London: Family Friends Forever

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

A few years back, I was lucky enough to be introduced to a wonderful volunteer organisation called Family Friends, which provides mentoring services in the Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham and South East Brent areas of London.

Family Friends, a registered charity since 1993, is the brainchild of Sheila Paget, who realised that the more support children and parents received during short-term difficult periods of time, the less likely those children would need to be put into care in the long-run.

Family Friends provides this support with a large network of highly trained volunteers, who commit to only two hours per week, for one year, and befriend a parent who is in a difficult situation, or mentor a child who may need some extra support.

I was asked to mentor a 6 year old girl who lived in a loving, yet difficult family situation. Without divulging any more information, I will say that I great very fond of both the child and her mother and our experience together was a great success. I would recommend Family Friends to any one who was interested in volunteering in a one-on-one manner.

Though my commitment to this family was for one year only, I keep in touch with them and visit with the child whenever possible. This weekend, we spent the entire day together at Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park.

Going to Winter Wonderland would not have been acceptable while I was working with Family Friends. They have a very strict budget that the volunteer must adhere to (I will admit to having difficulties with this!). Sticking to the budget is very important because the volunteer cannot set up false expectations with the child for after their tenure is finished.

ice skating at Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park is perhaps the most expensive funfair one would ever hope to attend. The rides are at least six pounds a go, games around that same amount, and the food is also higher priced than you would find at any other fun fair. But the fair is big and shiny and in Hyde Park, the best part of London.

I bought two coaster passes online. Had I known what I was doing, this would have been fine, but as I didn't, the coaster passes proved an exercise in futility. They only worked on the actual coasters, and there were only three of those that my girl was big enough to ride. For all other rides, a paper token was still needed.

We also went ice skating, went to a beautiful show of ice sculptures and ate giant burgers sitting on a bench.

Even with all the rides and fun, the second best part of Winter Wonderland, and the cheapest, is just walking around; seeing the lights and the people and smelling cedar wood chips, log fires and sausages on the grill.

But the best part of going to Winter Wonderland was being together. Two old friends (one older than the other, of course!), just spending time together, having loads of laughs and talking the day away. Ultimately, this is the goal of befriending a child with Family Friends, and I will be forever grateful for the experience of meeting this family and for the occasions when we spend time together.

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About Us


Fearing the empty nest? Don't! Since my children have flown the coup, I have had time to refocus on my passions of travel, art, and writing.  This little blog is a handy tool that helps me share what I have learned with others.


I grew up in the States, but have lived a large chunk of my adult life in the UK. I now split my time between London and South Africa as well as chasing the sun around the world. 


 When my nest emptied, I began to plan my trips according to my own schedule, indulging in going solo. Once one gets used to traveling solo, it can be a very freeing experience. I seek out interesting, informative and unique experiences, and proffer advice with my network of readers.  I also have a lot of fun!


 Spa retreats and personal growth travel are core to what I do.  If there was a master's degree in the art of booking massages, I would be a scholarship student! I also plan to conquer Europe one city break at a time and with all that effort, I need as many beach holidays as possible. 


So please enjoy reading my tales of travel. I hope you are encouraged to get on that plane and perhaps have a few giggles along the way.


When my large family was quite young, we lived in several international postings. In an age before Google Translate,  I negotiated the grocery stores of foreign countries in search of tasty ingredients. I soon became an expert at discerning information from food labels and also learned to cook healthy, quick meals from local sources. 


From this experience, I became quite the foodie, even before 'foodie' was a word. And now as an empty-nester and devotee of food travel networks, I  interpret those old recipes into smaller, even tastier versions. 


Being an editor and food/wine travel columnist,  I travel the world sampling indigenous recipes which I share on Old Bag on a Plane. I also love wine!


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