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Friday Finds- very nice things to eat, buy and do

Our Friday Finds this week take us out of London- sometimes you just need to get some fresh sea air! This North London family grabbed a sunny Saturday and headed down to Brighton- and our blog this week looks at some of our finds. Our website of the week is England at Home- the destination site for unusual gift ideas.

If you can't face another weekend in London, then grab kids and car and head to Brighton for the day. If you take a route via Hove then you avoid the traffic into Brighton, and a neat 2 1/2 hours (yes it is a bit of a way) brings you to the heart of Brighton.

So what did we love?

The beach and the boardwalk are a must! Rousing fresh air, bearing sea, beached shipwrecks, colourful kayaks, icecream vendors- even if it is too cold to swim there's plenty to keep the kids amused. We also headed to the Pavilion- an oasis of calm and unusual beauty amidst the bustle of Brighton.

For food head to "Fishy Fishy Seafood Brasserie" - co-owned by Dermot O'Leary. It is well placed in a Grade II listed townhouse overlooking The Lanes, but despite it's touristy location, it offers fantastic quality and value and is a great treat for parents while serving kids well. The restaurant has strong eco credentials with all fish and seafood sourced from sustaninable sources. We had fantastic fish and chips- really we have never tasted better (and this from a Frenchman) and the children delighted in the goujons and grilled fish, chips and salad.

After some fine food, if you fancy some alternative shopping then head to England at Home. We stumbled across this shop on Ship Street- and it has a fab range of accessories and gifts for your home and everyone in it. There are plenty of unusual gifts, as well as furniture and kitchenware. We loved the beautiful Milano leather armchair- but couldn't fit it in the car so opted for a leather computer bag, and funky cheese knife set (why not!)

If you are starting to plan your Christmas shopping, then head to our website of the Week- The Handpicked Collection. This site specialises in gifts and treats selected by a range of lifestyle experts. There's a clever gift finder which brings up selections according to sex, age, theme and occassion- although don't search too narrowly- our young at heart search brought up a fluoresecent water pistol!

But really, if you find present buying a chore, particularly when shops are packed pre-Christmas- then The Handpicked Collection is your solution - a beautiful site with tempting photographs, and easy to search, unusual and inspiring gifts which you genuinely feel are handpicked.

We particularly like the unusual new mother gifts and the range of kids toys - we were tempted by the traditional outdoor games (yes we know winter is approaching but Spring will be here soon!).

We'd love to hear your recommendations for Friday finds! Have a great weekend!

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