Royal Philharmonic Orchestra flautist Emer McDonough on her perfect surrey weekend

RPO flautist Emer McDonough

RPO flautist Emer McDonough - Credit: TBC

As the principal flautist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Emer McDonough leads an exciting life performing at some of the country’s most prestigious venues. When she does get a rare weekend off, however, she enjoys nothing more than spending time at home in Farnham with her husband and their three young sons...

During the week, my life normally starts by dashing for the 8.58am Farnham to Waterloo train after zipping over from the school run. Composing myself in the carriage, I’ve recently noticed how the days are becoming hazily autumnal, with a promise of benign sunshine, and it’s ripe for spending time ambling with the family around Frensham Little Pond or in Tilford Woods at the weekend. This part of Surrey is so beautiful in the autumn but, alas, this morning I am off to London for a rehearsal and concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

Wherever I am trying to get to, be it the Royal Albert Hall, Heathrow Airport or Northampton, being the mum to three small boys involves what is nothing short of a military manoeuvre to get me there. That is why I just love when the RPO performs at G Live in Guildford; all that organisation subsides for once and I can pootle up the road (the A31 being merciful). It’s a great venue in a fantastic location and it generates a sense of occasion and expectancy on the night of a concert. In the foyer, both pre-concert and in the interval, there is a lively buzzing atmosphere of an audience that is engaged in and enthused by the RPO concert.


Football fanatics

For us, a weekend in the traditional sense has little or no meaning, but when I am at home, I love doing all the very normal things that make life trundle along. Sport plays a huge part in our lives. I have embraced this wholeheartedly – so much so that I didn’t even bat an eyelid when my husband suggested we should all go and watch Woking play on a rare free Saturday.

Also, I love taking the boys to their activities. I used to take my middle boy to a little music class for under-fours at Farnham Music and Drama and then we would curl up together on a sofa at the Farnham Maltings with hot chocolate and marshmallows. Perfection!

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Sometimes, we go to Alice Holt or over the border into Hampshire for tea and cake in Cassandra’s Cup and a bike ride in Chawton whilst I look wistfully at Jane Austen’s house and wonder will there ever be a time that I can go in there and be certain that the boys won’t break something. Farnham really is a lovely place to bring up a family, its broadly handsome street stretching up to a castle and petering out down at... Sports Direct.

So my musician’s life is pretty normal really, apart from the abnormality of it at times. As I write this on the train to London, heading to a practice and a rehearsal, I check my diary to see what I’m doing this weekend. I wonder if Woking is playing at home?