be tailored to individual need… I know it's silly to be shy about going to a gym class… but there you have it – I'm silly!


So what are the top things about exploring a world of fitness as a family?

1. Fantastic swimming time as a family with great facilities – and time for me to get a sauna and steam too!

2. Somewhere fun to go as a family – where we can take breaks and have coffees (ahem – or a beer) and watch Chiswick Boy make new friends in the soft play area.

3. A really surprising boost of energy… that has blown us away. Let's see what happens when I start going to classes! Maybe I'll shake off my tiredness even more!


PS I know what you're what you're thinking… what was the reaction to my nicely waxed legs when I got back to my family?

“Wow, what lovely smooth skin,” he said. “You're beautiful like a princess. In fact you're MY princess.”

Well that was Chiswick Boy's reaction anyway. Chiswick Daddy just shrugged and said: “You weren't too long for once – shall we go and get a pizza at the cafe?”

I know.

Oh well. It was a yummy pizza.

I'm blogging with The Park Club and having a truly amazing time. Although this is a review feature – the thoughts are entirely mine. I know you wouldn't want it any other way – and nor would I!



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Bugsy Malone at the Lyric, Hammersmith – a flawless production… Chiswick Mum’s review

I don't think I've ever seen my seven-year-old son so entranced. And with good reason. From set to costumes, from the fabulous ensemble dance pieces to the powerful singing, Bugsy Malone is flawless from beginning to end.

The talent of the all-kid cast is jaw-dropping – watching them sing and dance their hearts out and deliver a passionate performance is an amazing experience and an absolute triumph for the Lyric theatre.

First class theatre on our doorsteps

In fact Bugsy Malone made me realise how lucky we are to have the Lyric practically on our doorstep. This production heralds the reopening after a multi-million pound redevelopment, and it's firmly putting the Lyric on the map.

I'm going to make much more of an effort to go and see stuff on at the Lyric this year.


Amazing experience for kids and grown-ups alike

This was an amazing introduction to musical theatre for Chiswick Boy. He was completely bowled over from the time we sat down.

Kids' excitement is enough to melt the heart of the most jaded theatre goer. When your son squeals with innocent delight at the moody dry ice floating across the stage ('wow mummy – smoke, how do they do that?') you know that they are going to be simply entranced by the magic of theatre.

The set alone is something that you'd expect at a West End theatre for at least twice the price. With moving set pieces, a magical nightclub setting, and a moody fire escape, the set was a key part of the experience.

And it's really shown me that it's time to go out and take my son to some more London musicals. But I know he will always remember his first – so thanks Bugsy.

A whispering in the stalls

As a parent it can be a bit stressful when your child asks you questions while a performance is on. You're worried if other audience members will be able to hear… but the questions came nonetheless! 'Why is he being horrible to him', 'What happens if they catch him', 'Oh no – has he gone to Heaven?'.

(Answers in case you're wondering: 'He's mean but it creates dramatic tension', 'They'll put custard tarts in their faces – let's hope they get away', 'No – he's been hit by the splurge gun and is foamed, so he's out of the game'.)(These are not brilliant answers – if you want to send yours on a postcard, suggestions welcome!)

What I'm trying to say is that kids don't need to learn suspension of disbelief – they have it naturally.

He shed a tear when the endearing Blousey was denied her audition by the overwhelmingly cute Lena Marelli; he yelped every time a splurge gun went bang; and bounced up and down in his seat with uncontained excitement during the car chase scene (he's small – minimal damage to sight of people behind us!).

And at frequent intervals a small voice whispered in my ear 'I want to be an actor, I want to be in Bugsy Malone, or even in Bugsy Malone 2, I want to be an actor…'

Splurge guns and custard pies….

I thought I 'knew' Bugsy Malone – in that I had vague memories of loving the film when I was a child. But I'd forgotten just how many toe-tapping heart-stirring songs there are. Chiswick Boy and I have been leaping around the house for a whole week, singing 'so you wanna be a boxer'.

All in all, a lovely and ultimately life-affirming show that has given us a renewed love for musicals… and for the lyric.

Hats off to Olivier award-winning director, Sean Holmes, and the fantastic cast!


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A Chiswick 5 minutes with…. Lisa Barrett

We're such an interesting bunch here in Chiswick and environs. From stay at home mothers to writers, designers to filmmakers and everything in between – the variety of lovely people never ceases to amaze me!

So I love running these Q&As with local folk. Today it's time to meet Chiswickian and style writer Lisa Barrett. Read on and find out why writing, beauty advice and family help to make up Lisa's Chiswick life.

Name: Lisa Barrett
Business: Glowology is the name of my blog but I'm a freelance writer, copywriter and blogger.

How long have you been in Chiswick?

I've lived in Chiswick for 9 happy years although I've always been close. I was born in Acton and moved to Brentford when my kids were born and so have always known and loved W4. When my oldest was 4 she started at Strand on the Green infants and had dance classes in the area too and I fell for the area hook line and sinker and knew I wanted live here one day.

Favourite place to unwind here?

Chiswick House – walking my loony black labrador Troy every day during the week. I love watching the change of seasons on my daily dog walk – it's beautiful, peaceful and serene…unless the dog decides to bomb dive in the lake and then shake all over me…which he does regularly. I also love the cafe in Chiswick House and their Eggs Benedict is the best hangover cure!

Top local tip?

Bedford Park is gorgeous but it Chiswick doesn't start and end there – make the most of Grove Park and Strand on the Green! I love all of Chiswick but am so happy living in Grove Park right by the river. There's always something going on – especially in the summer – street parties and festivals where the locals mix and catch up with the goings on in W4. The river boat from Kew to Richmond/Hampton/Westminster is a fabulous way to travel as well.

And what's your hidden gem?

There are a few! But Anny's Personal Best Pilates/Fitness studios is up there with my favourite gems. I was a competitive swimmer as a child and trained at 5.30 every morning before school and again, 2 hours after but once I entered adulthood I've lacked the motivation to keep to a fitness routine. But since finding out about Anny and her studio opposite Chiswick Station (around 7 years ago now, I think), I've kept fit and had fun!

The classes Anny takes are great – they suit all fitness levels, there's always something new going on – like DD Mix – which was developed by Darcy Bussel and features songs and dances from around the world – it's addictive!! Anny has a real knack of making you work your hardest while actually enjoying it! Strange, but true. I also love The Strand Cafe run by the charismatic and charming Hussain..the best Thai in the area and prices are so reasonable. He always stocks up on my favourite bottle of rose wine in the restaurant for springtime – love it there!

Favourite signs of spring in Chiswick?

The blossom trees lining Staveley Road, the swans and nature coming to life on the river, and watching the ducks in the park tenderly building their nests and preparing for their chicks to hatch. This year, my 21 year old daughter and I were keeping an eye on one nest in the lake in the park at Chiswick House and on her actual birthday, one of the little chicks hatched from the egg! We saw it all and my daughter has it recorded on her phone. What a lovely surprise for her 21st!

Lisa and family

The joggers come out in their droves around Strand on the Green in spring and the paddle boarders look like they're having fun too – we are all full steam ahead in achieving our best beach bodies right about now!

Tell us about your day job, in a nutshell.

No two days are the same that's for sure! I'm a women's magazine writer, copywriter and blogger. So, I could be researching for a feature on improving cellulite for Healthy Magazine or having a high tech facial with a specialist for the column I ghost write for a broadsheet's online lifestyle magazine – or taking some product shots on my iPhone (I'm not great at photography – yet) for my beauty and wellbeing blog Glowology which I aim at the fabulous over 40s! As well as writing, I pitch ideas to commissioning editors and will also work on ideas for clients' website or marketing copy.

Apart from this, what other hats do you wear?

I'm a mum of 3 – 21, 19 and 15 and although I know they're grown up and very capable, I am a bit of a mother hen and like to keep my chicks fed and watered and comfy as poss :-), And, I've been sort of keeping this a secret, but it's time to talk…I'm writing a fiction novel with a friend of mine – we have almost finished and will be sending off a synopsis and a few chapters to potential agents very soon, so please keep your fingers crossed for us!

Is your glass half full or half empty?

Mostly half full

Night in or night out?

Both! I love nights in with a glass of wine and box set in the winter but in the spring and summer the river pubs are too tempting so it's night out! :

Secret talent:

I suppose it's swimming butterfly. Unless you knew I swam competitively as a child, you wouldn't expect me to get in the pool and charge up and down doing butterfly and tumble turns…after all, I'm just a 47 year old mum and writer. But it's quite nice to see people stare when I get out of a pool…which isn't often enough I'm afraid.

Philosophy on life?

Oh, I could go on all day with this one :-) I love a good philosophical quotes! Here are a few of my faves…

Be nice to people on your way up because you never know who you'll meet on your way down. I was told this in my first job at Cosmopolitan by a colleague who was high up in journalism but always had time for everybody – even me, the lowly beauty junior. It's quite true I think as I've seen karma at work and it can be unforgiving.

Alway be kind – to yourself and others. A kind word or compliment to somebody can really make their day and don't be too hard on yourself. If we love ourselves and feel happy and confident, it affects everyone around you and makes for a happier more content life.

Manners cost nothing. This was my mum's favourite and one which I've instilled in my children. I hate bad manners more than anything. I'm not saying you have to be perfect, nobody is, but simple courtesies of please and thank you and being aware of people around you and not just thinking about your own needs all the time is the way to behave.

Always try and see the good in people and to do this I really try my hardest not to 'judge a book by it's cover'. I've often been surprised at how I've met somebody and thought, oh we aren't at all alike and I don't know whether we'd get on – only to find a few months down the line we are the best of friends. I know we all make generalisations but so often they're wrong! So, keep an open mind.

One quote that I try to carry with me through life is from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, which I studied for A level a million years ago…she said:

'Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.'

This resonated with me and still does today. In the words of Frozen…'Let it Go!' it's so important not to harbour grudges and regrets – love, live and laugh – as much as you possibly can!

And now a few questions about style and glamour:

What do you prefer – high end splurge or budget beauty?

There's nothing like the click when opening or closing a quality gold compact or lipstick from a high end brand like Dior and I do love more expensive brands like Bobbi Brown, Nars and Chanel. But if I'm honest – it is often for the packaging and the cache of the brand. I feel that beauty today is all about the budget brands, some of which really are second to none.

The B range from Superdrug have fantastic skincare products that rival the more expensive brands and make up wise – Makeup Revolution and W7 are really giving the 'big boys' something to be worried about. There's no need to spend a fortune on makeup or skincare anymore. But if it makes you feel good and you can afford to – or just like the idea of treating yourself, then do!

Favourite product:

I adore lip gloss – Boots Time Delay Instant Lip Plumper gives lips a little boost and a natural sheen which is great to wear alone or on top of a lipstick – it has really subtle golden flecks which make lips look pretty. And I love anything that gives me a little hint of colour. I'm a bit of a bronzer freak and hope I don't often look too much like a toffee apple with a brown face and white neck! Body Shop's Honey Bronzing Gel for Face works really well

Best local treatment?

Ooh, that's difficult because I often get sent to review treatments away from W4 but I have recently been introduced to a lovely, extremely experienced skin specialist called Josie Valerio who runs La Pelle Skin Clinic opposite Sainsbury's. She suffered with rosacea and bad skin for years after having had clear skin all through her teens and early 20s and so she set about clearing it up and through trial and error she has found a way that has given her back amazingly clear skin and has helped countless others with problems. She runs tests on her clients to find out if they have allergies, she advises on nutrition and uses a qualified nutritionist to back this up and uses IPL (intense pulse light) therapy.

I have a few broken capillaries and hyper pigmentation due to age and sun damage (remember carrot oil with no sun protection factor back in the 80s! It wasn't good for our skin!) and Josi is working with me to improve it. After one treatment I've seen a slight difference, so I'm looking forward to great results. She's really knowledgeable and that helps me make a choice on whether to go ahead with a treatment or not.

I have checked out the fairly new Nuberose beauty salon on the high road and am booking in for a CACI lip treatment which is designed to make the lips look less lined and more plump without injections! I'm not adverse to one day having a bit of botox or fillers but am holding off and trying a less invasive route for now.

I'd also like to shout out about The Chiswick Salon in Fauconberg Road and its owner Vicki who have always been amazing and never once told my daughters' off for their DIY hair mistakes! They've always rectified bad colour beautifully and I love the relaxed and friendly atmosphere in the salon. My highlights are something I can't do without and I often go from quite blonde in the summer to a little darker in the colder months and the team at Vicki's get it just right each time.

What can people get away with doing at home?

That's a difficult one because it depends on how adept you are at beauty treatments and the like. I, for example am royally bad at hair removal and go for a razor as I haven't time to book in for waxing all the time – especially in the summer. But my two daughter, 15 and 21, are very good – they have more patience.

So, if you are a patient type, I think you could safely wax, pluck eyebrows (I get mine done wherever I am at the time I feel like my unibrow has a life of its own and needs taming), manis and pedis can be done at home too.

And never underestimate the power of a long, hot soak in the bath with some fab smelling bath products and candles dotted around the bathroom. Giving yourself a pampering bath, exfoliation, face mask and then slathering on some body oil/cream or a self tan can make you feel wonderful after a hard day with the kids or at work and doesn't have to cost a fortune either. My favourite kind of night in!

And what should people always visit a pro for?

I haven't tried at home laser hair removal but I would definitely go to a salon for anything like that. If you are having trouble with your skin such as acne, rosacea or sensitivity, I would also go to see a good skincare specialist and get advice. Don't suffer in silence. Oh, and one very close to me is NEVER pierce your nose or dye your hair blonde or pink yourself – hello teenage daughter!! She has done both those things and they didn't end particularly brilliantly! So, always go to a pro for a drastic hair colour change…or a piercing!

Your favourite beauty product as a teenager?

Anything metallic! I loved a metallic purple or blue eyeliner – sometimes both worn together! And who remembers UltraGlow? My first foray into bronzing. I would dip a large brush into the brown powder and cover myself from head to toe. My darkly tanned skin against the pale lips I favoured wasn't very flattering, but I thought I looked great!

True beauty – is it within or outside?

Definitely within! A great personality and caring nature is so attractive in both males and females. But I do advocate the saying 'if you look good you feel good' but I think it works the other way around too…'if you feel good, you look good' So, I'm all for the holistic approach of caring for how you feel and how you look. You don't need to be a raving beauty to feel good about yourself or your looks – just stay as healthy and happy as you can and you'll glow!

Go on – give us one of your secret top tips…

Find a medium soft flesh coloured lip pencil – I have lost mine so can't tell you what make it was but I'm looking for another one – and outline just outside your lip line and fill in the the lips with the whole of the lip area with it before adding your lipstick and a touch of gloss on the middle of the bottom lip. It'll give you a great pout! Also, after applying lippy, put your little finger in your mouth, close lips over it and pull out. Excess lipstick will transfer to your finger and you can wipe it away – and you won't get it on your teeth!

Website: www.glowology.co.uk
Twitter tag: @ukglowology

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Date morning is the new date night – Park Club review feature

Well when we joined the Park Club as a family I thought it would be a great place for us to spend bonding healthy time as a family. I wasn't expecting it to become the place for a hot date with Chiswick Daddy. But that's exactly what happened…

Sometimes things work out in a better way than you imagine! Having come round to the realisation that we'll probably never get it together to get a babysitter and go out more than once every few years – we've discovered that date mornings are the 2015 equivalent of date nights!


Quality family time

But let me rewind… as you know if you're a regular reader of my blog, I believe in quality family time. The weekend is a time for us to do things as a family and these hours are precious to me. With a full time job outside the home, I value each and every weekend. This doesn't mean that we have to do something 'epic' every weekend – just gentle domesticity and having fun together out and about is perfect for me!

What really struck me about The Park Club is that it has this ethos at its heart too. Far from being a place that you go to because you want to escape the kids, it's a place where you can have fun together. It's not just a gym. And it's perfect for a bit of adult time too! Because what a healthy family needs is happy healthy grown ups as well as happy healthy children!

I'm not big on fitness for its own sake. To me health is holistic. You'll never see a blog post on these pages about body image or moaning about weight…But over the next few months I'm going to share with you our journey as we discover the Park Club together as a family and make swimming and exercise part of our weekday routine, a a way of enjoying our time together.


A Friday morning date!

The Park Club has signs dotted around which illustrate its balanced approach to wellness. As well as exercise, this includes nutrition (with wine and cakes part of that in moderation), movement and mental approach (including what I love most – spending time nurturing emotional and social relationships).

Which brings me on to last Friday's hot date with Chiswick Daddy. As you may know if you read my blog regularly, I work condensed hours – which means I work long hours Monday-Thursday and have Fridays 'off'. (If you count writing, blogging, cleaning and doing school runs 'off' haha.)

Last Friday Chiswick Daddy suggested that as we were both home we headed off to the Park together.

“What, just the two of us?”


“Without Chiswick Boy?”

“Yes. It will be fun.”

Wow – I felt I was cheating on our son as we packed up our swimming togs and headed for The Park.


No wet towel syndrome

Swimming at the Park is a stress free experience. Now you may be used to going to a club, so maybe this isn't such a big deal for you – but for me the changing rooms were of the standard you'd get in a nice hotel spa and this was TREMENDOUS. Just a few small things that make such a difference. They provide towels for one thing – a heaven sent gesture. No lugging sopping wet towels in an unglamorous carrier bag back home.

And the showers have lovely shampoo, conditioner and body lotion in. Less stuff to carry there and back – hurrah! And showers in stalls – no shivering waiting for the communal swimming pool showers with bits of other people's shampoo pooling over your feet. Plus the changing room floors aren't slippery. Don't know how they manage that – probably because they ask people to dry off before moving from the showers back into the changing room.

As well as male or female saunas in the respective changing rooms, there's also a communal steam room by the indoor pool. And – bliss – a hot tub too. (Steam, sauna and hot tub for over 16s only.) There are two pools – one inside and one outside. And what I love about the Park is that you really have the freedom to be yourself.


Be yourself

In the pools there were a few kids splashing about in a fun but completely non-disruptive way. There were some mothers catching up for a good old chinwag. There were people swimming lengths, one person walking lengths and vigilant lifeguards. Nobody cares how good a swimmer (or walker!) you are – whether you want to swim butterfly lengths (not me!) or just laze on your back. I'm actually quite reserved and can get shy in the silliest of situations – but there's a real laissez-faire vibe at the Park.

Chiswick Daddy and I swam lengths together. This is the first time we've ever done this – we only usually go swimming as a family. I discovered that length – chitchat with partner – length – chitchat is a really relaxing and theraputic way to while away an hour or two. We just had a really good time together. And without vegging out in front of Game of Thrones with a bottle of wine. (Don't get me wrong – we did plenty of that later too… oooh we've just started watching season four… are you a fan?)

Not just that but we had a great time keeping warm while chilling out (see what I did there?!) in the hot tub.

We finished it off with saunas in our respective changing rooms – and I did a session in the steam room for good measure. Look – it's ages since I've had the opportunity to do this!


Almost as good as a holiday

So hopefully this has set a new chapter in our routine… more date mornings like this and it's going to be a good summer! In the meanwhile if you want to find me this weekend at some point we'll be at the Park Club swimming with Chiswick Boy…as well as drinking cappuccino in the cafe there and watching Chiswick Boy run in and out of the indoor play bit screaming….. Boys are noisy! And that's a good thing!

We attended the Park Club as guests of the club. But this review and all others is absolutely impartial and honest – I know you wouldn't want it any other way!

The Park Club: http://www.theparkclub.co.uk/

Coming soon – my experiences of the MediSpa at the Park Club; swimming with Chiswick Boy; and the big question – will I pluck up the courage to go to a gym class on a Friday on my day off (hoping the answer will be yes!)


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Things to do in Chiswick and nearby – Mid April to Mid May..

Hurrah! It's finally spring and Chiswick gets even better! I used to find it really difficult to work out what was on well and decide where to go with my son. So to help you out, here's my top picks for what to do for the rest of April and May.

Get outdoors

1. Kew Gardens is gorgeous to visit at any time of year. My son never gets tired of charging around in Climbers and Creepers or whizzing down the slide in the outside playspace. While I never tire of browsing the shop and buying some more flowers to plant optimistically in the garden.

If you're not a member and live locally then for goodness' sake don't waste your money on day entries – get an annual membership. It will pay for itself in just a few visits. That was the first tip I got from a local mum when I moved to Chiswick – and it was a good one!



2. Boston Manor Park is one of the hidden green gems of West London. Nestled just a few minutes walk from Brentford BR this gorgeous public space contains a stately home, tennis courts, playground including zip wire and a sensibly cheap community run cafe.

There are drop in kids tennis sessions on Saturday mornings too. And remember to look up – the trees are amazing. Look out for our favourite climbing tree – the cedar just behind the stately house.


Get cultural

1. Tree Fu Tom is coming live to stage. And yes, there's a date near Chiswick! The nearest one is at Hayes in the Beck Theatre, on Friday 17 April at 1:00pm and 3:30pm. See my blog piece for more info: https://chiswickmum.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/tree-fu-tom-live-on-stage/

I'm actually going to a different showing, in Leciester – taking the opportunity to have a bit of a family outing with sister-in-law in tow. So I'll report back!


2. Yay! Get your foam guns and your custard pies at the ready – it's Bugsy Malone at the ever loveable Hammersmith Lyric.

Dates: 11 April – 1 August.

I'm going at the end of April and I'll report back on my blog! In the meanwhile, here's the web link: http://www.lyric.co.uk/whats-on/production/bugsy-malone/


Get foodie

The days are longer, the weather's hotter – what better time then to get to a market and explore some healthy food, direct from the makers?

We're lucky to have two great markets near Chiswick:

1. Chiswick food market at Duke's Meadows, every Sunday 10:00am-2:00pm. http://dukesmeadowstrust.org/food-market-chiswick/

2. Brentford market, Market Square, Brentford, every Sunday 1000am-2:00pm. http://brentfordmarket.squarespace.com/



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Shaun the Sheep – Picture Perfect DVD release – review

We're massive Shaun the Sheep fans in this house. Well when I say 'we', up until a week ago that meant my seven year old son was. But when this review disc arrived in the post I was having a bit of a poorly coldy day and snuggled up on the sofa to watch all 10 episodes. Twice in a row.


I must have laughed out loud as much as my son did. The short animations are very witty in parts, and of course the animation is very well done. So now I'm definitely a fan too.

This disc has been released for the Easter holidays.

Nice & Gentle

If you're not familiar with Shaun the Sheep then a parental blessing is that these little vignettes have no speaking in – just some nice noises. Very good for quiet Sundays on the sofa, and a respite from those awful jangly cartoons that are all the rage these days.


Yes it's Morph!

An added bonus for me was that this dvd has five brand new Morph episodes. Remember Morph? Oh come on, of course you do. Tony Hart's —- RIP :-( —- loveable plasticine pal? That's right, the orange one. The makers of Shaun the Sheep seem to have crowdfunded a new production, and the new episodes are delightful – and a great introduction to Morph for my son.


Shaun the Sheep Picture Perfect runs for 70 minutes and is priced at £9.99. Not baaaaaaad. (Sorry!)



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A Chiswick 5 Minutes with… Bridget from Chiswick Calendar

It's time for another Chiswick 5 min Q&A… this time with the lovely Bridget from Chiswick Calendar. These regular Q&As give an insight into the work and play lives of local folks. So read on, and find out why book browsing, crocuses and the Tabard Theatre help make up Bridget's Chiswick life.

How long have you been in Chiswick? 22 years

Favourite place to unwind here? Waterstones. I love browsing for books and I like that you can sit for ages upstairs in a comfy chair, unchallenged, without feeling under pressure to buy something or move on.

Top local tip? The one beside the river at Mortlake!

And what's your hidden gem? Down by St Nicholas’ Church at Chiswick Mall there’s an alley that used to be called ‘Slut’s Hole’. It tickles me that those very expensive houses – worth several million pounds – have that as their address.

Favourite signs of spring in Chiswick? The crocuses coming out in the gardens of Chiswick House.

Tell us about your day job, in a nutshell? With my business partner Nick Raikes we collect as much information as possible about what’s going on in the Chiswick area, to create a comprehensive listings and events website.

Yesterday we were on the river with our cameraman Ward Scott doing a video feature about the Chiswick Pier Trust. Today I am sitting down with our photographer Marianne Mahaffey to look at her lovely photographs of Chiswick to illustrate the daily pages for next month’s calendar, and thinking about a followup to the event we ourselves put on last week – The Chiswick Calendar General Election Debate between Mary Macleod MP and Councillor Ruth Cadbury, chaired by BBC Radio 4 Today – Programme presenter Sarah Montague. http://www.thechiswickcalendar.co.uk/#!features/c1jmw

Apart from this, what other hats do you wear? We make videos for anyone who would like one for their website and under the umbrella of Bridget’s Broadcasting Company I’m also the executive producer of a new documentary series on the history of Africa being made in association with Unesco.

Is your glass half full or half empty? Half full

Paper diary or smart phone: Paper diary of course!

Night in or night out: Night out, unless I have a new box set of good drama, in which case it’s not just a night but a whole weekend holed up in a darkened room with a remote control in one hand and glass of wine in the other.

Secret talent: Well it wouldn’t be a secret if I told you, would it?

Philosophy on life? If you’ve got to work for fifty years of your life, you might as well do something you really enjoy. And ironing is the devil’s work, designed purely for the subjugation of women. Don’t do it. Just buy fabrics that you can put it the tumble dryer and hang the clothes up straight away.

Best local arts venue: The Tabard Theatre. It’s scruffy but cosy and I really like that they put on such an eclectic mix, including a lot of new work.

Best coffee shop: Tamp in Devonshire Rd for the coffee, The Kitchen Pantry on the High Rd for their chocolate Florentines.

Best walk in the park: Chiswick House is the nearest to me and you can’t beat it for beauty at any time of the year.

Website: www.thechiswickcalendar.co.uk

Twitter tag: @TheChiswickCal

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thechiswickcalendar


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A Chiswick 5 mins with…Adam Waite

It seems that Spring is finally here, and what better way to celebrate than with another Chiswick 5 Mins. If you're a Twitter fan then you may have seen photos of Adam Waite's rainbow hued collection of suits glittering through the window. (He does more sedate and classic suits too, if that's more your thing!)

So with no further ado – I'll hand you over to Adam. Remember that if you'd like to be featured on this pages, or know someone who should be, drop me a line: Chiswick _ mum @ yahoo .co. uk

Name: Adam Waite

Business: Adam Waite Tailored Menswear

How long have you been in Chiswick? 4.5 years. The first 3.5 in The Barley Mow Centre and the last year in our store on Bedford Corner.

Favourite place to unwind here? I really enjoy Sam’s Brasserie. It’s a great place to chill out with a pint.

What's your hidden local gem? We like the American treats and cakes at Outsider Tart. It’s a bit off the beaten track but worth the walk down the High Road.

Favourite sign of Spring in Chiswick? The emerging Daffodils

Tell us about your day job, in a nutshell. I make really cool Tailoring for style conscious guys.

Apart from this, what other hats do you wear? I also run an online Vintage Motocross apparel brand called 250 London, which is our new venture. Plus I’m a Dad to our 6 year old Milo!

Is your glass half full or half empty? My wife Jen would say it’s half empty but I’d say a bit of both. Depends on the weather!

Secret talent: I’m a Motocross Racer

Philosophy on life? I believe we get out of life what we put into it and that’s why I work really hard. I’m a grafter.

And now a bit about men's style:

Fashion philosophy: one good suit or a dozen cheaper ones? One good Suit!

Piece of men's fashion that never dates? A good pair of leather Brogues.

Male style icon? Steve McQueen, he was the King of Cool and a real man’s man.

First suit you ever owned? The first suit I owned was from Burtons in the 80’s, cool enough at the time!

Dress up or dress down? Dress Down. Casual blazer and jeans is always a safe bet.

If you're starting a stylish wardrobe from scratch, where should you start? Start with a classic Navy or Black Suit, a couple of white cotton shirts and, again, a pair of quality leather brogues. You could throw in a Tweed Sports Jacket as well. (we make them!)

Socks: a perfectly fine gift choice or not? (I must confess to being a veteran sock giver – normally a selection pack of bright colours. Am I style savvy or fashion faux pas?) A man cannot have too many socks so you are definitely style savvy!

Top picks for a Father's Day present from your range? Colourful socks and a knitted tie or a Suit Voucher


Website: www.adamwaite.co.uk

Twitter tag: @awtailoring (also Instagram account name)

Facebook: Adam Waite Tailored Menswear – W4 Store


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