The Summer Holidays in Basingstoke with an 8 year old

I was having a cuppa with a friend this morning and we were talking about what to do in the summer holidays and we realised that I know LOADS of things, so thought I would share ;-).

Each week of the holidays I also put together a printed schedule for each week and pin it to a wall, so Miss NHM can see what’s happening for the rest of the week. It shows what we are doing each morning, lunchtime, afternoon and evening.  I find that it stops the “what are we doing today” questions that I used to get all through the summer holidays!! :-D.

  1. Book at least one pyjama day during the summer holidays! If only to “celebrate” not having to do the school run!!!

2. Our local Hobbycraft have FREE craft sessions on a Saturday for an hour in the morning.

3. Go paddling in a local stream 

4. Take a picnic and explore near to where you live. There is something awesome about eating outside. We are huge fans of breakfast picnics for something a little bit different!

5. If the weather is good, go to a local splash park like Eastrop Park or Chineham Splash Park 

6. Find out all of your local parks and go for a skate or bike ride to each one. This post is really good for finding good play parks and parks local to you: Local Parks and open spaces

7. Go Geo-cashing in your local woods. It’s really easy to do. Just download the app to your phone and off you go. It’s a great way to get children outside. Or Pokemon or Harry Potter hunting if that’s your thing ;-).

8. Book up a FREE session at our local Apple store in Festival Place. There at least two sessions every day and more in the summer holidays and they are a great way to occupy your child/children for an hour or two. You need to book in advance though and you have to stay with your child.

9. Boring as it is, school shoes are a necessity if you’re child is in school. I highly recommend Diane at Shoes2Adore on the way to Tadley. But book soon because she gets VERY booked up in the summer holidays.

10. If you’re child can’t ride their bike yet, make a plan to teacher them over the summer.

11. Go swimming at once of our local swimming pools. Lots of them do special deals and/or events over the summer holidays so check out their websites for more information. QMC Swimming pool does really reasonably priced swimming sessions during the summer holidays.

12. Sign up to the Reading Challenge that our local Libraries run every summer. You can sign children up from ages 4+ I think and they only need to read 6 books over the 6 weeks. If they complete the challenge and are at school they get a medal and a certificate that’s presented to them in school. Miss NHM is very proud of her previous reading challenge certificates and medals and it’s been a great way to get her to read more. Popping into the library for an hour a week during the school holidays is also a great time killer!!

13. Take the children to a local museum, especially the Willis Museum as it’s FREE!!

14. Kids cinema in the mornings during the summer holidays at around 10am. Both Vue and Odeon do reduce tickets for “kids Club” and I think it’s less than £2 per ticket.

15. Cash in your Tesco’s clubcard points or your nectar points to do something fun with your children.

16. Find somewhere to visit where the entrance ticket becomes an annual pass. If you buy a ticket to Milestones Museum, The Living Rainforest or the Army Flying Museum the ticket lasts for a year so you can re-use during other holiday times or after school.

17. Check out the “NHM Reviews” page for ideas of where to go and where to visit. Lots of places reviewed on NHM are FREE, although you may have to pay for parking.

18. Check out the Season Tickets to local attractions in North Hampshire – updated 2017 post which lists out local season tickets.

19. Miss NHM loves listening to audio books, so I splash out for the summer holidays and treat her to a new audio book. I buy mine from “The Book People” as they are very reasonably priced and Miss NHM has easy control over which cd’s she listens too.

20. Try “Bored Jar’s” when you are at your wits end!! These posts are tailored to toddlers but you can easily update them for older children.

21. Visit Hampshire Farmers Market. The nearest one to Basingstoke is in Winchester on a Sunday morning.

22. Check out the Nature Detectives website for some ideas of activities you can do outside.

23. Take a walk to Odiham Castle, along the Basingstoke Canal.

24. If it’s windy, fly a kite at Crabtree.

25. Visit a Pick Your Own farm.

26. Go for a day trip to the beach. There is also a great post by NHM Readers of their Favourite local beaches.

At Home

27. Blackberries are now ready in August so make sure you go blackberry picking at some point.

28. I’m planning on trying to drop some food off at our local food bank with Miss NHM.

29. Play boardgames together or try to create your own boardgame.

30. Put the tent up in the garden and sleep in it over night. If you don’t have a tent see if you can borrow a small one from friends and family.

31. This year I’m going to create a “Summer Holiday box” which will be very similar to the “Christmas Eve Box” that I put together every Christmas. Each Monday I plan to fill it with different things, like an audiobook that Miss NHM hasn’t listened too in a while, some party bag fillers that I’ve kept back, sticker books that Miss NHM hasn’t got round to using, some books she hasn’t read yet that have been in her bookcase for AGES, and little things like that which can keep her occupied for a while.

32. Clean a neighbours car in exchange for some money that will go towards charity.

33. Ask your child if there is anything in their bedroom that they no longer need or want as the summer holidays is a great chance to declutter.

34. Something we are going to do this summer is clean out the kitchen cupboards together!!

35. Have a look at Baker Ross for some cheap craft activities you can do together or use something from the recyling bin as a craft project.

36. Create a summer scrapbook where your child or children can write in what they have done over the summer holidays. It will be a great memory for when they are older.

37. Bake some fairy cakes or buy a baking kit such as the ones you can get from local company BakedIn.

38. Ensure you schedule in some “boring” days where you have nothing planned, so your children can occupy themselves for a while. It’s supposed to help with their resilience, although it may drive you batty listening to the “I’m bored” whining <facepalm>!

NHM Readers Recommend: Local Country Parks

An NHM Reader recently asked: “Would anyone be able to recommend some local country parks? We like Wellington but it’s so expensive!” 

Many thanks to the NHM Community for all of your responses, listed below in no particular order.

Please bear in mind that listings may change in subsequent years, but hopefully they will still be a good base point for your own research.

NHM Readers Recommend: Local Country Parks

Andrea said “All about a 30-50 min drive away. Dinton Pastures, Itchen Valley, Moors Valley, Royal Victoria, all free except for parking.

Clare saidAlice Holt has the gruffalo trail and in the summer  Moors Valley in the New Forest is great for a while day with only parking to pay”

Charlene saidAlice Holt, Virginia Waters

Dan saidFleet ponds is lovely to walk around.”

Sarah saidCalifornia country park just pay parking”

Jo R saidAlice Holt, Bracknell look out (cheaper later in day) outside free. California country park. Dinton Pastures. Frensham big and little ponds. Elizabeth Country Park. Sign up to National Trust for less than £10 a month then go as many times as you can!

Vicky saidSome great suggestions! We went to California country park for the first time in October and we’ll be going back in the summer to try out the paddling pool (think it’s a £2.50 charge for the pool).”

Tracy saidBeale Park season ticket is very very good value!”

Emma L said “Defo Alice Holt and there’s one in Reading Dinton I think”

Rebecca said I love California country park

Aimee saidDinton Pastures is awesome”

Jo W saidVirginia Waters is beautiful”

Alison saidThatcham discovery centre and Charlton lakes are great

Heather saidQueen Elizabeth Country Park in Petersfield. All free exc small parking fee and brilliant. Drive right to the top for excellent play areas and open spaces. And an obstacle course.”

Jenny saidAlice Holt and Dinton both fab – only pay for parking”

Rachel saidDinton Pastures is brill and free apart from parking. Also nature discovery in Newbury which you just have to pay parking for.”

Emma H saidMoors Valley, you just pay for parking. It’s ace!! There’s also one in eastleigh but I can’t remember the name”

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COMPETITION!!!!! Family Tickets and Goody Bag for “We’re going on a Bear Hunt”!!

It’s been a while since we did a competition on NorthHantsMum.

Probably because I was rubbish about the last one and never actually got it sorted in time. OOPS! <blush>.

Annyyywaaay, you may have seen the details about “We’re going on a bear hunt” that were published on NHM last week…

Well, the wonderful team at Anvil Arts are offering a family ticket (for 4) to the show on Thursday 28 March 2019 at 4.30pm at The Haymarket PLUS a copy of the book and a CD to give away – so a nice goody bag of gifts!!

How AWESOME is that!!

All you have to do is:

  1. share this post ( to any social media platform (as many as you like if you REALLY want to win! lol)


2. go to the relevant post about the competition on my FB profile at “Louise nhm Smith” (please make sure you are friends with me) and comment with which social media you have shared it too.

The deadline for this competition is Midnight on Sunday 24th March 2019.

The Anvil Arts team will then pick someone at random on Monday 25th March so we can give you some notice if you are the winner.

You can find more details about the show at the following web link:

If you have any questions please ping me at Thanks!


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Schools and PTAs in Basingstoke offered free jump sessions at Festival Place

FREE family fun at Festival Place as 10,000 complimentary Flip Out sessions are offered to schools, colleges and PTAs

Schools, colleges and PTAs are being offered free sessions at trampoline park Flip Out at Festival Place, Basingstoke, to help beat the Back to School blues.

Flip Out at Festival Place is giving away 10,000 free children’s jump passes, with each organisation able to claim 100 free tickets. The passes can be used for a one-hour session at any time Monday to Friday during term time, until the end of November.

The initiative from Flip Out underlines Festival Place’s offer as a family shopping and leisure destination.

Paul Murphy, Marketing Director at Flip Out Basingstoke, said: “We know it’s a bit of a struggle to get the kids enthusiastic about going back to school and also getting them to take part in regular exercise. So here at Flip Out we would like to make it a bit more fun and, in the process, give something back to the local school community.”

Neil Churchill, Centre Director at Festival Place, said: “We pride ourselves on offering fun for families and young people and are delighted to support Flip Out as it donates these free passes.

“We hope schools and families will make the most of this offer and stay to enjoy the fantastic range of big brand stores, eateries and leisure facilities that Festival Place has to offer this autumn.”

One pass is permitted per user, who must be aged 18 or under and attending school or college. To take part in a session, a waiver must be completed and Flip Out socks must be purchased and used at £2 a pair. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.

To claim the free passes and for full terms and conditions, schools can call Flip Out on 01256 830803.

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NHM Readers Recommend: Where to Donate Old Duvets

I recently asked the Friends of my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook if they could help with a question I had been asked by an NHM Reader: “I’ve 3 duvets (2 singles and a king) all old but still usable. I wanted to donate them for the homeless or shelters but the Salvation Army bins don’t accept them, charity shops can’t take them due to hygiene, I contacted Camrose and they can’t take them as they can’t store them. Does anyone know where I can donate them? It seems a shame to throw them away when they could keep someone warm this winter.” 

Many thanks for all of your responses, listed below in no particular order:

NHM Readers Recommend: Where to Donate Old Duvets

Vicky said “Perhaps the Popley spotlight centre has a family in need?”

Sarah said “Pets at home will take them”

Rebecca said “You could try emailing the Night Shelter Coordinator?”

Louise said “Dog/cat charities will take them. Also old towels”

Jo said “Try Christ Church in Chineham. They took pillows which is kinda the same thing”

Sian said “Dogs kennels or animal charities”

Susan said “We have an organisation in Dorchester, Dorset Reclaim which helps destitute people set up in homes. They take clean quilts which other charities refused. Is there something similar in the Basingstoke area?”

Kerrie said “There is an organisation in Reading that has a homeless bus that may be in need of support.”

Naomi said “I know pro dogs direct take them”

Wendy said “The Dog Warden used to take them. The homeless shelters only wanted singles.”

Ruth said “I’m pretty sure AWE will take old bedding for their dog kennels, dont know about feather duvets though…what about community furniture?”

Rachael said “Why don’t you ask the homeless direct if they want them?”

Sian said “Julian House is a homelessness charity based in Basingstoke town centre. They may be interested”

Susan said “Try Julian House in Basingstoke, next to the Bridge Centre.”

Sammy said “There’s a lady involved with a night shelter bus, can’t think of her name. She was asking for some last week”

Sarah said “May Place have always taken ours”

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NHM Readers: 7 free things to do in and around Basingstoke with children

I recently asked the Friends of my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook “I’m currently putting a post together with the following subject and wondered if you had any suggestions?: “7 free things to do in and around Basingstoke with children”.”

Thank you for your replies, listed below in no particular order:

NHM Readers recommend 7 free things to do in and around Basingstoke

1. Local Libraries

Vanessa said “Board games and Lego club at Basingstoke Discovery Centre on alternate Saturdays. Board games this week, Lego next. Lego construction club at South Ham library, weekly on a Tuesday afternoon. Ages 3-12. They also do free crafts on the first Saturday each month.”

Helen said “Go to the library. We have so many lovely libraries and events at them.”

Jo said “Borrowing books from the library…timeless!”

Karen said “Lego Club Saturdays 2pm Chineham library. They do crafts too, I think 1st Sat of the month at 10:30. Library’s, books rhyme time, use the computers.”

  1. Willis Museum

Louise said “The Willis Museum, they always have craft upstairs as well”

Karen said “ Crafts at the Willis museum (donation)”

  1. Basing Wood

Rebekah said “Basing Woods”

  1. Black Dam and Crabtree

Cesca said “Feeding the ducks at Black Dam and then walk over to Crabtree”

  1. Beggarwood Park

Gemma said “Beggarwood Park. Beggarwood is a fab place for using scooters and bikes”

  1. Wyevale Garden Centre

Karen said “Wyevale Garden Centre have turkeys and goats and a fish shop”

  1. Pets at Home

Gemma said “A visit to Pets at Home in Hatch Warren”

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The Basics

All you need to do is paint a stone and write “Basingstones” on it. Then hide it somewhere safe for someone to find and hopefully brighten their day!

If you find a Basingstone, please post a photo of it on our Facebook Group page so we can see how far it travels. Either keep it and replace, or just hide it again somewhere new.


The Facebook Page The magic of Basingstones is what happens off social media ie the spending time together, being creative, getting outdoors, sharing and the small acts of kindness concept.

Our facebook page allows the wonderful Basingstones community to come together online to share photos and smiles but it shouldn’t be the focus.  That said, here are a few tips on using the facebook group page:

  • Pinned Post

Please make sure you have a read of the Pinned Post – lots of important information in there!

  • Searching

There is a SEARCH bar which allows you to search out key words in posts – very helpful for when you are looking for a particular post by an individual or regarding a certain topic. Just type the person’s name for example and hit SEARCH.

  • Reporting posts

Please help us to keep the page free of sales posts, unrelated page links and spam. If you see anything inappropriate or disrespectful, please press the three dots in the right hand corner of the post, then select the option to “Report post”

  • Sharing photos

Note that this group is public and can be seen and accessed by anyone, so please be mindful when sharing details and posting pics. Do NOT post photos of other people’s children.

Did you know…?

…there are often competition basingstones for you to keep a lookout for!
Try searching “competition” to see what you could win

…there is a Basingstones Admin photo album for Basingstones news
hit Albums and select Basingstones Admin

…there is a thread to track international Basingstones so that we can see them pop up all over the world! (This can be found in the Basingstones Admin album)

…Basingstones has been on the radio, in the newspaper and even nominated for a community project award!  Check out the Basingstones Admin Album for details


Where can I get stones from?

Lots of garden centres and large DIY stores sell big bags of stones/cobbles for about £5.  Locally, you can try The Range, Wickes, Conkers, Home Bargains, B&M, Bunnings and many more.

Taking rocks from beaches is discouraged and you could actually be fined.  Whilst taking the odd stone will do no damage, we don’t want to have a negative impact on the environment.

How should I decorate basingstones?

You can paint the stone however you wish, perhaps with a pretty pattern, a fun cartoon character, an inspirational quote or an artistic design.

Please avoid sticking things to the stones though which could potentially fall off and be harmful to wildlife. We want to be friendly towards our environment and our furry friends too.

What paint is best to use?

Sharpie pens, permanent markers, nail polish, acrylic paints and clear varnish or spray (to make it weather proof) all work really well.

Why haven’t I seen a photo of the basingstone I hid?

There are thousands of group members and hundreds of posts each day. You cannot keep track of them all.  Also, some people may choose not to share their photos or finds online.

Don’t worry that not all hidden basingstones get a finder post – each one makes someone smile and each one is special!

I hope this helps.

Have fun!

Rachel x
Basingstones Admin

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Review 2018: Bunnings Warehouse – D.I.Y Workshop with Upcycling Expert Mac McMurdo

Thank you very much to K for today’s NHM review! She’s done a fab job! Thank you also to Bunnings Warehouse for the opportunity!

Review 2018: Bunnings Warehouse – D.I.Y Workshop with Upcycling Expert Mac McMurdo


Bunnings Basingstoke

I attended (on the hottest early May Bank Holiday EVER I may add!) the Upcycling event at Bunnings on Saturday 12th May. This was on most of the day and appeared really popular/busy which was lovely to see for such a new store to Basingstoke. This review is not just based on the event but on Bunnings generally as a new store to Basingstoke that often has small events on usually at weekends.

Essentially this was all about thinking of how you can make-your-own DIY items for your house/garden and over the weekend Mac was demonstrating using different products to make different bits and bobs.

Sunday was a plant holder made of copper piping, some rope, few knots and hey presto all done!

To make this slightly more exciting this all took place on a renovated double decker bus!

I took my daughter (7) with me and everyone was so lovely and friendly and gave her the chance to make her own plant holder.

Isn’t she clever?!

They were so friendly and she had a great time. I sent lots of other little people (and lots of keen adults!) towards the bus during our wonder around the stores so I hope they enjoyed it as much as we did. Apparently the day before it was all about pallets…

Other events in store

In store in true Bunnings style there was the usual for children, craft, face painting, grow your own workshops, popcorn and use of the café and play area. If you haven’t been into this store particularly during a weekend go and have a bimble. It has a good spaced layout with a small play area for children at the back (I would say for walkers-4 year olds) that is enclosed, clean and safe.

Really conveniently literally next to it is a very cute little café serving coffee (I’m fussy with my coffee and it passed!), a variety of hot and cold drinks, snacks, cake etc. All very clean, high chairs available and during weekends there is always a different craft activity for children. Also during special themed days i.e. Fathers Day I’m told they will put on themed activities for children so keep an eye out!


Outside under (I’m sure they were grateful for it last weekend!) a gazebo sausages/burgers etc were being sold and supported by the Basingstoke Gymnastics Club.

Every weekend Bunnings support a local charity which is lovely – if you want to nominate a charity please contact the customer services department on


So it’s a big DIY store but there always seems to be something happening to make it just tip over what is normally expected! Has the usual items that you would expect and some, plus a well sized outside area. I stupidly forgot to check the toilet facilities sorry!!!!


Huge parking outside, it was really busy and still spaces so you won’t struggle for parking. If you buy anything large and need a hand or even if it’s just a little tricky let the staff know and they will happily help you.


The event was free, everything we made was free, craft/face painting, popcorn, play area all FREE. Keep an eye on the updates for this store because it’s worth a visit. I went to the opening which was so good my children made me go back on both days!

Also went at Christmas, again it was brilliant children loved it and the lure of Santa and some popcorn was enough to give me a chance to look around first! The café is small but actually still manages to be spacious – during the week.

I would even imagine it was quite a handy little place for a coffee with a friend and baby or two when it’s less busy but even during the event there was plenty of space.

Hot drinks start at £1.80 and snacks/sandwiches are all within what I would expect.


I would happily give this a 4/5 based on what it was trying to achieve. I think to promote upcycling even more just some additional photos of what else people can create would I think have been handy/nice to see.

If Bunnings do a similar type of thing again I would just ask indoor staff near the entrance to promote everything when people walk in as surprisingly there were lots of families inside who hadn’t noticed the bus!!!

Well done Bunnings! We will be popping in before Fathers Day!

Bunnings Instagram

Bunnings Facebook 

Disclaimer: This post is a review of a Bunnings Warehouse – D.I.Y Workshop with Upcycling Expert Mac McMurdo. K and her daughters workshop place was supplied free of charge for the purposes of the review. K was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are her own.

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Bunnings Warehouse Basingstoke hosts FREE D.I.Y Workshop with upcycling expert Max McMurdo

Home improvement and garden retailer Bunnings Warehouse is hosting a series of D.I.Y Workshops with TV presenter and upcycling expert Max McMurdo on Sunday (6th May 2018).

Max, who has appeared on ‘George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces’ and the latest series of ‘Shed of the Year’ on Channel 4, will be bringing his famous bus to the store on Winchester Way, Basingstoke between 12-2pm to demonstrate just how easy it is to build useful items out of simple household objects and upcycled materials, including a plant hanger made from copper pipes.

Max said: “Upcycling is all about breathing life into old products and creating something from unused or unusual items. Whether you’re a beginner or an upcycling pro, I’m looking forwarding to showing customers just how easy it is.”

The store is also hosting a number of family activities including the famous Bunnings Sausage Sizzle, face painting and ‘Grow Your Own’ gardening workshops for children plus demonstrations on how to achieve colour in your garden (see in store for details).

Event details

Sunday 6 May, 12pm – 2pm

Bunnings, Winchester Way, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG22 6HN

The workshop is free to attend and customers can register their interest in store

About Bunnings

Bunnings is the leading retailer of home improvement and outdoor living products in Australia and New Zealand and a major supplier to project builders, commercial tradespeople and the housing industry. Operating from a network of large warehouse stores, smaller format stores, trade centres and frame and truss sites, Bunnings caters for consumer and commercial customers.

As at 31 December 2017, Bunnings Australia and New Zealand operated out of 363 trading locations (of which 253 are warehouses), employing over 40,000 team members.

In February 2016 Bunnings acquired Homebase, the second largest home improvement and garden retailer in the United Kingdom and Ireland. As at 31 December 2017, there were 15 Bunnings trading locations and 234 Homebase stores, employing over 12,000 team members in the UK and Ireland.

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How NorthHantsMum supports local Businesses

I’m a HUGE fan of local businesses and supporting the local economy. Especially when many NHM Readers are local business owners themselves.

It’s one of the things that I am proud of NHM for, being able to directly impact the local economy by publicising local businesses. Even more importantly, by directly impacting local families, either as the providers of goods and services or the purchasers of goods and services.

There are several ways that we support local Businesses on NorthHantsMum…

Guest Post

Guest Posts are FREE and are a great way to publicise your local business to local parents.

Any local business can have a Guest Post on NHM. You can find out more at the following post:

You can find a link to all previous Guest Posts here:

NHM Reviews

NorthHantsMum is quite famous for our reviews of local places to visit, things to do and places to eat. They are often very popular posts because people seem to prefer Reviews.

You can find all of the Reviews here: 

Sometimes we decide to write a Review about a place because we absolutely love it, (sometimes we DON’T write Reviews because friends have made us SWEAR not to tell the NHM Community about a secret/special location that they know of! lol), but more often than not we are asked to write a Review after sampling the local businesses offering.

If this is something that might be suitable for your business, please have a look at this post:

I have several NHM Readers who help me to write these Reviews and I’m very proud of them all for all of their hard work in doing such a fab job writing these posts.

Business Directory

The Business Directory is coming into it’s own at the moment!

You can have a free or paid advert on the NorthHantsMum Business Directory.

Free listings have just the name of your business and either a website or facebook page listed. If you would like your business to be listed with a free listing, please just email me the name of your business and the website or facebook page you would like us to link too.

Free adverts never expire, but once a paid advert “runs” out on it’s time, it is converted to a free advert.

If you would like a paid listing, please email me at for more details.


Small Business Support Groups

I have two Facebook groups that support local businesses:

NHM Publicity for Local Businesses – Support local Businesses!!!!!

This group is open to anyone to join and is a great way to support local businesses. As the pinned post states, please only post your offers once a month, so as not to cause lots of spam in the group.

NHM Mums running Small Businesses

This group is for local Mum’s who run their own businesses to share information and network. I often set up networking events and these are where those events are created and publicised.

Check In on Facebook

There are over 2361 people who are friends of my Louise nhm Smith” profile.

(Don’t worry, I never look at people’s profiles as I don’t have the time or energy. The NHM Community is very welcoming and there are loads of groups to join).

Whenever I click to say that I am “interested” in an event, these events pop up in my friends newsfeeds. If there is ever an event that you would like to pop up in my friends newsfeeds, please just add me to the event.

I also often visit local places and check in to say I’ve been there as it raises the profile of that business.

Other ways to support local Businesses

Are there any other ways that you think NorthHantsMum can support local businesses? Is there anything that is missing?

I’d love to hear your feedback at

As always, thank you for your support and thank you for being part of the NorthHantsMum Community!

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