Review 2019: Happy Faces Easter Egg Hunt

Thank you very much to Alison for today’s NHM Secret Review! She’s done a brilliant job!!!

Review 2019: Happy Faces Easter Egg Hunt

Today I took my two year old to the Happy Faces Easter Egg Hunt in Sherfield-on-Loddon. It was on from 10am-12pm at a cost of £2.50 per child. We arrived shortly after 10am to find a queue had already formed at the entrance & most parking spaces taken.

The ladies of Happy Faces were all very friendly and welcoming. We were given a bag to collect eggs, a piece of paper with our clues on and a raffle ticket. Then we set off on our hunt.

Thanks to the sudden glorious bank holiday weather we had a lovely little walk finding clues and mini eggs along the way. For someone who doesn’t know Sherfield-on-Loddon that well we managed to follow others and figure out where each clue was hidden. Knowing that we needed to look out for the ladies wearing bunny ears helped! I especially liked the added touch of the Easter bunny (although my son found him slightly scary, lol)

At each stop the children were allowed two mini eggs for their bags. The distance covered was just enough for young legs and the gap between clues was just right to keep them interested. We had a lovely time and especially enjoyed visiting the ducks.

We worked our way back round to Happy Faces where we exchanged our raffle ticket for a large Easter egg (enough chocolate for any child). After this we had a lovely time exploring the garden, which was much bigger than I had expected.

Inside Happy Faces were many different stalls etc all helping to raise money. There were lots of amazing looking cakes for sale too.

At £2.50 I thought it was great value and my son thoroughly enjoyed himself. I would definitely do this again. It was very popular so I think getting there early is key!

Happy Faces Playgroup, Sherfield on Loddon

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It’s Miss NHM’s 8th Birthday today!!

Wow, she’s 8 already!!!!

It’s true when they say that the days are long but the years are short! lol. It seems like only yesterday that the picture above was taken on the day she was born.

Despite being THE most strong willed little girl and bloody hard to parent sometimes (aren’t all children at some point! lol) she is absolutely the light of my life.

As cheesy and cliched as it is, she’s brought so much joy to my heart.

NorthHantsMum wouldn’t even exist without her!!

Although now she’s 8 that does also mean that the NorthHantsMum blog is nearly eight years old.

I NEVER expected that! I honestly thought I’d end up stopping when she got to 6 or 7 years old but it seems I can’t stop as people have an expectation and it’s too big a part of my life to stop now.

NorthHantsMum was always meant to be for pregnant Mum’s and parents of babies and young children aged 6 and under but it’s gone WAY beyond that now so I don’t feel too bad about continuing.

We’ve decided not to have a birthday party for Miss NHM this year because we’ve got lots of very exciting events planned throughout the year so instead we are going out to one of our favourite restaurants for dinner tonight.

I’m very grateful that Mr NHM has been so helpful with getting everything sorted when my car broke down on Friday which meant I couldn’t get half the stuff I needed too. It never rains but it pours!!

Miss NHM was very excited that Mr NHM was home this morning and we opened all of her presents as a family together and had birthday cake for breakfast! She seemed very happy with her presents this morning although last night she told me she didn’t want to be 8 as that meant she was nearly a grumpy teenager and she doesn’t want to be a grumpy teenager! I agreed with her! lol.

Although I got in trouble for not having a birthday badge ready for her so had to make something up at 7.45am, literally just before we left for school. “Creativity” isn’t one of my strong points, let alone before 8am on a week day (the joys of parenting! lol), but she was happy with her “make shift” badge and has now gone off to school with a bag of gluten free sweets for her peers.

Happy 8th Birthday to my amazing, smart, beautiful, fantastic little girl who is the inspiration and drive for everything I do!

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Coeliac Disease: Newly Diagnosed

NB: Before you read this, please note that I am not a medical expert, these are just my notes on what I’ve learnt about Coeliac Disease in the past two years since Miss NHM was diagnosed, which might be helpful to others. 

Miss NHM was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease in May 2017 and I went public about this in March 2018 which you can read about in my “Being Authentic” post.

You can also read about the post that I wrote about Coeliac Disease 18 months after Miss NHM’s diagnosis.

It’s nearly two years since her diagnosis and during that time I’ve learnt a LOT about Coeliac Disease and what it means to my daughter and our family.

I’ve had a lot of Mum’s come to me recently saying that their children have been diagnosed with CD and if I have any advice or suggestions, so I thought it would be easier to just put together a post to share what I’ve learnt in the effort that it helps more people (which is what NorthHantsMum is all about!!).

Coeliac Disease: Newly Diagnosed

I cried when Miss NHM was diagnosed.

I’m still not sure whether it was tears of relief or worry.

Probably a combination of both because at least we would know what we were dealing with. Having lived with an un-diagnosed coeliac for 6 years, knowing what it was that was causing Miss NHM so much pain and issues was a BIG step in the right direction!

I knew it was CD when I received a call from our GP a few days after Miss NHM’s initial blood tests.

It can be very overwhelming when you are told that your child has an lifelong auto-immune disease. It can be even more overwhelming when you realise that it affects everything your child eats or drinks.

Everything.

I know what it’s like to feel very lost, confused, worried, guilty and many other emotions.

Wondering how you are going to be able to help your child adjust, cope and live a normal life and still maintain a semblance of your sanity.

But, it does get easier. It’s not easy, but it gets easier.

Coeilac UK

If there is one thing that I feel is the most important thing to do when your child is diagnosed with Coeliac Disease – it’s to join Coeliac UK. They have been absolutely amazing and the gluten free food checker phone app that you can download which you can use to scan bar codes of food to check if it contains gluten, has been priceless and invaluable for us.

If you do nothing else, you MUST join Coeliac UK and use the phone app. I think it’s about £30 a year for a family membership but it’s sooooooooo worth it. Also, make sure that you follow their Facebook Page. That’s also been invaluable for us.

Mr NHM and I both have the gluten free food checker app on our phones because you can use to scan the bar codes of over 100,000 products to see if they have gluten in and we also have the Venue guide downloaded on our phones so we can see places to eat when we are on the move. The Venue guide isn’t great but it definitely helps.

We also requested the Young Champions pack which Miss NHM took into school to explain about Coeliac Disease to her peers. This really helped her to understand what Coeliac Disease is and how it affects her.

Things I have learnt

As I’ve said above I’ve learnt a lot about Coeliac Disease and even though this post is probably going to be reeeaaalllly long, hopefully it provides you with some insights and suggestions that will be useful when your child is “freshly” diagnosed.

Definitely check out my “Being Authentic” post for suggestions of food to watch out for. It’s the things that you wouldn’t expect like barley squash, chocolate, chips, marshmallows, soy sauce, most ketchups, some fromage frais, and even playdough which is made with gluten. You want to avoid anything with “Malt” or “Barley” in and look for “Spirit Vinegar” instead as Spirit vinegar is GF.

Cross Contamination

Cross Contamination is the bain of Coeliac Disease. As I’ve mentioned before, it takes an awful lot of time explaining to “Muggles” (those people who don’t have CD, which I suppose I’m one of too! lol) what CC is and what it means. It takes 1 crumb of anything with gluten in to poison/gluten Miss NHM and she is sick after for 3 weeks or more.

We are gluten free as much as possible at home. Our kitchen is probably 98% gluten free (I REFUSE to give up marmite if I don’t have too!). When Miss NHM was diagnosed I went through EVERYTHING in our cupboards and freezer and gave away to our neighbours anything with gluten in.

We also replaced all of our chopping boards, that had been used with bread products, all wooden spoons, our oven pans and cleaned our oven thoroughly.

It can be expensive having an exclusively gluten free kitchen but it’s worth the risk for us to ensure that Miss NHM doesn’t get sick.

You don’t have to do this though but it is worth ensuring that you have spaces in your kitchen which are exclusively GF and have no risk of CC.

Easter Eggs (I’ve put this at the top because Easter is coming up!)

Easter Eggs aren’t as bad as you think! The first year after Miss NHM was diagnosed she ended up with 6 dairy and wheat free easter eggs, none of which were particularly nice.

So Mr NHM went and did some research on the Coeliac UK website and discovered that LOTS of “normal” easter eggs are also gluten free and creme eggs are also GF.

Local Restaurants

For those of you who live in Basingstoke and North Hampshire, these are the restaurants that we’ve had the most luck with and where Miss NHM hasn’t been glutened.

ALWAYS, always, always, tell the server who seats you that your child has Coeliac Disease. Don’t be shy about this. You must tell them because then what normally happens is that the Manager will come over to take the order and ensure that your child’s food is handled appropriately.

We try to look out for those restaurants that are Coeliac UK accredited as it means that all of the staff understand about being gluten free and the risk of cross contamination.

Coeliac Accredited local restaurants

Pizza Express – excellent and have a good variety of children’s food (just a pain in the arse that Mr NHM whines about going there cause he doesn’t like the food! <facepalm>).

Presso Winchester – Brilliant and we’ve eaten here a couple of times. They have a GF child specific menu.

Miller and Carter Steakhouse Basingstoke – Brilliant but very expensive and they don’t have a specific GF children’s menu.

Pho Reading – Excellent and we love it here!

Cote Brasserie Basingstoke – we haven’t eaten here yet but definitely plan too!!

Sainsburys cafe at Hatch Warren Basingstoke have chips that are gluten free so Miss NHM has a children’s portion of ham, egg and chips with peas. Just a shame about the recent staffing issues at the Cafe. Hope they get it sorted soon as it’s one of the only reasonably priced places that we can actually eat out as a family!!!

Zizzi’s Basingstoke – we’ve only eaten here once but they were good.

Browns in Reading – we haven’t actually eaten here but they are accredited and it’s on our list to try.

Chiquito in Camberley – we haven’t actually eaten either here yet as it’s quite pricey but they are accredited and it’s on our list try.

Frankie and Benny’s Basingstoke – we haven’t eaten here yet because I’ve always had a mixed experience with this Frankie and Benny’s and I’m not sure I trust them.

I don’t touch Pizza Hut or Dominoes because even though they are Coeliac Accredited the staff are all very young and I just wouldn’t put my daughters health in their hands.

Non Coeliac Accredited local restaurants that are still good with GF

Wagamamas Winchester – but we don’t go to the Basingstoke one anymore as the staff are rude and dismissive, so we go to the Winchester one as they have always been excellent and very accommodating.

Yo Sushi in Reading are good but only because Miss NHM tends to eat only the fruit salad, the edamame beans and the GF puddings! Not healthy I know but we don’t go very often so it’s worth it!

Bartons Mill – everything here is supposed to be GF but surprisingly they aren’t Coeliac Accredited. It’s definitely on our list of places to try soon.

House28 in Sherfield on Loddon does GF items but they don’t understand about Cross Contamination unfortunately.

Aingels Cafe in Winklebury have Gluten free food and they do understand about cross contamination and have been really good when we’ve been there.

Hayley recommended Brighton Hill Pizza Hut (takeaway by Asda) all the time. Haven’t had any issues at all. Also the fish’n chicken next door are GF on Monday and Tuesday.

A Basing Bakes – not technically a restaurant but Helen sells her GF products at the Winchester Farmers Market.

Shopping for Food

These days it is possible to find gluten free alternatives to most foods.

However, you’ll learn pretty quick that a single supermarket will not cover everything that you need. Every chain of supermarkets stocks something different. We do our main shop at Sainsburys and I ALWAYS use online shopping because GF items are then automatically saved in my favourites, so I don’t have to go hunting on the shelves.

We also do an Ocado shop every quarter because Ocado is by far the best place for gluten free alternatives. They have an AMAZING amount of GF stock so definitely worth investigation. However, it can be quite expensive which is why we don’t do our regular shops at Ocado.

Whenever I’m near a supermarket that I don’t do regular shop in, I pop in to see what different GF products they have. Waitrose, Tesco’s, Morrisons and Asda are all excellent and all have slightly different GF offerings.

FB Groups

These are the FB Groups that I highly recommend and that have been invaluable to me:

Coeliacs in the UK

Children with Coeliac Disease

Coeliacs Eat Out Too

Coeliac UK North Hampshire Local Group

Coeliac UK – Berkshire Support Group

Fleet Coeliac Group

Coeliacs Eat Abroad

I also really, really like glutenandme and a balanced belly facebook pages, specifically for notifications about other new GF food.

NHM FB Groups

I also have a couple of FB Groups that are specifically for NHM Readers. One is for children and parents with a food allergy or Coeliac Disease and the other is Gluten free food – Non Branded which shows you the products that NHM parents have found which aren’t automatically listed as “free from” or gluten free.

If you would like to join both or either, please PM me at “Louise nhm Smith” and ensure you are a friend of mine or drop me an email at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com.

Food Hacks

You will notice that lots of the “Free From” food in the Free From aisle in any supermarket is very expensive. It’s also loaded with sugar so not very healthy.

Which is why it’s fairly important to try to avoid as much of that aisle as possible and identify those products which are automatically gluten free and aren’t specifically labelled as gluten free products as they won’t have an automatic 30%+ price hike attached.

However, in the beginning, when we didn’t know what we were doing, we tended to stick with the “free from” ranges as it was just easier. It takes time to come to terms with things and learn what foods are safe and which ones aren’t, so be gentle with yourself!!!

Prescription Bread and Flour is a battle to get these days. If you have any problems with your GP not giving your child the right units then definitely get in touch with your Dietician. Our GP didn’t want to give Miss NHM her entitlement of prescription bread so we spoke to the Dietician who sorted it all out for us.

“Normal” GF bread is sooooo expensive and absolutely rubbish as lots of them have air holes. We’ve had no issue with the prescription bread apart from that they sometimes send us the wrong amount. Definitely invest in a large freezer if you want to go this route as you can freeze the bread and it will be fine to use when you defrost it. Otherwise you might find yourself with 6 loaves of bread to use within 3 days!!!!

Emotional Implications of Coeliac Disease

This has been a tough one. Because of the way that Miss NHM was treated at her previous school and because she’s now getting older and understanding the limitations of Coeliac Disease on her life, her anxiety levels have been very high. Dealing with this has been really hard, much harder than the physical issues.

She recently had blood tests for her second Coeliac Clinic (Coeliacs have to have annual blood tests to ensure that their TTG, B12, Vitamin D and Calcium levels are all within the “normal” range). Unfortunately, as this was her 4th set of bloods, even with the Emla cream, she was very, very worried and unhappy about it all. The hospital staff are always so brilliant with her but I also find the whole experience very draining.

Children’s birthdays at school have been very hard on Miss NHM. Many times people hand out home made cakes or biscuits and I never get any warning as to when this will be. I try to have a small packet of haribo (which is GF) in my pocket when I’m picking up at the school run, to ensure that Miss NHM doesn’t feel like she’s missing out too much.

Travelling with Coeilac Disease

I was absolutely terrified about taking Miss NHM to another country and her getting sick. But if you do your research it’s actually not that bad. We went abroad for the first time since diagnosis in August last year and went to America where it was soooo much better, even than here! I didn’t sleep for the 3 days before we left as I was so stressed and anxious about it but where we stayed in Florida were really on the ball and she wasn’t glutened/poisoned once.

Spain and the Canary Islands are supposed to be really good. You can read up on the best places to go on the Coeilac UK website or the FB groups. We wanted to go to Vietnam and Cambodia but we’re going to wait for a few more years until Miss NHM is a little older before we brave that one.

In this country we always go self catering. I also highly recommend looking at Youth Hostels. They aren’t like they used to be, you can get family rooms at a very reasonable rate now. The bit that is most important for us is the self catering kitchen. So we can prepare food for Miss NHM (I take my own pans and chopping boards) and we can get dinner for us in the hostel restaurant so I don’t have to cook. There are freezers and fridges that you can use in the self catering kitchens and you can access them whenever you like. We’ve done this several times in the past two years and the hostels have always been absolutely brilliant and several also provide GF food now, although they can’t guarantee the risk of cross contamination.

Other things to look out for 

Food Aversion:  This is very, very frustrating but Miss NHM is very apprehensive about eating “new” foods because of her experiences. It’s not surprising really but it is a total pain in the arse for anyone doing the cooking and trying to keep your child’s diet healthy and varied.

School dinners: We’ve been VERY lucky that the school Miss NHM is at now take Coeliac Disease as seriously as it needs to be taken. Her previous school, The Prison, were bloody awful.

I’m very, very, very thankful that the school Miss NHM have never glutened her and that they take the necessary precautions to keep her safe. I ensure that Miss NHM has a school dinner because I trust the school and it’s one less thing for me to worry about but if I didn’t trust the school she would be having packed lunches. No question.

Birthday Parties: I’ve mentioned before about how lovely most of our friends have been about gluten free food and birthday cakes but I generally speak to the Mum who is organising the party and provide similar GF food for Miss NHM because it’s easier for them because I know exactly what to buy and it means I know that Miss NHM won’t get glutened. Look out for Party bags though. I always provide haribo or suggest haribo as that’s GF.

Your child’s teeth: Calcium isn’t absorbed in the same way for Coeliacs so definitely keep an eye on your children’s teeth and ensure they are brushing them properly twice a day. You can read up more about the impact of Coeliac Disease on your child’s teeth on the “Children with Coeliac Disease” fb group mentioned above.

Coeliac UK Events: Sign up to as many of these as you can! We went to our first one last year in Reading at Green Park and it was fantastic. Miss NHM spent the whole time wondering round and saying “all these people are just like MEEEE!!!!” and eating all of the samples that were available! We also bought loads of food because everything had at least 30% off. You have to register for tickets but the tickets are free and EVERYTHING is gluten free including the food trucks outside. Next time we will get there as soon as it opens so we can get some good bargains. I fell in love with some Warburtons Artisan bread that is normally £4 a loaf but was only £2 on the day. A great day to stock up and we hope to get to a few more GF Fairs later this year.

Extended Family testing: All direct family members (parents, siblings and children) of the person diagnosed should go to the GP and request to be tested too due to the increased risk of them potentially having it. Ensure that those being tested complete the “Gluten Challenge” before having any blood tests as they need to be eating gluten twice a day for at least 6 weeks for the results to be conclusive.

Final Thoughts

I’m sure there is stuff that I’ve missed so I’ll have a think over the next few weeks and see what else I can add to this post, so please check back in a month or so to see if anything else has been added.

Just know, you and your child aren’t alone. There is a lot of support available if you know where to look and there are lots of us dealing with this, in the NHM Community alone!

And also be gentle with yourself. A diagnosis of Coeliac Disease is a pretty steep learning curve and the first few months can be quite intense. As I said above though, it does get easier and when your child starts to feel well again it’s all worth it.

If you have any questions about Coeliac Diseaase that you think I can help with (remember, I am NOT a medical expert so the only advice I can give you is based on my experience) then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at NorthHantsMum@gmail.co.uk.

Good luck!!! 

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COMPETITION!!!!! Family Tickets and Goody Bag for “We’re going on a Bear Hunt”!!

It’s been a while since we did a competition on NorthHantsMum.

Probably because I was rubbish about the last one and never actually got it sorted in time. OOPS! <blush>.

Annyyywaaay, you may have seen the details about “We’re going on a bear hunt” that were published on NHM last week…

Well, the wonderful team at Anvil Arts are offering a family ticket (for 4) to the show on Thursday 28 March 2019 at 4.30pm at The Haymarket PLUS a copy of the book and a CD to give away – so a nice goody bag of gifts!!

How AWESOME is that!!

All you have to do is:

  1. share this post (http://www.northhantsmum.co.uk/2019/03/04/competition-family-tickets-and-goody-bag-for-were-going-on-a-bear-hunt/NorthHantsMum.co.uk) to any social media platform (as many as you like if you REALLY want to win! lol)

AND

2. go to the relevant post about the competition on my FB profile at “Louise nhm Smith” (please make sure you are friends with me) and comment with which social media you have shared it too.

The deadline for this competition is Midnight on Sunday 24th March 2019.

The Anvil Arts team will then pick someone at random on Monday 25th March so we can give you some notice if you are the winner.

You can find more details about the show at the following web link: http://www.anvilarts.org.uk/bear-hunt

If you have any questions please ping me at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com. Thanks!

GOOD LUCK!!!

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Snow!!! House Bound Things to do

If you’re going a bit stir crazy in the house and can’t face taking everyone out in the snow again because it means tonnes of coats, socks, boots, etc. that you need to dry after (no, just me? :-D), these are some historical posts from NHM that might be useful today.

Older children will also find some of these fun, as sensory activities don’t have an age limit.

What suggestions do you have?

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NHM Reader’s Experience: Rectocele Surgery & Recovery

Thank you very much to today’s NHM Reader who is sharing some of her experience, especially with such a private subject. I really hope this post helps at least one Mum get the support that she needs.

Rectocele Surgery & Recovery

‘Some things are best kept private’ was something I truly believed. Until I faced major surgery, in an intimate area following seemingly a nice quick birth without complications some years ago.

When looking for stories about what it’s actually like to recover from pelvic floor surgery the web is polluted with tale of mesh, slings, multiple surgeries and failure.

Here’s my story, still ongoing, just one surgery, which involved lots of stitches and ‘designer vagina’ jokes but, how my life is changing as a result of this procedure.

This could have been kept private but given how it’s hard to talk about your lady bits openly, I decided to share my journey.

https://nakedtruthabout.blogspot.com/?fbclid=IwAR0aOl2IkMZsdWMIeb2Odl18PSqbXmDFSmZrbGbw4r26c0WtmoN6OduA14A

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Brighten up January with free wellness weekend at Festival Place, Basingstoke

Festival Place is inviting shoppers to beat the January Blues and begin 2019 mindfully with a calming weekend wellbeing event.

Mindful Moments takes place over the weekend of January 12th and 13th and includes an interactive “Mindfulness Mosaic” built from LEGO ® bricks and free drop-in family sessions where people will be able to create colourful flower posies and lanterns.

The mosaic in Porchester Square will be hosted by award-winning Bright Bricks, which specialises in creating spectacular public sculptures. Shoppers will be able to come and build a segment of the mosaic – with each little square helping to produce a big picture which will be on display throughout January.

Basingstoke Sports Centre will also be hosting a wellbeing pop-up event over the weekend, including yoga classes for beginners, exercise sessions for toddlers and a family bootcamp workout.

Neil Churchill, Centre Director at Festival Place, said: “Wellness is a hugely important theme for 2019 and we want to play our part in promoting health and wellbeing as we begin a new year.

“Our mindfulness weekend offers something for all the family and we’re particularly looking forward to seeing our mosaic take shape. The team at Bright Bricks created some spectacular animal sculptures at the centre last year and we’re sure the mindfulness mosaic will be just as inspiring.

“The weekend is also a great opportunity for people of all ages to make a day of it and enjoy our vast range of leisure facilities, restaurants and stores.”

The drop-in workshops, run by The Hampshire Flower Studio, will be relaxing family sessions where children and adults can learn simple techniques to create either a posy, paper lantern or felt flower badge.

People can join in the fun from 11am to 4pm. The sessions are suited to children seven years and over and every child must be accompanied by an adult who can also take part. All the workshops are free, but donations will be welcome for The Playhouse Foundation, a Hampshire-based charity that helps children with autism and their families.

The Basingstoke Sports Centre team will be running exercise activities on the upper level of Festival Place from 11am to 2.15pm on the Saturday. On Sunday the team will be offering wellness tips and inviting shoppers to try out the InBody machine, which gives a full fitness analysis of the body.

Mindful Moments is the first in a calendar of events at Festival Place throughout 2019, including exciting events for Valentine’s Day, Easter, and the popular Eat Street Food Festival.

For more information visit www.festivalplace.co.uk/mindfulmoments and find updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Help Spotlight UK!!

Hello, we are in need of help. As a charity Spotlight has been running from the old Chineham Park Primary for 9 years but sadly for us Hampshire need the building back to be able to use it to turn it into a Special Needs School which is so needed in our area.

We are very grateful to Hampshire for all of the support they have given us over 9 years however this means in April this year we need to move and find another venue for our charity work.

We currently run a food bank, clothes bank, charity shop, 1-2-1 youth mentoring, performing arts classes, holiday clubs, youth club, family support service.

We work with families on child protection or children in plans, children affected by domestic abuse, or neglect/emotional abuse, young carers, children in care, young people with mental health issues, young people who have experienced loss or separation, young people caught up with anti social behaviour and children who need help with confidence and self esteem or friendships and those who want to have fun.

We receive referrals from schools, social workers, the Early Help and Family Support Service, Health Visitors and other professionals. Currently we provide 355 spaces in performing arts a week, over 200 spaces in our after school club, 60 cases of youth mentoring and family support work and provide around 15-25 food parcels a week.

We are now needing to raise funds to be able to relocate our services so we can keep supporting those we work with. We have a potential venue to relocate to but need to secure a deposit and need to raise around £10000.

If anyone can help with fundraising or knows of premises then please contact us on 01256 325420 or admin@spotlightuk.org. Any help would be gratefully received.

The Spotlight Team

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New Year Resolutions: My word for 2019…

I honestly didn’t think I was going to write this post for 2019. Miss NHM and I were sick over Christmas with a nasty cold/virus that completely wiped us out and meant that most of Christmas was spent in PJ’s, coughing lots! 

Mr NHM also decided this was the Christmas he would teach Miss NHM how to play “StarDew Valley” on the computer so they have both been hidden away in the study for most of the week. Which annoyingly means I can’t get to my PC to write anything as it’s in the same room. I have GOT to invest in a laptop during 2019!  

Today I’ve “advised” them I need the study so they need to amuse themselves somewhere else. Miss NHM keeps popping in and saying that Mr NHM has done something or other to annoy her, but I’m hoping they will leave me alone for at least another hour so I can also finish my 2019 MindMap which I’m sort of working on at the same time. 

Annyyyywaaayyy, even though I didn’t think I would get to write this post for 2019 I chose my word for the year about 3 months ago. Or rather it felt like it chose me as I didn’t think about it too much or fret about the choice of word like I have done in the past few years. 

2018 was very tough for many people

Many people have said to me that 2018 was the worst year of their lives. Not even “one” of the worst years, but the worst. 

I’m very lucky to say that although 2018 was tough in places it definitely wasn’t the worst year of my life. We had some amazing family times including our first trip abroad since Miss NHM’s diagnosis which was a phenomenal holiday.  

Miss NHM is getting better and better which has been a huge blessing and relief. Both Mr NHM and I are very happy in our jobs and life feels like it’s calming down, so we can actually enjoy it after the last several years of constant stress!

So I am a bit perplexed with the word that I have chosen for 2019. Or did it choose me? lol. 

My words for the last few years have been:

  • 2010 – contradiction
  • 2011 – motherhood
  • 2012 – adjustment
  • 2013 – exceptional (not always positive!!)
  • 2014 – Me
  • 2015 – Inspiring the year really lived up to this!
  • 2016: health Oh the irony of choosing this word. I have learnt my lesson and try to choose VEEERRRYYY carefully now!!!!
  • 2017: joy and it was filled with much joy but also incredibly tough at the same time.
  • 2018: breathe there was a LOT of that going on throughout the year! lol. 

My word for 2019

I know from past experience that you need to be VERY careful with choosing a word. As I said above it feels like my word for this year has already been chosen for me. Looking at this word now, 3 months after I decided what it would be, I feel excited by it. I’m excited to see what 2019 will bring. 

My word for 2019 is going to be “free”. 

Free

Part of me was very apprehensive when I realised that this was the word that I would choose for 2019. But looking at it now I’m actually really keen to see how this pans out in 2019. 

I’m wondering if this means that I’m going to be free of the past and free of the limitations that I have previously put on myself. Free of those limiting mindsets that we all have. Free to have some more adventures. Free to choose what I want to happen in my life. Free to have fun and explore the world again, post diagnosis. 

Starting 2019

For the first time in a LONG time I feel calm and peaceful about the following year. I feel like I’ve learnt many, many lessons in the past few years and now it’s all coming together.

As I’ve said before on the blog, I don’t believe in all that “new year/new you” crap, but I do believe that the beginning of a new year is a chance to re-assess and decide what’s working and what’s not. I’ve already made several decisions about what I will continue doing in 2019 and what I will stop doing. 

NorthHantsMum in 2019

NorthHantsMum now reaches far beyond me. There is a whole team of us working in the background. It’s been exciting to see how the blog has impacted these lovely volunteers and also to see how NHM has developed further in 2018. 

I don’t know what 2019 is going to bring for me, NorthHantsMum and the NorthHantsMum Community but I am excited to see how 2019 pans out for all of us. 

As always, thank you for all of your support. I know that we are very, very, very lucky to have such an amazing community of readers supporting myself and the team on NorthHantsMum. Thank you especially to the AWESOME team of volunteers who now help out on NHM.

I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful 2019 where you have lots and lots of FREE moments :-D. 

Happy New Year!

Louisex

Review 2018: Oh no you didn’t!!!! A Review of “Snow White & the Seven Dwarves” at The Anvil

Written by Victoria Kennedy, Thefairyclothesmother.com (thank you VERY much Victoria for the awesome review!!! 

About

Snow white: http://www.anvilarts.org.uk/snow-white

When offered the chance to attend the Christmas Panto at The Anvil, Basingstoke, I jumped at the chance. Many of my fond childhood memories are of attending the local panto! Panto’s are guaranteed family fun! And this one didn’t disappoint! There was plenty of audience participation- from song and dances, sweetie-chucking and water pistols to the traditional panto villain ‘boo’s’ and comedy slapstick of ‘He’s behind you’.

The Anvil Arts centre is an award winning concert hall, with amazing acoustics and an international reputation. The beautiful set design had the children captured from the beginning. With special effects such as indoor pyro- there were plenty of mesmerised faces!

A special mention has to be given to ‘Nurse Dolly’s’ wardrobe (I am a stylist after all! ). She had some absolutely stunning dresses, each unique and I would have loved the opportunity to study each in great detail! Take a look for yourself:

Snow White was played by Dani Harmer, of CBBC fame. She played the character well and her gentle, ‘girl next-door’ manner soon had the audience on side.

The Wicked Queen, played by Kirsty Sparks, was both terrifying and utterly lovable at the same time! The stars of the show, form y 5 year old son, was Muddles, played by Chris Pizzey (Basil Brush’s Mr Stephens). His jokey character got the children on side meaning audience participation was full on! The jokes had the kids roaring with laughter, creating a fantastic atmosphere. There was even a subtle ‘dad joke’ or two!

Personally, I loved the dwarves. Each played to their name sake well, with names carefully adapted so not to gain the wrath of Disney! They were both cheeky and lovable!

The show runs until 6th January with both matinee and evening performances- get your tickets here: http://www.anvilarts.org.uk/your-visit/how-to-book/online-booking-information?ticketing_id=A8PE

http://www.anvilarts.org.uk/your-visit/how-to-book/online-booking-information?ticketing_id=A8PE

Tips

Take ear defenders for children who are bothered by loud noises, as there are a few loud bangs. Also there is (without ruining the surprise) a brief moment involving water & the audience, if this is something that could bother your child ask at the info desk for the timing of the ‘stunt’ so you can be ready!

‘Flashy’ wands and the like are for sale but we took our own from previous events. This was allowed and certainly saved a small fortune as well as reducing our plastic consumption.

Dressing up was encouraged- there were many mini snow whites in the audience!

Food

There is a selection of treats –  sweeties, ice cream, crisps on sale at the venue. However, as a huge cost saver I’d recommend taking your own! The show is 2 hrs 35 min long so a drink will most definitely be needed. There is also a bar available.

Facilities

The Anvil is fully accessible to wheelchair users, and pushchairs. There are facilities for baby changing. The audience was a real mix of ages, so babes-in-arms are certainly welcomed. There is a bar onsite for refreshments.

Parking

The Anvil is easily accessed from any of the town centre car parks and just a 2 min walk from the train & bus station.

Prices

This is my only point of contention. The cost of a family visiting the theatre is becoming massively out of reach for many families. Unfortunately this is something that is happening with the panto too. At £28 per adult and £25 per child – a cost of over £100 for a family of 4 it means a big majority miss out. The Anvil does offer group rates, and discounted tickets to local schools.

Ratingout of 5

4 a great afternoon of family fun, with laughter, cheers, boo’s and song! Plus the most wonderful panto dame costume!!!

All images courtesy of Anvil Arts

Disclaimer: This post is a review of “Snow White Seven Dwarves and the  in conjunction with The Anvil. Victoria’s tickets were supplied free of charge for the purposes of the review. We were not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are our own.

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