Basingstoke Roller Skating – Family Disco

Come join the fun and friendly atmosphere at the Family Roller Disco at Queen Mary’s College Sports Hall. It all kicks off at 12.30pm to 2.00pm every Saturday.

Prices: Child – £3.50 Adult- £5.00 Skate Hire – £1.50 per pair

Hire skates or bring your own (as long as they are clean & safe to use).

Mums & Dads, if you haven’t skated for a few years, don’t worry it will all come back to you like riding a bike – so the regulars say!

For more information or to ask the team any questions, visit www.facebook.com/basingstokerollerskating

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.

New: The Discovery Ticket

Becci asked me to let you know about the new Discovery Ticket:

The Discovery Ticket

A new way to explore the South East, the Discovery ticket, officially launches in the South Downs area today, giving families the freedom and flexibility to hop on and off all buses in the National Park throughout the day, making travel in the South Downs easier than ever before.

Launching in advance of the summer holidays, the Discovery ticket allows unlimited, one-day travel across the region for £12.50 for a family and the ticket is timely as new local research shows that whilst many Hampshire residents are keen to travel by bus – 60% think it’s difficult to visit favourite places and 37% worry about the cost of getting there.

However, the research showed that top days out for Hampshire residents include Arundel Castle, Petworth House and Park and Queen Elizabeth Country Park, all of which are accessible via the new Discovery bus ticket. 

Nick Stewart, Campaigns & Identity Project Manager, South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) says “We hope the Discovery ticket will make our popular attractions and beauty spots easier to visit and better value for money by bus, giving visitors even more of a reason to leave the car at home and explore the South Downs with the kids this summer.” 

To make it even easier for families to Discover the South Downs National Park on a budget the SDNPA is working with the most popular attractions in the area to offer 2-4-1 entry to reward those who leave the car at home and arrive by bus [full list below].

Hampshire residents can share their South Downs experiences on social media with #DiscoveryTicket. For further information visit The Discovery Ticket or follow @sdnpa on Twitter for updates.

2 for 1 offers

NB: Valid on £12.50 family tickets only until 31st August 2014, for full terms and conditions, please contact the venues.

Other discounts

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 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.

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! 

Top Tip 13: Parent parking at the hospital

Abi wanted me to let you know that there is now parent and baby parking spaces at the hospital with ramp access, to the back entrance on level A.

Very useful tip, so thanks Abi!

(Why it’s taken them over 40 years to actually install parent and baby parking spaces at the hospital, is another discussion entirely ;-))

Related Page

Mum Top Tip’s (all of the Mum top tips on NHM on one page!)

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.

IMG_0071

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

IMG_0075

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

IMG_0069

IMG_0074

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.

IMG_0066

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.

IMG_0109

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!

IMG_0141

 

IMG_0127

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.

IMG_0077

IMG_0090

IMG_0088

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.

IMG_0156

IMG_0094

 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

IMG_0099

Review 2014: Legoland

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

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

photo 2

Legoland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

photo 1

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?

Ideas for Outings in Basingstoke

Milestone Museum

Milestones is packed full of the things that ordinary people used in the past.  The museum is an ideal family visit with lots to explore in a safe, warm, child-friendly environment… all under one roof.

Basingstoke Aquadrome – Basingstoke

Play Days Indoor Soft Play Centre – Basingstoke

JJ’s World of Fun – Basingstoke

The Vyne – National Trust, Bramley

Basing House – Basingstoke

Basingstoke Bowlplex – Basingstoke

Planet Ice Basingstoke – Basingstoke

Odiham Castle – Odiham (I love it here. We park at the car park just past the Waterwitch pub. It’s a very long walk and not really suitable for pushchairs but it’s a great place to have a picnic. You used to be able to have a picnic within the castle itself but they changed it a couple of years ago. Still makes for a lovely day out.)

Related Posts

Hampshire Days Out With Your Children

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 Profile, LinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there! 

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 NorthHantsMum@gmail.com 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

Reviews

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.

PIC BY STEWART TURKINGTON www.stphotos.co.uk 07778 334771

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