Last week London was of course overshadowed by the incident in Westminster. This is a route I often take to work – getting out at Westminster tube to walk to my offices, on the days that I don’t get the overland into Vauxhall and walk that way instead.
My heart goes out to all the victims of this attack. One of the hashtags that came out soon after the attack was #LondonIsOpen – there are a couple of aspects to this. London is open for business, and also London is open to all.
So in this spirit I’m writing about my weekend as usual – to show that London is truly open, and beautiful, and a place to love with all our hearts.
Now I’m going to be filling this blog post with lots of beautiful images from our weekend. Glorious green spaces that make it hard to remember that we actually live in London and not out in the countryside. Sweet scones and tea from the National Trust property at Osterley. Fresh produce, and garden centres and flowers in the sunshine.
So in the interests of full transparency I must share with you the shot of our first port of call after school finished on Friday.
That’s right. Reader, I took my son to McDonalds.
We both had Happy Meals (double the toys!). Who wouldn’t want to take that cute smurf home?
Back at home we had some lovely downtime. Friday evenings after school are one of the happiest times of the week (second only to Saturdays).
I’ve been having a bit of a sort out of Chiswick Boy’s room and it has unearthed some toys from the past, like these shapes that he used to love when he was a toddler. He’s been having great fun with them again all weekend.
Which just goes to show (Marie Kondo stop reading here!) that you don’t really need to chuck anything out! (This is my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)
A walk in Osterley Park
So we headed to Osterley for a good outside walk. To my shame I’ve never visited Osterley Park before, even though this stately home and grounds is firmly on our doorstep.
In the distance Chiswick Boy spotted gorillas, which on closer inspection turned out to be very sweet Shetland ponies. (Please note that despite an early childhood obsession with reading pony books, I am not a horse expert. I am assuming these are Shetland ponies, but they may well be some alternative breed of minitature pony. I am expert enough to know that these definitely aren’t gorillas though.)
From Grafitti to cream tea
As I’ve written before I love grafitti. Yes, I love street art and murals – but what I love most is ad hoc, (non-sweary) grafitti in areas that would otherwise be blank, unassuming walls.
We found this bit on the edge of a field at Osterley, guarding what appeared to be a magical doorway into an enchanted forest.
After exploring a bit we headed back to civilisation – the main bit of Osterley House and Park. It’s s a full on National Trust property – with lake, massive stretches of grass (we saw a couple of families flying kites), the house itself, tea rooms, gift shop, and second hand bookshop / plant shop.
There are lots of big round wooden tables to sit at in the courtyard. There’s nothing like settling down to tea for three in a proper teapot, with a scone with jam and cream, a slice of chocolate fudge cake and a slice of Victoria Sponge.
Sticks and stones – and brussels sprouts
Chiswick Boy can’t go anywhere without amassing some sticks to take home and add to his stick collection. But as well as some nicely gnarled specimens, he also found a gorgeous piece of flint which looked like a magical eye.
Then on our way back to the entrance we discovered that Osterley also has a reasonably priced farmers shop so we stocked up on brussel sprouts, potatoes, parsnips and onions.
Secondhand Beanos and lots of spare specs
Before we got back in the car (and we’d parked on the road just outside the entrance as we’re not currently National Trust members so don’t benefit from free parking) we popped into the Osterley bookshop – as none of us can resist a rummage in a good old second-hand bookshop.
Chiswick Boy headed straight for the pile of second hand Beanos in the window, which amused him until it was time to leave (with a 1995 Beano).
Mother’s Day sunshine
On Sunday the sun shone brightly for Mother’s Day and like mothers up and down the country (and beyond) I was treated to breakfast in bed and a home made card.
Chiswick Boy loves drawing his own cards and always includes some of the recipient’s favourite things. So here we have a pink unicorn and a dolphin jumping up, in the sunshine.
It only takes the first real weekend of sunshine for something in my heart to yell ‘sort out the garden’ so (again like families up and down the country and beyond) we headed for the garden centre. My favourite local garden centre is the one at Syon Park and there is really something so pleasant about slowly ambling up and down the aisles, idly picking things to take home and plant.
It’s hard not to imagine that you’re Monty Don as you languidly pick up alpines and new plant pots, dreaming of mulching and herbaceous borders.
Back at home I tackled the garden with gusto, pulling up those funny green plants with the pretty blue flowers that singularly would look charming but which take over the entire lawn and borders every year. In the borders it’s an everlasting battle between me and the weeds – so I’m trying a different tack this month. I’m going to turn the borders into rockeries, hoping that the pebbles will block out the weeds while still allowing my alpines and herbs to flourish.
Jumping for joy at the swings
So it was a weekend of gentle outdoor pleasures – from planting to exploring.
And of course, no weekend is complete without a trip to the swings. Our favourite park, as I write about often, is Boston Manor Park. Yes, it has a motorway running through it. But really isn’t that just one of London’s charms?
What did you get up at the weekend?