Ready Steady Mum’s – FREE Buggy Walk

We run 3 in different areas of Basingstoke. City centre, Tadley and Beggarwood.

More details are available on the posters below. Even though the classes have already started, you can still join them using the contact details in the posters.

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Warm Swimming pools suitable for babies and young children in North Hampshire

I recently asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook if anyone could recommend any good and warm swimming pools for a 3 month old and a 5 year old.

Thank you very much to everyone who responded and thank you to Shona for putting this post together! 

These were the responses I received. They are in no particular order. 

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NHM Readers Recommend Swimming Pools

Alton Leisure Centre

Jason said: Alton Leisure Centre  

Alton Leisure Centre

Tadley Pool

Wendy said: Tadley is the warmest local pool but not sure they do a baby’s session on a Friday. The Sport Centre has a shallow pool which would make it easier.

Heather said: I’d go to Tadley, it’s warm and there’s no chlorine.

Caroline said: Tadley pool is nice and quiet. They have great sessions for very little ones where they raise the floor too.

Peta recommended Tadley Pool.

Karen said: You are better off in water that’d be chest height if you just going with baby as you can walk with them at a comfortable height without bending over. The raised floor is good for older children. I would recommend Tadley Pool for that reason.

Tadley Pool

Sports Centre

Lisa said: Sports Centre in Town

Kelly said: I have a 5 month old and a 5 year old. I found the Sport Centre in Town was great for my first attempt. Very warm, not too deep and small enough to focus on both kiddies. Left my pushchair in the changing rooms although they do have buggy lockers and took carseat onto poolside.

Caroline said: Town is nice and warm. 

Ellie said: Good and small pool would be great with a 5 year old as well.

Sports Centre

Farnham Leisure Centre

Natasha said: Farnham Leisure Centre from 11am in the teaching pool on a Friday

Farnham Leisure Centre

Coral Reef – Bracknell

Peta recommended Coral Reef.

Karen recommended Coral Reef.

Coral Reef

Coral Reef is now closed for refurbishment until 2017

Aquadrome

Karen recommended the Aquadrome.

Aquadrome

You can read my review on the Aquadrome on NorthHantsMum.

Related Posts

Swimming Pools in North Hampshire suitable for Babies and young Children

Water Babies

Review 2015: Frensham Common

Paddling Pools/Splash Pools in North Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey

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Review 2014: Dinton Pastures Country Park, Berkshire

Thank you very much to this week’s Secret Reviewer, Jo, for her fab review of Dinton Pastures!

Dinton Pastures 

Davis Street, Hurst, RG10 0TH

Dinton Pastures Country Park covers just over 335 acres and has 7 lakes, 2 rivers, 3 public bird hides and meadows.

It offers scenic walks, wildlife watching, fishing, golf, orienteering, water sports and a large play area for children.

I have to be honest and say I have been visiting Dinton year in and year out since I was the same age as my children so it holds a special place in my heart as I have so many memories here!

 

Walks

Dinton is a lovely place to go walking and given the large number of lakes and footpaths you can make these as long or as short as you like really.

The wildlife trails are colour coded and signposted so you can follow these or wander to your hearts content if you prefer.

There is a short route marked for wheelchair and buggy access however in my experience if you have a robust pram/pushchair you should be able to follow any paths.

I have certainly had no trouble pushing my Phil & Teds Sport for miles around some lesser trodden tracks in the park although I wouldn’t attempt a longer walk with my Maclaren stroller.

 

The lakes are beautiful to walk round and I love them equally in the brilliant sunshine of spring & summer, the autumnal colours and the winter crispness.

There are plenty of benches at various points around the lakes to sit down & rest or take in the scenery and there are lots of places where the Ducks, Swans & Geese gather where you can feed them.

One word of warning, if you feed them at the main deck by the far end of the play park then it can become a bit like a scene from the birds.

The Swans & Geese are in large numbers here and are not frightened to surround you which can be very intimidating even as an adult let alone for small children!

I prefer to take our bread to a quieter point round the lake to feed the ducks there.

Play Area

In May this year the new play area was finally opened at Dinton (after delays due to the flooding earlier in the year) and boy was it well worth the wait!

The play space that has been created is nothing short of amazing! It features giant nest towers, swinging hanging logs, zip wires, funnel net trap, willow maze, a storytelling area & woodland obstacle course.

There are swings & slides and lots of sandpit areas.

At the far end closer to the lake is a woodland picnic area & den building structures plus a ‘hobbit’ tunnel and small trampoline suitable for toddlers.

There are other features such as a giants chair and dinosaur eggs to enthral your youngsters and really help their imagines run wild.

The only criticism I can make of this area is that it is so large that it can be very difficult to keep track of your little ones if you have more than one and for toddlers not all the equipment is suitable so you do need to be careful to keep tabs on them.

All in all though this is probably the best play area we have yet visited and there is no concrete in sight. I think it will keep my children entertained for many years to come.

Water Sports

The Dinton Activity Centre part way round Black Swan Lake offers a multitude of water sports including Sailing, Kayaking, Paddleboarding & Windsurfing.

For younger children they also offer pond dipping.

Advance booking is generally required for these activities.

Lots more information can be found on their website via WBC: http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/parks/countryside/dac/

If you are solely visiting for the DAC there is a separate car park which is generally a lot less busy.

Other Activities

Orienteering is available and you can pick up a pack from the café for 50p.

There is a Pay & Play 9 hole golf course (par 70 standard scratch) and clubs, trolleys & buggies are all available to hire again from the café.

For any keen bird watchers there are 3 bird hides available at various points around the park – bring your own binoculars!

Refreshments

Refreshments are available at The Dragonfly café next to the main car park. The café is lovely and has a vast amount of outdoor seating and an outside covered area plus plenty of space indoors too for when the weather isn’t so good.

They are very accommodating towards children & babies.

Prices are very reasonable and I can highly recommend the homemade cakes they serve.

Picnic Areas

There are plenty of picnic benches both inside and outside of the play area and there is also an abundance of green spaces which are perfect for a picnic blanket if the weather is good.

Toilets & Baby Changing Facilities

There are toilet facilities at the café, the rangers office in the main car park and at the Activity centre.

The facilities at the café are the nicest as you would probably expect.

You can access them without having to go through the café. Baby changing facilities are available in the disabled toilets and these are clean and adequate.

Parking

There is a decent sized car park at the main entrance which also has an overflow section if it does get busy.

Alternative parking is available at the Water sports centre or at the aviation museum.

If you use the aviation museum car park you are at the very far end of the country park about as far as you can be from the main entrance and play area and I would allow a good 30-40 minute walk to get there, though on the plus side parking is free in this car park.

Charges for the main car park & the activity centre car park are as follows:

Up to 1 hour – £1.20

1-4 hours – £2.00

Over 4 hours – £2.50

Summary

Dinton is a great place to visit with children of all ages (or even without children). Weather dependent you could spend anything from an hour to a whole day here quite happily.

Rating

5 out of 5

The new play area is worth this alone.

Review 2014: Dinosaur Crazy Golf at the Oracle

Thank you very much to this week’s secret reviewer! Great review!

The Oracle, Riverside performance area (near Pizza Hut), Reading, RG1 2AG.

Jurassic Adventure Golf

Play

At the Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading they currently have “Jurassic Golf”.  It’s Dinosaur Crazy Golf for girls and boys.

It is by no means an afternoon or day out but it’s a novelty that keep my monkey entertained with something different for around half an hour.

We went on a Friday morning and had the circuit to ourselves.  I only had to pay entry for those wishing to play so we only paid £3 which is the price for under 4’s.

We paid our fee at the Kiosk, collected our golf ball and golf club and then made our way to the Riverside.

If you don’t have a buggy you can go straight down the steps.  We had a buggy so we walked along the riverside and behind Jamie’s Italian we accessed a walkway which slopped down and around to the riverside.

The plastic dinosaurs in the enclosure are fairly well done and have signs that identify which dinosaur they are along with facts and figures.  There are 9 holes on the circuit, the monkey and I attempted a few.

Some of the holes were a bit too advanced for a 3 year old and non-golfer put together but we did have fun on the ones we did try!  For those who like competition there is a high score board.

Tips

There is a large T-Rex in the middle of the circuit which moves and roars every 15 minutes.  My monkey wasn’t a fan but nothing a Mummy cuddle didn’t resolve.

Food

After our round of golf we came across a vintage Citroen van that had been converted into a ice cream van and was selling whippy New Forest ice cream.

The van was clean, ice cream was yummy and the seating area was clean and tidy.

Jurassic Golf fast facts

  • 1 moving dinosaur that roars
  • 10 life size dinosaur models
  • 9 artificial grass golf holes

Facilities

Opens 11am week days and 10am at the weekend.
Open from now until 30th September 2014.

Baby Facilities

Toilets/nappy changing
Available inside the mall toilets.

Parking

In the Oracle

Prices

£1 off your 2nd visit, voucher is in the leaflet available at the kiosk.

Rating out of 5

Our secret reviewer gave this 5 out of 5.

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Review 2014: California Country Park, Finchampstead

Another fab review by one of our lovely Secret Reviewers!

Thank you Secret Reviewer! 😀

California Country Park

Nine Mile Ride, Finchampstead, RG40 4HT

California Country Park covers 40 hectares and is set within 100 acres of ancient bogland and lowland heath. It offers scenic walks, wildlife watching, fishing and more.

Play

There is a lovely children’s play area next to the main car park. It has plenty of climbing ropes, balancing logs and a small zip wire suitable for pre-schoolers as well as slightly older children.

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There are couple of swings and slides for babies & toddlers and a pirate climbing frame with larger slide that my son loved.

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The play area is probably most suitable up to the age of about 7 years.

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Paddling Pool

Within the play area is a fenced off paddling pool. This was still closed when we visited but is open in the summer months and I think it would be a great hit with children of all ages. It looked a  grubby at the moment but sure once it is cleaned up & filled and the sun is out you could easily bring a picnic and spend the whole day here.

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Walks

There is a short walk of 0.9miles around Longmoor Lake or if you want to go a bit further you can do the Woodland Walk which is 2.2miles long. We did both and my 2.5 year old managed to walk the whole way as he was very interested in picking up sticks and batting them through the long grass on the Woodland Walk.

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The longer walk takes you through the 8,000 year old Longmoor Bog on a specially constructed boardwalk. This was great for pushchairs and my son who loved running up and down the boardwalk. There are a few areas before and after the boardwalk that are still quite boggy and wellies would probably be advisable especially if you have children like mine who love nothing better to run and jump in mud at the first opportunity!

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The shorter walk round the lake was very pleasant and tranquil as there weren’t too many other people about. We stopped at lots to look at the ducks and for my son to swirl the water with the sticks he had collected on the Woodland Walk.

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Refreshments

Unfortunately the California Dreaming Café has been closed down and there are no other café facilities at present. There was a note in the window saying that the Council were looking to provide a permanent replacement in Spring 2014 so hopefully the café will reopen in some form or another soon.

In the meantime make sure you take drinks and food with you.

Picnic Areas

There were only 4 picnic benches that I spotted but there is plenty of grassy areas both inside and outside of the play area which would be lovely to sit with a picnic blanket if you couldn’t get a bench.

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 Toilets & Baby Changing Facilities

Despite the café closure the café toilet facilities are still open between 10am & 4pm.

The disabled toilet has enough space for a double buggy and a pull down baby changing mat with straps. The light wasn’t working when we used it so it was pitch black which wasn’t very helpful.

The Ladies has 4 stalls and a bench area that you could put your own changing mat on.

If the weather is nice I would suggest changing baby on the grass is probably easier. The toilets were fairly clean but not brilliant.

Parking

There is a small car park area next to the old café building and play area and if this is full there is plenty of additional parking a short walk away. Make sure you have the right change whilst the café is shut as there is no means of getting it otherwise (unless you bump into a kind person like me who gives you their remaining ticket). Charges are as follows:

Up to 1 hour – £1.20

1-4 hours – £1.80

Over 4 hours – £2.40

Summary

This is a lovely place to visit for a couple of hours if the weather is nice (or more if you take a picnic). And I suspect it would be a good days entertainment in hot weather when the pool is open.

Rating

3.5 out of 5 – Only due to the lack of cafe facilities

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Review 2014: Legoland

Another Secret Review for you today. I was a bit reticent taking Miss NHM to Legoland, but having read this review, I’ve changed my mind!

Great tips on when to buy passes. Thank you Secret Reviewer, whoever you are! 😀

photo 2

Legoland

For the last year we have been enjoying some really nice days out at Legoland with our just turned 3 year Monkey, my husband and myself on our Legoland annual passes courtesy of supermarket points schemes.

We have spent a lot of our visits in Duplo Valley which is a perfect area for Toddlers. We’ve been visiting since he was 2 and we’ve always felt we have had value for money. Some of our favourite rides in the park have been:

Fairy Tale brook (any height is ok)
A gentle boat ride. The queue goes quite quickly for this ride.

Duplo Valley Airport (Riders must be 90cm and above)
A mini helicopter that goes up and down and turns around. You control the speed and height with your own controls. This ride is hidden away in a corner so the queue is not that bad.

Brickville Play Village
Lots of things to climb on and play on. Princess castles, bake shop, fire stations and police stations. No queue time just run in to play.

Duplo Theatre Puppet show (any height is ok)
Covered over auditorium with rows of low benches. You can always see from the back if the benches are full.

Atlantis submarine ride (any height is ok)
We love this ride in a submarine through an aquarium. It’s a popular ride so try this ride as early as possible as it’s always a long queue.

Dino Safari (Riders must be 90cm and above)
Ride along in a jeep on a track to see lots of big lego dinosaurs. The queue for this ride is usually quite quick and one of our favs.

Orient expedition train ride (any height is ok)
Train ride around a section of the park. A firm favourite for all the family.

Boating School (any height is ok)
A ride in a battery powered boat around a water track. Try this ride as early as possible as it’s always a long queue.

Dragons apprentice Mini roller coaster (Riders must be 90cm and above)
A new one for us last weekend. It’s a fast bendy ride. I was worried it was a step too far for monkey when we riding but at the end he sat there and clapped his hands in delight.

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I found the best time to visit is a week day during term time, you can pretty much walk on to any ride you choose. During Summer holiday weekends the park is heaving. What we have tried doing is going to the park late afternoon and making use of the park until closing time, this only works if you have a pass though.

In the two blocks of toilets I checked out at the park the toilets by Dino Safari were the best. They have lockable cubicles which have a fold down changer, sink and toilet. The toilets by the Pirate lake only has 2 baby changing areas which are built in to the same unit as the row of sinks. So you do the change in the communal area.

I would really recommend taking a picnic for your trip. The cost of food and drink in the park is super expensive. In fact anything you buy when you are in the park is expensive even with pass holder discounts. Luckily for us our monkey doesn’t ask us for much from the shops but if you have older children who do ask it could be an expensive day out for you. I did think I could pick up some cheap Duplo in the main gift shop but to be honest the prices are not that dissimilar to my beloved Amazon. Bank machines are available inside the park at the entrance.

If you want to buy any pictures from your rides Legoland are offering this year a photo pass. It’s £20 for 4 pictures which you can spread over the course of multiple visits, otherwise it’s £10 for one photo.

Our monkey had a phase of not wanting to sit in his push chair but wants to be carried instead. We have been hiring a plastic push cart for him outside the main gift shop which has a play steering wheel, sun shade and a drinks holder. He quite happily hops in and out of it and saves our arms and backs! There are single or double push carts to hire.

Legoland is expensive to attend for just a day visit. But if you think of it as an investment purchase it can work out cheaper. We bought an annual ticket to Legoland through Tesco Clubcard voucher deals which this year costs £28 of Clubcard points for an Adult. We were then sent a voucher which we cashed in as a photo ID pass on our first visit to Legoland. The pass also gives us free parking and 10% discount in the restaurants (not food kiosks) and gift shops. If your monkey or princess is under 3 they can get in for free.

An annual pass online with Legoland direct is £99 inc 10% discount. But keep an eye out for their sales, during 2013 there were sales in January and July. There are deals in national newspapers at certain times of the year for Legoland tickets so it’s a question of waiting for the right deal for you.

It takes 45 minutes to reach Legoland from Basingstoke via the M3.

Post code for your sat nav is SL4 4AY.

The Legoland website says please follow the brown signs when visiting as the post code does send some sat nav users to a residential street.

Related Posts

All of the Reviews on NHM

Would you like to be a NHM Secret Reviewer?

Bopping Babies at Wellington Country Park

Polly asked me to let you know about her Bopping Babies classes at the Wellington Country Park.

Miss NHM LOVED Bopping Babies when she was little and I’m itching to go again soon!  The added bonus is the time in Wellington Country Park afterwards.

I can highly recommend these classes. Much, much fun and generally had me singing the music for the rest of the day! :-D.

Bopping Babies at Wellington Country Park

Bopping Babies starts their new 12 week term on the 25th April at Wellington Country Park. The classes will run up to the start of the summer holidays.

A fantastic mornings outing full of fun, entertainment and outdoor adventure. Every week there will be a different theme at each weekly class.

Come and enjoy a great fun filled session followed by fun in the park afterwards!

The class will be £5 for adult and child (season ticket holders) or £6 a class (non season ticket holders).

Please contact info@boppingbabies.co.uk or call 01256 884150 to reserve your place.

Related Posts

Bopping Babies

Baby & Toddler Dance classes in North Hampshire

GPW: Matthew B Photography

This week’s Guest Post Wednesday (GPW) is from Matt:

stanley and arthur

My interest in photography has definitely been passed down to me through the generations of my family as firstly my Grandfather, then my Dad and uncle all have more than a passing interest in getting behind a camera and capturing lovely moments.

I did take an A-Level in photography but my heart was never really in the subject back in my late teens, indeed it wasn’t until the explosion of the digital age that I bought my first digital SLR camera and really began to enjoy it.

Based in Reading, I cover both Berkshire and Hampshire but would be willing to travel further afield if demand takes me.

GeorgeI work full time in an office during the week but photography is my passion and I am available in the evenings and at weekends for photo shoots.

Matthew B Photography provides the following services;

Portraits

My style involves using both natural light and flash to create nicely lit family portraits and I pride myself in bringing out everybody’s character to create photographs that capture memories.

I will come to your home or arrange to meet at a nice location nearby that will add something to the pictures.

twinsFor example,  parks work really well for pictures of children as we can get some nice posed shots and then capture them enjoying themselves in their natural environment – on the swings, coming down the slide etc.

Parties

Whether it’s a small child’s birthday party, a landmark adults birthday party or a special wedding anniversary, I can come along and photograph you, your family and friends.

To suit your requirements I can either set up in the corner and ask your guests to come to get a posed photograph or I can mingle and capture the evening as it unfolds.

Weddings

A somebody who is getting married myself in 2014, I completely understand the importance of picking the right wedding photographer.

And with so many people available to choose from, why should you pick me?

Firstly, I get extreme satisfaction out of ‘capturing the moment’ and the thought that a piece of my work will potentially be looked upon and cherished by a couple and their family’s really drives me on to be successful.

I shoot in documentary style to capture your day as it unfolds but with some structure to ensure that there is plenty of time to cover all the key classic posed shots.

hayley-1-4At the time of writing I would say that predominantly I am a portrait photographer who also does weddings.

But my ambition is to be a wedding photographer who also offers portrait sessions and with several weddings booked in over the next 12 months, I am already well on the way to completing the transition.

Prices (for bookings made before 31/12/2013)

Portrait sessions: £17

Parties: £15 per hour (minimum booking of two hours)

Weddings: From £300

All of my packages currently include a free disc containing all of your images

Contact

You can contact me via the following channels:

Website: www.matthewbphotography.com

Facebook:www.facebook.com/matthewbphotography

Email: mattboisclair@yahoo.com

Twitter: @Berkshirephoto

Ashford Hill Toddler group

Sue sent me an email asking me to let you know about the Ashford Hill Toddler Group:

Every term time Wednesday 10am-11:30am

Why not come along and join our friendly group for a cuppa and a chat?  There is a large selection of toys and activities including a baby corner, dressing-up box, crafts table, books.

Attendance fee: £2.00 for one adult and 1 child

50p for additional children

Refreshments and snacks included

(no need to book in advance – just show up on the day)

Find us on facebook, https://www.facebook.com/groups/AshfordHillToddlers/

Review 2013: Wellington Country Park

Wellington Country park

I’ve been meaning to go to Wellington Country park for ages but we never seemed to get around to it. Until one Sunday last month! The weather wasn’t great but we had a lovely morning there. I went there years and years ago, so I was intrigued to see if it had changed much.

Play

There is lots to do and see. We walked left from the entrance building as everyone else seemed to be going right. This worked really well for us as most of the park on the left was empty and by the time we got around to the right side, this had emptied out too. There are lots of little parks dotted around. We walked through the dinosaur section which was good, especially because my little one got to practice the word “dinosaur” lots. On an side note, I remember the big dinosaur from when I went to the park about 22 years ago! Yes, he and I are that old! Lol.

We didn’t get around to the farm this time, but we did spend time in the sandpit area, the tractor area and the toddler village. We also trekked out to see the deer (and it seemed we were the only ones who did!) so my little one learnt the word “deer”. My little one loved the toddler play area near the entrance. She spent a lot of time playing in the Wooden and plastic houses and on the little bikes. There is also a very cool looking bouncy “pillow”. This was packed the whole time we were there, so we didn’t get a chance to have a proper look.

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You need to be careful with your toddlers as there is lots of open water. We spent a lot of time fielding our toddler away from the water as she couldn’t help but gravitate towards it.

My little one absolutely loved it the whole place. She was exhausted by the time we left.

Food

Was good, but expensive for what it was. We had actually packed a picnic, but someone forgot it, so we ended up eating in the restaurant. It was a bit chaotic, children everywhere, but I suppose it’s to be expected. There weren’t many healthy options, just the usual sausage, fish fingers with chips. They had a picnic lunchbox, but this was £5, which I felt was quite steep.

Baby Facilities

Were good. There were several all over the park. I liked the fact that all of the toilets had toddler steps, so they could reach the sinks and toilets.

Parking

is Free!

The shop

Is full of tat. You can’t avoid it either as you have to walk through it to pay. We saw several older children acting up because they wanted something that their parents weren’t prepared to pay a fortune for. I felt for the parents and the children.

Entry Cost

Is expensive. There is no getting around this. £9 per person. But under three’s are free. But you don’t have to pay for parking (I should think not for that price!) A much better way would be to get the annual pass which is £56 per adult and gives a year’s entry, plus lots of extras. We are thinking of getting this pass just for me, so I can take out little one there when my husband is working.

There is lots to do, but still, I felt there was something missing. I felt that it was very commercialised, the whole place didn’t seem to have much of a personality. I can’t really describe it. Everything was a little too “perfect”.

Rating 4/5

Because the food was expensive, entry was expensive and it felt too commercialised and as if it was just there to make money.