Our Chiswick Mum family weekend – from rambling on London’s beach to climbing Derbyshire’s peaks

Well it’s taken me all week to post my regular round up of our family weekend. I meant to post this on Monday, then that turned into Tuesday, and then Wednesday, the Friday (don’t ask me what happened to Thursday, I blinked and I missed it!). And now it’s Sunday – and I have two weekends to write up in one.
Chiswick Boy is sitting on the living room floor building a marble run. Chiswick Daddy has given up trying to putty the fireplace, and is now doing some puzzles from the paper. And I’ve agreed that I can squirrel away a couple of hours for blog writing, although I felt too left out sitting at my desk in the bedroom, so I’m now sitting cross legged on the sofa where I can watch the marble run excitement, with the cat.
cat on sofa

In the beginning there was the word

First, I thought that this week I’d tell you a bit about how I prep these posts. (I love reading about how other people blog, mainly because I love to hear how other people manage to keep on top of it all (!) so thought I’d share a bit about how I do it.)
I normally start these round ups by doing a bit of stream of consciousness writing about the bits of our weekend, in a notepad app (I use Evernote because it syncs across my iPad and MacBook). I’ll start doing this during a quickly grabbed lunch break at the day job, while the weekend is fresh in my memory – it’s about reclaiming moments of time wherever you can, in and amongst the great juggling show that is life!

Photo fit

I then transfer the photos from the last week from my iPhone to my Mac (I used to do this using an FTP programme, until I recently realised that there’s a function called Air Drop that lets me send files directly from one device to another. Silly me.) Then I go through my photos and pick which ones I want to use for my post, and duplicate them so I can change their size, do some cropping, while still keeping the originals.
I do a bit of editing, but not much. Sometimes I’ll lift the exposure, or intensify the colour saturation. But I don’t tend to overlay filters or mess about with them too much. I like seeing photos that are as natural as possible on other blogs, so I do the same thing on mine.
 batman
(Yes I know what you’re thinking – is a boy in Minions pyjamas and a Batman mask posing outside a lime green bathroom door a natural look? And I would answer – yes, in our house this is very much a natural look!)

After uploading my selection of photos and my draft text to WordPress, I start dropping photos onto the page and writing more about the weekend. But I’m finding that I’m uploading far too many photos for one blog post. For example, I’ve just counted and I’ve chosen 50 photos that I want to share with you from the weekends. That’s not a blog post, it’s a photo show!   So as well as my weekend round ups, I’m going to try and do more in-depth blog features that explore little bits of our weekend in more depth.

(Remember how boring it was when people would sit you down to look at their holiday snaps? How you would want to cry with boredom at just one more shot of the palm tree outside their hotel room, or their new sarong and flip flop outfit.  The funny thing is that these days I LOVE looking at people’s everyday photos in blog posts and social media.)
For now, here are some of the things that we got up to last weekend and this week.

Chiswick’s beach

I’ve decided to up my step count, and relax my aching brain, by walking along the river after school drop off on a Friday .

chiswick river

 

 

I’m always happiest when meandering along this stretch of water. There’s something so calming about the tidal Thames, rushing in and out of London, on its own version of the daily commute.

We used to live on a boat by Kew Bridge and my favourite times were when the tide was out and we could scramble on the strand for seaglass worn smooth by the tides, and shiny pebbles.

kew bridge riverbank

 So when school ended on Friday and I picked Chiswick Boy up we ducked down onto the strand again to look for treasure.
strand on the green
It’s a bit grey and gloomy, and I’m looking forward to the summer when it’s acceptable to stop off for a lemonade and packet of crisps at the Bell and Crown.
We took so long on the Strand that the call came – ‘Mummy, I need the loo.’ I looked round for the nearest point of rescue and landed on One Over the Ait. So we ended up in there with chips, and salt and pepper squid, and lemonade. And the homework book.
one over the ait
Chiswick Daddy picked us up with the good news that the car, ‘nippy’, had passed its MOT and just needed a couple of new tyres. (We took it into the small garage near Brentford station if you’re interested).
It’s a tradition on Fridays that we go to pick up the new Beano and a few emergency groceries. (I think it’s amazing that the Beano is still going. The other comics I used to read as a girl (Bunty, Mandy, Jackie) are long since gone, but the Beano still comes out every Wednesday. The Beano Annual  (affiliate link) is the highlight of Chiswick Boy’s stocking each year.)
To keep the magic alive that is otherwise the tedium of shopping (I don’t like shopping, cleaning or tidying – in fact any of those supposedly housewifely pursuits that I’m supposed to enjoy) – we alternate between different supermarkets.
I’m not a great fan of Morrisons, it always seems really dark and dingy in there, but they are a bit of a mecca for oft-forgotten products, like this. Look: Matey. I haven’t seen Matey since my brother and I used to share bathwater in the 80s
matey

A walk in the Peak District

As you know, I’m a Derbyshire girl, and every few weeks we hate back up to visit my mum and hang out with my brother, sister-in-law and my two gorgeous nephews.

This time we headed to one of the Peak District’s most picturesque (if touristy) spots – Dovedale.

thorpe cloud

I’m writing up a proper travel feature about our walk in Dovedale (not least an excuse to use more of my photos). It was a cold day but there were lots of tourists, and the famous stepping stones were like Clapham Junction at rush hour.

dovedale
They aren’t buggy friendly (obviously) so in retrospect it wasn’t the best choice for a walk with a baby. What happened was that my brother, Chiswick Daddy, Chiswick Boy, my three-year-old nephew and I ended up crossing the stones and walking up the hill, Thorpe Cloud. While my sister-in-law, 9-month-old nephew, and my mum ended up walking up and down with the pram and shivering while they waited for our return.

Meanwhile, those of us on the hill were rewarded with the sun breaking through the clouds and some gorgeous views.

thorpe cloud in dovedale

 

Saturday brunch with cool blues

 

boiled egg and soldiers

I should have mentioned that before we went to Derbyshire, we spent a relaxing couple of hours in our favourite Saturday brunch spot, The Fields Cafe near Northfields.

Between 11am and 1pm on Saturdays there’s a great blues duo (electric guitar and clarinet), and it’s a great place to spend some down time. I say down time, but in reality I like to bring my Mac Book to get a bit of writing time. And Chiswick Boy brings his homework book, and his iPad for some well deserved Minecraft time too.

 

Smoothies and Pilates with John Lewis

On Wednesday I went to a really lovely bloggers event organised by John Lewis (affiliate link) all around well being. It was well timed for me, as I have been on a bit of a health kick this year. Actually, I think ‘kick’ is too strong a word for it. But I have decided to concentrate on health and wellbeing – physical, mental and emotional by making some relatively small changes.

One of the nicest things about going to blogger events is meeting other bloggers, hearing about their blogs and how they approach their writing and photography. I’ve been blogging since 2012 (look – here’s my very first blog post: from July 2012) but I still feel like I’m ‘not a proper blogger’, that in blogging as in life and mothering, art and creativity, I’m just winging it!

Anyway, at the John Lewis event we made smoothies with nutritonist Hayley Pedrick…

green smoothies

 

And did a Pilates workout with Lottie Murphy. It was my first Pilates class and I found it challenging, but loved the way my muscles ached the next day. It was a good ache – the ache that comes from being stretched in new ways. And I think that being stretched in new ways (mentally, emotionally, physically) is what life is all about.

 

A glimpse into pre-child days – cocktails and late night DVD shopping

I don’t go into town for drinks that often these days, but on Friday I headed to the Escapologist Bar in Covent Garden for some cocktails to celebrate a friend’s birthday. We’d hired a booth (booked months in advance, with a deposit put down and we could only get it for two hours. Such is London’s bar scene these days). And quite frankly that is the way I like to do things, as I think I’m just too old now to scramble at a bar waving a £20 note or a debit card. (Who am I kidding? How far does a £20 note go at the bar these days?)

I attempted to take arty photos of my French Martini but realised I’ve made it look as though it has three beer bottles floating in it. I’m not unhappy with the effect.

french martini at the escapologist bar

 

As my friends all piled into a black cab to the next port of call I dutifully set for home, but was temporarily waylaid by the sight of this DVD and bookshop, called FOPP,  glittering in the night. I’d forgotten how I used to take late night arty DVD and bookshops for granted.

fopp dvd

It’s so pleasant to spend half an hour drifting through the shelves. I saw a ton of French movies that I coveted, but I opted for taking back Batman v Superman for Chiswick Boy and Chiswick Daddy (in fact, as I finish off this blog post, the next part of the weekend festivities is a promised pyjama matinee of this DVD!)

 

Cob ovens and herb butter – Cultivate’s Open Day

cultivate open day

On Saturday we went to Cultivate’s open day of the Salopian Garden in Hounslow. It was cold and grey and damp – but we warmed up in front of the cob oven. Chiswick Boy was really interested in how this worked and the recipe for the spinach pancakes (gorgeous, and green) and the herb flat bread (again, gorgeous).

Chiswick Daddy made herb butter – it took a lot of shaking but it was like a bit of Paul Daniels magic when he opened the jar lid to reveal a small, freshly hand-churned pat of butter. We ate it on crumpets this morning:

crumpets
Chiswick Boy also made chocolates:

chocolate making

 

Saturday cinema at the Watermans

I’ve written lots in my blog about how much cinema means to me, and now to us as a family. Saturday mornings at the Watermans are firmly entrenched in our family calendar. This Saturday we saw Moana which ticked all the boxes that you want a Disney princess musical to tick.

Feisty princess – tick. Great songs – tick. Bit of mythology – tick. Emotional cascades of music that make you want to chuck in your own job and find out what lies outside of your own metaphorical coral reef – tick.

moana

Afterwards we ate chicken tikka and Indian tapas while Chiswick Boy read his Beano.

the beano

 

Monopoly and fondue

Our busy Saturday was rounded off with a trip to friends to play Monopoly (as you know, we are board game fanatics in this house)…

monopoly
…and eat fondue which was utterly yummy. (I’ve always been intrigued about fondue, as a fondue party is in the first scene of Judy Blume’s ‘Forever‘. (affiliate link). If you were a female teenager in the 80s or 90s you’ll know this book. It was the Pan Horizon paperback that was passed around class with all the rude bits underlined, but was actually one of the most honest teenage love stories you’ll ever read).

fondue

 

Well that was a rather rambling journey through our last week or so. Did you try any of the above yourself? What’s been the best bit of your week so far? 

Please note – I’ve used a couple of affiliate links above to John Lewis, the Beano annual and Forever (did you love that book as much as I did?). All of these I was writing about and linking to anyway. But this (affiliate links) is a new departure for me and my blog, and this is the first post I’ve used them in. Obviously I’m only using links to products/brands that I’ve used and love myself. But I’m slightly nervous about using them and how they come across. So I hope you don’t mind, and obviously thank you if you click through! 

I’d also be interested in hearing your views about affiliate links in blog posts. Writing and photographing for my blog is the most important thing for me, and will always be the key aspect of my blog. As I said above, I’m slightly nervous about including affiliate links in my blog but then so many blogs I read have them, and I click through quite merrily as I know from personal experience how much it costs to run / host a blog. But I never want to upset the fantastic relationship I have with my blog readers. And look – I’ve written a whole new about me page with a new disclosure section.

What do you think? Do you mind seeing affiliate links in blog posts? Or does it put you off?

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2 Comment

  1. Paula says:

    I know you asked about my books before so just thought I would let you know this one is free from tomorrow through to Friday https://www.amazon.co.uk/Disintegration-Other-Stories-Paula-Acton-ebook/dp/B00ZP28UPU

  2. What a great weekend, I’ve got fond memories of your area from when I was dating a guy from Chiswick and some of the places you mention were some of our haunts! As I am new to blogging I’m making a note of your tips, thanks x

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