I remember when…

I’ve lived in Basingstoke, on and off, for over 30 years. So I’ve seen a LOT of changes.

Recently I’ve met a lot of people who have only just moved to the area and it’s weird to think that they haven’t seen the town change, like I have.

Winklebury

I went to Winklebury Infants and Juniors school and Fort Hill school. When I was at Fort Hill we used to do cross country from the school down to “Westfield Lido”, which is now the Aquadrome. The rest of that area was all fields. In Winter we used to sledge down the hill where Milestones is now. I remember when the dual carriageway there was single carriageway.

I watched the Warner Brothers cinema being built and saw it open in September 1990. My Mum and I were the only ones who went to the cinema on the day that the first Iraq war started. Anywhere that had links with America was derelict for the weeks after the start of the war as there was a lot or paranoia.

I grew up in Winklebury, on the “posh” bit, the Clarke Estate. I remember when Rooksdown was all fields. Every weekend we used to walk the dogs over there and walk all the way past the ambulance station, when the field behind used to be a golf course. I built camps in the waste land between the ring road and the hospital fields. I used to go to gigs at the Cricket Club/Tennis Club there when I was at college.

I learnt to drive on Gander Drive, Rooksdown, when it wasn’t Gander Drive, when it was just a derelict tarmac road. I used to be part of dance shows that were at Park Prewett Hospital. I had my QMC 6th form end of year ball in that AMAZING hall. I remember it being huge and having gorgeous chandaliers. I was very sad when they knocked it down.

I also remember Rooksdown House/Hospital itself. The building was a huge listed building but was derelict for many years. After school we used to try to explore the building but it was VERY spooky and often had homeless people sleeping in it. I do remember seeing some of the paintings on the ground floor, that apparently previous patients had painted. My understanding is that the hospital was very important during and after the 2nd world war for it’s work on facially disfigured servicemen and civilians. I think my Mum even has a picture of me with the dogs on the front steps, probably taken in about 1987.

I remember when you didn’t have to pay to park at the hospital!!!!

Town Centre

I remember the old town as it was, before Festival Place was built. When the “posh” part of town was the top of town. I remember the old cinema that was destroyed in 1991. You used to have to queue outside, round the side of the building. I went to see the film “ET” with my Mum’s friend and her children and vividly remember her telling someone off who was smoking in the wrong section. Yup, those were the days when you were allowed to smoke in half of the cinema!

I remember the old bus station, with the chip shop on the corner. I spent MANY years waiting in that bus station as I didn’t have my first car until I was 24. I used the bus service a LOT or walked home.

I spent a LOT of time in Martines, on Monday nights when it was “Alternative Night”. I went pretty much every single Monday. It used to REALLY annoy me when people sat down on the floor every time they played James’ “Sit Down”. But you had to get up pretty quick if Nirvana was played straight afterward as it could be a bit of a blood bath! Haha. We always sat upstairs and the carpets were disgustingly sticky. We’d get there early and sit outside the light shop and if we had enough money we’d nip into Wimpey to get a milkshake on the way. Oh and the ghastly car park, with the bridge that you had to cross. Scary!!!

I remember when the food hall was opened and that part of town was refurbished, where Sports Direct is now. It was very popular when it first opened and just like American food halls.

Chineham

My first job after Uni was working in Chineham Business Park, in what is now the Regus Building. I used to get the bus from Winklebury into town and then from town out to Chineham Business Park. Four nights a week I also worked at the Anvil as an usherette. I would finish work and get the bus into town and then walk home after the performance had finished because the buses would have finished running at 10pm.

I remember when the business park was built! We used to walk the dogs in Carpenters Down/Basing Wood when it was National Trust land. They used to have the best blackberries on the hill. It’s pretty weird to walk through there now as I LITERALLY remember when some of the trees were planted, trees that look much older than they are. Or maybe I’m just older than I realise? LOL.

Kempshott/Hatch Warren

I remember when the Hatch Warren estate was built. When I was at QMC 6th form I got a job working at Hatch Warren Sainsbury’s. I remember when the store was MUCH smaller. I used to get the bus into town on a Saturday morning, grab a spicy bean burger (I was veggie then) from Burger King when it used to be where M&S in town is now, and then get the bus out to Hatch Warren. When I finished my shift at 8pm I would either get the bus down to Ziggy’s (now the Academy Basingstoke) or walk. It would take about 1.5 hours to walk.

I went to the first “Novelty Island” when it was the Altis Leisure centre and before they refurbished the place into Ziggy’s. I may also have accidentally thrown up on one of the snooker tables one night, when they used to let the clubbers wonder into the snooker area. The stopped allowing people to do that after that night! Oops! Sorry!!! Hahahaha.

I was also the “Entertainments Officer” when I was in my 2nd year at QMC and I organised at least two student nights at Ziggy’s that were VERY successful. I think I even have a copy of the tickets in the loft somewhere! Haha.

Should I keep going with my reminiscing or is it all very boring? lol.

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My Favourite Comments so far on the October 2017 NorthHantsMum Survey…

I’m always a bit reticent to publish a survey because you never quite know what you are going to get back.

But you wonderful NHM Readers never fail me and have sent back some AWESOME comments and brilliant feedback, some of which made me laugh out loud and some which brought a tear to my eyes!

I probably ought to say that it’s not just me (Louise) running NHM now. I have an AMAZING team of volunteers who help out regularly, which is another reason why I wanted to publish some of your comments, because they should see that the work that they do voluntarily has a direct impact on parents and families in the area.

It’s been really interesting to see that there is a huge range in the time that people have been following NHM. Some of you have been with me since the very beginning (THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and some readers have only joined in the past few months. Your responses have made me a bit more aware that there is such a diversity in the length of time people have been following NHM. Not quite sure what to do with this! lol.

There have been some fantastic ideas suggested by you this year and have also prompted me to think about a few extra things to investigate over the next few months.

THANK YOU to everyone who has responded so far.

The survey is still open if you would like to complete it: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FFNHHLW

If you’ve been following NHM for a while, you will know that my ego is MASSIVE! So this post is also for my own ego. So when I’m having a bit of a blah day with NHM, I can read this post and remind myself of why I do what I do on NorthHantsMum ;-).

I’m also quite looking forward to World Domination and becoming a Dame…Hahahahaha.

Favourite Comments

What do you love about NorthHantsMum?

Louise: When asked “What you love about NorthHantsMum” your responses made my heart SIIIIINNNGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHOOOHOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is exactly the kind of responses that I was looking for so it makes me BEYOND DELIGHTED that the reasons that you love NHM are what I intend. THANK YOU!!!!

“Honest reviews Great community spirit”

“It’s local, it isn’t trying to make money from me, it promotes a real sense of community”

“Such a wealth of info on many many areas.”

“Friendly, approachable, always available.”

“Useful stuff written by real mum’s who aren’t afraid to admit it’s hard to be a mum”

“I couldn’t live without it. My husband is about to take over my maternity leave and be a stay at home dad. I’ve told him that he only need use NHM to see what may be of interest to the kids in any given day. It’s a finger on the pulse of family events and all things kids. One source of truth!”

“The availability to meet people, help others through questions asked, ask questions, see you’re not alone, get ideas for things to do and see, activities and events that are taking place. (Often I’ve seen events that you have said you’re interested in which makes me go check out what it is!)”

“I love how nhm is the first thing I think I about when looking for things to do locally”

“Zero judgement”

“Down to earth, honest and very excitable (passionate)”

“Very knowledgeable about local area and a central point fog likeminded people in the area. If you have a question which Louise can’t answer one of the followers knows!”

“That pretty much everything you could need as a parent is in one place”

“the community feel. like we’re all friends.”

“Great supportive community, lots of up to date local info.”

“Louise 🙂 Also so much info & accessibility for so many people, friendly helpful community spirit”

“All the activities that are going on in one place. That NHM is a real Mum, and tells it like it is.”

“The community spirit, and kind and super helpful network it supports and creates for us all.”

“Great tips/info/ideas and places to visit plus what’s on locally as it’s not otherwise advertised to be seen easily.”

“Everything! Reviews, what’s on that Louise nhm fb shares, reader questions, all of it, it’s all relevant and needed!”

What would you like to see LESS of on NorthHantsMum?

Louise: I am SOOO pleased to see that there were hardly any comments to this question. 

Although I do feel compelled to respond to the comments about my recent negativity towards Miss NHM’s previous school.

I’m VERY pleased to say that Miss NHM is absolutely thriving at her new school so I anticipate that future comments about schools will be far more positive ;-).

What should happen next on NorthHantsMum? What is missing from NorthHantsMum? What would you dream of for NorthHantsMum?

Louise: Love, love, LOVE the comments on this one!!! 

“My only wish is that it doesn’t bog you down too much so that you can keep up the awesomeness and keep enjoying it! (Because then we can too ??) There’s nothing else out there like it, it’s a lifeline for mums (No pressure ??)”

“I think just to continue providing the amazing community service that you already do. It’s amazing what you have built in your “spare”time. It’s fabulous”

“Keep doing what you’re doing”

“Continue as you are!”

“World domination ??”

“Change nothing xx”

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Louise: The responses to the final question of the survey are nearly always my favourites 😀

“Just a big massive thank you for all the spare time and hard work you put into this. As one individual I would struggle to remember all that you have helped me with as there is just so much. Multiply that by everyone else and that’s a whole bunch of selfless helping!!!”

“Nope. Keep up the good work”

“It’s really helpful. Saves searching Google for the information you need.”

“Thank you for all that you do! It’s hugely appreciated.”

“Great work whatever you do next”

“Love what is done on here. Really great work going on.”

“Brilliant resource, so lucky to have it available locally.”

“An absolutely fantastic concept and a huge well done for keeping it all going along with a family and job!!”

“Great work Louise, you are doing the community proud.”

“Your the bestest”

“A great resource that can only evolve and go from strength to strength.”

“Thank you for all you do x”

“Thank you! I have shared your page with many Mum’s!”

“You’re amazing. The support you provide is amazing. Thank you so much. I would have been lost these last two years without the virtual comfort blanket you have provided for me. Well done on giving something so valuable to so many.”

“Louise is fab and should be made a Dame”

“You are an amazing lady doing a wonderful thing for other mummies! Thank you! ”

“Thank you for producing such a wonderful resource for local families.”

“Your doing fab Louise”

“You do a brilliant job Lou.”

THANK YOU for all of your comments and your support!!!

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Good Infant Schools vs. Bad Infant Schools

Before I start this post, I need to make it VERY clear that this post is a bit tongue in cheek, is based on my experience of only 2 schools (and therefore cannot be taken too seriously) and is entirely from my (a parents) perspective…

Mr NHM and I moved Miss NHM to a new school 5 days into the start of the September 2017 academic year.

I won’t go into the details on NHM, for obvious reasons, but we now refer to Miss NHM’s old school as “The Prison” and I will continue to refer to it as such, regardless of feedback from anyone. The way they treated my daughter and my family was despicable.

Needless to say, I’ve learnt a LOT about what a “good” infants school is like and what a “bad” infants school is like.

Several points below aren’t based on my actual experience, they are based on what I have seen and heard from other parents and children.

Good Infant schools vs. Bad Infant schools

A good infants school will have large, naturally lit classrooms.

A bad infants school will have tiny classrooms, the same size as my kitchen, which will be expected to seat 32 children in and will be very, very dark with barely any natural light. (Top tip, if visiting a new school for your child, ALWAYS go during day light hours so you can see what the natural light will be like for your child when they are imprisoned in the classroom for 5 hours a day, 5 days a week.)

A good school will allow children to play on the field.

A bad school will have a field that is entirely for show and sports day. Children will NOT be allowed to play on it, for their own safety (!!!).

A good school will give a 5 year old in YR1 two pieces of homework a week and will realise that family time is more important than more work outside of school.

A bad school will give over 6 pieces of homework to a 5 year old in YR1 and when your child doesn’t do all of this homework they are punished.

A good school will give a child the chance to get off the “thundercloud” and the child will not be permanently punished.

A bad school will put the child on the “thundercloud” for the rest of the week and the child will miss the most exciting part of the school week, “golden time” if they don’t do ALL of their homework.

A good school will not have the “thundercloud”, “sun” or “rainbow”.

A bad school will use the “thundercloud” to inflict intimidation and fear into small children.

A good school will give children the opportunity to move around during their “free” time.

A bad school will play films during “golden time”.

A good school will send messages to parents about things like nits and harvest festival collections.

A bad school will send weekly emails about the attendance levels for each class, messages that if you park in the wrong place you will be arrested and about how several children are wearing the wrong coloured coat to school.

A good school will care more about the welfare of the children than children wearing EXACTLY the correct uniform, including the colour of socks and outdoor coat.

A bad school will NOT care about the welfare of the children and will only care that the children are wearing the CORRECT uniform and god forbid those who don’t have logo’d uniform.

A good school will have a variety of different classes including music and arts for all years.

A bad school will have only english, maths and science classes, with one class per term of “fun” stuff from YR2 onwards.

A good school will allow children to have their classes outside when the weather is over 28 degrees.

A bad school will force children to remain in a classroom that has no air conditioning when the weather is over 28 degrees, including no playtime or lunchtime play outside, because it is for their own safety as it’s too hot to be outside (!!!!!).

A good school will realise that children of infants school age require a rounded experience of life.

A bad school will only concentrate on attendance at school and will send you a “delightful” red letter each half term if your child’s attendance is below their requirements, regardless of whether your child has a serious medical condition which means they are more sick than “normal” children.

A good school will have extra classes after school like “forest school”,  which are run by teachers and are free to attend.

A bad school will only have classes after school that cost an absolute arm and a leg for your child to attend.

A good school will have guitar lessons, Spanish lessons and rock steady lessons which will all take place during the school day.

A bad school will have NOTHING other than lessons for children to attend during the school day.

A good school will bend over backwards to ensure that your child is treated the same as other children in their class, regardless of their situation.

A bad school will single out a child if they have any extra requirements or special needs that don’t fit in with the schools vision of a “normal” child.

A good school will care greatly about a child’s emotional wellbeing.

A bad school won’t give a rat’s fig about a child’s emotional well being and will actually do everything they can to ensure that the child conforms to their expectations of what small children should be like, regardless of that child’s situation.

A good school won’t focus on the costs associated with supporting children with extra needs.

A bad school will ONLY focus on the costs associated with supporting children with extra needs.

A good school will have lovely receptionists that are also Mum’s who TOTALLY get it.

A bad school will have very grumpy receptionists who raise their eyebrows and grumble at you, for example, when you forget to bring paperwork back in on time and then proceed to make you feel like it’s you that’s back in infants school when you return said paperwork late.

A good school will have lots of pictures of happy smiley children on their website.

A bad school will have only have a picture of the head teacher on their website.

A good school will allow children to bring in anything they like for “Show and Tell”.

A bad school will ONLY allow your child to bring in something for “Show and Tell” that is related to the subject they are studying at that exact moment and if they try to bring in something else to show their classmates it will be confiscated.

What would you add to this list?

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We ARE keeping a “Sitting with Jane” bench in Basingstoke! WHOOOOOOHOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When the first 12 Lot’s (benches) started bidding at £3000 my first thought was “ah well, at least we’ve raised £1000 for Ark Cancer Centre Charity“.

My second thought was “PHEW!! I don’t need to work out what happens next if we win one!!!” Hahaha.

Then, Lot 13, “Girl Power” came on the screen and they started playing the Spice Girls in the background.

And I started to get a tingly feeling in my tummy…

The bidding started at £3K. Then it dropped to £2K. And then it dropped to £1K and I felt my hand shoot up into the air, with the bidding paddle.

Now, it’s a huge responsibility to bid with other people’s money and there was a LOT of expectation. Running a campaign like this is a huge honour and privilege, one which I don’t take lightly.

I was shaking ALL night.

Several of the benches raised £7K and I felt a teeeennny tiny bit out of my league.

Had it not been for Sue, Rachel and Cathy who came with me, I would have been a dribbling mess on the floor.

And then the Auctioneer said, “anymore bids?”…”Anymore?”…

Sue and Rachel were sat next to me and were clutching my arms and I LITERALLY didn’t breathe for about 5 minutes. At least that’s what it felt like.

“Going once”….

“Going twice”…..

And somebody put in a bid at £1250.

GUTTED!!!!!

And that was it.

I thought it was all over.

I think I literally sagged in my chair.

I heard someone behind me bid for £1500. Then the bidding closed.

And then I got a text.

From Laura at The Topiary, who was sat at the back of the auction.

We had a conversation in the week that we would collaborate if things got a bit hairy in the auction and it didn’t look like either of us would get a chance of getting one.

And in her text it said “I’ll give you the £500”. “You can have it xxx”.

So, we got it!

“Girl Power”.

(Not the best pictures as I was STILL shaking at this point. However, I expect to see far better pictures of this bench in the future! lol).

Thank you!!!!

I need to say a HUGE thank you to the following people, without whom we never would have stood a chance.

My beloved husband, Mr NHM, whose encouragement and belief in my “crazy” ideas is never ending.

Sue – who took Miss NHM and I to see our first bench at the Walled Garden and got me caught up in this whole thing!! Your friendship and unfailing support means so much to me.

Rebecca at The Typeface Group who has been so supportive along this whole journey and who kept me going when I got back from holiday at the end of August and I thought I’d lost momentum.

Mark at The Ark for his brilliant support, enthusiasm and encouragement and Michelle for her wonderful support!!

Steve and Charlotte at Festival Place for their support and encouragement.

All of the NHM Ladies who believed we could do it and donated:  Wendy, CathyW, Lilian, LauraE, Zoe, Cathy, Karen, Lisa, Helen, Gisella, LauraW, Juliet, Emma, Sue, Sally, Mary, Sarah, Allison, Ceri, Katie, SueS, Victoria, Julie, Rebecca, Jules, Eleanor, Pauline, Michele, Jaz, Rachel, Natasha, Stephany, Kath, Sharon, Sarah, Claire, BeckyT, Lisa, Emily, Pam, Cat, Lyndsey, Rebecca H, Stephanie, Gillian. Thank you!!! You are ALL AWESOME!!!!!

Everyone who entered the competition and helped to raised the profile of the campaign. All of the children looked FANTASTIC!!!!

Mike O’Neil at Action Trophies for his very generous donation.

Nicky from Ma Humbugs Old Fashioned Sweet Shop for her generous donation.

John from Tidal Bay Crazy Adventure Golf for his VERY generous donation (£250!!!) about 30 minutes before the event started. STREEEESSSFFULLLL!!!!! Hahaha

Laura from The Topiary for her INCREDIBLE donation and without whom we never would have stood a chance of getting the bench.

Apologies if there is anyone whom I’ve missed off. I’ve barely slept a wink! lol.

What happens next?

Although I had a very strong feeling that we would get a bench, I hadn’t quite sorted out any of the details about what happens if we actually did!! lol.

I am looking to donate the bench to somewhere that people can still access the bench and where it will be indoors so that it lasts for a very long time. If you have any sensible suggestions please do let me know at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com.

Otherwise it’s going on my Mum’s front drive! 😀 😀 :-D.

Also, if you know of anyone who might be able to help me move the bench as it needs to be removed by Monday (18th September), please do get in touch!!!!

Finally

I would really love to get a little plaque for the bench which will say:

“I dedicate this bench to all of the Mums, and their children, in North Hampshire”.

We did it.

Thank you!

You are all AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xx

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Keeping a “Sitting with Jane” bench in BASINGSTOKE!!!

Have you seen the “Sitting with Jane” benches that have been dotted all over Basingstoke and local areas in the past month?

Wouldn’t it be AWESOME if we could crowd fund one of them to stay in Basingstoke? So we could show our children that we all did something AMAZING together?

The NorthHantsMum Community and anyone else who would like to be involved, are working hard to raise money for one of the “Sitting with Jane” benches to stay in one of the local parks, maybe War Memorial or Eastrop Park, depending on whether Basingstoke and Deane council agree.

I am hoping the bench will be used by lots of people but also as a safe place where Mum’s can meet other Mum’s and children can meet other children. How cool would that be!!!!

(Crowd funding means that the money is only taken at the end of the 30 days, IF the project goes ahead. However, I’ve made the executive decision that ALL donations that are made will still go to the Ark Cancer Centre Charity, even if we aren’t successful in our bid.)

The NorthHantsMum Bench – June 2016

At the end of June 2016, just after the Brexit announcement, I had several friends who were struggling with certain aspects of their life.

I posted up the following status on my “Louise nhm Smith” profile and was completely blown away by the positive feedback that came back: “Good Afternoon Everyone! I have several “Mum” friends who are struggling at the moment. I don’t know if it’s because of the weather or the Brexit result or even England being out of the football, but if you are struggling at the moment, I want to send you a MASSIVE hug and ask you to reach out to someone and tell them. Don’t suffer in silence. Being a Mum is REALLY hard work at the best of times, but even harder when, for example, your baby has colic or the ground floor of your house has been flooded or you are on your knees with exhaustion. Somehow though, knowing that there are other Mum’s who are highly sympathetic, it makes it easier to get through. If you are struggling to find someone who will listen to you, let me know and I will see if I can help in whatever ways I can. Massive hugs to anyone who is struggling at the mo.”

That night I was chatting to Mr NHM about how I want to do something tangible to support local Mum’s and he came up with the idea of having a “Mum bench” in either Eastrop Park or the War Memorial Park.

It was such a brilliant idea and I started campaigning straight away. But a week or two later Miss NHM became quite seriously ill and that took over everything for nearly a year of our lives.

When my friend Sue mentioned about the “Sitting with Jane” bench trail at the beginning of August 2017, I didn’t really get it until we went to see the Walled Garden bench and the children LOVED it!

Then a few days later I had a spine tingling moment and thought about how awesome it would be if we could raise some money to keep one of the benches in Basingstoke after the trail closed, for everyone to use whilst raising money for an amazing cause…

So it’s all Mr NHM’s fault really! lol.

Donate

You can donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/louise-northhantsmum

All money raised will go towards the Ark Cancer Centre Charity, regardless of whether we are successful with our bid.

Even if you can only donate £1, this will go towards the bid for a chair at the auction will be taking place on Friday 15th September.

Every time someone makes a donation towards the campaign, I will post up a picture to NorthHantsMum FB Page of a local child sitting on one of the benches with the amount of the donation.

If you would like your child to be featured as part of the campaign, please email me their picture to NorthHantsMum@gmail.com, with some words that say you are their parent and are happy for their picture to be used.

Everyone who donates towards the bench will also have their name listed in this post and hopefully somewhere on the bench, although I don’t quite know how that will work yet! (If you would like your last name to be included, just to let me know).

If you are sponsoring as a business, a link to your business will also be included in this post.

This is going to be an AWESOME way for the community to come together to raise funds to keep a little bit of heritage right here in our town.

Everyone who has donated towards the bench…

THANK YOU VERY MUCH

Wendy D

Cathy W

Lilian K

LauraE,

Zoe

Cathy

Karen

Lisa

Helen

Gisella

LauraW

Juliet

Emma

Sue

My Mum

Sally

Mary

Sarah

Allison

Ceri

Katie

SueS

Victoria

Julie

Rebecca

Jules

Eleanor

Pauline

Michele

Jaz

Rachel

Natasha

Stephany C

Kath R

Sharon

Sarah

Claire

BeckyT

Lisa

Emily

Pam

Cat

Lyndsey

Rebecca H

Stephanie

Gillian

Mike O’Neil at Action Trophies for his very generous donation.

Nicky from Ma Humbugs Old Fashioned Sweet Shop for her generous donation.

John from Tidal Bay Crazy Adventure Golf for his VERY generous donation (£250!!!) about 30 minutes before the event started. STREEEESSSFFULLLL!!!!! Hahaha

Laura from The Topiary for her INCREDIBLE donation and without whom we never would have stood a chance of getting the bench.

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My list of places to visit in 2017

The really frustrating thing is, we went to loads of things last year, but I’ve hardly had the time to write up Reviews of them all!

My list of places to visit in 2017

Kyoto Gardens – DONE but I need to write up the Review!

Cotswold Safari Water Park

Kew Gardens – DONE but I need to write up the Review!

Porchester castle

Windsor Castle

Brownsea island

Harry Potter world

Kidzania

Visit a Lido

Frimley Lodge Park

Watercress Line

Basing House – I KNOW! I still haven’t been here! lol.

Bucklebury Farm

Manor Farm Country Park –  I haven’t been here for 12 years, so am looking forward to going back

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NorthHantsMum is my HOBBY!!!!

I feel I need to state this very clearly.

NorthHantsMum. Is. My. HOBBY!!!

I work on it in my “spare” time.

I don’t spend all day, every day working on NorthHantsMum. I have other things going on in my life. I work a full time job (40 hrs) in part time hours (30 hrs), I have a little part time job that I work 5-10 hours a week, I have a daughter with a serious illness, a husband who is the equivalent to my second child (his words, not mine!!) AND NorthHantsMum. Plus there are my loyal friends, my extended family, a house to run, school life to manage, finances to monitor etc. etc. etc. that factor into this equation.

My time to work on NorthHantsMum is limited and I will be ETERNALLY grateful to anyone who takes this into consideration.

I make absolutely no money on the website for what I do. Neither do the couple of lovely ladies who regularly help me out with posts and pages. We are all volunteers.

VOLUNTEERS.

Please, please, please keep this in mind when you are sending me messages or posts or are emailing me. I have a limited amount of energy. I’m very sorry if your post doesn’t get scheduled exactly when you want it too. That is because I’m being pulled in MANY different directions at the same time.

I love what I do on NHM. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t do it. But I am finding that there has been a lot more pressure this year. People are demanding a lot more from me than they used too.

For example, so far on NHM this year I have:

  • Handled two domestic abuse cases
  • Dealt with a case of a child that was in extreme pain and what to do
  • Helped several vulnerable new Mum’s find the support systems that they desperately need
  • Put lots of parents new to the area in touch with each other
  • Helped with finding holiday childcare for several Mum’s
  • Put several single Mum’s in touch with each other so they can create a support system
  • Helped publicise the Christmas Food Box appeal and co-ordinated a Christmas present drive for a family who were in the local refuge over Christmas
  • Helped many Mum’s and Dad’s whose children are starting school in September this year AND next year.

And lots and lots more that I can’t even remember now.

This doesn’t include posting on the website every day about events, classes, important news for local parents, attending events that I’m invited too, co-ordinating the AWESOME volunteers who so fantastically help me out and save my sanity, organise the schedule and administration for NHM and a truck load of other stuff for the blog.

I LOVE that NHM can help people in the way that it does now. I definitely don’t resent any of it at all. I am privileged and very honoured that I, and the NHM Community, can help people in the way that we do.

I know that it’s my own fault for creating the “monster” that is NHM. However, I never, ever, ever expected it to be what it has become.

But I barely get any time to write personal posts anymore. I know some of you think this is a good thing, but the whole point of having a blog is to be able to actually blog! lol.

I LOVE what NorthHantsMum has become. I really do, but I need a break. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY need a break.

I am exhausted.

Exhausted from three years of battling the medical profession. Exhausted from two years of battling school. Exhausted from the changes that are being enforced upon me at work which means I am being demoted in my job. Exhausted.com.

So, I am taking the summer off, like I normally do. Except this year I am REALLY taking the summer off.

For the sake of my sanity and my family and my daughter, I am planning on taking six weeks off NHM, from Mon 24th July until Mon 4th September. That may even be 7 weeks. I don’t care how long it is, all I know is, I NEED A BREAK!!!!

Miss NHM is getting older now and strangely she needs me more now than she ever did. I don’t know if it’s because of her illness but she is far more demanding than she was when she was little! lol.

So if you send me an email or a message and I don’t reply in two or three weeks, it’s not because I’m ignoring you. It’s because I’m out enjoying my life and my time with my family. Thank you for understanding.

As always, thank you for your fantastic and very much needed support of NorthHantsMum. And yes, this post makes me sound like a total martyr and normally I’m not, but maybe I’m feeling a bit like that at the moment or maybe I just need a rest?

Roll on the Summer Holidays!!!! WHOOP!!!!!

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NorthHantsMum is 6 years old today!

Yup, I started NorthHantsMum six years ago on this day, the day after midsummers.

SIX YEARS of my life. SIX WHOLE YEARS!!

I’ve put my heart and soul and a LOT of time into it during those years.

It’s grown WAY beyond what I ever expected when I started writing this blog, six years ago when Miss NHM was only three months old.

It’s given me a purpose and so much more. Something to focus on when times get tough and in the past six years I’ve had some really tough times.

Last year running the site raised my stress levels to dangerous heights but I’m still here, slogging working away on the site and community.

I’ve seen a LOT of changes in the past six years that have affected the NorthHantsMum Community. The children’s centres closing, the lack of funding for breastfeeding drop in’s, and the support for new Mum’s dramatically diminish, being just a few.

I LOVE what I do on NorthHantsMum and when I sit back and really think about it, I’m incredibly proud of it all. It’s not been easy at times, but it’s definitely been worthwhile.

It’s that little bit of positivity that I, and the team of volunteers who now work with me, put out that makes other parents lives that little bit easier.

The NorthHantsMum Community has become a village now. There are so many of you to thank, I’m bound to forget someone important, so instead of making a faux pas I just want to say THANK YOU. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Thank you to each and every one of you who is involved in NorthHantsMum.

My team (all volunteers) and I couldn’t do what we do without your support.

Thank you. x

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The irrational fears of a parent

My Dad died unexpectedly when I was 10 years old. He had epilepsy but only my mother and grandparents knew. They kept it very quiet because there was such stigma around epilepsy at the time he was alive.

I found him (my sister was 5 years old when he died and refused to sleep in her own bed without my Mum), when my parents alarm clock wouldn’t stop ringing. I can still see that alarm clock in my minds eye now.

One day he was there, the next he wasn’t and the world as I knew it was ripped apart.

It happened a very long time ago and I rarely talk about it now, so much so that several of my close friends don’t know that my Dad died when I was young and up until very recently, Mr NHM didn’t know the anniversary of my Dad’s death.

But it’s part of my psyche.

My Dad died when he was 36 years old. When I turned 36, it was in the back of my mind all year. When Mr NHM turned 36, I spent the whole year worrying about him.

When Mr NHM is more than 15 minutes late home, I’ve already planned his funeral and I’ve moved onto what would happen in the the second year after his death.

If Miss NHM sleeps beyond 8am (it has happened before!), part of me is whooping at the luxury of a lie in and the other part is planning out how we would tell the grandparents that she’s died.

It’s completely irrational, I know it is.

It’s such a waste of energy. Energy that I could be using to do something productive with. But I’ve learned to just go with it now and let the irrationality of it all wash over me until everything is as it should be, Mr NHM has returned home or Miss NHM has woken up and we have gotten on with our day.

But it’s always there. That irrational fear that I don’t think you can ever avoid if one of your parents dies when you are young.

I spent decades grieving after my Dad’s death. Grieving for him, grieving for the life we lost and being sucked into my mothers grief. Such a waste of time and energy.

But Miss NHM being born, it healed me.

I was blessed enough that I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her. She brought light into my life like nothing else ever had, even more than the epic love affair that Mr NHM and I were so blessed to have when we first met.

Miss NHM’s birth helped me to see the light in the world.

I know it’s likely to get worse too, this completely irrational planning. Miss NHM is 5 years and 11 months old and I know where she is every minute of the day. But as she gets older,  as she learns independence and tests her boundaries (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, sigh), I know I’m not always going to know where she is.

I put myself in some incredibly dangerous situations when I became a teenager, probably because of what I had experienced in my earlier life. I REALLY hope that she doesn’t!

I also hope that she will never completely understand the irrational worry that I will have when I don’t know where she is.

But I’m not thinking about that now. I am extremely thankful that she is young enough not to understand any of this and that my worries are completely ridiculous.

Even if I have theoretically planned her funeral and the first year of her death out!!!?!?!!!!

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My word for 2017 and Joyful January!!!

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Happy New Year!! I hope you had a blast?

I realise that the title of this post might be a bit of an oxymoron. January is often a tough month for many, after the excitement of Christmas and reality kicking back in.

So I’ve been thinking about what we could do, as the NHM Community, to spread a little more joy during January.

I put out a request a few days ago asking for some volunteers and I now have some lovely “NHM Joy Fairies” who are going to help me put out affirmation cards for Mum’s in strategic places across North Hampshire.

The whole idea came from Lindsey who mentioned a while back that she was doing something similar at work to help boost morale.

I then had a moment of inspiration and thought that it would be awesome to try to do the same thing for local Mum’s. So I’ve put together lots of little cards which have positive affirmations on them just for Mum’s and the “NHM Joy Fairies” and myself will be leaving them all over North Hampshire, for you to find and keep.

If you do find one, please let me know via NorthHantsMum@gmail.com. It would be awesome if there were pictures of the cards and where they were found too.

I am hoping that these little cards make at least one Mum feel a bit better if she’s having a tough month.

If you would like to be a “NHM Joy Fairy”, please get in touch too.

New Years Resolutions 2017

As I’ve mentioned before on NorthHantsMum, I don’t make New years resolutions anymore because they don’t really work for me.

Instead I choose a word for the year, that I use as a theme for the year. This year my word is “Joy”. Which is why “Joyful January” is so cool as it ties in with my word of the year!

I’m hoping to spread and receive lots more joy during 2017. If you have any ideas on this, please let me know!!!

Have a Joyful New Year 😀

What’s your word for 2017?

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!