Review 2018: Cafe in the Park, Beggarwood

Thank you to Juliet for today’s Review!!

Cafe in the Park, Beggarwood

Cafe in the Park

I was so excited to hear that there would be a new cafe opening up in Beggarwood. I am a serious lover of coffee and cake and was through the doors on opening day, and I was not disappointed.

To date, I have found lots of cafes in Basingstoke that cater for young children, but only one where it has entertained my toddlers long enough for me to actually drink a whole cup of hot coffee before the whining or tantrums start. Until now that is. Cafe in the Park seems to be aimed at all, and this includes those families with young children.

About

The cafe is based at the new Beggarwood Community Centre, at the top of Beggarwood Park with big glass windows offering fabulous views over the park. The Community Centre has already started filling with activities, including Kids Kan Dance and Pop Up Play Village, but check the Facebook page of Hatch Warren Community Centre (who are running both centres) for more information and classes.

Cafe in the Park is run by a lovely group of people who seem really excited at the new opportunity and are actively seeking ways to adapt the cafe to suit the community. This includes holding a Dog Walkers’ Forum in March to discuss how to make the cafe more accessible to dog walkers. The part which interests me the most though, for obvious reasons, is what they have made available to occupy young children.

As you enter the community centre, there is a table in the entrance area with colouring books and crayons, and a few tables and chairs close by. There is a good selection of toys in the cafe area and our toddlers delighted in going back and forth, exchanging toys for new ones. In fact we were ready to leave way before they were, not something that happens often.

As an added bonus, I returned during the week and the main hall (which will going forward be closed off and hired out to local groups and for parties) was open with crafts available for the children. There was play dough, card making and colouring, and lots of toys laid out on tables. Sadly (for me) this will not normally be available. They are, however, hoping to open this area up again during the school holidays, if possible, and have the crafts available once again. This is an awesome idea and I really hope it happens, especially as the vast majority of playgroups and similar groups for little ones close during the holidays. When I left today the main hall was full of kids playing, so there is definitely a need. In the meantime, they will be looking to have a craft available on the table in the entrance hall during term time.

Food

There is a really good selection of hot and cold drinks, cakes and cookies, with prosecco and wine also available (so tempting!) I was also really impressed with the prices of the coffees and cakes.

There are gluten and dairy free options available. I was advised that all cakes are made fresh and they are open to cater for any dietary requirements, so make sure you mention if you have any.

I feel I need to make a separate comment about how good the cake was (and yes, I tried a few, just to be sure).

Take-away hot drinks are available and they hope to have ice creams on sale for when the warmer weather comes.

There are also free dog biscuits, however, dogs are not permitted in the cafe but there is a dog station outside.

Facilities

There are toilets and baby change facilities at the community centre and high chairs are available in the cafe.

Parking

There is a small car park to the front of the centre with additional parking available at the Beggarwood shops’ car park, next to the centre.

Opening Hours

The cafe will be open Wednesdays to Fridays, 9am-11am and 3pm-5pm, and weekends 9am-12noon.

Rating out of 5

5 out of 5. I have had some amazing visits to Cafe in the Park so far. We’ve been as a family, with friends, and a quiet visit with just me and one of our boys. Each visit has been brilliant, we are definitely going to be regulars.

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Review 2018: Prosecco-Dough workshop – Messy play fun for adults!

Thank you very much to today’s NHM Secret Writer for today’s post and THANK YOU very much to Louise at Messy Monsters Basingstoke for our free tickets in exchange for this NorthHantsMum review!

Prosecco-Dough – messy play fun for adults!

I was lucky enough to attend Messy Monsters Basingstoke’s first adults messy play workshop.

The aim of the workshop was to show the group of mums attending how to make quick and simple messy play activities to do with their children. The activities shown to us were suitable from really small little ones up to adults (it is very satisfying to sit and play with rainbow rice and chocolate play dough!).

On arrival at the workshop, which was held at Popley Fields Community Centre, I was greeted by the lovely Lou who runs Messy Monsters sessions for children and now adults. I took my seat at the table and waiting for me was a bottle of prosecco, some chocolates and biscuits as well as an interesting assortment of items including flour, cocoa powder and food colouring.

First of all Lou took us through the steps to make taste safe slime. I’ve seen so many make your own slime tutorials but as my daughter is still quite young I’ve been wary of letting her have it to play with so finding a way to make it taste safe just in case she did sneak a bit into her mouth was ideal!

After making the taste safe slime we went on to make rainbow rice and, with all the options we had for food colouring, we ended up with some lovely colours.

We then had a short break to refill on tea or coffee or crack open the mini bottle of prosecco everyone was given.

Taste safe play dough was next on the agenda with 2 different types to make and the additional option to add some prosecco to the dough! We made a traditional coloured play dough with a choice of lemon or peppermint scent (which we had also used with the rice!) And then a chocolate scented dough. The doughs were so simple to make and only use things you probably already have around the house. As with all the items we made, they only take a few minutes to do!

After the play dough fun (kneading the dough was very therapeutic!) We made sensory bottles with coloured water and various little knick knacks which would be interesting for small people to look at.

With everything we made there was a choice of colours and the option to add glitter!

I’d recommend taking a note book and pen so you can quickly jot the recipes down and wear clothes you don’t mind getting a bit mucky as I ended up a bit flour-y!! You get to bring home everything you make so it’s worth taking a bag along with you to make carrying your packs of messy goodies back to the car a bit easier.

I’ve come away from the workshop feeling much more knowledgeable about messy play and ready to have some messy fun with my daughter!

You can find out more details about these classes at: https://www.facebook.com/messymonstersbasingstoke/

Disclaimer: This post is a review of the Prosecco Dough Messy Play Basingstoke Workshop. Our class place was supplied free of charge for the purposes of the review. We were not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are the NHM Secret Writers own

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Review 2018: West Green Fruits

Thank you very much to today’s NHM Secret Reviewer!

West Green Fruits review – pick your own fruits, Hartley Wintney

West Green Fruits

 

One of my friends had recently told me about how she had asked her little boy where strawberries come from, he answered “the supermarket” (he was a little more specific but I didn’t want to seem bias!)

As it happened, I had already heard of a place called West Green Fruits where you can pick your own produce, and my friend’s experience made me keen to try it out! I had never been to a PYO before, I had been blackberry picking in ‘the wilds’, but I was really intrigued by this and thought it would be a great introduction to where food comes from. My boys were 2.5 yrs so I was a little concerned they would be a bit too young to get it. Fortunately, I was very wrong.

About

West Green Fruits is situated just outside Hartley Wintney, about 15 minutes from central Basingstoke. They are open during the PYO season, which started on 10th June this year. It is a family run business set in 20 acres of farmland and offers a range of fruit including strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, gooseberries, tayberries and more. There is a small shop selling their own homemade jams and Jella’s Ice Cream, made with their produce. They also have produce ready picked for those who would rather not pick their own.

The area consists of a car park, small building and acres and acres of fields. It is a stunning setting. There is also a picnic area and grass labyrinth, although we didn’t get to see these. You collect your punnets from the building by the car park. This is also where you bring back your produce to weigh and houses the shop. The produce currently available for picking are displayed on a board and the lovely ladies – and I do mean lovely, so helpful and chatty with the little ones too – point you in the direction of where to go.

It was wonderful to see both my boys happily trotting along, excitedly carrying their punnets, following the trail. The available fields are well marked out and there was an abundance of fruit to pick. Amazingly both my boys loved the experience, carefully picking out each fruit. I say amazingly as one of my boys is not very good at standing still, so to see him delicately choosing and picking each piece of fruit was incredible. After quite some time we wandered back to the kiosk to pay, and definitely needed to deposit into the ‘sin bin’ (an honesty box for ‘lost’ fruit and the contents going to charity) – red streaked faces making that pretty obvious!

We’ve been twice now, strawberries then raspberries, and will definitely be going back soon before the season ends.

Tips

West Green Fruits is seasonal, you will need to keep an eye on the West Green Fruits Facebook Page for their opening dates and for the produce that is currently available. Current opening hours are also displayed there.

Facilities

Worth noting, there are no facilities on site.

Prices

You pay for what you pick, prices are available at the kiosk and based on weight.

I think this is brilliant, as the picking is an experience in itself yet all you are paying for is the produce.

Rating out of 5

5, totally unique experience that we all loved.

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Review 2018: Desklodge

A big thank you to Lindsey for today’s amazing post:

Review 2018: Desklodge (toddlers need not apply)

Desklodge Website

This isn’t your usual NorthHantsMum review. I can’t talk about play facilities, baby changing amenities, or whether you’re allowed to bring your own baby food. You see, this is a place for (whispers)…grown-ups. Yup. No bouncy castles. No gratis wet wipes. No fish fingers. This is dedicated to the grown-up world of work. But just because it’s for the big girls and boys, doesn’t mean it can’t be playful. So please feel free to hop, skip and jump into the Wonderland that is Desklodge.

Tucked away in Basing View, less than a 10 minute walk from John Lewis/Waitrose, Desklodge describes itself as “an award winning co-working space”. Which basically means it’s an office for people without an office. If you’re a freelancer, p/t commuter, or start-up entrepreneur, you know the agony of working from home. The crippling loneliness. The faltering Wi-Fi. The siren call of ‘Bargain Hunt’. It’s here that the appeal of Desklodge, the salve for the self-employed, becomes apparent. It offers a variety of working environments designed to suit all tastes and requirements, all under one roof. Fancy dropping in and grabbing a hot-desk for an hour or two? You can do that. Want a fixed desk to work on a longer project? No problem. Need a private meeting room to hold an interview? Not only has Desklodge got it, it’s got it with style.

It may be set beneath Belvedere House’s amazing atrium, but you step inside the surf shack themed doors of Desklodge, and you’re not in Basingstoke anymore. With playfully designed work spaces (including a Zen room), phone booths disguised as beach huts, and a high-spec kitchen complete with ‘New York skyline’, dropping in on Desklodge definitely beats working in the library. It’s buzzing with a community of people from across a spectrum of sectors and industries, and networking is actively encouraged through their free seminars, workshops and socials (or just by the good old-fashioned water cooler).

You can choose to drop-in and pay by the hour, take up a monthly membership or become a resident DeskLodger, with prices from as little as £3 an hour. That’s less than a fancy coffee in Starbucks. Oh, and superb 1GB fibre Wi-Fi, car parking (subject to availability) and tea/coffee is included in the price. How do they do it?!

We don’t have anything even close to being like this in Basingstoke, and I sincerely hope this is a sign of things to come. Festival Place can feel a little generic at times, so something as vibrant, creative and collaborative as Desklodge is incredibly welcome.

If you’re a freelancer looking for some space to focus, a business in-between offices, or even a stay-at-home parent needing a couple of hours to write an email, I would highly recommend giving Desklodge a look. And not a ball pit in sight. Bliss.

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Review 2018: Pots To Doodle Do

Thank you very much to today’s NHM Secret Reviewer! She’s done a fab job!

Review 2018: Pots To Doodle Do

First of all, I haven’t been asked to review Pots to Doodle Do by anyone – I’m doing it as someone who booked to make some Christmas baubles and was so impressed and pleased with the results I wanted to share!

I booked in to Pots to Doodle Do after seeing a Facebook post about making decorations for the Christmas tree.  I have a toddler and a 4 month old and having been to various other places to do such things previously I thought I knew what to expect…..

How wrong was I?? I was slightly apprehensive about dealing with paint and a toddler while no doubt having to feed the baby (always happens doesn’t it?!) but Tracey could not have been more helpful! In other places we’ve just been left with the items we’ve chosen and the paint and got on with it – not this time, Tracey put the paint on the toddlers’ hand and the baby’s foot, stamped it onto the bauble then cleaned them up.  Sounds simple but I’m sure parents will understand where I’m coming from……….

We then had access to a huge array of paint, sponges, brushes and stickers to let the creative juices flow.  We were given a booklet with some photos of previous creations to give us direction if needed and Tracey made sure everyone got what they wanted from the experience, around to help if needed, checked on us and the progress but we didn’t feel rushed at all – a delicate balance it achieve!

The finished products were collected a week later and are brilliant – well worth the effort and importantly not expensive.

The location in Cliddesden is fairly simple to find and there’s parking by the village pond.  Once inside it’s warm and welcoming, there’s hot drinks and snacks available to purchase and Tracey goes out of her way to put you at ease (I was terrified of my toddler and ceramics……..)  By far the best experience of all so far!

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Little Play Town

I hear AMAZING things about this place, especially after the NHM Secret Review that was recently published on NHM!

I didn’t realise it was for children aged 7 and under, so I will definitely be checking it out soon with Miss NHM!!!Our facility is called Little Play Town located in Odiham high street in the Fountains Mall – a fun and educational play facility for children aged 7 and under.

Address: Suite 1, Fountains Mall, High Street, Odiham, Hampshire, RG29 1LP, England

Web addresses – www.littleplaytown.com / www.facebook.com/LittlePlayTown.co.uk

Call Little Play Town on 01256 701234

Opening hours

Monday to Sunday:

09:30 – 11:00 – Session 1

11:30 – 13:00 – Session 2

13:30 – 15:00 – Session 3

15:30 – 17:00 – Session 4

Pricing

Kids (1-7): £5.95 (includes free entry for 1 adult)

Under 6 months: free

Infants (under 1’s): £1.00 with a paying adult

Additional adults: £3.50

Description

Little Play Town is a fun and educational play facility for children aged 7 and under.

A magical little play town where your kids can dress up and through imaginative play feel free to be anyone they can dream of being: a farmer, fire fighter, vet, postman, racing car driver, builder, a beautician, a chef…

Adventure Party Room for Hire

Cafe area with baby tummy time play pen. Cafe is serving superb 100% Arabica Coffee and a large range of Teas & a lovely selection of cakes, snacks and treats are on sale.

8 imaginative play areas including a Fire house & fire engine, Vet, Building Site, Hairdresser and Beauty Salon, Post & Mail route, Picnic Area, Race track, Farm Yard with sensory area, Farm Shop & Bakery

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Review 2017: How many sleeps ’til Christmas

There are still tickets available for today, tomorrow and Wednesday!!!

Thank you to today’s NHM Secret Writer for writing such a fab review!!

Review 2017: How many sleeps ’til Christmas

This years Christmas show  ‘How many sleeps ’til Christmas ‘by Scratch Built Productions has to be described as absolutely enchanting. The show is on at the Proteus Creation Space from the 14th to the 24th December with 3 shows a day.

Without spoiling the wonderfully written story too much we were transported to Elf’s bedroom where his bedtime story was being interrupted by a host of Christmas characters. We met Fairy who had lost something special and followed her through an interactive advent calendar all the way to Santa’s garden where we met the man himself.

Children will create a Christmas decoration, experience live music, puppetry and a trapeze artist. The show has elements personalised to each child adding that extra special bit of Christmas magic to the experience. The attention to detail is amazing (have a look at the beautiful handmade blankets in elfs bedroom) with wonderful creative techniques used to tell the story there is something for all ages.

The very youngest will enjoy the playful music and soft sensory lights, toddlers will love discovering whats behind the doors of the advent calendar and older children will be captivated by the funny friendly characters, even the adults were caught up in the Christmas magic. If you’ve watched previous years shows keep an eye out for some cheeky returning characters making an appearance.

The show is very relaxed with children able to move around and participate as much as they wish, some of the show is signed, making it very accessible and there is a relaxed performance available for children with additional needs (18th Dec 14:30).

Arrive with plenty of time to spare as there is a bit of elfmin to be done before the show to add a wonderful personal touch for each child. The performers and staff at the theater were friendly and helpful and really added to the wonderful experience.

On the practical side the theater has a cafe which serves drinks as well as some delicious cakes and quiches and has toys to keep little ones entertained whilst you wait for the show.

There is a limited buggy park so consider coming without one if you can and bring a carrier for the smallest audience members as the show involves moving between sets. Babies are easily accommodated and can fed during the show as there is plenty of places to sit.

Baby changing facilities are available. There is a small onsite car park, or a large pay and display across the road, alternatively it is around a 10 minute walk from the bus and train station in town.

Our party left the show feeling very Christmassy (its a good word!), if your tree and decorations have yet to go up then this will leave you in the mood to get the festivities started. We give the show a big fat 10/10 for originality, creativity, interactivity and a lots and lots of magical sparkles.

Tickets are still available for performances early next week so book quickly to avoid missing this magical experience. http://www.proteustheatre.com/whats-on/how-many-sleeps

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Review 2017: “A Christmas Carol”, a Proteus production

Thank you VERY much to the NHM Secret Reviewer who wrote today’s post!!! She did a fab job!

“A Christmas Carol”

A Christmas play for school-aged children and grown ups alike

About

A Christmas Carol is a Proteus production that is currently on tour in North Hants and surrounding areas. The show tells an adapted version of Dickens’ classic tale. It stays true to the political undertones and moral of the original but is set in current times and adapted to be more suitable for a family audience.

The play includes a cast of three who are accompanied by some amazing, creative puppets. The set is simple but effective and the team use light and sound creatively to bring the story to life.

The show is advertised as being suitable for children aged 6+. I went to see it with my 5-year-old having had a chat with him in advance to warn him there might be some scary parts.

There are some adult themes that would pass over the heads of most children (e.g. the moral obligation to serve humanity) but that give the show enough depth to be entertaining to adult audience members.

There are also some more overtly ‘scary’ scenes (e.g. a scene involving a grave stone/scrooge being ‘buried alive’) but these are short-lived and didn’t seem to rattle any of the children in the audience.

The puppetry is incredible and it was fascinating to watch how the children engaged with the puppet characters and ignored the actors who were sometimes visible behind them.  The creative use of puppets, especially to enact the roles of the ghosts of Christmas past and ghost of Christmas present gave the show a lighter tone and made the audience laugh out loud many times. Overall, Proteus have done a fantastic job adapting what is a challenging story, to be entertaining to a range of audiences. This is show you could go and see without the kids or one to take the kids along to. We both had a brilliant time but I would suggest it’s not ideal for children with a more sensitive temperament who are likely to be upset by some scenes and story lines.

For show dates see: http://www.proteustheatre.com/productions/a-christmas-carol/tour-schedule-296

Tips

The advertised run time is 80 minutes but with the 15 minute interval we were there for 2 hours. This was a little too long for my son whose attention was wavering towards the end so it is probably not ideal for children who struggle to sit still.

This is suitable for children and adults, I don’t think there’s an upper age limit and if you wanted to go without the kids that would also be ok. There were audience members without children at the show I attended. The average age of children in the audience was probably around 7 or 8 years.

Facilities

Every venue will be different but Proteus has baby changing, toilets, a café and parking.

Price

£8 per adult, £4 per child

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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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Review 2017: Little Play Town

Thank you VERY much to the NHM Secret Writer who wrote this review!!

Review 2017: Little Play Town

I was really excited when I saw that Little Play Town was opening in Odiham. We’ve been to Little Street in Frimley before and really enjoyed it. Little Play Town looked similar, focusing on role play with the play space divided into different themes, but it is much closer to us in Basingstoke – bonus! It opened early October and I visited with my 2 year old a few weeks later. We had a brilliant time!! There were serious tears from my little one when it was time to leave. We can’t wait to go again.

The play space is quite large and includes a building site, hairdressers, vets, firestation, race track, café, play kitchen and more. The space is immaculate and the toys are really high quality. As my friend said to me ‘the toys are the ones I would buy for my child if I had an unlimited budget’. It feels like a high quality, clean, safe place for little people to play. My son enjoyed exploring each play area and an hour and half seemed about the right amount of time for him to play with everything without getting bored.

Tips

Little Play Town run 4 x 1.5 hour sessions throughout the day 7 days a week so you book online (or just turn up and hope there’s space) for the session that you want to go to. At the end of the session everyone leaves giving the staff time to tidy everything up and get it ready for the next group. This means that at the start of each session everything is tidy and in the right place.

I wasn’t sure what age it would be appropriate for but I think I will take my 5 year old next time. I’m pretty sure he’d still really enjoy it. I would guess up to around age 7 would be ok.

There are no shoes allowed inside and adults and children all need to wear socks.

Little Play Town is upstairs and there’s no lift. You can store a pushchair upstairs but you’d need to be able to collapse it and carry it up.

Food

There’s a small café with a soft play space for pre-walkers. The café has good quality drinks and snacks, including some child-friendly healthier options. The café is next to the play space but you can’t see all of it from the café so with younger children you wouldn’t be able to sit in the café whilst they played.

Baby facilities

There are two toilets and a baby change area that is large and clean.

Parking

There are two pay and display carparks in Odiham that are within easy walking distance. Spaces on the street are free for 2 hours so if you can get one these are ideal. We went for the 9:30 session and on-street parking was easy. I can imagine it might be harder later on in the day or at the weekend.

It took me a while to find exactly where it is. The entrance is on the side of the building down the small driveway that goes down the side of the Bel and Dragon from the high street.

Prices

£5.95 for 1 child aged 1-7 years with one adult. £3.50 for an extra adult. £1 for a child under 1 year. If you only have a child under 1 you’d need to pay £1 for them and £3.50 for you.

Other info

Little Play Town also do children’s parties and are starting a children’s yoga class. More details on their webpage (www.littleplaytown.co.uk.

Rating

5 out of 5 – we loved it!!

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