Life was always busy but since I have had my own business, the boundaries between work and home are less defined. It’s tempting to be dipping in to emails and the like at all times of the day and night, and to feel like you are working 24/7. Over the last 18 months, I have realised that not only is it not sustainable, but it can also be counter-productive.
These days, I try to make sure that I take control rather than allowing work to control me and I set very clear limits. I also treat myself to an hour of ‘me-time’ each day in a place that brings me joy. I have a number to choose from but one of my favourites is a little trip to Barnes.
It’s one of the great pleasures of London that there are so many hidden gems and none more ‘gem-like’ than Barnes. Although only a few stops from Waterloo, from the minute you approach the duck pond, life seems to take on a different pace. It almost feels like a Cotswold village, albeit with a much more sophisticated (and no doubt pricey!) offering of shops, cafes and restaurants. If you don’t know it and fancy taking a trip out there, here are my top 5 favourite things to do:
- Café 40, White Hart Lane
It is not often that the chef and I agree on a café, in fact, I think Café 40 is about the only one! Its relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff and tasty food are the perfect combination and surprisingly hard to find.
I have normally worked up quite an appetite by the time I get there and so it’s always the avocado on toast with a poached egg for me. If I am feeling indulgent and the chef is there to help me out, we’ll share the greek yoghurt and granola topped off with berries. It’s an exciting change from my usual, much more healthy, porridge and berries and I savour every mouthful.
There’s loads of other yummy options on the menu and everything is served with a smile which makes all the difference. It’s a good job that it is about 20 minutes’ drive for us or it could very quickly develop into a daily habit!
2. Olympic Studios
First opened in the early 20th century as a cinema, it went on to become a recording studio where, among others, the Beatles, Led Zepplin, the Rolling Stones and Queen all recorded some of their most iconic works. Most recently it was transformed back into a cinema but not just any old cinema – the Olympic Cinema has to be one of the most civilised places to see a film.
Cosy chairs (or sofas!) specially chosen so you can kick back and relax, side tables for your drinks and nibbles, and high quality sound all make for an experience that is a bit different from the local Cannon!
3. An hour with the ducks
On a sunny day, it’s a special treat to while away the time reading a book overlooking the pond in the heart of the village. There’s something very calming about watching the swans glide serenely across the water and lovely to see every generation enjoying the moment.
I always feel so grateful that there are such tranquil places to be and, more particularly, that my working life now allows me to make the most of them at times of my choosing.
If a bit of retail therapy is your thing, Luma is just the place. It is a veritable hive of loveliness for all things interiors. There’s a great choice of textiles, furniture, ceramics and more, all ethically sourced from small suppliers.
Not only is it refreshing to see product ranges that are so much more interesting than the somewhat bland offerings we see on the High Street, but it is also nice to be able to support local traders who, in turn, are improving the livelihoods of others who really need it.
With new stock coming in all the time, no visit to Barnes is complete for me without a mooch around Luma!
5. Rick Stein
It’s back to food and drink for my final choice. What is now Rick Stein’s first London restaurant was not long ago the Depot, one of my all-time favourite spots to eat out in London. Perched just above the river, it is such a beautiful place to be, especially as the sun goes down.
With the celebrity name comes prices that are slightly higher than before, and naturally the menu now tends more towards fish, but it is nevertheless still one of my favourites. Ask for a table in the conservatory for the best views of the river, and then relax and enjoy every moment!
Do you have a special place that you head to when you are in need of some down-time?I’d love to hear your recommendations.