Review 2017: Farnham Park and Castle

We were recently on our travels to Richmond for a day out, pretending to be posh. Except we hadn’t realised that the M3 would be closed and would make our journey epically complicated, so once off the slip road we decided to head home and find somewhere else to go.

One of my friends had recommended Farnham Park to me and as it was on the way back I suggested we check it out. It’s about 20-25 minutes drive from Basingstoke. We had a brilliant time exploring just the park. We then went back a few months later with the same friends who took us to the Castle and Miss NHM and her playmate had a fantastic time!!!

Play

Farnham Park has an AWESOME wooden play park. It’s HUGE! We spent about 1.5 hours playing in the park, playing on all of the different wooden structures

We walked for miles and miles and still only did a fraction of the park. We completely missed one of the play parks which is a bit further round from the Wooden play park!

Mr NHM may or may not have played “I’m the king of the castle” on this structure! lol.

Castle

We then decided to go and look at the Castle. The Castle is free to enter but they ask for a donation.

We had a BRILLIANT time in the Castle! I couldn’t believe that it was free entry!

We spent about 5 minutes in the room which explained the history of the Castle. The children were too excited to stay any longer here as they wanted to explore the castle itself.


We did pick up a leaflet which explained “The Keep at Farnham Castle” and gave a short tour of what it all was.

I didn’t get many pictures of the Castle itself because I couldn’t get any without there being someone in it!!! But we spent ages in the Castle exploring and went down into the Central Tower and the Well. The children were fascinated with the Latrines, as children would be! lol.

We were incredibly lucky to visit on a day when the weather was absolutely glorious. As you can see, the views from the castle across Farnham were spectacular!

Tips

You can’t park at the Castle unless you have a disabled badge, so we parked in the car park which said it was for the Golf Course which was about a 5 minute walk away. There is lots of parking and it’s for users of the gold course and the park, but it can get VERY busy after lunch and people park in very haphazard ways, so be warned if you have toddlers who like to run of!!

The steps into the Castle itself are very steep so it’s not recommended to take a pushchair. If you can take a sling that would work although it is possible to park your pushchair down at the main entrance. It is a very steep set of steps into the castle though.

Definitely pick up one of the leaflets which explains where everything is. This helped us to ensure we’d explored everything.

Food

The Cafe is very independent to the point where dogs are allowed in the cafe! It’s like going back in time to 30 years ago when dogs were allowed everywhere! Which I love but I know lots of people won’t.

The price of food is really cheap and it’s very popular so you can sometimes queue for a bit. If you like golf, the golf shop is also attached. I can imagine the cafe being very busy in the summer with all of the requests for ice cream!

Facilities

There are toilets in the Cafe in the park and also really good toilets at the Castle.

Baby Facilities

There are baby facilities but the ones in the Castle are better.

Parking

As mentioned above, there is no parking at the Castle for the general public so you can either park in Farnham and walk up the hill or park in the golf course car park and walk round. You can either walk through the park and then along the castle ramparts to get to the castle or there is a path which is very close to the main road but has a flimsy fence. Keep a very close eye on little people as the cars go really fast.

Prices

It was free to park.

The Park is free to enter and so is Farnham Castle.

Rating out of 5

5 out of 5. Miss NHM and her friend absolutely loved the open space, the wooden playground and exploring the castle. Even better that the whole day out was free!!!

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Santas, Pantos and Other Christmas events

Thank you very much to Wendy, one of the NHM Awesome Support Team, for putting this awesome post together!!!!

Santas, Pantos and Other Christmas events

The fireworks have stopped, the John Lewis advert is out and the countdown to Christmas has begun. Below are some of the local places to visit Santa plus several other Christmas experiences that you may wish to put in the diary or book now including Christmas plays and Pantos.  With school holidays starting late this year demand for weekend slots for Santa will be high so book early.

Santa Grottos

Festival Place – Basingstoke. £4.50 per child. Lots of availability and probably the cheapest Santa visit locally.

Henry Street Garden Centre –Arborfield. £9.99 per child, £2 per adult. Weekends and inset days are already fully booked but there are a few after school slots left and plenty of options for those not in school yet.

Dobbies Garden Centre – Shinfield. £9.95 per child. Good availability, including weekends and Christmas Eve.

Redfields Garden Centre – Church Crookham. £6 per child. Book instore or by phone 01252 624444

Experiences with a Santa Visit

Please click on the links for further details about these experiences.

Wyevale Garden Centre – Sherfield on Loddon. A few dates left for Breakfast or tea with Santa.

Millers Ark – Nr Hook. Lots of Christmas events including a Santa’s Grotto, Carols in the Barn and a Nativity with real animals.

4 Kingdoms – Headley. Still availability for their Christmas experience.

Finkley Down Farm – Andover. Limited availabilty for weekends. Lots of choice for week days.

Basingstoke Canal – Mychett. This has already sold out for this year.

Watercress Line – Alresford/Alton. Lots of dates still available, including weekends.

Marwell – Winchester. Some weekend tickets still left. Lots of availability for week days.

Winchester Science Centre – Winchester. Still lots of availability, includes SEN sessions.

Paultons Park – Ower. Lots of dates still available.

Lapland UK – Windsor. Lots of dates still available.

Other Christmas Events

The Malls – Basingstoke. Events start with Christmas light switch on Nov 17th  at 6.30pm.  Check their website for various other events in the run up to Christmas .

Festival Place Santa Parade – Basingstoke. Dec 3rd at 12pm.  Santa arrives at Festival Place.

Basingstoke Festive Fun Run – Memorial Park Basingstoke. Dec 10th. Please check website for times.

Basingstoke Festive Fun Run – Memorial Park Basingtoke. Dec 10th. Please check website for times.

Lantern Procession – Newbury. Dec 10th from 4pm. Join in or just admire and soak up the atmosphere as the candle-lit procession travels along Northbrook Street to the Market Place

The Vyne – Basingstoke. It’s the last chance to go up on the roof at The Vyne and, like most other National Trust properties, there’s a Christmas Trail.

Theatre

A Christmas Carol – Proteus Basingstoke. Nov 25th – 26th. Performance for children age 6+

How Many Sleeps ‘Til Christmas – Proteus Basingstoke. Dec 14th – 24th. Interactive Christmas performance, Santa normally makes an appearance. Tickets are selling fast. For pre-school children (although most under 9s love it too)

Santa in Love – Central Studio Basingstoke. Dec 15th. For children age 2-5.

The Night Before Christmas – The Haymarket Basingstoke. Dec 8th – 10th ages 2 and over

Santa’s Christmas Wish – Theatre Royal Winchester. Dec 18th. All ages

Pantos

Peter Pan – The Anvil Basingstoke. Dec 14th – Jan 7th. All ages

Peter Pan – The Hexagon Reading. Dec 9th – Jan 7th. All ages. With Justin Fletcher.

Peter Pan – Theatre Royal Winchester. Dec 5th – Jan 1st. All ages

Beauty & The Beast – Corn Exchange Newbury. Dec 1st – Jan 7th. All ages

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Mayflower Southampton. Dec 15th – Jan 7th. All ages. With Craig Revel-Horwood & The Chuckle Brothers.

Please let us know of any events you feel should be added by emailing the details to NorthHantsMum@gmail.com. Thanks!

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Advent Calendar Ideas for 2017

I’ve collated these from previous posts on NHM but please add your suggestions in the comments on the NorthHantsMum FB Page and I will add them into this post. Thanks!!

Advent Calendar Ideas for 2017

Make a Christmas tree decoration

Build a Christmas item like a Lego Christmas tree, Santa sleigh, snowman, etc or with playdoh.

Make a paper chain

Go see the Christmas lights or a street that has lots of decorations. Festival Place, The Oracle, Farnham and Winchester have good local ones.

Do some Christmas baking

December 5th is Saint Nicholas Day, so do someone a good deed in his spirit. The French bake gingerbread as a tradition.

December 21st is winter solstice so take time out from all those Pre- Christmas do’s and celebrate at home by cosying up with loved Ones.

Attend Hook Christmas Cracker (Saturday 2nd December 2017)

Make a Christmas card

Play a board game

Christmas Nature Walk – Take a walk to your local park or woods and collect pine cones and see if you can spot a robin or some holly. Check out Nature Detectives to see what you can find.

Visit your local garden centre to see The Christmas decorations

Write a letter to Father Christmas. Use stickers for younger children

Go to a local school Christmas Fayre and pick up some fabulous bespoke Christmas presents.

Make Christmas Gloop (put in a couple of baubles and some glitter) ????

Put together A personalised video message for your child from Santa (and it’s free!) (this is AWESOME!) and play it to your child.

Visit a local library and find some nice Christmas stories, e.g. Father Christmas needs a wee!

Make a bird feeder

Have a Christmas boogie. When the music stops, do a christmas movement. Roll like a bauble, chickle like santa, twirl like a snowflake

Eat dinner by candlelight.(We use the electronic version of candles as I’m banned from using real candles since I set fire to my bedroom when I was 14 years old. Don’t ask!)

Have a Christmas sing song round the piano. All use instruments like jingle bells or triangle

Learn about Christmas in another country

Read Christmas books whilst snuggled under blankets

Go ice skating at the local ice skating rink

Play Christmas charades

Go see a local pantomime

Christmas dressing up

Go Christmas Caroling (even if it’s just to Grandparents!)

Give something back, make a donation.

Make jolly jars. Take an old jam jar and decorate with stickers or glass pens and then fill with sweets and treats to give to loved ones

Hand deliver some Christmas cards to neighbours

Print off some Christmas puzzles, word searches, colour pages.

Tell some of our favourite Christmas jokes

Do a Christmas jigsaw puzzle

A lovely activity to do on Christmas eve is to have a special Christmas box with new pyjamas, a Christmas DVD and snacks that your children can unwrap and enjoy while they wait for father christmas

Watch the Santa Fun Run in Eastrop Park. Is there one on this year?

Buy and decorate your Christmas Tree

Write a letter to Santa – find out about the NSPCC version or send one via Royal Mail

Listen to Christmas Music (there are normally dedicated satellite channels for music and films at Christmas!) or you can download your favourites from i-Tunes.

Have an indoor snowball fight with scrunched up paper

From today the word “Christmas” is jinxed – every time you say “Christmas” you have to sing Jingle Bells – this can run all day or all month

Put Christmas decorations up in your bedroom

Send Christmas cards

Make Christmas crackers from old toilet rolls!

Watch a Christmas movie. Which are your favourites?

Visit Santa’s Grotto at Festival Place and take a ride on the train

Sing the 12 Days of Christmas without saying Christmas.

Drive round looking for houses with Christmas lights.

Have a super duper Hot Chocolate – make your own at home with flake, marshmallows, squirty cream, etc or nip out to your favourite cafe.

Catch a ride on the Santa Bus.

Dress up as a Christmas character all day or wear a Christmas Jumper

Make a Christmas collage

Build and decorate a gingerbread house

Jazz up a chocolate Swiss roll for an instant Yule log

Christmas i-spy – make a list of Christmas items to spot then go for a walk and tick things off your list.

Track Santa’s progress around the world on the Norad website

Thank you very much to Heidi W for her suggestions in 2014!!!!

1. Put up tree and outside lights

2. Santa train ride in town centre

3. Christmas books by candle light

4. Christmas snap cards, make paperchains

5. Write Christmas cards

6. New Christmas jigsaw

7. Watch a Christmas DVD

8. Go and see a Christmas show either at the Anvil or the Haymarket.

9. Paper crafts (angels, snowflakes etc)

10. Lion’s Santa tour stops outisde our house – with glowsticks

11. Paper/foam wreaths

12. Sticker activity books

13. Make your own Christmas badge kit

14. Check out a local museum (Milestones or the Willis Museum) for their Christmas activities with little ones

15. Childrens Carol service at church

16. Do a Christmas Craft together – e.g.  foam Christmas tree kit, make Christmas crackers, Christmas baubles.

17. Christmas books

18. Stencils/sticker craft

19. Nativity Play scene set

20.TBC

21. Winter Ice Art or go and see the Christmas Ice Rink either at Winchester Cathederal or if they have one in Festival Place

22. Make Christmas biscuits

23. Visit Santa’s Wonderland at Paultons Park

24. Open your Christmas Eve box together (New PJ’s!!!)

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Basingstones

This is such a brilliant idea!! Well done Rachel for setting this up!!!!

Basingstones

Whilst being away for a few days with the family, we came across a fab craze in Dorset which I think our children here in Basingstoke and Hants will absolutely love.

I have set up a facebook group called Basingstones.

Everyone can join in the fun, young and old, and anyone in between. You just paint a stone, write ‘Basingstones’ on it and hide it somewhere. Perhaps in one of our lovely parks here in Basingstoke, by a bench, under a tree, anywhere you like.

The idea is that someone will find your stone and smile. It may even brighten their day! Hopefully they will post a photo on our facebook group page so we can all see how far our stones travel.

Then our Basingstone finder can either re-hide the stone, or keep it and replace it with a new stone.

You can paint the stone however you wish, perhaps with a pretty pattern, a fun cartoon character, an inspirational quote or an artistic design, for example. Sharpie pens, permanent markers, nail polish, paints and varnish all work really well.

It is encouraging us as a family to get outdoors, be creative and spread some joy.  It has certainly kept us busy and entertained this half term break and without damaging the bank balance.

I hope everyone loves the concept as much we do and gets involved and has some fun.

Enjoy! x

Rachel

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Season Tickets to local attractions in North Hampshire – updated 2017

I’ve recently just invested in a Season ticket for a local attraction. I wanted somewhere that was near to Basingstoke, that we could just pop into after work or when my husband is at work on the weekend.

Paying for entry to attractions can be very expensive, but if you find somewhere that you like, and you know you will visit maybe once a month, it makes sense to invest in a Season ticket.

You also get discounts and extra perks with most Season tickets. I am planning to get a season ticket for a different place each year, so we don’t get bored of the same places.

This is an exceptionally long post. Sorry about that! It was really difficult to know what to include, so I’ve tried to include the key highlights and the costs. Hope you find it useful!

Updated September 2017

Wellington Country Park

Wellington Country Park Season Tickets

How long is it valid for?

Valid for 1 year from the date of purchase.

Under 3’s go free.  

Not only do you receive ‘unlimited access’ to the Park but also a whole host of other benefits…

2017 Season Ticket Benefits

  • UNLIMITED ADMISSION to Wellington Country Park during normal opening hours
  • 3 FREE train ride vouchers for each Annual Pass holder, with all subsequent rides only £1.00 each
  • 5 FREE hot drink vouchers for Adult Annual Pass holders only
  • 3 FREE day passes for Adult Annual Pass holders only
  • FREE PARTICIPATION in all of their in-house events – excluding Christmas and additional ticketed events
  • MONTHLY E-NEWSLETTER to keep you up to date of what takes place at the Park

Please note: Terms and Conditions do apply. For full details, please see ‘Terms and Conditions’ on their website.

How much does a Season Ticket cost?

2017 Prices  

Adult (16+) £74.00
Child (3-15)   £60.00
Children 2 and under FREE

Please Note: Don’t forgot that when your child turns 3 years old, they will need their own Annual Pass

Finkley Down Farm

Finkley Down Farm Season Ticket

An Annual Pass enables each person purchased free admission to the farm park for 1 Year from date of purchase. Ideal for a short visit even after school for a quick play on the playground or all day in the holidays.

Also if you purchase a pass before your child turns two they are free the duration of your pass.

There is also a Childminder’s annual pass, details can be found on their website.

Please note: Terms and Conditions apply.

Person Type Monthly Direct Debit (Online Only) One Off Payment
Family (4 persons) £24.00 £260.00
Adult £7.00 £75.00
Children 2 – 16 Years £6.00 £65.00
Children Under 2 Free Free
Senior Citizen £6.00 £65.00
Student Student ID Required £6.00 £65.00
Disabled + Unnamed Carer Disability Proof Required £6.00 £65.00

Beale Park

Beale Park Season

Season tickets will soon be available to purchase on-line. In the meantime, please read the options on how to buy a season pass below.  A season ticket to Beale Park is fantastic value, offering:

  • Access to the Park for one calendar year from the date of application.
  • 10 train rides during the course of your season ticket
  • Subscription to the Park’s electronic news updates

…and, by becoming a season ticket holder, you are actively supporting the conservation projects that Beale Park undertakes, as well as contributing towards the care of the animals.

It’s easy to join. Simply print out the form on the website and bring it with you to the Beale Park ticket office where, on payment, a photograph will be taken and your application processed, enabling your season ticket to be produced.

How much will it cost

Adult Season Ticket – £48  

Senior Citizens (60+) – £38.00  

Child Season Ticket – £34  

Registered Disabled + Carer – £48  

Family Season Ticket (2 Adults + 2 Children) – £135  

Terms and Conditions apply

Bucklebury Farm

Bucklebury Farm Park Membership

Why not become a Farm & Deer Safari Park member and enjoy access to the farm and deer park throughout the 2017 season? An ideal opportunity for numerous short visits either after school, school holidays, rainy days, to visit the animals, go round the deer park on a tractor, safari or deer expedition, have a stroll or just for the children to let off steam!! All our park attractions are included in the price with the exception of special events. Joining costs you the equivalent of around £5 per month. Make six visits and then go FREE!

The membership includes a 10% discount on group party bookings for 2017. This can be used for birthday parties but also your children’s class (only one discount per class can apply!) at school – well worth mentioning to your children’s teacher. We also offer all season ticket holders a very special 20% discount in Woody’s for ten visits – great for breakfasts, family lunches or just coffee and cake with friends (excluding special event menus).

How much will it cost

Adults – £60

Children & OAPs – £54

Disabled/helpers – £46 each

Many Down Farm

Many Down Farm Season Tickets

Season tickets are valid for unlimited visits during all 4 2017 events. Easter lambing, May Half Term, Summer Maize Maze (Plus all weekends in September), & October Pumpkin Carving

Front Entrance Price Online Discount Price
Adult £37.50 £37.00
Child £37.50 £37.00
Senior Citizen £35.50 £35.00
Under 2’s £0.00 £0.00
Family Tickets Front Entrance Price Online Discount Price
Family of 2 Online Only £73.50
Family of 3 £107.50 £107.00
Family of 4 £137.50 £137.00
Family of 5 £167.50 £167.00
Family of 6 £197.50 £197.00

Terms and conditions apply. Details on entry.  

4 Kingdoms Adventure Park

4 Kingdoms Adventure Park Annual Pass

Enjoy their 12 Special Events through the Summer Season for the price of 6: Purchasing an annual pass costs less than the equivalent of 6 visits over a twelve month period.

You can visit 4 Kingdoms 7 days a week throughout the year: An annual pass runs for a full twelve months from the date of purchase.

“Try Before You Buy”: When you go to 4 kingdoms on any day and buy day tickets for you and your family, if you buy an annual ticket before you leave you will have your day ticket refunded (T&C’s Apply).

An Annual Pass gives you 10% off your child’s special birthday party event at 4 Kingdoms: Choose from any of their special themed birthday parties and get 10% off the price.

An Annual Pass gives you 10% off their magical Christmas Event: Join them for a magical Christmas family experience and get 10% off the ticket price.

Visit 6 times And Every Other Day Is FREE!

Single – £59.90

Family of 2 – £115.00

Family of 3 – £165.00

Family of 4 – £210.00

Family of 5 – £250.00

Birdworld

Birdworld Membership

If you are a regular visitor to Birdworld then why not become a Birdworld member. Their members enjoy many benefits including:

Unlimited Visits – As an Annual Pass holder, you can visit Birdworld as often as you like, be it for half-an-hour or a full day. Just show your pass with photo at the Information Desk on arrival, thereby avoiding any queues at Admissions on busy days.

E-Newsletters – Their regular newsletters will keep you up-to-date with happenings within the Park, so you’ll hear all about new arrivals amongst the birds, fish, reptiles and animals on the farm, seasonal activity in the Gardens, and generally be aware of what’s going on around Birdworld. You may opt to receive this via E-mail.

Annual Pass Holder Events – You can join their team for exclusive events at Birdworld, which are only available to our pass holders. This includes our annual supper evening, which you can enjoy at no extra cost.

Discounts & Special Offers – Annual Pass Holders are eligible for a 10% discount on any purchases from the Gift Shops (excl. foods), and 15% discount on Birdworld Birthday Parties. You will also receive special prices for our Santa’s Winter Wonderland. When buying your pass you will also receive a one off 10% voucher to use on many products at Forest Lodge Garden Centre.

If you are still not sure, then visit Birdworld for the day and they will be pleased to refund the cost of that ticket against the pass if you decide to join on the day.

Pass type 1 year
Adult £55.95
Child £46.95
Pre-School Child (3-6 years) £29.95
Disabled Child £35.95
Concession (Senior citizens, students and disabled adults) £46.95
Family: 2 Adults & 3 Children £185.00
Family: 1 Adult & 3 Children £135.00
2 Adults Joint pass £99.95
2 Concessions Joint pass £89.95
Carer £19.95

The Hawk Conservancy

Hawk Conservancy Membership

By becoming a member you can be an invaluable part of our mission while enjoying as many visits to the Hawk Conservancy Trust as you like – not to mention many other benefits throughout the year.

Participating Member:

As a Participating Member, you can visit the Trust as many times as you like in one year and support our important conservation work. You’ll also receive:

  • invitations to our exclusive Members’ Evenings;
  • discounted tickets for your guests;
  • three HawkTalk newsletters;
  • and our Annual Review.
Adult £55
Joint (couple) £105
Child £24
Family (two adults and two children) £140
Extra child on a family membership £18

Conservation membership and life membership are also available with additional benefits, details of which can be found on their website.

Terms and conditions apply to all membership packages.

Other Passes or Season Tickets

The Living Rainforest review on NHM (The standard admission price entitles the purchaser to an Annual Ticket, which allows free entry for one year, so keep your receipt!) NOTE: the prices have increased since the review and can be found on The Living Rainforest’s website.

National trust

Culture Trust Membership

Merlin Pass

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Review 2017: Beale Park

Thank you to the NHM Secret Reviewer who wrote today’s post.

Review 2017: Beale Park

Like many other afflicted parents, I have a boy addicted to trains. I made the mistake of promising a train ride all week, and today I had to deliver. Fortunately I live in an area where there are quite a few options that aren’t solely about trains, and today was Beale Park – a stunning wildlife park and gardens with a fantastic selection of children’s play areas. Perfect!

Beale Park website

Beale Park Facebook Page

About

Beale Park is a wildlife park and gardens about 30-40 minutes away from Basingstoke, between Lower Basildon and Pangbourne, by the River Thames. There are three main features to the park:

Wildlife:
The park has a collection of small exotic animals, farm animals and birds, including meerkats, wallabies, coatis, owls and peacocks to name but a few. The train passes many of these areas, which can be very useful for tired little feet, although the paths are pushchair friendly. There is also a deer park set in a large open space with picnic area and zip wire. We haven’t been that far yet though.

Attractions:
The park’s miniature train runs every day during their open season and your first ride is included with your entry ticket. There is an additional charge for further rides. There is an amazing Little Tikes Outdoor Village, indoor play area, adventure playground, paddling pool, sandpit, Roplay area and aerial cableway. To be honest, there is so much at the central play area alone, we could spend the whole day there and our boys would be happy (with a train ride of course).

Gardens:
We have so far managed to convince our boys that the way to the main play area is through the Jubilee Water Gardens. That’s not strictly true but the gardens are so stunning we don’t see the harm in being a little sneaky in order to enjoy the amazing walk. With a beautiful oriental feel, I can’t imagine leaving them feeling anything other than relaxed. There is also a ‘Dry Garden’ running alongside the inner lake making it a wonderful feature.

Conservation

Not only is Beale Park an amazing day out for all, it is committed to conservation of rare and endangered species, managing several projects and supporting others. Always a bonus having a great day out and knowing you are contributing to a wonderful cause.

Food

The Peacock restaurant offers a good range of hot and cold food and drinks. I was also surprised and impressed to see on our way out a table offering fresh milk for tea/coffee etc, including soya milk. I don’t know if they cater for special diets, but I will definitely be checking next time!

Tips

Don’t forget your swimming costumes and towels if you’re intending on using the paddling pool

We found it useful to eat early as the restaurant got very busy

It’s also worth keeping an eye out on their website or Facebook page for events

Facilities

There are two toilet blocks with baby change facilities in the park.

The routes around the park are pram and wheelchair friendly.

Parking

There is a large car park to the front of the park with no charge for parking.

Prices

Prices for low and high season can be found on the park’s website: Beale Park admissions

Children under two years old go free

Rating out of 5

Has to be 5/5, there is just so much to do and see

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The “Sitting with Jane” bench winner is…..!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1st Place

2nd Place

3rd Place

Congratulations to all of the winners!!!!

But I think ALL of the children are winners!!!!

EVERYONE will be invited to the “opening ceremony” whenever I get that organised, and the 1st prize winner will be the “face” of the campaign.

Thank you VERY much to everyone who entered the competition!!!!!!!!

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

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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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Review 2017: Thatcham Discovery Centre

Thank you VERY much to the NHM Secret Writer who wrote today’s Review!!!

About

Thatcham Discovery Centre sits within a reserve that has a range of different habitats including a lake, meadow and woodland areas and is adjacent to Thatcham Reedbeds. It also includes adventure playgrounds, cafe, shop and visitor centre with interactive wildlife and natural history displays encouraging visitors to find out about the local wildlife.
Around the reserve are a network of footpaths, ranging from small family-friendly walks to longer walks. A map of the reserve can be found here.

 

The Nature Discovery Centre offers a wide ranging and varied programme of events   throughout the year including hands-on wildlife activities, craft workshops, walks and talks.

You can find out more about the centre on the Thatcham Discovery Centre facebook page.

We had been told about Thatcham Discovery Centre before and so were quite keen to visit. The first thing we saw when we arrived was the adventure playground, which our toddlers loved! It is supposed to be for 8 years plus so they recommend younger children play in the other playground at busier times. Fortunately it was quite quiet so the boys had a really good run around whilst being nicely shaded from the sun on a very hot day! We did visit the other playground, aimed at 3-8 year olds, which was a good size but not shaded so we didn’t stay too long this time.

The centre itself covers a small area over two floors offering interactive displays including jigsaws, soft toys and brass rubbings. The area upstairs has a lovely view over the lake. There is a small shop selling a variety of books, toys and sundries.

In the centre there is also a cafe which opens up onto the lakeside, with tables overlooking the area. There was a limited menu when we were there, and a note apologising for the minimal food that day, but there was still a good amount available and the cake was amazing!

We didn’t go on any of the walks as it was too hot to be dragging toddlers around, but we will definitely be doing so next time. I am also keen to try out some of the events, especially the Bird of Prey event which looked very interesting.

All in all it was a great visit with lots still left to explore, especially with the events programme. Whilst the centre is quite small, it is free and offers a lot of information. The view at the lakeside is amazing, I could have sat there for ages. It is a great place for children to burn some energy, learn about nature, as well as being an enjoyable experience for adults.

Tips and Notices

The older adventure playground is a great place to go when it’s too hot to be out in the sun as it’s shaded by trees.

Dogs are allowed but not in the water and under close control.

No picnics inside during busy periods.

Centre Opening hours (including shop and cafe)

Summer (April-October): Open 7 days a week, including bank holidays. 10:30am-5pm
Winter (November-March): Tuesday-Sunday 10:30am-4pm. Closed Mondays

Silent Space at the Nature Discovery Centre

8am-10am every Saturday and Sunday.

The Silent Space is a secluded meadow area that offers a wonderful spot for quiet contemplation – an opportunity to relax and enjoy this peaceful area within the busy reserve. Find out more here

Facilities

  • Lakeside Café serving homemade hot and cold food
  • Gift shop
  • Toilets, disabled toilet and baby changing facilities
  • Picnic facilities
  • Adventure Playgrounds
  • Bird hide overlooking Thatcham Reedbeds Nature Reserve
  • Signposted walk routes and seasonal trails
    Thatcham Community Orchard

Prices

Admission is free, donations welcome

Charges apply for special events (please see the What’s On web page for more information)

Parking

Car park is open from 8am every day with closing subject to seasonal changes.

Cost is £3 donation

Rating

5 out of 5

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