Parents new to Basingstoke and North Hampshire

I’ve had several messages recently from Mum’s who have moved to the area and stumbled across NHM.

I have had some lovely feedback saying how helpful the NHM posts have been with finding out what is available in the area and keeping tabs on what is going on.

I thought I would do a summary post for parents who are new to the area, which brings together all of the previous posts and some of my suggestions. 

Hope they help!

Tips for raising children in a new area

1. Review the Day pages on NHM

I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help myself! lol. These pages give you a summary of what’s going on each day for children aged 6 and under.

They are sorted by day, so you can click on the day and see an alphabetical list of classes that are available on that day.

2. Find a Mum network in the area

There are lots of  very good groups on Facebook which support Mum’s in the area. I’ve put together a page which has a list of all of the groups that you can join via NorthHantsMum.

3. Join the secret “Mum’s and Dad’s new to Basingstoke and North Hampshire” NHM group on Facebook

Contact me directly at to be added to this group.

The following posts may also be useful

Softplay Centres

Swimming Pools in North Hampshire suitable for Babies and Children

Days out in Hampshire


Do you have any other suggestions for parents who are new to the area?

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,Facebook PageFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there!

Sebastian’s Action Trust

I’ve driven past the Bluebells many times as we have friends who live in North Waltham. I always thought it looked like a posh nursing home. It was only when I visited on a works volunteer day, that I discovered exactly what the Bluebells is.

I can’t really explain how much my visit to Bluebells impacted me. It’s an incredibly moving but inspiring place and right on our doorstep.

Next summer I would like to do something to help raise funds for this fantastic place, via NHM. If you are interested in helping with this, please let me know.

Sebastian’s Action Trust

Jane Gates

I am Jane Gates, a 50 year old mother of two from Binfield in Berkshire.

In 2003 my brave nine-year old son, who at the time was battling a rare form of cancer, inspired my husband Michael and I, together with our daughter Rebecca, to set up the charity, Sebastian’s Action Trust.

Our tireless work was recognised in 2012 when along with Michael I accepted the prestigious Pride of Britain Award on behalf of The Trust for our work and its impact.

Sadly my son, Sebastian lost his battle on the 24th of December 2003 but his vision, spirit and drive lives on through our work.

Today The Trust stands proud and is a tribute to Sebastian’s insight, bravery and vision.  His aim was to provide a place where life-limited children and their families can holiday together away from the rigours of hospital appointments, gruelling treatment schedules and prying eyes. Importantly for very sick children the home needed to be clean, safe and adaptable to meet their often complex physical and emotional needs.  Sebastian’s vision was simple, yet vital for those facing the loss of a beloved child; he wanted to create a private place where memories could be made which would last a life-time, even if that life was to be cruelly cut short.

In 2011 Sebastian’s vision was finally realised and The Bluebells, the UK’s first purpose built respite holiday home was completed. The Bluebells is located in the beautiful village Hampshire village of North Waltham.

It consists of:

  • two four-bedroom self-catering apartments, each with a lounge and kitchen diner which can support families using wheelchairs and specialist medical equipment
  • an indoor pool with spa with disabled access.  We hold a range of specialist dry suits so that children who have feeding tubes can still access the pool.
  • an indoor games area with a wide selection of computer games, traditional board games and toys
  • a home cinema
  • a multi-sensory room
  • a music room
  • an art room
  • a therapies room
  • an outdoor adventure play area
  • a nine-hole mini golf course &a secret meadow.

Since opening in July 2011 The Bluebells has given over 200 families the opportunity to spend precious time together, safe in the knowledge that the home is close to the hospital and that trained live-in staff are on hand to provide help and support should this be needed.

Our work now extends further into emotional and practical support for families during the darkest days of their lives.  This work is delivered by trained Outreach Workers who work with families to ascertain their needs and to deliver bespoke support aimed at easing their suffering and isolation.  Our work is primarily focused across Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire Surrey and Hampshire.  We do however also support families from further afield to come to The Bluebells because there is simply no other project of its kind in the UK.


For more information please follow the team on Twitter at @SebsActionTrust or on Facebook at Sebastian’sactiontrust.

Alternatives for those affected by the closure of two local nurseries…

I hope this isn’t too late if any of you have been affected by the closure of two local nurseries.

Cheryl sent me a message asking me to let you know about the offer that Cornerstone Nurseries has:

Cornerstone Nurseries are sorry to hear that both Headstarts & Funhouse nurseries have closed at such short notice.

We would like to offer any parents affected by this, emergency childcare at one of our 3 settings in Basingstoke, with 1/2 price fees for the month of October to help with the disruption you’ve had.

If you then choose to stay with us, we will guarantee a permanent place for your child (at our standard fee rates).

For more information please call 01256 818118.

Guest Post Wednesday: Busy Bee’s in Hook

This week Guest Post’s start back again, by local businesses that are relevant to Parents in the area. This weeks post is from Charlotte at Busy Bee’s:

What is Busy Bees?

Busy Bees is a local pre-school children’s craft group that is run by a committee of friendly, sociable parent volunteers – usually with their own children in tow – and which takes place in the Elizabeth Hall in Hook on Fridays during term time from 9.45am – 11.15am.  We’re all about letting the children’s creative juices run free whilst us grown ups get the chance to share a chat over a cuppa.  We pride ourselves on being a friendly welcoming group and many parents and carers come back time after time for that very reason.  A number have claimed Busy Bees as their foundation for building long standing friendships. It’s a great place to come whether new to the area or if you’re just looking for something different to do with your little ones.


Everybody at the session has at least one child there and the committee members will know who most of the children belong to if they’re regulars. For that reason it’s a safe and very relaxed, friendly environment.  If we spot someone new then we like to ensure that at least one of us makes ourselves known and welcomes you in.  We’ve all been there; going along to a new group can be daunting when you don’t know anyone so we aim to make everyone feel welcome.


We are a non profit organisation and all money taken covers the hire of the hall, refreshments, insurance and the purchase of all craft materials. Any money left over is ploughed back into making the group even better, something the group strives to achieve.  Busy Bees also gives back to the local community through donations to schools and groups (such as the Scouts).


What we do

Busy Bees offers a variety of engaging activities to cater for all pre school ages.  We theme each week differently and shape two specific crafts around this theme.  These themes range from the more traditional – Mother’s Day, Easter and Christmas – to things such as Chinese New Year, St David’s Day or even International Bean Day!  The aim is to ensure the crafts are exciting and fun for the children to sit and make and for you to enjoy too.  We hear that many crafts are played with or displayed at home long after the session.

Alongside the two themed crafts are our regular tables of activities which include play dough, painting and our infamous train set.  We have plenty of cover all aprons so you can let your children loose on the paint and not worry about whether any is going on your table, chairs, kitchen cupboards etc!  We do the messy work so you don’t have to!

Whilst the session is aimed at pre school children we are fully equipped for the younger ones too.  We have lovely soft mats and an abundance of baby sensory toys which keep the little ones entertained – and some of the bigger ones too!


After all that creative exertion we recharge the children with a drink and a snack and the grown ups get to enjoy a well earned cup of tea or coffee.  We always have breadsticks on hand to cater for any allergies.

What’s in it for you and your child?


There are many benefits for coming along to Busy Bees.  For a start it gives an opportunity for some quality time away from home, where, let’s face it, there are always jobs to do! You can indulge in those messy activities you never quite get around to (or don’t want to do!) at home or just welcome a change from the toys at home. Spending time with your child in this way will give plenty of opportunity for positive interaction and praise which is so important in building a child’s confidence and self worth.

It’s also a fabulous way of letting your child experiment with independence. Young children will confidently move away from you to play when they are ready, safe in the knowledge that you are not leaving. There are also the added benefits in that children are given the opportunities to start to socialise, learn to share and make friendships.

We encourage parents and carers to assist and participate so that they will feel they are an essential part of the group. Their comments are valued as well as any concerns or suggestions on how the group could do things differently. The group is always looking for more volunteers and is grateful for any help with the setting and tidying up of the room or offering ideas on future craft activities or even preparing crafts.

General running order of the session

The session is open and flexible and some people come for just parts of it.  We pride ourselves on being a very relaxed and sociable group and welcome you along for however long you wish to stay.  As a general rule we run as follows:

9.45am             Open and crafts

10.30am            Tidy up followed by a snack time

11.00am            Song time

11.15am            Close

We operate a “pay as you go” system so there’s absolutely no up front commitment.  We all know things come up that sometimes mean even the best laid plans get thrown up in the air – we’re talking children here after all!


Extra curricular activities

We aim to do our bit for charity and this year held cake sales for Children in Need, BLISS and Frimley SCBU where we encouraged parents/carers to bring in their home baking to sell at snack time for the grown ups to enjoy with their tea or coffee.

Last year saw a special visitor at one of our Christmas themed sessions where Father Christmas himself came to visit us bearing gifts for all the children.  We’re hoping this turns into a regular occurrence!  We also welcome along local trades and crafts people to show or sell at the session.  Please get in touch if this is something you’d be interested in.

So if it’s sticking, cutting, painting, play dough or singing that you think your little one will enjoy, come along and give us a try as we’d love to see you.

Our upcoming Autumn 2013 craft sessions include:

Friday 6th September: Back to School

Friday 13th September: Pirates

Friday 20th September: The Post Office

Friday 27th September: Knights & Princesses

Friday 4th October: Grandparents Day

Friday 11th October: Superhero’s

Friday 18th October: Harvest

Friday 25th October: Halloween

We will be CLOSED on Friday 1st November due to Half Term.

Cost:                For children under 18 months (who are not yet able to do the crafts) – £1.50

Children over 18 months – £3 (£1 for an extra child)

Accompanying Grown-Ups – FREE

When:               Fridays (Term time only)

Time:                9.45am – 11.15am

Where:              Elizabeth Hall, Hook

Contact email: or follow us on Facebook: BusyBees Hook and Twitter: BusyBeesHook

8 things to do in Basingstoke when it’s sunny

I realise the irony of this post, but I wrote it and scheduled it when it was sunny and looked like it would stay sunny!

Just in case it is raining today, please see this previous post which has some ideas of how to keep your Little One’s occupied when it’s raining: 8 Cheap or Free Rainy Day Activities in Basingstoke

1. Climb some trees. Try Basing Wood/Carpenters Down behind Popley and next to Chineham Business Park.

2. Go to the Beach! The Nearest “Beaches” to Basingstoke are Fleet Pond on the way to Fleet and Frensham Pond, just past Farnham.

3. Play Poo Sticks on the bridge at the far end of Eastrop Park

4. Fly a Kite on Crabtree Plantation Hill

5. Visit Manydown’s Maize.

6. Pick your Own Fruit at some of the following Farms. I haven’t been to any but when the weather picks up we are planning to go to one. I recommend ringing in advance to ensure that they have crops available and haven’t all been picked the day before! See a previous post about PYO farms in the area HERE.

7. Have a picnic dinner at Basing Lime Pits

8. Paddle in the Paddling Pool at Eastrop Park.

Basingstoke Festival… 2013

Starts tomorrow!! There will be over 100 events happening in the Basingstoke area during the next couple of weeks. I’ve had a closer look at the webpage and it looks fab!

Click here for more details:

They say:

“Basingstoke Festival was created in 2012 to showcase the wealth of talent and community spirit in the borough. Back for a second year, the festival offers a choice of over 100 events to experience including drama, music, dance, comedy, film, historic walks and family fun taking place in over 30 venues across the borough.

Why not wander through Overton and take in over 400 individual scarecrow characters or dip in to a performance of local dancers taking part in Dear Lido around the town centre! Building on the success of 2012, this year’s festival features a packed programme including indoor and outdoor and free and ticketed family friendly events such as World Party at Eastrop Park, Alice in Wonderland at The Vyne, Elvis Costello at the Anvil, Chas n Dave at The Haymarket, community Shakespeare and finishing with the hugely popular free music festival Basingstoke Live.”

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,

Basingstoke Homebirth Group

Denise sent me a message via NHM Friend asking me to let you know about the Basingstoke Homebirth Group: 

I co-ordinate meetings for the Basingstoke Homebirth Group and we meet monthly at a member’s home.

Meetings are a very informal chance to discuss any aspect of homebirth over a cup of tea and a biscuit. We generally have a mixture of parents that have had a homebirth and midvives/doulas attending.

Our aim is to share information and support those interested in planning a homebirth.

Details of meetings are posted on our Facebook page “Basingstoke Homebirth” and email address is for any enquiries.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.