NHM Readers Recommend: Best Places to Visit Santa with a One-Year-Old

In November 2018, a NHM Reader asked: “Where are the best places to visit Santa in the Basingstoke area for a 1 year old? I’ve seen loads of places advertised but don’t know where is recommended?”

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.

All opinions are the readers own and are not that of NHM.

NHM Readers Recommend: Best Places to Visit Santa with a One-Year-Old

Wendy said, “Proteus would be well worth a visit at that age, then I would just do festival place for the present and photo op, your looking at £10 minimum for almost all other Santa’s.

Charlotte said, “4 kingdoms is always brill have taken my son since he was a baby and now he’s 4.”

Samantha said, “We took our 9 month old last Christmas to the Santa in Festival Place. Did the job and you didn’t pay for all the other bits. On reflection, perfect for the age but probably once they hit 18 months plus you’d be looking for a bit more of an ‘experience’.”

Mary said, “At Proteus the show is interactive and sensory, made especially for little ones. You move around the space so little ones aren’t expected to sit still for long stretches. Here’s a link: http://www.proteustheatre.com/whats-on/the-magical-christmas-toy-shop Santa will feature but it’s very gentle and not a one on one grotto experience.”

Joanna said, “Active tots is good but is just outside of Basingstoke.”

Becky said, “We went to Miller’s Ark. Our little one was a little young at 8 months but the doggie there made her day!”

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Little Play Town is Closing

We are so sad to say that Little Play Town is being closed down by the Council. We would like to thank every adult, baby and child that came to Little Play Town. I’ve loved seeing your reaction when you come in. All the wows! And the smiles, all the fun, the learning and the experiences that the kids and adults had. Creating Little Play Town was a dream come true and I’m forever grateful for every happy moment I’ve seen and every kind word to said to me. Thank you for sharing the Little Play Town experience with me and all the staff. I’ve tried to make every person feel welcomed and included and I’ve met some wonderful people, both big and little!

Sadly, our neighbours from downstairs reported us to the Council as soon as Little Play Town opened and have been campaigning to shut us down ever since we started. It has come to light after working diligently with the Council that the building has foundational issues and although we have tried every sound proof solution currently available in the U.K., we can not fix the foundations of the building. And as we can’t fix it, the landlord is evicting us to pre-empt any problems for himself.

We would like everyone to know that we had no idea that the building would provide issues when we signed the lease and we never had any intention to make a noise and upset anyone. The Council gave us a D2 recreational lease for a nursery. We do not make any noise that you would not expect from any child, baby or adult at any nursery across the U.K. and we did not at this point receive any objections from the 2 downstairs neighbours during our application. All parties knew exactly what we were going to do. We’ve been working every day for over a year to rectify the problems that the neighbours have subsequently had, but frustratingly the Council has turned down the planning application to put steel plates and pavement slabs in the building make the foundation stronger, so that it will be able to hold the very heavy soundproof floors which weigh 100kg per square meter. It’s a beautiful old listed building – the light is stunning and the first time I walked in I could imagine how lovely it would be to have a role play facility for little ones in the area and what a special place it would be for the children to enjoy.

We were completely unaware that and when anyone walks on the floors the noise could be heard below, especially when the building had previously been used as an office. We feel we have been treated very unfairly by some of those opposed to our business; we passed two professional sound testing tests and we are within normal limits for residential and commercial building regulations using our current padding solutions we have in place at present. But due to continual campaigning the Council have decided that these professional tests are not good enough. We feel it’s unfair that we pass testing but we are still not allowed to stay open due to opposition by vociferous individuals who are prominent in the community.

There is still one solution available that can save Little Play Town, and that’s to put a suspended ceiling in the gift store below. Structural engineers have been working closely with us in the past year: this solution can be put into place in 4 days and then the noise is gone. And we will pay for it all for the sake of continuing our special Little Play Town. We needed the approval for this situation from the gift store below, as this the only way to fix the building. But the individual in charge is refusing. And although the individual in question knows that we will be closed down and lose all our savings of 85K which will have a terrible impact upon our family, she has said in every meeting to us and the council that ‘it’s not her problem.’ We always wanted an amicable, mutually supportive relationship with our neighbours, but we feel they have been set against us from the start and just want us out whatever we do.

The final straw happened this week, when we emailed the gift store, the coffee shop owners, the Council and the landlord. We wanted to say that we have a party this Saturday with kids with disabilities, and that some noise might occur. We wanted to do the right thing and tell them as we didn’t want another complaint from the owners to the Council on Monday, so we though it best to inform them. Within the hour of receiving our email, the Council received a call from the gift store to complain. I really couldn’t believe it. At Little Play Town ALL kids are welcome. And for us to be told by the Council that ‘these” people – disabled kids – should not be let in at Little Play Town if they are going to cause more noise, I am flabbergasted. Demanding that we do ‘anything’ to prevent noise, even if it means to turn kids with disabilities away, is against everything we stand for and shows how irrational and narrow minded the opposition we have faced is. I believe role play is very beneficial for any child and my door has always been open to anyone that wishes to come in.

We’ve spoken to the MP, who is across the road from us. He has been invited a few times to come and see what Little Play Town offers the families of Odiham and surrounding communities, but so far he has shown no interest. We have also spoken to the Parish Council and the Councillors of Odiham. We have applied for a grant to help us pay for the floors the council wants us to put in which cost just under £20000, but were not successful. They have put us in an impossible position. We have 10 staff members at Little Play Town and all of us stand to lose our jobs. And most of my staff live in Odiham. Little Play Town is such an asset to the community and we could do so much more but for the entrenched, short sighted, and very personal opposition to us.

In the end, my husband tells me that my health is more important than the business which I love so much; having to be rushed off in an ambulance thinking that I’m having a heart attack over all the daily stress of the pass year, and getting heart palpitations daily when I enter Odiham, being afraid of entering the car park of my own business – all of it is just not worth it. We’ve come to realise that the neighbours weren’t willing to give us a chance and work with us – the first verbal attacks happened while I was still unpacking Little Play Town and we hadn’t even opened. Since then I have been attacked by the coffee shop owner and the police had to be called. After the police spoke to them they agreed that they will not enter Little Play Town again. But this hasn’t stopped me from always having to be on guard, always wondering if I will be attacked or intimidated again.I would like to thank the mom and child who were also verbally abused by the coffee shop owner, writing a statement to the police regarding the incident, as the same happened to me minutes later.

So here we are. We are not sure if we have 1 week, 2 weeks or 1 month left. I’m sure there will be a few that will be happy that we are gone, but I’m hoping that most of you will feel it is a loss and a shame. I have written this from the heart and I’ve never been very good at writing but I’m not going to edit this. We are good kind and honest people, and we have been trying very hard to fix this problem but we can only do so much but the 2 owners from downstairs have no intention of meeting us half way or at all of that matter. My kids want heir mommy back, as all they see is me crying every day.

So if you love Little Play Town, come and visit us for one last time. As I’m not sure for how much longer we will be here for. My heart is broken. I love Little Play Town and I’m struggling to come to term with this, but it’s been taken out of our hands. I hope you remember those moments with your children at Little Play Town as fondly as I do – I will miss you all. All the smiles and laughter. All the happiness.

Thanks you for reading my story. Feel free to share it on.

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Review 2018: Stonor Park, Henley on Thames

Thank you very much to Emma for today’s NHM Secret Review! She’s done an awesome job :-D.

About

Stonor Park is a beautiful stately home found in the sprawling countryside near Henley on Thames. The house itself is open on various dates throughout the year and showcases art, treasures and a step back in time. However, as beautiful as it is, the reason that we loved our visit to Stonar Park was for the Wonder Woods play area that has been built and the beautiful gardens you can explore.

The adventure play area is really big and includes massive slides, swings, water play, climbing frames and gigantic zip wire. We arrived as soon as Stonor park opened at 10am and by 12.30pm the kids were still merrily throwing themselves around on the play equipment. We had to remind them that they needed to eat!

Once we had exhausted the play area we took a wander around the grounds and the children really loved all of the little winding pathways that they could run off and explore – it felt a bit like ‘The Secret Garden’ – really magical.

Alongside all of the exciting things to see, the facilities are also excellent. They have wonderfully clean toilets, a baby changing room, on site parking, gift shop and a café.

Tips

Take a picnic if you feel that way inclined, as they have a lovely big picnic area for you to enjoy whilst watching the Deer frolic amongst the trees.

Be aware that the play area is set on a very steep hillside. I had my baby in a pushchair and I managed to take it all the way up to the top but it was quite a work out to do so, perhaps leave it in the car and grab a sling instead! I also don’t think it would be particularly accessible if you had any mobility issues.

You can pay to visit the whole site (including the house) or just for the gardens and Wonder Woods.

Finally, I suspect that the day was made by the beaming sunshine – it is quite an exposed spot so I am not sure if it would be the same in the pouring rain.

Rating

We had a wonderful day out and I think in good weather it is most definitely a top scoring location! 5/5!

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NHM Readers Recommend: Buggy Friendly Walks with a Tea/Coffee Shop at the End

I recently asked the Friends of my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook if they could help with the following question: “Do you know of any buggy friendly walks with tea/coffee shop at the end? Know of Eastrop, Beggarwood and War Memorial.”

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

NHM Readers Recommend: Buggy Friendly Walks with a Tea/Coffee Shop at the End

Rebecca said “There is one in Rooksdown on Thursday morning. We haven’t started to yet but have been talking of ending the walk at a local Costa or with a picnic.”

Mary said “Basingwoods is good for buggies. There is sometimes a cafe in the popley fields community centre but i can’t remember dates etc. Also from there you can walk up to st Gabriel’s which sometimes has a cafe. I think you need to check their websites for times.”

Emma said “Sherfield on London is nice! Take the little ones to see the ducks, play on the park, walk all around the big greens and across the streams and then there’s a lovely cafe on the corner with a post office in the back”

Wendy said “Greenham common are on the verge of opening their cafe in the old control tower. It will be staffed by volunteers so not open every day. Check their facebook page for details. https://www.facebook.com/GreenhamControlTower/

Lauren said “Beggarwood is ok and the community centre has a really nice cafe”

Karen M said “Kempshott/oakley multi user path and jolly ollie’s in oakley or kitty’s in kempshott”

Karen J said “Go on ready steady mum’s group”

Ruza said “Farnham great park, and the cafe is reality good.”

Ruchira said “Ready steady mums walk at Eastrop park on a Wednesday at 1”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Local Places to go for Large Groups with Pushchairs

I recently asked the NHM Community “I’m looking for suggestions of local places to go for large groups of Mums with pushchairs and little ones under 6 months old, especially places to eat or drink at.”

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

NHM Readers recommend local places to go for large groups with pushchairs

Rachel said “Wellington country park, eastrop park, memorial park. When I met up with the mum’s from my NCT group we found Longbridge Mill to be accommodating (we just used to warn them when we booked).”

Emma said “Beggarwood park- there’s a cafe at the new community centre

Kate said “Tea bar quite roomy in the afternoon when it’s quieter.”

Helen said “Giraffe have always been very welcoming for our buggyfit socials. They have a big room at the back they let us use and Mums can bring in buggies and feed comfortably

Lisette said “Our NCT group often met at Starbucks in festival place. At the tables and chairs outside. Always plenty of room”

  • Mary replied “We also cause total havoc on a weekly basis as the ‘outside’ seating upstairs means we aren’t in anyone’s way.”

Hannah said “Hook garden centre are good”

  • Lottie replied “Another vote for hook garden centre here”
  • Pauline said “Hook Home and Garden Centre great kids play area and cafe with amazing cakes!

Jessica said “Aingels Cafe and Bistro, lots of parking, relaxed environment and plenty of room.”

Tracy said “Dome cafe Brighton Hill is fab.”

Sarah said “Nando’s rearranged their outdoor tables for a big group of us!”

Jo said “More of the Good Stuff has lots of space and a little fenced off indoor play corner too. LOVELY cake!

Steph said “The cafe in John Lewis has loads of room but that’s more lunch/cake”

Karen said “Roses cafe

Kathryn said “Redfields garden centre in church crookham might be too far for your group”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Bus and Train Journeys for Kids

An NHM Reader recently asked “My daughter wants to go on bus/train but I don’t know of anywhere from Basingstoke to really go that has something at the other end worthwhile doing with 2-3 children. Good way of avoiding some of the wet weather!!”

Thank you to the NHM Community for your responses, listed below in no particular order:

NHM Readers Recommend: Bus and Train Journeys for Kids

Victoria said “We like going to Bramley on the train and the bakery-simple but the kids love it. The other place is Whitchurch silk mill but it’s a little trek from the station to the town-my 3 and 6 year old walked it though”

Wendy said “You could feed the swans on the Thames at the back of Reading station or there’s this 10 min walk from Southampton parkway http://www.steamtrain.co.uk/ You could also just get the bus to Chineham and go to the library.”

Holly said “There’s the new WWF centre in Woking https://www.wwf.org.uk/…/living-planet…/plan-your-visit

Mo said “You could take the Newbury bus and go to 4 kingdoms – as bus stop right outside entrance..”

Stacey said “Only a short journey but you could take the purple bus from town to the leisure park – lots to do there – Milestones, bowling, skating, swimming, food etc”

Lianne said “Little Street in Frimley is really good. I think you have to change trains though to get there from here”

Katie said “We quite enjoy getting the bus to/from Sainsbury’s and popping into Sainsbury’s cafe. Or you could just choose something from Sainsbury’s to take home?”

Lindsey said “Train to Winchester…loads of coffee shops, the library, the cathedral, there are usually buskers on the high street.”

  • Becky replied  “I was going to suggest Winchester!”

Karen said “Milestones.(or swimming/ice-skating/bowling/cinema) Get the shuttle bus from town. Hatchwarrren Sainsbury’s and go to pets at home or beggarwood park. Train to winchester – the library is a few mins walk or there’s the water mill you can visit. Little street frimley although the train to the weybridge one is more direct. To Andover and it’s about 10 minutes walk to the shops and there’s a play place inside (role play sorry I forget the name) Bus to chineham park (6) and walk behind Lidl and you’ve got playdays on stewart road or change to the number 4 and go to chineham for the library they’ve got crafts from 10-12 today.”

Colleen said “If you’re looking for a big day out, Portsmouth is direct train from Basingstoke and you have the spinnaker tower and historic dockyard right next to the train station. Eastleigh lakeside railway is short walking distance from Southampton airport parkway station, and has a miniature train, country park and a v reasonably priced cafe.”

Kim said “Look up the Watercress line. Some lovely journeys on it and you can take a picnic on the train.”

Sasha said “We take the bus to town and do the discovery centre or play den at the sports centre or go and get eggs from the market on a Friday. Keep it simple and have fun”

Joanna said “We love getting the train to Winchester, it’s a really pretty train ride and there is a really nice library and play park in Winchester”

  • Colleen replied “And the sweet shop… mine like a trip there.”

Amanda said “We used to do train trip to reading just to do Disney store, it’s not there anymore but for the kids it’s more about the trip than anything. As long as we visited the sweet shop in the Harris arcade before getting the train back they were happy.”

  • Pauline replied “There is a pop up Disney store in the Oracle at the moment.”

Larissa said “Winchester is lovely to wander about and the sweet shop near the train station always a winner”

Ruza said “Start your your day of exploration off by bus to the train station. Children are so excited by this because. We have then been to London just to walk along the embankment, the London eye was a bonus. Highly recommend SeaCity museum which is a short walk from the station.”

Samantha said “Train to Bramley and there is a lovely little coffee shop just next to the train station. Drink and a biscuit and then back home!”

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NHM Reader Recommendations: Places to go with an 8 month old and no transport

An NHM Reader asked “I was wondering if you could help me out. I live in Basingstoke and have an 8-month-old son. I would love for us to be able to go out for the day somewhere, but I’m not sure where is good for babies. I don’t drive either, so it would have to be accessible by public transport or walking distance. I do have a railcard though. Do you have any ideas?”

Thank you to the NHM Readers for the below replies. Thank you also to Juliet for putting this post together! 

NHM Reader Recommendations: Places to go with an 8 month old and no transport

Lottie says “There’s a bus to Marwell Zoo which I think you can pick up in Winchester so you could get the train there”

Hannah says “Beale Park is a short train ride away. Also Millers Ark on the way to Hook…. has a bus stop not far from its entrance.”

Helen says “I second the Beale Park suggestion. As well as animals and the train they have a big sand pit and paddling pool. Go during the term time and it’ll be quiet.”

Vicky says “I downloaded this app it’s really good tells you what’s going on groups etc in your area for the age group you are looking for” https://hoop.co.uk

Wendy says “A walk by the Thames at Reading (there’s a park by Reading bridge and lots of swans). The New Forest has tourist buses in the summer. Paultons Park has a bus from Southampton station. The number 11 bus stops outside Manydown. Bus to Shakespeare Road (Popley East) for the Splash Park.

Jason says “The New Forest also has a train station”

Cathy says “Lots of free events coming up around town http://www.basingstokefestival.co.uk/…/cate…/free-events

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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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BASINGSTONES: Top Tips

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/basingstones/ 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

FAQs

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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Help!!! Sounds Babies pay attention too

I had a lovely message from Helen who has asked for the help of the NorthHantsMum Community.

We’ve helped Helen and her colleagues out before, via NHM, a few years ago and it would be great to help again!

Sounds Babies pay attention too

I work in the psychology department at Reading University.

A colleague is desperately looking for people to help with a project about the sounds babies pay attention to. It’s for babies aged 12-15 months and takes around 20 mins.

They will play sounds and pictures to the babies and measure which they prefer based on what they pay attention to.

It does mean a trip to Reading but might be something fun and different to do.

Would you be able to put out a plea to your lovely network of mums?

If you’re a parent that’s able to help can you please email g.w.schafer@reading.ac.uk stating you’d be interested in finding out more about the baby project and he can send you all the info.

Thanks in advance!

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