Fireworks 2018

Here is a list of firework displays both locally and further afield.   Check out a previous post for recommendations from NHM followers.  Keep checking back for updates including the rumoured return of an old favourite!

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

Fireworks 2018

Sat Oct 27th

Upton Grey Autumn Festival – Hoddington Arms Pub.  From 2pm.  See link for details

Thurs Nov 1st – Sat 3rd

Longleat – Click link for details

Fri Nov 2nd

Bramley School – From 5.30pm.  Tickets on sale now

St Johns School – Cranbourne.  From 6pm.  SOLD OUT!!!!

Nov 3rd

Hatch Warren – From 5.30pm Ticket on sale now, advance purchase recommended as many were turned away last year.

St Thomas’ Church -Worting – From 6pm, tickets on sale now

Hook School – From 5pm.  Tickets on sale from school offices, Trees newsagent & Harltets Cafe SOON

Loddon Valley Lions – Barlows Park Tadley.  Tickets on sale now

Baughurst Scouts & Guides – Adams Field, Baughurst.  From 6pm.

Silchester Association – Silchester House.  From 6pm.  Tickets will be on sale in October from the Calleva Arms and Pamber Stores

Overton School – Date confirmed, further information to follow.

Kingsclere School – Fieldgate Centre, Kingsclere. Gates Open 5.30pm. Display at 6.30pm. Tickets on sale soon.

Mortimer – From 5pm.  Tickets on sale from Oct 22nd.  Click link for details

Winchester Round Table – City Centre.  Tickets on sale now

Preston Candover – From 6pm.  Click link for details

Royal Victoria Country Park – Southampton.  Fireworks by the Sea.  Advance tickets only, click link for details

Nov 4th

Mill House – North Warnborough.  Meal & Firework display.  Tickets on sale now

Oakley & Deane –Gates open 5pm, display starts at 6pm.  Click link for details of ticket sales

Fri Nov 9th

Sherfield School – 6.30pm.  Tickets on sale now

Sat Nov 10th

Basingstoke Memorial Park – Rumours are it’s back!!!!  Details TBC.

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Santas, Pantos and Other Christmas 2018 events

Thank you very much to W for putting together today’s post on NHM! She’s done an awesome job!

Santas, Pantos and Other Christmas 2018 events

I know, I know it’s too soon but the kids are back at school, Strictly and the X Factor have started and several places are now taking bookings for Santa visits/experiences.  If you need a weekend slot or you want to take advantage of early bird discounts the next few weeks are the best time to book.

Below are some of the local places to visit Santa, plus several other Christmas experiences that you may wish to book or put in the diary now.  With school holidays starting late this year demand for weekend slots for Santa will be high so book early.

Experiences with a Santa Visit

More of the Good Stuff – Dummer.  Now taking bookings for Breakfast or Tea with Santa

Wyevale Garden Centre – Sherfield on Loddon.  Tickets are now on sale for Santa’s Grotto.  They also normally do Breakfast or tea with Santa, keep an eye on their website for details.

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.  Now taking bookings for their Christmas experience.

Finkley Down Farm – Andover.  Booking now open.

Basingstoke Canal – Mychett.  Booking opens 1st Oct.  Bookings by phone or in person.

Watercress Line – Alresford/Alton.  Book now for the Santa Special.

Marwell – Winchester.  Tickets on sale from September 17th.

Winchester Science Centre – Winchester.  Bookings now open for their Santa experience.

Paultons Park – Ower.  Tickets now on sale.

Lapland UK – Windsor.  Tickets now on sale

Legoland – Windsor.  Christmas tickets now on sale, discount for early booking.

Santa Grottos

Festival Place – Basingstoke.  Details TBC.  This is normally the cheapest Santa in the area.  No Booking required.

Henry Street Garden Centre –Arborfield.  Booking normally opens in October, weekends book up very fast.

Dobbies Garden Centre – Shinfield.  Book via website.

Redfields Garden Centre – Church Crookham.  Details yet to be released.  Normlly book instore or by phone 01252 624444.

Other Christmas Events

Festival Place Lights Switch On – Basingstoke.  Date TBC.

The Malls – Basingstoke.  Date TBC.  The Lights switch on is normally the start of a host of Christmas events in the Malls.  See their website for details.

Festival Place Santa Parade – Basingstoke.  TBC.

Milestones Christmas Market – Basingstoke.  8th – 9th Dec

Basingstoke Festive Fun Run – Memorial Park Basingtoke.  Dec 16th.  Please check website for times.

Lantern Procession – Newbury.  Dec 16th.  Join in or just admire and soak up the atmosphere as the candle-lit procession travels along Northbrook Street to the Market Place

Winchester Cathedral – Nov 17th – Jan 2nd.  Check out the cathedral website for all the events at Winchester Cathedral including the Christmas Market and the Ice Rink.

Theatre

The Magical Christmas Toy Shop – Proteus Basingstoke.  Dec 14th – 24th.  Interactive Christmas performance, Santa normally makes an appearance.  Early bird discount until September 30th.  For pre-school children (although most infants love it too).

Reindeer on the Roof – Central Studio Basingstoke.  Dec 14th.  Suitable for the whole family.

A Christmas Carol  – More of the Good Stuff, Dummer.  Dec 16th A production for Children.

Santa’s Christmas Party – The Haymarket Basingstoke.  Dec 7th – 9th ages 2 -7

Santa’s Christmas Party – Theatre Royal Winchester.  Dec 17th.  All ages

Pantos

Snow White – The Anvil Basingstoke.  Dec 13th – Jan 6th.  All ages

Aladdin – The Hexagon Reading.  Dec 8th – Jan 6th.  All ages.  With Justin Fletcher.

Beauty & The Beast– Theatre Royal Winchester.  Dec 1st – Jan 6st.  All ages

Jack & The Beanstalk – Corn Exchange Newbury.  Nov 30st – Jan 6th.  All ages

Dick Whittington – Mayflower Southampton.  Dec 15th – Jan 6th.  All ages.

And one for the Grown Ups

The Scummy Mummies Christmas Show – Theatre Royal Winchester.  Dec 13th  Ages 18+

Please let us know of any events you feel should be added to

For details of loads of other events follow Louise Nhm Smith on facebook and look up events.

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Help!!! Sounds Babies pay attention too

I had a lovely message from Helen who has asked for the help of the NorthHantsMum Community.

We’ve helped Helen and her colleagues out before, via NHM, a few years ago and it would be great to help again!

Sounds Babies pay attention too

I work in the psychology department at Reading University.

A colleague is desperately looking for people to help with a project about the sounds babies pay attention to. It’s for babies aged 12-15 months and takes around 20 mins.

They will play sounds and pictures to the babies and measure which they prefer based on what they pay attention to.

It does mean a trip to Reading but might be something fun and different to do.

Would you be able to put out a plea to your lovely network of mums?

If you’re a parent that’s able to help can you please email g.w.schafer@reading.ac.uk stating you’d be interested in finding out more about the baby project and he can send you all the info.

Thanks in advance!

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Season Tickets to local attractions in North Hampshire – updated 2017

I’ve recently just invested in a Season ticket for a local attraction. I wanted somewhere that was near to Basingstoke, that we could just pop into after work or when my husband is at work on the weekend.

Paying for entry to attractions can be very expensive, but if you find somewhere that you like, and you know you will visit maybe once a month, it makes sense to invest in a Season ticket.

You also get discounts and extra perks with most Season tickets. I am planning to get a season ticket for a different place each year, so we don’t get bored of the same places.

This is an exceptionally long post. Sorry about that! It was really difficult to know what to include, so I’ve tried to include the key highlights and the costs. Hope you find it useful!

Updated September 2017

Wellington Country Park

Wellington Country Park Season Tickets

Not only do you receive ‘unlimited access’ to the Park but also a whole host of other benefits…

2017 Season Ticket Benefits

Gold Annual Pass:

    • UNLIMITED ADMISSION to Wellington Country Park during normal opening hours
    • 3 FREE day passes for a Gold Annual Pass holder to bring friends or family to the Park
    • 3 FREE train ride vouchers for a Gold Annual Pass holder with ALL subsequent train rides only £1.00 each
    • 5 FREE drinks (valid for regular hot drinks, bottled water or a children’s juice carton)
    • FREE PARTICIPATION in all of our in-house events – excluding Christmas and additional ticketed events
    • E-NEWSLETTER called ‘Welly Park News’ to keep you up to date of what takes place here at the Park

Silver Annual Pass:

    • UNLIMITED ADMISSION to Wellington Country Park during normal opening hours
    • ALL train rides only £1.00 each
    • FREE PARTICIPATION in all of our in-house events – excluding Christmas and additional ticketed events
    • E-NEWSLETTER called ‘Welly Park News’ to keep you up to date of what takes place here at the Park

Please note: Terms and Conditions do apply. For full details, please see ‘Terms and Conditions’ on their website.

How much does a Season Ticket cost?

2018 Prices

Gold (for adult or child) £85.00
Silver (for adult or child) £65.00
Children 2 and under FREE

Please Note: Don’t forgot that when your child turns 3 years old, they will need their own Annual Pass

Finkley Down Farm

Finkley Down Farm Season Ticket

An Annual Pass enables each person purchased free admission to the farm park for 1 Year from date of purchase. Ideal for a short visit even after school for a quick play on the playground or all day in the holidays.

Also if you purchase a pass before your child turns two they are free the duration of your pass.

There is also a Childminder’s annual pass, details can be found on their website.

Please note: Terms and Conditions apply.

Person Type Monthly Direct Debit (Online Only) One Off Payment
Family (4 persons) £24.00 £260.00
Adult £7.00 £75.00
Children 2 – 16 Years £6.00 £65.00
Children Under 2 Free Free
Senior Citizen £6.00 £65.00
Student Student ID Required £6.00 £65.00
Disabled + Unnamed Carer Disability Proof Required £6.00 £65.00

Beale Park

Beale Park Season

Season tickets will soon be available to purchase on-line. In the meantime, please read the options on how to buy a season pass below.  A season ticket to Beale Park is fantastic value, offering:

  • Access to the Park for one calendar year from the date of application.
  • 10 train rides during the course of your season ticket
  • Subscription to the Park’s electronic news updates

…and, by becoming a season ticket holder, you are actively supporting the conservation projects that Beale Park undertakes, as well as contributing towards the care of the animals.

It’s easy to join. Simply print out the form on the website and bring it with you to the Beale Park ticket office where, on payment, a photograph will be taken and your application processed, enabling your season ticket to be produced.

How much will it cost

Adult Season Ticket – £48  

Senior Citizens (60+) – £38.00  

Child Season Ticket – £34  

Registered Disabled + Carer – £48  

Family Season Ticket (2 Adults + 2 Children) – £135  

Terms and Conditions apply

Bucklebury Farm

Bucklebury Farm Park Membership

Why not become a Farm & Deer Safari Park member and enjoy access to the farm and deer park throughout the 2017 season? An ideal opportunity for numerous short visits either after school, school holidays, rainy days, to visit the animals, go round the deer park on a tractor, safari or deer expedition, have a stroll or just for the children to let off steam!! All our park attractions are included in the price with the exception of special events. Joining costs you the equivalent of around £5 per month. Make six visits and then go FREE!

The membership includes a 10% discount on group party bookings for 2017. This can be used for birthday parties but also your children’s class (only one discount per class can apply!) at school – well worth mentioning to your children’s teacher. We also offer all season ticket holders a very special 20% discount in Woody’s for ten visits – great for breakfasts, family lunches or just coffee and cake with friends (excluding special event menus).

How much will it cost

Adults – £60

Children & OAPs – £54

Disabled/helpers – £46 each

4 Kingdoms Adventure Park

4 Kingdoms Adventure Park Annual Pass

Enjoy their 12 Special Events through the Summer Season for the price of 6: Purchasing an annual pass costs less than the equivalent of 6 visits over a twelve month period.

You can visit 4 Kingdoms 7 days a week throughout the year: An annual pass runs for a full twelve months from the date of purchase.

“Try Before You Buy”: When you go to 4 kingdoms on any day and buy day tickets for you and your family, if you buy an annual ticket before you leave you will have your day ticket refunded (T&C’s Apply).

An Annual Pass gives you 10% off your child’s special birthday party event at 4 Kingdoms: Choose from any of their special themed birthday parties and get 10% off the price.

An Annual Pass gives you 10% off their magical Christmas Event: Join them for a magical Christmas family experience and get 10% off the ticket price.

Visit 6 times And Every Other Day Is FREE!

Single – £59.90

Family of 2 – £115.00

Family of 3 – £165.00

Family of 4 – £210.00

Family of 5 – £250.00

Birdworld

Birdworld Membership

If you are a regular visitor to Birdworld then why not become a Birdworld member. Their members enjoy many benefits including:

Unlimited Visits – As an Annual Pass holder, you can visit Birdworld as often as you like, be it for half-an-hour or a full day. Just show your pass with photo at the Information Desk on arrival, thereby avoiding any queues at Admissions on busy days.

E-Newsletters – Their regular newsletters will keep you up-to-date with happenings within the Park, so you’ll hear all about new arrivals amongst the birds, fish, reptiles and animals on the farm, seasonal activity in the Gardens, and generally be aware of what’s going on around Birdworld. You may opt to receive this via E-mail.

Annual Pass Holder Events – You can join their team for exclusive events at Birdworld, which are only available to our pass holders. This includes our annual supper evening, which you can enjoy at no extra cost.

Discounts & Special Offers – Annual Pass Holders are eligible for a 10% discount on any purchases from the Gift Shops (excl. foods), and 15% discount on Birdworld Birthday Parties. You will also receive special prices for our Santa’s Winter Wonderland. When buying your pass you will also receive a one off 10% voucher to use on many products at Forest Lodge Garden Centre.

If you are still not sure, then visit Birdworld for the day and they will be pleased to refund the cost of that ticket against the pass if you decide to join on the day.

Pass type 1 year
Adult £55.95
Child £46.95
Pre-School Child (3-6 years) £29.95
Disabled Child £35.95
Concession (Senior citizens, students and disabled adults) £46.95
Family: 2 Adults & 3 Children £185.00
Family: 1 Adult & 3 Children £135.00
2 Adults Joint pass £99.95
2 Concessions Joint pass £89.95
Carer £19.95

The Hawk Conservancy

Hawk Conservancy Membership

By becoming a member you can be an invaluable part of our mission while enjoying as many visits to the Hawk Conservancy Trust as you like – not to mention many other benefits throughout the year.

Participating Member:

As a Participating Member, you can visit the Trust as many times as you like in one year and support our important conservation work. You’ll also receive:

  • invitations to our exclusive Members’ Evenings;
  • discounted tickets for your guests;
  • three HawkTalk newsletters;
  • and our Annual Review.
Adult £55
Joint (couple) £105
Child £24
Family (two adults and two children) £140
Extra child on a family membership £18

Conservation membership and life membership are also available with additional benefits, details of which can be found on their website.

Terms and conditions apply to all membership packages.

Other Passes or Season Tickets

The Living Rainforest review on NHM (The standard admission price entitles the purchaser to an Annual Ticket, which allows free entry for one year, so keep your receipt!) NOTE: the prices have increased since the review and can be found on The Living Rainforest’s website.

National trust

Culture Trust Membership

Merlin Pass

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Review 2017: Beale Park

Thank you to the NHM Secret Reviewer who wrote today’s post.

Review 2017: Beale Park

Like many other afflicted parents, I have a boy addicted to trains. I made the mistake of promising a train ride all week, and today I had to deliver. Fortunately I live in an area where there are quite a few options that aren’t solely about trains, and today was Beale Park – a stunning wildlife park and gardens with a fantastic selection of children’s play areas. Perfect!

Beale Park website

Beale Park Facebook Page

About

Beale Park is a wildlife park and gardens about 30-40 minutes away from Basingstoke, between Lower Basildon and Pangbourne, by the River Thames. There are three main features to the park:

Wildlife:
The park has a collection of small exotic animals, farm animals and birds, including meerkats, wallabies, coatis, owls and peacocks to name but a few. The train passes many of these areas, which can be very useful for tired little feet, although the paths are pushchair friendly. There is also a deer park set in a large open space with picnic area and zip wire. We haven’t been that far yet though.

Attractions:
The park’s miniature train runs every day during their open season and your first ride is included with your entry ticket. There is an additional charge for further rides. There is an amazing Little Tikes Outdoor Village, indoor play area, adventure playground, paddling pool, sandpit, Roplay area and aerial cableway. To be honest, there is so much at the central play area alone, we could spend the whole day there and our boys would be happy (with a train ride of course).

Gardens:
We have so far managed to convince our boys that the way to the main play area is through the Jubilee Water Gardens. That’s not strictly true but the gardens are so stunning we don’t see the harm in being a little sneaky in order to enjoy the amazing walk. With a beautiful oriental feel, I can’t imagine leaving them feeling anything other than relaxed. There is also a ‘Dry Garden’ running alongside the inner lake making it a wonderful feature.

Conservation

Not only is Beale Park an amazing day out for all, it is committed to conservation of rare and endangered species, managing several projects and supporting others. Always a bonus having a great day out and knowing you are contributing to a wonderful cause.

Food

The Peacock restaurant offers a good range of hot and cold food and drinks. I was also surprised and impressed to see on our way out a table offering fresh milk for tea/coffee etc, including soya milk. I don’t know if they cater for special diets, but I will definitely be checking next time!

Tips

Don’t forget your swimming costumes and towels if you’re intending on using the paddling pool

We found it useful to eat early as the restaurant got very busy

It’s also worth keeping an eye out on their website or Facebook page for events

Facilities

There are two toilet blocks with baby change facilities in the park.

The routes around the park are pram and wheelchair friendly.

Parking

There is a large car park to the front of the park with no charge for parking.

Prices

Prices for low and high season can be found on the park’s website: Beale Park admissions

Children under two years old go free

Rating out of 5

Has to be 5/5, there is just so much to do and see

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Review 2017: Thatcham Discovery Centre

Thank you VERY much to the NHM Secret Writer who wrote today’s Review!!!

About

Thatcham Discovery Centre sits within a reserve that has a range of different habitats including a lake, meadow and woodland areas and is adjacent to Thatcham Reedbeds. It also includes adventure playgrounds, cafe, shop and visitor centre with interactive wildlife and natural history displays encouraging visitors to find out about the local wildlife.
Around the reserve are a network of footpaths, ranging from small family-friendly walks to longer walks. A map of the reserve can be found here.

 

The Nature Discovery Centre offers a wide ranging and varied programme of events   throughout the year including hands-on wildlife activities, craft workshops, walks and talks.

You can find out more about the centre on the Thatcham Discovery Centre facebook page.

We had been told about Thatcham Discovery Centre before and so were quite keen to visit. The first thing we saw when we arrived was the adventure playground, which our toddlers loved! It is supposed to be for 8 years plus so they recommend younger children play in the other playground at busier times. Fortunately it was quite quiet so the boys had a really good run around whilst being nicely shaded from the sun on a very hot day! We did visit the other playground, aimed at 3-8 year olds, which was a good size but not shaded so we didn’t stay too long this time.

The centre itself covers a small area over two floors offering interactive displays including jigsaws, soft toys and brass rubbings. The area upstairs has a lovely view over the lake. There is a small shop selling a variety of books, toys and sundries.

In the centre there is also a cafe which opens up onto the lakeside, with tables overlooking the area. There was a limited menu when we were there, and a note apologising for the minimal food that day, but there was still a good amount available and the cake was amazing!

We didn’t go on any of the walks as it was too hot to be dragging toddlers around, but we will definitely be doing so next time. I am also keen to try out some of the events, especially the Bird of Prey event which looked very interesting.

All in all it was a great visit with lots still left to explore, especially with the events programme. Whilst the centre is quite small, it is free and offers a lot of information. The view at the lakeside is amazing, I could have sat there for ages. It is a great place for children to burn some energy, learn about nature, as well as being an enjoyable experience for adults.

Tips and Notices

The older adventure playground is a great place to go when it’s too hot to be out in the sun as it’s shaded by trees.

Dogs are allowed but not in the water and under close control.

No picnics inside during busy periods.

Centre Opening hours (including shop and cafe)

Summer (April-October): Open 7 days a week, including bank holidays. 10:30am-5pm
Winter (November-March): Tuesday-Sunday 10:30am-4pm. Closed Mondays

Silent Space at the Nature Discovery Centre

8am-10am every Saturday and Sunday.

The Silent Space is a secluded meadow area that offers a wonderful spot for quiet contemplation – an opportunity to relax and enjoy this peaceful area within the busy reserve. Find out more here

Facilities

  • Lakeside Café serving homemade hot and cold food
  • Gift shop
  • Toilets, disabled toilet and baby changing facilities
  • Picnic facilities
  • Adventure Playgrounds
  • Bird hide overlooking Thatcham Reedbeds Nature Reserve
  • Signposted walk routes and seasonal trails
    Thatcham Community Orchard

Prices

Admission is free, donations welcome

Charges apply for special events (please see the What’s On web page for more information)

Parking

Car park is open from 8am every day with closing subject to seasonal changes.

Cost is £3 donation

Rating

5 out of 5

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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. 

IMG_0175

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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