So much for ‘low key’ and ‘no fuss’ – as the countdown to Scrip’s first birthday begins in earnest (23 days…) I find myself designing invites, planning a big spread and researching the best way to buy helium balloons in the shape of number one. They must be large and shiny (and possibly pink).
We’ve decided to go for a family affair, plus two close friends and another baby, on her actual birthday, which is luckily a Saturday. Scrip’s lovely Aunty (well, one of them) has offered to make her cake, and my MIL is already planning a large tray of sandwiches (and asking me to confirm how many rounds we’ll need…) Then on my day off after the weekend, there’ll be a gathering of babies and mums or nannies who are around for a bit of an afternoon play and a cupcake or two. There are likely to be a few of us so I’m looking for venues at the moment. A room or area in a cafe or even a pub around Chiswick or the Askewniverse would be ideal – hopefully I’ll find somewhere perfect and post about it afterwards.
Scrip’s already been to a few first birthdays – she’s worn a little party hat, fought over toys, hoovered up chocolate cake crumbs and even taken home her first party bag. And I’ve really enjoyed the ones I’ve been at with her, even if they are all rather hectic.
I’ve become much more of a ‘local’ since being on mat leave. Not in the sense of engraved tankard and the usual down pub (although I did find out pubs in the daytime can be great places to take babies – lots of room, not so crowded, good changing facilities etc.) No, I mean I’ve really enjoyed discovering – and rediscovering – local life. Something I never thought I’d say in London.
I’ve always been a fan of our local corner shop, but the last nine months have actually meant I’ve had time to stop and chat to the nice owners rather than dashing in and out on a milk run just before the 7pm closing. My postman and I now know each other well, which is lucky because he’s seen me at my worst; in my dressing gown, hair everywhere, balancing a small baby mid-change. And as for the Amazon delivery man – he’s almost on the Christmas card list.
Then there are my local shops and cafes in the Askewniverse (aka Askew Road) and Chiswick, run by some lovely people who always ask after Scrip. The mat leave coffee drinking does come with the territory – but in my defence socialising with other mums is really important when you’re struggling with a new baby, and strong caffeine is an essential. So, after careful ‘research’, here are my top five places to be a west-London local: