Being a Modern Twicker-mum

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

13 Comments

Filed under Features, Reviews, What's on

13 responses to “Being a Modern Twicker-mum

  1. Joblot

    Seems it was so good she doesn’t live here any more. Reading the blog it seems she’s happy to big up more than just Twickenham for a sample or two

  2. twickerman

    To quote Phil Spencer on C4’s Location, Location, Location: “What’s wrong with Teddington?…..Well it’s just not Twickenham is it?”
    Not that there’s anything wrong with Tedders. It’s just not quite as good as Twickers!

    Regardless of petty local rivalry, we’re all fortunate to live in a very beautiful part of London & England.

    • Happy

      I love Twickenham soooooooooooooo much, that even when I lived in THailand I banged on that much about Twickenham that much that people thought I worked for the Twickers tourist board!

    • Happy

      My only problem with my beloved Twickenham is that dodgy stretch of King St containing Poundland,Iceland and stretching down towards that god awful shop, Morrisons..We need more shops like the wonderful Sandy’s. Surely we wanna raise the tone not encourage it to plummet

  3. Happy

    Weird isn’t how people who live Whitton say they live in TWickenham, Strawberry Hill/Teddington, StMargaret/Richmond,East Twickenham/Richmond…………….everyone aspiring to have a smarter address

    • Gareth Roberts

      Well I suppose it’s only to be expected when you have a party running the council which believes that Richmond, a place with a mainline railway station, a tube station, two theatres, two cinemas, a bus station, a six lane dual carriageway running next to it, a major shopping area, many pubs and restaurants, a museum and two libraries, is a village

    • Happy

      Mmmmmmmmmmm………. Thank you for your response

  4. If we could just have a cinema again, just a little, comfy one, I’d be a happy woman.

    • michelangelo

      there are film shows available – for instance there was an open-air showing of Bugsy Malone on the Diamond Jubilee Gardens 10 days ago, there is another open-air film at Strawberry Hill on Sept 8, and Arthurs on the Green has film nights every month.

  5. A word of warning to prospective incomers reading this: the huge influx of young families in recent years has outstripped the capacity of many of our most popular infant and junior schools, so that the effective catchment area of these schools, determined by distance only, has shrunk and shrunk.

    Families who live too far away to get a place at, e.g. Orleans Infants, will be offered a place elsewhere in the borough, which may be highly inconvenient or even impossible to get to in the morning rush.

    The current, Conservative, council has responded to this challenge by cutting back and delaying the expansion of places planned by its Liberal Democrat predecessor.

    So caveat emptor!

    See: http://www.stmgrts.org.uk/archives/2010/10/press_release_liberal_democrats_on_st_margarets_sc.html

  6. Great article – I love Twickenham too! I moved here from Manchester when I married my husband – a Whitton boy. Whitton, a kind of village on the outskirts of Twickenham, is a very special place deserving of far more recognition than it often gets. But Twickenham united – we are very happy here and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

  7. Nicely said Katy- I totally agree! Similarly, we thought about moving north or east to somewhere a bit cooler- but actually there’re not many places better than Twicks. What does it for me is the fact that the river and so many pretty parks are on our door step.
    However, apart from the two you mentioned, I’m surprised there aren’t more shops and services catered to parents seeing as there are so darn many of us. BTW I tried out Krafty Kidz after reading your blog -also thinking it was for older children and not knowing about the play area – so thank you 😉