NHM Readers Recommend: Family Friendly Wedding Venues

I recently asked the NHM Community if they could help with a question I had received: “We are looking for a family friendly venue for a wedding breakfast in March. Just lunch or possibly lunch and dinner. Somewhere in Hampshire. Possibly a hotel where we can all stay but there’s only 15 of us so I would like it to feel special. Thank you!”

Many thanks 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: Family Friendly Wedding Venues

Rachael saidWellington on the reading road”

Charlotte saidSecond the Wellington arms got married there and highly recommend it”

Aimee saidBarton’s Mill….they have lovely accommodation now too”

Helena saidHighfield park is lovely. They have a private dining room for groups too.”

Wendy said Oakley Hall, Four seasons dogmersfield, Tylney Hall. Also the old Mill in Aldermaston, technically not Hampshire but almost.”

Erin asked “ Lizzy what was that lovely place we went for afternoon tea?”

          Lizzy repliedWarbrook House

Kirsten saidThe Mill House restaurant and hotel, Swallowfield. I got married there and they have 12 hotel rooms. Very homely and family friendly”

Sasha saidHoliday inn basingstoke is amazing, had a small wedding (21) there and incredible wedding breakfast

Sue saidEsseborne manor

Siobhan said The Hoddington Arms. They have a lovely barn that will be perfect for a small wedding breakt”

Lainey saidWe got married in a small hotel called The Lismoyne Hotel in Fleet.”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Kids’ Haircuts

I asked the NHM Community to help with a question that I had received: “wonder if anyone can help? I have a 2.5 yr old boy who point blank refuses to get his hair cut. He screams, throws his head around, cries, hits out etc etc. We have tried places like his n kids with the little cars and cartoons on. We’ve tried bribery with sweets and toys etc. Also tried cutting at home, having daddy have his cut in front of him. Even tried cutting it in his sleep but he sensed it and woke up. Any miracle workers out there as I am out of options and his hair is an inexplicable mess! Thank you!!!”

Many thanks for all of your suggestions, 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: Kids’ Haircuts

Gina said “I have friends who’s children were a nightmare and I can highly recommend the blonde barber on sherbourne road. She is amazing with children! The Blonde Barber

Kathryn said “Lisa at cut’n’drive is brilliant, she comes to the house and is the only person my 8 year old will let touch her hair.”

Emma saidTrilbys on Pack Lane are absolutely brilliant with my 2 year old. He doesn’t like his hair being cut where we get the tantrums. Ask for Claire she is amazing”

Clare said “Milly at the Topiary in Old Basing is really good. My little boy has never been a big fan of having his hair cut but she’s really patient with him and he’s definitely warmed to her!

Rachel said “We cut it at home. He’s 4.5 and has only just started to improve. We’ve had hairdressers cut their own fingers before. If your in Basingstoke try Marianne’s hair salon. She’s very good but we just persevere at home with clippers”

Nikki said “My eldest went through this phase. We found Carey’s in town (no frills and no special cars!) put him most at ease, but what really cracked it for him was getting him his own little (plastic) hair dressing set and water spray. He used to take a cuddly toy, his spray, comb and scissors, and would concentrate on being the toy’s hairdresser while his own hair was really being cut.”

Heather said “Kerry was it house of handsome you went to? They were brilliant with my nephew who was the same and now is absolutely fine about having it done.”

    • Kerry said Heather that’s right. The first time we went we spent 2 hours in there while on a busy Saturday, they just let him get on with it, eventually over several visits he got better and better. They even cut his hair on the waiting bench once as he refused to sit anywhere else lol”

Laura said  “The Blonde Barber

Becki said David Saunders cuts my kids hair. He comes to our home”

Jenni said “Sorry no help but my little 2.5 year old boy is the same, though after lots of bribery etc he’ll eventually get it done with lots of moaning & crying…”

Jennie said “Honestly I just stopped getting it cut, he’s 7 and his hair is down to his bum, he’s happy and will get a trim every now and then/ There is a messy phase when growing the hair but just ride it out, it’s better than fighting”

Leanne  saidWe just didn’t make him. We decided it was his hair and his decision so bought hair clips. He’s now (3.5) has it cut fine!”

Karen said “I’d probably leave it for now as he is still very young. Maybe try reading and looking at books involving hair cuts – my boys loved ‘Barry the Fish with Fingers and the Hairy Scary Monster’. Get him used to the idea and that it is a good thing and won’t hurt him. Also have you tried it with him sitting in your lap? That used to help when my son got upset about hair cuts, think he felt a bit safer.”

Wendy said “I think you just need to leave it, he’s not ready for it yet. Leave it until he’s old enough to really explain to you why it’s an issue for him. Both my sons have shaggy 70s style hair and really like looking different to the boys with ‘work hair’.”

Philippa said “My daughter is completely terrified of having her hair cut. We’ve given up and waiting it out. We’ve explained that it will help stop her hair being so tangled but to no avail. I always cut my children’s hair at home in a calm environment but no use for my youngest. My advice is give up and embrace the mess!”

Genni said “We have only had his hair cut once. I trim the fringe every now and then if he lets me.”

Ruza saidMy son has had his haircut, then not, then again and our last try was too traumatic for the both of us. At some point he may want it.”

Milly said “I would leave it. He may change his mind on his own.”

Gail saidIf all else fails, just leave it long, he’ll want to get it cut at some point. He might be doing it to get attention, if he thinks it bothers you.”

Marion said “Find out what it is about it that bothers him. Does he think part of him is being cut, and he’s scared it’ll hurt? Or does he like it long? What doesn’t he like about it?”

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Review 2019: Stonehenge

Stonehenge, one of the wonders of the ancient world, a place of religious significance for some, a place of magic and mystery but, if you grew up locally, chances are you see it as that place you get stuck in traffic when going on holiday to Cornwall or Devon. Having been stuck there a few times themselves my children asked “Can we actually go in there one day?” so in Summer 2018 we did.

We pre-booked our tickets on their website, plus parking. The site is managed by English Heritage and the surrounding land is owned by National Trust England so those with these memberships can get in for free, (Free entry is not available to those with National Trust Scotland membership). Prices are quite high for those without membership (Details here) so it may be worth looking at getting it if you wish to visit. Walk in prices are higher so pre-booking is advised.

A short walk from the car park brought us to an impressive, modern visitor centre. From here we got a ticket to the bus that brings you to the Henge, you can walk but it was a really hot day. Whilst on the bus I felt a bit guilty, surrounded by people who had travelled thousands of miles to see the stones and I‘d never been bothered to pop in on the many occasions I had driven past. As we got off the bus the stones were very impressive but after a few initial wows my 7 year old and 4 year old were over them pretty quickly and almost had to be forced to walk the whole way around. We made our way back to the visitor centre and they quickly went from bored children, underwhelmed by one of the world’s most iconic sights, to children completely in love with the display of how those who built the Henges (there are lots of them, many within walking distance) used to live. Brought to life by the volunteers who give talks, the displays include replicas of the housing the builders lived in. The museum also makes use of different kinds of technology to really get them engaged with the history. Also, being surrounded by fields and several walks, there is plenty of room for children to work off excess energy.

We ate at the restaurant which was busy but manageable, even in August, and we found tables easily. The food was good but the price was what you would expect for a global tourist attraction, this goes for the gift shop too although there were some very cool items. All other facilities were really good. Pushchairs would be fine although at busier times you would struggle to take a pushchair on the bus so bring a sling or be prepared to walk.

We went on a sunny day but it would be doable on a day with some rain. I would recommend this as a day out for children, be prepared to spend more time in the visitor area than at the stones, but at just under £50 for a family ticket it is pricey so I would consider putting £50 towards one of the memberships that lets you in for free.

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NHM Readers Recommend: Board Games

I recently received a question from an NHM Reader: “Do the NHM Community have any boardgame recommendations for toddlers, 5-8 year olds and tweens? I’d like to get one for Christmas each year but want something that we will actually play more than once.” 

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

NHM Readers Recommend: Board Games

Lottie said “I don’t know if it’s still a thing as mine are a bit young but I used to love mouse trap at that age!!!”

Lian said “Articulate kids is good for the older ones and adults to play”

Wendy saidI like games that have as few parts as possible so crocodile dentist and toilet trouble are our favourites, also any of the pie faces games. We use them at birthday parties and there’s always a queue.”

Joy said “Rondo! Friends bought it for us, ours are between 9 & 16, we’ve been enjoying it for the past 2 years!”

Ruth said “Or anything in the brainbox range – covers a wide age range, quick and simple to play for as long or as little as interest lasts, and really interesting at the same time!

Jason saidPayday. Love it with my 6 and 10 year old”

Lisa M said “My 7&9 yo have been playing Ticket to Ride for a couple of years. We also love Survive & Catan our three favourites. All great for kids up to adults”

Rachel H said “Hungry hippos is great for my two. They were 3 and 5 last Christmas and has the added bonus that they can play it themselves with no help. I’ve bought a lot of orchard games before but am finding the old favourites are much more suitable and are getting a lot more use”

Lisa B said “Exploding Kittens for the middle age bracket”

Rachael W said “Who am I, popping pirate, piranhas, spot the difference cards”

Sue said “Bugs in the kitchen”

Helena said “Ufo alarm is fab, easy, funny and not many parts!”

Rachael S said “Hullabaloo not a board game but loved by all. Orchard games are loved by 3 years up. Crash bang wallop is fabulous”

Libby said “Exploding kittens!”

Emma T said “Ours love battleships because it’s different every time they play and it gets very competitive!”

Claire said “Ours love Dobble”

Emma C said “Code names is a great game”

Alison said “UNO is a good card game that covers a range of ages”

Liz said “Looping Louie is good for young to mid age range”

Ruza said “Operation, tummy ache, Mmmm!”

Sam said “Orchard games are great for toddlers. We’ve got about 5 of them!”

Helen saidSnakes and ladders, twister, hungry hippos, frustration, tick tack toe”

Angela said “Can’t recommend Smelly Wellies by Orchard Games highly enough for a preschooler. My son loves it, we play many times a day (And if you want variety you can use the two sets of wellies to play pairs)”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Toddler and Baby Groups in Romsey

An NHM Reader recently contacted me asking if the NHM Community might be able to help: “I live in Romsey and I’m feeling a bit isolated. There are very few toddler and baby groups. Given your role, I wondered whether you have any connections in that area?” 

Thank you for all of your replies, 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: Toddler and Baby Groups in Romsey

Rebecca said “There’s a lovely coffee shop in Romsey called asante…They don’t do toddler groups but may stop you feeling isolated.”

Luan said “What about contacting RCS as they run all sorts of things. Not sure if groups based any more but worth a try”

Jennifer said “I’d suggest: signing up to Southampton NCT Facebook group and Southampton baby and toddler forum. Loads of great suggestions all over the area. Breastfeeders should get to bosom pals- Thursday morning meets in a room upstairs in the Baptist church and is a friendly place for a chat. The library does a couple of activities I think (and is generally a warm and comfortable place to be). I think I heard murmurs of an abbotswood based buggyfit class….Also thinking: I think there’s still a play cafe at the academy studios and I saw another one is opening up on the base point estate near the luzborough pub.”

Claire said “Toddler Sense runs in Romsey on a Monday”

Claudia said “Trina runs Jolly Babies & Music with Mummy classes in Romsey.”

Leah said “There’s frankies fun factory there – like Playdays but bigger!”

Rachel said “The abbey has a toddler group which was always nice. Lovely toddler group in Awbridge village called the ark. The library does some singing/story stuff for little ones which was really good.”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Play Cafes and Cafes with Toys

I recently had a question from an NHM Reader that I asked the NHM Community to help with: “Does anyone know of any play cafes, or alternatively cafes that have entertainment/ toys for little children?”

Many thanks for your replies, 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: Play Cafes and Cafes with Toys

Hook Garden Centre

Tracy said “Hook garden centre has a nice play area and cafe.”

Lottie said “Love the garden centre in hook. “

Kelly-Lauren said “Hook Home & Garden Centre, Come along to my session there! Jiggy Wrigglers Basingstoke & Surrounding Villages

Little Roses Coffee Shop

Andy said “Little Roses on the road to tadley is neat.”

Catherine said “Little Roses at Elm Park Garden Centre have toys upstairs”

Katie said “Little roses at Elm Park garden centre has a little play area upstairs for children. And it’s usually fairly quiet.”

More of the Good Stuff

Catherine also said “ More of the Good Stuff in Dummer have a fenced off area within the tea room full of toys”

Ellie said “More of the good stuff at dummer farm has a lovely area”

Andrea said “More of the good stuff cafe in Dummer.”

Samantha said “More of the Good Stuff , Dummer ….. amazing cake and a secure play area for little ones.”

Active Tots

Emma said “Active Tots is good if your kids are under 5”

Sarah A said “Beware – they have to be under 4 and not higher than a meter. Was turned away by my taller than average just turned 4 year old when I had my 2 year old and 6 month old in tow”

Beggarwood Cafe in the Park

Lottie also said “Cafe in the park in beggarwood has lots of toys”

Andrea also said “Beggarwood community centre.”

Redfields Garden Centre

Lottie also said “Bit further but the treetops cafe at Redfields garden centre in fleet is lovely too”

Sarah S said “Redfields garden centre has a little play area in their treetops cafe upstairs”

Rosie and Bean Play Cafe

Michelle said “Rosie and Bean in fleet is fab!!! Worth messaging their Facebook to book a table as they are very busy in the mornings”

The Overton Coffee Shop

Kate said “The Overton Coffee Shop has children’s books/toys and a little table”

The Tea Bar

Abigail said “The Tea Bar in Basingstoke is a lovely independent coffee shop/cafe. They do all sorts of food and they have loads of toys for toddlers and kids to play with”

Wellington Farm Shop

Ruza said Wellington farm shop has an outside area with a great adventure house, some animals to look at and inside a small selection of toys and books for use.”

Proteus Creation Space

Stephany said “Proteus has a little toy corner”

Lasham Gliding Centre

Michelle also said “On a sunny day, Lasham Gliding Centre has a great play park, cafe/restaurant plus you get to see all the gliders and planes”

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NHM Readers: Places in the area to see bluebells

In April 2018 I asked the Friends of my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook “It’s “bluebell season” now and I’m putting together a post for places in the area to see bluebells. What are your recommendations? (You can find directions to Micheldever bluebell woods on NorthHantsMum).”

Thank you for your responses, which are listed below in no particular order:

NHM Readers recommend places in the area to see bluebells

Catherine said “Beech Village Bluebell Wood

Helen said “The woods next to The Vyne have lots of beautiful bluebells”

Claire said “The Vyne

Lisa said “Some out in Bulls Bushes, Oakley. Was there yesterday”

Emma said “The Bramley Frith is stunning.”

Sarah said “Bramley woods”

Stephanie said “Micheldever forest is stunning for them”

Lisa said “Michaeldever Woods”

Hayley said “Micheldever”

Alistair said “Micheldever Woods!!

Shirley said “Manydown woods

Liane said “Bowdown woods near Greenham Common is spectacular!”

Alison said “If you don’t mind going further afield then Cliveden (National Trust) has a bluebell trail. We went weekend before last.”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Friendly Swimming Teachers for Pre-Schoolers

I recently had a question from an NHM Reader that I asked the NHM Community to help with: “Can anyone recommend a decent and friendly swimming teacher for pre-schooler age. Looking for something a bit more than rhymes and toys, but not constant telling off! Many thanks!”

Thank you for all of your replies, 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: Friendly Swimming Teachers for Pre-Schoolers

The Little Swim Club

Debbie said “Try the little swim club in hook”

Lindsay said “The little swim club are excellent.”

Nadira said “Little swim club”

Sally said “Daniel Hawthorne at Little swim school in Hook. Took A from non swimmer to competent in all strokes in under 1 year. L also now 4 can do some front crawl and back crawl”

Basingstoke Sports Centre

Natasha said “Sports centre in town are fab. Excellent price too!”

Joanna said “I second the sports centre”

Lisa said “Agreed Sports Centre”

Kelly T said “My 3 year old has had two months of lessons at the sports centre during the day which have been really good and only two children in his class. Although he is leaving at christmas as he has joined his big brother at bluefins.”

Bluefins

Kelly T said “(Bluefins) is equally as good. Bluefins only normally take preschoolers at their weekend classes”

Sarah G said “ Bluefins at cranbourne school”

Swim Fish

Helena said “Tanya at swimfish is brilliant. She gave my two a really good start to swimming.”

Wendy W said “Tanya at Swimfish is brilliant – she adapts the lessons and works with the children to make sure they get the best out of the session. Sessions are a great size and she has a love of children and swimming which comes through in her lessons and the confidence the children develop. I definitely recommend her”

Sarah P said “Tanya and Kirsty at Swimfish are amazing. She teaches in a small pool at the Basingstoke Country Hotel, Hook. She has helped my little one hugely with confidence and ability in the water.”

Turtle Tots Surrey & North Hampshire

Emma said “Turtle Tots are fab at Hook swimming pool, there’s definitely no telling off there!

Kate M said “Thank You Emma. Hi louise at Turtle Tots we offer child led lessons which means your child learns at their own pace and comfort level. We have lessons around Surrey and North Hampshire and would be delighted to offer you a trial class to see first hand what we are about. Please email us on swim@turtletots.com for further information or to book a trial class.”

Cali Kids

Wendy D said “Alicia Reilly is returning from maternity leave in Jan and has space for pre-schoolers”

Christine said “Alicia Reilly is brilliant. Lots of fun but the kids make amazing progress”

Kate said  “Cali Kids. Alicia has taught my two boys and they’ve done so well with her. Thoroughly recommend”

Michelle said “ Cali Kids with Alicia Reilly”

Alicia said “Thanks for the recommendations everyone. I offer semi private swim lessons on a Sunday morning and during the day on a Monday for preschoolers and babies at Tadley Swimming Pool. I worked for years with Water Babies and owned my own swim school Cali Kids for years too. We have lots of fun in my lessons and learn through play but have a good success rate. Most my kids start swimming independently at 3 or 4 years old. Feel free to DM me if you’d like more info.”

Aqua Kids

Susan said “Mel Bristow is amazing my two girls go to her”

Mel said “Aqua Kids teach a Fri pm and Sat am just outside Hook. Please pm me for info!”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Family Yoga Classes

An NHM Reader recently asked “I need some help if possible, I have an 8 year old who wants to do a yoga class with me. Do you know any that take children of this age in a joint class. I’ve found some that are for kids but no parents allowed or some for adults but no children under 16.”

Thank you 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: Family Yoga Classes

Sue said “I do yoga with my 10yr old, but it’s at home using the 30 day Yoga on Prime. It’s only 20 minutes and it’s great”

Vickie said “We do yoga at home but it’s on YouTube there’s a woman who has her own channel. It’s fab as she does it along to stories! Both my 5 & 9 yo love it and it’s a good wind-down before bed…It’s such a clever idea because it keeps them engaged too!”

Jo S replied “Yes we do this too…cosmic yoga”

Becca said “Nat runs fab classes The Little Yoga Company

Katie replied “I also recommend Nat”

Vicky said “Young yogis Gina at chineham village hall saturdays”

Ruza said “Recommend Young Yogis with Gina at Chineham village hall Saturday mornings. Very flexible and will let parents and children do this together.”

Kath replied “I run Relax Kids Basingstoke and at some point will be adding children/family yoga to my offering but it won’t be for a while”

Sarah said “Karma Kidz Yoga Absolutely brilliant family classes – but in Farnham, so might be too far for you.”

Hana said “There is a class in Chute House in town centre every Sunday. Suitable for ages 4+”

Claire said “loubedfordyoga was going to run childrens classes but didn’t have enough uptake last year. Highly recommended as a teacher for beginners. Based in Basingstoke too”

Jo R said “Sue Cordery did a class just before Xmas and may do more? We really enjoyed it.”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Meet-up Apps for Parent/Baby Socials

In November 2018, a NHM Reader asked: “”Could you please ask your NHM community what apps they use to meet up from a parent/baby perspective?”

Thank you for all your responses, they are 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: Meet-up Apps for Parent/Baby Socials

Erin said,  “Hoop is pretty good.”

Claire said, “There is Mush.”

Kelly said, “Hoop and Mummy Social.”

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