Dame Jacqueline Wilson on her perfect Surrey weekend

World-famous children's author Dame Jacqueline Wilson, 63, who wrote the smash hit Tracy Beaker series, has been a Kingston resident since childhood. Here, writing exclusively for Surrey Life, she describes how she likes to spend her weekends

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2009

World-famous children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson, 63, who wrote the smash hit Tracy Beaker series, has been a Kingston resident since childhood. Here, writing exclusively for Surrey Life, she describes how she likes to spend her weekends in the county

Weekends definitely start early on a Friday evening! I often go to my local pub, the spacious Victorian Waggon and Horses, opposite the crazily ornate Surbiton Assembly rooms (where I used to go dancing as a girl). I sit on the same bar stool with the same group of special friends, and we have a couple of drinks and catch up on our week. Then it’s home for supper and Gardeners’ World on the television. I like Joe Swift and always watch him – just as I always read everything his mum Margaret Drabble has written. I’m a hopeless workaholic so I’ll probably write letters back to little girl fans as I catch up on some gardening tips.

Some Saturdays, I have to get up early and do a literary festival or a book-signing or charity work – but if it’s a Saturday at home I’ll write a few pages of my latest novel before breakfast in bed. I’ll listen to Sandi Toksvig on Radio 4 while I’m getting ready to go out. I mostly go up to London to shop in Liberty’s or see a film or wander round a gallery, but this is my Surrey weekend, so I’ll take a trip to Richmond instead. I always walk down into the town, taking in the beautiful view of the river. Richmond has many classy clothes shops and it’s very tempting. Since Zadig & Voltaire opened, I’m unable to walk right past. I have to go in and stroke the soft silk shirts and woollen waistcoats as if they’re little pedigree pets.

Richmond still has some fantastic independent bookshops. Helena’s shop, The Open Book in King Street, is crammed with new delights, and it’s great to have a long chat about our current favourite reads. I’ll also pop over the road to the Lion & Unicorn bookshop to catch up with Jenny about the children’s book world – she’s particularly good at stocking the new picture books most chains ignore.

Walks in Richmond ParkThen it’s a quick lunch at Alianti next door – a delicious baked potato with enormous fillings and salad and maybe a cake, too, if I’m feeling particularly greedy. Then I’ll definitely need to go for a long walk in Richmond Park, maybe across to Pen Ponds. My all-time favourite Surrey park to walk in is the little known Home Park, at the back of Hampton Court. You can stride out through the long grass and enjoy the swans in the stream, the fallow deer flicking their tails close by, and the green parakeets soaring overhead, scarcely seeing another soul.

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I’m not a Saturday evening dinner party person, but eat out for special treats, either at the stylish French Table in Maple Road, Surbiton, or the friendly La Terrazza in the Ewell Road. I’ll have a lie-in on Sunday morning, then maybe write a couple more pages, before browsing through two or three Sunday papers. After lunch, I’ll often go to look round a Surrey garden that might be open for charity. Top favourite is Mr Sawyer’s garden in Cobham (open twice a year) with all his exotic birds, flamingo lake, giant tortoises, white wallabies and meerkats. Then I’ll probably call in at Garsons farm shop for fruit and one of their excellent cakes – I could eat a whole apricot and almond sponge all by myself. Then it’s more fan letters and television, and up to bed late with my book. I start Monday morning standing on my bathroom scales and sighing!