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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Review 2017: Little Street – a unique play opportunity for little people

Thank you VERY much to the NHM Secret Reviewer who wrote today’s post and to Little Street for inviting us along to their re-launch event!

https://www.little-street.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/littlestreet.co.uk/

About

Little Street in Frimley is a role play centre for young children. It is a miniature version of a town, giving little ones the perfect opportunity to try out lots of different experience and careers!

Open 7 days a week, Little Street offer four 90 minute play sessions a day for little people to explore their little world. Pre-booking is recommended as numbers are limited to ensure the best experience for everyone attending. Little Street is suitable for children up to 7 and even has a play pen for young babies as well as bumbo seats available for use.

My daughter (19 months) and I were lucky enough to attend the re-launch event after a recent refurbishment which has made way for a brand new vets and an air ambulance. As well as the new areas children can take a visit to Chicco’s cafe or Belle & Beau Beauty Salon. They can do their weekly shop at the (very well stocked!) supermarket.

There is also a construction site, complete with rocks, bricks and diggers and the Starlets Theatre, which has an Ice Cream stall, stage, musical instruments and many fancy dress costumes. In addition to this there are a variety of ride on toys which can be driven around the road. The attention to detail in each room is amazing, with appropriate wall stickers and fantastic props including animals in the vets, make up and hair products in the salon and many familiar items in the supermarket!

My daughter was a big fan of the new air ambulance and was fascinated by the rotors on top. She also loved the supermarket and kept taking any trolleys that she’d found outside the shop back to it!

The staff at Little Street were very welcoming and did a fantastic job of keeping the place tidy (and as much as possible items in the right rooms!) without disrupting the children’s play. It is very clean and everything is in great condition, you can tell it is very well looked after.

Food

The venue has a small café where you can purchase hot or cold drinks, cakes and healthy snacks.

Parking

There is some parking on site at the station for a small charge, or there is a car park a short walk away where you can park for free for 2 hours – ideal as the sessions you can book are 90 minutes.

Tips

Remember you and your little one will need to wear socks. Don’t worry if you forget as they do have some you can purchase when you get there!

It also has a handy buggy park – if you ask at reception they can give you a lock to secure your buggy in the shelter outside.

Rating out of 5

After wanting to visit Little Street for ages, we were so pleased that it lived up to and exceeded our expectations and we will certainly be going back in the future! It gets a fantastic 5 out of 5 from us!!

Disclaimer: This post is a review of Little Street. The NHM Secret Reviewers experience was supplied free of charge for the purposes of the review. She was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are her own.

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Review 2016: The Science Museum

Thank you very much to one of the NHM Secret Reviewers for this review of the Science Museum!

About

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I loved the science museum as a child and was very excited to take Small J and his Cousin (both 2) there for the day along with Nanny J.

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The museum is free to attend although they welcome donations and some attractions occur an additional cost but you can have a full day without the extras. You can visit 7 day a week between 10:00-18:00.

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http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

We had a fantastic day, my hightlight was seeing the piece of the moon! The boys loved the garden, a sensory area in the basement for little ones including puppets, interactive lights and sounds, a construction site complete with pully system and their favourite a cascade of water with all kinds of obstacles they could put in its way.

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They floated boats down it, created dams and worked locks, squirted the boats (and us) and enjoyed every moment. (The museum even provide waterproof aprons for them). Other favourites inclused the top foor which was full of helicopters and airplanes and the agricultural area with lots of tractors and machinery.

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Food

We had a picnic with us and in the basement there is a large area with low steps for you to sit and eat, there was a few school groups but plenty of room for everyone. The museum also has plenty of cafes and a restaurant and 2 more picnic areas.

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Facilities and baby changing

The museum has plenty of baby changing facilities (including wheelchair friendly ones) and we found the free buggy park in the basement useful. I fed Small J in the picnic area and there’s plenty of seating around the museum for a rest and a feed. There’s also a cloakroom where Items can be left (including buggys) for a charge.

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Tips

I would recommend a carrier for a baby (or a tired toddler) as due to maintenance and new exhibitions being created not all the lifts stop at all the floors meaning we found ourselves having to walk the length of the museum with the buggy to find a lift stopping at the right floor. Next time I’d leave it in the buggy park and use the stairs.

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The cafe in the basement provide a jug of water so bring bottles for everyone.

Parking

Due to its central London location there is only disabled parking (which is still very limited), so if you drive to the museum be prepared to park quite far away. The area is served very well by public transport, the nearest underground station is South Kensington only a 5 minute walk away and there are plenty of bus stops near by.

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Rating

Overall we had a great day out and would give the Science museum a 5/5

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Review 2016: Danebury Hillfort

Last weekend we went to Danebury Hillfort for a walk and a picnic with friends.

My family used to walk the dogs at Danebury Hillfort when I was growing up, a loooong time ago, but I didn’t remember the site when we got there.

Danebury Hillfort is about 30 minutes drive from Basingstoke, just past Andover.

About

We had a BRILLIANT time exploring Danebury Hillfort.

It looks like there’s not much there but we had a great time with Miss NHM, running up the hill (her, not us!) and walking around the ramparts.

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There’s a lot to see and do:

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Miss NHM had fun exploring the wooden bivouac:

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The views were absolutely spectacular, even on the cloudy day that we visited:

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You can find out more about Danebury at the following link: http://www3.hants.gov.uk/danebury/

Tips

There are Exmoor Ponies roaming around but do not touch or feed them as they are wild ponies.

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Take a picnic blanket as there is only one picnic table (used to be more but they’ve disappeared) so if another family is using the table you will either need to walk to the bench at the top of the hill opposite the car park or sit on the floor.

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If it’s windy, take a kite as it’s a brilliant place to fly kites.

Food

There is no food available so you need to take your own.

Baby Facilities

Most of the paths looked ok for an off-road buggy but it would probably be better to take a sling with your little ones when walking around the ramparts.

Facilities

There are toilets in the car park at the top of the hill.

There are lots of signs up around Danebury Hillfort, explaining the historical significance of the site:

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Parking

When you arrive at Danebury Hillfort, don’t park in the car park at the bottom of the hill. Keep driving up the hill and there is a much larger car park at the top. It also has public toilets.

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Prices

FREE!!!

Even the parking is Free!!!

Rating out of 5

We give Danebury Hillfort 5 out of 5 because we LOVED the place.

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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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Review 2016: Beggarwood

I’ve been driving past Beggarwood for years and meaning to look in and see what is on offer.

Sue and I went (we met through the “NHM shift parents” group) with our two little ones  in November last year and we had a fab time!

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Review 2016: Beggarwood

About

I remember when Beggarwood was waste land. It’s not actually that long ago that the area became a housing estate, maybe 10 years ago?

The park itself is HUGE! There’s an awful lot there to see and do, a lot more than I had realised.

It would be a great place to have a picnic in the summer and take a cricket or rounders set to play with the children.

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There is a bike and scooter area with ramps to ride on.

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The play park is really big and has lots of different equipment which is suitable for children of all ages. 344

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We walked down to the bottom of the park and the children spent AGES in the maze (below).

Sue and I had a lovely chat whilst sat on the bench watching them.

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There are also a couple of areas with fitness equipment in, but I forgot to take pictures of those!

Tips

Park in the Co-op car park. We couldn’t work out if there was anywhere else to park!

Also, there is supposed to be an ampitheatre, but we couldn’t find it! lol.

The paths are suitable for bikes and scooters, but be warned that there are some big hills.

Food

We nipped to the Co-op to buy some snacks whilst we were there.

Baby Facilities

The majority of paths are suitable for pushchairs.

Parking

We parked in the free car park for the Co-op and the nursery.

However, if you know of somewhere better to park, please let me know!

Prices

FREE!

Rating out of 5

We had a lovely couple of hours exploring Beggarwood.

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Review 2016: Whitchurch Silk Mill

The team at Whitchurch Silk Mill very kindly invited me to visit the silk mill to see what was available for families.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I had no idea what the Silk Mill was about.

I went in October last year and would like to apologise to the team for not publishing this post sooner!

About

Whitchurch Silk Mill

Whitchurch Silk Mill is just outside of Whitchurch and about 20 minutes drive from Basingstoke.

It is the oldest silk mill in the UK still in its original building. I had no idea how historic the Silk Mill building was, it’s over 200 years old!

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Seeing the silk looms and how they were set up was really good because it gave you a sense of what it must have been like to work with the looms.

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I also learnt that silk from the mill has helped to create clothes for some major films, like Back to the Future III and the BBC’s “Tess of the D’Ubervilles!

Carpenters workshop

First I had a look round the Carpenters workshop which was great because there were a couple of exhibits on hand for children to play with, one called “ring my bell engineering” where you had to put the gears and bell together.

If I show that to Miss NHM and Mr NHM (he’s an engineer) I may never get them out of the workshop! lol.

There was also a video which you could choose to play which explained more about the carpenters workshop and had subtitles available if needed.

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Outside the Mill

The site on which the Silk Mill rests is absolutely beautiful. The grounds are very well looked after and it’s a wonderful place to wander round.

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It’s the perfect place for a picnic, as long as you keep an eye on your toddlers near the edge of the water ;-). (You can avoid the water if you need too, the river is only to one side of the site).

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I saw a Heron on the river whilst I was here (It’s at the end of the river in the picture above!)

Outside the Mill there are lovely big wooden tables and chairs that you can use if you don’t want to sit on the ground.

It was very peaceful being next to the river as it’s a very quiet area.

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There are lots of duck on the river at the front of the mill and lots of fish in the river.

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Silk Mill Process

I had no idea how fascinating the process was. I was given a tour of the mill by Lisa, one of the team at the Silk Mill and she was absolutely lovely and very knowledgeable.

(You don’t need to have a tour as there is enough information throughout the mill which explains the process but it was nice to have special treatment :-D.)

We started on the warping and winding floor which is the start of the process. Lisa showed me how it all worked and I learnt that silk comes from silk worms in China.

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The silk has to be swiftly wound onto the bobbins. The picture below shows some of the boxes of bobbins that were available that day.

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The oldest hand loom is from the 1830’s.

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Reed – someone has to pull through the reeds individually, up too 500!!

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Warping mill (d)

Some more things I learnt:

  • Creel – each bobbin has to go in the order of the pattern.
  • Warp thread – length ways thread
  • Warping mill – covered in thread
  • Beamed off onto a beana in the right orde

Activities for Children

I completely forgot to take a picture of the cute silk moth toys that are set up throughout the mill as a trail that you can follow them around the mill as they explain the process. I thought this was a really cute idea!

We also spent some time in the cafe and I was so impressed to see how much effort the team had made to keep children busy/occupied/out of trouble!

There was a whole area dedicated to children with bean bags, tables, paper, colouring pens and more.

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It’s obvious that the team at Whitchurch Silk Mill believe in the importance of children learning about the mill and it’s history in a fun environment.

New “app”

The Mill have an app – you’ll find it in your app store, it is free to download. Just search for Whitchurch Silk Mill.

This was put together by the EDGE Project supported by the Heritage Lottery. You can download it at home or using the Mill’s free wifi.

Tips

No flash photography, for obvious reasons.

They have a lovely shop which is stocked with lots of lovely gifts, so would be perfect to buy that unique gift for a special person.

The shop is open Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays from 10.30am to 5pm.

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There are activity packs that you can borrow from the shop, the silk worm packs, which have activities for you to do with your children as you walk through the mill.

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Each bag has a board to follow around the mill which have lots of different activities to help keep your children busy!

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Sign up to their facebook page so you can find out about the different types of activities which are available.

They have a very active community at the mill and there are all sorts of events taking place with lots of events being suitable for children.

Food

There is a cafe (upstairs) and it’s really large for the size of the site and is big enough for school groups.

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They have lovely home made cakes, lots of different types of drinks and even a book library!

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I was also really impressed to see that sandwiches are made to order on site and the team make a concerted effort to use local products as much as possible, e.g. Jude’s ice cream…YUM!

Facilities

There is a stair lift for those in wheelchairs which has instructions on how to use.

Group tours are available but need to be booked in advance.

There is also an Exhibition space and demo’s from experts of all types use this space.

There are also workshops available if you would like to learn more about weaving at the Mill.

Baby Facilities

The actual mill isn’t very practical for pushchairs, so take your little one in a sling, or carry them around. However, you can park your pushchair at the entrance to the mill under the main stairs if you need to take your pushchair with you. This is a covered area so your pushchair won’t get wet.

There are baby changing facilities in the toilets in the shop.

High chairs are also available in the cafe.

Parking

There is disabled parking right outside the entrance to the mill.

Regular parking is across the little river in the Library car park and is free.

I need to warn you that it isn’t the “best” of car parks and can very full quite quickly, however, there are free car parks in the town which are just a few minutes walk away.

At busy times staff are on hand to help out with parking.

Prices

Adults: £4.50

Children: £2.50

Family tickets are available, for 2 adults and 3 children: £10

The cafe is free to use and so are the grounds.

The Mill is open throughout the year and opening times are Tuesday to Sunday, 10.30am to 5pm. They are closed on Mondays (except Bank Holidays)

Rating out of 5

It was fascinating to walk around and understand how the textile industry used to work.

I had no idea that we had such a historic site that was still in use, so close to my home!

I had a very interesting couple of hours looking round and seeing all that was available.

It’s obvious that the silk mill is a hub for the local community as there are so many local events that take place on the site. I know they also have a lot of brownie, scout and guide groups who visit and I can imagine that the home-schooling community would love the place!

I was also impressed with the amount of technology on site, including the TV screens that you could use to investigate more about the different processes.

What really impressed me the most about the Silk Mill was the little details. There has clearly been a LOT of thought that has gone into keeping children and their parents engaged whilst educating them at the same time.

I actually can’t wait to take Mr NHM and Miss NHM along to see the mill as I think they will both really enjoy it.

I know I did! :-D.

Disclaimer: This post is a review of Whitchurch Silk Mill. My tour of the site was supplied free of charge for the purposes of the review. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

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! 

Review 2016: Museum of Army Flying

I’ve been wanting to go to the Museum of Army Flying for ages so when Karen asked me if she could send me her review of the museum, I jumped at the chance!

I’m definitely adding this to our list of things to do this year after reading Karen’s review! Thank you Karen! 😀

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Review 2016: Museum of Army Flying

Museum of Army Flying

If you’re reading this then you are most likely a parent. In which case it’s quite likely that you have put ‘rainy day out in Hampshire’ into a search engine. I did that this Easter holiday, which is how I found out about the Museum of Army Flying.

It’s about 40 mins drive from Basingstoke, just past Andover on the A303. I had no idea what to expect, and didn’t know how long it would entertain my 18 month old and 5 year old.

About

We got there and you could see the army airfield next door. We watched a small aircraft take off and fly quite low around us.

The reception staff were helpful and explained all of the activities that would be suitable for small children. They had a variety of quizzes for different age groups similair to Milestones.

We chose to keep it simple, and look for the 6 pilot teddy bears hidden around the museum.

As it was school holidays, they had some aeroplane themed craft activities on offer in the middle of the day. These were staffed by a very helpful young lady who took lots of time to help my 5 year old make a glider, whilst my 18 month old enjoyed running up and down and colouring in Aeroplane pictures with crayons.

There was a small ball pit and some other connecting tube style toys in a playroom which kept both occupied for quite a while, they had a few books and a box of lego too.

A welcome sight was the padded chairs for grown ups and the room being quite enclosed, which made it easier to relax knowing that the youngest was less likely to be able to do a runner.

As for the actual museum, it was vast. There were two large aeroplane hangers full of examples of helicopters, gliders and aeroplanes from the military throughout their flying history – right up to a bit about Iraq and Afghanistan.

There were examples of uniforms, videos to watch, a mock up of a 1940s house where my 5 year old was interested to hear about food rationing.

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In the far corner of the museum was an old helicopter that the children can climb into. There was a rack of dressing up clothes for any aspiring pint sized pilots and some big piece helicopter jigsaws placed on a low hight table with smaller chairs.

There were also a few military themed shooting games dotted around. Aimed at older children and adults, these cost £1 per go.

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Food

The Café was upstairs (there is a lift for pushchairs) and is open to the public as it is accessible without entering the museum.

There was a childrens’ menu, but it only had hot food, so my children shared a ham sandwich and a packet of crisps.

I had a bacon and brie pannini, we also ordered two soft drinks. This came to about £9.

There were plenty of high chairs.

The café had big windows overlooking the airfield, but we didn’t see many aircraft. I don’t know if that was due to the rainy day, or just their schedules, but it would have been a great view had the air strip been busy.

The café seemed well used by passers by, and there was a whole table of police and then a group of paramedics came in – which was a talking point with the children over lunch!

The teddy bears were actually quite challenging to find around the museum, but 5 year old was keen to put her year R writing skills to use.

This gave me the opportunity to chat to a few other parents about their location, which broke up the day of just talking to small people.

5 year old handed in the quiz at the end and was allowed to choose a glider or an aeroplane colouring book as her prize.

Facilities

There are benches at the edge of the car park if you want to watch the aircraft outside for a while.

The Museum is over two floors and there is a lift.

There was a wheelchair user at the museum at the same time as us, she appeared to access all of the museum without difficulty.

Disabled toilet was big enough to fit 2 children, 1 adult and a buggy at the same time.

Baby Facilities

Ample amount of high chairs in the café.

Acessible toilets include a baby change unit – which had a mat on and some nappy bags to use.

Parking

Parking is free and right outside the museum.

Prices

Tickets were a little more expensive than advertised on their website – £12 adult and £7 for children 5 and over.

I was asked if I could gift aid this, and in return they made my ticket an annual pass.

Rating out of 5

We arrived at about 11am and left shortly before 4.30pm.

The whole place really captured my 5 year olds’ interest – although I wasn’t really prepared for so many questions about WW2, and explaining conflict in Europe.

I was very pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable the whole day was.

The variety of activities, interpsersed with the play area and the opportunity to sit down made the day a very manageable and pleasant one.

Totally worth the entrance fee, and unusually quiet for such a great place in my opinion. We give the museum five out of five!

We will be making the most of our anuual pass and making a further visit this year!

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Review 2015: Bucklebury Farm Park

Thank you very much to today’s “NHM Secret Reviewer” who has done a great job below!

Review: Bucklebury Farm Park

Review of Bucklebury Farm Park, Bucklebury, Reading, RG7 6RR

Bucklebury Farm Park is a lovely farm and play park in the village of Bucklebury.

It has a Deer Park, Farm Animals, Indoor Play, Pedal Go Kart track, Tractor rides, Woody’s Cafe & Tea Room, Outdoor refreshments, Adventure Playground, The Wild Walk, Be A Farmer Club, Den Building.

Outdoor Play

There is a lovely wood chipped outdoor children’s play area at the bottom of the main field. It has a large wooden fort, lots of wooden structures such as a fire engine & train for children to climb & play in, some old tractors plus the usual swings etc. There is also a smaller play area for younger babies & toddlers.

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In the main field there is a zip wire suitable for older children, some wooden agility structures and a playhouse. There is a large bouncing pillow (although it wasn’t open when we went) along with a go kart track & a trike track.

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The Go Karts are only really suitable for older children (& adults) unless you prop your child in front of you & have a go.

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The trike track is good fun for younger children and my 4 year old was very happy pedalling his younger sister (2.5yrs old) around on the back of the trike.

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Indoor Play

Just inside the main entrance there is a large indoor play area with wavy slides & drop slides. When the rain came our little ones had great fun for a further hour or so, going up & down the slides repeatedly. The wave slides had woven mats that you had to sit on to go down the slide which they both loved.

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Our eldest did have a look at the drop slide but decided not to go down when he got to the top…personally I don’t blame him as I wouldn’t go down it myself even now (yes I am a big scaredy cat) however there were other children of a similar age who did (& some parents too!).

There is also a double decker bus in the main field which is kitted out as a soft play area. Again my little ones both loved this and were the perfect age for it.

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Every time we went to another part of the park they kept asking to go back on the bus and would run to it whenever we went past. I can imagine it gets very busy but there weren’t many people in the park the day we went as the weather had been particularly bad.

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Animal Petting

There is a small animal petting area called Bob’s Barn which holds animal petting sessions at various times throughout the day (you can find out when these are on the board in reception).  The children got to hold Guinea Pigs, Rabbits, a Chicken & a Tortoise. The staff were very friendly and helpful with young children and they really enjoyed holding the Guinea Pigs.

Tractor Rides

The tractor ride was really enjoyable and lasted about half an hour. You got onto the tractor trailer just past the adventure playground and were then taken on a trip up and around the Deer Park stopping midway to feed the Deer.  The driver was very knowledgeable about the different types of deer and came round everyone to see if they had any questions. Each side of the tractor was given a large bucket of food to feed to the Deer which both my little ones loved doing. Best of all the tractor ride is included in your admission price!

Walks

There is a nature trail and the Wild Walk both of which take you through wooded areas with the chance of seeing Deer. The Wild Walk has a picnic area and a tower you can climb that looks onto the Deer park. We didn’t do these walks as our children were worn out from running around the play area and walking around the park and we hadn’t taken the pushchair in for our youngest so she’d already walked quite a long way over the course of the day.

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Refreshments

Woody’s Café & Tea rooms is open 8.30am -5pm. We didn’t visit the café as we were at a party so had food & drinks provided but I poked my head in and the café looked lovely & charming.

I have heard from many people that the food is exceptionally good and that they make the trip to the café even when not visiting the park (it is open to both visitors & non-visitors). All the food is homemade and freshly prepared from locally sourced ingredients.

There is also the Little Green Food Wagon just outside the indoor play area which sold snacks such as bacon rolls at reasonable prices.

Picnic Areas

Of course the cheapest option is to take your own picnic and there was an abundance of outside space to enjoy a picnic if the weather is kind. There were also plenty of picnic tables around the park.  There is a sheltered picnic area which can be used if it hasn’t been booked for a party. Filled children’s lunchboxes are available from the kiosk for £4.50 and you can also book a hamper in advance.

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Toilets & Baby Changing Facilities

The toilet building is rustic but clean & adequate. I didn’t see any separate baby changing facilities however there was a large worktop surface in the ladies perfect for changing babies, just make sure you have your own changing mat with you. I didn’t spot the disabled toilet so unsure if these had proper baby changing facilities in.

Opening hours, Prices & Parking

The farm park and Woody’s Cafe are open daily for the 2015 season from Sunday 1st February until Wednesday 23rd December…Opening hours from early spring to late autumn are 9.30am until 6:00pm (last admission 5:00pm) and during November and December (until 23rd) between 9.30am-5pm.

Woody’s Cafe is open daily from 1st February to 23rd December from 8.30am-5pm (last orders 4.30pm).

Admission is pretty expensive in my opinion, as seems to be the case for all of these kind of attractions, however if you are going as a family of four then the family ticket is more reasonable.

Admission for 2015:

·         Adults – £9.45

·         Children & Seniors – £8.45

·         Children under 2 years – FREE

·         Family Tickets (2 Adults and 2 Children) – £32.50

·         Disabled – £7

·         Carer accompanying disabled visitor – £7

There is plenty of free parking onsite.

Summary

This is a really lovely place to visit for a day out. There were plenty of activities to keep our little ones entertained despite the weather not being the best & we would definitely visit again.

Rating

4.5 out of 5 – Only due to the price & the fact I felt it could do with some additional toilet facilities.

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