Keeping It Local

Sometimes when it’s warm and it’s a Friday and you’ve spent the week recouperating, working, being at holiday club or whatever, you don’t want to venture too far. Especially when you’re wearing your Elsa dress over shorts and a t-shirt.

Sutton Ecology Centre

So when I got home from work today we wandered up the road to the Honeywood Museum as they’ve just opened a new cafe. On the way to Honeywood is the Sutton Ecology Centre – a fab area in Carshalton which has nature information, allotments, a pond and plenty of things to learn about as well as making good use of everyday things (like tyres – I love how they’ve based a garden around them). Our trip was just a short cut as I was fairly sure the cafe closed at 5pm (I was right) and we made it with five minutes to spare.

Sutton Ecology Centre

The Honeywood Museum is at Honeywood House on Carshalton Ponds, and is a lovely old house dedicated to the history of Carshalton as well as the people who have lived in the house and life there through various times. There’s a war room which H found really interesting and lots for kids – including dress up and an activity area – and it’s free. The cafe is new to the house and serves Movenpick ice cream – and a fine selection too! We grabbed a table right next to the ponds and enjoyed our cones.

H by the ponds

The daffodils are still in full bloom, and the area around the ponds looks lovely – though people still seem to throw their rubbish in there. I have no idea why people would do that. Madness.

Carshalton Ponds

We walked around the ponds, crossing into Grove Park which has a cut of water from the ponds which leads further down, turning into the River Wandle (which then runs into the Thames) – and where there are many ducks and even a heron. It’s one of the few places locally that I love and go back to as it has a great sense of calm. It feels safe too – I can let H wander ahead and she’s happy, whether it’s chatting to squirrels or just wanting to get to the play area at the top of the hill.

Her favourite things in the park are those dizzy-inducing spinny things you sit in that I can’t even look at, and the fireman’s pole.

climbing frame

We stayed for a play for a while and for the first time H was able to almost climb to the top of the castle in the playground. She’s grown.


We walked past the Carshalton Water Wheel which has had the main hut area restored recently. It doesn’t say what they’re doing there, but there is something going on. Intriguing…!

Carshalton Water Wheel

After a busy afternoon playing we popped into The Sun pub, our local which is right by The Grove, H was super happy as we got the little cubby hole area to sit in, and Shaun joined us.


I do like living here. As I’ve said on The Adequate Parent, it’s a lovely place. It’s just annoying our rent situation is set to change, though fortunately the landlady isn’t selling (she’s just increasing our monthly rent by £280 a month). The rent hike means we can still do all the free things, but helping the local businesses exist by having a quick beer or stopping for an ice cream might be something we have to do without. That makes me sad. I like to spend money on things which help other people locally.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Carshalton Frost Fair

We celebrated the second Carshalton Frost Fair today – packed full of stalls of local businesses by the ponds. In addition to this Sutton Ecology Centre had their Christmas Fair as well – which included their fab Santa trail!

Things are slowing down here. It’s getting colder and we’re staying in more, shame on us. However, a Saturday afternoon wandering by the ponds checking out all the stalls was great – there were some fabulous cake stalls (we missed out on the rainbow cake, alas) and our favourite Koula’s Kitchen was there so we stocked up on more locally made jam – H and Koula get on well and she always gets a special jar of her own to take home!

Carshalton Frost Fair

By the ponds there were two stages – one with all sorts, from choirs to clog dancers, bell ringers – nice festive entertainment and the kind of things which make Carshalton feel like a village. The other stage had local bands performing acoustic sets. Last year H enjoyed The Dirty Spoons, but they were on a little later this year so we missed them. The kids all got to dance to earlier acoustic acts though, a special mention goes to the loud guitar bits one artist had, and watching the two four year olds clamp their hands over their ears as it was too loud! I tried to get a photo but failed… (bottom photo, bottom right)

Yet again our favourite had to be the Ecology Centre’s Christmas trail – making your way around the grounds to find Santa’s sack (with clues, paw prints and tracks to help you find each clue.) It was perfect for a four year old that can read – they ran on ahead looking for prints while getting outside. Sutton Ecology Centre is right in the middle of Carshalton – yet it’s a lovely wild open space. It’s somewhere we need to get to more often, especially as it’s on our doorstep.

Carshalton Frost Fair

H and her friend M did the trail around the grounds and bumped into another friend from school, so the three girls ran around finding clues and having a great time. Of course, the end of the trail has them finding santa and a prize, which cheered them all up. We headed back out to the fair, buying more home made decorations for the tree from yet more local crafty people (it’s this point I wish I’d picked up some cards as I can’t name them), and finished off the day with a quick drink in The Sun who also had a craft stall outside, selling things that are currently available from their little shop in the outside area – Christmas decorations and more.

It felt really good to live here this weekend, with that and the Christmas lights the week before (where I picked up some of Calladoodles lovely wrapping paper – check out their website!) it’s really starting to feel festive around here. I have just one task left to do – I need photos of the lavender lights in Wallington!

Linking in to Country Kids this week!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

You Can Shop Local With MyHigh.St

I like to support local businesses where we are as much as possible – especially with all the recent articles about big online retailers who shall remain nameless right now. We’ve some great shops, but they don’t stock everything – but fear not, help is on the way with!

myhigh.stMyHigh.St concentrates on local shops and has some fabulous choice – and even better, you can order online. There’s so much choice – from food to craft to crockery to bakeware, creams, lotions and potions, and gadgets too!

The site looks lovely. For me, part of a good shopping experience is a good looking site – and MyHigh.St has just that; a good logo, the right fonts, enough information. It’s somewhere I enjoyed having a good browse.

Because of my terrible lack of style, I like to have things around me that don’t match so somehow one day they will. This is why this wonderful purple cookware fry pan jumped out at me. Colourworks purple frying pan

Who doesn’t want a purple frying pan? Seriously, I love it! I NEED it. What’s your favourite colour?

One thing I’m bad at is sleeping. Which is why this Sleepy Cream jumped out at me – it looks lovely and boy, do I need some sleep. If you click their shop name (Querencia) you can see a picture of their premises. If I happened to be in Stroud this is exactly the sort of shop I’d go into. I quite like that about the site – you get an idea of the kind of things the shops sell, you get a feel for them. They’re online shops with personalities! querencia sleepy cream

In our house you can never have too many mugs. Especially if they’re Brontë themed – but if all else fails, Emma Bridgewater has half pint mugs too! With spots! Obviously I need it to go with my purple frying pan and orange Brontë cup. Wuthering Heights mug Emma Bridgewater mug

I think you’ll find I have impeccable taste!

Shaun says he would buy this Stellar Electrical Stand Mixer as he’s always wanted one and as he does like to try all our gadgets at home. The most pleasing thing is that the shops on MyHigh.St don’t just stock local things – there’s big brands for sale – but you’re supporting the local shops. Stellar Electrical Stand MixerThat’s not all. The shops within MyHigh.St have a points system, Hi-Points – you earn one Hi-point per £1 spent to spend online with them. As someone who keeps many kinds of points this sort of shopping appeals to me!

I was going to add how I wish the site broke up the shops into areas (especially as they offer click & collect for some purchases) when I stumbled across this page – it’s going to happen! You can discover some new high streets – I can’t wait for it to launch! At a time when we’re all being encouraged to shop local, this kind of setup, and it being free is brilliant – I’ve already recommended it to one of my local stores, hopefully they’ll get on board!

This is my entry for a blogger competition to try and win £200 to spend on the site – all items above are ones we’d definitely buy!