BANG! This week, we've all been transported back to the routine that September brings, and hopefully with a renewed desire to make positive changes, one at a time. 

I can't pretend I don't usually skip out of the gate after dropping off my three kids at school, but after 6 glorious weeks together, it is definitely high time we were able to spend a few hours doing our own thing before we congregate for supper. 

Having landed from a summer spent in sunny Cyprus just a few days ago, I'd usually give myself time to reacclimatise, however it's been wonderful to find so much going on in and around Wimbledon. My dear friend Marsie Skeete – Councillor and Mayor of Merton 2017/18 – invited me to the council chamber to watch the presentation of cheques to her two charities, The Commonside Trust and Merton Mencap. She also made smaller donations to five of the many local organisations whose work had impressed her during her mayoral year. It was a pleasure to remember all the fun we shared together last year whilst making a positive impact in the community. 

Closer to my own office, I've noticed some seductive new concessions have opened in Ely's – including personalised jewellery boutique Posh Totty Designs – and Skinsmiths has finally arrived in the Village. Yet it's definitely 601 Queen's Rd that has changed my landscape: its fresh design and flood of uplifting natural light are helping me to find many excuses to indulge in its divine breakfast and lunch menu. Relaxing on their terrace, it strikes me that autumn has not yet properly descended on Wimbledon; instead, there are end-of-summer parties popping up, and the balmy late-summer sunshine also made a welcome afternoon appearance for the Wimbledon & Putney Commons Open Day recently.

The community arrived in droves, guided in by a dozen marshals to help organise parking. I pitched up late with my daughter, whose eyes lit up watching the horses, colourful funfair and ice cream stands. Admittedly, I felt somewhat out of place without an impressive dog or sheep in tow, but soon became exhilarated by the energy of the Morris dancers, charity, craft and local start-up stalls stacked with gifts, primarily for the family and dogs. We met Amy the sheep, and enjoyed petting a variety of farm animals, but gave the popular 'stroke the snake' stand a very wide berth. 

If ever there was a perfect summer's day to showcase local independent business and the warmth of the community that is Wimbledon, this was it. With a nostalgic nod to the bygone era of Victorian summer fête, the younger generation met up with potential romances, and families shared a wholesome day out together. There was indeed something for everyone.  

Chatting merrily to Karine Torr in the almighty queue for a Wimbledon Pale ale, we managed to steal a photo with the brewery's founder Mark Gordon whilst listening to Rebecca Cresta's son playing the drums in the Wandle Concert Band. 

I had great fun clambering aboard the Poppy Appeal British war tank. As I was passed an antique assault rifle, heavier than I could imagine, the Merton Arts Festival recognised my hat and struck up a conversation about their upcoming event.

Discovering new artists on our doorstep is always a treat, and the next two consecutive weekends bring an almighty array of talent to town, including my friend Jo Holdsworth, renowned for her paintings of local landmarks, who will be exhibiting at the Stable Yard Gallery in Morden Hall Park during the festival. I was also delighted to learn that Tim Norris, who specialises in large-scale outdoor sculpture made from robust natural materials, and whose studio is located in the beautiful surroundings of Cannizaro Park, will be throwing open his doors across both weekends. 

A new venue for the festival's 2018 outing is Joseph Hood Primary School. The pupils worked alongside local artist Kerry Edwards to create a huge, inspiring piece of wall art: a giant pair of colourful wings made up of feathers, each individually crafted by the children. Visitors are welcome to stand in front of these beautiful wings to take what will be an amazing winged selfie! The school will be open on the second Sunday only, from 11am–3pm.

With everything from fairs to art festivals, and the forthcoming autumn fashion season to look forward to, it's good to be back.
For more information about the Merton Arts Festival, visit:

Lady Wimbledon