NHM Readers Recommend: Free holiday activities for families 2019

In July 2018, a NHM Reader asked: “Do you have a list of free activities over the holiday which includes older siblings?”

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: Free holiday activities for families 2019

Jools said, “Basingstoke children and families page has loads of free stuff or very inexpensive including things at Westside cc, viables community centre, Popley fields and Streetz which happen across Basingstoke and caters for older children. Things on every day mon-fri.”

Vicky said, “We did pets at home workshop. Had booked both girls in, who are 6 and 9, but my 9 year old backed out my my 6 year old got to hold a rat, bunny and guinea pig which she loved then there was a small activity box to take away with you. There were mainly younger ones but only half an hour and free! You do have to book online though as max of 12 kids. The lady was very knowledgeable.”

Becky said, “Good question. With a 4 yr old and a 12 year old it is difficult to find things on offer that allow both younger and older children.”

Louise said, “Blackberry picking?” Also check out the free sessions at your local Apple Store. They do educational sessions twice a day that you can book on for free. 

Rebecca said, “Hobbycraft do lots of free craft activities which both kids might like. Included slime making today and you take home the slime you make, that is good or bad depending on how you look at it!”

Hannah said, “We took our three (eldest 10/youngest 3) to the splash pad in popley (Chineham Splash Park) today….they all loved it and didn’t want to come home. Normally I struggle to entertain the 10 year old but he came away having had the most fun and asked to go back. Best bit was it costed nothing!!!!! The library are also running various craft bits too.”

Kate said, “A trip out to local woods (such as Micheldever) to go exploring?”

Hannah said, “Check out viable community centre as they have lots going on at the mo.”

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LinguaTastic Languages for Babies and Toddlers

Linguatastic Facebook Page

I was absolutely gutted that I didn’t find out about the Baby and Toddler Linguatastic classes until it was too late for Miss NHM.

However, we enrolled her in German with Linguatastic when she started in YR and she thoroughly enjoyed it (Linguatastic do language classes for all ages).

Unfortunately because of her health issues, her energy levels couldn’t cope with it at the time but I still rate the LinguaTastic classes highly! Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum onTwitterFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there!

NHM Readers Recommend: Great Summer Holidays with Kids

An NHM Reader recently asked: “I was wondering if you could ask everyone for recommendations for great summer holidays with kids? Our specifics are a big sandy beach, hotel with kids facilities, but in a place that’s not too touristy & heaving in the summer. This may be a big ask!” Many thanks to the NHM Community for their responses, listed below in no particular order.

NHM Readers recommend – great summer holidays with kids

Wendy said “If you don’t like it too busy consider the end of August rather than the start. We stayed in mestral and llebeig in Menorca. Quiet resort. The buildings are spread over three sites, one apartments around the busy noisy pool, one side apartments around the not so noisy pool and food and entertainment plus trampolines etc across the road. It’s not the best resort if you like restaurants (as there aren’t that many, although a few good choices for breakfast) but if you like all inclusive it works. Another thing to look at would be a villa that’s owned by a hotel that lets you use their facilities. There are lots of these in Menorca.”

Louise said “https://www.facebook.com/clairebelseypersonaltravelagent/  Claire is great at finding family holidays to suit and has two children of her own”

Lizzy said “Alcudia is amazing in Majorca massive long sandy beach (miles) with really shallow calm seas. Lots of family friendly hotels. Look at Zafiro hotels. Nearer old town side is less touristy. Not been over summer holiday but been quiet in other holidays. https://www.facebook.com/ZafiroHotels/

Edie said “Would highly recommend Tots To Travel. All their properties and hotels are perfect with kids and they give you all the kit and toys so you don’t need to bring anything apart from clothes. All their pools are gated for child safety too. You pay a bit of a premium but I think it’s worth it. We’ve just booked our next holiday with them – berry farm in Brittany. Can’t wait! https://www.facebook.com/totstotravel/

Catherine said “This place was recommended to me by a friend who has 3 and 6 yr old: https://en.riviera-villages.com/Prairies-de-la-Mer

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Glamping in Devon: The Best of Both Worlds

Do you like the idea of camping – being at one with nature and in the outdoors – but dread the idea of sleeping on the floor and trekking across the field to the toilet block in the middle of the night? Or perhaps you had a bad experience as a child and vowed never to go again? If any of these thoughts sound familiar maybe you should think about trying glamping – AKA glamorous camping.

We have just launched Valleyside Escapes; a luxury family-friendly glampsite in the historic village of Bickleigh-on-Exe in Devon. We have three safari-style tents which sleep up to six. There is a king-sized bedroom, a twin bedroom and an enclosed cabin bed which can sleep two children, or adults! At the back of the tent, accessible by both bedrooms, is a bathroom ‘pod’ containing a walk-in shower, toilet and sink – so no getting spooked if you need the toilet in the middle of the night! The beds are comfy and made with premium quality bedding – you may feel like you’re in a hotel room – but just remember the walls are canvas so you may need to bring some ear plugs if any of your friends or family snore!

In the living area there is a small kitchen with fridge freezer and gas hob – so you won’t need to wait hours for the camp fire to start before you have a tea or coffee in the morning, and if you don’t want to have a BBQ every night you can also whip up a quick bowl of pasta. There is also a lounge area for putting your feet up and chilling out.

The best bit though is the outside – a veranda overlooking the beautiful Exe valley countryside with rolling patchwork hills and you can even see a vineyard! It’s a great backdrop to enjoy a family meal together or just sip on an ice cold beer or wine and take in the scenery. For the children there is a play area with swing, slide and various balancing beams and tyres to keep them amused, for a little while at least. The whole family can join in playing the various garden games that are also provided and really make the most of the space and being together.

There is also nature on your doorstep…we have sheep grazing in our Orchard and in our lower pasture, you will see and hear all sorts of different bird song including pheasants and peacocks and the odd fox or rabbit may drop by as well.

If you want to get out and about locally there is a pub and bistro within 200 metres and even more within a short drive – a night off cooking is definitely in order. There is also the Devon Railway Centre a two-minute walk away, with train rides, model railways, play areas including a soft play, ball and sand pit! There are numerous other attractions in both north and south Devon that can be reached from Valleyside Escapes that make it a very accessible and convenient base.

If you have never been glamping then now is definitely the time to give it a go – embrace being outdoors with the added comforts of home. We hope guests will leave Valleyside Escapes relaxed and with some special holiday memories to cherish forever.

As this is our first season we are offering discounted rates.  Further information and booking can be found on our website: www.valleysideescapes.co.uk or give us a call on 01884 855538 and you can also follow us on facebook, Instagram and twitter.

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The Basics

All you need to do is paint a stone and write “Basingstones” on it. Then hide it somewhere safe for someone to find and hopefully brighten their day!

If you find a Basingstone, please post a photo of it on our Facebook Group page so we can see how far it travels. Either keep it and replace, or just hide it again somewhere new.


The Facebook Page

https://www.facebook.com/groups/basingstones/ The magic of Basingstones is what happens off social media ie the spending time together, being creative, getting outdoors, sharing and the small acts of kindness concept.

Our facebook page allows the wonderful Basingstones community to come together online to share photos and smiles but it shouldn’t be the focus.  That said, here are a few tips on using the facebook group page:

  • Pinned Post

Please make sure you have a read of the Pinned Post – lots of important information in there!

  • Searching

There is a SEARCH bar which allows you to search out key words in posts – very helpful for when you are looking for a particular post by an individual or regarding a certain topic. Just type the person’s name for example and hit SEARCH.

  • Reporting posts

Please help us to keep the page free of sales posts, unrelated page links and spam. If you see anything inappropriate or disrespectful, please press the three dots in the right hand corner of the post, then select the option to “Report post”

  • Sharing photos

Note that this group is public and can be seen and accessed by anyone, so please be mindful when sharing details and posting pics. Do NOT post photos of other people’s children.

Did you know…?

…there are often competition basingstones for you to keep a lookout for!
Try searching “competition” to see what you could win

…there is a Basingstones Admin photo album for Basingstones news
hit Albums and select Basingstones Admin

…there is a thread to track international Basingstones so that we can see them pop up all over the world! (This can be found in the Basingstones Admin album)

…Basingstones has been on the radio, in the newspaper and even nominated for a community project award!  Check out the Basingstones Admin Album for details


Where can I get stones from?

Lots of garden centres and large DIY stores sell big bags of stones/cobbles for about £5.  Locally, you can try The Range, Wickes, Conkers, Home Bargains, B&M, Bunnings and many more.

Taking rocks from beaches is discouraged and you could actually be fined.  Whilst taking the odd stone will do no damage, we don’t want to have a negative impact on the environment.

How should I decorate basingstones?

You can paint the stone however you wish, perhaps with a pretty pattern, a fun cartoon character, an inspirational quote or an artistic design.

Please avoid sticking things to the stones though which could potentially fall off and be harmful to wildlife. We want to be friendly towards our environment and our furry friends too.

What paint is best to use?

Sharpie pens, permanent markers, nail polish, acrylic paints and clear varnish or spray (to make it weather proof) all work really well.

Why haven’t I seen a photo of the basingstone I hid?

There are thousands of group members and hundreds of posts each day. You cannot keep track of them all.  Also, some people may choose not to share their photos or finds online.

Don’t worry that not all hidden basingstones get a finder post – each one makes someone smile and each one is special!

I hope this helps.

Have fun!

Rachel x
Basingstones Admin

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NHM Reader Recommendations: Toddlers on an Aeroplane Journey

Louise recently posted on “Louise nhm Smith”: “Good Evening Everyone! I can’t help myself but I saw on a friends fb that she’s looking for ideas for keeping a toddler quiet on a long aeroplane journey. My initial suggestions were the Playmobil 123 motorbike and “pip squeak” crayolas with any of the Usborne activity books. I’ve also wrapped toys up as that was a nice distraction for at least half a minute! What would your suggestions be?”

Members of the NHM community responded with the below, many thanks for your contributions!

Thank you very much also to Juliet for putting this post together!

NHM Reader Recommendations: Toddlers on an Aeroplane Journey

Fiona says “CBeebies app with games and stories on.”

Sarah says “Aqua draw”

Beckie says “I have taken colouring, plasticine, stories, iPad, snacks, duplo etc. I have just bought some travel activity books on amazon for our holiday. That might be worth a look.”

Lisa says “We had Julia Donaldson activity sticker books”

Abigail says “A new book that has lots to look at such as Richard Scarry books, Where’s Wally or Just Imagine and You Choose by Nick Sharrat and Pippa Goodhart.”

Becky says “My friend wrapped little presents up for her son to unwrap every hour”

Skye says “iPad and don’t worry about a child making noise. It’s a flight not a day spa.”

Lucy says “Def sticker books, keeps mine entertained for hours… and snacks that take forever to eat.”

Wendy says “Wallpaper border is very good to use as drawing paper on planes. My friend also has tips on his travel blog. https://www.lifeofreilly.tv/how-to-survive-a-long-haul…/

Caroline says “Cbeebies app works really well for our daughter”

Marie says “Does she have a tablet? Mr Maker has a good app and there is a peppa pig paint and draw one that my little boy used to love. If she’s into watching movies maybe there will be a kids movie on the flight?”

Colleen says “Tablet, headphones, battery pack.”

Bridget says “We travelled over 10 hours to the US with our 19 month old on Feb and I brought her some toddler headphones because the airlines often have the buds and I thought they would be bad for her ears. Also if you are travelling from Heathrow Terminal 3 they have an excellent family lounge which is free. It has a quiet room, soft play areas and loads of toys. Was so good for tiring our toddler out before the flight. Also make a pack lunch because if your baby is under 2 and travelling on your lap they won’t get any food on board so think ahead. Snack attack things are great, raisins, cheesy ritz etc”

Karen says “When we went on a long car journey I bought various new toys to buy us time… Aqua doodles, toy car, cheap baby doll (which had odd bits with it), new book, fuzzy felt books, craft pack from Baker Ross, basically a variety of different things to buy a bit of time”

Jeni says “Shape sorter eggs. I have two sets of them for each car and they entertain mine for a good while”

Rachel says “We’ve flown abroad twice recently (2 & 4 first trip, 3 & 4 the second)….they have their own tablets which were great as could download films/cartoons in advance. Colouring books and crayons (small) were appreciated by my daughter on both trips, along with some crafty bits. My son (younger) played with a selection of vehicles the first time (free with a magazine we bought for the plane), the second time he just wanted to watch the on board entertainment. Pack some snacks too, things you know they love. I packed too many bits the first time….I followed all the advice I could get and packed EVERYTHING. Completely forgetting to take into account the fact that my children are individuals, and my daughter enjoys sitting and colouring/drawing/making but my son gets bored of those easily.”

Rachel says “I’ve heard tablets can’t be used on all flights but phones can so make sure you have some apps on your phone too!”

Lauren says “Crayola colour wonder packs are great as the pens don’t have ink in them! Keep snacks handy!!”

Kelly says “I’ve been known to take small pots of playdough for the lap tray and a couple of cutters. Small puzzles. Mini Etch a sketch type thing. New books that they haven’t seen before. Daughter had a baby and little blanket. Def snacks. Lollys! Don’t normally like them but for take off and landing they’re great if ears are an issue. Made sure we had a pillow and blanket as soon as we got on too.”

Bridget says “If you have a lap baby (under 2) call up the airline and ask for a bassinet set, these are on the bulk heads so you get extra leg room which is helpful. They can’t 100% guarantee and they will tell you to ask again at check in to confirm but it’s always worked for me. The bassinets are great for letting babies lay down and sleep comfortably. They can take up to 25lbs which is about 19 months ish”

Sarah says “Usborne sticker activity books helped us on flights when the girls were little. Good distraction for take off and landing.”

Marie says “I’ve recently done a 13hour flight with a 6 week old and a 3 year old. My biggest tip is to travel over night. Our flight left at around 9pm. The baby was easy. Slept most of the way and only woke to be fed.  The 3 year old was my biggest fear. But with his own tv and kindle. It kept him occupied for the first couple of hours. Then he slept for 7 1/2 hours. The remainder of the journey he was mesmerised with the games and cartoons on the entertainment system provided. We had cars/books/toys etc in a bag but he barely touched these. Sticker books were a life saver when he started to get fed up. (Don’t forget pull ups or nappies, saves any accidents). Of course snacks are a given. We are planning the same flight (returning to England) for Christmas and again plan to come overnight. My son I’m not worried about but my daughter will be 15 months old this time and I’m dreading it. Easier when she was a baby!”

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Top Tip: YHA Holidays


If you are looking for a reasonably priced holiday, have you checked out Youth Hostels recently?

There has been a dramatic change in the way Youth Hostels are structured in the UK over the past couple of years.

Most of the rooms are private rooms so no more dormitories, many are en-suite and they cater specifically for families.

Most of them also have self catering facilities (only the very small ones don’t) and many have restaurants on site that use local produce.

You no longer need to leave your room during the day either.

We are hoping to go Youth Hosteling in the autumn and spring next year, because I’m not a big fan of camping with a little one when the weather might be dubious.

Some of the best holidays I’ve ever had were with the YHA.

When I was 13 my family went on a weeks adventure holiday at the Wye Valley hostel which included:

  • orientering on bikes
  • a night kayaking down the River Wye
  • abseiling off a bridge into a boat
  • caving
  • horse riding in the brecon beacons
  • a medieval banquet at Briaval Castle

The two adventure holidays that we did when I was 13 and 14 were by far two of the best holidays I’ve ever had. Only my travels to Peru and Kenya compare!

There are several Youth Hostels that are just over an hours drive from here. One’s we are hoping to visit in the near future are Littlehampton and Alfriston.

Next year we also might try the new Youth Hostel campsite at the Eden Project.

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