There’s nothing like a bit of guest blogging to provide new insights and fresh perspectives. Here are twickerati we always welcome contributions from readers, bloggers, residents and local businesses – in fact, anyone with something to say. In this guest article, Twickenham resident Katy Earley of the excellent local Modern Mummy blog gives her view on why Twickenham is the place to bring up kids.

A Modern Mummy in Twickenham: Why Twickenham is a great place to bring up your children.
by Katy Earley from www.modernmummy.co.uk

The author, pictured not very recently
Those of you that follow my blog will know that I’m a Twickenham girl, born and bred. I have never ventured further than TW11 and am now nicely settled in TW2, two streets away from the road I grew up in.

I was chatting to a friend at the weekend who asked why I had never moved away. Not even for University (I studied at St Mary’s College in Strawberry Hill). She was shocked that I’ve lived in the borough for all my thirty years, and even more horrified when I said I had no intention of leaving either. But why would I want to? What could I possibly gain from moving to another borough or another county?


No Need To Move
Twickenham is a great place to live and – more importantly – Twickenham is a great place to bring up kids. And I’m not just being soppy and reminiscing about my own childhood here either. Ah, the 80s. The good old days, when you could leave your BMX outside Rosewarne’s newsagent without worrying about it getting stolen and a penny sweet cost you exactly that!

As the mother of a seventeen month old, it has dawned on me recently that my reasons for choosing to live somewhere can no longer be determined by the local pubs and transport links into London (although those are still contributing factors, of course. The local pubs especially!)

When contemplating selling my house last year, I considered a move slightly further out of London. But I resisted the lure of getting more for my money for the simple reason (in my humble opinion at least) that nothing beats Twickenham.

The schools in the Richmond borough are second to none. In the 2010 Children’s Services Assessment, Ofsted scored Richmond borough a 4. The highest grade possible. Richmond borough ‘performs excellently’ according to the Ofsted report (a full copy of which can be found here).

Things To Do, Cake To Eat
The activities available for children (of all ages – not just toddlers) are unbeatable. I had no idea about the number of different clubs and classes on offer, both those arranged by private companies and those funded by the Council and provided by local Sure Start Centres. The only thing I could fault the Council for is the lack of advertising for all of them. Some of the best places I’ve found I have stumbled upon by chance and have been completely off the beaten track. Did you know you can go to free baby massage and baby yoga classes (and others) at your local Sure Start centre? I didn’t either until my daughter was too old for them. Do you know about the range of things on offer at Krafty Kidz on Heath Road in Twickenham? I always presumed it was for older kids until I popped in when passing one day and had a brilliant afternoon painting and generally making a mess, with my then one year old, for a bargain £1.

What about Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery on Church Street? Not only do they offer a very lovely and very affordable high tea for grown ups, they do them for children too – AND they’re allowed to use real china. It is for this reason that I started my blog – to review as many local businesses as possible and raise awareness of all the facilities available to parents in Twickenham and the surrounding areas. And to talk about cake.

Location, Location, Location
On a more general note, Twickenham’s location is perfect – we have excellent road links out of town and excellent public transport links into town. We also have fantastic parks and open spaces, the Council do a great job at encouraging recycling, and crime rates and pollution levels are low. We have our own theatre and galleries and a fantastic collection of shops (with lots of small, local and family run businesses going strong – like Sandy’s Fishmongers on King Street and Ellis Fine Foods, the butchers on Whitton High Street. Let’s face it, that’s no mean feat while Tesco and other big brands are trying to take over the world).

And, of course, the pubs and restaurants are some of the best London has to offer. The best bit is that the majority of them are kid friendly too! The Cabbage Patch on London Road has been a firm favourite for years (pre baby and post – I was your friendly local barmaid at The Room At The Top whilst studying at St Mary’s. Yes, the one that used to force you to buy shots), and a more recent addition to my list of baby friendly pubs in the area is recently refurbished and renamed Royal Oak on Richmond Road, previously The Tup. Another drinking establishment I have grown up with.

I realise that people will argue that other towns have similar attributes to offer, and this is where the sentimentality kicks in. I’ve lived here a long time, and of course there have been times when I have found living in Twickenham frustrating (the inability to leave your house in the car on rugby days, for example, and sometimes I must confess I do wonder what my council tax is spent on). But overall I can honestly say that I love Twickenham. And for all those reasons that I’ve listed above my family and I are here to stay.

By Katy Earley, http://www.modernmummy.co.uk