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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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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FREE National Play Day – Wed 2nd August 2017

I’ve been a massive supporter of National Play Day since we attended our first one in 2011, a few months after Miss NHM was born.

It runs from 11am to 4pm at Eastrop Park.

It’s always a fab day out with LOADS of free things to do for children of all ages.

However, be warned that it gets really busy. I think they had 4000 people in Eastrop Park last year, so get there early to avoid the queue.

There is free parking at the Old Common on London Road with a free bus down to Eastrop Park for those who can’t walk up and down the hill.

I am SOOOO excited that I’ve been asked back again to host the “Splay the Rat” stall again. I LITERALLY didn’t stop from 11am to 4pm last year and although I know it’s going to be full on, I am really looking forward to it. Come and say Hello if you make it there!

Oh and amusingly, I’m not allowed to use pretend rats in case anyone goes out and tries to splat a live rat, so I’m hoping I get some more of these beautiful sea turtles who thoroughly enjoyed getting splat last year! lol.

These were my “rats/sea turtles” from last year.

Previous Posts about National Play days on NorthHantsMum

FREE National Playday on 3rd August 2016!

Date for your Diary: National PlayDay 2016!!

National Playdays 2015 and Basingstoke and Deane “Love Parks Week”!

It’s National Play Day 2014 today! Yay!

National Play Day 2014 Posters

National PlayDay – 7th August 2013 – Free Event!!!

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 ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there! 

The Ultimate NHM Summer Holiday 2017 Posts!

YAY! The School holidays have officially (or very, very nearly) started!!!

If you are already panicking about how you are going to keep your little ones amused for the next 6 to 7 weeks, then this is the post for you :-D.

Don’t forget, you can also search for key words on NorthHantsMum at any time.

NorthHantsMum is my Hobby! 

NorthHantsMum Summer Break 2016

We are currently working on the “classes that are still running during 2017 Summer Holidays” post and will get it published as soon as we can.

Classes that are still running during the 2016 Summer Holidays!

Summer “Bored” Jar ideas

Top Tip 33: Creamy coconut and berry Lolly’s

NHM Readers Top Tips for Keeping Cool

Summer Fun

24 things to do during the summer holidays with young children in Basingstoke

15 Different Experiences for Children

9 “things” I’m planning to do with my daughter in the future

13 things to do in Basingstoke in Spring with a three year old

In the Garden

DINKY DISCO – Fun, Energetic Weekend Classes for 5 and Unders

Summer Holiday 2012 Activities

Ideas of Things to do for May 2016 Half Term

Top Tip 35: YouTube Kids

Summer Reading

Library Membership for your child

Our favourite books

Swimming

Warm Swimming pools suitable for babies and young children in North Hampshire

Paddling Pools/Splash Pools in Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey

Lido’s in Hampshire

Top Tip 3: Swimming Bags

Swimming Pools in North Hampshire suitable for Babies and Children

Swimming with Babies

Summer Outings

NHM readers recommend child friendly coffee shops

Season Tickets 2013 to local attractions in North Hampshire – please check individual websites for up-to-date prices

Age limits for 2013 attractions  

Hampshire Days out with your children

Berkshire Days Out

Softplay Centres

Places to go for children who love animals

Summer FREE Outings

NHM Readers Favourite places to feed Ducks in Basingstoke and North Hampshire

Great Picnic Spots near Basingstoke

Great Picnic Spots in Basingstoke

Nature Detectives

A week of “free” Activities – Autumn

Poll: Free Activities over the summer holidays

12 Free Activities over the summer holidays 2015

NHM Readers Favourite Beaches

Summer Holiday Clubs

Spotlight summer holiday 2017 clubs

Holiday Clubs in North Hampshire 2016 – please check individual websites for 2017 information

Summer Holidays/Travel

Cheap Transport in North Hampshire

NCT House Swap Reduces Holiday Costs

Family Camping Club

Summer Food

Early Bird Meals with children – please check individual websites as this is a 2012 post and not all are relevant

11 Places to Breakfast “out” with Children in North Hampshire

9 Foody Places to go as a group of Mums with babies/toddlers

8 “Cheap” Restaurants in Basingstoke (Meal for 2 for under £15)

Pick Your Own Farm’s in North Hampshire and Berkshire

Blackberry Picking in North Hampshire

Rain

8 Cheap or Free Rainy Day Activities in Basingstoke

23 things to do with an under 7 year old in Basingstoke when it’s raining

7 More Free Rainy Day Activities

Reviews 2017

Review 2017: Little Street

Review 2017: Kitty’s Tilted Teacup Tea Room

Review 2017: Jump Factory, Mini Jump

Reviews 2016

Review 2016: Cornish Yurts

Review 2016: Beggarwood – FREE

Review 2016: Whitchurch Silk Mill

Review 2016: Museum of Army Flying

Review 2016: Gousto Recipe Delivery

Review 2016: Nelson’s Diner: A Taste of the USA

Review: Reading Eggs and Mathseeds

Jump Factory – First Look!!!!

Reviews 2015

Bucklebury Farm Park

Sundaes Gelato Basingstoke

Frensham Common – FREE

Centreparc’s – Sherwood Forest

The Parlour Tearoom

Ideal Imaging, Lifestyle Bespoke Family Photography by Alistair Jones

The Cafe Project, Brighton Hill

The Natural History Museum

Reviews 2014

Dinton Pastures Country Park, Berkshire

Dinosaur Crazy Golf at the Oracle

Marwell Wildlife

Giraffe in Festival Place

Micheldever Wood– FREE

California Country Park, Finchampstead

Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway

Review 2014: Wagamama’s Basingstoke

Legoland

The Vyne

Swanage

Miller’s Ark, Nr Hook

Reviews 2013

Lakeside Country Park – Parking cost only

Paulton’s Park/Peppa Pig World

NorthDown Orchard Deliveries

Farleigh Mount – FREE

Birdworld

The Hawk Conservancy

Basing Lime Pits – FREE

Basing Wood – FREE

Finkley Down Farm

Wellington Country Park

Basingstoke Aquadrome

Alice Holt, Farnham – Parking cost only

Kids ‘n’ Action, Soft Play Centre, Winersh Triangle nr Reading

The Living Rainforest, nr Newbury, Berkshire

Babies

Treasure Baskets

Swimming Pools in North Hampshire suitable for Babies and Children

11 Songs and Rhymes for Babies and Toddlers

Babies and Chocolate

Things to do/Places to go with a baby when it’s raining

The Importance of Skin to Skin

Toddler Games

Winter “Bored” Jar Ideas

Coloured Spaghetti

Making Gloop!

A Toddler Box of Tricks: Things To Always Have On Hand With A Toddler Or Two

Dry Food Play

Play Dough Recipes

Spring “Bored” Jar Ideas

Coloured water play

Something for Mum’s

I saved the best for last ;-).

If it all gets a bit much and you find yourself dreaming about them going back to school, these posts might help you to plan for a little well deserved “Me” time once your little ones actually do go back!

Review 2017: Thrive Massage Therapy

Spa’s in the North Hampshire Area

Review 2016: Jo Plackett Hairdressing

GPW: Ann Hoad Consultancy Ltd, Training Consultant and Personal Development Life Coach

More ways to make friends via NorthHantsMum!

Love Baking? You’ll love Bakedin!

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Sitting With Jane Art Trail revealed – Basingstoke’s Unique Celebration of Jane Austen’s Life on her 200th Anniversary

I keep seeing what my family is now calling the “Jane chairs” all over Basingstoke but wasn’t exactly sure what was going on with them.

So I was really pleased when a local Marketing company contacted me to ask me to share what it’s all about with the lovely NHM Community.

The trail maps are available in print in places such as The Willis Museum or available for download on www.sittingwithjane.com

Sitting With Jane

‘Sitting With Jane’ is a public art trail in Basingstoke, Hampshire that opens on 17 June. The trail is made up of 24 ‘BookBenches’, each designed with a Jane Austen theme to celebrate Jane Austen’s birthplace and home for 25 years of her life, 200 years after she died.

Each BookBench acts as a 3D canvas – making the finished piece, not only a work of art, but an attractive piece of street furniture that will be accessible for all to see and sit on, to contemplate the artist, Jane Austen or the scene and landscape where it is located. It forms part of a worldwide celebration of Jane Austen’s life, and the ‘Jane Austen 200 – A life in Hampshire’. Sitting With Jane is being organised by not-for-profit company Destination Basingstoke, with headline sponsor, Festival Place.

The BookBenches have been designed and painted by a range of artists and are being installed in locations around Basingstoke and Deane  borough as well as in Alton, Chawton and at Winchester Cathedral. The trail will take people on a voyage of discovery of original pieces art and locations that played a part in the Jane Austen story. There is free access for all whether they are Jane Austen or art enthusiasts or just want a free family day out.

A free to download app is now available to guide people around the trail, and a trail map is available at local outlets.

“This is the culmination of months of work and it is very exciting to see not only all the artists’ work, which is spectacular,  but to see the BookBenches installed into places that showcase the Basingstoke area’s heritage, past and present”, said Felicity Edwards from Destination Basingstoke.

“We are really excited to see Sitting With Jane coming to life for everybody to enjoy this summer. It’s such a creative and inclusive way to celebrate this important anniversary, and the artists have clearly been inspired by the Jane Austen story and its connections with Basingstoke. Following the trail the grand auction of BookBenches offers the chance to own a unique piece of art while helping Ark Cancer Centre Charity raise valuable funds.”, added Sally-Ann Wilkinson, Director of Wild in Art.

The ‘Wild in Art’ event, is delivered by Destination Basingstoke as part of their work to showcase the quality of life in the Basingstoke area, this project is in association with Festival Place. The project is funded entirely by sponsorship and all of the BookBenches will be auctioned with proceeds to charity on 15 September.

Ark Cancer Centre Charity trustee Merv Rees said: “Ark Cancer Centre Charity is proud to be the charity partner for Sitting With Jane, and a successful auction of the BookBenches is a key part of the event and our 2017 fundraising campaign.

“The charity will receive 75 per cent of the proceeds raised from the auction of the BookBenches on Friday, September 15, and all of that money will help to fund the much-needed local cancer treatment centre. By looking after, as well as enjoying, the BookBenches, members of the public will be helping to ensure that the best sale price can be achieved for each one at the auction, and the largest possible sum is raised for the charity, so thank you in advance for your support.”

More information about the companies and charities involved

Destination Basingstoke: Destination Basingstoke is an independent, not-for-profit company working with businesses and other partners to promote Basingstoke and the surrounding area for its quality of life and quality of business.

The idea for Sitting With Jane has been developed by Destination Basingstoke as a creative way to encourage visitors to explore in and around Basingstoke to enjoy everything the area has to offer from the superb countryside, great leisure and cultural offer as well as appreciate the wealth of local history and heritage – and especially the area’s strong connection with Jane Austen. The project forms part of the ‘Jane Austen 200 – A Life in Hampshire’ project led by the Hampshire Cultural Trust. The project is entirely funded by sponsorship with Festival Place the headline sponsor. Destination Basingstoke will not receive any of the income from the charity auction.

Ark Cancer Centre Charity is the charity partner of the Sitting With Jane event, and is raising £5million towards a unique local cancer treatment centre that will be built in the Basingstoke area.

The success of Ark Cancer Centre Charity’s £5m appeal will ensure a range of support services and complementary therapies are available alongside chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments in a calm and uplifting environment.

The new centre is largely being funded by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT). It is earmarked for a location in the Basingstoke and Deane area, and if the preferred site near to Junction 7 of the M3 is approved, it will be easily accessible to everyone in the HHFT region.

The charity auction will take place on Friday 15th September – 75% of the proceeds will be received by Ark Cancer Centre Charity and 25% will be received by Wild in Art.

 

 

Wild in Art:

Wild in Art is one of the leading creative producers of spectacular, mass-appeal public art events, which connect businesses, artists and communities through the power of creativity and innovation. Since 2008 Wild in Art has animated cities across the world including Sydney, Melbourne, Cape Town and São Paulo and created trails for the London 2012 Olympics, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Historic Royal Palaces and Aardman Animations.

Wild in Art events have:

  • Attracted over 7 million additional visitors to host cities across the UK and worldwide
  • Contributed over £1.2m to local creative communities
  • Enabled over £10m to be raised for charitable causes
  • Engaged over 100,000 young people in creative programmes

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Review 2016: Chineham Splash Park

Thank you very much to one of the NHM Writers, Karen, for this fab review!

Thank you also to Michelle for the pictures!

About

Chineham Splash Park is a new, free water activity open between 10:00 and 19:00 until september. It is situated in Chineham park and also boasts a large field with a half pipe and outdoor trail gym.

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When we attended we arrived before 10:00 and the park was already filling up with excited children and parents with picnic blankets.

Once 10:00 finally came around someone pressed the activation button and it was only moments before all the shrieking children were soaking wet and running around in the water jets.

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Facilities and Food

There has also been a portacabin toilet that was added to the splash park in the past week. However, the park unfortunately lacks any other facilities but the Popley Spotlight centre are happy for people to pop in and use the toilets and they also sell refreshments.  Bare in mind that is a 5 minute walk away so if there’s only one adult in your group you’ll probably end up packing away your things.

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You might want flipflops or sandals for wet children to wear as well as extra towels or clothes to put on over wet swimming costumes for the trips to the toilets. Don’t forget your swimming costumes, towels and swim nappies as well as sun protection.

The area has several picnic benches but they are unshaded in the morning so bring a picnic rug or blanket and head under the trees.

Parking

There are around 20 parking spaces at the park and others in residential streets a bit further away

Tips

Our top tips are to consider bringing the buggy (or a shopping trolley) to load everything in for trips to the toilet, don’t forget your own potty to avoid a few and arrive early before it fills up.

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Older excited children might be a bit daunting for the little ones so bring a towel for yourself so you can encourage them in (and cool off) and a carrier if you have a baby.

If the water isn’t working, don’t leave, the council advise that if its been on constantly for a long time sometimes the reservoir will need 30 minutes to refill.

Rating

We enjoyed the splash park so it scores a 5/5 from the Johnson family.

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New: The Discovery Ticket

Becci asked me to let you know about the new Discovery Ticket:

The Discovery Ticket

A new way to explore the South East, the Discovery ticket, officially launches in the South Downs area today, giving families the freedom and flexibility to hop on and off all buses in the National Park throughout the day, making travel in the South Downs easier than ever before.

Launching in advance of the summer holidays, the Discovery ticket allows unlimited, one-day travel across the region for £12.50 for a family and the ticket is timely as new local research shows that whilst many Hampshire residents are keen to travel by bus – 60% think it’s difficult to visit favourite places and 37% worry about the cost of getting there.

However, the research showed that top days out for Hampshire residents include Arundel Castle, Petworth House and Park and Queen Elizabeth Country Park, all of which are accessible via the new Discovery bus ticket. 

Nick Stewart, Campaigns & Identity Project Manager, South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) says “We hope the Discovery ticket will make our popular attractions and beauty spots easier to visit and better value for money by bus, giving visitors even more of a reason to leave the car at home and explore the South Downs with the kids this summer.” 

To make it even easier for families to Discover the South Downs National Park on a budget the SDNPA is working with the most popular attractions in the area to offer 2-4-1 entry to reward those who leave the car at home and arrive by bus [full list below].

Hampshire residents can share their South Downs experiences on social media with #DiscoveryTicket. For further information visit The Discovery Ticket or follow @sdnpa on Twitter for updates.

2 for 1 offers

NB: Valid on £12.50 family tickets only until 31st August 2014, for full terms and conditions, please contact the venues.

Other discounts

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Event: NHM Summer Picnic (12th July)

I’m hosting a VERY informal NHM Meet up on Saturday 12th July from 10.30am to 1.30pm.

Basically, I will be there with Miss NHM, a picnic blanket, some picnic food and a football.

This will be a chance to meet other NHM Readers and an opportunity to make some new friends.

If you would like to come along, it would be great if you could register at the following Eventbrite link HERE, so I have some idea of numbers.

This isn’t a formal thing, it’s just a group of families meeting up for a catch up ;-).

I hope you can make it! 😀

Related Posts

NHM Meet Up – June 2014

Great Picnic spots in Basingstoke

Following lasts week’s post about Great Picnic spots near Basingstoke, I’ve put together my highlights of places to go for picnics in Basingstoke. Have I missed any?

Don’t forget to check out this post: Great Picnic Spots near Basingstoke.

Basing Lime Pits:  The Common opposite Basing Lime Pits

Carpenters Down/Basing Wood

Crabtree

Eastrop Park

Wootten St Lawrence Park

Odiham Castle

Basingstoke Common

Zebon Copse

Beggarwood

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 ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there!