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What it's like to be a member of the SW13 and SW14 parent tribe...

In the first of our 'Parenthood' series, we explore the mums' groups, family hangouts and parent tribe of Mortlake, Barnes and East Sheen, a leafy area in the London Borough of Richmond...


Landscape: As ‘country’ as a suburb of London can be, strings of terraced houses and Victorian cottages sit straddled by the River Thames and Richmond Park. Pushchairs need to be robust to tackle muddy river banks and the slopes of the park, and you’re more likely to see a bright green parakeet than you will a mother wearing heels. The Mortlake Brewery is the area’s nod to industry (when the wind blows in the right direction, the whole area smells like hops), but the site has been sold to developers for more housing.

Hangouts: In the winter, parents gather - coffees in hand - at Mortlake playground or at the soft play area at OSO, Barnes Pond. In the summer, there are paddling pools at Vine Road Rec and Palewell Park. For family lunches, Pickle and Rye does great Rueben sandwiches (shame about their two-buggy limit) while the Robin Café has the sweetest staff and the meanest bahn mi rolls. Book a dinner table at Annie’s and be surrounded by groups of mums downing cocktails on their quarterly night out together, while the outdoor screens and Tardis-like beer garden at the Hare and Hounds make for a people-pleasing afternoon.

The Robin Cafe, Mortlake

Annie's, Barnes

OSO, Barnes

Events: The one and only Barnes fair, where beer meets Boden, and the annual Oxbridge Boat Race, which ends at Chiswick Bridge in Mortlake.

Parents: Here the parents are tall and fit and clad in Lycra. Sports provision is good: there are boat houses, the outdoor velodrome that is Richmond Park and, for nearly every patch of public grass you come across, there’s a buggy fit class that happens there. As well as being sporty, the parents here tend to be professional: lawyers, teachers and advertising executives jostle for space on crowded South West Trains and telling each other in no uncertain terms to ‘move DOWN, please.’ And while there are many diverse areas of London, SW14 is not one of them.

Local celebrities: Catherine Tate, Sally Phillips, Robert Glenister and Trevor Macdonald all live in the hood.

Instaparents: Katie and Sarah, the founders of @mushapp, and Killing Kittens founder Emma Sayle @emsayle333

Classes: Tiny Teddies at Barnes Library and Mortlake Library still attract a following, despite glossier, more expensive alternatives popping up. Barnes Children’s Centre runs a comprehensive programme of courses including first-aid, weaning, and family fitness workshops, while the breastfeeding clinic and skills of Judith Brenner and co. are a godsend for many new mothers.

Mums wear: Lululemon leggings, Nike running jacket.

Dads wear: M&S ‘Collezione’ jumper, Levi’s jeans.

Kids wear: Boden, Baby Gap.

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