That was the weekend that was

That was our weekend that was: from Chiswick strand to Derby cathedral

It’s time for another ‘that was our weekend that was’ – where I capture the small, and big, things that we’ve done at the weekend, lest we forget that it’s these very everyday weekends that help make up a family life.

Friday was a gorgeous day – one of those days where it really does feel as though summer may be round the corner. It was perfect for a walk up the riverbed after school.

chiswick strand


My beloved Thames – I fell in love with this river on a school trip to London when I was ten and it’s been a pulse of my life since I moved to London, after Oxford finals, in the 90s.

These days I love to wander home up the river, looking at the boats. Moored by Watermans park are a collection of current live-aboards and long abandoned hulls.

watermans park

As you may know if you’re a regular reader of my blog, we used to live on a houseboat in the Thames and on these walks up the river I hear the call of the river again, and do dream about one day living afloat once more.

watermans park
As Chiswick Daddy will quickly tell you, I am romanticising at this point. Living on a boat was cold and damp and not without small perils like flowerpots swept away by incoming tides and wonky gangplanks. But many of those were to do with the particular boat itself and nothing the right boat in the right spot couldn’t overcome…


Onesies, Betty Crocker mix and Middle School on Netflix

Friday nights are something we really relish. They are onesie nights in our household, and as soon as we get home it’s into our onesies and pyjamas.

family movie night
Yes – look at my messy house! I’ve stopped even pretending that it’s Pinterest ready!!

After Chiswick Boy had queued up *the Middle School film on Netflix, we headed to the kitchen to make our cheats cookies – aka our Betty Crocker mix. Just add water – bliss.

betty crocker mix
Cookies, a good film on Netflix and pyjamas – what else were Friday nights made for? And to think that I used to go clubbing on a Friday night pre-child – what a waste of a Friday night! These days I’d rather be nowhere else than on our cosy Freecycle sofa (ex Sofa Workshop and still going strong), cuddling my boy, eating biscuits and laughing at a family film.|

Football with cubs

On Saturday I got to flex my soccer mom muscles for the first ever time, as Chiswick Boy went to take part in the district cubs 5-a-side league at Goals in Brentford.

cubs football league


I’m aware that in this photo above, Chiswick Boy looks more like he’s Irish Dancing than playing football! I thought I was taking an arty shot against a white wall. Sigh.


goals in brentford

There was quite a bit of hanging around watching others play and cheering on. I’m glad this was a one off though and that Chiswick Boy doesn’t play football every weekend. I don’t think I’m cut out to be a full time soccer mom!


Back home to Derby for the weekend

A big aspect of living in London – of living anywhere that isn’t your home town I guess – is ‘going back home for the weekend’.

In my case this means Derby – the heart of the midlands, itself the heart of England.

We go back to visit my mum every 2-3 weeks. But this time it was a special weekend as it was the one before my mum’s birthday. She would kill me if I revealed her age here (I never reveal mine either – it’s a family trait), so I’ll just say it has a zero at the end!

We spent a bit of time exploring the old cathedral quarter of the city.

derby cathedral

It’s an Anglican cathedral and we’re Catholics so didn’t go there regularly when I was a child- but we did go there for district girl guide services. I remember carrying the guide flag up this aisle! As I wrote above, Chiswick Boy really enjoys cubs – so guiding and scouting is in our blood!

I also used to go into the cathedral at weekends as a teenager when I developed a flash in the pan passion for brass rubbings. Blame it on all the old Girl annuals I used to read from the 1950s. I cajoled a bemused friend to come with me and we’d go round the cathedral with paper and crayons, rubbing the tombs and plaques. In those days the crypt was closed but now it’s reopened as St Katherine’s chapel.

st katherine's chapel


peace in st katharine's chapel, derby cathedral


A birthday lunch at Jack Rabbits

We headed to Jack Rabbits opposite the cathedral for a girlie lunch, mum and I. She chose the omelette although we are now arguing over whether it was called the omelette *Arnold Bennett or the omelette *Alan Bennett. Answers on a postcard…

omelette in jack rabbits derby


It was gorgeously served up on a generous sized platter which mum struggled to finish, even with me helping. I opted for the healthy sounding superfoods salad which was yummy, but I was disappointed at the portions. A lot of watercress, but far less superfoods and seeds.

superfoods salad in jack rabbits derby


Afterwards mum declared that she was treating us to coffee, cake and liqueurs (amaretto). The coffee was excellent, and the cake was good and only the slightest bit dry. Certainly tasty and rounding lunch up in this way was worthy of a birthday lunch.

coffe, cake and amaretto in jack rabbits derby

We have a saying in our household which is – ‘why ruin a good meal for the price of a cup of coffee’. It stems from an exotic Arabic boyfriend called Zuhare that my mum had when working in Germany. He took her for lunch (or so the story goes) at a very posh place and he was about to order coffee, when my mum suggested they go somewhere cheaper for the coffee. And he said – as you’ve guessed: ‘why ruin a good meal for the price of a cup of coffee’. It’s become a bit of a family mantra.


Birds and Foulds (no, not fowls)

The Westfield Centre, now rebranded as Intu Derby, alongside a couple of recessions, has led to a decline in much of the independent trade in Derby. So I was delighted to see two very local brands still in situ – Birds, a Midlands baker, and Foulds – a music shop where I hired my first violin (the start of a lifelong, if lapsed for a few years and regained recently, love of the instrument).

birds bakery, derby


foulds music, derby


So there we have it – a sunny walk in Chiswick and a trip down memory lane in Derby. Do you ever go back to the places you lived as a child?

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