5 Chiswick family activities to banish the January blues
A few months ago I blogged for Visit London with my top nine things to do in Chiswick. I’m really excited to be part of their new area guides project, and thrilled to share some of the great things about our lovely leafy area of West London.
Now that it’s cold and gloomy January I thought it would be fun to follow it up here with my top 5 Chiswick family activities to counteract the January blues.
Let’s face it – for us mothers January can be a gloomy month. On the plus side, we did it. We totally smashed Christmas – the cooking, the planning, the wrapping, the unwrapping, the laughter and fun and the myriad of photographs.
But now it’s January. The kids are back at school, we’re back at work. The weather is colder, the mornings are dark, and we’re avoiding eating up the left over Quality Street and Baileys, because we’re set on a healthy 2017.
The kids have already built their new lego (apart from the stray brick that you trod on yesterday. My word, that hurts); you can’t use the remote control because they kids also used up all the batteries in their flashing toys. And they’ve watched their new DVDs so many times that you’ve hidden them. (But you still can’t get the words to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang out of your head. And you never will.)
Blow off the cobwebs
January stretches ahead in a haze of increased waist band, decreased bank balance and cold dark days followed by long nights. Stop! Before you submit to the January blues, there is plenty of fun stuff to do in Chiswick and environs in January.
So rouse the kids, buffer up in your new hats and scarves and thick socks – and do one of my top 5 local family activities to banish the blues. (Yes you can family boxset Netflix when you get back, with popcorn and pizza. And I don’t know about you, but I’ll be having a glass of red wine too.)
Chiswick Mum’s totally subjective top 5 family activities to banish the January blues
Explore the Silk Road with the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House (19 January – 16 February)
A beautiful nighttime stroll through an illuminated outdoor trail of lanterns and sculptures. With rides along the way, and an ice rink (although you’ll need to bring extra pocket money for these!)
Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/magical-lantern-festival-london-tickets-27736503629 (But you get 15% off with a local Chiswick Card from Chiswick Calendar)
Kew hothouse picnic
Cost: £8 adults until 31 January, £3.50 4-16 year olds. But if you’re going to visit more than a couple of times in a year, check out the Kew Membership. We’ve been members for years and it’s the only truly affordable way to get the most out of this gorgeous local space.
Right on our doorstep is the amazing Kew Gardens – but you don’t have to wait until Spring to enjoy this beautiful space. Walking round the grounds is a sight for television-sore eyes at any time of the year.
But if you want to feel really snug (and smug), pack up a picnic and your favourite books, and spend a couple of hours in the hot houses, snuggled up on one of the benches reading, while the soft drip of water and the intoxicating lush smell makes you feel as if you really have been spirited away.
After that, make sure you spend some time in the Hive – the newest installation at Kew. It won’t be busy in January – so get out your picnic blankets again and lie on the floor submerged in the sound and light designed to make you feel like as snug as, er, a bee in a hive.
Have a cup of tea in an auction house and vicariously shop
Cost: The price of a cup of tea and a slice of cake.
Did you know Chiswick has an auction house on the High Road with a cafe attached? So you can have a cup of tea and a panini, or a coffee and slice of cake, and then walk around the current lots.
This is a great way to while away a few hours, with the kids. And if you see something you like, you can always come back and bid! Chiswick Boy is desperate to go and see a real live auction. I haven’t been able to find out yet whether children are allowed to watch auctions (I suspect not). But in the meanwhile a cup of tea, slice of cake and a wander around the lots pretending is just as good (and you can stick your hand in the air or cough without it costing you a small fortune.)
When I wander down Strand on the Green I think I’m at a stretch of wild coast rather than in the Big Smoke It’s as close to the seaside as you’ll get before Brighton this is poetically if not necessarily geographically correct).
Our section of the Thames contains a treasure trove of watery and sandy delights. Did you know there are 125 species of fish in the tidal Thames? When the tide is out, you can scramble down the steps opposite the Bell and Crown pub, and forage for shells and sea-worn glass, bits of driftwood and the odd coin. When I lived on a boat by Kew Bridge I swear I saw a dolphin or porpoise in the water. You will not convince me otherwise.
For Heaven’s sake, don’t wander far from the steps and never take your eyes off your children. The tide comes in quickly, and while there’s a lifeboat at Chiswick Pier, don’t be the reason for a call out! Respect the water at all times.
For added memories, make your forage a sunrise one….
The Chiswick Charity Shop Trail
Cost £5 (nominal amount)
Did you know that Chiswick is a mecca for charity shops? Ever since we arrived here in 2010 we’ve been doing the Charity Shop Trail. It’s guilt free shopping at its best.
Make it fun and give every member of your family £5 to spend as they choose. You could even choose a category – who can get the most useless object? Or the strangest? Or most beautiful?
Start with the vintage Cancer Research at the top end of the High Street and then wander down to the next Cancer Research. The next is the vintage Oxfam, and then you carry on past the turning to Turnham Green Terrace to the Mary Portas Save the Children shop. Then backtrack to Turnham Green Terrace.
Visit the odd little charity shop on the left side, and then on the right side you hit the gold mine – the Fara for Kids, whose treasure trove back room has provided many of the toys and games you’ll find in our house.
Then it’s up the Terrace to the grown up Fara. Then Barnardos. And finally you can rest your weary legs in the Oxfam bookshop, which has a glorious children’s nook.