Review 2017: Farnham Park and Castle

We were recently on our travels to Richmond for a day out, pretending to be posh. Except we hadn’t realised that the M3 would be closed and would make our journey epically complicated, so once off the slip road we decided to head home and find somewhere else to go.

One of my friends had recommended Farnham Park to me and as it was on the way back I suggested we check it out. It’s about 20-25 minutes drive from Basingstoke. We had a brilliant time exploring just the park. We then went back a few months later with the same friends who took us to the Castle and Miss NHM and her playmate had a fantastic time!!!

Play

Farnham Park has an AWESOME wooden play park. It’s HUGE! We spent about 1.5 hours playing in the park, playing on all of the different wooden structures

We walked for miles and miles and still only did a fraction of the park. We completely missed one of the play parks which is a bit further round from the Wooden play park!

Mr NHM may or may not have played “I’m the king of the castle” on this structure! lol.

Castle

We then decided to go and look at the Castle. The Castle is free to enter but they ask for a donation.

We had a BRILLIANT time in the Castle! I couldn’t believe that it was free entry!

We spent about 5 minutes in the room which explained the history of the Castle. The children were too excited to stay any longer here as they wanted to explore the castle itself.


We did pick up a leaflet which explained “The Keep at Farnham Castle” and gave a short tour of what it all was.

I didn’t get many pictures of the Castle itself because I couldn’t get any without there being someone in it!!! But we spent ages in the Castle exploring and went down into the Central Tower and the Well. The children were fascinated with the Latrines, as children would be! lol.

We were incredibly lucky to visit on a day when the weather was absolutely glorious. As you can see, the views from the castle across Farnham were spectacular!

Tips

You can’t park at the Castle unless you have a disabled badge, so we parked in the car park which said it was for the Golf Course which was about a 5 minute walk away. There is lots of parking and it’s for users of the gold course and the park, but it can get VERY busy after lunch and people park in very haphazard ways, so be warned if you have toddlers who like to run of!!

The steps into the Castle itself are very steep so it’s not recommended to take a pushchair. If you can take a sling that would work although it is possible to park your pushchair down at the main entrance. It is a very steep set of steps into the castle though.

Definitely pick up one of the leaflets which explains where everything is. This helped us to ensure we’d explored everything.

Food

The Cafe is very independent to the point where dogs are allowed in the cafe! It’s like going back in time to 30 years ago when dogs were allowed everywhere! Which I love but I know lots of people won’t.

The price of food is really cheap and it’s very popular so you can sometimes queue for a bit. If you like golf, the golf shop is also attached. I can imagine the cafe being very busy in the summer with all of the requests for ice cream!

Facilities

There are toilets in the Cafe in the park and also really good toilets at the Castle.

Baby Facilities

There are baby facilities but the ones in the Castle are better.

Parking

As mentioned above, there is no parking at the Castle for the general public so you can either park in Farnham and walk up the hill or park in the golf course car park and walk round. You can either walk through the park and then along the castle ramparts to get to the castle or there is a path which is very close to the main road but has a flimsy fence. Keep a very close eye on little people as the cars go really fast.

Prices

It was free to park.

The Park is free to enter and so is Farnham Castle.

Rating out of 5

5 out of 5. Miss NHM and her friend absolutely loved the open space, the wooden playground and exploring the castle. Even better that the whole day out was free!!!

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Celebrate Christmas with Festival Place

Christmas is now just around the corner and, once again, Festival Place has lots of exciting activities planned to delight and entertain the whole family.

The season officially commences on Thursday 16th November with the ever-popular Christmas Light Switch-on, hosted this year by Matt and Michelle from Heart Breakfast. The evening will feature live entertainment from The Halo Glow Show – an explosive visual stage act featuring virtuoso circus artists; the Wonderful West End cast performing songs from The Lion King, plus the stars of the Anvil’s production of Peter Pan. Santa and his elves will carry out the ceremonial pushing of the ‘on’ button to light up Festival Place and visitors will also be able to enjoy a firework display and see the shopping centre’s brand new Christmas decorations.

Santa’s Woodland Walk and Grotto will be in centre from Saturday 18th November to 24th December, where kids can not only come to meet Santa but also have fun with some augmented reality dancing penguins, an animatronic Christmas tree and Rudolph’s Naughty or Nice-o-meter! Visits cost £4.50, including a free gift, and some dates can be booked in advance here: http://www.bookfatherchristmas.co.uk/festivalplace

The famous Santa Parade will return on Sunday 3rd December at 12pm with Santa leading a whole host of Christmassy characters on a march from Porchester Square to Festival Square, sharing Christmas cheer with shoppers along the way.

With over 200 big brands and plenty of restaurants and cafés to choose from, it’s easy to make this year’s Christmas shopping a fantastic family day out.

Further activities are yet to be announced so keep an eye on the Festival Place website at www.festivalplace.co.uk/events or find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Santas, Pantos and Other Christmas events

Thank you very much to Wendy, one of the NHM Awesome Support Team, for putting this awesome post together!!!!

Santas, Pantos and Other Christmas events

The fireworks have stopped, the John Lewis advert is out and the countdown to Christmas has begun. Below are some of the local places to visit Santa plus several other Christmas experiences that you may wish to put in the diary or book now including Christmas plays and Pantos.  With school holidays starting late this year demand for weekend slots for Santa will be high so book early.

Santa Grottos

Festival Place – Basingstoke. £4.50 per child. Lots of availability and probably the cheapest Santa visit locally.

Henry Street Garden Centre –Arborfield. £9.99 per child, £2 per adult. Weekends and inset days are already fully booked but there are a few after school slots left and plenty of options for those not in school yet.

Dobbies Garden Centre – Shinfield. £9.95 per child. Good availability, including weekends and Christmas Eve.

Redfields Garden Centre – Church Crookham. £6 per child. Book instore or by phone 01252 624444

Experiences with a Santa Visit

Please click on the links for further details about these experiences.

Wyevale Garden Centre – Sherfield on Loddon. A few dates left for Breakfast or tea with Santa.

Millers Ark – Nr Hook. Lots of Christmas events including a Santa’s Grotto, Carols in the Barn and a Nativity with real animals.

4 Kingdoms – Headley. Still availability for their Christmas experience.

Finkley Down Farm – Andover. Limited availabilty for weekends. Lots of choice for week days.

Basingstoke Canal – Mychett. This has already sold out for this year.

Watercress Line – Alresford/Alton. Lots of dates still available, including weekends.

Marwell – Winchester. Some weekend tickets still left. Lots of availability for week days.

Winchester Science Centre – Winchester. Still lots of availability, includes SEN sessions.

Paultons Park – Ower. Lots of dates still available.

Lapland UK – Windsor. Lots of dates still available.

Other Christmas Events

The Malls – Basingstoke. Events start with Christmas light switch on Nov 17th  at 6.30pm.  Check their website for various other events in the run up to Christmas .

Festival Place Santa Parade – Basingstoke. Dec 3rd at 12pm.  Santa arrives at Festival Place.

Basingstoke Festive Fun Run – Memorial Park Basingstoke. Dec 10th. Please check website for times.

Basingstoke Festive Fun Run – Memorial Park Basingtoke. Dec 10th. Please check website for times.

Lantern Procession – Newbury. Dec 10th from 4pm. Join in or just admire and soak up the atmosphere as the candle-lit procession travels along Northbrook Street to the Market Place

The Vyne – Basingstoke. It’s the last chance to go up on the roof at The Vyne and, like most other National Trust properties, there’s a Christmas Trail.

Theatre

A Christmas Carol – Proteus Basingstoke. Nov 25th – 26th. Performance for children age 6+

How Many Sleeps ‘Til Christmas – Proteus Basingstoke. Dec 14th – 24th. Interactive Christmas performance, Santa normally makes an appearance. Tickets are selling fast. For pre-school children (although most under 9s love it too)

Santa in Love – Central Studio Basingstoke. Dec 15th. For children age 2-5.

The Night Before Christmas – The Haymarket Basingstoke. Dec 8th – 10th ages 2 and over

Santa’s Christmas Wish – Theatre Royal Winchester. Dec 18th. All ages

Pantos

Peter Pan – The Anvil Basingstoke. Dec 14th – Jan 7th. All ages

Peter Pan – The Hexagon Reading. Dec 9th – Jan 7th. All ages. With Justin Fletcher.

Peter Pan – Theatre Royal Winchester. Dec 5th – Jan 1st. All ages

Beauty & The Beast – Corn Exchange Newbury. Dec 1st – Jan 7th. All ages

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Mayflower Southampton. Dec 15th – Jan 7th. All ages. With Craig Revel-Horwood & The Chuckle Brothers.

Please let us know of any events you feel should be added by emailing the details to NorthHantsMum@gmail.com. Thanks!

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Sylvanian Families shop at St Mary Bourne Fair – 17 November 2017

Delighted to say the Sylvanian Families Shop will be having a stand at the St Mary Bourne Gift Fair this Friday 17 November

St Mary Bourne Village Hall, Andover, SP11 6BE

#SylvanianFamilies #SylvanianShop #Christmas #GiftFair #ChristmasFair #PerfectPresents #FestiveBargain

Lots of special offers and bargains so come and pick up a Christmas goody or too for the young Sylvanian fan in your life!

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Review 2017: Little Play Town

Thank you VERY much to the NHM Secret Writer who wrote this review!!

Review 2017: Little Play Town

I was really excited when I saw that Little Play Town was opening in Odiham. We’ve been to Little Street in Frimley before and really enjoyed it. Little Play Town looked similar, focusing on role play with the play space divided into different themes, but it is much closer to us in Basingstoke – bonus! It opened early October and I visited with my 2 year old a few weeks later. We had a brilliant time!! There were serious tears from my little one when it was time to leave. We can’t wait to go again.

The play space is quite large and includes a building site, hairdressers, vets, firestation, race track, café, play kitchen and more. The space is immaculate and the toys are really high quality. As my friend said to me ‘the toys are the ones I would buy for my child if I had an unlimited budget’. It feels like a high quality, clean, safe place for little people to play. My son enjoyed exploring each play area and an hour and half seemed about the right amount of time for him to play with everything without getting bored.

Tips

Little Play Town run 4 x 1.5 hour sessions throughout the day 7 days a week so you book online (or just turn up and hope there’s space) for the session that you want to go to. At the end of the session everyone leaves giving the staff time to tidy everything up and get it ready for the next group. This means that at the start of each session everything is tidy and in the right place.

I wasn’t sure what age it would be appropriate for but I think I will take my 5 year old next time. I’m pretty sure he’d still really enjoy it. I would guess up to around age 7 would be ok.

There are no shoes allowed inside and adults and children all need to wear socks.

Little Play Town is upstairs and there’s no lift. You can store a pushchair upstairs but you’d need to be able to collapse it and carry it up.

Food

There’s a small café with a soft play space for pre-walkers. The café has good quality drinks and snacks, including some child-friendly healthier options. The café is next to the play space but you can’t see all of it from the café so with younger children you wouldn’t be able to sit in the café whilst they played.

Baby facilities

There are two toilets and a baby change area that is large and clean.

Parking

There are two pay and display carparks in Odiham that are within easy walking distance. Spaces on the street are free for 2 hours so if you can get one these are ideal. We went for the 9:30 session and on-street parking was easy. I can imagine it might be harder later on in the day or at the weekend.

It took me a while to find exactly where it is. The entrance is on the side of the building down the small driveway that goes down the side of the Bel and Dragon from the high street.

Prices

£5.95 for 1 child aged 1-7 years with one adult. £3.50 for an extra adult. £1 for a child under 1 year. If you only have a child under 1 you’d need to pay £1 for them and £3.50 for you.

Other info

Little Play Town also do children’s parties and are starting a children’s yoga class. More details on their webpage (www.littleplaytown.co.uk.

Rating

5 out of 5 – we loved it!!

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Basingstoke Jingle Jog: 26th November 2017

Join Jingle Joggers of all ages to complete our 5K Christmas fancy dress fun run at War Memorial Park, Basingstoke.

Every Jingle Jogger will get a Santa hat or reindeer antlers to run in, and is challenged to don fancy dress to be in with a chance of scooping the prize for the best festive costume. People of all ages are invited to take part, with no pressure to run the course; it’s the taking part that counts!

There will be fun Christmas activities for joggers and spectators to enjoy, refreshments available and complementary water and mince pies for hungry Santa’s at the finish line, as well as a medal to celebrate your success!

Gather your family, friends or workmates and kick start your festive season with the Jingle Jog!

Sign up NOW at www.stepbystep.org.uk/jinglejog

This event in generously sponsored by Penningtons Manches Charitable Trust.

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Ooh Mama Choir

Ooh Mama Choir was set up in 2012 by Kate Barrett, after having been inspired by Gareth Malone and his ‘Military Wives’ choir.

Mummy to two young boys, with a passion for music, Kate decided to start her own choir to give mummies that much needed ‘me time’ each week.

With no auditions and the only requirement being that you are a mummy (whether you have young children, older children or even grandchildren), Ooh Mama provides the opportunity for fun, music and socialising.

Having started with just a handful of members, Ooh Mama is constantly expanding and is always open to new members!

Ooh Mama is also a proud member of the ‘Basingstoke Festival of Choirs’.

At Basingstoke music festival

We meet every Tuesday 8pm – 9.30pm at Christchurch Chineham.

The cost is £10 per month.

You can find out more at:

Website: http://oohmamachoir.org.uk/home

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/OohMaMa/

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Classes to do with a baby

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

Classes to do with a baby

NCT Coffee groups

Basingstoke NCT runs coffee groups that meet regularly to support parents-to be and parents. Anyone is welcome, you don’t have to be a member of NCT and is open from pregnancy right up to pre-school age. Opportunities to meet other people and talk to them about their experiences and make new friends.

No fee to attend, there is a collection towards the work the NCT do.

NCT

NCT Early Days

This is a group that meets in a supportive, relaxed and friendly atmosphere to openly talk about life as a mum. You can discuss challenges, tips and the reality over the expectations you had/have. You will meet other parents, make friends and gain support and tips. Courses run over 4-6 weekly sessions for new mums. They are aimed at new mums with babies under 6months. There is a fee for this course – enquire via link below.

NCT Early Days

Little Tots Poppins

This is an Art and Messy session followed by Music and Movement.You don’t register, just pop in. The sessions are run on Thursday mornings from 9.30am to 11am and costs £3 per session. The sessions are term time only.

Little Tots Stoney Heath, White Lion Court, Hollybush Farm, Stoney Heath, Ramsdell, Tadley, RG26 5SL. 01256851398

Little Tots Poppins

Little Munchkins Baby

These are Baby Massage and Baby Yoga classes which help you to feel relaxed, happy and confident with your baby. Baby massage helps build bonds and will help you become more in tune and confident with your baby’s needs. The course is taught in 5 weekly session (1 hour long each session). Suitable from birth. It runs on a Tuesday from 11am to 12pm at Tadley Community Centre.

Little Munchkins Baby

Baby Sensory

These are nationwide so have a look online for your local session as there are quite a few in Basingstoke. They offer a musical world of sensory experiences for both parents and children. There are light shows, bells, bubbles, puppets and signing to name but a few of the activities. The class is split into three phases so there is a free play session in the middle where you can play with the toys and activities set out and sit and talk to other mums and dads. Sessions run term time only and the course is £70 per term you wish to take up.

Baby Sensory

Tots Play

This is a 6 week course suitable from birth to 6 months. You learn fun ways to play and communicate with your baby using massage, music, signing and is also a great way to meet other mums. The class runs from 11.20am to 12.20pm and you must book in advance.

Tots Play

Barn Tots

This is a friendly play session from birth to pre-school. They meet at Viables Community Centre on Tuesdays from 10am to 12pm and Thursdays from 9.45am to 11.45am. It is term time only. There are different toys each week and a great soft play area for babies. There is singing and storytime and music and movement too. It costs £2 per session and includes refreshments for adults and a cold drink, fruit and biscuits for the children.

Active Mums

This is an hour long class which starts with a warm up walk which moves up to a power walk. There are exercises throughout the class to strengthen and tone. The route is suitable for any buggy and it’s a great session to get some exercise and meet other mums. The classes run at 11am on a Monday and Wednesday at Basing Wood. It is all year round and no booking is required. 1 session is £4 or you can book 10 sessions online for £35.

Active Mums

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I remember when…

I’ve lived in Basingstoke, on and off, for over 30 years. So I’ve seen a LOT of changes.

Recently I’ve met a lot of people who have only just moved to the area and it’s weird to think that they haven’t seen the town change, like I have.

Winklebury

I went to Winklebury Infants and Juniors school and Fort Hill school. When I was at Fort Hill we used to do cross country from the school down to “Westfield Lido”, which is now the Aquadrome. The rest of that area was all fields. In Winter we used to sledge down the hill where Milestones is now. I remember when the dual carriageway there was single carriageway.

I watched the Warner Brothers cinema being built and saw it open in September 1990. My Mum and I were the only ones who went to the cinema on the day that the first Iraq war started. Anywhere that had links with America was derelict for the weeks after the start of the war as there was a lot or paranoia.

I grew up in Winklebury, on the “posh” bit, the Clarke Estate. I remember when Rooksdown was all fields. Every weekend we used to walk the dogs over there and walk all the way past the ambulance station, when the field behind used to be a golf course. I built camps in the waste land between the ring road and the hospital fields. I used to go to gigs at the Cricket Club/Tennis Club there when I was at college.

I learnt to drive on Gander Drive, Rooksdown, when it wasn’t Gander Drive, when it was just a derelict tarmac road. I used to be part of dance shows that were at Park Prewett Hospital. I had my QMC 6th form end of year ball in that AMAZING hall. I remember it being huge and having gorgeous chandaliers. I was very sad when they knocked it down.

I also remember Rooksdown House/Hospital itself. The building was a huge listed building but was derelict for many years. After school we used to try to explore the building but it was VERY spooky and often had homeless people sleeping in it. I do remember seeing some of the paintings on the ground floor, that apparently previous patients had painted. My understanding is that the hospital was very important during and after the 2nd world war for it’s work on facially disfigured servicemen and civilians. I think my Mum even has a picture of me with the dogs on the front steps, probably taken in about 1987.

I remember when you didn’t have to pay to park at the hospital!!!!

Town Centre

I remember the old town as it was, before Festival Place was built. When the “posh” part of town was the top of town. I remember the old cinema that was destroyed in 1991. You used to have to queue outside, round the side of the building. I went to see the film “ET” with my Mum’s friend and her children and vividly remember her telling someone off who was smoking in the wrong section. Yup, those were the days when you were allowed to smoke in half of the cinema!

I remember the old bus station, with the chip shop on the corner. I spent MANY years waiting in that bus station as I didn’t have my first car until I was 24. I used the bus service a LOT or walked home.

I spent a LOT of time in Martines, on Monday nights when it was “Alternative Night”. I went pretty much every single Monday. It used to REALLY annoy me when people sat down on the floor every time they played James’ “Sit Down”. But you had to get up pretty quick if Nirvana was played straight afterward as it could be a bit of a blood bath! Haha. We always sat upstairs and the carpets were disgustingly sticky. We’d get there early and sit outside the light shop and if we had enough money we’d nip into Wimpey to get a milkshake on the way. Oh and the ghastly car park, with the bridge that you had to cross. Scary!!!

I remember when the food hall was opened and that part of town was refurbished, where Sports Direct is now. It was very popular when it first opened and just like American food halls.

Chineham

My first job after Uni was working in Chineham Business Park, in what is now the Regus Building. I used to get the bus from Winklebury into town and then from town out to Chineham Business Park. Four nights a week I also worked at the Anvil as an usherette. I would finish work and get the bus into town and then walk home after the performance had finished because the buses would have finished running at 10pm.

I remember when the business park was built! We used to walk the dogs in Carpenters Down/Basing Wood when it was National Trust land. They used to have the best blackberries on the hill. It’s pretty weird to walk through there now as I LITERALLY remember when some of the trees were planted, trees that look much older than they are. Or maybe I’m just older than I realise? LOL.

Kempshott/Hatch Warren

I remember when the Hatch Warren estate was built. When I was at QMC 6th form I got a job working at Hatch Warren Sainsbury’s. I remember when the store was MUCH smaller. I used to get the bus into town on a Saturday morning, grab a spicy bean burger (I was veggie then) from Burger King when it used to be where M&S in town is now, and then get the bus out to Hatch Warren. When I finished my shift at 8pm I would either get the bus down to Ziggy’s (now the Academy Basingstoke) or walk. It would take about 1.5 hours to walk.

I went to the first “Novelty Island” when it was the Altis Leisure centre and before they refurbished the place into Ziggy’s. I may also have accidentally thrown up on one of the snooker tables one night, when they used to let the clubbers wonder into the snooker area. The stopped allowing people to do that after that night! Oops! Sorry!!! Hahahaha.

I was also the “Entertainments Officer” when I was in my 2nd year at QMC and I organised at least two student nights at Ziggy’s that were VERY successful. I think I even have a copy of the tickets in the loft somewhere! Haha.

Should I keep going with my reminiscing or is it all very boring? lol.

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Activity: Drop & Shop @ Playdays – Saturday 2nd December 2017

Date: Saturday 2nd December

Time: 11:00 – 15:00

Venue: Playdays Indoor Play Centre, 2 Stewart Rd, Basingstoke RG24 8NF

Cost: £24* per child

LIMITED PLACES AVAILABLE

Age Range: 5-11

* Price Includes:

  • Entrance Fee @ £5.25

  • Hot and Cold Buffet Lunch and Unlimited Squash @ £8.95

  • Less Than £10 = Full Supervision in a Safe Environment

During this play-based session there will be numerous led and free-choice activities in the private, self-contained, upstairs party room, including:

  • Arts & Crafts

  • Boardgames

  • Toys

  • Puzzles

  • Dressing Up

  • Books & Magazines

  • Art & Crafts

  • Video Games

No visit to Playdays would be complete without plenty of time spent downstairs in the fabulous soft-play area too!

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