The Summer Holidays in Basingstoke with an 8 year old

I was having a cuppa with a friend this morning and we were talking about what to do in the summer holidays and we realised that I know LOADS of things, so thought I would share ;-).

Each week of the holidays I also put together a printed schedule for each week and pin it to a wall, so Miss NHM can see what’s happening for the rest of the week. It shows what we are doing each morning, lunchtime, afternoon and evening.  I find that it stops the “what are we doing today” questions that I used to get all through the summer holidays!! :-D.

  1. Book at least one pyjama day during the summer holidays! If only to “celebrate” not having to do the school run!!!

2. Our local Hobbycraft have FREE craft sessions on a Saturday for an hour in the morning.

3. Go paddling in a local stream 

4. Take a picnic and explore near to where you live. There is something awesome about eating outside. We are huge fans of breakfast picnics for something a little bit different!

5. If the weather is good, go to a local splash park like Eastrop Park or Chineham Splash Park 

6. Find out all of your local parks and go for a skate or bike ride to each one. This post is really good for finding good play parks and parks local to you: Local Parks and open spaces

7. Go Geo-cashing in your local woods. It’s really easy to do. Just download the app to your phone and off you go. It’s a great way to get children outside. Or Pokemon or Harry Potter hunting if that’s your thing ;-).

8. Book up a FREE session at our local Apple store in Festival Place. There at least two sessions every day and more in the summer holidays and they are a great way to occupy your child/children for an hour or two. You need to book in advance though and you have to stay with your child.

9. Boring as it is, school shoes are a necessity if you’re child is in school. I highly recommend Diane at Shoes2Adore on the way to Tadley. But book soon because she gets VERY booked up in the summer holidays.

10. If you’re child can’t ride their bike yet, make a plan to teacher them over the summer.

11. Go swimming at once of our local swimming pools. Lots of them do special deals and/or events over the summer holidays so check out their websites for more information. QMC Swimming pool does really reasonably priced swimming sessions during the summer holidays.

12. Sign up to the Reading Challenge that our local Libraries run every summer. You can sign children up from ages 4+ I think and they only need to read 6 books over the 6 weeks. If they complete the challenge and are at school they get a medal and a certificate that’s presented to them in school. Miss NHM is very proud of her previous reading challenge certificates and medals and it’s been a great way to get her to read more. Popping into the library for an hour a week during the school holidays is also a great time killer!!

13. Take the children to a local museum, especially the Willis Museum as it’s FREE!!

14. Kids cinema in the mornings during the summer holidays at around 10am. Both Vue and Odeon do reduce tickets for “kids Club” and I think it’s less than £2 per ticket.

15. Cash in your Tesco’s clubcard points or your nectar points to do something fun with your children.

16. Find somewhere to visit where the entrance ticket becomes an annual pass. If you buy a ticket to Milestones Museum, The Living Rainforest or the Army Flying Museum the ticket lasts for a year so you can re-use during other holiday times or after school.

17. Check out the “NHM Reviews” page for ideas of where to go and where to visit. Lots of places reviewed on NHM are FREE, although you may have to pay for parking.

18. Check out the Season Tickets to local attractions in North Hampshire – updated 2017 post which lists out local season tickets.

19. Miss NHM loves listening to audio books, so I splash out for the summer holidays and treat her to a new audio book. I buy mine from “The Book People” as they are very reasonably priced and Miss NHM has easy control over which cd’s she listens too.

20. Try “Bored Jar’s” when you are at your wits end!! These posts are tailored to toddlers but you can easily update them for older children.

21. Visit Hampshire Farmers Market. The nearest one to Basingstoke is in Winchester on a Sunday morning.

22. Check out the Nature Detectives website for some ideas of activities you can do outside.

23. Take a walk to Odiham Castle, along the Basingstoke Canal.

24. If it’s windy, fly a kite at Crabtree.

25. Visit a Pick Your Own farm.

26. Go for a day trip to the beach. There is also a great post by NHM Readers of their Favourite local beaches.

At Home

27. Blackberries are now ready in August so make sure you go blackberry picking at some point.

28. I’m planning on trying to drop some food off at our local food bank with Miss NHM.

29. Play boardgames together or try to create your own boardgame.

30. Put the tent up in the garden and sleep in it over night. If you don’t have a tent see if you can borrow a small one from friends and family.

31. This year I’m going to create a “Summer Holiday box” which will be very similar to the “Christmas Eve Box” that I put together every Christmas. Each Monday I plan to fill it with different things, like an audiobook that Miss NHM hasn’t listened too in a while, some party bag fillers that I’ve kept back, sticker books that Miss NHM hasn’t got round to using, some books she hasn’t read yet that have been in her bookcase for AGES, and little things like that which can keep her occupied for a while.

32. Clean a neighbours car in exchange for some money that will go towards charity.

33. Ask your child if there is anything in their bedroom that they no longer need or want as the summer holidays is a great chance to declutter.

34. Something we are going to do this summer is clean out the kitchen cupboards together!!

35. Have a look at Baker Ross for some cheap craft activities you can do together or use something from the recyling bin as a craft project.

36. Create a summer scrapbook where your child or children can write in what they have done over the summer holidays. It will be a great memory for when they are older.

37. Bake some fairy cakes or buy a baking kit such as the ones you can get from local company BakedIn.

38. Ensure you schedule in some “boring” days where you have nothing planned, so your children can occupy themselves for a while. It’s supposed to help with their resilience, although it may drive you batty listening to the “I’m bored” whining <facepalm>!

Sounds Right Phonics Classes for Kids

When I first heard about Sounds Right Phonics Classes for Kids I knew it was something that I had to get involved, as an ex-teacher I was so excited by these classes and new that they would go down really well in this area!

I am Sally, mum to two young boys, and a highly experienced early years teacher.  When I returned to teaching after having my boys, it became clear that something had to give as I just wasn’t seeing my sons during the week.

So when I stumbled across Sounds Right Phonics Classes fro Kids I though aha this is perfect! I could still use my teaching skills, but also fitted around my family.

Phonics has become such a huge part of children’s learning in recent years, so immersing children into simple phonic activities and games at a young age and introducing them to rhymes, whilst having fun seemed like a fantastic thing to do.

I have two different classes, Minis for children aged between 12 to 30 months – which introduces simple letter sounds, with many songs and rhymes, we also begin to develop motor skills through the use of pom-poms, bubbles and parachutes.

And Pre-school classes for children aged between 2 1/2 and 4 years old – where we introduce a sound each week and play games associated with that sounds, then with the help of our class mascot we develop word building and taking apart strategies.

Along side all of this we continue to improve our motor skills both large and small scale with pom-poms and play-dough.

I currently run classes on Mondays in Barton Stacey, Tuesdays at Totcity in Andover and Wednesdays at Picket Twenty Community Centre.

From September I will be adding an afternoon class on Wednesdays at YMCA Andover.  If you would like more information please contact me on andover@soundsrightphonicsclasses.co.uk or visit my facebook page Sounds Right Phonics Classes Andover.

Here are a couple of recent review from some of my parents:

“This class is so much more than I had expected. It is fun, interactive and different than all others out there. My daughter loves it! I love that she is so happy learning!!”

“I was initially interested in Sally’s phonics classes as I wanted to learn how to pronounce sounds correctly before my daughter starts school in September, as it’s all new to me too! We have both had so much fun that my daughter has said that she would “go to phonics every day” if she could. She gets bored easily but loves these classes and has learned so much. As her interest in letters and sounds has grown it’s naturally led on to her writing some too! Sally is wonderful and includes every child in the group, highly recommended.”

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Failing Families: Health Visitor Clinic Closures

It’s been 8 years since I started NorthHantsMum in June 2011.

I’ve seen a lot of changes during that time. Unfortunately many of those changes have negatively impacted local families, especially Mums with babies and small children and families with SEN children.

Yesterday I saw that the Health Visitor clinic schedule has been changed again so that now the Drop In’s are only Monday at The Ridgeway Centre and Friday at the Discovery Centre. The others are by appointment only.

Many of the clinics that have been running for at least 8 years (I know because I used them) have now been cancelled, such as Christchurch Chineham, Overton, Hatch Warren, Whitchurch and Bramley.

I understand that we are living in times of “austerity” but why is it that families, especially Mums and young children, are targeted with any cuts first?

What you can do!!!

If, like me, you are pissed off/ fed up  (I don’t swear on NHM but I feel it’s appropriate in this instance!) with the way local families are being repeatedly let down then this is what you can do:

Specifically email ALL of the three people below and say why it matters to you that the Health Visitor clinics have been cut.

Please cc. me in any emails that you send (NorthHantsMum@gmail.com).

  1. Email the head of Southern Health: hp-tr.complaints@nhs.net
  2. Email Maria Miller: maria.miller.mp@parliament.uk
  3. Email your local councillor. You can find your local councillor here by using your postcode: https://democracy.basingstoke.gov.uk/mgFindMember.aspx

(You can copy and paste all of the emails from here: hp-tr.complaints@nhs.net;  maria.miller.mp@parliament.uk; NorthHantsMum@gmail.com)

Specifically tweet ALL of the three people below and say why it matters to you that the Health Visitor clinics have been cut:

  1. Tweet the head of Southern Health: https://twitter.com/NickBroughton4
  2. Tweet Maria Miller: https://twitter.com/MariaMillerUK
  3. Tweet your local councillors

The remaining clinics also have feedback forms, so please complete these as well.

Please make sure you add comments as to why it matters to you that the clinics have been cut as the way these things work is that individual letters/emails count more than group ones.

What to write about

You could write about how disappointed you are that so many clinics have been discontinued because they were so important to you when your baby was born as they were somewhere for you to go for support.

You could write about how annoyed you are that funding cuts are impacting new Mums and thus putting them at more risk of post natal depression.

You could write about how angry you are that new Mums and future new Mums are being failed by the services that are supposed to be in place to support them.

You could also write something similar to this which I’ve been sent by another local Mum: “in recent years in our area parents have lost specialised breastfeeding support when grant funding was not extended and have had closures of Children’s Centres (11 remain out of 64 in Hampshire I think). To say that support for parents has been decimated is an understatement. I understand that money is tight but the latest blow will affect those parents who are only just coping and in turn these women and children will need to access more services via their GPs for example or as mental health referrals. I consider these additional closures will knock on to the health and well being of ordinary families and will cost the whole system more in the long run. We were promised more Health Visitors in the call for action – instead it seems we have fewer with just a skeleton service remaining. I worry for those families who in the past would have got early support from a trusted Health Visitor – who now will go under the radar. If a GP visit costs around £45, a hospital overnight stay more like £500 and a child taken in to care around £50K per annum… we can see how cutting services for families to the bare minimum will soon knock on to these other budgets. We are calling for a joined up approach to services in the county.”

You can obviously write whatever you would like but please put why it matters to you that the Health Visitor Clinics have been cut.

On Social Media you could use the hashtag #FailingFamilies.

Summary of Closures

If you have a bit more time and feel like you really want to “go to town” on how local families are being let down, then please see my summary of closures and cancellations in the past 4 years….

2015

2016

(There is now direct evidence of how children’s centres saved the NHS millions of pounds: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jun/04/sure-start-saved-nhs-millions?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook&fbclid=IwAR38KyULT_ELrGweVxT_rNIHgJIK4RKL491e0MVUbcHjaVmsiC99gW3lRC8) Thank you to Danielle for sharing with me).

2017

  • 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds, meaning many Mums are being forced back into working much earlier than they would want too.

2018

  • Closing of Little Play Town in Nov 2018
  • Manydown Family Fun Closed
  • Absolute Karting Basingstoke Closed
  • JJ’s (softplay) Closed
  • Beenham Wolf Sanctury Closed
  • Reduction of funding for school buses – August 2018
  • Removal of school buses for children with disabilities – August 2018
  • National Playday at Eastrop cancelled in 2018. This was a free day for children that had been running for years in Eastrop but now runs in a few of the local community centres instead. It’s not the same. At all.
  • Reduction in funding for the newborn courses at the remaining Children’s Centre, Westside – 2018
  • Cancellation of the EHCP process in Nov 2018 for SEN parents
  • Closing of ParentVoice and switching to Red Rose: https://www.hants.gov.uk/news/Nov27-SENDIASS
  • Changes to Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support in Hampshire

2019

  • Kids N Action Softplay Closed
(If there is anything that I have missed off this list, please let me know).

Impact of these changes

All of these changes are impacting many, many local families.

Even more so with the increase in housing of an extra 10,000 houses to be built in the local area by end of 2020, so more families are moving to the area but services are being reduced that don’t support existing families, let alone new families.

As I said above, I understand that we live in times of “austerity” but it’s very, very worrying and I try not to dwell too much on the impact these changes will have on my 8 year old daughter, her generation and future generations.

I try my best to be positive and upbeat on NHM but I think we need to try to do something to ensure that at least the Health Visitor clinics are better represented. Any help you can give with this will be greatly appreciated. If we ALL send the emails, the impact the NorthHantsMum Community could have would be huge!

Comments from other Mum’s

who have put it far more eloquently than I have!

Sarah: Sadly it Seems like this government would rather waste money hosting a £40million trump visit and push through brexit at any cost rather than look after it’s vulnerable citizens. After brexit more services like this will be cut as we will all be poorer – Apparently it’s “the will of the people”.

Genevieve: As well as writing letters, you may also wish to comment on Maria’s Twitter and Facebook accounts (or here https://www.facebook.com/159961377372565/posts/2184994638202552?s=532163237&sfns=mo – she’s very good at attending awards, not so good at helping people!).

Eleanor: Prevention is better than cure … health visitor clinics are so useful to local people in their own communities. Mums don’t think ‘oh I’m struggling, I know I’ll book a health visitor clinic’ they just keep struggling, until something breaks or nothing happens but just struggle.
I’m so sad to see the Bramley clinic cancelled. The stay and play sessions were so valuable to me. Sadly the funding is ridiculously short I presume. I’ll defiantly be emailing as you suggested. Taking away support for parents is only ever going to cause problems for parents and children in the future. Even if it’s the subtle kind of problems that don’t translate into hospital admissions etc.

Elisa: The unfortunate truth is that they are down on 5 full time health visitors for Southern Health. The reason they are not able to recruit is that most of their time is spent dealing with safe guarding issues. The role of the health visitor has sadly changed and nobody wants to do the type of work they are doing now. Add to this, the fact that the remaining staff are over worked and stressed, it’s not an environment anyone else wants to join.
So as desperately sad as it is about the decreasing availability of them, writing to anyone will sadly make no difference. The jobs are available but sadly nobody wants them ☹️.

Emma: When I had my first I could walk around to chiltern school and see a HV every other Tuesday. He was regularly weighed and as a first time mum I could ask all my questions. Fast forward 4 years and I had a prem baby. Zero support. I was told I’d have more contact because he was premature- I didn’t. When I went for weigh ins the HV’s didn’t all understand how to record his weight!! You have to plot it twice for actual and corrected. The library was the easiest one to get to but queues were horrendous and then you felt rushed because you could feel the strain. Needless to say I stopped going. It was too much effort with two children and with my baby being so little. I can’t believe they’ve reduced this even further. If I was a first time mum now I’d be very worried.

Wendy: Emma, such similar story, my first was weighed once a fortnight at first, then once a month in the Popley 5 drop in that was walking distance for all of Popley, Oakridge and South View. Then they moved it to Popley Fields for my second, no longer walking distance, not at a time that was convenient for nursery/school run. He got weighed about 4 times. He had eczema and allergies but going to the drop in meant missing out on other things or struggling with the car park, so we didn’t bother. Parking charges, town being busy, all things that would have put me off going to the library. I can only imagine what it’s like for those using public transport.

Angela: It’s thoroughly saddening to see such valuable support (emotional to individuals and economic to the wider public health system) being stripped away. I hope people remember this feeling of hopelessness during the next general election and vote for a party that is going to help the public. (I’m really sorry to make this political, but in the words of a great 90s rock band “everything’s political”. We have the power to choose a government that won’t strip the first line of support from us.)

Charlotte: It’s so sad. I used to work on a HV team and the work they do really cannot be underestimated. Yes, you can still see a HV without a clinic but as mentioned above, the clinic is such a convenient and quick way to see them, without having to book an appointment. Some parents don’t have to confidence to book an appointment, or they aren’t sure if they are wasting someone’s time (they never are wasting anyone’s time). I think the cutting down of these clinics alongside the closure of the children’s centres we really come back to bite the Government in a few years when there are increased social issues and late diagnosis of problems that could have been resolved with early intervention 😢.

Mary: To be a HV, you have to be a qualified nurse. They can’t find nurses because they cut the support for people to train. Lots of nurses stop nursing because its not compatible with being a parent unless you are lucky enough to work in a day service. Nurses, however, aren’t paid enough so free childcare is vital to contribute towards the cos. It’s more problematic that childcare support doesn’t start until age 3 so working parents have to struggle through age 1 and 2 first – or not work and then have to pay to reregister or train for their jobs. It’s all connected.

Nicole: I got my almost 3 month old weighed yesterday at Discovery Centre and I was shocked at how much it had changed since I took my first there in 2016. There was a queue out of the door to get in, and then you now weigh your baby and record it in your red book yourself. I didn’t need any support from the HV on this visit, but I’m not a healthcare professional and it would have been nice to just have them oversee it and my baby’s progress. To be honest I won’t be attending again. I feel sorry for the HVs because they look so stretched when you see them trying to get around the room, but most of them were extremely friendly and pleasant, and even found me a seat to feed the baby before I left.

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NHM Readers Recommend: Local Country Parks

An NHM Reader recently asked: “Would anyone be able to recommend some local country parks? We like Wellington but it’s so expensive!” 

Many thanks to the NHM Community for all of your responses, listed below in no particular order.

Please bear in mind that listings may change in subsequent years, but hopefully they will still be a good base point for your own research.

NHM Readers Recommend: Local Country Parks

Andrea said “All about a 30-50 min drive away. Dinton Pastures, Itchen Valley, Moors Valley, Royal Victoria, all free except for parking.

Clare saidAlice Holt has the gruffalo trail and in the summer  Moors Valley in the New Forest is great for a while day with only parking to pay”

Charlene saidAlice Holt, Virginia Waters

Dan saidFleet ponds is lovely to walk around.”

Sarah saidCalifornia country park just pay parking”

Jo R saidAlice Holt, Bracknell look out (cheaper later in day) outside free. California country park. Dinton Pastures. Frensham big and little ponds. Elizabeth Country Park. Sign up to National Trust for less than £10 a month then go as many times as you can!

Vicky saidSome great suggestions! We went to California country park for the first time in October and we’ll be going back in the summer to try out the paddling pool (think it’s a £2.50 charge for the pool).”

Tracy saidBeale Park season ticket is very very good value!”

Emma L said “Defo Alice Holt and there’s one in Reading Dinton I think”

Rebecca said I love California country park

Aimee saidDinton Pastures is awesome”

Jo W saidVirginia Waters is beautiful”

Alison saidThatcham discovery centre and Charlton lakes are great

Heather saidQueen Elizabeth Country Park in Petersfield. All free exc small parking fee and brilliant. Drive right to the top for excellent play areas and open spaces. And an obstacle course.”

Jenny saidAlice Holt and Dinton both fab – only pay for parking”

Rachel saidDinton Pastures is brill and free apart from parking. Also nature discovery in Newbury which you just have to pay parking for.”

Emma H saidMoors Valley, you just pay for parking. It’s ace!! There’s also one in eastleigh but I can’t remember the name”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Places to go that include Train Rides

I recently had a question from an NHM Reader that I asked the NHM Community to help with: “Can anyone recommend places in Hampshire or close by that include train rides?”

Many thanks for all of your replies, listed below in no particular order.

Please bear in mind that listings may change in subsequent years, but hopefully they will still be a good base point for your own research.

NHM Readers Recommend: Places to go that include Train Rides

Stefanie saidThe watercress line in Alton. There is also a miniature railway at Viables in Basingstoke.”

Amanda saidWellington country park has a miniature railway”

Becky said “There is a train at Beale Park near pangbourne which is Berkshire but not too far from the Hampshire border”

Wendy said “There’s this one in Eastleigh but most will be shut throughout Jan and Feb http://www.steamtrain.co.uk/

Jo saidRoyal Victoria country park…we went there yesterday.”

Pixie saidDidcot and Swindon but a bit further out.”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Best Soft Play

I recently had a question from an NHM Reader that I asked the NHM Community to help with: “What are the best soft play places in Hampshire? Or are they all pretty much the same?” 

Many thanks for all of your responses, listed below in no particular order.

Please bear in mind that listings may change in subsequent years, but hopefully they will still be a good base point for your own research.

NHM Readers Recommend: Best Soft Play

Play Days, Basingstoke

Ellie said “Definitely play days in Basingstoke, have tried them all and this was my favourite. It’s clean, the cafe is nice and the balls are in the ball pit!”

Marie said “Playdays is the best, but the parking is limited. We could do with one the other side of town (hatchwarren/ Brighton hill way).”

Michelle said “Agree playdays is great. Always clean, decent prices, can stay as long as you like and staff all friendly. Has a baby bit and a much larger bit, so good for siblings of different ages…would say probably up to 5/6 years max though”

    • Leah said “depends on the child I think, my 7.5 year old still loves going to Playdays”

Anna said “Playdays is great. My son always had so much fun here!”

Jungle Adventure Soft Play (previously Play Den), Basingstoke

Laura said “Play Gym in Festival place… cleanest place around!”

Helen H said “The play den in town is nice and clean and generally the service is good.”

Active Tots, nr Bramley

Melanie said “For little ones I would highly recommend Active Tots.”

Helen H said “Active Tots near Bramley is lovely and clean, but pricey and the customer service is awful. I’ve been 3x and every time the staff are rude and unhelpful.”

    • Melanie said “Helen I’ve always found the staff lovely and very accommodating to those with allergies.”
    • Helen said “As I say, only been 3x and each time was a horrible experience. But I can’t fault the cleanliness of the place at all. It’s a lovely facility.”
    • Catherine said “and it has windows and natural day light.. which is less depressing for me!”

The Adventure Barn, Winchester

Lisa saidMy favourite is The Adventure Barn its extremely clean (closed every Tuesday 1/2 day to be cleaned) Staff are friendly, it also has a great outdoor play area in the summer. Is suitable for tiny babies up to 9/10 year olds (depending on the child). You can see all areas of the soft play so you can keep an eye on your child and don’t ‘loose’ them. The food is lovely (proper adult food) as well as kids meals, healthy and not so healthy snack for the kids. They do toddler sessions where you get a free biscuit and squash. Its near Marwell. Can be tricky to find the first time. Overall brilliant though…”

360 Play Farnborough

Amy said “It’s really good there. Lots to do but it’s pricey and the food was terrible when I went! Too far for us to go and not have lunch but wouldn’t be in a rush to go again for that reason. That said my little boy had a great time!”

Alison said “Its great but it is expensive. It has great role play areas, carousel, bumper cars, lego building plus usual soft play. My nearly 5 year old loves it. I’ve eaten there a few times and its been fine. Parking is a bit of a pain. The parking outside is time limited so we’ve parked in the multi storey down the road so we can stay all day and make the most especially as its expensive to get in.”

Joellie said “I’m here now! It’s expensive but lots to do

Helen said “Joellie I thought the same about price, especially as on 1st visit you have to register and pay a one off £5 reg fee. But saying that there is loads to do. I agree parking close is limited to 2hrs but next time will park on multi storey as someone else suggested. Definitely will visit again.”

Other and Multiple Recommendations:

Leah said Frankies fun factory in Romsey is big, so much to do & fun! Kids2day in Eastleigh is good. Playdays in Basingstoke. Gym tots in Basingstoke sports centre. Sure there must be one in reading.”

    • Carrie saidkrazy kids is in reading and really good”
    • Leah said “ah knew there would be lol. Not been there yet…”

Leah also said  “Also, fun house in Basingstoke…There’s also one at Finkley Down Farm I think – go for a day out & enjoy. Also, 4 kingdoms play activity centre near Newbury – great outdoors stuff & big soft play centre inside. Marwell zoo has one nearby the zoo – not in the zoo but further down the road (can’t remember what it’s called though)”

    • Lisa said “The Adventure Barn (I’ve mentioned above x )”
    • Leah said “ah yes that one lol.”

Wendy said “I find soft play is very specific to age, active tots is fine for under 1s but a bit pants once they can walk. The sports centre is good for 1 – 4, play days sees them to about year 1. Flip out has a playframe that over 7s absolutely love and my kids love both the indoor and outdoor ones at 4 kingdoms.”

    • Natalie said “Wendy, can you just buy tickets for the soft play bit? Or is it you have to buy for the whole place?”
    • Wendy said “Natalie you have to get tickets for the whole place. Last year they had a ticket sale around March where you could buy discounted tickets with no use by date.”

Steph said “We love the soft play in The sports centre in festival place, it’s clean and reasonably priced. Active Tots is fab for younger children. We love kids in action too but that’s in winnersh”

Alison saidEddie Katz Newbury! (OK Berkshire.. But only just) Also for little ones Active TotsPlay Gym in Basingstoke sports centre”

Vicki said “Love The Adventure Barn near Marwell, Kids n Action in Winnersh and, it’s a bit of a drive, but Sprouts Playbarn near Abingdon is seriously the best I’ve ever been to.”

Kimberley said “Active Tots is really nice for 1-3 year olds however over the top price wise. They even charged a friend of mine over £5 for her 4 month baby which wasn’t going to be using equipment. Play den in town sports centre is also great for younger ones but no cafe anymore. Playdays has a smaller area for younger children and is always clean – not much parking though x”

    • Helen H said “Kimberley they charged us £5 per person to sit in the cafe ! When I had my son with me to use the equipment and two adults who weren’t using it or with kids but would be buying a coffee in the cafe!”
    • Kimberley said “Helen shocking really!”

Julia said “I don’t think anyone has mentioned Madhouse next to the Madejski Stadium in Reading. It’s not too far from Basingstoke, always very clean, staff always friendly when I have been. It does work out pricey if you have lots of kids and eat there too, but I find all the good ones do.”

Michelle saidRosie and Bean cafe in fleet is good for imaginative play, also has a bouncy castle, lovely staff and great food!”

Jessica said “There was a really nice one in Camberley . Magic Kingdom/Dragon or something. That was very good”

Sarah said “Kids n Action is brilliant and something for all ages”

Catherine said fun house

Ruza saidJake’s playworld, with inside and outside space. One of the cleanest I’ve been to and great for the kids. Near tri-lakes”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Best Water Parks and Leisure Centres

I recently had a question from a Reader that I asked the NHM Community to help with: “What are the best water parks / leisure centres in the area for pre-schoolers?”

Many thanks for your responses, listed below in no particular order

Please bear in mind that listings may change in subsequent years, but hopefully they will still be a good base point for your own research.

NHM Readers Recommend: Best Water Parks and Leisure Centres

Laura said “I’ve just been to Coral Reef today as we had an inset day. It’s £6.65 for adults, free for under 5s. The big slides aren’t open on weekdays but there’s lots of fun and slides for smaller kids”

Wendy saidAquadrome has just refurbished their toddler bit. Tadley has the best temperature locally. QMC on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon is the best value for money, Just a simple pool but they chuck loads of floats and woggles in. In the summer, Chineham park splash pad in Popley.”

Victoria said “Been to Guildford Spectrum today- great for all ages and loads to do there”

    • Amanda replied “Agreed :)”

Lene said “We went to Windsor leisure park a few weeks ago. We thought it was great. Not massive but had slides, kids bit, wave pool, couple of bigger slides and plenty of changing facilities.”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Family Friendly Wedding Venues

I recently asked the NHM Community if they could help with a question I had received: “We are looking for a family friendly venue for a wedding breakfast in March. Just lunch or possibly lunch and dinner. Somewhere in Hampshire. Possibly a hotel where we can all stay but there’s only 15 of us so I would like it to feel special. Thank you!”

Many thanks for all of your responses, listed below in no particular order.

Please bear in mind that listings may change in subsequent years, but hopefully they will still be a good base point for your own research.

NHM Readers Recommend: Family Friendly Wedding Venues

Rachael saidWellington on the reading road”

Charlotte saidSecond the Wellington arms got married there and highly recommend it”

Aimee saidBarton’s Mill….they have lovely accommodation now too”

Helena saidHighfield park is lovely. They have a private dining room for groups too.”

Wendy said Oakley Hall, Four seasons dogmersfield, Tylney Hall. Also the old Mill in Aldermaston, technically not Hampshire but almost.”

Erin asked “ Lizzy what was that lovely place we went for afternoon tea?”

          Lizzy repliedWarbrook House

Kirsten saidThe Mill House restaurant and hotel, Swallowfield. I got married there and they have 12 hotel rooms. Very homely and family friendly”

Sasha saidHoliday inn basingstoke is amazing, had a small wedding (21) there and incredible wedding breakfast

Sue saidEsseborne manor

Siobhan said The Hoddington Arms. They have a lovely barn that will be perfect for a small wedding breakt”

Lainey saidWe got married in a small hotel called The Lismoyne Hotel in Fleet.”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Kids’ Haircuts

I asked the NHM Community to help with a question that I had received: “wonder if anyone can help? I have a 2.5 yr old boy who point blank refuses to get his hair cut. He screams, throws his head around, cries, hits out etc etc. We have tried places like his n kids with the little cars and cartoons on. We’ve tried bribery with sweets and toys etc. Also tried cutting at home, having daddy have his cut in front of him. Even tried cutting it in his sleep but he sensed it and woke up. Any miracle workers out there as I am out of options and his hair is an inexplicable mess! Thank you!!!”

Many thanks for all of your suggestions, listed below in no particular order.

Please bear in mind that listings may change in subsequent years, but hopefully they will still be a good base point for your own research.

NHM Readers Recommend: Kids’ Haircuts

Gina said “I have friends who’s children were a nightmare and I can highly recommend the blonde barber on sherbourne road. She is amazing with children! The Blonde Barber

Kathryn said “Lisa at cut’n’drive is brilliant, she comes to the house and is the only person my 8 year old will let touch her hair.”

Emma saidTrilbys on Pack Lane are absolutely brilliant with my 2 year old. He doesn’t like his hair being cut where we get the tantrums. Ask for Claire she is amazing”

Clare said “Milly at the Topiary in Old Basing is really good. My little boy has never been a big fan of having his hair cut but she’s really patient with him and he’s definitely warmed to her!

Rachel said “We cut it at home. He’s 4.5 and has only just started to improve. We’ve had hairdressers cut their own fingers before. If your in Basingstoke try Marianne’s hair salon. She’s very good but we just persevere at home with clippers”

Nikki said “My eldest went through this phase. We found Carey’s in town (no frills and no special cars!) put him most at ease, but what really cracked it for him was getting him his own little (plastic) hair dressing set and water spray. He used to take a cuddly toy, his spray, comb and scissors, and would concentrate on being the toy’s hairdresser while his own hair was really being cut.”

Heather said “Kerry was it house of handsome you went to? They were brilliant with my nephew who was the same and now is absolutely fine about having it done.”

    • Kerry said Heather that’s right. The first time we went we spent 2 hours in there while on a busy Saturday, they just let him get on with it, eventually over several visits he got better and better. They even cut his hair on the waiting bench once as he refused to sit anywhere else lol”

Laura said  “The Blonde Barber

Becki said David Saunders cuts my kids hair. He comes to our home”

Jenni said “Sorry no help but my little 2.5 year old boy is the same, though after lots of bribery etc he’ll eventually get it done with lots of moaning & crying…”

Jennie said “Honestly I just stopped getting it cut, he’s 7 and his hair is down to his bum, he’s happy and will get a trim every now and then/ There is a messy phase when growing the hair but just ride it out, it’s better than fighting”

Leanne  saidWe just didn’t make him. We decided it was his hair and his decision so bought hair clips. He’s now (3.5) has it cut fine!”

Karen said “I’d probably leave it for now as he is still very young. Maybe try reading and looking at books involving hair cuts – my boys loved ‘Barry the Fish with Fingers and the Hairy Scary Monster’. Get him used to the idea and that it is a good thing and won’t hurt him. Also have you tried it with him sitting in your lap? That used to help when my son got upset about hair cuts, think he felt a bit safer.”

Wendy said “I think you just need to leave it, he’s not ready for it yet. Leave it until he’s old enough to really explain to you why it’s an issue for him. Both my sons have shaggy 70s style hair and really like looking different to the boys with ‘work hair’.”

Philippa said “My daughter is completely terrified of having her hair cut. We’ve given up and waiting it out. We’ve explained that it will help stop her hair being so tangled but to no avail. I always cut my children’s hair at home in a calm environment but no use for my youngest. My advice is give up and embrace the mess!”

Genni said “We have only had his hair cut once. I trim the fringe every now and then if he lets me.”

Ruza saidMy son has had his haircut, then not, then again and our last try was too traumatic for the both of us. At some point he may want it.”

Milly said “I would leave it. He may change his mind on his own.”

Gail saidIf all else fails, just leave it long, he’ll want to get it cut at some point. He might be doing it to get attention, if he thinks it bothers you.”

Marion said “Find out what it is about it that bothers him. Does he think part of him is being cut, and he’s scared it’ll hurt? Or does he like it long? What doesn’t he like about it?”

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Play Yoga

‘If the children are happy, then we’re happy!’ – a phrase widely used by parents! As a mum of two daughters myself, I am a total advocate of this! However, in more recent years, the importance of good mental health in children has come to the forefront of the news and media.

I have worked for over 20 years in the childcare and education sector, ranging from nurseries, to primary schools, to working closely with children with Special Educational Needs. I feel that there is no greater reward than working with children. But, as any parent will tell you, it is also one of the hardest jobs in the world. In the past few years there has been significant change in our society, causing more and more children great anxiety, and an inability to cope with their emotions so well. Research has shown that if the concept of wellbeing can be introduced at an early age, it will provide the child with the strategies to cope with life at a later age.

Play Yoga is a preschool class (2 ½ to 5 years old), dedicated to promoting healthy children, with happy minds. All classes are designed as an introduction to Yoga and Wellbeing. The sessions are all devised by myself, using techniques and experience from my childcare background.

All sessions use props, games and songs to help us to learn such things as breathing techniques, calm down strategies, and mindfulness activities that help us to calm ourselves in moments of high energy and anxiety. Yoga moves are introduced to the group, with the help of Buddy Bear. This is not always a ‘calm’ time, but a great introduction to the concept of Yoga for future use. Creative time plays a huge part in our sessions too. If children are allowed to be creative and express themselves now, they will be more confident at expressing themselves in years to come.

Each session ends with a time for ‘reflection’, which encourages children to talk about what they have enjoyed about the session, thus increasing their confidence and giving them security that they are being listened to and valued by others.

Some weeks are themed to suit the time of the year or even the interests of the children. One of our group last term was keen to show off some dinosaur yoga moves that he had created at home! Our Mother’s Day session included baking a pretend cake for our Mummies, and using our breathing techniques ‘to blow out the candles’. We practised some partner poses with our grown-ups, followed up by decorating some biscuits for our Mummies!

Finally, for our mindfulness activity, we cuddled up with our grown-ups under a blanket to play a listening game. We listened to short and long sounds, noticing when the sound actually finished, encouraging the children to take note of the sounds around us in everyday life.

Play Yoga is preparing to roll out our new Monday sessions from 3rd June to 22nd July 2019. We will be at Viables Community Centre, Basingstoke, starting at 10am. I am a small, independent, local business which started operating in February 2019, and I am keen to meet lots of children and their parents.

If you are interested in joining us, a trial session is £4.50. If you wish to continue then your space can be booked for the remainder of the half term at a rate of £6 per session.

Please take a look at my Facebook page – http://Facebook.com/AlisonPlay.Yoga or feel free to email me with any queries at Play.Yoga@yahoo.com. (You can message me also directly through Facebook.)

Thank you for taking the time out to read my post.

Alison

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