Review 2018: Riverside Bowl, Andover

Thank you very much to today’s NHM Secret Writer for today’s post and to Juliet for formatting this on wordpress!

Riverside Bowl, Andover

Riverside bowl is a bowling alley, arcade and glow in the dark golf centre.

They have 8 lanes of ten pin bowling, various arcade games and 10 crazy golf holes based around the world (London, New York, China etc).

They also have function rooms and a bar/diner.


Riverside bowl is on the high street in Andover, next to Wilko. You have to go up 3-4 flights of stairs but there is a lift if you struggle with stairs (wheelchair/pushchair etc).


There is a 90’s style diner and bar serving freshly prepared burgers/hot dogs and chips.

Food was as you’d expect in this sort of venue; not haute cuisine but edible and presented in a fun way (in baskets).

They also have an extensive milkshake menu (chocolate, butterscotch, jelly baby and caramel to name a few). I’ve given up chocolate for Lent so I went for butterscotch and it was very nice


Male/female and disabled toilets available. Clean and perfectly usable. I didn’t use them but hubby did and said they had hot and cold running water and were perfectly adequate.


There is no specific parking for Riverside. We parked in the Chantry Shopping centre as we had a meander through Andover before going to the venue as we were early.

Parking is charged Mon-Sat up to 4pm and is free on a Sunday. This is probably the next place to park for Riverside as it is a 3 minute walk from the car park.


We paid £15.50 for three of us (2 adults, one child) to play golf. We paid £25 to eat burger and chips each (child meal was £5.50 and included a drink). My milkshake was £3.20 and probably about same size as a cooler drink from Costa/Starbucks).

We also paid £17 for a game of bowling – we haven’t done this for a long time so not sure if this is average price or not.

Rating out of 5

I would give it 3.5 out of 5. It was nice enough but for what it is I thought the price was a little bit steep.

The bowling lane broke down while we were on it and we had to be moved. The golf I was a little disappointed in as the way the holes are set up, it’s pretty impossible to get a hole in one. You have to get the ball through a structure and it has quite a slope to get up.

I think the next hole we played was done in four or five shots and this was hubby who is a dab hand compared to me and LO.

We also had a family behind us in the golf who let their son start playing while we were still on the hole.

There is no staff actively monitoring this section (there are CCTV cameras).

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Swimming Schools and Lessons in North Hampshire

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

Swimming Schools and Lessons in North Hampshire

Alton Sports Centre

Swimming lessons start from 3 years old (Stage 1). All lessons are taught by qualified instructors who help children to develop confidence in and around the water.

Alton Sports Centre

Judy Sporle School of Swimming

Based in Winchester, Judy Sporle provides parent and child classes (3 months – 3 years), pre-school classes (3 years – 5 years) and also after school classes (3 years plus). In the parent and child classes they provide introduction to the water, safety, songs and games and water confidence. Pre-school classes have a maximum of 4 children to a class with the teacher in the water. After school classes have a maximum of 8 children in a class and promote water confidence and teach techniques.

Judy Sporle

Turtle Tots

Operating through Reading, Wokingham and Caversham, Turtle Tots run a baby programme and a toddler programme. The baby programme can start any time from newborn to 14 months old. You learn to swim with your baby above and below the water and help teach your baby confidence in the water. The toddler programme has been designed with a set of activities including swimming technique, safety and floating. The toddler course is suitable from 18 months.

Turtle Tots

Angela’s Swim School

Angela’s Swim School has small classes to allow for individual attention and feedback from each session. They offer swimming lessons for all the family with a wide range of lessons for children, adults and babies from 4 months. There are sessions available nationwide, locally they are held at Aldershot, Petersfield, Bordon and Hook.

Angela’s Swim School

Everyone Active

Having more than 70,000 children learning to swim through their swimming Programmes, Everyone Active helps children learn the skill of swimming. They are available 50 weeks a year (2 week break over Christmas and New Year), suitable for children aged over 5 months, all teachers are DBS checked and don’t run “terms” so children can join at any point throughout the year. Locally this is run from Hart Leisure Centre in Fleet, although it is a nationwide brand.

Everyone Active

Water Babies

Water Babies is aware that swimming is one of the few things that you can do with your baby from birth. Water Babies encourages babies to swim underwater whilst having fun. They run locally across Berkshire and North Hampshire and teach from 21 swimming pools.

Water Babies

Swim Expert

Swim Expert runs from the Apollo hotel in Basingstoke. They can provide private 1-2-1 swimming lessons to improve children’s swimming more effectively as well as running small group lessons with a maximum of 3 children per class. They will do lessons for anyone over the age of 2 years.

Swim Expert

Rushmoor Royals

Rushmoor Royals provides swimming lessons from 2 ½ years old in Farnborough, Aldershot and Yateley. Lessons are held over 3 terms and normally run for 12-14 weeks. There are badges for each stage and once achieved, children can move to the next stage.

Rushmoor Royals

Kim Chapman Swimming School

This swimming school is run from Queen Mary’s College in Basingstoke. They provide adult and baby/toddler lessons from 4 months. They also do pre-school lessons for children aged over 3 years. With qualified teachers, the classes are fun using a mixture of toys, nursery rhymes and games to help children learn to swim and be confident in the water.

Kim Chapman Swimming School

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SNOW!!! Things to do with little ones whilst it’s snowing…

Yay! It’s snowing! I know this is a complete nightmare for LOTS and lots of people but I LOVE the snow so I’m very excited about it, even if we did only last 10 minutes because my extremely strong willed 6 year old refused to wear her gloves and got very cold hands very quickly. Sigh!

I’ve also been up since 6am stressing about keeping everyone updated on which schools and pre-schools are opened or closed so I am exhausted! lol.

You can check on this post for more details about which schools are open still and the times that they close: HCC School Closure Website

Anyyyyywaayy, this is my impromptu list of suggestions of things you can do with your little ones today whilst it’s snowing.

Whatever you end up doing…HAVE FUN!!!!!


  • Make snowmen snowwomen, snowbabies, snowchildren
  • Build an igloo
  • Make coloured ice balls (balloons filled with water and a bit of food colouring and leave outside over night)
  • Snowball fight/gentle throw
  • Sledging
  • Snow angels


Other Useful Posts

What would you add to this list?

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NHM Readers recommend: Cooking classes for six year olds

An NHM reader asked “Hello! I’ve been hunting for cookery workshops/classes to attend with my nearly 6 year old son. I’ve found options for preschool age but can’t seem to find anything in the area for his age range. He wants to make real food, not just decorate biscuits or cakes now. Do you know of anything out there? Thanks!!”

Thank you to all of the NHM readers who responded, these are listed below, in no particular order! Thank you also to Juliet who put this post together!! 

Tot Cross Buns

Tot Cross Buns

Michelle said “Tot Cross Buns run by Allison Woolford. And now they’ve got Kerry on board too.”

Louise said “Tot Cross Buns is awesome!”

Kerry said “Please send us a message and we would be happy to talk to you about our Saturday kitchens which you and your son can come along too, we have lots of fun and are passionate about cooking and want to pass on this passion to children – giving them confidence with food and encouraging them to try new tastes and have fun in the kitchen with mum and dad. We look forward to hearing from you”

Cookery Doodle Doo North Hants

Cookery Doodle Doo North Hants

Alison said “My daughter loves Cookery Doodle Doo.. Highly recommended”

Katie said “Hi, I run Cookery Doodle Doo. For primary school aged children we offer the monthly Sunday Pudding Club. Drop your child off with us for 2 hours in Laverstoke and collect them proudly bearing a large pud to share at your family Sunday dinner. I also offer affordable private cookery lessons for any age child (and a group of their friends if liked) – why not get a group together for ad hoc or regular Saturday morning sessions?! They could make their own tea!”



Becky said “Check out this page, it’s a charity that does fab cooking and gardening clubs”

Sarah said “Check out inspero. Kids gardening and cooking”



Lyndsey said “I’m not sure if they do many kids classes but Newlyns Farm Shop in Odiham have a cookery school & run some kids events that might be worth looking into”

Marie said “We struggled with this for my youngest. As a cake baker and decorator, and old school home cook, she needed more than the basic stuff at that age. Didn’t find anything, but stuck it out til this year, her 8th birthday, and she has a cookery class at Newlyns cookery school in Warnborough. My eldest has done classes there, and they’re amazing. 2/3 course meals!”

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Teeny Weeny Massage & Yoga for Babies

Miss NHM and I did a baby massage course with Gail in 2011 and the course was so good I still occasionally use the techniques that we were taught by Gail!

Teeny Weeny Massage & Yoga for Babies

I have been teaching Baby Massage dare I say, since 1995, having taken the first ever Baby Massage Course with the IAM (Int. Assoc. of Infant Massage) offered in the UK in 1993!   This really shows my age!!

I have taught in many areas of both Surrey, Berks and Hampshire, but over the last 18 years (since my son was born), have taught most of my classes in the Basingstoke, Hook and Farnham areas……(I may have even taught you….please forgive me if I don’t remember your name as I have taught literally hundreds of Mums over the years and a number now often make me feel even older by producing teenagers who were taught in my massage classes!).

Over the past 4 years I have offered Infant Massage & Baby Yoga classes in 4 -5 of with the wonderful Children’s Centres around Basingstoke which have sadly now closed (criminal!).

Following this  I  taught private classes at the West Side Community Centre in South Ham until last summer when I decided to have a 6 month break.

However, knowing these classes have been appreciated and valued by new Mums over the years and because there is little on offer because of the doors closing of the Children’s Centres, I have decided  to restart my classes in 2018.

I have always seen them as a kind of Foundation Classes for new parents, offering not just massage and yoga tuition but a wealth of information regarding all sorts of topics, where support can be given, problems can be mulled over, new baby handling confidence can increase and very importantly, new friends can be made.

So…..I have decided to return to the Chineham Library and teach my classes once again in Lillypads, the old Children’s Centre there, with my first 6 weeks course starting on Tues. 30th Jan. (and hopefully the second one starting on Tues. 20th March).

If you would like more details, please contact me on my mobile number below.

Thank you!

Gail Harbers (CIMI/BYI)

(Certified Infant Massage & Baby Yoga Instructor)

Teeny Weeny Massage & Yoga for Babies

Tel. 07720 291197

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Things to do with a baby in North Hampshire

There are so many classes for babies that you could go to. Take a look at these, bare in mind though that some of these will be pre-booked only.

Thank you VERY much to Shona for putting this post together!

Things to do with a baby in North Hampshire

Newborn classes to meet other mums

NCT Coffee groups

Basingstoke NCT runs coffee groups that meet regularly to support parents-to be and parents. Anyone is welcome, you don’t have to be a member of NCT and is open from pregnancy right up to pre-school age. Opportunities to meet other people and talk to them about their experiences and make new friends.

No fee to attend, there is a collection towards the work the NCT do.


NCT Early Days

This is a group that meets in a supportive, relaxed and friendly atmosphere to openly talk about life as a mum. You can discuss challenges, tips and the reality over the expectations you had/have. You will meet other parents, make friends and gain support and tips. Courses run over 4-6 weekly sessions for new mums. They are aimed at new mums with babies under 6months. There is a fee for this course – enquire via link below.

NCT Early Days

Little Tots Poppins

This is an Art and Messy session followed by Music and Movement.You don’t register, just pop in. The sessions are run on Thursday mornings from 9.30am to 11am and costs £3 per session. The sessions are term time only.

Little Tots Stoney Heath, White Lion Court, Hollybush Farm, Stoney Heath, Ramsdell, Tadley, RG26 5SL. 01256851398

Little Tots Poppins

Little Munchkins Baby

These are Baby Massage and Baby Yoga classes which help you to feel relaxed, happy and confident with your baby. Baby massage helps build bonds and will help you become more in tune and confident with your baby’s needs. The course is taught in 5 weekly session (1 hour long each session). Suitable from birth. It runs on a Tuesday from 11am to 12pm at Tadley Community Centre.

Little Munchkins Baby

Baby Sensory

These are nationwide so have a look online for your local session as there are quite a few in Basingstoke. They offer a musical world of sensory experiences for both parents and children. There are light shows, bells, bubbles, puppets and signing to name but a few of the activities. The class is split into three phases so there is a free play session in the middle where you can play with the toys and activities set out and sit and talk to other mums and dads. Sessions run term time only and the course is £70 per term you wish to take up.

Baby Sensory

Tots Play

This is a 6 week course suitable from birth to 6 months. You learn fun ways to play and communicate with your baby using massage, music, signing and is also a great way to meet other mums. The class runs from 11.20am to 12.20pm and you must book in advance.

Tots Play

Barn Tots

This is a friendly play session from birth to pre-school. They meet at Viables Community Centre on Tuesdays from 10am to 12pm and Thursdays from 9.45am to 11.45am. It is term time only. There are different toys each week and a great soft play area for babies. There is singing and storytime and music and movement too. It costs £2 per session and includes refreshments for adults and a cold drink, fruit and biscuits for the children.

Active Mums

This is an hour long class which starts with a warm up walk which moves up to a power walk. There are exercises throughout the class to strengthen and tone. The route is suitable for any buggy and it’s a great session to get some exercise and meet other mums. The classes run at 11am on a Monday and Wednesday at Basing Wood. It is all year round and no booking is required. 1 session is £4 or you can book 10 sessions online for £35.

Active Mums

Take a look at NHM’s activity pages too for additional classes you could go to






Go out for something to eat

You could go out with baby for a bite to eat too. There are lots of ideas here.

Little Roses Tea Room and Gift Shop – Elm Park Garden Centre, Aldermaston Road, Pamber End, Tadley, RG26 5QW

Open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and Sunday 10am to 4.30pm

  • Lovely Little cafe with lovely people and great service.
  • Has a baby changing unit in its disabled toilet with nappy sacks and baby wipes for you to use!
  • Sit upstairs if you have toddlers or want to sit on comfy sofa’s – no gate at the top of the stairs though.
  • Lovely cakes and very reasonable placed.
  • Recommend to avoid the Valley of the Dolls shop next door. Unless you are into that kind of thing of course
  • Cafe is situated at the back of the garden centre to the right and has parking next to it.

Wyevale Garden Centre – Wildmoor Lane, Sherfield on Loddon, Basingstoke, RG27 0HL

Open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and 10.30am to 4.30pm on Sundays

  • Bit hit and miss with quality of food. Week days better than weekends
  • Join the membership scheme as it’s amazing how quickly you rack up discounts which get you money off future purchases.
  • They have a car cleaner on site, so you can have your car cleaned for a very reasonable price whilst you enjoy lunch or coffee and cake.
  • Baby Changing facilities are in the ladies

Departure Lounge Cafe – Basingstoke Road, Alton, GU34 4BH

Open from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm on weekends.

  • This cafe is next to a Garden Centre and has part of an aircraft (!!!) at the back of the cafe.
  • Was very impressed as it didn’t look much from the main road.

Newlyns Farm Cafe – Lodge Farm, North Warnborough, Hook, RG29 1HA

Open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm on Saturdays and 9am to 12pm on Sundays

  • Eaten here several times but not with baby so not sure what baby facilities are like. Anyone else been here with their baby?

Squires Garden Centre Badshot Lea Road, Badshot Lea, Farnham, GU9 9JX
Open from 9am – 6pm Monday to Saturday and 10.30am to 4.30pm on Sundays.

  • Lovely cafe here with a room for children with toys and high chairs in which is quite nice.
  • Good quality food
  • Baby changing facilities in the disabled toilets

The Portsmouth Arms – Hatch Warren Lane, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG22 4RA

Food served from 8am to 9pm Monday to Thursday, 8am to 10pm Friday and Saturday and 12pm to 9pm on Sunday

  • Wooden climbing frame and swings for children.
  • Unsure if Baby changing facilities available

Millstone Pub – Barton’s Lane, Old Basing, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG24 8AE

Food served from 12pm to 2.30pm and 6pm to 9pm Monday to Friday and from 12pm to 9pm on weekends

  • A country pub haven, yet only 5 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Basingstoke town centre, the Millstone is set within a conservation area near to the historical Basing house ruins.
  • Children’s Playground next door. Unsure if Baby changing facilities are available.
  • The Millstone hosts a quiz every Thursday from 9pm.

Giraffe – Festival Place Shopping Centre, Basingstoke, RG21 7BB

  • Check for discounts before going
  • Reasonably priced kids menu
  • Current deal on for Kids main course, dessert and drink for just £6.50 (correct as of December 2016) all day everyday
  • Step free access which is great if you are taking a pushchair or two.
  • Kids parties are available too.

Zizzi’s – 1 London Street, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 7NT

  • Check for discounts before going
  • Bambini Kids Menu – 3 courses and a chococino for £6.75 (correct as of December 2016)

Wagamamas – Festival Place, Basingstoke, RG21 7BB

  • Baby Changing facilities are available in the Disabled toilet
  • Seating is on benches and generally not comfortable for breastfeeding
  • Fast and healthy food
  • If you sit at the tables near the entrance, there is enough parking for pushchairs next to the tables at the back.
  • Disabled access can be used for pushchairs.
  • If you are pressed for time (evening feeds, etc.) you can check out your local Wagamama menu on the iPhone or iPad Wagamama application or check online in advance. The Mobile Applications allow you to place your order so it is ready when you arrive. You can also order takeaway using this option.
  • Excellent air con, so if it’s hot outside, this is a great place to be!
  • Reasonably priced kids menu available

Pizza Express – Unit R9, Lower Ground, Festival Place, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 7BB

  • Children’s menu available with 3 courses for only £6.95 (correct as of December 2016)
  • Pizza making parties can be booked for adults and children!
  • They are running an incentive to get children cooking and are encouraging school visits to learn.

Pizza ExpressThe Whitehouse, Winchester Road, Basingstoke, RG22 6HL

  • Baby Changing facilities in Disabled toilets, with cover for babies to lie on
  • Parking in car park is very small. Alternative parking is available at the football ground which is 3 mins walk away, however, you will need your pushchair as it’s too far to carry the car seat from.
  • Dyson hand dryers (it’s the little things that count!)
  • Very friendly people who like babies!
  • Check for discounts before going
  • Children’s menu available with 3 courses for only £6.95 (correct as of December 2016)
  • Pizza making parties can be booked for adults and children!
  • They are running an incentive to get children cooking and are encouraging school visits to learn.

Pizza Hut – Brighton Hill Retail Park, Winchester Road, Basingstoke, RG22 4AN

  • Unlimited salad, unlimited squash and unlimited ice cream factory… how can you argue with that?
  • They have two children’s menus with pizzas, pastas or chicken followed by a drink and Ice Cream factory or a fruit juice ice lolly. Prices start at £5.49 (correct as of December 2016)
  • Baby changing facilities are good here too.
  • Balloons and activity books with crayons are available to keep children busy whilst they wait
  • Children’s parties are available too
  • They also have bottle warming facilities
  • High chairs available too

The Harvester – Winchester Road, Basingstoke, RG22 6HN

  • Some tables aren’t big enough for Pushchairs
  • Baby changing facilities are available in disabled toilets.
  • Menu shows the calorie content of each item
  • Starting from £5.99 there is a children’s menu with meals for small children up to 10 years old.
  • Unlimited salad cart too
  • Activity pack with colouring and games to do whilst waiting for food
  • Staff have always been lovely when I’ve been with my child

Mcdonalds  – Brighton Hill Retail Park, Winchester Road, Basingstoke, RG22 4AN

  • If you’re feeling more slummy mummy than yummy mummy and can’t be bothered to mobilise the army, this is a very quick place to get lunch
  • Many more options than used to be, children can have burger, cheeseburger, chicken nuggets or fish fingers. They can also have fries or carrot sticks and for drinks they can have milk, orange juice, fruit shoot or any of the draft drinks.

Nelsons Diner – Newbury Road, Newbury, RG20 4TA

  • I love Nelsons for breakfast. They do a great American breakfast, pancakes with maple syrup. If you aren’t watching your waistline, I totally recommend the milkshakes. Totally moreish. (I may regret putting up such a raving review next time we try to get a table! :-D)
  • Kids menu is available and a meal deal is only £6.95 (correct as of December 2016) which includes a starter, main course and a desert as well as a drink.
  • Children’s parties can also be booked here.
  • Staff have always been really friendly when taken my family there.
  • Changing facilities are basic but adequate.
  • Not much space for pushchairs but there is parking right outside so shouldn’t be much of an issue
  • Highchairs available
  • Play area outside if the weather is nice

Sainsburys – 3 Wallop Drive, Basingstoke, RG22 4TW

  • Children’s meals are developed for ages 5 to 10.
  • They do sell pouches of baby food
  • High chairs are good and have always been clean when we’ve visited
  • Dedicated baby changing room with a toilet in for parents too

Debenhams – Festival Place, Festival Way, Basingstoke, RG21 7BA

  • There is a baby room next to the Restaurant.
  • They also offer a special children’s menu and provide baby food and bottle warming facilities, free bibs and wipes.
  • Two types of high chairs including ones for smaller babies

Morrisons – Worting Road, Basingstoke, RG21 8BJ

  • Fairly limited kids menu but have always been accommodating when I’d asked to adapt it.
  • Children’s lunch boxes are good as there is a choice of contents.
  • £3 kids meal which includes any children’s meal, a fruit bag and a drink
  • Children eat free after 3pm with a full paying adult meal
  • High chairs, microwave and disposable bibs available
  • Baby changing facilities are further from the restaurant right near the store entrance but have always been clean

Olivers Fish and Chips – 39 London Road, Old Basing, Basingstoke, RG24 7JE

  • They have an early Bird Deal at the moment.
  • The restaurant is open every day until 10.30pm, but check the website to confirm this.
  • They do have baby changing facilities and colouring and crayons for bigger children as well as books by the door.
  • Not much space so pushchairs won’t really work.
  • Maybe a place to visit if you are lucky enough to have a night out alone with your partner/husband.
  • Children’s meals are priced from £3.45
  • High chairs are available
  • There is also a takeaway menu for children

Marks and Spencers Cafe – Chineham Shopping Centre, Great Binfields Road, Chineham, RG24 8BG

  • Baby changing in both the male and female toilets
  • High chairs are available and have always been clean
  • Not too cheap but good for a nice treat or even just a coffee and a cake
  • Always clean and tidy
  • Plenty of parking

Nando’s  – Festival Place, Basingstoke, RG21 7BB

  • Open until 11pm most nights
  • Has baby changing facilities
  • They do make you leave push chairs near the door, not always near you which makes me nervous
  • Nandino’s meals for under 10’s – choose one main, a marinade (plain-ish or PERi-tamer), two side and a dessert for £5.65

Spruce Goose – Basingstoke Leisure Park, Worting Road, Basingstoke, RG22 6PG

  • New and improved kids menu
  • All children’s mains come with 1 of your 5 a day
  • Meal deals start from £4.75 and come with a free squash
  • I’ve always found service to be slow when I’ve been there so perhaps better with older children

Queens College Arms – Aldermaston Road, Pamber End, Tadley, RG26 5QR

  • Recommend booking in advance and asking for the “big” table.
  • They have baby changing facilities onsite and bottle warming facilities.
  • Very friendly and welcoming of Mum’s and babies.
  • For bigger children, there is a climbing frame in the pub garden.
  • Meal deal for children includes any meal plus a tub of ice cream or sorbet for £5.75

Dobbies Garden Centre – 166 Hyde End Road, Shinfield, Reading, RG2 9ER

  • If you fancy going a bit further afield or live near Reading, it’s worth checking out the restaurant of this Garden Centre.
  • They have a large restaurant with a big outside eating area.
  • Seems to be quiet because it’s outside of central Reading.

The Cafe Project, Brighton Hill Parade, Off Sullivan Road, Basingstoke, RG22 4EH

  • Open Tuesday to Friday’s from 9.30am to 2pm
  • Fabulous cause, supports adults with learning difficulties; they train the students to gain experience in hospitality and catering and then they go on to find further work experience or paid employment
  • Small children’s menu
  • Friendly and welcoming
  • Lots of high chairs
  • Baby changing facilities

Conkers Garden Centre London Road, Old Basing, Basingstoke, RG24 7LJ

  • Early Bird Meals with children

Go for a day out

You could go out for the day to one of the places we have looked at below…

Legoland – Windsor – Winkfield Road, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 4AY

Under 3’s are free – £55.40 for adults (although annual membership is only £100 so two visits and you are already quids in). Rides for little ones too as long as they can sit up. NHM review 2014

The Look Out Discovery centre – Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 7QW

Under 4’s are free and adults are £7.30. They also run a parent and toddler offer, so you can get a bonus card and when it is stamped, your 6th visit is free. This is only during term time and Monday-Friday.

Marwell Zoo – Thompson’s Lane, Colden Common, Winchester, Hampshire, SO21 1JH

Prices during winter are £15 per adult and free for under 2’s. NHM review 2014

The Hawk Conservancy – Visitor Centre, Sarson Lane, Weyhill, Andover, SP11 8DY

  • Was a bit skeptical about this place before going but it was an absolutely brilliant day out.
  • Loved the Bird Displays, the Ferret Racing and the opportunity to have an eagle sit on your arm!

Prices for an adult entry are £14.50 and under 4’s are free. NHM review 2013

Paultons ParkOwer, Romsey, The New Forest, Hampshire, SO51 6AL

Children under 1 meter are free. Adults and children over 1 metre are £27.25 if booked online in advance.

Playdays2 Stewart Road, KingsLand Business Park, Basingstoke, RG24 8NF

Indoor soft play area with cafe. Under 1’s are free. You can download the app too for discounts. There are also meal deals for children.

JJ’s –  Unit B, Morse Road, Basingstoke, RG22 6NE

Indoor soft play area with cafe. Varying prices for entry depending on age of child and whether it’s peak or off peak.

Eastleigh Lakeside Steam Railway Wide Lane, Eastleigh, SO50 5PE

Adult ticket (return) is £3.50 or you can get 3 rides for the price of two. First class is only 50p more. Children under 2 ride free. There is also a cafe here. NHM review 2013

Finkley Down Farm – Andover, SP11 6NF

Under 2’s are free. There’s so much to do here, soft play, farm animals, outdoor play areas and many more. There is a lovely cafe with plenty of seating. Open all year round too. NHM review 2013

Beale Park – Lower Basildon, Pangbourne, Berkshire, RG8 9NW

Closes from November to February.  Under 2’s are free. There are outdoor play areas (with some specifically for toddlers), indoor play areas, animals, walks, cafe and even a pool in the summer. Adult admission is £7.

Bucklebury Farm – Bucklebury, Reading, Berkshire, RG7 6RR

Lovely big play areas for children, a bus to play on too. Slides inside and also tractor rides out to see the deer. Lots of animals to see too and you can also feed animals. Children under 2’s are free. NHM review 2015

Manor Farm  – Pylands Lane, Bursledon, Southampton, SO31 1BH

Under 3’s are free. Car parking is pay and display. There’s a historic farm, you can meet the animals and do lots of woodland walks. Interactive too, you can feed the chickens and help with milking.

RHS Wisley – Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QB

Under 5’s are free. Lots of lovely gardens to explore.

Birdworld – Holt Pound, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 4LD

Under 3’s are free. Lots of birds to see and also flying displays and other activities to watch/take part in. NHM review 2013

Rainy day activities

If the weather isn’t very good, there are some great ideas of rainy day activities here too.

Treasure baskets

I have recently published a post about treasure baskets and the benefits for little ones. Have a read of it here.

Sensory activities

Having previously worked in a nursery, Shona recommends using everyday things around the house to do different sensory activities. You can buy a tuff spot from Wickes which is great for letting babies explore with their whole bodies in just a nappy. You can use things like custard powder and water, small amount of water mixed with different food colouring, cooked pasta/spaghetti, baked beans, different fruits/vegetables, sand with spoons/scoops. The lists are endless! You can also use different dry items. Use old baby food jars and poke holes in the lids then fill with things like mint, lavender, lemon etc. Make your own play dough with this recipe and play with spoons, rolling pins etc.

Do a mini photoshoot

We all love taking pictures of our little ones so grab your camera and do a mini photoshoot with things you have around the house. Baskets, blankets, lights. It’s a great way to bond and make lots of memories you can save for a lifetime.


If your baby is on the move and exploring things, a library can be a great place for them to have a look through some books and come home with a couple of new ones.
Local Libraries


Babies really enjoy the sensory experience of visiting an aquarium. The bonus being that they are indoors too! Perfect for a rainy day.
Blue Reef – Portsmouth
Oceanarium – Bournemouth


Softplay – Active Tots has areas for small babies.


Swimming – Basingstoke Sports centre has a small pool that is kept at 32 degrees and open between 12 and 1.30 on a weekday and is an open session.

I would also check out the QMC pool as we swam in there last year and it was really warm! Also check out my 2013 review of Basingstoke Aquadrome.


Pots 2 Paint – Viables Craft Centre

A great way to get some special Christmas (or birthday) presents done. Handprints or footprints of your little one whilst they are tiny, will be treasured forever!

Baby Massage Classes

We did a baby massage class through our local children’s centre and I really enjoyed it. It was a great opportunity to bond with my daughter when she was tiny.

There are also several Mum’s in the area who run their own Baby Massage classes. I posted a list of them HERE.

Find some Mummy friends!

There are lots of Mum groups in the area who are on Facebook.  It’s a great and easy way to keep in touch. If you are feeling a bit lonely, then post something up and you will be overwhelmed with the response. You can find some of these groups HERE.

North Hampshire Mum’s are VERY friendly and supportive :-D.

Grab a coffee and cake

There are LOADS of little cafe’s in the area which are very supportive of new parents. My favourite for new parents is Elm Tree Garden centre (which I haven’t been to for ages!) which even supplies wet wipes in emergencies!

I also really love the Parlour Tea rooms, but it’s very popular now (for a good reason!) so you need to book in advance. It can get VERY busy.

There is also a tea room in Whitchurch, The Curiositea Room, which I hope to check out soon as it looks lovely! I still haven’t been to the Tea Bar at the top of town either, which looks lovely too! More recommendations by NHM readers can be found here.

Go for a walk

Yes, I know it’s raining. Sometimes though, it’s just good to wrap up and get out of the house. Put the waterproof cover on the pushchair and just go out of the house and get wet. It’s not going to hurt either of you to get some fresh air, just make sure your baby is well covered. There’s no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothing!

We love Basing Wood and the Lime Pits (as I’ve raved about before!) but there is a great list of local walks suitable for pushchairs HERE. You can also see a reviews I’ve done on Alice Holt and Farleigh Mount.

Go (window) shopping

There are lots of local independent shops in the area. You can find a list of them HERE.

Also, you can’t go wrong in Festival Place. It’s mostly covered and sometimes it’s nice to just wander around or people watch.

Debenhams cafe has a bottle warmer and microwave if you are weaning.

Go swimming

I asked for recommendations for warm swimming pools to take babies in the area on my NHM facebook profile. Here are the recommendations.

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Vocal Point Youth Choir

Vocal Point is a new youth choir starting up at The Point, Tadley on Wednesday 21st February.

Set up by the founders of successful Mum’s choir, Ooh Mama, it promises to be a fun, dynamic and exciting musical adventure for youngsters in Tadley and surrounding areas.

The sessions are initially being run as a project from 21st February to the Easter holidays to gauge interest, if successful, Vocal Point will become a permanent activity on offer to Years 6 – 13 at The Point.

There is a minimal cost of £1 per session, held at the fantastic facilities at The Point in Tadley, a purpose built youth centre.

The point bosts a large hall with fabulous acoustics, access to musical instruments and a recording studio.

If your child would like to join Vocal Point contact or visit The Point Tadley’s Facebook page.

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Review 2018: West Green Fruits

Thank you very much to today’s NHM Secret Reviewer!

West Green Fruits review – pick your own fruits, Hartley Wintney

West Green Fruits


One of my friends had recently told me about how she had asked her little boy where strawberries come from, he answered “the supermarket” (he was a little more specific but I didn’t want to seem bias!)

As it happened, I had already heard of a place called West Green Fruits where you can pick your own produce, and my friend’s experience made me keen to try it out! I had never been to a PYO before, I had been blackberry picking in ‘the wilds’, but I was really intrigued by this and thought it would be a great introduction to where food comes from. My boys were 2.5 yrs so I was a little concerned they would be a bit too young to get it. Fortunately, I was very wrong.


West Green Fruits is situated just outside Hartley Wintney, about 15 minutes from central Basingstoke. They are open during the PYO season, which started on 10th June this year. It is a family run business set in 20 acres of farmland and offers a range of fruit including strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, gooseberries, tayberries and more. There is a small shop selling their own homemade jams and Jella’s Ice Cream, made with their produce. They also have produce ready picked for those who would rather not pick their own.

The area consists of a car park, small building and acres and acres of fields. It is a stunning setting. There is also a picnic area and grass labyrinth, although we didn’t get to see these. You collect your punnets from the building by the car park. This is also where you bring back your produce to weigh and houses the shop. The produce currently available for picking are displayed on a board and the lovely ladies – and I do mean lovely, so helpful and chatty with the little ones too – point you in the direction of where to go.

It was wonderful to see both my boys happily trotting along, excitedly carrying their punnets, following the trail. The available fields are well marked out and there was an abundance of fruit to pick. Amazingly both my boys loved the experience, carefully picking out each fruit. I say amazingly as one of my boys is not very good at standing still, so to see him delicately choosing and picking each piece of fruit was incredible. After quite some time we wandered back to the kiosk to pay, and definitely needed to deposit into the ‘sin bin’ (an honesty box for ‘lost’ fruit and the contents going to charity) – red streaked faces making that pretty obvious!

We’ve been twice now, strawberries then raspberries, and will definitely be going back soon before the season ends.


West Green Fruits is seasonal, you will need to keep an eye on the West Green Fruits Facebook Page for their opening dates and for the produce that is currently available. Current opening hours are also displayed there.


Worth noting, there are no facilities on site.


You pay for what you pick, prices are available at the kiosk and based on weight.

I think this is brilliant, as the picking is an experience in itself yet all you are paying for is the produce.

Rating out of 5

5, totally unique experience that we all loved.

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Little Play Town

I hear AMAZING things about this place, especially after the NHM Secret Review that was recently published on NHM!

I didn’t realise it was for children aged 7 and under, so I will definitely be checking it out soon with Miss NHM!!!Our facility is called Little Play Town located in Odiham high street in the Fountains Mall – a fun and educational play facility for children aged 7 and under.

Address: Suite 1, Fountains Mall, High Street, Odiham, Hampshire, RG29 1LP, England

Web addresses – /

Call Little Play Town on 01256 701234

Opening hours

Monday to Sunday:

09:30 – 11:00 – Session 1

11:30 – 13:00 – Session 2

13:30 – 15:00 – Session 3

15:30 – 17:00 – Session 4


Kids (1-7): £5.95 (includes free entry for 1 adult)

Under 6 months: free

Infants (under 1’s): £1.00 with a paying adult

Additional adults: £3.50


Little Play Town is a fun and educational play facility for children aged 7 and under.

A magical little play town where your kids can dress up and through imaginative play feel free to be anyone they can dream of being: a farmer, fire fighter, vet, postman, racing car driver, builder, a beautician, a chef…

Adventure Party Room for Hire

Cafe area with baby tummy time play pen. Cafe is serving superb 100% Arabica Coffee and a large range of Teas & a lovely selection of cakes, snacks and treats are on sale.

8 imaginative play areas including a Fire house & fire engine, Vet, Building Site, Hairdresser and Beauty Salon, Post & Mail route, Picnic Area, Race track, Farm Yard with sensory area, Farm Shop & Bakery

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Review 2017: How many sleeps ’til Christmas

There are still tickets available for today, tomorrow and Wednesday!!!

Thank you to today’s NHM Secret Writer for writing such a fab review!!

Review 2017: How many sleeps ’til Christmas

This years Christmas show  ‘How many sleeps ’til Christmas ‘by Scratch Built Productions has to be described as absolutely enchanting. The show is on at the Proteus Creation Space from the 14th to the 24th December with 3 shows a day.

Without spoiling the wonderfully written story too much we were transported to Elf’s bedroom where his bedtime story was being interrupted by a host of Christmas characters. We met Fairy who had lost something special and followed her through an interactive advent calendar all the way to Santa’s garden where we met the man himself.

Children will create a Christmas decoration, experience live music, puppetry and a trapeze artist. The show has elements personalised to each child adding that extra special bit of Christmas magic to the experience. The attention to detail is amazing (have a look at the beautiful handmade blankets in elfs bedroom) with wonderful creative techniques used to tell the story there is something for all ages.

The very youngest will enjoy the playful music and soft sensory lights, toddlers will love discovering whats behind the doors of the advent calendar and older children will be captivated by the funny friendly characters, even the adults were caught up in the Christmas magic. If you’ve watched previous years shows keep an eye out for some cheeky returning characters making an appearance.

The show is very relaxed with children able to move around and participate as much as they wish, some of the show is signed, making it very accessible and there is a relaxed performance available for children with additional needs (18th Dec 14:30).

Arrive with plenty of time to spare as there is a bit of elfmin to be done before the show to add a wonderful personal touch for each child. The performers and staff at the theater were friendly and helpful and really added to the wonderful experience.

On the practical side the theater has a cafe which serves drinks as well as some delicious cakes and quiches and has toys to keep little ones entertained whilst you wait for the show.

There is a limited buggy park so consider coming without one if you can and bring a carrier for the smallest audience members as the show involves moving between sets. Babies are easily accommodated and can fed during the show as there is plenty of places to sit.

Baby changing facilities are available. There is a small onsite car park, or a large pay and display across the road, alternatively it is around a 10 minute walk from the bus and train station in town.

Our party left the show feeling very Christmassy (its a good word!), if your tree and decorations have yet to go up then this will leave you in the mood to get the festivities started. We give the show a big fat 10/10 for originality, creativity, interactivity and a lots and lots of magical sparkles.

Tickets are still available for performances early next week so book quickly to avoid missing this magical experience.

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