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A Tale of Two Marlows (and Natalie Portman)

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My posts tend to start with the central principle of off-loading children whenever possible. But obviously there are times when I do things with my kids too.

So I’m going to split this post into two separate blogs – think if it as White Swan/Black Swan – two halves of a psychotic whole.

The setting: Marlow. No, it’s not quite New York and I’m no Natalie Portman but you get what you pay for. The USP: Wonderful, caring mother of three (c’est moi) delights her children doing fun stuff and doesn’t lose her temper. Much.

The White Swan


Scene 1:

Ah, the sun is shining and my children are beautiful! I have good intentions, and only half an eye on a decent coffee (come on, I’m not a saint). So it’s straight off to Higginson Park down the bottom of Marlow High St. Its impressive playground area, a mere hop from the river, nestles gratifyingly close to the trendy Cafe in the Park that allows me to intravenously drip-feed myself espresso while watching my children.

Scene 2:

I’ve eaten several times at the cafe (the food is great by the way) so today I’ve decided on a different strategy and have brought a picnic. After my kids have exhausted themselves dangling off giant rope structures and biffing each other on canoe swings, we amble down to the 18th century Court Garden House with its huge lawns, spread out the picnic blanket, and I watch them roll down the soft banks while I purvey the river, breathe in the fresh air and try not to get too OCD about the grass stains streaking up Finn’s BRAND NEW TROUSERS THAT HE’S WEARING FOR THE FIRST BLOODY TIME TODAY. (And… breathe).

Marlow view from the Thames

Scene 3:

My kids want to walk down by the river – oh, OK, the ice cream van is down there – so it’s Fabs and Calippos all round. Then I chivvy them down the river path to the right where I know in 10 minutes or so there’s a swell in the bank that acts as a cute little beach with shallow water for my little ones to dip in their toes.If the weather isn’t hot enough for Mediterrean larks, we hire a motorboat for a hour and pootle up and down imagining being rich enough to buy one of the houses on the riverside (oh, sorry, that’s just me).

Scene 4:

It’s about 2.30pm now and my nerves are starting to fray ever so slightly. Now is the time to get myself a ginger beer or something stronger outside at The Compleat Angler (5 minutes from the park, just over the bridge). My kids are zipping around the outside area, scoffing cake and looking cute. I’m feeling very English and sophisticated, thrilled with my children and wonderful my life. 

Scene 5:
It is now 3pm. The kids have become sugar-crazed and quite frankly are showing me up. My mask of equanimity has fallen. I’m hot and tired and have just realised I haven’t defrosted anything for tea. I’ve had it with this White Swan lark. I drag my bawling children to the car, and vow to come back to Marlow next time as the Black Swan – childfree, up for fun and flashing my credit card.
To be continued…!

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