That was the weekend that was

Hanwell Zoo to Jazz Brunch – 10 things we did at the weekend

jazz brunch to hanwell zoo


A bit of a tweak on my regular ‘what we did at the weekend series’. I’ve rebranded this ‘Making every weekend count’, and am numbering the weekends. Starting from this weekend, which makes it 001 – from Hanwell Zoo to Jazz Brunch.

I know life isn’t just about the weekends, and that we need to make every moment count, but the weekends are a good place to start – and they are where we start. We deliberately have no clubs, lessons or commitments (other than family ones) at the weekend. They are family time, fun time. Yes with bouts of cleaning and the dreaded homework book laid out on the dining table. But with films, fun, and family times in between.

So here are 10 things we did this weekend to make it count:


  1. Brunch at The Fields in Ealing.

    the fields ealing

    I’ve written about the Fields in my blog before. It’s currently our favourite place to go for brunch, largely because it has an excellent jazz duo playing on Saturday mornings.

    Of course we wouldn’t go if the coffee wasn’t top notch too. The staff are friendly and no-one seems to mind Chiswick Boy perched in his favourite spot, on the window sill with a comic. (In this case it’s First News – the kids newspaper).

    The food is good too – I had scrambled eggs on bread and they were creamy, rich and buttery. Just as they should be (but in so many places aren’t).

    All in all it’s a perfect spot to ease yourself into the weekend. Weekend papers, great coffee, good jazz, and happy family is a perfect combination for a Saturday morning.

  2. A Walk in Brent Lodge park

    a walk in brent lodge park

    Quite often at the weekends, after a week of being crouched over our desks at work/school, we need to get out and blow the cobwebs off.

    We’re truly blessed in West London by the scale and variety of green spaces available to us. You’re never far from a riverside or canal walk, Kew Gardens or one of the tree-filled leafy local parks.

    If you haven’t been to Brent Lodge then you need to put it on your weekend list – there’s so much to do here, from a maze to get lost in, to gorgeous trees to climb, right down to a zoo!

    4. A visit to Hanwell Zoo

    a visit to hanwell zoo

    Hanwell Zoo is a local gem – nestled in Brent Lodge park, for years it was affectionately known as ‘Bunny Park’ by local residents, because there were so many rabbits in and around the zoo.

    For the amazing entry fee of £2.50 an adult, £1 child (or just a fiver for two adults and a child), you can see porcupines, meerkats, flamingoes (my personal favourite – I collect things with flamingoes on), pygmy goats, and lots lots more.

    For years I had no idea that we had a zoo in West London – if that’s the same for you, then do go and give Hanwell Zoo a visit. You’ll be amazed at what was hiding in our back yard!

    5. Clambering between railway arches and getting muddy in a creek

    railway arches in brent lodge park


We like a bit of urban beauty mixed up with our greenery. Brent Lodge has an amazing railway bridge, held up by multiple arches, straddling the river bank.

It’s a majestic piece of architecture, and utterly deserted. We found a bit of a trail through the scrub and followed it along the river until we came to a dead end (well basically a golf course, with golfers who wouldn’t be too happy at a muddy family appearing and walking across their pristine green)

So we backtracked to the shallowest part of the river, scrambled down the muddy bank and waded across the icy clear water. We figured that wet feet was infinitely preferable to backtracking all the way back to where we’d begun our walk!

We emerged mud strewn and damp to the main park, much to the bemusement to a dog walking family .


6. Double ice-creams at the park cafe

double ice creams at brent lodge park cafe

What do you do when you’re damp and muddy? Eat ice-creams of course. Brent Lodge park has a really good cafe, and centre stage is the ice-cream bar, where you can get a twin cone with a flake for £3. It’s not a weekend until you’ve had your ice-cream!

7. Fruit and veg shopping at the stall on Chiswick High St

fruit and veg stall on chiswick high road

In honesty, it’s fair to say that not all fruit and veg stalls are created equally – even in Chiswick. And we definitely have the stall we like to avoid, and our favourite stall. Our favourite one is Collins, which we’ve found gives consistently fresh produce.

We’ve got into a nice ritual for Sundays this autumn – which start with Chiswick Boy and me going to Our Lady of Grace for the 9:45 kid friendly mass (great music!), and then catching up with Chiswick Daddy to do some veg shopping at the stall. We then pop into Waitrose for top up shop, and our free coffee and free Sunday papers! (Love the Waitrose card – if you don’t have one then you are missing out on the free coffee and free papers!)

We always drop into Cancer Research and the lovely Chiswick bargain bookstore to top up our reading piles!


8. Sunday Lunch at home

sunday lunch

We’ve reintroduced the ritual of Sunday Lunch into our house. When I was growing up Sundays meant roast chicken and then, if we were lucky, an eves pudding (I haven’t had one of these since I was a child and keep on meaning to google the recipe. As far as I remember it was a cake topping over apples, a bit like a cake crumble.)

Chiswick Daddy does a fabulous roast – with home made yorkshire puddings, thick gravy using the juices from the pan, and veg cooked to perfection.

It’s a really nice way of making Sundays special, instead of just the doom and gloom of the day before Monday!

9. Family movie night – Netflix of course!

the guardian brothers narrated by meryl streep

I don’t know what we did before Netflix. Well I do. We spent a fortune on buying DVDs and renting them one at a time by post.

I love Netflix with a passion and my top trick is to make use of the ‘my list’ function. When you want to settle down to a film the sheer number available can be daunting, and scrolling through can take ages while you look for something that takes your fancy.

What I do now is curate a list to choose from by spending time in advance going through the categories and adding stuff to my list. Then when my son wants to choose a film (because we rotate who gets to choose), he can just look through my list rather than having to scroll through all the 100s of family friendly films available.

This week we watched the Guardian Brothers, a gentle Chinese animation narrated by the wonderful Meryl Streep. It’s not ground breaking, but definitely pleasing enough to warrant adding to your family movie night short list.


10. Real fires

real log fire

One of the best things about the darkening evenings and shortening days is the excuse to light a real fire. Growing up we had no central heating and I remember getting into my nightie in front of the real fire, and toasting bread on it as a luxury treat on rainy afternoons.

I love the fact that real fires are a truly sense-rich experience – unlike central heating. It’s the smell, sound and even the cindery taste in your mouth from the bits of smoke that don’t make it up the chimney.

Gorgeous old school entertainment.

The week in lists


Bit of a slow week on the reading front this week. I need the long winter nights to roll in!


  • The Guardian Brothers (Netflix)
  • Sense8 – Boxsetting on Netflix
  • Top of the Lake China Girl – my own personal box setting via BBC IPlayer
  • Innocent Moves – another family movie night (Netflix)
  • *I, Daniel Blake (Amazon Prime)


  • Brent Lodge Park including Hanwell Zoo

Ate at 


What did you get up to at the weekend? Have you ever been to Hanwell Zoo? 

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