Indoor family fun (not softplay)
I love getting out with the kids to local playgrounds, but it’s so much harder when the weather’s getting colder and wetter. Even when the sun comes out, the swings are wet and the slide is muddy, so what to do? There is a time and a place for soft play (by the way, my favourite is Hullabaloo in St. James’s church on Sherriff Road, West Hampstead). I don’t mind scrambling around with the kids and pretending that I’m getting some exercise but sometimes you want to do something calmer and more relaxing. So here are my suggestions for indoor family fun (not soft play).
First up is Keats Community Library, a beautiful, calm space just near South End Green and next to the Keats Museum. It has a relaxing children’s area which is open on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, and runs Rhyme Time as well on Tuesday and Friday. Keats Grove.
1 o’clock club has had lots of press recently as it almost faced closure but, hooray, it looks like it might stay open for the time being. Despite the name, they in fact run 2 sessions every weekday: 10-12 and 1-4. Their play area is really warm, friendly and full of well-loved toys. They also have a large outdoor play area with bikes and play houses, if the sun does pop out. And where else in London can you buy a mug of tea for under a £1! Hampstead Heath, near Gospel Oak station. Tel: 020 7485 6907
Art 4 fun in West Hampstead is a place for your budding little artist(s) to express their creative skills and have a go yourself. Here you can paint plates, mugs and all sorts of ready-made ceramic items (including a mug of your own face 3D printed!). They use non-toxic paints which wash off clothes easily. West End Lane.
Now turning to St. John’s Wood, why not drop into 3 house club, a small, friendly family club. They have a chilled-out café to meet other parents, a play area for the kids and a crèche if you want to try out 1 of their many classes. They also do last minute childcare if you need it (Ofsted registered) and can host birthday parties too. Bridgeman Street.
Finally, I am a huge fan of the humble local library. We are really spoilt for choice in and around the area with both council-run and community libraries, which run regular free rhyme times and just are a great, cosy place to head on a rainy afternoon when you’re sick of being stuck at home. Some special shout-outs go to Primrose Hill Community Library (Fitzroy Road), St. John’s Wood Library (Circus Road), West Hampstead Library (West End Lane, hopefully we can save this one from closing down) and Belsize Community Library (Antrim Road). The last one runs English, Spanish, Russian and French rhyme times for all you linguists, out there!
So there you have it: lots of indoor fun and not a brightly coloured ball or bouncy wall in sight!
Victoria Rennoldson of Perfect Cuppa English was born and grew up in north west London; she currently lives in West Hampstead with her family.
She offers English language, culture and orientation programmes including walking tours to get to know the local area.