NHM Readers Recommend: Quick Healthier Alternatives to McDonald’s

In November 2018, a NHM Reader asked: “Recommendations for healthier alternatives to McDonald’s (cheap and quick) for when you can’t be bothered to cook (such as when you’re other half isn’t eating at home) but it’s not at occasion, jacket potato type places along the lines of M&S cafe”

As always, thank you for all your responses, they are listed below in no particular order.

All opinions are the readers own and are not that of NHM.

NHM Readers Recommend: Quick Healthier Alternatives to McDonald’s


Mary said, “Costa drive through have hot food now like macaroni cheese. It’s still about a million calories but it feels healthier than McDonald’s.”

Sainsbury’s Cafe

Hannah said “Sainsbury’s cafe is nice, has a good variety and is relatively cheap.”

Yvette said, “Sainsbury’s”

Charlie also said Sainsbury’s cafe, “…I love the staff and people are really chatty unlike some coffee shop chains.”

Louise said, “We do Sainsburys cafe at Hatch Warren quite a bit too, mainly because the chips are GF and Miss NHM loves ‘Ham, egg, chips and peas’.”

Lucy said, “…when I asked if the chips were gluten free they told me no. I said how last time I was there they were but they were adamant they weren’t and refused to check. I was gutted, and sat and watched the rest of the family eat…not good when I was heavily pregnant and hormonal. I bet they are but I happened to go on a day the staff didn’t want to check!”

Jenni said, “I was in Sainsbury’s today, it’s convenient but I always find the service shocking & today was no exception unfortunately.”


Katie said, “Subway is always a fave, and if it’s warm, even better!! A lot more filling than you’d think.”

Louise said, “…the last two times I was in a local Subway they were so grubby!!!”

Wendy said, “We’ve found we can’t trust subway, they have a really lax attitude to allergies and being American they have egg in all kinds of stuff it isn’t normally in.”

Ellie said, “I used to work in subway and depends who is working on how clean it is. I ran a tight ship when I was in charge but overall they only care about profit and not about anything else.”

Vanessa said, “The Subway in Brighton Hill is lovely.”

Morrison’s Cafe

Hannah said, “Morrison’s is also nice….and do feed the kids free on certain days after school.”

Hayley said, “Morrison’s cafe… kids eat free after 3pm weekdays…”

Debra said, “Only problem with Morrisons is the toilets are nowhere near the restaurant which is a pain with kids!!”

Cesca said, “Morrisons cafe is always a winner for us, kids eat free after 3 per adult meal and there’s a little play area! But I also get the cardboard boxes like the happy meal boxes or home bargains do a basket and I do my kids a home made version of McDonald’s!”

Yvette said, “Morrisons…”

Cafe Giardinio

Susie said, “Cafe Giardinio up opposite Iceland do paninis, jacket potatoes, pasta dishes.”

Shabby Gourmet

Marion said, “Shabby Gourmet! Home cooked meals, with no additives or preservatives, using only the freshest ingredients, and cooked with as much love as, if not more than, you’d cook yourself for your own family. What could possibly be better?!!…Old Barn Stores in North Waltham stock us, plus The Village Shop in Upton Grey, and Premier Stores in Old Basing. You can also pop over to Cliddesden to collect directly from the kitchen. This is the website – www.theshabbygourmet.com

Louise said, “…and they come frozen and most are gluten free!! I have a few in my freezer for emergencies.”

Elisa asked, “Are any of the vegetarian options also vegan friendly?”

Marion replied, “Yep! It’s not a meat-free kitchen, though. I’m actually massively inspired by vegetarian and vegan food at the moment, as I’m writing a vegetarian day course, cookery course. It’s one of my most requested courses, so I think I’d better do it. Vegetarian is inspiring me and vegan is just that little (big!) step further. I’m finding it really exciting.”


Amanda said, “If you have a costco card and are near a costco £1.50 for a jacket potato! If you’re wanting quick and easy at home batch cooking is the way forward for easy and healthy.”

Louise said, “We do Costco too as they can’t go too wrong with a jacket potato and cheese!”


Ruza said, “Waitrose café has good priced children’s meals…”

Yvette said, “Waitrose cafe!”

Festival Street Kitchen

Ruza also said, “…I like the festival place kitchen.”

Pizza Hut

Hayley also said, “…Pizza Hut restaurant, the ice cream factory is s big hit with my son.”

Pret A Manger

Linda said, “My fave place is Pret Manger opposite the Sports Centre. A little on the pricey side but really healthy and so yummy.”


Yvette also said,”… Asda.”

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My Experience: Body shaming 7 year olds

On Saturdays, after Miss NHM’s swimming lesson, her and Mr NHM go out for a “Daddy Daughter” date, so they can have some quality time together and have a chat.

It was during their “Daddy daughter” date on the morning of the Royal Wedding when Miss NHM suddenly said to my husband: “Daddy, I need to be skinnier”. Just matter of fact, in the way that my daughter is.

It was so out of the blue and not related to what they were discussing and he was so shocked that he just asked her why she thought that.

She said “Because ***** says I’m too fat and I need to be skinnier”.

He continued to be so shocked that he just changed the subject. When he got home he asked to talk to me in private and told me what had happened. I was just as shocked. I had NOT anticipated dealing with things like this when our daughter has just turned 7 years old.

We agreed that we wouldn’t make a big thing about it but would try to re-iterate a positive body image.

However at dinner the next evening I made a flippant comment about it being really healthy and Miss NHM piped up with: “good, I’m glad it’s really healthy as I’m too fat and I need to be skinnier”.  I was so shocked again, but slightly more prepared, so I told her that she is definitely not fat and her body is just perfect as it is.

(Miss NHM already has challenges with food because of her coeliac disease and she is anything but fat.)

I emailed the head teacher on Monday who had asked me to keep them informed previously, as it’s not the first time that Miss NHM has had things like this happen to her.

The head teacher confirmed that body shaming at 7 years old isn’t as rare as you would think.

A few days later I spoke briefly to some trusted parents in the playground and a couple of the Mum’s of girls said that their 6 or 7 year old daughters had also said, at one time or another, that they were “fat”.

WOW. Just WOW. What is our society coming too?

I was very naive in thinking that because we don’t have a TV Miss NHM would be avoiding this type of thing. I hadn’t expected some of her peers to be projecting it instead!

Miss NHM hasn’t mentioned it again since that weekend but she’s being kept away from the other child in school because of their negative impact on Miss NHM anyway.

I’m sharing this not because I have any answers. I don’t have any, but in case any other Mum’s and Dad’s are freaking out about their young children saying things like this, you are not alone.

If anyone has any specific professional advice about what to do with this, then please do let me know.

I don’t know whether it’s right to not make a big thing about this with Miss NHM or whether we should be talking to her more about these things.

Why is parenting so hard at times?

Louise: I wrote this a few weeks ago and I’m not as worried about it anymore as Miss NHM hasn’t mentioned it since but it does make me a little concerned about the future and what that might bring. 

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NHM Readers recommend: Baby-Led Weaning Ideas

Thank you all for the replies we had regarding a question on baby-led weaning from a member of the NHM community: “I need some inspiration on baby led weaning foods for lunchtime and dinner time. I’ve done the cucumber sticks, carrot sticks, pasta but am wondering if anyone has any other suggestions?”

Thank you also to Juliet who put this post together!!

NHM readers recommend – Baby-Led Weaning Ideas

Kelly says “Eggs are good in different forms – scrambled, slices of omelette even egg muffins with different fillings. Pittas, Hummus, Avocado (messy!!!), Savoury rice, Soup!!!”

Natalie says “Banana egg pancakes – easy to do (2 ingredients) make up a batch and they’re good warm straight from the pan & my little one also likes them cold too so good for out & about”

Shona says “This Facebook page gave me so many awesome ideas outside of the normal ones… worth a look.” Weaning, starting solids/finger food- Friendly Support & Guidance

Catherine says “pasta is my fav with mascarpone cheese and some herbs as it’s salt free or sometimes I use an Ellas pouch for sauce. Avocado toast, grated courgette in pancake mix. Peas are great when they get their pincer grip. I also use a lot of preloaded spoons for rice or lentil dishes etc.”

Jennie says “We do a cooked chopped broccoli with breadcrumbs, cheese, chilli sauce and egg mixed together and baked in a Yorkshire pudding tray that goes down well”

Laura says “Mine loved peas and broccoli for weaning and still loves them now at 4. Steam til they’re soft enough to go a bit mushy. But a great intro to green veggies.”

Kimberley says “Maybe add hummus and other dips to bread sticks and carrot sticks.”

Lottie says “With blw I have just always given my daughter whatever meals I am having. She enjoys chilli, curry, gnocchi and bangers and mash at dinner time. For lunches we have crackers with cheese, wraps, quiche and sandwiches. Just have to be mindful of salt intake!!!”

Claire says “Mine used to love these spinach and cheese muffins, make a huge batch they freeze well and are great for taking out too… View topic – spinach and cheese muffins • Baby Led Weaning

Also like the others said egg stuff so eggy bread, sliced omelette, hard boiled eggs, cheese cubes, sweet potato chips, homemade fish fingers always go down well and tuna pitta pockets (can also make these with puff pastry and freeze!)”

Rachel says “Whatever you are eating….that’s the best bit”

Laura says “The baby led weaning cookbook app is so good! Only £4.99 I think and so many good and easy recipes”

Karen says “Anything you eat.. (except honey if under 1 year). Cut into pieces that are longer than their fist initially so they stick out of a clenched hand. Let them go for it. Don’t worry how much goes in/down. Food before one is just for fun. As they get used to it make the foods smaller, you’ll be surprised how they’ll concentrate until they can pick up that pea! The book baby led weaning by Gill Rapley is fab”

Wendy says “Agree with above just feed them whatever you are eating. The only real rule is no honey until around 12 months. I’ve heard so many people say how much more enjoyable weaning is second time round because there’s no rules.”

Kath says “As the others have said anything you are eating. Often if my little one was on my lap while I was eating she would launch her hand onto my plate to try whatever it was. They do say that if they can’t handle it they won’t be able to pick it up (eg smaller foods like peas etc with that worry of choking). I remember at around 8 months old she got hold of a spare rib while we were having chinese and started munching on that!”

Tara says “Baby led weaning cookbook app is really helpful. Includes advice as well as recipes”

Jade asked “With the carrot sticks are they supposed to be cooked? Will be asking the exact same question in 6 months time”

  • Kelly said “Entirely up to you and what you’re comfortable with an uncooked carrot probably will only be used for gnawing!!! But quite good for teething!”
  • Catherine said “I would avoid raw carrot sticks myself and raw apple slices.. whole raw carrot or apple or else cook carrot or blanch the apple”
  • Karen said “If they’re sat upright, supervised and only putting food into their own mouth then the risk of choking is very small. As baby hits 6 months(ish) their gag reflex moves backwards in their mouth, they may trigger their gag reflex as they learn to put food in their mouth, but that’s what’s supposed to happen, that way they learn how to do it. Have a look at the book baby led weaning by Gill Rapley”

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NHM Readers recommend: Cooking classes for six year olds

An NHM reader asked “Hello! I’ve been hunting for cookery workshops/classes to attend with my nearly 6 year old son. I’ve found options for preschool age but can’t seem to find anything in the area for his age range. He wants to make real food, not just decorate biscuits or cakes now. Do you know of anything out there? Thanks!!”

Thank you to all of the NHM readers who responded, these are listed below, in no particular order! Thank you also to Juliet who put this post together!! 

Tot Cross Buns

Tot Cross Buns

Michelle said “Tot Cross Buns run by Allison Woolford. And now they’ve got Kerry on board too.”

Louise said “Tot Cross Buns is awesome!”

Kerry said “Please send us a message and we would be happy to talk to you about our Saturday kitchens which you and your son can come along too, we have lots of fun and are passionate about cooking and want to pass on this passion to children – giving them confidence with food and encouraging them to try new tastes and have fun in the kitchen with mum and dad. We look forward to hearing from you”

Cookery Doodle Doo North Hants

Cookery Doodle Doo North Hants

Alison said “My daughter loves Cookery Doodle Doo.. Highly recommended”

Katie said “Hi, I run Cookery Doodle Doo. For primary school aged children we offer the monthly Sunday Pudding Club. Drop your child off with us for 2 hours in Laverstoke and collect them proudly bearing a large pud to share at your family Sunday dinner. I also offer affordable private cookery lessons for any age child (and a group of their friends if liked) – why not get a group together for ad hoc or regular Saturday morning sessions?! They could make their own tea!”



Becky said “Check out this page, it’s a charity that does fab cooking and gardening clubs”

Sarah said “Check out inspero. Kids gardening and cooking”



Lyndsey said “I’m not sure if they do many kids classes but Newlyns Farm Shop in Odiham have a cookery school & run some kids events that might be worth looking into”

Marie said “We struggled with this for my youngest. As a cake baker and decorator, and old school home cook, she needed more than the basic stuff at that age. Didn’t find anything, but stuck it out til this year, her 8th birthday, and she has a cookery class at Newlyns cookery school in Warnborough. My eldest has done classes there, and they’re amazing. 2/3 course meals!”

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Review 2018: West Green Fruits

Thank you very much to today’s NHM Secret Reviewer!

West Green Fruits review – pick your own fruits, Hartley Wintney

West Green Fruits


One of my friends had recently told me about how she had asked her little boy where strawberries come from, he answered “the supermarket” (he was a little more specific but I didn’t want to seem bias!)

As it happened, I had already heard of a place called West Green Fruits where you can pick your own produce, and my friend’s experience made me keen to try it out! I had never been to a PYO before, I had been blackberry picking in ‘the wilds’, but I was really intrigued by this and thought it would be a great introduction to where food comes from. My boys were 2.5 yrs so I was a little concerned they would be a bit too young to get it. Fortunately, I was very wrong.


West Green Fruits is situated just outside Hartley Wintney, about 15 minutes from central Basingstoke. They are open during the PYO season, which started on 10th June this year. It is a family run business set in 20 acres of farmland and offers a range of fruit including strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, gooseberries, tayberries and more. There is a small shop selling their own homemade jams and Jella’s Ice Cream, made with their produce. They also have produce ready picked for those who would rather not pick their own.

The area consists of a car park, small building and acres and acres of fields. It is a stunning setting. There is also a picnic area and grass labyrinth, although we didn’t get to see these. You collect your punnets from the building by the car park. This is also where you bring back your produce to weigh and houses the shop. The produce currently available for picking are displayed on a board and the lovely ladies – and I do mean lovely, so helpful and chatty with the little ones too – point you in the direction of where to go.

It was wonderful to see both my boys happily trotting along, excitedly carrying their punnets, following the trail. The available fields are well marked out and there was an abundance of fruit to pick. Amazingly both my boys loved the experience, carefully picking out each fruit. I say amazingly as one of my boys is not very good at standing still, so to see him delicately choosing and picking each piece of fruit was incredible. After quite some time we wandered back to the kiosk to pay, and definitely needed to deposit into the ‘sin bin’ (an honesty box for ‘lost’ fruit and the contents going to charity) – red streaked faces making that pretty obvious!

We’ve been twice now, strawberries then raspberries, and will definitely be going back soon before the season ends.


West Green Fruits is seasonal, you will need to keep an eye on the West Green Fruits Facebook Page for their opening dates and for the produce that is currently available. Current opening hours are also displayed there.


Worth noting, there are no facilities on site.


You pay for what you pick, prices are available at the kiosk and based on weight.

I think this is brilliant, as the picking is an experience in itself yet all you are paying for is the produce.

Rating out of 5

5, totally unique experience that we all loved.

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Child-friendly places to eat in and around Basingstoke

Thank you very much to Shona for putting this post together!!

Child-friendly places to eat in and around Basingstoke

Little Roses Tea Room and Gift Shop – Elm Park Garden Centre, Aldermaston Road, Pamber End, Tadley, RG26 5QW

Open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and Sunday 10am to 4.30pm

  • Lovely Little cafe with lovely people and great service.
  • Has a baby changing unit in its disabled toilet with nappy sacks and baby wipes for you to use!
  • Sit upstairs if you have toddlers or want to sit on comfy sofa’s – no gate at the top of the stairs though.
  • Lovely cakes and very reasonable placed.
  • Recommend to avoid the Valley of the Dolls shop next door. Unless you are into that kind of thing of course
  • Cafe is situated at the back of the garden centre to the right and has parking next to it.

Wyevale Garden Centre – Wildmoor Lane, Sherfield on Loddon, Basingstoke, RG27 0HL

Open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and 10.30am to 4.30pm on Sundays

  • Bit hit and miss with quality of food. Week days better than weekends
  • Join the membership scheme as it’s amazing how quickly you rack up discounts which get you money off future purchases.
  • They have a car cleaner on site, so you can have your car cleaned for a very reasonable price whilst you enjoy lunch or coffee and cake.
  • Baby Changing facilities are in the ladies

Departure Lounge Cafe – Basingstoke Road, Alton, GU34 4BH

Open from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm on weekends.

  • This cafe is next to a Garden Centre and has part of an aircraft (!!!) at the back of the cafe.
  • Was very impressed as it didn’t look much from the main road.

Newlyns Farm Cafe – Lodge Farm, North Warnborough, Hook, RG29 1HA

Open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm on Saturdays and 9am to 12pm on Sundays

  • Eaten here several times but not with baby so not sure what baby facilities are like. Anyone else been here with their baby?

Squires Garden Centre Badshot Lea Road, Badshot Lea, Farnham, GU9 9JX
Open from 9am – 6pm Monday to Saturday and 10.30am to 4.30pm on Sundays.

  • Lovely cafe here with a room for children with toys and high chairs in which is quite nice.
  • Good quality food
  • Baby changing facilities in the disabled toilets

The Portsmouth Arms – Hatch Warren Lane, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG22 4RA

Food served from 8am to 9pm Monday to Thursday, 8am to 10pm Friday and Saturday and 12pm to 9pm on Sunday

  • Wooden climbing frame and swings for children.
  • Unsure if Baby changing facilities available

Millstone Pub – Barton’s Lane, Old Basing, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG24 8AE

Food served from 12pm to 2.30pm and 6pm to 9pm Monday to Friday and from 12pm to 9pm on weekends

  • A country pub haven, yet only 5 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Basingstoke town centre, the Millstone is set within a conservation area near to the historical Basing house ruins.
  • Children’s Playground next door. Unsure if Baby changing facilities are available.
  • The Millstone hosts a quiz every Thursday from 9pm.

Giraffe – Festival Place Shopping Centre, Basingstoke, RG21 7BB

  • Check vouchercloud.com for discounts before going
  • Reasonably priced kids menu
  • Current deal on for Kids main course, dessert and drink for just £6.50 (correct as of December 2016) all day everyday
  • Step free access which is great if you are taking a pushchair or two.
  • Kids parties are available too.

Zizzi’s – 1 London Street, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 7NT

  • Check vouchercloud.com for discounts before going
  • Bambini Kids Menu – 3 courses and a chococino for £6.75 (correct as of December 2016)

Wagamamas – Festival Place, Basingstoke, RG21 7BB

  • Baby Changing facilities are available in the Disabled toilet
  • Seating is on benches and generally not comfortable for breastfeeding
  • Fast and healthy food
  • If you sit at the tables near the entrance, there is enough parking for pushchairs next to the tables at the back.
  • Disabled access can be used for pushchairs.
  • If you are pressed for time (evening feeds, etc.) you can check out your local Wagamama menu on the iPhone or iPad Wagamama application or check online in advance. The Mobile Applications allow you to place your order so it is ready when you arrive. You can also order takeaway using this option.
  • Excellent air con, so if it’s hot outside, this is a great place to be!
  • Reasonably priced kids menu available

Pizza Express – Unit R9, Lower Ground, Festival Place, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 7BB

  • Children’s menu available with 3 courses for only £6.95 (correct as of December 2016)
  • Pizza making parties can be booked for adults and children!
  • They are running an incentive to get children cooking and are encouraging school visits to learn.

Pizza ExpressThe Whitehouse, Winchester Road, Basingstoke, RG22 6HL

  • Baby Changing facilities in Disabled toilets, with cover for babies to lie on
  • Parking in car park is very small. Alternative parking is available at the football ground which is 3 mins walk away, however, you will need your pushchair as it’s too far to carry the car seat from.
  • Dyson hand dryers (it’s the little things that count!)
  • Very friendly people who like babies!
  • Check vouchercloud.com for discounts before going
  • Children’s menu available with 3 courses for only £6.95 (correct as of December 2016)
  • Pizza making parties can be booked for adults and children!
  • They are running an incentive to get children cooking and are encouraging school visits to learn.

Pizza Hut – Brighton Hill Retail Park, Winchester Road, Basingstoke, RG22 4AN

  • Unlimited salad, unlimited squash and unlimited ice cream factory… how can you argue with that?
  • They have two children’s menus with pizzas, pastas or chicken followed by a drink and Ice Cream factory or a fruit juice ice lolly. Prices start at £5.49 (correct as of December 2016)
  • Baby changing facilities are good here too.
  • Balloons and activity books with crayons are available to keep children busy whilst they wait
  • Children’s parties are available too
  • They also have bottle warming facilities
  • High chairs available too

The Harvester – Winchester Road, Basingstoke, RG22 6HN

  • Some tables aren’t big enough for Pushchairs
  • Baby changing facilities are available in disabled toilets.
  • Menu shows the calorie content of each item
  • Starting from £5.99 there is a children’s menu with meals for small children up to 10 years old.
  • Unlimited salad cart too
  • Activity pack with colouring and games to do whilst waiting for food
  • Staff have always been lovely when I’ve been with my child

Mcdonalds  – Brighton Hill Retail Park, Winchester Road, Basingstoke, RG22 4AN

  • If you’re feeling more slummy mummy than yummy mummy and can’t be bothered to mobilise the army, this is a very quick place to get lunch
  • Many more options than used to be, children can have burger, cheeseburger, chicken nuggets or fish fingers. They can also have fries or carrot sticks and for drinks they can have milk, orange juice, fruit shoot or any of the draft drinks.

Nelsons Diner – Newbury Road, Newbury, RG20 4TA

  • I love Nelsons for breakfast. They do a great American breakfast, pancakes with maple syrup. If you aren’t watching your waistline, I totally recommend the milkshakes. Totally moreish. (I may regret putting up such a raving review next time we try to get a table! :-D)
  • Kids menu is available and a meal deal is only £6.95 (correct as of December 2016) which includes a starter, main course and a desert as well as a drink.
  • Children’s parties can also be booked here.
  • Staff have always been really friendly when taken my family there.
  • Changing facilities are basic but adequate.
  • Not much space for pushchairs but there is parking right outside so shouldn’t be much of an issue
  • Highchairs available
  • Play area outside if the weather is nice

Sainsburys – 3 Wallop Drive, Basingstoke, RG22 4TW

  • Children’s meals are developed for ages 5 to 10.
  • They do sell pouches of baby food
  • High chairs are good and have always been clean when we’ve visited
  • Dedicated baby changing room with a toilet in for parents too

Debenhams – Festival Place, Festival Way, Basingstoke, RG21 7BA

  • There is a baby room next to the Restaurant.
  • They also offer a special children’s menu and provide baby food and bottle warming facilities, free bibs and wipes.
  • Two types of high chairs including ones for smaller babies

Morrisons – Worting Road, Basingstoke, RG21 8BJ

  • Fairly limited kids menu but have always been accommodating when I’d asked to adapt it.
  • Children’s lunch boxes are good as there is a choice of contents.
  • £3 kids meal which includes any children’s meal, a fruit bag and a drink
  • Children eat free after 3pm with a full paying adult meal
  • High chairs, microwave and disposable bibs available
  • Baby changing facilities are further from the restaurant right near the store entrance but have always been clean

Olivers Fish and Chips – 39 London Road, Old Basing, Basingstoke, RG24 7JE

  • They have an early Bird Deal at the moment.
  • The restaurant is open every day until 10.30pm, but check the website to confirm this.
  • They do have baby changing facilities and colouring and crayons for bigger children as well as books by the door.
  • Not much space so pushchairs won’t really work.
  • Maybe a place to visit if you are lucky enough to have a night out alone with your partner/husband.
  • Children’s meals are priced from £3.45
  • High chairs are available
  • There is also a takeaway menu for children

Marks and Spencers Cafe – Chineham Shopping Centre, Great Binfields Road, Chineham, RG24 8BG

  • Baby changing in both the male and female toilets
  • High chairs are available and have always been clean
  • Not too cheap but good for a nice treat or even just a coffee and a cake
  • Always clean and tidy
  • Plenty of parking

Nando’s  – Festival Place, Basingstoke, RG21 7BB

  • Open until 11pm most nights
  • Has baby changing facilities
  • They do make you leave push chairs near the door, not always near you which makes me nervous
  • Nandino’s meals for under 10’s – choose one main, a marinade (plain-ish or PERi-tamer), two side and a dessert for £5.65

Spruce Goose – Basingstoke Leisure Park, Worting Road, Basingstoke, RG22 6PG

  • New and improved kids menu
  • All children’s mains come with 1 of your 5 a day
  • Meal deals start from £4.75 and come with a free squash
  • I’ve always found service to be slow when I’ve been there so perhaps better with older children

Queens College Arms – Aldermaston Road, Pamber End, Tadley, RG26 5QR

  • Recommend booking in advance and asking for the “big” table.
  • They have baby changing facilities onsite and bottle warming facilities.
  • Very friendly and welcoming of Mum’s and babies.
  • For bigger children, there is a climbing frame in the pub garden.
  • Meal deal for children includes any meal plus a tub of ice cream or sorbet for £5.75

Dobbies Garden Centre – 166 Hyde End Road, Shinfield, Reading, RG2 9ER

  • If you fancy going a bit further afield or live near Reading, it’s worth checking out the restaurant of this Garden Centre.
  • They have a large restaurant with a big outside eating area.
  • Seems to be quiet because it’s outside of central Reading.

The Cafe Project, Brighton Hill Parade, Off Sullivan Road, Basingstoke, RG22 4EH

  • Open Tuesday to Friday’s from 9.30am to 2pm
  • Fabulous cause, supports adults with learning difficulties; they train the students to gain experience in hospitality and catering and then they go on to find further work experience or paid employment
  • Small children’s menu
  • Friendly and welcoming
  • Lots of high chairs
  • Baby changing facilities

Conkers Garden Centre London Road, Old Basing, Basingstoke, RG24 7LJ

  • Early Bird Meals with children

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Review 2017: Tot Cross Buns

Thank you very much to the NHM Secret Reviewer who put this post together!

Last month, my son made an amazing toad in the hole. He’s two years old. Before I sign him up for Masterchef, I should probably give some appreciation to the brilliant ladies at Tot Cross Buns.


Tot Cross Buns is a cookery course for children aged 2 to 5 years old, with occasional Saturday cookery classes that also welcome school age children. Their website says ‘The aim of Tot Cross Buns is to introduce children to food through taste, smell and touch all in a fun and relaxed environment. They’ll be cooking healthy recipes (some treats too!), which have all been tried and tested, and will involve the children every step of the way – and there will be no washing up to worry about!’ The classes also include a food related activity carried out whilst the food is cooking.

The classes are located at various sites in North Hampshire, close to Basingstoke, with times, locations and prices available on their website Tot Cross Buns. The business is the brainchild of local mum Allison and the classes are run by Allison and another local lady, Kerry, who runs the classes we’ve been attending.

The Class

First off I should admit, I’m a little bit in love with Tot Cross Buns. I went for a taster session last month and we have been back every week since. I’d never heard of the idea of cooking classes for toddlers before and had only seen places offering biscuit decorating etc. Here, not only do recipes include Toad in the Hole, pasta, rosemary biscuits etc, they concentrate on being healthy, with the very occasional cheeky spoily week. They teach about the foods they are using, where they come from, and tend to carry this into the week’s activities.


Kerry, as I’m sure Allison does too, takes the time to point out each ingredient and encourages the children to find the right ones and do as much as possible themselves. She goes around and helps where needed with support and a little one-to-one. She encourages involvement, asks lots of questions, and doesn’t miss a trick either; she will hone in on the quiet ones to make sure they feel involved (that includes my little one, and I still can’t believe he now shouts out answers to the group questions). She also encourages independence, getting the children to carry their trays up on their own, put the dirty bits in the washing up box, and collect their baking one at a time, with a round of applause at the end.

The activities themselves are well thought out and relevant to what is being cooked. From colouring, to tasting, to washing up, to planting herbs. Always different and always grabs the children’s attention whilst being educational.

All this, plus you come away with great baking too!

They also recently won the Muddy Stiletto Award for best children’s business in Hampshire 2017. Congratulations! Well deserved.

Rating out of 5

Definitely 5 out of 5

For more information contact Allison on Tot Cross Buns website or Tot Cross Buns Facebook Page

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Review 2017: Cookery Doodle Doo North Hants – Pop-up Tot’s Cooking Session

Thank you very much to today’s NHM Secret Reviewer who has done a FAB job!!!


Katie’s Facebook page can be found here Cookery Doodle Doo North Hants
Cookery Doodle Doo North Hants is run by Katie from her home in Whitchurch. I can’t really phrase it better than her website, so in her own words:

“In my cooking classes the children can relax and get messy, learn important skills, try new flavours and chat about where ingredients come from. It’s a brilliant way for kids to learn about real, home-cooked food. As a mum myself, I place great importance on the adults being able to enjoy it too, so there’s proper coffee and lots of opportunity to chat at my preschool classes; and my pudding club was designed to give you 2 hours off on a Sunday morning, whilst one course of the family dinner is sorted for you!” (from Katie’s website page, Cookery Doodle Doo website)

She offers Pre-School Classes, Sunday Morning Pudding Club (for 5-10 year olds), private parties, nursery visits, pop-up classes and more.

We joined Katie for one of her Pop-up Tot’s cooking sessions which was based in Overton Coffee Shop rather than at her home in Whitchurch. I’d never been to Overton before and Katie was kind enough to give me the low-down on parking which helped enormously with a toddler in tow.

Overton Coffee Shop is a lovely place, and it is definitely on my list of places to visit again. When we arrived we went through to the back and the tables were set out ready, with aprons on chairs and colourful utensils on the table. It was all beautifully prepared and nicely intriguing for little hands. Katie was great throughout, giving clear and simple instructions and working her way around to help where needed.

We made orange and chocolate bread and butter pudding, which really did impress me, especially as all the toddlers came away with a complete tray ready for baking and made safe for travel. I have to say, after baking it at home, it tasted incredible! Rather handily, we were given a recipe which I am very much looking forward to making use of. My toddler thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and was so proud when I showed him the cooked result. Needless to say, we devoured the lot between us! All in all it was a great and special experience which I would definitely do again.


Like anything with toddlers, be prepared to get a little messy.

Food and Facilities (Overton Coffee Shop)

Whilst we didn’t stay on, the food on offer looked lovely. It certainly was the sort of place I’d happily frequent.

Toilets, baby change facilities and highchairs available. There was also a very small area of toddler toys (always a bonus in a coffee shop!)

Please note, these would be different to the courses run at Katie’s home which I’ve yet to try.

Parking (Overton)

There are two free car parks in Overton, there is also free on-road parking for up to two hours.


Please see Katie’s website for details, https://north-hampshire.cookerydoodledoo.com/

Rating out of 5


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NHM readers recommend places for a Sunday Roasts

I recently asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook where they like to go for Sunday Roasts within a 30 minute drive of Basingstoke. (Thank you very much to everyone who responded and thank you to Shona for putting this post together!!)

These were the responses I received.

NHM Readers Recommend Places for Sunday Roasts.

Natalie said: I enjoy the food at Longbridge Mill just after Sherfield Park

Wendy said: I like Lord Derby by junction 5. My friend’s favourite is the White Hart in Sherfield

Sarah said: The Hatch does an amazing roast. Service is always dreadful though

Holly said: The Clock and Thyme in Overton, Kids eat free!

Tracy said: Leather Bottle is great and they are also Coeliac UK accredited. 

Victoria said: Aingels Bistro in Winklebury! Amazing home cooked food and great menu that caters for vegan/gluten/dairy free

Stephany said: The Cavella Arms in Silchester

Jessica said: The Hogget is by far the best roast in my eyes

Lucy said: My meat eating hubster likes The Phoenix

Hayley said: Had a lovely roast at the Queens College Arms today

Ruth said: Just had xmas meal yesterday at The Elm Tree in Beech Hill – lovely food, owner’s and service. I suspect Sunday roast will be to similar standards

Helena said: The Rowbarge at Woolhampton. Second to none. Also good for a walk along the canal pre or post lunch

Hayley said: The Fox Inn in Newfound is lovely

Ruza said: Like the food over at The Fur and Feathers, also the Crown at Old Basing

Siobhan said: The Hoddington Arms. Dog and child friendly!

Colleen said: The Royal Oak. This place is amazing, and around the corner from Alice Holt so can be combined with an amble in the woods.

Rachel said: The Harvester in Reading is one of our favourite places to go (Mansion House).

Lindsay said: The Queen Inn at Dummer is fabulous for roasts and food in general really

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Review 2017: Kitty’s Tilted Teacup Tea Room

 Thank you very much to the NHM secret Reviewer who wrote this post!

Review 2017: Kitty’s Tilted Teacup Tea Room

I’m currently very excited about our upcoming family camping trip, but have been wondering how to keep small J warm as he wriggles free from sleeping bags and blankets quicker than I can replace them. I enlisted Grandma to knit some knee length woolly socks ready for our trip and found myself taking her to Pack Lane wool shop in Kempshott. Imagine our delight to not only discover a treasure trove of all things sparkly and crafty but a lovely little tea room out the back.

Kitty’s Tilted Teacup Tea room is a hidden delight, that I almost want to keep to myself. We treated ourselves to afternoon tea, hot chocolate and cake – which is all made by the team that run the tea room. Small J was delighted with his gingerbread man and hot chocolate and happily for the grownups they were served in child friendly plastic mugs and plates so we didn’t need to worry about accidental breakage of the beautiful crockery.

My cream egg cheesecake was moreishly smooth, even Grandma decided to taste and then had to be fended off so she didn’t finish it!  Dangerously they also provide a take away cake service, so Mr J was lucky enough to sample the Crunchie cheesecake cake after his dinner that night, which went down very very well with him. They also serve gluten free cake options. The service was quick and friendly and the tearoom had a lovely family vibe about it.

We’ve already planned a return trip when I shall be to trying out the lunch menu (and more cake of course!)

The tearoom also serves breakfast and makes cakes and cupcakes for birthdays and other occasions to order. Children can celebrate their birthday with an afternoon tea party, during which they also get to decorate a cupcake to take home.

On site there are toilet and baby changing facilities, a small car park, and beware – a tempting Pick and Mix selection that takes up most of a wall! (I’m thinking of putting blinkers on Mr J when I take him)

Booking is essential for busy times. Check out their Facebook page for more https://www.facebook.com/kittyscakebakerybasingstoke/ or call them on 01256 321166.

Unit 2, 171 Pack Lane, Kempshott, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG22 5HN

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