My son Arthur is 22 months and an early riser, so weekend lie-ins are a distant memory. I’ll let my wife Lisa sleep and I’ll juggle giving Arthur Marmite on toast with listening to the Today programme and reading emails. The situation in a crisis zone often segues into my weekend and I like to keep up to speed.
Then the three of us might spend the morning at Borough Market. I love the buzz and we’ll browse, pick up supplies and taste various treats. Next we’ll head to Tapas Brindisa for brunch and order Spanish scrambled eggs with onions and a plate of jamón Ibérico de bellota. For dessert, we’ll pop to Gelateria 3bis for the best ice cream in London, served in a waffly cone, and then to Monmouth for coffee, usually Ethiopian because I’ve been there a few times and fallen in love with its beauty. From there we’ll walk a lovely loop along the river to the wobbly bridge and across to St Paul’s.
At this time of year, a real weekend indulgence is to watch Arsenal play live at the Emirates. I have a season ticket and sit with my uncle and cousins. At Save the Children I’ve instigated a partnership with the club and they’ve raised a lot of money for our education programmes, so I’ve put my passion to good use.
If there isn’t a game on, I’ll play some fiercely competitive tennis with my brother on Highbury Fields. It’s a rivalry that’s gone on over 25 years. We had a match on his wedding day to “relax” him, and it was so nail-bitingly close that although we were cutting it fine, I wouldn’t let him leave until we’d finished.
On Saturday night I’ll take Lisa out for dinner. That might be to family-run Little Sardegna, an intimate, authentic place in Stoke Newington with proper Italian home cooking. It’s always packed and the food is very special – I’ll have the malloreddus with pork ragù, and Lisa loves the pumpkin tortellini.
Or a new favourite is Primeur, a neighbourhood secret in a converted garage with huge folding doors that open up completely in summer. It has a cool, industrial feel and you sit at shared tables or at the bar overlooking the open kitchen. The food is Italian/French fusion and I like the mishmash – both on the menu and in the people you meet. It’s all very convivial.
If it’s rainy and cold, we might swap dinner for a film at Screen on the Green, a lovely cinema in Islington with sofas and a bar. Or, for the ultimate romantic evening, we’ll go to the Royal Opera House and head to Hakkasan afterwards for late-night dim sum and cocktails.
On Sunday, Arthur and I will creep out early to buy breakfast at The Spence Bakery, which makes the best bread and pains au chocolat, warm from the oven. Later we’ll meet friends for a pub lunch at The Londesborough. It serves great Bloody Marys and roasts that come with a Yorkshire pudding regardless of what you’ve ordered. Or there’s the bustling Drapers Arms, a pub with huge windows, open fireplaces and local beer on tap.
In the afternoon, we’ll walk to the top of Primrose Hill to look over London. Then we’ll head to Hampstead Heath or to the high street, where Lisa will browse the piled-high wares at Primrose Hill Books.
I travel an enormous amount and Sunday nights are often spent on a plane, so the ones at home are particularly enjoyable. Lisa and Arthur hunt monsters in the garden, while I prep for the week ahead. Then we’ll have a glass of wine and cook dinner. I make a brilliant beef Wellington – I studied catering and cooked at restaurants before I moved into politics and charity work. I go to bed early as Mondays tend to be intense – we’ll get an update on the latest emergency and work out how we can help.