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: Arbonne Makeup Range

Thank you very much to the NHM secret reviewer who wrote today’s post!!!

Great review and I wish I’d had the time to agree to doing this one myself!!! lol.

Review 2017: Arbonne Makeup Range

When NorthHantsMum asked for a reviewer for makeup the ‘pre-mummy’ me woke up and jumped at the chance for a bit of pampering. I’d come across the Arbonne brand in the form of nappy cream which worked well when Big J was born so was very excited to try their make up range.

Natalie arrived at my house with a lovely bag of goodies and explained a bit about them all, luckily for my sleep deprived brain she also left me some information about them all.

I have to be totally honest and say I wasn’t sure how much time I’d have to apply makeup (or how often the Small J’s would let me) but I did manage to try it all out a few times and most days I used the makeup primer. It only took me 30 seconds to apply and as promised it made my skin feel smooth and look refreshed. Even if there was no time for anything else I could manage this daily.

I’ve always struggled to find foundation to match my pale skin but Natalie explained that Arbonne supplied the foundation for the Twilight movies, thankfully I’m not vampire pale and the Honey Beige perfecting liquid foundation suited me well and had the added benefit of SPF protection. It worked so well I didn’t even have the need to try the liquid concealer with it although when I used it on its own it did a good job of covering up how tired I am!

On the day of Small J’s christening I was able to steal a bit more me time and tested the setting pretty translucent loose powder out. It complemented the foundation well and when I went to remove my makeup that evening it was still there to remove despite running around all day. The bronzer, mascara and lipliner finished off my look and I felt ready for all the photos and live web broadcast of the christening!

The shea butter handcream was declared a winner by Mother in Law J and Mr J got involved testing one of Arbonnes nutrition range. Arriving home from work exhausted he knocked back a energy fizz stick and enjoyed the pomegranate flavour and felt that it was a good pick me up.

The Arbonne brand is dedicated to sustainability with their ‘Evergreen commitment’ which amongst other things includes providing cruelty free formulas, vegan certified and commitments to recycling, water conservation and carbon neutrality.

Natalie Hall can be contacted on 07909334102, at nathallarbonne@hotmail.com or via www.nataliehall.arbonne.com

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Review 2017: Buggys Magic Valeting Basingstoke

 

We have been very excited (and tired) in the J household. Small J has been upgraded to Big J with the arrival of his little sister. With that we found ourselves in need of a buggy with a ‘big brother seat’ for when he is too tired to go any further.

After a bit of online searching I came across a new local business ‘Buggy Magic Valeting Basingstoke.’ Run by Emma Lyons the company buys, makeovers and deep cleans buggies giving them some TLC and a new lease of life for their next owner.

You can also have your existing buggy cleaned thoroughly. I love recycling, reusing and upcycling and the idea that unwanted buggies are getting a new lease of life rather than landing in the rubbish dump makes me very happy.

 

Emma answered my Facebook enquiry very quickly and was able to send me photos of suitable buggys she had ready to go as well as descriptions of some more she was still getting ready. She helped me choose one that met my requirements, my only concern was Big J might be a bit tall for it. So the following day we went to give it a test run with Big J on board.

He was delighted with his big brother seat and Mother in Law J declared it easy to push. Emma gave us a full rundown of how to assemble it and all the different configurations the seating could be in and even loaded it in the boot for me to check it would fit.

We are very happy with our new wheels (for the time being it appears Big J’s legs are permanently ‘too tired!’) and will be returning to Emma after the winters mud to have it all cleaned off.

Buggy Magic Valeting Basingstokes available stock and current valeting price list can be viewed on the facebook page of the same name.

Emma can be contacted via the page for any enquiries.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Buggymagicvaleting/

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Review 2017: Tot Cross Buns

Thank you very much to the NHM Secret Reviewer who put this post together!

Last month, my son made an amazing toad in the hole. He’s two years old. Before I sign him up for Masterchef, I should probably give some appreciation to the brilliant ladies at Tot Cross Buns.

About

Tot Cross Buns is a cookery course for children aged 2 to 5 years old, with occasional Saturday cookery classes that also welcome school age children. Their website says ‘The aim of Tot Cross Buns is to introduce children to food through taste, smell and touch all in a fun and relaxed environment. They’ll be cooking healthy recipes (some treats too!), which have all been tried and tested, and will involve the children every step of the way – and there will be no washing up to worry about!’ The classes also include a food related activity carried out whilst the food is cooking.

The classes are located at various sites in North Hampshire, close to Basingstoke, with times, locations and prices available on their website Tot Cross Buns. The business is the brainchild of local mum Allison and the classes are run by Allison and another local lady, Kerry, who runs the classes we’ve been attending.

The Class

First off I should admit, I’m a little bit in love with Tot Cross Buns. I went for a taster session last month and we have been back every week since. I’d never heard of the idea of cooking classes for toddlers before and had only seen places offering biscuit decorating etc. Here, not only do recipes include Toad in the Hole, pasta, rosemary biscuits etc, they concentrate on being healthy, with the very occasional cheeky spoily week. They teach about the foods they are using, where they come from, and tend to carry this into the week’s activities.

 

Kerry, as I’m sure Allison does too, takes the time to point out each ingredient and encourages the children to find the right ones and do as much as possible themselves. She goes around and helps where needed with support and a little one-to-one. She encourages involvement, asks lots of questions, and doesn’t miss a trick either; she will hone in on the quiet ones to make sure they feel involved (that includes my little one, and I still can’t believe he now shouts out answers to the group questions). She also encourages independence, getting the children to carry their trays up on their own, put the dirty bits in the washing up box, and collect their baking one at a time, with a round of applause at the end.

The activities themselves are well thought out and relevant to what is being cooked. From colouring, to tasting, to washing up, to planting herbs. Always different and always grabs the children’s attention whilst being educational.

All this, plus you come away with great baking too!

They also recently won the Muddy Stiletto Award for best children’s business in Hampshire 2017. Congratulations! Well deserved.

Rating out of 5

Definitely 5 out of 5

For more information contact Allison on Tot Cross Buns website or Tot Cross Buns Facebook Page

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Review 2017: Tots Play, Social Tots

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

“Great value for money, 40 minutes of fun!”

I have attended Michelle groups since my little one was 8 weeks old. We started off attending Baby Development and have graduated to Discovery Tots and finally to Social Tots.

Social Tots does what it says on the tin, it’s a 40 minutes of fun! It’s an interactive social group for for babies from 8 months to tots of 3 years.

This class is a great way for your little ones to meet other Tots, to interact via play and for parents to socialise and to catch up every week.

Every class is full of various activities and we are always met by Michelle and Totsy the class mascot. You can enjoy welcome songs, different hands on themed play each week, involving colour, light, natural objects, fruit and veg, sensory play, massage, yoga and sign language.

With her extensive knowledge, Michelle always explains what we are doing and why we are doing each activity it and how it benefits the little ones. The fun can also continue at home as all the tools and props that are used in the class, including beach balls and sensory fans are all on sale at the end of the class.

Each week brings something different and we are welcomed by Michelle and her smile. We thoroughly enjoy the group and will be booking again for the next session.

Unlike a lots of Toddler groups, Michelle will be running various classes over the summer as well as some Saturday classes.

Check out all Michelle classes on Facebook or totsplay.co.uk

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Review 2017: Relax Kids

Kath from Relax Kids recently invited me to review one of her classes with Miss NHM.

I was one of the first people that Kath “practised” on a few years ago when she started out. I thought she was brilliant then so was very keen to see how she had developed and for Miss NHM to attend a class.

I saw that Kath was doing classes on a Sunday morning as a taster session to come along and find out what it’s all about before committing to a 5 week course, which was perfect for us. It wasn’t too early in the morning too, which was great. I asked my friend S whether she wanted to bring her son K along, and she decided that she wanted to check out the class too.

Kath sent me an email the week before the class detailing what would be happening for the hours class. It included things about what to wear for the session and a child protection policy that needed completing which is brilliant as it shows what a professional Kath is!

Kath follows a 7 step process in helping the children to relax. She was brilliant at explaining to the children what she was doing and the steps that they were taking.

A couple of people turned up late to the class which I always think is a bit rude but then remembered that some children find coming to classes very intimidating. Kath handled their lateness really well and explained things very clearly to everyone.

All of the exercises that Kath used were sooo clever! I love the “Smile to reach your stretch” moment. That was awesome to see Miss NHM stretch and expand.  I loved the “hedgehog” and seeing Miss NHM in this position made me quite emotional! The Angry thoughts exercise was fantastic and just such a lovely concept.

I also REALLY loved the books that Kath used and have purchased two for home already as they have such wonderful concepts in them.

All through the class children are doing breathing exercises but they don’t even know it!! I particularly loved the “breathing in happy thoughts, breathing out sad thoughts”. I also loved the relaxing music that Kath uses and really want to ask her where she got it from as I think we could do with a copy of this for home! lol .

Miss NHM is quite a confident little girl at the best of times and I was very interested to see how she responded to the class.  My favourite bit of the class was when the children were asked to write out what makes them happy. Miss NHM had written about 9 things within 2 minutes and I was uber proud that she knows what makes her happy and could express this.

I also felt quite privileged seeing all the children relax throughout the class, which was fascinating to watch. There was one little boy who really didn’t want to participate, but by the end of the class he was lying on the floor with the other children and you could see that he had got a lot out of the class even if he hadn’t been actively participating for most of it.

Tips

Book quickly because Kath’s classes sell out REALLY fast. They are very popular and she often has a waiting list!

Parents are allowed in the room. This must have been initially intimidating to Kath, having the parents watching, but she wasn’t bothered.

Rating out of 5

All of the little details were excellent, it’s very obvious that Kath is passionate about what she’s doing as such thought had been put into the whole class.

As you can see, I’m a HUGE fan of Kath’s work. Miss NHM got so much out of just that one class and talked about it for weeks later. I’m very keen to enrol her in a class when she starts Y2 next year!

Definitely 5 out of 5!!

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Review 2017: Cookery Doodle Doo North Hants – Pop-up Tot’s Cooking Session

Thank you very much to today’s NHM Secret Reviewer who has done a FAB job!!!

About

Katie’s Facebook page can be found here Cookery Doodle Doo North Hants
Cookery Doodle Doo North Hants is run by Katie from her home in Whitchurch. I can’t really phrase it better than her website, so in her own words:

“In my cooking classes the children can relax and get messy, learn important skills, try new flavours and chat about where ingredients come from. It’s a brilliant way for kids to learn about real, home-cooked food. As a mum myself, I place great importance on the adults being able to enjoy it too, so there’s proper coffee and lots of opportunity to chat at my preschool classes; and my pudding club was designed to give you 2 hours off on a Sunday morning, whilst one course of the family dinner is sorted for you!” (from Katie’s website page, Cookery Doodle Doo website)

She offers Pre-School Classes, Sunday Morning Pudding Club (for 5-10 year olds), private parties, nursery visits, pop-up classes and more.

We joined Katie for one of her Pop-up Tot’s cooking sessions which was based in Overton Coffee Shop rather than at her home in Whitchurch. I’d never been to Overton before and Katie was kind enough to give me the low-down on parking which helped enormously with a toddler in tow.

Overton Coffee Shop is a lovely place, and it is definitely on my list of places to visit again. When we arrived we went through to the back and the tables were set out ready, with aprons on chairs and colourful utensils on the table. It was all beautifully prepared and nicely intriguing for little hands. Katie was great throughout, giving clear and simple instructions and working her way around to help where needed.

We made orange and chocolate bread and butter pudding, which really did impress me, especially as all the toddlers came away with a complete tray ready for baking and made safe for travel. I have to say, after baking it at home, it tasted incredible! Rather handily, we were given a recipe which I am very much looking forward to making use of. My toddler thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and was so proud when I showed him the cooked result. Needless to say, we devoured the lot between us! All in all it was a great and special experience which I would definitely do again.

Tips

Like anything with toddlers, be prepared to get a little messy.

Food and Facilities (Overton Coffee Shop)

Whilst we didn’t stay on, the food on offer looked lovely. It certainly was the sort of place I’d happily frequent.

Toilets, baby change facilities and highchairs available. There was also a very small area of toddler toys (always a bonus in a coffee shop!)

Please note, these would be different to the courses run at Katie’s home which I’ve yet to try.

Parking (Overton)

There are two free car parks in Overton, there is also free on-road parking for up to two hours.

Prices

Please see Katie’s website for details, Cookery Doodle Doo website

Rating out of 5

5/5

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Review 2017: Thrive Massage Therapy

 

A few months ago I noticed a sign on the side of a car about a local massage business and thought, ooh, I really must check that out. About two weeks later Nicola messaged me asking if I would like to review her massage business – Thrive Massage Therapy. Turns out it was her!!  I thought for less than a second before accepting her lovely offer!

Initially Nicola had a Guest post on NorthHanstMum because I wasn’t available for the first month after she contacted me. These days I’m really busy in the evening as well as the day times and Nicola was very accommodating of my schedule. Nicola takes bookings via her website, phone, text or email. We arranged a date and she sent me instructions of how to get to hers.

I found Nicola’s house really easily, she has a Thrive Massage picture in the window and her house number sign is lit up, so it’s obvious which is her house.

My first impressions were, WOW! How TIDY is her downstairs! lol. Nicola welcomed me and led me into her massage room. I was (and still am!) sooo impressed!!! Her massage room is AMAZING! It’s a purpose built room, built just for Nicola’s massage business. It’s the space that would be a garage so it’s quite large and she has lots of lovely storage and a large massage couch with lots of space around it. I’ve had massages at many other places over the years and the rooms are always TINY, many with not enough space for the masseuse to comfortably walk around. Nicola’s massage room has lots of space and such a lovely ambience. She even has the plug sockets built in so that they are under her massage table, so she doesn’t have to walk over cables!

One of the things I was most impressed with is all of the marketing that Nicola has, it’s so professional. It’s obvious that a LOT of thought has gone into Nicola’s business and how she markets her services. Even the towels she uses match her theme colour!!!! These little details are so important and really helped me to feel like I was dealing with someone who really cares about her business.

I also really liked that all of her qualification certificates are up on one wall, behind the door, which gave me a nice warm feeling that she knows what she’s doing!!!

The massage room is very welcoming and exactly what you would want in a massage room.

The Massage

We had a chat before the massage started, so Nicola could check whether I had any health issues that she needed to be aware of. The room was soo relaxing, I nearly fell asleep then! Dimmed lights, candles, lovely smells and music that’s actually soothing during a massage.
The room was the perfect heat too.

I had a massage a few years ago, at a local spa, where the massuese was pregnant so she had a dehumidifier in the room which kept the heat down to 17 degrees ( I knew this because I could see the red screen telling me it was 17 degrees all through my massage). As she was heavily pregnant I didn’t feel I could ask her to turn the heat up but I was FREEZING which ruined the whole experience. Nicola’s room temperature is just perfect.

Nicola’s massage couch can be heated, which was wonderful. The towels were lovely and soft and I could have happily gone to sleep there with or without a massage! lol.

Ok, so I know I’m always positive on reviews but the massage with Nicola was AMAZING!!! Definitely one of the best massages I’ve ever had. I was convinced that she used hot stones, but it’s just her hands and arms that she uses. It never felt like she was going through the motions either. I’ve had massages before where the masseuse clearly doesn’t want to be there and it feels like they are doing the “dot to dot” massage on your back. Nicola’s style wasn’t like this at all. It was very fluid and didn’t feel stilted.

Before the hour long massage started Nicola had asked me if there were any specific areas that I wanted her to focus on. I’ve had persistent shoulder pain for the past 6 months and despite having physio and acupuncture it’s still not properly fixed. I was a little apprehensive that she would “go to town” on my shoulder, like I’ve had other masseuse’s do and has meant that I’ve been in agony for weeks after. Nicola used EXACTLY the right pressure. Sometimes when you come out of a massage you feel a bit bruised and battered but I felt exactly as I wanted to feel when the massage was finished. She even found bits of me that I didn’t know were tense!! I came out of my massage feeling really relaxed and “flexible”.

One of my favourite bits was at the end of the massage. Nicola has an tea caddy filled with lots and lots of herbal teas and she lets you take one home with you. Such a lovely and thoughtful idea. Nicola also reminded me to drink lots of water and take it easy for the rest of the evening. She also gave me an aftercare leaflet with advice about what to do after a massage to make the most of it and a stamped addressed envelope which had a feedback form in, which if I completed and sent back to Nicola, meant that I would be entered in to her draw to win a free massage!!!

Rating out of 5

Definitely 5 out of 5!!

I felt really pampered and it’s definitely one of the best massages I’ve ever had. My skin felt amazing afterwards and my shoulder has felt much better since my massage with Nicola.

I used to get my massages done at my local spa/gym but having had two massages with Nicola (I went back as a paying customer and my massage was just as good!), I won’t be going back to the spa at the gym. The quality of service that you get from Nicola is far above what you get from an impersonal service like a massage at a gym.

I HIGHLY recommend Nicola’s personally tailored massages.  Thrive Massage: www.thrivemassage.co.uk

Disclaimer: This post is a review of Thrive Message therapy. My massage 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.
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Review 2017: MummaBfit Post Natal Fitness Classes

Thank you very much to the NHM Writer for today’s Secret Review!!! Fantastic job!

MummaBfit Post Natal Fitness Classes Review

About

The Facebook page can be found here… MummaBfit

“Postnatal Exercise Classes; for mum and baby to escape the house, have a gentle workout and meet new people and enjoy a cuppa tea and chocolate buttons afterwards”.

Having used Vicky Tidy as my personal trainer, I jumped at the chance when she asked me if I would like to join her MummaBFit sessions to see if they worked with a toddler, not just a baby.

I think I possibly speak for lots of mums, whether that be first time mums or if you are doing it second or third etc time over; It’s hard to get out and about with a little one, especially meeting new people and some groups I have gone to have been a bit cliquey. I personally have really struggled, and being a “bigger” lady I was all too aware that I would probably be the biggest there! I needn’t have worried! We were in a small group, 4 mums, 3 babies and my little man!

Everybody was lovely and friendly.

The workouts always begin with step ups on an aerobic step to get your heart pumping.

The workouts are well geared up for new mum’s who have not long given birth and Vicky encourages everybody to stop if it’s not comfortable for you.

During my first 6 week course we have done a variety of exercises from press ups to lunges, using weights to planks. We have also used different equipment and have been shown how to use it properly.

When babies need feeding or even just a cuddle with mummy (or Vicky!) then you just do what you need to do, no problems with stopping workout.

I was worried that having a toddler with little babies would be a nightmare, however Vicky kindly set up a playpen with toys and an iPad with Peppa Pig on for my little boy. If he’s not happy I do get him out and he has a wander around the room but obviously always watching near the babies. There has never been any problems at all.

Vicky is now including toddlers into courses, so please do have a look and see which session would suit you.

In short, I have found this to be a great way to work out with my son being around and also a great way to meet other mums. I have gained much more confidence and stepped totally out of my comfort zone and have had very positive results. So positive in fact. that I have now signed up for a 2nd round of the course!

Tips

  • Wear appropriate workout clothes.
  • If you are breastfeeding ensure you can still do so whilst in your workout clothes.
  • Bring water with you, you’ll need it.

Food

There are biscuits and a cup of tea supplied after the workout where we sit and have a chat.

Parking

Monday 12.30pm course – This is currently the downside: Parking is on the narrow country road outside Oakley’s St Leonards centre.

There are plenty of other sessions on various days at various times throughout Basingstoke so have a look and pick one that suits you.

Prices

Prices on application. 

Rating

I give this 5*

Disclaimer: This post is a review of MummaBfit. My experience was supplied free of charge for the purposes of the research for Vicky to see if it was entirely doable for mothers with toddlers to attend. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

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Review 2017: Messy Play

About

The Spotlight centre in Popley are running a new messy play session on Thursday (term time only) from 10:30 – 12:30. For the bargain price of £1 your little one gets the opportunity to get as messy as possible, and you don’t have to clean up!!  So far we’ve played with cereal, sand and water, paint, playdough, noodles, jelly and rice. There are small vehicles to drive through the mess and make tracks with aswell.  At the first session there was a suggestion sheet for other messes that could be made so expect a lot of different opportunities over the oncoming weeks. There has been soft play for littler ones available too, but it is not out every week.

Tips

It goes without saying but just incase i’ll say it anyway; dress children and yourself in old clothing and bring a complete change of clothes, wipes and a towel, you will need them. Don’t forget a plastic bag for the messy clothes. If you’re like me and you take your shoes off at every opportunity bring yourself a spare pair of socks. A tub of water for washing off messy feet/hands is available in the messy room. Consider a carrier for little siblings so you’ve got your hands free to help the messy ones.

Facilities

The facilities are very good, in the baby change there is a changing table, toddler toilet seats, steps, potties and disabled access. More toilets are available elsewhere in the building. You can bring buggies into the messy play room as there is plenty of space available. Benches and chairs are available for a sit down and the centre is breastfeeding friendly.  There is plenty of free parking available on site.

Food

Tea, coffee and bottled water are available to buy for £1 and water/squash and biscuits are provided for the children. You can bring snacks and eat in the room, which is advisable as the session certainly runs into our lunchtime.

Small J thoroughly enjoyed getting messy, and I thoroughly enjoyed not cleaning it all up afterwards! The Johnsons would give messy play a 5/5.

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