Upon leaving for university, it slowly dawned on my sister and I that my parents had regained a new lease of life. We'd call home expecting to hear the comforting words that we were much missed, only to be regaled with tales of visits to exciting restaurants such as The Waterside Inn or The Fat Duck, or luxurious travels to the countryside or abroad. In short, when we left home, my parents were free. They probably did a dance for joy.
I ruined the party a bit by moving home after graduating. That said, it's great that these days my parents' lives do not revolve solely around bringing up daughters: instrumental practice, A-Levels revision and extra-curriculars no longer feature as salient points of dinner time conversation. Happily for all parties concerned, my parents have quite a different agenda nowadays.
A little while ago I accompanied them on the usual Saturday drive down to Borough Market with them (sorry that the market features on here so often - we genuinely go every weekend...) and realised that I'd tagged along on Mama and Papa Lim's Saturday. That is, a purely parent-pleasing outing that they must have honed over the past four years with no children about. Having brought my trusty Canon out with me, I thought it'd be nice to document what they like to get up to on these leisurely days off.
They make a beeline straight for Justin Gellatly's Bread Ahead stall, where they stock up on loaves for the week, hazelnut brownies (Dad's fave) and numerous flavoured crème pâtissière-stuffed doughnuts. The current favourite? Sage and apple, with a little sage leaf sticking out of the top of the doughnut - an excellent flavour combo, and perfect for autumn.
My mum likes to head deeper into the market and pick up a salt-beef sandwich for lunch at this point (can't remember the name of the trader, but it's opposite the Turnips fruit and veg area on Middle Road!), while my father usually opts for a roasted meat sandwich from Roast, or fish and chips from Fish.
After lunch, it's time to hunt for fruit and vegetables - my mum's favourite pastime.
Depending where the fancy takes them, they'll also go in search of tasty ingredients to last them through the week - for example, cassoulet from Le Marché du Quartier.
Or olives and tuna from Brindisa, purveyor of all things Spanish.
Usually their next stop would be Redchurch Street in Shoreditch, to allow a little potter around their favourite food shop and perhaps tea in a little café off Arnold Circus (a.k.a. the oldest and most beautiful council housing in the entirety of London), but this Saturday the owners of the food shop were on holiday. One for next time.
After a cup of coffee, our next station on this journey is Lamb's Conduit Street in Bloomsbury.
Here, my parents like to browse their favourite clothes shops (Oliver Spencer and Folk) and pick up an item or three, something they never used to do when we were kids.
There's a sweet little waiting area in Folk for partners and skint daughters to kick back with a copy of National Geographic. The curtains of the changing room, meanwhile, are decorated with super cute little embroidered men and women (featured at the top of this post). Rather reminiscent of my parents in fact...
So that's a little insight into a typical Saturday with the folks. Hopefully, I'll have perfected as pleasant a routine once I've reached the comfort of middle age!