An autumnal day out to charming Chartwell

“A day away from Chartwell is a day wasted.
– Sir Winston Churchill

Last Wednesday the Kilburn Good Neighbours gang piled into a coach bound for Kent. We were off to visit National Trust Property and former home of Winston Churchill, Chartwell House and Gardens. It was a perfectly crisp autumn day and everyone was overjoyed to be heading to the countryside.


First port of call was a sit down, cup of tea and some refreshments. Nothing beats a National Trust tea room! Except maybe the homemade samosas brought along by the ladies below…


Fully reenergised, many opted for a potter in the grounds before we went to our talk in the studio at 12.30. The gardens are eye-poppingly gorgeous, with babbling brooks, secret hideouts and shimmering ponds in abundance.

It really is a powerful thing to be able to get out of the city. Everyone felt refreshed and relaxed. And when all that walking got to be too much, there were plenty of benches available for a perch. Some of which Churchill himself must have used as painting stations!

We were then treated to a very informative talk by one of the guides in Churchill’s painting studio (fully equipped with Churchill’s tumbler of whisky which he would sip while painting!) Sir Winston was a man of many talents and his many oil paintings were beautiful to behold (sadly couldn’t take any pics in there) – I resisted the temptation to swipe one and hang it in my bedroom! Here he is looking stern with his wife, Clementine:


Next it was time for us to explore the house itself, including the basement kitchen, library, and bathroom! The house is gorgeous, but not as decorated/fancy as many stately homes. You can tell that the family actually lived there.

After another cuppa and obligatory visit to the giftshop (some deciding that it definitely wasn’t too early for a bit of Christmas shopping), we headed back to Kilburn. Lots of people were keen to reserve their place on the next trip! (Christmas shopping trip to Milton Keynes on the 9th December)

Thanks to Goldsmith’s Company for making this trip possible. Here are some quotes from happy trip attendees below:

“Wonderful experience to visit Churchill’s home at Chartwell. Could we have more trips please?”

“Thank you for the lovely day – enjoyed it very much – beautiful gardens and house”

“Lovely day out – and lots of historic interest. Thank you”

“Great day at Chartwell. Thanks to all those who made it possible”

“Thank you! So this is a really enjoyable day – wishing not to end the day”

“A very lovely day, lovely company, very nice gardens and house full of history. Also the weather was nice. All in all an excellent day”

The Great Abbey Bake-off!

October Saturday Club saw something very special happen at Abbey – our first ever community bake-off! For days prior delicious smells had been wafting through the centre as everyone prepared their entries for this competitive culinary contest.

The CHAPS mixing, sifting and zesting their way to stardom with the North London Cares volunteers:

Saturday 15th rolled around quickly and Gavin started the day off by leading a brisk group walk around Kilburn – whetting everyone’s appetites for the bakes to come. (especially the dog’s!)

It was soon time for lunch and our CTC volunteers were busy in the kitchen, serving up the most delectable homemade samosas en masse! I had one yesterday and it was like a little triangular taste of heaven.

The hall was soon buzzing with the sound of some very contented people (over 90 guests this month!). The selfie-takers below are CHAPS coordinator Gavin and DJ Dave, who provided the tunes for the day.

Then it was time for the much-anticipated bake-off judging! We had a whole range of entries from male and female bakers: from chocolate orange to pistachio to a classic lemon drizzle.

Although Paul and Mary couldn’t make it this time, we did have our very own Abbey Bake-off Judges, volunteer Deborah and our Chair John Foley, to taste the offerings. ‘Indescribable!’ he said about one entry.


After much deliberation they decided on the winner: the CHAPS! Better luck next time ladies.

All in all we had a fantastic Saturday Club: thanks to everyone who came, helped out, entered their bakes and ate samosas! See you for the next Saturday Club on November 19th: we’ll be holding a massive clothes-swap event with volunteers from The Challenge Network. So start saving up your togs now. Until then!

Tabboulicious September Saturday Club

At September Saturday Club we feasted on veg tabbouleh and ‘blurbarb’ crumble, thanks to our volunteer cooks from CTC and North London Cares.

Laura and Gavin kept the crowds entertained with our usual raffle and the latest gossip from Abbey.

The pic below testifies to how delicious it all was! And our plan for October’s Saturday Club tomorrow is causing a stir too. We’re planning a Men vs. Women Bake Off at 1pm after the lunch. Sadly Mary and Paul can’t join us, but we do have some special guest judges and a star baker prize for the winner. We’ll then share all the cakes for dessert!

Let Laura know if you are coming on 07447 932564 and if you’re entering a cake. Last-minute competitors welcome – looking forward to seeing (and tasting) your creations.


Blooming marvellous!

It’s no secret that we’re proud of the Abbey Community Centre garden. Maria Elena, Jimmy (below) and all of our other brilliant volunteer gardeners keep it in tip-top shape.

Many of our activities take place in our outdoor Garden Room, we have veggies and herbs from the garden at our Saturday Club and cooking groups, and our garden is now the site of our beautiful birthday teacup sculpture made by our RE-CYCLE-ART group.

It’s a pretty special place. So we were delighted to be nominated – and then to win second place – in the recent Camden in Bloom awards! Our fab prize was some garden centre vouchers and yummy Alara Muesli.

Thanks Camden-in-Bloom. A breakfast party is due for the volunteers who make our garden the green oasis it is!


Nordic Walking Launch!

This year centre-user and fundraising mastermind Kevin managed to secure us some funding from the Big Lottery Fund to start our own Nordic Walking Group, complete with poles and instructor. On Tuesday we had our first much-anticipated taster session with Martin Christie of Exercise With Friends ( which was very well attended.

The group practiced their postures and techniques before venturing outside. The support offered by the Nordic poles means the walking is gentle on the joints as well as being a full-body workout.

Soon everyone was whizzing along! We stuck to the local area this time to see what it was all about, and finished with a well-deserved cuppa. But once everyone’s got into the swing of it we’ll go further afield – here we come Hampstead Heath!


Our next taster session is on Thursday 27th October, and we’ll be running it more regularly once the weather is a bit warmer in the new year.

To Parliament!

Last week several of our longest-standing CTC volunteers were rewarded with a guided tour of the building at the heart of British politics – where debates ring out across high-ceilinged rooms. politicians stride across elaborate hallways and decisions are made which will change people’s lives: the Houses of Parliament. The exclusive trip was organised thanks to trustee alumni Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn.

Here’s our CTCers having a well-deserved sit down in the Central Lobby – not too shabby eh?


cimg2332Thanks Tulip and our tour guides – we had a brilliant time.

Thanks to our volunteers!

We held a little cheese and wine evening recently to thank some of our many centre volunteers. This one was particularly for our Good Neighbour Scheme visitors but we plan to have more little opportunities like this to say thank you to all our wonderful volunteers, without whom most of our projects wouldn’t be able to function nearly so well!

cheese and wine1.JPG