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! 😀

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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?

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.

Pick Your Own Farm’s in North Hampshire and Berkshire

Mr NHM's 2015 Pumpkin!!
Mr NHM’s 2015 Pumpkin!!

Carly sent me a very sweet email, prompting me to get my butt in gear and post up this Pick Your Own Farm post! This was a really hard post to research, so if you know of any other local pick your own farms, please let me know at northhantsmum@gmail.com. Thanks for the reminder Carly and I hope you find it useful!

Hampshire

Bourne Valley Pick Your Own, Near Whitchurch/Andover: strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, black, red and white currants and broad beans

West Green Fruits, Hartley Wintney, Hook: West Green Fruits was established in 1997, and is a family run business of 15 acres set in farmland near Hartley Wintney. We offer an extensive range of fruit including; Strawberries, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Gooseberries, Tayberries, Tummelberries, Black & Redcurrants, Blackberries and Summer vegetables.

Durleighmarsh Farm, nr Petersfield: Set in beautiful countryside on the Hampshire/Sussex border, a stone’s throw from Petersfield, Durleighmarsh Farm with its family-run Farm Shop and Pick-Your-Own offers a huge range of top quality fruit and vegetables throughout the season.

Portland Farm, North Waltham (no website that I could see for this farm)

Berkshire

Grays Farm, Wokingham: The Farm is now closed for the winter. We will open as usual in mid April for Rhubarb & hope to open fully on May 18th 2013 with Strawberries, New Potatoes etc.

Copas Farms, Cookham: Copas Farms is a modern, diverse, family-run business with a landholding of just under 3,000 acres in and around the Chilterns and Thames Valley.  From this approximately 2,400 acres is under arable rotation and 81 acres is allocated to two Pick Your Own Farms providing seasonal fruit and vegetables – one at Cookham in Berkshire and the other at Iver in Buckinghamshire.  The centre of operations is based at Hedsor Park Farm, Hedsor in Buckinghamshire.

I also stumbled across this Local Organic Box Delivery in Basingstoke: Northdown Orchard. I currently use Able and Cole but am considering switching to this local supplier. I will let you know if I do manage to get this sorted!

Related NHM Pages

Food on NHM

Reviews of local attractions

NHM Reader Endorsements

Mum Top Tips

22 things to do with an under 7 year old in Basingstoke when it’s raining

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum onTwitter,Google+,Facebook PageFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there! 

Review 2013: The Living Rainforest, nr Newbury, Berkshire

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about bringing some new ideas for post themes to NHM and I think I’m going to try to do reviews for the places that we’ve visited as a family, as the information may be useful for other NHM Readers. So, here is the first post for a review of a place that I’ve been to recently with my family.

The Living Rainforest

I saw the details of the Living Rainforest via a post from Fumblina, a long time NHM Reader. We finally got around to going on Friday. We had a really lovely day and we spent a couple of hours wandering around the rainforest. Its quite small but there is lots to see. My little one kept saying “Wow!” every time we saw something new.

There were creepy crawlies, turtles, a big fish tank with catfish and the biggest stingray, and lots of birds flying around in one of the rainforests. We found the Sloth, she was hiding up in a very big tree, but we didn’t manage to spot the crocodile. My little one loved looking at the monkeys and was even more impressed when a teal (which looks like a duck) walked past her! She kept saying “Quack Quack! lol.

A Teal
A Teal

When you buy your ticket it lasts for the year and gives you unlimited entry to the Rainforest for the following 12 months. There are free Activity packs available for 4 to 7 year olds which include activities to do in the Rainforest.

The Living Rainforest is open daily, with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. When we went there were several school groups there and it was difficult to get around with the pushchair as we kept bumping into them. However, by about 1.30pm all of the school groups had left and we practically had the place to ourselves. On this basis, I recommend going in the afternoon as I spoke to a member of staff who said they have several groups of school children visiting every day.

The prices are as follows (for a years entry, which is a bargain!):

  • Adult £9.95
  • Child (2- 14) £7.95
  • Under 2 Free
  • OAP/Student/Con. £8.95
  • Family (2A + 2C) £31.75
  • Family (1A + 3C) £30.75
  • Carer Free

My little one is just under two so she had free entry but we plan on going again, probably in October when the weather turns as this was such a great indoor activity.

However, although I remembered my little one’s welly boots, we didn’t have a change of trousers and she kept falling over in puddles, so I recommend taking a change of clothes as well as welly’s for your children. Also, it’s very warm (as rainforests tend to be!) so keep this in mind if you are taking coats without a pushchair as you’ll have to carry them around with you.

The centre is family and baby friendly, with nappy-changing and bottle warming facilities available.

We had a great day out and as a family gave it a 4/5 rating.  We would have given a higher rating if the baby changing facilities had a working lock on the door and the restraining strap wasn’t broken.

Have you been to The Living Rainforest? If so, what did you think?

The best picture of the Sloth that we could get!
The best picture of the Sloth that we could get!

Great Picnic Spots near Basingstoke

I LOVE a good picnic. It’s the simple things that count. A good location, yummy food and nice weather and you have a perfect day ahead of you. It helps that the weather for this week is predicted to be sunny…at last!

You don’t even need to spend much, just grab whatever is in the fridge or cupboard that can be used as finger food and stick it in a lunchbox or rucksack.

It’s a known fact that food eaten outside always tastes so much better than when it’s eaten indoors.

Grab a blanket, pack some suncream, make sure you don’t forget hats or drinks for your children and head off somewhere new. Most of the places below are suitable for pushchairs.

Also check out this post about Great picnic spots in Basingstoke HERE.

Let me know if you enjoy these picnic spots too.

Great Picnic Spots near Basingstoke

Frensham Common, Frensham Great Pond Farnham, Surrey (love it here, but you need an offroad pushchair as a lot of the paths are sandy)
Greenham and Crookham Common, Newbury (love it here too. The cows gave my little one something to laugh at!)
Padworth Common, West Berkshire
Wokefield Common,  Wokefield, Berkshire
Yately Common, Yateley
Hartley Wintney Cricket Ground,  Hartley Wintney
Elvetham Heath pond, Elvetham Heath
Hosehill Lake nature, Reading
California Country Park, Wokingham
Horseshoe Lake, Bracknell
King’s Pond, Alton
Bucklebury Common, Berkshire
Thatcham Reedbeds, Thatcham
Forbury Gardens, Reading
Abbey Ruins, Reading
Heathlake, Wokingham
Christchurch Meadows, Reading
Alice Holt Forest, Nr Alton. See a review on NHM about Alice Holt
Lavell’s Lake, Wokingham
Aldermoors Local Nature Reserve, Wokingham

May 2013: I’ve just found a new picnic spot, which is fab! It’s over in Herriard, about 10 minutes drive from Basingstoke to Alton on the A339.

You pass the sign to Herriard and then take a left signed  to Upton Grey/Weston Patrick. The park and meadow are just on the right.

There are three play areas and a huge meadow which my toddler loved running around. It’s great for a picnic as there are a few trees so you can get some shade in the sun.

Are there any other great picnic spots in the area that you would like to share?

Related Pages

Great Picnic spots in Basingstoke

Basingstoke Toddlers

22 things to do with an under 7 year old in Basingstoke when it’s raining

The “Top 5 play parks in Basingstoke” Poll – as voted by YOU!