Warren Tots and Dinky Dancers, Hatch Warren Community Centre – What’s on in January

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Relax and harmonise with Thula Mama at The Salt Lounge for physical and mental well-being!

Hi, I’m Rebecca and I run a singing group called Thula Mama (pronounced ‘Tula Mama’) for mothers of bumps and pre-crawling babies. Thula Mama is a national franchise but this is the only group in this area. I’ve just teamed up with The Salt Lounge in central Basingstoke to run my sessions in their salt room, meaning that Thula Mama sessions now come with the added bonus of salt therapy!

In contrast to most musical groups for mothers and babies, the focus of a Thula Mama session is on the mothers and allowing them a chance to relax and unwind and do something for themselves. It offers mums an hour and a half of social time and provides both mothers and babies with the many benefits of soothing singing. Babies love listening to the sound of their mothers’ voices singing gently to them.

Refreshments are provided in the seating area at The Salt Lounge at the start of the session, in a comfy place to sit while you meet other mums and catch up.  We then move into the salt room which is furnished with easy chairs and where the floor is covered with salt – like a soft winter wonderland. During the next hour, we learn a mix of gentle lullabies and more upbeat songs from around the world with simple but effective harmonies. Singing in this way in a group creates a positive and peaceful atmosphere and has been proven to be great for mental well-being. Absolutely no experience is necessary! All are welcome and all the songs are taken at a gentle pace appropriate to the group. We also benefit from a salt therapy session in the salt room, which is helpful for breathing and skin conditions. Find out more at www.thesaltlounge.co.uk.

Sessions are every Thursday from 9:30am and costs £10 per session. Normally a salt therapy session is £30, so this represents excellent value for money! For details, please contact me on 07971 798945, email rebecca.cooch@gmail.com or visit www.Facebook.com/ThulaMamaBasingstoke. The first session is free. You can also find out more and listen at www.thulamama.co.uk .

Some recent reviews of Thula Mama:

“This is such a lovely group, so friendly and welcoming. You don’t need to be a great singer to join, the songs are great, so different and really fun. I find myself singing them all the time, this group is fantastic and Rebecca is so nice.” (Holly Wakefield, September 2018)

“I am so pleased I came across this group – it is something so different from the usual Mother and Baby classes, and it is a rare combination of doing something for your child as well as for yourself. The songs are different, some joyful, some soulful. My baby has loved attending and listening to the group – it is interesting how mesmerised the babies are!
…Thanks for a lovely time Rebecca – it has been my favourite activity with my baby this year.” (Amanda McKechan, November 2017)

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Help Spotlight UK!!

Hello, we are in need of help. As a charity Spotlight has been running from the old Chineham Park Primary for 9 years but sadly for us Hampshire need the building back to be able to use it to turn it into a Special Needs School which is so needed in our area.

We are very grateful to Hampshire for all of the support they have given us over 9 years however this means in April this year we need to move and find another venue for our charity work.

We currently run a food bank, clothes bank, charity shop, 1-2-1 youth mentoring, performing arts classes, holiday clubs, youth club, family support service.

We work with families on child protection or children in plans, children affected by domestic abuse, or neglect/emotional abuse, young carers, children in care, young people with mental health issues, young people who have experienced loss or separation, young people caught up with anti social behaviour and children who need help with confidence and self esteem or friendships and those who want to have fun.

We receive referrals from schools, social workers, the Early Help and Family Support Service, Health Visitors and other professionals. Currently we provide 355 spaces in performing arts a week, over 200 spaces in our after school club, 60 cases of youth mentoring and family support work and provide around 15-25 food parcels a week.

We are now needing to raise funds to be able to relocate our services so we can keep supporting those we work with. We have a potential venue to relocate to but need to secure a deposit and need to raise around £10000.

If anyone can help with fundraising or knows of premises then please contact us on 01256 325420 or admin@spotlightuk.org. Any help would be gratefully received.

The Spotlight Team

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Review 2018: Oh no you didn’t!!!! A Review of “Snow White & the Seven Dwarves” at The Anvil

Written by Victoria Kennedy, Thefairyclothesmother.com (thank you VERY much Victoria for the awesome review!!! 

About

Snow white: http://www.anvilarts.org.uk/snow-white

When offered the chance to attend the Christmas Panto at The Anvil, Basingstoke, I jumped at the chance. Many of my fond childhood memories are of attending the local panto! Panto’s are guaranteed family fun! And this one didn’t disappoint! There was plenty of audience participation- from song and dances, sweetie-chucking and water pistols to the traditional panto villain ‘boo’s’ and comedy slapstick of ‘He’s behind you’.

The Anvil Arts centre is an award winning concert hall, with amazing acoustics and an international reputation. The beautiful set design had the children captured from the beginning. With special effects such as indoor pyro- there were plenty of mesmerised faces!

A special mention has to be given to ‘Nurse Dolly’s’ wardrobe (I am a stylist after all! ). She had some absolutely stunning dresses, each unique and I would have loved the opportunity to study each in great detail! Take a look for yourself:

Snow White was played by Dani Harmer, of CBBC fame. She played the character well and her gentle, ‘girl next-door’ manner soon had the audience on side.

The Wicked Queen, played by Kirsty Sparks, was both terrifying and utterly lovable at the same time! The stars of the show, form y 5 year old son, was Muddles, played by Chris Pizzey (Basil Brush’s Mr Stephens). His jokey character got the children on side meaning audience participation was full on! The jokes had the kids roaring with laughter, creating a fantastic atmosphere. There was even a subtle ‘dad joke’ or two!

Personally, I loved the dwarves. Each played to their name sake well, with names carefully adapted so not to gain the wrath of Disney! They were both cheeky and lovable!

The show runs until 6th January with both matinee and evening performances- get your tickets here: http://www.anvilarts.org.uk/your-visit/how-to-book/online-booking-information?ticketing_id=A8PE

http://www.anvilarts.org.uk/your-visit/how-to-book/online-booking-information?ticketing_id=A8PE

Tips

Take ear defenders for children who are bothered by loud noises, as there are a few loud bangs. Also there is (without ruining the surprise) a brief moment involving water & the audience, if this is something that could bother your child ask at the info desk for the timing of the ‘stunt’ so you can be ready!

‘Flashy’ wands and the like are for sale but we took our own from previous events. This was allowed and certainly saved a small fortune as well as reducing our plastic consumption.

Dressing up was encouraged- there were many mini snow whites in the audience!

Food

There is a selection of treats –  sweeties, ice cream, crisps on sale at the venue. However, as a huge cost saver I’d recommend taking your own! The show is 2 hrs 35 min long so a drink will most definitely be needed. There is also a bar available.

Facilities

The Anvil is fully accessible to wheelchair users, and pushchairs. There are facilities for baby changing. The audience was a real mix of ages, so babes-in-arms are certainly welcomed. There is a bar onsite for refreshments.

Parking

The Anvil is easily accessed from any of the town centre car parks and just a 2 min walk from the train & bus station.

Prices

This is my only point of contention. The cost of a family visiting the theatre is becoming massively out of reach for many families. Unfortunately this is something that is happening with the panto too. At £28 per adult and £25 per child – a cost of over £100 for a family of 4 it means a big majority miss out. The Anvil does offer group rates, and discounted tickets to local schools.

Ratingout of 5

4 a great afternoon of family fun, with laughter, cheers, boo’s and song! Plus the most wonderful panto dame costume!!!

All images courtesy of Anvil Arts

Disclaimer: This post is a review of “Snow White Seven Dwarves and the  in conjunction with The Anvil. Victoria’s tickets were supplied free of charge for the purposes of the review. We were not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are our own.

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Review 2018: Basingstoke Canal Santa Cruise

Thank you very much to W for today’s NHM Secret Review!! She’s done a brilliant job! 

If you would like to be a NHM Secret Reviewer, please get in touch. Thanks! 

Review 2018: BasingstokeCanal Santa Cruise

Helping out with NHM articles that past couple of years I have gained quite a lot of knowledge about local Santa and Christmas experiences and this year I finally got to experience the stuff of local Christmas legend, the Basingstoke Canal Santa Cruise.

About

Each year, in late September/early October the Basingstoke Canal visitor centre opens up early to take bookings for their Santa Cruises. 

Tickets go fast and bookings can only be made in person or by phone so be prepared to spend a lot of time pressing redial. 

One friend did decide to drive there one year to guarantee her spot by booking it in person, but I persevered with the phone and finally got through at around 11am on the first day of booking. 

Their advice is to have a few dates in mind, especially if you want an evening or weekend, and also have the names and ages of children attending ready. 

In 2018 the evening experiences cost £15.50 per person, weekend day times were £15 and weekday day time were £12.  In December 2018 they ran six cruises a day and all but two cruises were sold out. 

Fast forward to a very cold night in mid-December when I arrived at the centre in Mychett, with my four year old and almost eight year old and waited outside for our boat. 

The area outside the centre had been dressed with Christmas lights and we were greeted by a giant inflatable Santa.  

Facilities whilst waiting were basic, access to toilets and a bench to sit on inside an area normally used for changing, so dress for the weather and don’t leave your car too early. 

We boarded the last boat of the day at 7pm.  There are twelve people per cruise, including adults, our cruise had five children on board.  After boarding the boat our guide asked the children to look out for Christmas lights and let her know when they saw them. 

We cruised up the canal for about 10 mins, when we arrived at our jetty and got off the boat everyone was given a torch. 

The guide then asked the children to look out for the red tinsel which would guide them to Santa, we followed the red tinsel through the dark woods until we found Santa’s grotto. 

Santa’s grotto was a yurt, beautifully decorated for Christmas. 

Inside we all sat on hay bales as we waited for Santa to wake up, once he did he chatted with us all as a group first before looking up names in his book and chatting individually to each child for a few minutes. 

He adjusted his chat accordingly to the age and personality of the child and afterwards we sang a few songs, he then gave out gifts to each child, which already had their names on. 

We were in the yurt for about 20 minutes.  After we said goodbye to Santa we used our torches to find the silver tinsel that would guide us back out of the woods and back on to our boat where we opened our gifts, good quality, age appropriate books. 

We then cruised back to the centre where we did some colouring whilst enjoying mince pies or chocolate bars and hot drinks, all included in the price.  We left the centre at around 8.20pm.

Rating out of 5

We do a few Santa and Christmas experiences each year and this was a really lovely event, unlike anything we had done before and perfect for restoring the magic for my doubting older son. 

The boat and the canal centre are practical rather than luxury but the uniqueness of the occasion and the enthusiasm of the guides and Santa, really made this feel special.  None of the children became bored, with each activity taking the right amount of time. 

All the food was branded with allergy information easily available but it would be fine to take your own if you needed to. 

The experience was really good value for money and suitable for all ages, although I think older children would really prefer the after dark cruises. 

Highly recommended. 

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Warren Tots: What’s on in December 2018

Hatch Warren Community Centre

Sessions run from 9.15-10.30 & 10.45-12

£3.50 per family (adult plus 2 children, additional children £1)

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New Businesses open in Basingstoke Dec 2018

New businesses open their doors in Basingstoke

Shoppers, visitors and businesses in Basingstoke can make the most of a new and exciting selection of independent venues and national chains which have opened their doors in the Hampshire town.

Nine new businesses have specially selected Basingstoke town centre to set up shop in the last three months. The new businesses which now call Basingstoke home are:

The Olive House, photo credit Basingstoke Together

 

Basingstoke is bucking the national trend as a thriving shopping hub as high streets across the country face a number of difficulties. Six out of the new businesses have chosen to open in the Top of Town, which is an area rich with local history. It is home to the landmark Willis Museum, it is the starting place of Burberry and it is also host to the Basingstoke market alongside several independent businesses.

The new businesses have been supported by Basingstoke Together, which is the public face of the Basingstoke BID. Basingstoke Together aims to help the town centre to thrive by creating destination events, engaging with consumers and supporting retailers and businesses to be successful.

Lucy Boazman, Chief Executive of Basingstoke Together, said: “Basingstoke has so much to offer to prospective businesses looking for somewhere to launch their new or latest venture. Alongside the array of national high street brands in Festival Place and The Malls, we also have some fantastic independent shops and businesses, which make a visit to Basingstoke truly unique.

“We are so pleased to welcome the new businesses to Basingstoke and we wish them all the best. We also hope that residents and visitors to the town will explore both the newcomers as well as the existing independent businesses throughout the town centre. There is so much choice on our high street now, so we look forward to seeing how people embrace that, both in the run up to Christmas and well into the new year.”

Basingstoke town centre, particularly the Top of Town, is also already home to a wide array of successful independent businesses including The Tea Bar, Arc hairdressers, and Exciting Escapes.

Some of the new companies in Basingstoke are fresh to the market, including The Olive House and Chennai Express. However, the team behind Duck & Tipple already run a successful events company, IncuHive has begun opening various other branches in the south of England and Surya’s relocated from Basing View.

Duck & Tipple, photo credit Basingstoke Together

George Scott-Welsh, Chief Operating Officer of IncuHive, said: “It is extremely encouraging to see the number of new businesses opening within the town centre and especially at the Top of Town. With the Top of Town being majority independent owner run businesses, this creates a more personal experience for both the shoppers and the other surrounding businesses who are collaborative and supportive of one another.

“The community feel of the Top of Town, teamed with fantastic architecture and local history, creates a hugely positive environment in which to visit and run a business.”

Basingstoke Together is committed to supporting independent businesses in the town to develop a vibrant shopping hub. It has recently launched a #BIndependent campaign to foster a regional business community.

For more information visit www.basingstoketogether.co.uk

The Salt Lounge, photo credit Basingstoke Together

Basingstoke Together supports local businesses by creating cultural hotspots within the town centre to draw visitors into the town and promote the business and leisure opportunities on the doorstep.

Basingstoke is a BID – a Business Improvement District, which is a business-led and business funded body formed to improve a defined commercial area. The improvements made by a BID are determined by the businesses themselves. It may include additional cleaning, security or projects such as recycling and improved infrastructure as well as destination branding and promotion.

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Review 2018: Muddy Fingers

 

Have a bit of free time and fancy doing something a bit different with your toddler – try Muddy Fingers!

https://www.facebook.com/MuddyFingersGardenClub/

07775594463 or info@muddyfingersgardenclub.co.uk

About

Muddy Fingers truly is a one of a kind class in Basingstoke. I have been to a lot of toddler classes in the local area and I have never been to one like this. If your kids love gardening and learning about nature, food and the environment then this could be for you.

Lauren, who started Muddy Fingers in September 2018, is a keen gardener and has two young children of her own. Her enthusiasm for the subject is obvious and so far, we have covered some great topics ranging from berries, sunflowers to hedgehogs. Each session is based on a new area and every week your child gets something to take something home with them, be that a craft or a seed that they have planted in their own pots.

We particularly enjoyed the pumpkin class that was held around Halloween. Each session starts with a talk about the topic so at this class we got to touch and feel lots had of different pumpkins. The children were encouraged to describe how then pumpkins felt – were they bumpy, smooth, squashy? Lauren then told us about how pumpkins are grown and the differences between each of them. I was particularly surprised that a pumpkin is technically a fruit as its seeds are grown on the inside. Each child then picked a pumpkin and using a fact sheet they measured how big it was, how heavy it was and how tall it was.

The children then picked one pumpkin for Lauren to slice open. This allowed them to all look at the inside and enjoy the messy job of scooping out the flesh and seeds! This was another opportunity to discuss how the pumpkin felt inside as it was pretty squashy and slimy! After a lot of messy fun, we moved onto some tasting as Lauren had brought in some homemade pumpkin soup and roasted pumpkin seeds for everyone to try. The seeds were particularly popular! Our last activity involved orange peppers which the children carved like Halloween pumpkins. My son ate his 5 minutes after finishing it!

The class concluded with a lovely pumpkin themed story which was read by Lauren.

 

Tips

Don’t wear your best clothes to this class, your children will get dirty!

Food

There is not food or drink offered at these classed but occasionally food will form part of the class. For example, we have made smoothies from popular berries which the children drank one week. If your child has allergies it would be worth telling Lauren about them when you register for the class, then she can accommodate for them.

Facilities

Currently sessions are held in two community centres – Brocas Hall at Clift Meadow in Bramley and Brookvale Village Hall, Basingstoke. Both halls have a toilets and disabled toilets with changing facilities.

Parking

Both halls have good parking facilities. The car park at Brookvale is closed as soon as the class has concluded. Brookvale Village Hall is an easy 10 min walk from Basingstoke town centre.

Prices

£40 for 5 weeks block of classes, and every week your child gets to take home something.

Tuesdays at Brookvale Village Hall, Basingstoke at 10am-10.50am.

Fridays at Brocas Hall at Clift Meadow, Bramley at 10am-10.50am.

Rating out of 5

5 out of 5. It may be a pricey class but it’s great to do something so different with your children. They truly love getting their hands dirty when they have done planting. We have made our own runner bean mini greenhouse one week!  The best bit is that this class helps you and your children learn about the world around them. Kids are encouraged to try new foods and get outdoors in the garden. My son and I are really looking forward to attending the summer classes when we will see the results of our winter planting and then we can start growing some fruit and veg for next summer! Roll of 2019!

 

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs @ The Anvil, Basingstoke – 13 Dec 2018 – 6 Jan 2019

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs @ The Anvil

Thursday 13 December 2018 to Sunday 6 January 2019

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it’s off to Basingstoke you go for this year’s traditional family pantomime at The Anvil: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

When the Wicked Queen’s magic mirror declares that Snow White is the fairest in all the land, the evil Queen wants her out of the way.  Snow White escapes to the forest where she meets seven little friends.  But the Wicked Queen doesn’t give up, and with a poisoned apple in her possession she tracks down Snow White …

Taking the title role of Snow White is Dani Harmer, best known as CBBC’s Tracy Beaker, and playing Muddles is Chris Pizzey, who was such a hit in Jack and the Beanstalk at The Anvil in 2015.  And once again Chris will also be directing the panto, and is planning lots of fun, magic, mayhem, and laughs.

The Anvil, Basingstoke.
Snow White
Christmas Panto 2018.
Photograph By: Sean Dillow.
www.TheBigCheesePhotography.co.uk

Dani Harmer was born in Berkshire and is one of the biggest stars of children’s television having played the lead role of Tracy Beaker since she was 12 years old.  She also had her own hit shows Dani’s House and Dani’s Castle.  She joined the line-up for Let’s Dance for Sports Relief in 2012; the following year she appeared in Strictly Come Dancing, reaching the final with her partner Vincent Simone.  She took part in the national Strictly tour partnering Pasha.  Dani is much in demand as a panto performer and is delighted to be coming to Basingstoke to play Snow White for the very first time.

The Anvil, Basingstoke.
Snow White
Christmas Panto 2018.
Photograph By: Sean Dillow.
www.TheBigCheesePhotography.co.uk

Chris Pizzey is best known to youngsters as Mr Stephen in the hit television show The Basil Brush Show, and Gerald Smedley in The Sooty Show, and for roles in CBBC’s Planet Ajay and The Sarah Jane Adventures.  Theatre includes most recently playing Randall Shuck in the Olivier nominated The Comedy About A Bank Robbery in London’s West End.  He has performed in and directed many pantomimes over the last 20 years and Anvil Arts is delighted that he is returning to The Anvil stage.

The Anvil, Basingstoke.
Snow White
Christmas Panto 2018.
Photograph By: Sean Dillow.
www.TheBigCheesePhotography.co.uk

The Wicked Queen is played by Kirsty Sparks, who has appeared in Me and My Girl, CATS, Starlight Express and Saturday Night Fever.  She also works as a choreographer and most recently worked for ITV’s Girlfriends.

Chris Warner Drake is the handsome Prince.  Chris is currently appearing in Chicago and has appeared in many musicals including Hairspray and Starlight Express.  Films include Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Jack the Giant Slayer.

The dame is played by seasoned panto performer Jamie Steen who has a wealth of experience in theatre, musicals and cabaret.  As Nursie, Jamie is looking forward to sharing his/her medical and fashion advice with the people of Basingstoke!

Join the Wicked Queen, handsome Prince, and seven mischievous dwarfs for a huge portion of festive fun.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will have lavish sets and sumptuous costumes, a mix of up-to-the-minute pop songs along with old favourites, great gags and plenty of audience participation – perfect for keeping the whole family entertained during their Christmas treat.

The Anvil, Basingstoke.
Snow White
Christmas Panto 2018.
Photograph By: Sean Dillow.
www.TheBigCheesePhotography.co.uk

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will run from Thursday 13 December 2018 to Sunday 6 January 2019.

There is a relaxed performance for those on the autistic spectrum and with other disabilities on Wednesday 2 January at 2pm.  There is also a BSL signer at the 6pm performance on Tuesday 18 December.

For more information or for tickets, call the Anvil Arts box office on 01256 844244, or visit the Anvil Arts website anvilarts.org.uk.

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Let it snow in Basingstoke town centre

Christmas is coming to the Top of Town in Basingstoke as it will be the only high street in the UK to be adorned with a vast array of specially commissioned window displays of snowy scenes.

Several of the independent businesses throughout the Hampshire town will be displaying bespoke vinyl decals of festive fun from today. There will be six designs in total yet each business will have its name incorporated into their one-of-a-kind Christmas creation by the artistic team from Snow Windows.

It is just one of the many festive events which will be bringing the spirit of Christmas to Basingstoke this year. It is being run by Basingstoke Together, the face of the Basingstoke Business Improvement District (BID). The BID’s aim is to help Basingstoke town centre to thrive by creating destination events, engaging with consumers and supporting retailers and businesses.

Lucy Boazman, Chief Executive of Basingstoke Together, said: “We’re really proud that Basingstoke has so much to offer residents and visitors who want to enjoy a truly festive feeling this year.

“Alongside picking up a bargain or two in the busy shopping period, we hope that everyone who spends some time in the town centre makes the most of the various opportunities to experience the spirit of the occasion on our doorstep.”

25 businesses in the Top of Town will be supporting the initiative to create a snowy spectacle along Winchester Street and the surrounds. The Snow Windows will be on display in time for a wide variety of festivities happening in Basingstoke.

Surya’s International Food and Newsagent on Church Street is one of the businesses who will be dressing their windows ready for Christmas.

Owner Kishor Patel said:  “We’re really looking forward to Surya’s wonderful snow window display being installed. It will give our store a welcoming feel and also hopefully encourage people to take the time to visit the top of town and admire the festive decorations.”

The array of festive events in Basingstoke this year include:

  • Nutcracker Trail – 16 November – 31 December: Take your children on a magical trail around Basingstoke to discover all ten of our Christmas Nutcrackers. Collect a Trail Book from various pick-up points around the town centre to be in with a chance of winning festive prizes.
  • Christmas Cracker Making Station – 24th and 25 November: Get crafty and join the elves at the Christmas Cracker Making Station in Festival Place. Fill your crackers with giggles, jokes and wishes to set your Christmas off with a bang.
  • Christmas street theatre – every Saturday from 24 November – 22 December: Head to The Malls to take in a wide variety of festive fun shows including Funky Santas and Giant Christmas presents.

  • The Night Before Christmas projection – throughout December: A special Night Before Christmas show will be projected onto The Willis Museum. Shows will be on the hour every day from 4pm.

Keri Ackling, of Snow Windows, said: “We have loved the challenge of creating bespoke and reusable decals on a much larger scale for the first time in Basingstoke. We feel that they will really create the ‘wow factor’ for the festive season – they are the perfect backdrop for your Christmas selfie!”

Find out more about Basingstoke Together by visiting https://www.basingstoketogether.co.uk

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