We love our local London mums! In our Mum in the Hood series we speak with mums around the greater London area to find out what they love about where they live. This week we spoke with Ali Miller of Muswell Hill. Discover what she loves about her ‘hood’!
Please tell us a little about yourself…
I’m Ali Miller and I own Ali Miller London, a quintessentially British luxury homeware brand offering fine bone china tea sets, perfect for Afternoon Tea and Mother’s Day! The designs are a personal and intimate take on classic British design mixing collage with surreal British humour. Each piece is crafted from the finest materials, designed and decorated by hand. My designs are sold in luxury hotels and restaurants such as The Grove, The Athenaeum, Sketch and all around the world!
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Which area do you live in, and what do you love about it?
I live in leafy Muswell Hill in North London and I love it because it’s full of lovely parks and forests such as Highgate and Coldfall Woods, Parkland Walk and Cherry Tree Woods and Ally Pally. The air feels really fresh as we are so high up and have lots of trees. It’s villagy and green and yet it takes 30 minutes to get into central London.
We have lots of great architecture and breath-taking views over London and it feels incredibly safe and friendly. There is an impressive array of lovely independent shops and restaurants as well as really good chains such as Cote, Planet Organic, Sweaty Betty and the Hampstead Butcher. We have a gorgeous Everyman Cinema which has a bar and great food and is stylishly designed and we are near lots of great villages nearby such as Highgate, Hampstead and Crouch End and there is always something going on to do. Hampstead Heath is particularly inspiring and I spent many days as a child wandering around chasing butterflies there and it inspired me to create a Hampstead Heath range with mixture of beautiful butterflies.
Where do you like to hang out with your kids?
Muswell Hill is full of ancient woodlands which are great for my girls to explore and for me to run through with my friends on a Friday morning when I have dropped them off at our local nursery. We like to wander around the woods and look at leaves and get lost amongst the trees. There is a big playground in Highgate Woods and a green where cricket is played in the summer amongst the running dogs, footballs and happy children running around. It’s the perfect place for summer picnics as is Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace) which overlooks London and has another playground, boating lake and ice rink.
What are your favourite local family-friendly eateries?
The Crocodile Café is a favourite with me and the kids because of its play area and heated outdoor area, so it’s really great fun. The food is lovely. They have a delicious range of traditional cakes such as Bakewell Tarts, gingerbread men and chocolate fudge cake and you can quench your thirst with a fruity herbal tea, frothy cappuccino, creamy hot chocolate, or a dinky children’s ‘kiddiechino’. I’m a big fan of North Ten café, their coffee is great and they have amazing rainbow bagels.
Aleion is also rather lovely because it is a restaurant and a homeware shop all rolled into one! They are going to be selling my range shortly so I’m super excited. Here is me in there with an Ali Miller cup having a lovely cup of tea! The food here is amazing, gorgeous lamb and tiramasu served in a lovely atmosphere.
We have a big Planet Organic and they do great healthy food for children and adults and my girls love pushing around the kiddy sized trollys!
Also, I have to mention Toff’s fish and chips! It’s a posh fish and chips with a restaurant. On a Friday night there are queues around the corner. They also do discounts for seniors so it’s great for grandparents.
What are your favourite local independent shops?
There are so many to choose from. The Children’s Bookshop has been around for years and is a real gem. They are so helpful and happy to advise on books for all ages.
We have Cheeses of Muswell Hill for cheese fans and I also love Fagins Toys which is an old-fashioned toy shop that has been around for years and sells staples such as Lego and Play Mobile and stocking fillers.
What local activities do you and your family take part in?
There is a big choice. We have the Ally Pally park run on a Saturday morning if we are feeling particularly athletic. We like to visit the woods and run around and explore. Also, Alexandra Palace has so much to do and has a newly restored theatre where we can watch shows.
There is a great soft play in the grounds of Ally Pally called Little Dinosaurs which is such fun for the kids, especially if it is raining which often it is!
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Where’s your favourite place to escape in your area for a little solo time?
That has to be Korto. It’s in Alexandra Park and is a stylish neighbourhood restaurant where I can grab a coffee or breakfast after dropping the children at school. They filmed Motherland in there too! The food is amazing and clever and my husband and I had our joint 40th birthday parties there.
I also like to run in Highgate Wood after dropping the girls at school as it really clears my head and sets me up for the weekend.
Where’s the best place for a night out with friends / date night?
Korto – it’s very atmospheric in the evenings and also Belmeis cocktail bar who do a lovely Chocolate Martini if you ask.
What’s the best hidden gem in your area?
I would have to say Ally Pally as it has everything, it is a big gem with hidden suprises: the ice rink and you can watch a well-known band or singer such as Fat Boy Slim or Liam Gallagher and walk home afterwards.
Off the beaten track is Chris Kitch café, which is a healthy, cosy stylish little café next to the outstanding Fortismere school. They do lots of really interesting salads which look like pieces of art and is definitely worth a visit.