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Friday Finds - cold weather ideas, hot food and cool shopping

The cold weather seems to have truly arrived so this week we went looking for good places to go when the cold bites. If it's soft play you're looking for, read this round up of best soft play in North London but if you're looking for something a bit different and child friendly to do on a rainy day in North London, read on....

 RAF Museum, Hendon

RAF Museum, Hendon is our favourite choice for a cold and wet day. The museum is free so you only have to pay for parking (£2.50 for up to 2 hours) although you can park on the road and walk or come by tupe to Burnt Oak. There is absolutely loads for children to do including an interactive gallery complete with airplanes you can sit in and experiments for older children to have a go at. The galleries are very large so there are lots of big spaces for children to run around in and there is also a reasonable cafe that sells children's lunch boxes and some healthy snacks. Our children love coming here and it is also interesting for adults even if it is only to marvel at the sheer scale of the planes.

Enjoying the lights at Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green is another fantastic option for bad weather. As you would expect, this is a great place to bring children of all ages. As well as the daily storytelling and other events, the fixed exhibits offer lots of opportunities for play and discovery. Our children liked the mini sandpit, light boxes, rocking horse and mini police car. They were less keen on looking at the toys in glass cases although we enjoyed this and felt very nostalgic. There is some metered parking available and a really child friendly cafe run by Benugo, with great food for adults too.

Camden Arts Centre, Finchley Road is another favourite of ours because it is really interesting for adults as there is usually a worthwhile exhibition on , a really fantastic and well stocked bookshop, a good spacious cafe that has room to run around in and nice food and an outdoor area if there is any respite from the bad weather! Occasionally they have family days and the next one is on 30th December. There is parking on meters on the other side of Finchley Road or this is a reasonable walk from Finchley Road or Hampstead stations.

Arts Depot, North Finchley is very family friendly as it has a small soft play area adjacent to the cafe area so children can play while you relax with a coffee. The cafe is only open from 11am-2pm. The exhibition space is also close by and usually has interesting exhibitions.  On Sundays they often have free live music too. This Sunday there is live jazz from the award winning Brass Jaw and when we went to a Sunday concert, children danced along in the soft play whilst adults nodded their heads sedately. Parking is readily available nearby and lots of buses stop nearby.

Learning about germination the fun way, Kew Gardens indoor play area

Kew Gardens might sound like a place to visit only in good weather, but is actually great for all weathers. We came here in the height of summer but, this being England, it poured with rain so much that we didn't get to see many of the outdoor attractions at all. What we did see is the superb indoor play area which manages to be both educational and really fun, the excellent family friendly White Peaks Cafe, which has really good healthy lunch options for children, and the lovely hothouses. This is not a long drive from North London and there is ample parking. It is easily accessible by train too. We definitely recommend this as a great day out. During December you can also find Santa in his grotto.

Roaring fires and hot food...

We visited The Bull, Highgate on a cold Sunday last week. After spending the morning shivering in the fog Cherry Tree Woods, the open fires and warm welcome were much appreciated. This pub has recently reopened under new management and is much improved. The food was good - in particular the vegetarian roast dinner that we had was excellent - and the staff were really attentive and friendly. There are really good facilities for families including a good kids menu with healthy options as well as classics, very good highchairs and a clean and spacious family bathroom. They were serving mulled wine too and the puddings looked good, although sadly our children's patience ran out before we got to them so we can't vouch for them. We'll just have to go back I suppose...

You can also check out our round up of other good places for Sunday lunch in North London. We'd love to hear about other great pubs that are good for warming up in on a cold day.

Website of the week - get designer children's clothes at seriously cool prices

Our website of the week this week is the amazing Junior Style Sale. We were fortunate enough to have been asked to review this site and they very kindly sent us a £20 voucher to try it out and rate our experience. The site works by offering flash sales for designer children's clothes - these sales normally run for about 48-72 hours and you have to move fast as bargains get snapped up very quickly and you can get up to 75% off the original price. We watched the site for a while as there are a lot of good sales on. We finally settled on buying two items from ethical French designer Ideo, and were very pleasantly surprised with how much we could get for the money. We bought a reversible jacket for the baby which cost £16 (a discount of 65% on original price) and a top for the 3 year old which cost just £6.

Reversible Jacket

When the clothes came, they looked just the same as in the pictures on the site and are of a really high quality. 

Reversible jacket, reversed

The items took a while to arrive as they were sent from Europe and there was some problem at customs. We were impressed with the customer service as the Junior Style Sale team rang to explain this and then sent us a discount voucher for our next purchase even though the delay was only very slight (we bought annonymously so they didn't know that this would be reviewed).

Girl's top
There is currently a sale on in Islington until Saturday where you can go and see the clothes for yourself. We will definitely be shopping here again. Check out their excellent site  here.

We hope you like our ideas for things to do and places to eat. We always want to hear your recommendations of new places to try so do tell us where you like to go on a cold day!

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