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:

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:


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.

2. Brentford market, Market Square, Brentford, every Sunday 1000am-2:00pm.



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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.!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.


Twitter tag: @TheChiswickCal



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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



Twitter tag: @awtailoring (also Instagram account name)

Facebook: Adam Waite Tailored Menswear – W4 Store


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Tree Fu Tom – live on stage

“Tree Fu Tom, join the fun, come along now everyone”

If you're a CBeebies fan then that theme tune is sure to have jingled its way around your living room. I often think the key to a good TV programme is a good theme tune. And you know you're a mother when you know the words to more theme tunes than top 40 hits. (Ahem, and think they have a better beat.)

We LOVE Tree Fu Tom in this house. Even though it's aimed at 2-6 year olds, my seven year old son still loves sticking on the dvd, doing the moves, and sending the magic into Tree Fu Tom's world!

Being a sucker for Tree Fu magic, we were really excited to discover that Tree Fu Tom is taking to the stage. The live show is touring the UK this year and there are loads of dates and cities covered. See the full list at:

If you're one of my local readers and you're searching for a date near Chiswick, then the nearest one is at Hayes in the Beck Theatre, on Friday 17 April at 1:00pm and 3:30pm.

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!


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Bonapeti – healthy food delivered to your door

I must admit that Bonapeti wouldn't have been my first choice of home delivered food. Vegan, gluten free, wholesome food – brimming with goodness, and prepared freshly by expert chefs. Then delivered to your door.

Well of course it sounded worthy but my idea of a takeaway is a steaming tinfoil carton of noodles, or a lamb madras. Don't get me wrong – we love healthy food. But it just didn't marry my idea of a meal. Plus would it be interesting? And filling?

So when they contacted me to see if I'd like to try out a home delivered family meal I was only too keen to see what it was all about.

On to something good

Well let me tell you right now that Boapeti are really on to something. The food came, packed with grains, lovingly chopped vegetables, delicious sauces. All ready to eat – apart from our curry which just needed to be popped in the oven for 8 minutes, and the pudding. (Yes, I got my curry after all!)

After just a few mouthfuls it was clear that this food was doing us good. Sometimes you can just taste the nutrients! It's not just a grown up affair – Chiswick Boy loved it too, and discovered some new tastes – fennel and seaweed.

Basically, if you had the money this is the kind of firm you'd just order from every day. Healthy nutritious meals, without any chopping or indeed shopping, straight to your table.

The website promises dinner for less than the price of a homecooked supper, and I wouldn't go that far – but I'd certainly say it's for the price of a takeaway.We shared two mains, two sides and a pudding, between two adults and two children. The mains were £9.95 each, and the pudding and side were £4.95 each.


Healthy lifestyle choice

If I was a single working person this is definitely the kind of place I'd seriously consider ordering from every night, if I wanted to eat healthily and didn't want to shop (When I lived in a girlie flat share we basically ate straight from tins of tuna, or got a chinese.)

It's basically a lifestyle choice. There's definitely one thing for sure – if you ate this food from Bonapeti then you would be mega healthy. By the way – if it had just been the two of us eating we'd definitely have been full. We had three people sharing a meal for two and Chiswick Daddy and I ended up having a snack later on.

Anyway, there's a great excuse for you to try it because I have a 10% off code for you: just quote BON201501 when you order.

Here's what we ate

Salsify tandoor curry with brown rice and chickpea pilaf and a coconut chutney. Vegan; gluten free. £9.95

Squash noodles with a sesame miso dressing and a fennel, carrot and seaweed salad. Vegan; gluten free. £9.50

Chocolate amaranth pudding with poached bananas, hazelnut, banana chip and cacao nib crumble and candied orange zest. Vegan; gluten free. £4.95



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A Chiswick 5 minutes… with Wim Hulme from Chiswick Rugby Minis

I'm delighted to present the latest in my series of interviews with local folk. Meet Wim Hulme from Chiswick Rugby Minis.

Wim discusses how to choose an after school activity for your child, the benefits of competitive sport, and gives us his local tips for a quiet, zero cost afternoon.

Tell us about Chiswick Rugby Minis, in a nutshell:

Chiswick Rugby Minis is the go to place on Sunday morning to watch your children keep fit outdoors on a big green field with other boys and girls in well coached groups – and learn some rugby

I know your classes are mixed gender. Do you think it's important generally for sports to offer mixed gender classes?

I think it is particularly important for boys and girls to develop together on the sports field as it raises greater awareness of the strengths and differences each brings and we keep our players together up to twelve. This has worked very well.

There are a lot of classes out there and as a parent it can be bewildering to know what to pick. From art to sports, what are your tips to a parent deciding what type of weekend/after school activity to sign a child up to?

I think it is important to give the child one physical activity and one that isn't. The child needs to be encouraged for the first few lessons and then left to make the activity their own. If the child says it is not suitable after five or six sessions, it is time to try something else

And talking about sports specifically – how can a parent know what sport is best for their child? What are your tips?

Each sport isn't for everyone. Some of our best players took two or three sessions to settle in and you'd never have thought seeing them at their first session that they could develop as quickly as they do. They go from hiding behind their parent's leg to running in full and hot pursuit of the ball carrier in three weeks. I'd say give them a few sessions before you let the child decide it is not for them as we have found children can take a few weeks to adjust but when they do they integrate very fully

Rugby's obviously a competitive sport. Being a bit of a hippy at heart I feel terrible at the thought of one side of kids losing… but I know that some psychologists believe learning to lose is an important part of growing up. What do you think the benefits of a competitive sport are for kids? And how

do you prepare kids to be good losers, and good winners?

As you're a hippy at heart I'd like to think you recognise the transience of being and that winning and losing are relative and temporary states. By playing sport regularly, children can learn to recognise this. No matter how badly a match may have gone, there is another opportunity soon to come good and they can become good by preparing and working with their peers and coaches. If they have lost a team game, they also know they were not alone. If they have won a rugby game, success is very much down to being a part of the team which is humbling in itself and breeds a better winner

And now some questions about Chiswick!

How long have you been in Chiswick? over ten years

Favourite place to unwind here? Just walking about

What's your top local tip? Walking to Richmond along the Thames is a well spent hour or two

And what's your hidden gem? Hogarth's House. His work is world famous and his house is off the beaten tack but well worth a visit

And some questions about you

Apart from Chiswick Rugby Minis, what other hats do you wear? I'm a retailer by occupation

Is your glass half full or half empty? Usually half full

Secret talent: recognising, restoring and collecting vintage leather

Philosophy on life? Happiness is the way, not the destination

Twitter tag: @CRFCMinis
Facebook: /ChiswickRFCMinis


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Top 5 February and March family activities in Chiswick

There's so much stuff to enjoy in Chiswick, where do you start?

Here's my top five local family-friendly activities for February and March. Two are free, one's reasonably priced, and two are slightly pricey but much better value with an annual pass.


1. Hogarth's House has a new exhibition of Hounslow residents' self-portraits.

Open until 1 March.

Cost: Free!

More info:





2.Not seen Paddington yet? It's the family film at Watermans on Tue 17 Feb @ 2pm; Thu 19 Feb @ 11am; Fri 20 Feb @ 2pm.

Bargain prices of £7.50 for one adult and one child together. Booking essential.


3. Get close to nature with family activities at the Wetland Centre – Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 February.

Our tip – go for annual membership rather than a day ticket if you think you'll visit again.

They say: Join us for some storytelling in our yurt throughout the day; on cold days we light the wood burning stove to make it extra cosy. Hear tales of wetland creatures and their amazing adventures.

Then come on a bird watching walk with us and we’ll show you the colourful ducks that live here in the winter, from colourful shovelers with their spade-like bills to elegant teal with their green eye ‘make-up’. And visit our guide in the hide in our Headley Discovery Hide who will give you bird watching tips and explain how to use the binoculars and telescopes to see birds up close.


4. Feed the ducks, play on the zipwire and have a cup of tea – all at Boston Manor Park

What I consider to be the nicest park near Chiswick – take a trip to Boston Manor Park. Great playground, gorgeous trees, a lovely pond/lake, and a cafe run by volunteers (open weekends and school holidays).




5. Take a guided walk at Kew Gardens in February

This is another place that I highly reccomend you get an annual pass to. Annual pass gets you, plus an adult guest in for a whole year. (Kids are free anytime). I think a day pass is really expensive – but an annual prices makes it a bargain!


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A bit of Winnie the Pooh inspiration – a mother’s toolkit?

I've been suffering from the cold this weekend… not suffering in the true sense. I'm not homeless, and I have a nice warm house. In fact the suffering isn't so much physical as mental – Sunday had that blank grey sky that seems to shroud the world and make you just want to stay indoors.

Chiswick Boy and I ended up dragging the duvet from our bedroom to the sofa and snuggled under it watching an old favourite on dvd – Winnie the Pooh's seasons for giving.

Okay, I know that it's fashionable to say that we don't like the Disney version of Winnie the Pooh, but I've never been bothered about being fashionable (well not since I begged my mum to buy my first pair of white stiletteos anyway, circa 1987). So to be frank, I like the Disney version. I know nothing can compare to E H Shepard's line drawings… but there's no need to compare. The Disney artwork has its own place in the world.

I collected Winnie the Pooh toys years before Chiswick Boy landed…When I was in my 20s I even went to Walt Disney World (taking time out from a work trip to Florida) and had a character breakfast with Winnie the Pooh and his erstwhile group of ageless companions.

Everyone has their Winnie the Pooh character that they associate themselves with, and for me it's Eeyore. That insecure, glass half full, angst-ridden donkey.

As we continue to brace ourselves against the cold, grey weeks until Spring, I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite nuggets of Winnie the Pooh wisdom. All from the original AA Milne texts of course.

The tear-to-the-eye quote

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”

The quotes a mother can understand

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.

“Yes, Piglet?”

“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together…there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart… I'll always be with you.”

The quote that reflects how I sometimes see my life

“I don't see much sense in that,” said Rabbit. “No,” said Pooh humbly, “there isn't. But there was going to be when I began it. It's just that something happened to it along the way.”

The so happy-sad that I thought twice about including it quote

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

What fictional characters do you turn to for support when you need a bit of life advice?



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A Chiswick 5 mins… with Alastair Hilton

It's my regular feature catching up with local Chiswick folk and finding out what makes them tick – and what they love about this great area. There's nothing like a bit of insider knowledge to help you rediscover your patch!

This time we meet Alistair Hilton, manager of the local branch of Winkworth estate agents.

We find out why sitting outside people watching, riverside strolls and a glass half full attitude, help make up Alistair's Chiswick life.

Want to be featured in this spot? Drop me a line!

How long have you been in Chiswick? In Chiswick for several years and in London for 20 plus years

Top local spot? Has to be The City Barge on a summer's evening, sat outside with a beer in hand, watching the sun set over Kew Bridge.

Your local insider tip? The best way to get to know Chiswick and its people, is to spend time sat in or outside one of the many wonderful coffee shops, restaurants or pubs here. I've met so many wonderful and interesting people this way. Chiswick people really are amongst the friendliest that you'll meet!

Photo by Alistair

And the best hidden gem? For those who haven't discovered the area, and a lot have, then it has to be Strand on The Green. Whether you take a stroll in the daytime or the evening, you'll struggle to find a more lovely place than here. And who doesn't love a stroll by the river.

Any other favourite stamping grounds? Most of my time is spent in Chiswick, but if I'm not here, you'll find me in central London or Cambridge with my daughters.

Tell us about your job. Winkworth is the largest estate agency in London. We deal with sales and lettings and our motto is 'Seeing things Differently'. We really like to think that we are different from many agents. We love to give honest advice and a non pushy approach for vendors and purchasers alike.We also pride ourselves on the amount of experience that our staff have, with over fifty years experience between the sales and lettings managers.

Apart from your dayjob, what other hats do you wear? Apart from my job in the office, I love to get involved in supporting and sponsoring many local events each year. There are so many Chiswick people who devote a lot of time and effort to various projects and I truly believe that they deserve all the support that they can get.

Photo by Alistair

What's on your bedside table? I ought to say that I have a copy of some obscure and intellectual novel on my bedside table, but the reality is that I have just my mobile phone there!

Is there a book in your bag? I don't have a bag, but have discovered audio books, which I have on my mobile phone and listen to whenever I get the chance.

Glass half full or half empty? My glass tends to be half full. I really don't like to be told that I can't do something! That only makes me want to do it even more.

Secret talent? My secret talent?! Well, there are so many and if I told you…


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