It's Childs Play - How to do a Sunday with the Kids in Muswell Hill
By Katy Stoddard on 22 February 2012
Muswell Hill is full of little people. On any given weekend kids of all ages roam the streets. In pushchairs, tugging Giraffe Balloons, looking for ways to sate their curiosity. So what’s the best way to spend a Sunday with the children? Can you keep it local, cheap but interesting? Mum Katy Stoddard has done the research and here's what she thinks …
Paint a pottery masterpiece at Zebra
Paint your own pottery place Zebra Ceramics is a short walk from the Broadway down Alexandra Park Road (or two minutes on the 299 or 102 bus). As well as the usual selection of bowls, mugs and eggcups to decorate, Zebra offers a cute range of figurines and money boxes for kids. Prices vary depending on the item you choose, so check before your little ones get going with the paints!
Staff are on hand to advise, from choosing a colour scheme to capturing your baby’s footprint for posterity. For a small fee they’ll also write a message on your pots, handy if you’re making a gift for Grandma.
Drinks and snacks from the café will keep you going. If you’re nervous about the proximity of coffee and paints, there’s a sofa area by the window where you can watch the world go by while the kids explore the toybox.
Take in a matinee
For early birds who don’t stay in their PJs until lunchtime, the Odeon screens a Kids’ Club film every Sunday at 11am. Despite the tired decor, it’s a good cheap option for entertaining little ones before a spot of lunch and a browse around the shops (we may be bothered by the tatty carpet, but the kids won’t notice!). Entry is only £3, and one adult per child goes free, so you can treat them to popcorn or pick ‘n’ mix for not much more than a fiver.
We bought tickets on the door, but it was fairly busy and you can book in advance. There’s no lower age limit, and the film is usually rated U, but check what’s showing beforehand if you have any concerns about suitability for younger children. Booster seats are available for little ones so they don’t need to share your lap!
Follow the film with a late brunch at Feast on the Hill, which offers all day breakfast and milkshakes for the kids and eggs Benedict, coffee and papers for the grown-ups. Highchairs available.
Odeon Cinema, Fortis Green Road, N10 3HP, 0871 22 44 007, 11am, £3 per person, odeon.co.uk/fanatic/film_times/s112/Muswell_Hill
Feast on the Hill, 56 Fortis Green Road, N10 3HN, 020 8444 4957, 9am-5.30pm on Sundays, feastcaterers.co.uk
Hit the ice at Alexandra Palace
For older children, strap on a pair of skates and hit the ice (not literally – Sunday in A & E is just not on!) at the Alexandra Palace ice rink. They run two open sessions on a Sunday - 10.30am-12.30pm and 2pm-4.30pm - and when we went there were plenty of families with under-tens and teens, as well as more experienced skaters.
If you need a break, the café sells hot drinks, snacks and relatively cheap meals (of the burger/hotdog/chips variety), and you can watch the action through the windows.
The rink can get crowded, so for younger children it may be wise to practice at a quieter time first; they run toddler sessions, with an experienced coach, during the week. If they’re not ready for skating, the soft play area and indoor crazy golf are careworn but will keep little ones amused.
Alexandra Palace ice rink, N22 7AY, 020 8365 4386, 10.30am-4.30pm on Sundays, £7.50 for juniors & £8.50 for adults or £27 for family ticket (2 adults 2 juniors/1 adult 3 juniors), alexandrapalace.com/ice-rink
Go exploring in Highgate Wood
The centre of Muswell may be lacking in parks, but the surrounding area is dotted with some great open spaces, and none more spectacular than Highgate Wood, 70 acres of woodland that runs alongside Muswell Hill Road to Highgate station.
The play area is busy at weekends, while the field is dotted with picnickers (and cricketers) on warm days. To escape the crowds pick up a trail leaflet from the nature hut by the café and take the kids on a woodland adventure.
Stop off for a hot chocolate to warm up and, if they’re not worn out, the kids can let off steam at the adventure playground (there’s a separate area for toddlers) before you head home.
Highgate Wood, entrances along Muswell Hill Road, Archway Road and Lanchester Road, open 7.30am-4.30pm in winter, http://bit.ly/STj8X
Pick something fresh at the farmers’ market
Muswell Hill farmers’ market runs every Sunday at the main entrance to Alexandra Palace (or at Campsbourne School if there’s an event on at Ally Pally), with stalls offering fruit and veg, meat, cheese and delicious homebaked pies and cakes.
Exploring the market is a great way to teach children about healthy eating and encourage them to be adventurous with food. Browse the stalls, don’t be shy asking for samples and snack on toasties or crepes as you stroll around.
Choose a recipe and make a shopping list in advance, or let the kids pick out some ingredients. Just be prepared to ask for advice if they take a fancy to one of the more exotic vegetables!
Hike back up to the Broadway with your goodies, or hop on a bus if you can’t face the steep walk home.
Farmers’ market, Alexandra Palace/Campsbourne School (check website for location), 10am-3pm, weareccfm.co.uk/AlexandraPalace