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>!

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 – or feel free to email me with any queries at (You can message me also directly through Facebook.)

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


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Coloured Whispers

Hi, I am Iulia, mother of two and owner of Coloured Whispers – a re-invention of the typical flower arrangement business, i.e. unusual flower arrangements and table centrepieces that last up to 10 years.

What sets these arrangements apart from the live and artificial ones is not only the unique melange of natural elements, but also their longevity; lack of maintenance required; the fact that they are dust-free and they absorb all the moisture in the room. We use only natural, organic elements throughout the whole process – including packaging. Every piece that we create is a unique hybrid – made up of real, preserved flowers along with Iceland reindeer moss.

We are definitely not the typical high-street florists but more of a shabby chic, boutique type of business. We cater to anyone who wants to offer a special, long-lasting gift; pubs; restaurants; coffee shops; wedding suppliers and offices.

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LinguaTastic Languages for Babies and Toddlers

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!

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NHM Readers: Places in the area to see bluebells

In April 2018 I asked the Friends of my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook “It’s “bluebell season” now and I’m putting together a post for places in the area to see bluebells. What are your recommendations? (You can find directions to Micheldever bluebell woods on NorthHantsMum).”

Thank you for your responses, which are listed below in no particular order:

NHM Readers recommend places in the area to see bluebells

Catherine said “Beech Village Bluebell Wood

Helen said “The woods next to The Vyne have lots of beautiful bluebells”

Claire said “The Vyne

Lisa said “Some out in Bulls Bushes, Oakley. Was there yesterday”

Emma said “The Bramley Frith is stunning.”

Sarah said “Bramley woods”

Stephanie said “Micheldever forest is stunning for them”

Lisa said “Michaeldever Woods”

Hayley said “Micheldever”

Alistair said “Micheldever Woods!!

Shirley said “Manydown woods

Liane said “Bowdown woods near Greenham Common is spectacular!”

Alison said “If you don’t mind going further afield then Cliveden (National Trust) has a bluebell trail. We went weekend before last.”

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Review 2019: Thula Mama, Relax and sing whilst enjoying the soothing therapy of salt!

Review 2019: Thula Mama

Thula Mama is a unique and relaxing activity where mums with babies can enjoy singing together in a group whilst cuddling their babies and generally having a lovely time.  There are groups all over the country, but Basingstoke’s offering stands out from the rest in its venue – The Salt Lounge is Basingstoke’s first salt therapy space and is conveniently located close to Festival Place just off Wote street.  It offers treatments that can help alleviate breathing difficulties such as asthma as well as soothing skin conditions such as eczema.

At my first session it was a small enough group to not feel overwhelmed.  Rebecca, who organises it, was super friendly and we were offered tea and biscuits in lovely reusable mugs with lids (to prevent accidents from little grabbing hands!).  We relaxed in the waiting area and chatted for a while, before heading into the therapy room for our singing session.

The therapy room is a soothing white cave of tranquility.  There are comfortable reclining chairs with low arms and footstools, perfect for feeding baby.  You can choose to go barefoot, or with protection over your shoes, and the salt on the floor feels lovely between your toes.  There are mats and toys laid out on the floor for the babies to play, and the lighting is slightly dimmed for relaxation.

The songs at Thula Mama are simple, easy to learn traditional songs from around the world.  The words are written on a flip chart and the tunes can be picked up after hearing the song once.  We sang each through several times, adding in harmonies as we went, and I felt a real sense of achievement from learning some lovely-sounding music and enjoying singing it in less than 5 minutes!  There are no auditions, and no worrying about having any previous experience of singing – it’s all about joining in and having fun with other mums!

Facilities-wise the venue has everything you need – there are lockers for you to leave valuables if you wish, prams can be left in the waiting area where there is always a member of staff present, and the disabled toilet has a changing table too.  There are a couple of steps into the building, but there is always someone to help get prams in if needed.

I left my first session feeling both physically and emotionally refreshed.  My little one and I both had colds at the time, and I’m sure the salt therapy helped us feel better, and it was such a nice change to do something calming and relaxing with babies (although we are all for the sensory play and bright colours and loud noises of other baby groups too!).  I have since been back every week for the past couple of months and treat it as my weekly retreat!

I give Thula Mama 5 out of 5!  At £10 per week it’s really reasonable, especially considering you get a salt therapy session for free!  The first session is free for you to come along and try, so what are you waiting for?  Get in touch on the link below:

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Drama Tots

Is your little one due to start school in September? That time beforehand is one that you want to savour, making special memories along the way. The perfect chance to create those memories awaits you at Drama Tots.

Classes are designed for 18 months-3yr olds Rising Stars and 3-5yr olds Bright Stars. Younger siblings are always welcome as well.

At Drama Tots our programme harnesses imaginations, we use repetition to encourage listening skills and allow expression and confidence to grow. Our classes are nurturing and offer the chance to build friendships along the way. 

The summer term of Drama Tots commences from Thursday the 25th April and runs until July with a half term break in May. A 3wk trial package costs £12 and allows time to have a good overview of the programme. 

We find that children pick up the actions to the songs really quickly and enjoy the weekly familiarity of the class structure. 

Every week we go on a new adventure and explore these with a variety of traditional nursery rhymes, original music, instruments, props and puppets. 

The programme is designed with the EYFS learning goals in mind so there is an educational thought process behind everything we do, of course delivered in a fun and interactive way. 

My name is Kate and I run the Basingstoke branch of Drama Tots. My background was in professional theatre, graduating with an honours degree in musical theatre from GSA. 

I subsequently worked in children’s theatre as well as walk about character work at various locations around the U.K. both on and off stilts!

I have taught music and drama classes to preschoolers in London before having my own children. Seeing their imaginations in use every day has been amazing and I’m passionate that drama and imaginary play has a huge benefit for children of all ages and is a powerful way of learning to express yourself. 

Our current timetable of classes is as follows:


St Mary’s parish room Old Basing

⭐️Rising Stars 

9.40-10.20 18mnth-3yr olds

⭐️Bright Stars

10.30-11.15 3- school age


Lychpit village hall 

⭐️Rising Stars 

9.40-10.20 18mnths-3yr olds

⭐️Bright Stars

10.30-11.15 3-school age

The Drama Tots programme is also designed to be delivered in a nursery or preschool setting, the benefits of having an enrichment activity are extensive.

I have received some excellent feedback regarding the sessions and how well engaged the children were. The programme works alongside the EYFS learning goals and can be used for many observations. 

To find out more and to book a trial please see our website- 

Find me on 

Facebook- Drama Tots Basingstoke 

Instagram @dramatotsbasingstoke 

Or email me- 

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Relax with Kath – Relaxation Classes for Adults

As well as Relax Kids classes for children I also run relaxation classes for adults! I’m embarking on my Yoga Teacher Training journey and am very excited to be offering the classes below to my timetable.  I advertised my first Monday evening class and it filled within 12 hours which was fabulous but also made me realise that we need things like this in our lives!! I wanted to provide something that offers a bit of everything relaxation-wise (intro to mindful moments, beginners yoga and finishing off with some relaxation) so that people can come along and enjoy some time for themselves.

Starting Tuesday 23 April
9.45am-10.45am in Popley20 mins of MINDFULNESS techniques
20 mins of beginners YOGA
20 mins of RELAXATION
£30 for 5 week courseBookings can be made at:
Starting Monday 10 June or Monday 8 July
8-9pm in Popley20 mins of MINDFULNESS techniques
20 mins of beginners YOGA
20 mins of aRELAXATION
£24 for 4 week courseBookings can be made at:  for 10 June course for 8 July course

Places are limited on the courses and I’m hopeful that the Tuesday morning course will continue during term time after my first course in April.


If classes aren’t what you want, but you still fancy some ‘me’ time, then please check out my Relax with Kath Facebook page as I’m also a qualified massage therapist, offering treatments such as relaxation massage, hot stones massage, thai foot massage, beauty facials (deluxe, hot stones, classic and express) and not so relaxing waxing from my home treatment room in Oakridge.  I’ll soon be offering eyelash lift and tint as well! Check out for more info.  I’m offering any North Hants Mum readers £5 off their first treatment with me! Just quote NHM to get £5 off any full price treatment.

Contact Kath Routledge or 07989 476533

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Action for Happiness – Exploring What Matters Course

March 20th was the International Day of Happiness. Sounds a bit trite? Well, the national mental health and wellbeing charity, Action for Happiness, is doing its bit to help people find happiness, break isolation and build social cohesion – despite life’s difficulties. Take a look at the BBC’s coverage of AfH on the day.

Locally, AfH will be running a new course called Exploring What Matters to help people discover how to live a happier and kinder life. Evaluation surveys from over 1,000 previous course attendees have showed significant improvements in both the personal wellbeing (+20% Life Satisfaction; +13% Mental Wellbeing) and also in the pro-social behaviour (+9% Compassion; +16% Trust) of the course participants, and we could all use a bit of that.

Jasmine Hodge-Lake came to the course having suffered for over a decade with chronic pain which left her unable to work. She describes how it helped her:

“I wouldn’t be where I am now without Action for Happiness and that course. I found there were things I could do that would make a big difference and started to feel hopeful about the future. I still have bad days and life certainly isn’t perfect. But it has really helped me so much. Now I’m trying to be the change that I want to see.”

The course is based on groups of up to 24 people exploring “big questions” together each week. The questions/themes for the 8 sessions are as follows:

  1. What really matters in life?
  2. What actually makes us happy?
  3. Can we find peace of mind?
  4. How should we treat others?
  5. What makes for great relationships?
  6. Can we be happier at work?
  7. Can we build happier communities?
  8. How can we create a happier world?

Each weekly session follows the same structured format, which includes:

  • Tuning In. Starting each session with short mindfulness and gratitude exercises to create a calm and positive atmosphere and to encourage friendly connections.
  • Expert View. Watching a short video relating to the theme, including talks by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Richard Layard, Karen Armstrong, Ed Diener and Brene Brown.
  • Personal View. Reflecting on personal experiences relating to that week’s theme.
  • Did You Know? Learning interesting new ideas based on the latest research.
  • Group Discussion. Having an in-depth discussion in small groups of 3-4 people.
  • Action. Committing to a personal action to take based on what has been discussed.

Participants are asked to make a donation of £90 to attend. However, there is a genuine pay-what-you-can offer if that is too much – no questions, no embarrassment so that the course remains open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. On the other hand, Participants who are able to donate more help to ensure the course is available for those who have less.

The course will take place at The Viables Community Centre every Thursday for 8 weeks, starting on 2nd May. Please get your tickets now from Eventbrite.

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Class: Muddy Fingers

Hi, I’m Lauren. I set up Muddy Fingers last September, after a long career in global fashion buying. As a mother of two boys, I’ve found that gardening, and creating outdoor spaces we can share, has been a wonderfully connecting experience. Playing with colour, textures, form and design, I realised that everything I’d loved about fashion was present in my own garden – my passion for horticulture grew and grew. Encouraged by my fellow mum-friends, I developed our small back garden and allotment pastime into classes for every child to enjoy.

Whether you’re planting seeds in pots on windowsills or in vast community spaces and allotments – the enjoyable benefits of gardening are well documented. Muddy Fingers teaches the joy of gardening and nature through children’s education and curiosity.

With the UK’s children spending an average of 4 hours a day on screens, I believe that teaching them about the beauty and importance of the outdoors is more essential than ever. I encourage the next generation that by growing food and flowers, they are engaging and re-connecting with the natural world at a pace that provides a welcome break.

Operating across Basingstoke and the surrounding areas, I run hands-on gardening classes with pre-schoolers and primary school aged children.

During our classes, I teach children about:

  • Nutrition, cooking and where their food comes from.
  • Looking after the environment, from recycling to protecting wildlife.
  • Wellbeing and how nurturing plants are good for both physical and mental health.
  • Teamwork and self confidence in a cooperative setting.

My fun and practical activities give the opportunity to incorporate numeric skills, problem solving and basic science. The children are also given a sense of responsibility, looking after their own seedlings or, for example, taking their seed potatoes home to chit. I incorporate literacy skills by bringing relevant books and stories into classes. When learning about and growing potatoes, we read Supertato and create our own potato superheroes!

It is a very exciting time for Muddy Fingers. It has recently been shortlisted for Best Outdoor Activity for the Hoops Awards and Most Loved New Activity by What’s On 4 Kids Awards which I am very proud about. But, I am most excited that from the 6th April, the first Saturday of each month, children of all ages can join me at the Muddy Fingers garden at Clift Meadow, Bramley for hands on gardening activities. This new space is a lovely size to enable the children to grow a variety of fruit and vegetables, as well as ornamental flowers. It also allows for creative and fun stations like a runner bean tepee den, herbs planted into ‘pizza slices’ and a water wall! I have lots of exciting plans for the space, all of which the children will be helping to develop and build.

Preschool classes are every Tuesday at Brookvale Village Hall and Thursday at Brocas Hall, Bramley during term time at 10am for 50 minutes. Your first class is free and children get to take home what they have planted and made during the class.

Children have a natural curiosity for the world around them. Muddy Fingers nurtures that curiosity, encourages experimentation and mess, and pulls children away from their technology – even just for a little while. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get muddy!

More information can be found at or my social media accounts

To contact me directly please email or 07775594463

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