Mortlake Fair 2014 ~ we survived a washout!


Mortlake Fair Saturday 28th June 2014

I must admit our enthusiasm for arriving at the Fair ( Mortlake Fair, London ) when it was due to open at midday was waning seeing the bucket loads of rain coming our way, but in true British style we headed down, slightly late for the opening but full of muster that we would enjoy ourselves.

The rain continued, my youngest kindly protected my camera under his anorak as silly mummy discovered hers was only ‘shower proof’ and that does not stand the test against British rain that is for sure.

The poor stall holders weren’t looking too jolly when we arrived, in fact some seemed to be contemplating leaving.

We all headed to the burger area, intent that there would be warmth and shelter, our thoughts right as we found the band area understandably empty of musicians but full of people sheltering.

Mortlake Fair Burger tent

Mortlake Fair Burger tent

The kids had burgers but the adults (us) decided to try the chinese tent, I must say we were very impressed.

Oh joy the rain tapered off a bit, my 11 yr old having stormed off announcing he was going to enjoy the fair, rain or no rain!!  That’s the spirit.

My husband found a pickle seller and spent rather a long time testing and trying various things, oddly coming back with Damsen Gin which apparently he wasn’t meant to be selling and some odd seaweed??  Really?  Plus a couple of pickle jars, all good fun.

Mortlake Pickle Seller

Mortlake Pickle Seller

I found myself heading towards a honey stall persuaded by my conscience of the fact that bees are in danger which has a huge impact on  us considering the benefits they provide through pollinating and the health benefits from eating the honey they make.  This honey is sourced from a few countries, packaged up under ‘Wild Hives’ and every supplier’s honey is raw and untreated.  There was quite a variety and the taste was either delicate or pungent, both equally lovely and I headed off with two good sized pots for £10.

If you fancy reaping the health benefits of honey why not try this local supplier:

Website:  Wild Hives

Wild Hives Stall at Mortlake Fair

Wild Hives Stall at Mortlake Fair

I have always fancied a traditional grocers in East Sheen, we used to have one down Wandsworth Bridge Road, where I used to live, which was taken over by Dansk Flowers as the supermarkets arrived.  I missed the banter, the freshness and haggling that would go on.

Being the Queen of online shopping I have used Abel and Cole before, so my eyes darted towards some lush looking boxes of vegetables by Riverford Organic farms.

I questioned the cheery stallholder on a comparison, she declared that Abel and Cole do not grow their own vegetables, whereas they do in the Devon Farm.  They also do not charge for delivery.

The produce is picked the day before, packaged up and delivered the next day, so not getting old use by dates, which I am finding increasingly frustrating even with Waitrose.  They also reckon that they supply more per pound spent on their healthy vegetables, so if you fancy some fresh vegetables delivered to your door why not give them a try?  Boxes start from just £10.35

Website:  Riverford Organic Farms

Riverford Organic Farms at Mortlake Fair

Riverford Organic Farms at Mortlake Fair

Being female I am always distracted by sparkly things so my next journey was towards a belly dancers stall, I spotted coined wraps, exotic jewellery but most of all the stall holders radiant smiles and bright Eastern clothing matched by a warm and welcoming personality.  I have tried belly dancing in the past and I must say, wow, it really gets to the parts that other general exercises does not, sounds like a beer commercial doesn’t it?

Anyway Krystina holds bellydance classes but aswell as this is having their Summer show on Sunday 20th July 2014, 5-7pm at St Michael’s Church Hall, Elm Bank Gardens, SW13 ONX.  

Tickets are £6 which includes a free glass of pimms.  If you have ever fancied bellydancing why not pop along, you will get the chance to dance, perform, shop and to support local bellydancers, perhaps treat your other half, most men like to watch a bellydancer don’t they?

If you wish to purchase tickets the email is:  Tel: 07528 097 153

Krystinas Belly Dance at Mortlake Fair

Krystinas Belly Dance at Mortlake Fair

The boys got distracted by the London Scottish Football Club and couldn’t resist indulging in their competitive spirit in the ball throwing pod that measured speed and impact.  The testosterone was flowing whilst I remained moderately amused and then distracted at the mention of their Summer Holiday Rugby Camps which caters for boys and girls U/6 to /U12 and U13 to /U18.

Arrive 9.30am registration, finish at 3pm

Price £25 per day

Discount of £10 when booking all three days in advance.

If you wish to find out details you can do so by calling 0203 3979 551

London Scottish Football Club at Mortlake Fair

London Scottish Football Club at Mortlake Fair

London Scottish Football Club at Mortlake Fair

London Scottish Football Club at Mortlake Fair

The rain petered on and off, there was plenty more to see, including East Sheen Village who kindly gave me free fairycakes which I must admit were very delicious.

I sneaked in a photo of JD one of the authors behind the website, so we can see the happy face behind the words written on various East Sheen business’s and events.

East Sheen Village stallholder at Mortlake Fair

East Sheen Village stallholder at Mortlake Fair

JD, one author of East Sheen Village, the smiling face behind the words

JD, one author of East Sheen Village, the smiling face behind the words

There was plenty more to see from boars heads being sold, childrens toys, a band striking up a tune finally when the rain allowed, beer tent, bouncy things, hair cutting, facepainting, jewellery and much more.

There was an interesting stall selling jewellery having been made out of genuine certificated artifacts an example of which you will see below:

Genuine certificated artifact jewellery seller at Mortlake Fair

Genuine certificated artifact jewellery seller at Mortlake Fair

Genuine certificated artifact jewellery seller at Mortlake Fair

Genuine certificated artifact jewellery seller at Mortlake Fair

We left before the rain finally drenched participants again but I leave you with a further gallery of the event for you to enjoy!

Thank you for reading ~ Justine x

© Justine @


HANDS Charity Twickenham Fair ~ a lovely affair!

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Twickenham Green Fair & HANDS Charity

We all went to the Twickenham Green Fair organized by the HANDS Charity on Bank Holiday 26th June 2014 and it was a lovely affair against all odds & this post is a little late as I lost a contact card for a little gem of a find that I had to just share with you, you will find this at the end of this article 🙂

The rain was drizzling to pouring off and on it’s usual psychotic way and the winds were blustering but in true British style we and the stall holders weathered the storm, be it the word ‘storm’ perhaps a tad dramatic, but it wasn’t your ‘ideal’ weather for a Fair.

It was a first visit for me to this particular fair and having taken time to visit a few now they are all a little bit different.

What was different about this Fair?

Twickenham Green Fair HANDS Charity

Twickenham Green Fair HANDS Charity

There is a saying “bite size pieces” and that is how I would sum up this fair.  It was a great size for just ambling, relaxing and taking in the ‘whole‘ fair without the stress of “oh my this is so huge I am never going to get around it”!

In the past I have found that I have been utterly exhausted at the end of going to a Fair, and even still then I don’t end up seeing all of it, so this was perfectly manageable which was a refreshing change.

It was organized by HANDS Charity, you can see a little that I wrote on the charity here – HANDS Charity

There were many Charities and volunteers present manning stalls which was great, the importance of Volunteering especially prevalent seeing as it is ‘Volunteering Week’ this week.

The Good Old Times

This Fair reminded me very much of the ‘good old times.’  I grew up in a village with a village green and this was very akin to a similar experience which living in London is a hard find.

However the Scouts were there with their coconut shy.  They were raising funds for their Scout Jamboree which sounds like a fantastic affair.  These two particular had been Scouts forever it seemed and their particular Jamboree was heading off to Japan.


As quoted on the Scouts website:

The World Scout Jamboree is a gathering of tens of thousands of Scouts and Guides from almost every country in the world who, for ten days  live together, experience each others cultures, take part in exciting activities and have an amazing adventure.

If you want to know a little more about the Jamboree and becoming a Scout click the following link – Scouts and Jamboree information

041There were also lots of lovey small challenges for the children to do at the Fair for instance one man had made a complex box with doors and keys, you had X amount of goes to guess the right key  = get the prize.  My son didn’t win but they gave him a consolation prize nonetheless.

We saw an amazing stamp collection, not that it has ever appealed to me stamp collecting, now that I am older I could appreciate how much time it takes, the variety and how some of the stamps really did look nice!

There were a few made jams and jellies.  My only complaint was the burgers could have been a tad better but the muffins overshadowed that completely in moorishness and the jovial atmosphere made it a very pleasant experience.  Lots of lovely nick naks were being sold, always a bargain to be found which is great for someone like me who enjoys rummaging!

 A gem of a potter was found

Whilst at the Fair I did discover a potter, who I would love to share with you.  She does not sell to shops, she only does her pottery for the love of it, does not take orders because as her husband pointed out, she will make three just to make sure one is right.  Sounds like a creative artistry in perfection to me.  If you saw the stall you would agree, her items are simply stunning, all dishwasher and oven safe.

All is not lost however, she has an open house for her pottery once a year where they live in Twickenham.  All items are usually sold out, but if you want to get one of her pieces you can find out when her open house is by telephoning 0208 755 3955.  It is in November sometime and her name is Barbara.


As always thank you for reading and viewing.  If you want a nice easygoing fair to pop to next year make sure you diarize this one!

Justine x

© Justine @

Oh Darling ~ Let me introduce you!


Oh Darling

I would like to introduce you to not only ‘Oh Darling’ but Ali who owns this lovely boutique shop that we have in East Sheen, London. (contact details can be found at the bottom of this post)

083Most of you will have seen Ali in her shop, I myself have always wanted to find out a little about her (that might sound weird but isn’t, promise!).

To me, Ali with her looks always had a certain ‘je ne said qoui’ and as such I was intrigued to get to know her a little better.  She however informs me that she really is quite ordinary and has no story to tell, but we ‘all’ have some kind of story to tell don’t we?

So we met up, to talk about ‘Oh Darling,’ it’s creation and also a bit about this lovely lady who wishes to make sure the residents of East Sheen have intriguing gifts, chique clothes, pretty ornaments and more to adorn our homes and  to wear.

Some Background History

Ali started of her working life as a ‘nursery nurse’ through the Government sector which she thoroughly enjoyed, however through policy changes and red tape, it ate away at the job satisfaction she felt and eventually she found herself taking on a career change.

Going in to the retail sector was through family ties, starting off in Fulham helping out relatives running perhaps a slightly less Boutique version of what ‘Oh Darling’ is now.

Luckily for us she eventually moved to East Sheen, taking over the property she is in now, but utilizing the ground floor only.  Slowly over the years she established her ‘look’ for the shop and a confident range of furnishing for us East Sheeners to enjoy!

However six years ago an informal conversation took place between Ali and two of the beauty therapists she frequented.  A suggestion was made to make a beauty salon out of her basement, everyone agreed and the idea was developed and it is now a thriving business.

Oh Darling Beauty Salon

Oh Darling reception area

Clean and elegant reception area

The salon downstairs comprises of two rooms and two full time therapists which Ali has known for a long time.

I have visited Martha, one of the therapists, quite a lot and having been a ‘holistic therapist,’ trained staff and ran clinics for over 20 years in the past I can confidently say that she is a great aesthieticienne.

Having a pedicure by Martha is like watching a creation of art being made, she treats ones feet like a sculpture being lovingly tended bit by bit until perfection is achieved.

Oh Darling Beauty very much concentrates on a core availability of treatments, the ones that we really cannot do without, leaving specialist, more costly treatments to be covered by other salons.

A basic summary of what is provided can be found below:

  • Facials
  • Body Treatments
  • Body Bronzing
  • Purifying Back Facial
  • Eye Tinting
  • Hand and Foot Treatments
  • Waxing
  • Men’s Treatments

There are some additional treatments provided over and above the standard menu, by other practitioners, these being…

  • Merz Aesthetics, Belotero which is a dermal filler by Gilham
  • RevitaLash by Justyna
  • Restylane
  • Suti by Suzanne

Opening Hours

Monday – Thursday 9.30- 6pm

Friday 9.30 – 6pm

Saturday 9.00 – 6pm

Using Local Artisans and Craftsmen

Love Art by Local Artist Mandy Belmokhtar

Love Art by Local Artist Mandy Belmokhtar

Ali makes a point of trying to use local craftsmen where possible, above you will find a painting by Mandy Belmokhtar and she also sells butterflies sourced ethically, framed and presented by another local resident called Ruth Yardy.

Below you will see a brief selection throughout the post of items sourced by Ali.

Whilst talking to her and finding out about how and where she gets her merchandise from I could see an almost tangible concern that she really takes on a lot of emotional responsibility for ensuring that she provides a variety of well made interesting pieces that her customers really will want and be interested in, in the vein more of being a service of satisfaction than just retailing, which is rare and lovely to see.

Range of Products

For a small space that is not cluttered there is a remarkably wide range of items available.  There is clothing from the Great Plains range which I have used before finding them to be of great quality and simple yet chique in appearance.  There is china, glassware, cards, kids toys, jewellery, ornaments, smellies, picture frames, the list is endless.

Ali has long time friend Jo helping her out who now goes on shopping trips to scout for interesting and new items. You will always find friendly chatter and a wrapping service no matter the time of year.


Being a nosy person of course I moved on to Ali’s tattoos and her dogs.

It is quite obvious that they are utterly adored and getting the chance to cuddle six month old Mabel, a mini dutchaund was a real treat and actually made me feel broody which was pretty scary!  Her dog menagerie started off with George who is a cavalier at the grand age of 13 years old, then Monty who is another mini dutchaund yet not quite so mini, he is five years old and now Mabel. The trio of musketeers sometimes making an appearance altogether if you are lucky!



As for the creative artwork that adorns Ali’s body, for those of you as nosy as me for the story behind them, it all started in her 40′s on a trip to Bali where the first one was bought for her as a present.   I won’t tell you how many she has now, but suffice to say they are a work in progress especially the rose upon her derriere.

So if you have not been to ‘Oh Darling’ it is well worth a visit be it to shop or treat yourself to an essential wax or massage.  You will receive a warm welcome and friendly banter from all the staff.

I would like to thank Ali for letting me interview her it was a grand pleasure.

Contact Details Including Social Media


Oh Darling Beauty Salon

Oh Darling Beauty & Lifestyle Boutique


Oh Darling

Address: 226 Upper Richmond Road West,East Sheen, London, SW14 8AH


020 88767226 (Shop)

020 8876 5588 (Beauty Salon)



Thank you as always for reading & viewing, Justine xx

© Justine @

A grand time was had at the Richmond May Fair ~ make sure to diarize it next year!

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The weekend before last we all went to the Richmond May Fair.  It was the first time for me and I was pleasantly surprised.

Mother and daughter selling their wares with a smile! Oh and a fan...

Mother and daughter selling their wares with a smile! Oh and a fan…

What appealed to me was the fact that there was a huge eclectic mix of stall holders.  The ambiance was jolly even in the blustery winds as you can see with the balloon lady, I half expected her to take off at any moment.

There I found the lovely old fashioned ‘traditional rides’ as you will see below, this always keeps especially the younger children happy…the sweet bubble as I call it was doing a thriving business too!

As well as this however, there was a large variety of different charities present with their stalls, activity and socially leg organizations, private stalls and a large amount of schools had tables too.

This is not to forget the craft tent which much to my dismay I only discovered at the end of our allotted time there when energy levels had plummeted but being a ‘shopper’ I had to make a visit through and out swiftly, keeping my purse tightly tucked in my pocket as I could hear my children wailing for me to come out…

The  buzz of activity as you can see was thriving around the school barbeques, the cake stalls and the children all seemed to enjoy doing their part to raise funds.

One of the charities that tugged at my heart amongst all the other well deserving ones was the Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare Organization which relies on donations to look after anything between 80-90 greyhounds at any one time.  With this responsibility comes also other than feeding and veterinary bills the general time spent walking them, socializing etc.

The average career duration for a greyhound normally goes no further than 4 years which is fairly young in doggie years.  As you can imagine there is a lot of time left for them to lead happy lives elsewhere, but often do not.  Having been at the tent I can say that they are simply adorable, very gentle in nature, I had to peel my children and dogs away from them.

I shall be intending to make a visit to them and do a fuller article however in the meantime so you might know, they offer people who do not have dogs the ability once vetted to come down and borrow one for a weekend, the same goes for coming down and dog walking, taking them on holiday and of course they look to re-home them as well.

With the large number they house, it is a good opportunity for people who do not have dogs due to living constraints or otherwise to be able to enjoy a slice of doggie heaven.

If you are interested in making a visit the number to ring is 01932 224918 and they are based in Hersham.  Or you can look up further details on their website here.

Until then, some pics of the beautiful hounds

They had a wonderful band playing when I arrived which later turned in to some funky dance music and various little shows.  I did of course get distracted by the vintage police car which looks rather like the policeman might be giving himself a ticket!!!

It was very doggy friendly and Teddy as usual had to say ‘hello’ to everyone, I wonder where he gets that habit from?

Then there was a fair amount of commotion at one corner of the Green, being nosy we wandered over only to find a large group of Morris Dancers.  Now I think these guys deserve a huge round of applause they were fantastic.  I know they get a bit of a rough time in the ‘trendy’ stakes but heck, they were fun to watch and my children were riveted, what child would not want to bang sticks against each other?

Personally I think they should introduce it in to the school syllabus 🙂

It was of course thirsty fun, so we popped in to ‘The Cricketers’ next door for a pint to sup whilst we enjoyed!

Before we discovered the ‘craft tent’ we bustled around saying hello and nosying generally in a few other tents and stalls, below of which you will see some.  We passed an enthusiastic human re-cycling advertisement, she was lucky not to be swept off her feet in the wind.

I got a grand smile from the Air Cadets and also the Petersham and Ham Sea Scouts

My son had a huge smile as he won a glass blown ornament in the shape of a dragon.  Do you remember those fragile glass animals that one used to collect as a child?  Now I am showing my age here.

I finished off as mentioned before in the craft tent, some simply stunning pieces of craftmanship, imported items, local products, I simply could not get around it all, luckily for my piece of plastic stuffed in my pocket.

I would like to say I drove this home but that would be a barefaced lie, yes another vintage car in the car park and I had to take a pic of it.105

As always thank you for reading.

You can see some more Fair dates on an earlier post, click here.

© Justine @

Fair Dates coming up:

Hands Charity Fair ~ Bank Holiday Monday May 26th 2014 ~ 10am – 3pm

Where – Twickenham Green

What – The Fair will be visited by the Major of Richmond who will peruse the 75 charity stalls at 11am.  As well as there will be home-made cakes, refreshments, another yummy BBQ a Summer must and amusements for children.

How much – free entry

Event contact details:

For further details see

retro chair

Let’s keep in touch!

The Open Day at the Hertford Avenue Allotment was a resounding success!


Hertford Avenue Allotment Open Day

Walking to the Hertford Avenue Allotment Open Day

Eager to see what’s going on

We trundled down to the Open Day around 1pm, expecting there to be a bevvy of burgers and cakes for us to chose from.

East Sheen Allotment BBQ man

Keith the BBQ man

No such luck the place was packed and most of the foods had been consumed, however we did manage to scoop up two sausage buns and chicken.  The latter had been sourced locally and marinated in a spicy chilli which was most yummy.

rice salad with chive flower heads

rice salad with chive flower heads

Two salads had been laid on, one very interesting with chive flower heads to decorate and eat, I bravely popped one in to my chicken burger and must say it was very delicious and has become a firm favorite for future Summer salads.  All four meals came to £8, a snip for Sunday lunch.


All cakes gone ;-(



My two children pounced on the last two cakes left, so mummy had to just smile and sup on a nice refreshing glass of water, until everyone was ready to explore through the allotment.

Money raised from the various sales which included raffle tickets, sales of plants and food, went towards general maintenance of the allotment.

At times they have had to prune trees back due to too much shadow and then insert drainage due to too much water logging.   The trading shed has also had to have money spent on it, due to vandals damaging the roof upon trying to break in.

The Trading Shed

The Trading Shed

On the matter of the ‘Trading Shed’, if you have a nice patch at home that you grow things in, you might be interested to know that if you join the Barnes, Mortlake & Sheen Horticultural Allotment Society which is very cheap,you can get heavily discounted seeds from the shed, without having to have an allotment,  details of which can easily be found on facebook here.

A story to tell

I met a very charming gardener called Keith, who also happened to be the BBQ man.

He has had his allotment for approximately 5 years.  Keith is heavily in to re-cycling and up-cycling all and any materials he can find and told me the ‘cycle’ of his allotment which tickled me pink.

As you will see, at the back of his patch the tops of the bamboo poles to support various plants have champagne corks on, ‘a time in his life before children, social life abundant and champagne a plenty’, we also moved on to a golf ball as a topper, presumably ‘a time ‘before children’ when golfing could be easily fitted in’.

We move then on to CD’s to scare away the birds, which is a great idea, ‘a time ‘before and with children.”

Moving on swiftly to the stoppers being very colourful plastic baby food lids, ‘a time ‘now with children’.’

Ending up with a lovely bit of re-cycling, using a babygate on the seedling shed, then a proud display of a small floral garden made by his now 4 1/2 yr old daughter, a baby also soon on the way, so now doubt another small bit of ‘lifes history’ will be added at some stage.

082We all took a walk down the allotment, from one end to the other as you can see it is quite vast, the picture only depicts a portion of the space used.

I noticed many things on my walk, one being that there were many areas of small tables and chairs set up, some by the river, some under pergolas and it was obvious that great friendships had been struck between allotment owners as they sat chatting and drinking a bevvy.

117There were also families, I could hear children by their own small little plots discussing the various things they had planted which was just wonderful to witness.

Below I am highlighting in a gallery some of the flower shots I took, one of my favorite things to capture as you might guess.  

If you click on the photo twice, it will bring up an enlarged version, there will also be an arrow which will allow you to scroll through the whole gallery to see the floral display in it’s full glory. 



Scarecrows were found everywhere, of which I took some photos.
There was a competition to make the scariest one, I do not know who won, which one do you think the scariest or best and why?


Different plots reflected the character of their owners too, some I found very ‘arty‘, some very ‘minimalist and functional’, some very ‘socially  orientated‘, some had birds, some ponds, it was very varied and interesting to view.

I finished off the day a little sunburnt but happy to have been given the chance to peruse this green space saved for hard working green fingers.

If you wish to apply for an allotment you apply through the Council, there is a waiting list.  Apply here.

If not and you just wish to enjoy the facilities when they are open, the next ‘Open Day’ will be in September so watch this space 🙂

Thank you as always for reading/viewing.

Justine x

© Justine @

A great day out was had ~ make a date for your dairy to visit Morden Hall & further Oakleigh Fairs!


What an amazing day out!

Emma Owen, Director of Oakleigh Fairs very kindly gave me a family ticket for one of their fairs being held the weekend just gone at Morden Hall.  I have to admit having never been to this area, yet alone one of the Oakleigh Fairs so was curious to see what it would all be like.

To get to Morden Hall took us under 30 minutes from East Sheen, so it is shocking that we have never been before.  Without even the fair being present it is a place that we will definitely visit again.

It is a National Trust park located near the banks of the River Wandle in Morden, South London.  It has around 50 hectares of sprawling land covered currently in buttercups and daisies, shadowed in areas for comfort by majestic trees, the River Wandle meandering its way through the vast area spanned by numerous foot bridges.

You can just turn up, bring a picnic blanket and plant yourself somewhere to relax for the day, en famille or not, or take a stroll through the craft, educational and gardening shops or get a cuppa at the cafe.

Now I move on to the actual fair, I was not disappointed at all, it provided something for everyone and all budgets.


There were lovely craft stalls selling hand made items….

If you are a doggie lover you would have had plenty of waggy tails waiting for a stroke, or better still watch the various canine activites including terrier racing.

Being an animal lover you would have had plenty to see donkeys, farm animals, ferrets.  Most of which could be stroked and handled, the children especially took delight in this.

There was a plethora of tents, some of which housed retail items such as jewellery from all corners of the world, a real eclectic mix.  There were craft items, imported items.

We now move on to the food for sale, oh boy there was a lovely variety from various breads, pastries, sausage rolls, different oils and vinegars, curries, turkish delights and more, too many to mention.  Some were home made, some were franchise companies.  We stocked up on some lovely fig vinegar, turkish delight, various rolls and breads.  All of which I know won’t last long in the house.

Outside there were many stalls selling what I call Fairground toys, an area where the kids eyes would light up with toys on view and challenge activities to pursue.


Hand made mechanical structures from children's plastic toy pieces.

Hand made mechanical structures from children’s plastic toy pieces.


There were children’s activities with fairground rides, balls to get in to on water and land to move around in and get exhausted, face painting, Jesters, blow up ladders to climb and slide down plus much more, my children were wiped out by the end….

I particularly enjoyed the re-enactments, I found the people there very passionate about what they were doing.  Children were allowed to try on the various bits of armour, to touch the weapons, see old photographs and uniform.

I met one woman called Sandy who has  a tent full of Anglo/Zulu warfare, these possessions having been passed down from generation to generation through her family.  She does not sell anything yet does tours around schools for free educating children on this history.  My children were enthralled with her stories.  If you are interested in her coming to your school please use the contact form on my blog with your particular information and I shall forward details to her.

There were also skilled tradesmen showing their talents in ancient skills such as willow weaving, you will see below some of the amazing things that can be made…

The ‘Big Band’ provided a lovely backdrop to plant your rug and tuck in to all those tasty treats bought in the tents…

The Big Brass Band

The Big Brass Band

We didn’t get to see all the Fair, there were ‘Birds of Prey’ that we missed and the ‘Kondini’s stunts and extreme magic tricks”.  You will see below the stall and some very ‘naughty’ mugs that they sold.  Apparently  they  nearly sold out having retailed over 20 in just a short time span, it just goes to show what us ‘fair ground’ punters like to buy.  Did I buy one?  That would be telling.

We finished off totally exhausted but happy with some freshly squeezed lemonade, the home made cider having brought up quite a thirst.

I would recommend you look out for dates next year for this fair and diarize and perhaps if you have a weekend day spare pop by to Morden Hall it really is a great place to escape even if for a few hours.

As always, thank you for reading/viewing

Justine xx

© Justine @


Lovely Easter Egg Hunt by The Friends of Palewell Common!

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What a lovely Easter Egg Hunt we had run by The Friends of Palewell Common

On Saturday the 6th, The Friends of Palewell Common set up an Easter Egg Hunt.  This organization is voluntary, occasionally getting grants for various things to improve our green space that we call Palewell Common.

  • If you wish to see what they do, click here.  
  • If you wish to download a form to join The Friends of Palewell Common, click here.

You  might not know that The Friends of Palewell Common planted some fruit trees in the Common, how lovely is this?  The children can learn and benefit from the fruit when ripe.


The Friends of Palewell Common also provided our lovely fencing that I have admired in the past.  This is an old type of fencing technique that takes quite some time to master and is also not cheap, but provides a natural boundry that is pleasing to the eye for residents such as us.  However you will see that sadly some of the fencing has been destroyed, it pays to be mindful when using the common to take care of what has been provided for us.

Moving on from this, and on to the event!

Palewell Common

Friends of Palewell Common

There was a little table set up for the event & posters being set out.

The idea was to go and hunt for a piece of card placed on a stick, the card was in the shape of an egg, presumably members had taken time to construct and cut out all of these what I call ‘Easter Egg Sticks’ to find.

The Friends of Palewell Common

Posters being put up by one member!

They were then placed in various places about the common.  They were not in too difficult places to find, so very suitable for young children.  I have suggested next year perhaps to have a tier system of difficulty to try and attract the older kids too, which should be fun.

Easter Egg Sticks

Easter Egg Sticks

My youngest son did not grasp the concept of only one Easter Egg Stick per child, which would result in one egg for him and me giving my information to The Friends of Palewell Common to presumably go on their mailing list.

My youngest promptly ran around the playground picking up every single one, only to be sent back by myself to put them back.

He chose to place one on top of the climbing frame, all of us adults refused should it not be found to go and get it!

We started from scratch again and off to the edge of the forest.

It was a lovely opportunity also to take in the beauty of Spring Time, plus meet a few four legged friends along the way.

020018Each son collected an Easter Egg Stick, which was summarily then returned, resulting in a  small chocolate egg as a prize.  Information handed over and membership card given (I did pay earlier!) and a lovely chat was struck between me and some of the Committee members who I can wholeheartedly say show their passion in this endeavour to improve our green space joyfully which is wonderful to see.

Friends of Palewell Common
Friendly Committee members of the Friends of Palewell Common

I would encourage anyone local to join and have a say in our space and hopefully donate time and or experience to help this small venture take off even further.

Once again thank you for reading, Justine x

© Justine @

Swirling coffee & how to keep in touch

Lets keep in touch!


The Boat Race – A clear win for Oxford!

Thames River The Boat Race

A murky view!

A murky late afternoon for The Boat Race

I am rather embarrassed to say that this was the first time that I had gone down to watch The Boat Race.  What a murky early evening it was too.  The skies were spitting, threatening to dampen our experience, but we were full of British spirit as we ‘all’ (kids included and dogs, no one dog!) wandered down to the Barnes area of the river.

We got a great vantage point, the camera crew were out and a clear space on the river wall to lean over and prepare cameras for ‘that’ shot, which unfortunately with my rather old camera was rather fuzzy, but nonetheless I shall share with you anyway.

I must say that though the weather proved to be rather dull, there was one bright ray on my viewfinder whilst toiling the minutes away waiting, rather sunny and lovely don’t you think, even for an umbrella?

yellow umbrella

A sunny sight!

We watched overhead, the helicopters giving a good clue as to what was going on, and here they were..or should I say…here Oxford was, with a clear win by a strapping 11 lengths, apparently the biggest margin of victory since 1973.

Cambridge started aggressively but Luke Juckett had his rigger damaged in an early on, making rowing effectively impossible for him.  They did however remain in good spirits continuing energetically for the crowd until the end, finishing at Mortlake.

Some fuzzy pictures for those who couldn’t be there.

I must say though short but sweet, I enjoyed the experience and will make sure to get my walking legs on again next year to support this grand event.

There is no better way to finish off watching such a sporting spectacle than to have  a pint and a burger.  We trundled down to The Sun who had a barbeque going.  I was presented with burgers that were just onions and beef or pork burgers.  Being a fusspot I said “what no cheese, what no salad?”  Promptly the reply was no.  My heart sank, thinking “not being a fan of burgers in the first place this is not looking good”.  However, I must say that was the best burger I have ever had, the meat was delicious, so if you fancy a great burger, head on down to The Sun.  Apparently they do more elaborate ones not on The Boat Race night, so it is a no brainer, you will be pleased.

Thank you as always for reading!

Did you go to The Boat Race?

© Justine @

relax and chat with cup of coffee

Use me then toss me to the kerb!

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That title might seem a bit dramatic, but I guess that is how I, myself feel when after Christmas you walk down the street, still having that little tingle from the festive season, only to have your eyes greeted with our faithful once glorious trees slung out on to the pavement.

Now, I know there is a reason for this, i.e. the refuse lorries will come to collect them and recycle them, but still, it does make one think, is this a waste?  For the more emotionally led people like me, yes I would probably have the tingly feeling linger on a little longer rather than the blatant reminder of the finality of it all seeing the pavement now akin to a Christmas Tree graveyard.



So lots of questions now running through my mind.  Let’s start at mid point, the acquisition of the Christmas Tree.  During the Christmas period as expected the pavement outside our local Garden Centre was bulging with daily deliveries from large lorries filled with Christmas Trees.  Each day these were replenished, I simply cannot imagine how many trees are bought in this period.

We take them home with pride, full of excitement and dress them up in our many varying ways, then spend days admiring them, the centre piece of most houses over this period.

My Christmas tree

My Christmas tree

Don’t we all have that special bauble, a little heirloom from past, or are you one of those people who completely re-dresses your tree differently each year?

Vintage baubles from Ever so Flo!

Vintage baubles from Ever so Flo!

A nice idea-Create an Heirloom

To me, even as an adult, walking in to a room dedicated to just Christmas baubles is quite magical, so for a child even more so.  Do you take your child to go and purchase items over this period?  If not, I really can’t recommend enough that you do so, it is a childhood memory not to be forgotten.  I used to visit a shop in Fulham, that was ‘only’ for Christmas decorations, it was closed most of the year as the Owner went around various countries picking up unusual baubles.  She said to me, “Why not let your child chose a new bauble each year, they have their own box of their own baubles that they have chosen each year and then when they are grown up, they can decorate their own tree with their childhood collection or pass it on to their children”.  What a wonderful idea, something I have only done ad-hoc and regret utterly not doing fully.

Moving on, Christmas is over, the tree is stripped, it’s almost quite callous, its finery ripped from its branches, sat there perhaps for a day naked before being wrenched from its new home and tossed on to the street, well pavement, just waiting with others for collection.

That is unless you are like me, and have a false Christmas Tree.  Mine once belonged to my mother, so I ‘sort’ of think/hope that I have been fairly ‘eco’ friendly in this matter.

So, yes probably due to too much time on my hands I wanted to find out exactly what does happen to the abandoned faithful friends left on the pavement to whither and become a pale shadow of their former glory.

I phoned up the London Borough of Richmond and Thames Council and spoke to a lovely man called David Ingham, who is………the Waste Minimisation Officer.

He informed me of the following:

– The residents do not pay an extra charge for the collection of their tree; it is swallowed up in the usual Council Tax bill.

– The trees (only real trees), are taken to a site in Oxfordshire by train to be composted in windrows. This is a large scale composting technique.  The Council have to pay for this to be done, but as David explained, the compost costs less than it costs for the Council to pay for it to be taken, but it would cost more for them to do it themselves.  The compost then is commercial grade and used in various locations.

 – I include here an additional piece of information as written by David himself to further clarify on the trees recycling:

the value of the compost produced does not cover the full cost of composting the trees so the Council still have to pay towards them being composted, but the composting fee is much less than the one they would pay to landfill the trees instead.  Moreover recycling creates more jobs than landfilling as well a useful product at the end that provides added economic value and can reduce the use of artificial fertilisers that can have a large environmental impact.  The compost produced is of a commercial grade and used in various applications like farming and landscaping, of which there is a healthy market in Oxfordshire and surrounding counties.  So the compost should face little onwards transport after it is produced.

 – He also informed me of another interesting fact just now….that elephants enjoy eating Christmas trees!  I informed him that unfortunately we had no elephants in East Sheen.  However, that would have been a very novel recycling idea 🙂

I asked David if he thought it more ‘eco’ friendly to have a false tree, than a real one.  He is very passionate and mind bogglingly knowledgeable which is re-assuring, about the where, whys, pros and cons of each scenario.  We hit a heady roundabout of the pro’s of growing the trees, to the cons of transporting them, the pro’s of using false trees if made out of the right materials, to the cons of using false trees if sourced from non eco sources and if people discard them regularly.

We did not come to any specific conclusion, other than; it’s a personal decision which should be backed by mindfulness to our carbon footprint, recycling and general wastage.

There are some great web sites for alternative uses for Christmas Trees, like bee hotels.  If you are interested please click on the links below:

 – Earth911, more ideas, less waste – fire starters, mulch and pathway edgers and even to preserve a fish habitat

 – s – bee hotels

 – Networx – here we have a wealth of ideas!

– On a sundry note there is a local group that meets up to discuss environmental issues called Twickenham Green Drinks.

And now, I take a round trip, because we never discussed the history of the Christmas Tree, the reason behind it.  I myself did not know it, so took time to find out and here is what I found.

“Noël”Christmas No. 1725)

The Christmas Tree custom developed in early modern Germany, whereby devout Christians dating back as early as the 16th, possibly 15th century brought these trees, usually an evergreen conifer, such a spruce, pine or fir in to their home.  The Christmas trees were hung in St Georges Church since 1521 after the popularity of this tradition spread in the second half of the 19th Century.

There is still circumspection as to the Christmas Tree’s origin however and many theories going about, which of course are interesting titbits of information in themselves, ones to either believe or not, but adds to the whole ‘feeling’ of ‘reasoning’ when one does grace a room with such a sacred sight.

It is said the Egyptians, Chinese and Hebrews used evergreen trees, wreaths and garlands to symbolize eternal life.  The pagan Europeans indulged in tree worship, surviving their conversion to Christianity, the Scandinavian custom being to decorate the house and barn with evergreens upon New Year with the idea if would scare away the devil.

It is also called the tree of paradise, used in mystery plays given on the 24th December.  In such plays the tree is decorate with apples to represent forbidden fruit.  The paradise tree was later placed in homes and the apples replaced by round objects such a shiny red balls.

And here in Britain, the tradition of the tree did not happen until some two centuries ago when George III’s German born wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz introduced a Christmas tree when having a children’s party in 1800.  The custom then slowly took off after having first being embraced by the Royal Family namely Queen Victoria.


Julekort, 1880

So, I lead on to finish this piece as there is much to read up on the matter should one be so inclined in learning a little bit more history on our evergreen friend.

There is also much to think about, will you change your custom next year, buy a false tree, a real one, will you buy one with roots and plant it somewhere else, will you indulge in some great way to recycle your tree or leave it slung on the pavement for the Council to collect?

As for me, I will get my faithful friend out again.  Perhaps a little different theme, but I have an abundance of baubles and treats.

Will I do what I did this year, go to Palewell Common and cut a few holly branches and pine branches to decorate back at home, yes probably?  But next time I will definitely take gloves, it was darn painful and I felt like a midnight thief wandering through the foliage finding suitable victims.

A Christmas friend

A Christmas friend

To finish, a friend said to me “now on that recycling matter what exactly did you do with your twigs of holly and pine, did you recycle it?”  I hesitated a moment, stomach sinking as to my total hypocrisy, for I had in fact cut them up and thrown them in my kitchen bin, what did I answer?  I said “oh yes, I cut them up and made them in to lovely little nests for the robin”.  He said “really?”.  I answered “oh yes, and I fed the berries to him”  At which point or probably long before I was laughed out of court, not surprising really! (grins evilly)

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