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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Review 2016: How do reindeer fly?

Thank you very much to Helen who went to see “How do reindeer fly” yesterday and sent her review to me last night!!! christmas%20list%20high-resolution%20export-422

Proteus Christmas Show lives up to expectations!

About

We went to the Proteus children’s Christmas show last year and the year before and absolutely loved it both times, so we were very excited about going along to ‘How do Reindeer Fly?’ this Christmas. Expectations were very high for what is fast becoming a Christmas tradition in our house.

In ‘How do reindeer fly?’ The audience are invited to Christmas HQ to see the elves at work. After a creative demonstration of gift-wrapping the elves take a hard earned tea break and then, once all the ‘visiting elves’ are sporting reindeer antlers, they introduce us to Donner and Blitzen. Things go a little bit awry and Mary Christmas has to call on the visiting elves (children in the audience) to save Christmas.

As with previous years’ shows, the audience seamlessly become part of the show with the children helping the elves with the magic that makes the reindeer fly. There is less moving between rooms than in previous years, with the show mostly based in one room. This seems to work well and there is a greater sense of space than in previous years. Towards the end there is a short walk into another (beautiful!) snowy space. Here there are some lovely sensory activities and then Father Christmas arrives to tell the children a story.

The show did not disappoint. My 4 year old belly-laughed more times than I could count and was completely engaged with the story and the activities. My 1 year old was so fascinated by what was going on that he actually sat still for a while! He enjoyed meeting Donna and Blitzen so much that he kept going back to look for them when they had gone. The team at Proteus seem to have a knack for producing children’s shows that are entertaining, funny and interactive whilst being lovely and relaxed. ‘Heartwarming’ is the best word I can think of to capture the atmosphere they create.

Overall we had a brilliant time, we left with many happy memories and some Christmas souvenirs. The team at Proteus should be commended for creating, once again, an imaginative, wonderful Christmas story. We’ll be back next year for more!

How do reindeer fly is showing at Proteus creation space until Saturday 24th December and is sold out (sorry!). Even if you’re too late for this years’ show make sure you check out what they’re doing next year!

For more information see http://www.proteustheatre.com/creation-space

Tips

I’m told that children who attended the show will receive an email from Father Christmas sometime this weekend!

The children meet Father Christmas at the end but he tells the group a story. There is no expectation of a one-to-one so it would be fine for children who are less keen on meeting him.

Most of the children there were around 3-6 years I would guess, with a few younger siblings. The show is advertised as a preschool show and it is perfect for preschool-aged children. Older children probably wouldn’t get a lot from it.

Although this is an interactive show there is no pressure and parents can stay with children and help them at all times.

Facilities

Proteus has baby changing, toilets, a café (with amazing cake!) and free parking.

Price

£7.70 per ticket

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Review 2016: YouDeserveThis!

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http://www.youdeservethis.com/

I was soooooo excited to be given a voucher for myself and one of my favourite people to attend a makeover and photoshoot with YouDeserveThis! I’ve followed Michelle and Charlie for a long time and been itching to have a photoshoot myself, so when the opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance!!

Most of you probably know that I’m really not a girlie girl at all, I have my uniform that I wear almost all of the time and I’m very happy with this. So being treated to a proper makeover AND a photoshoot was a huge indulgence. Being able to bring someone with me was even better as sharing the experience really made the day!

youdeservethis-makeover-and-photoshoot-experience-uk-jammie

One evening in October my bestie, Ali, and I went to have a look at the YouDeserveThis studio and talk through what we needed to prepare for our photoshoot. It was lovely to be able to meet Michelle and Charlie and to talk through how it would all work on the day. They really know how to provide the personal service and how to create an awesome customer experience.

We talked about what we needed to bring with us on the day, what we needed to wear when we arrived and what clothes to bring with us, including underwear. We were advised to bring 3 or 4 changes of clothes for the photoshoot and to ensure that we varied the neckline of our dresses, to give some variety.

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This was pretty easy for me as I only have 5 dresses,  they are all from Bravissimo and all are on the same theme! (perks of being large boobed and being allergic to polyester!). We were also advised to bring different colours of dresses and clothes, again to add variety so that our pictures weren’t all of the same colour and style. You can even bring dresses that don’t fit as it doesn’t matter as Michelle will peg or pin them for you at the back and ensure that you won’t be able to tell the difference from the front!

I was HUGELY relieved that we didn’t have to bring shoes only dresses, appropriate undies and accessories. Michelle and Charlie have a very comprehensive style guide that we reviewed on the evening and then we were emailed a copy for our reference so we could refer back to the guide whilst we were getting everything ready for our photoshoot.

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Our initial session only took 45 minutes but it was definitely worth attending because being able to see everything in advance really took the pressure off.

Over the next few weeks we had a few emails from Michelle and Charlie reminding us of what we needed to prepare and we also sent them pictures of the dresses we had chosen and the accessories we were planning to bring. It’s so sad that I was very pleased with myself when Michelle emailed me back to say that I had passed my homework with flying colours! Lol.

Michelle and Charlie really believe in the personal service so if you are struggling with choosing clothes you can even arrange to visit the studio again with your clothes and have them help you, rather than doing this remotely.

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A few weeks later, on a Friday morning, Ali and I arrived at Michelle and Charlie’s laden down with all of our dresses, accessories and undies. We handed everything over to Michelle who hung everything up and laid everything out in the studio. Then it was Ali’s turn to have her make up and hair done.

Make over

A lovely lady, Zoe,  was our YouDeserveThis Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist and she did a fantastic job! I watched whilst Ali was having her make up and hair done and there was a lot of attention to detail.

It’s a very relaxed affair, and the makeover area is very light and airy with music in the background. The whole effect makes you feel very relaxed. Michelle and Charlie are very particular about who they employ to be YouDeserveThis Makeup Artist’s and Stylist’s and Zoe is proof of this.

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She clearly knows what she’s doing! I’ve never had a makeover before, I didn’t even let anyone else do my makeup for me on my wedding day. Having a professional makeover was very decadent and it was really strange seeing myself in the mirror when Zoe had finished as I looked far more  glamorous than I’d ever expected! Lol.

It really was a transformation and quite an emotional experience, which I really hadn’t expected.

Photoshoot

As Ali had her makeup and hair done first, she went into the studio to have some individual shots taken first whilst I had my makeover. Once I was ready we had some shots taken together and then some individual shots. It worked really well as it meant each person had time to get changed in the dressing room, whilst the other was having her pictures taken.

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It was also really fun to watch. The joy of having a photoshoot with someone you’ve known for over 25 years means that you can be quite honest and quite rude at the same time. We really had a giggle during our shoot and took the mickey out of each other quite a bit.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous for the first 30 minutes but after I’d relaxed a bit I just got caught up in the whole thing and completely went with it.

Charlie clearly knows what he’s doing and was very good at describing the different positions that we needed to be in. He had warned us at our initial session that we might ache a bit the following day as he would be putting us in different positions that may seem a bit unnatural but would look awesome for the camera. He advised us that he would be posing us specifically for women as he has been trained to highlight our best attributes. He also confirmed that all editing is “responsible editing”. I didn’t ache too much the following day but I could definitely tell that I’d been standing in a way that I wasn’t used too!

I was really impressed that Michelle even laid on healthy finger food and she kept reminding us to eat and drink water as it’s important to keep hydrated and keep your energy up during the photoshoot.

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Our photo shoot took about four hours which sounds quite gruelling but the time just flew by! As the team only book one shoot a day, you know that you won’t be rushed and they block out 6 hours for each shoot.

I love how Michelle changed the colours of the walls to change the look of each picture. Michelle and Charlie have set the studio up so that it’s really easy to change the colour of the walls from neutral to black, white, specialised grey or colours. I really love the pictures that they take with the natural backgrounds. I think they really set the pictures off and add a bit of glamour to each shot.

There is a dressing room in the studio a TV system (if needed for toddler entertainment!), a baby changing area and you can even bring your own play list if you would like as they also have a stereo system set up in the studio! They really have thought of everything that you would need and ensured that it’s a calm environment.

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What I learnt

I learnt that I would NOT be a very good fashion model! It was absolutely lovely and very decadent to be spoilt for the day but I have no idea how people do this every day for up to 14 hours a day! It’s not easy and I understand now why they are paid what they are paid!

I also learnt how important it is to stand correctly and what to do to give my neck a slimline. I’m quite happy to admit that I’m a bit of a porker at the moment and so I have a double chin or two, but seeing the pictures on the camera of how slim my jaw looked, just by moving my neck and face in a certain way, was awesome! I’m soooo going to be doing the same thing for any Christmas pictures that are coming up!

The photoshoots are designed for 2 people but they can accommodate several people in the studio so it would be perfect for a group of people, either as a baby shower, girls night out, antenatal group or a hen do experience.

Michelle and Charlie can also do head shots for Business, for example LinkedIn pictures and they are also renowned for their baby photoshoots. Michelle is even known as “the baby whisperer” in several circles!!

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Final thoughts

Michelle and Charlie really do make you feel like a princess/queen on the day. I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing the final pictures. I’ve heard a lot about the “reveal wall” and I’m excited about seeing what the pictures actually came out like!

I would HIGHLY recommend this experience to all women, especially Mum’s who need a little bit of spoiling. I had forgotten what it’s like to dress up and be glamourous for the day, and even though Mr NHM said I looked “weird” when I got home with my make up on (doing the school run was interesting, and yes, we have had a discussion about what he should and should NOT say after I’ve been spoilt for a day!) I was on a high for the rest of the weekend.

It was particularly awesome because I got to share the day with my bestie (it was part of her birthday present from me) and it was a really special experience that we got to share together.

Even though I haven’t seen the final pictures, what I saw on the camera that Charlie showed us,  I’m looking forward to being able to  look back on the final pictures and remind myself that I was glamourous and gorgeous at least one day in my life!

I can’t WAIT to see the final pictures and I hope that they are as good as I think they will be!!!

Disclaimer: This post is a review of YouDeserveThis. My experience 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.

Review 2016: Brrrrr!!! at Proteus Creation Space

Thank you very much to Helen, one of the NHM writers, who went to see this show yesterday, courtesy of the Proteus Creation Space team (thank you for the tickets!) and has already written her review, so that you can review it in advance of the shows later today! 14956469_544625799062656_3108402936070251677_n

Brrr brings heartwarming fun to North Hampshire!

We had a brilliant time. A perfect way to spend an hour on a cold November afternoon. Lots and lots of laughter and smiles. Special time with my little boy!

About

Brrrr tells the story of Steve, a penguin who doesn’t like the cold. Steve dreams of travelling to South Africa, a magical land with three suns, tiny elephants and hot snow. When Beryl the bird accidentally crashes into his world they set off together on a voyage to this magical land. Brrrr is a play come acrobatics show designed specifically for younger audiences (children aged 3years +). I went along to Proteus Creation Space to see it with my 4 year old son. We had high hopes being huge fans of the Proteus children’s Christmas shows (tickets are now on sale for this years Christmas show by the way!).

Brrr is performed by three actors using a relatively small and simple set, which is perfect for young children. The show is funny, visually entertaining, captivating and heart-warming. The story is told primarily through simple dialogue supported by music, narration and sign language (BSL), which is integrated seamlessly.  My son belly-laughed his way through and even got up for a dance; we both had a wonderful time. The cast were flexible and responsive to the audience and there was some participation in the form of singing, cheering and touching the snow. If you’re able to catch brrrr whilst it’s showing I thoroughly recommend you go along, the cast and crew should be congratulated on creating such a fun and genuinely inclusive performance piece.

Brrr is showing at Proteus creation space on Sunday 6th at 11am and 3pm and at venues across the region through to December 4th . There is a relaxed performance on Wednesday 9th November at 7pm (Proteus Creation Space).

For more information see www.brrrshow.co.uk

Tips

Programmes at £2.50 and include a story book version of Brrr as well as a wordsearch and some colouring in. You can download an audiobook version of the story at the above website.

The room at Proteus has bean bags at the front for little ones if they want to be close to the action.

The run time is around 70 minutes. My son isn’t known for his ability to sit still and did jiggle around a little but made it through without any problems. I can imagine it would be a little long for children under 3 though, obviously depending on the child.

There is probably an age at which children wouldn’t get so much from this performance. It’s difficult to say what that age would be – maybe around 8 years although this obviously depends on the child too.

The show didn’t contain any unexpected loud noises or anything ‘scary’.

Facilities

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

Price

£6 per ticket

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Review 2016: The Rattler at The Anvil

Thank you very much to Rebecca, one of the NHM writers, for her Review today.

Review 2016: The Rattler, Saturday 24th September, Haymarket theatre, Basingstoke.

After enjoying my last trip to the theatre a few months back (my first in over 10 years!) I decided to take the brave decision to drag the entire family along to see The Rattler, a family friendly operatic retelling of Rumpelstiltskin by the Mahogany Opera Group. After a few hiccups (namely getting the time and location wrong) we arrived in a rather stressed out state seconds before the performance began.

Normally in this situation one would be embarrassingly squeezing past rows of people uttering a plenitude of apologies, only heightening the already climatic stress level. (Did I mention my 3 children are all 5 and under!) However, our arrival could not have been further from that reality.

We were greeted by the cast themselves, and invited to join in to what soon became apparent was a parade of children, complete with musical instruments and decorated sticks that had been made in a craft workshop before the show started. They immediately put us at ease, and the energy and enthusiasm of the cast captivated my three boys from the start. It was this energy, along with the clear passion that the cast had in the story, that kept their attention throughout the majority of the Opera.

Even my 5-year-old, who is notoriously hyperactive (he rarely sits still for longer than 10 minutes at a time) managed to stay engaged. In fact, towards the end he was transfixed. It was an easy to follow storyline for the younger audience with interactive singing, an amazingly talented cast and overall a great introduction to Opera.

And it wasn’t just the children who were captivated. I literally could not take my eyes off the puppet ‘The Rattler’. I am in total awe of not only the design of such a puppet that actually gave me nightmares that night!

But I was also blown away by the way that the incredibly talented cast moved him, such that I had to keep reminding myself that he wasn’t real. For me he really did steal the show and hats off to all who were involved in his creation and movement. In the words of my 4-year-old ‘I loved the dinosaur!’

AS I’ve said in previous reviews, live theatre, opera especially is not for everybody. Their aim is not to be universally appealing to the masses. They take risks and sometimes this means alienating some.

I am in no doubt that the risk they took by making the Rattler so eerie will put a few people off. (Although I should mention at this point that the recommended age is 7 and above.)

However, it is when we take risks that remarkable things are achieved and I can wholeheartedly say that The Rattler is nothing short of remarkable. I can’t wait to see what they do next!

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Review 2016: Story time with Paw Patrol at Festival Place

Thank you very much to “H”, one of the NHM Writers, for today’s review.

Paw Patrol

Story time with Paw Patrol at Festival Place

About

On Sunday 24th July, Festival Place hosted story time with Paw Patrol. The event had been advertised around the shopping centre for some time.

On the day the session times were shown on a sign at the entrance to the ‘pen’ as well as on the Festival Place Facebook page.

Sessions were held in the square outside M&S. We went to the final session of the day at 3:30pm. The first people in the queue were there at 3pm and they started letting people into the pen at 3:15pm.

There were maybe 50 beanbags on the floor for the children to sit on (parents were asked not to sit on beanbags).

As far as I could tell everyone got in who had been queuing although not all of the children got a beanbag. There was also the option of standing around the outside of the pen and a lot of people were doing that.

At 3:30 Marshall and Chase arrived in costume along with a storyteller. There was some call and response and cheering to ‘warm up’ the crowd and then two Paw Patrol stories were read – one about pirates and one about a birthday party.

I had my three year old and baby in tow.

The three year old is a huge paw patrol fan and was very excited about meeting Paw Patrol. He had a brilliant time and a huge grin on his face all the way through.

The baby was a little less impressed but sat on my lap relatively still watching the action.

The storyteller was enthusiastic and did her best to bring the stories to life. Unfortunately the sound wasn’t great (I would guess due to the space) and many of the children had clearly stopped listening after a while.

Despite this, looking around, all of the children seemed happy to watch Chase and Marshall prance around and weren’t too concerned whether they could follow the story.

Overall we had a really good time and I would go to this kind of thing again.

I had avoided them in the past thinking they would be ridiculously busy but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d expected.

Having said that, I have heard that sessions earlier in the day were extremely busy and a little chaotic. There may also have been some technical issues earlier in the day.

Tips

Parents – be prepared for sitting on the shopping centre floor!

It’s fine to queue up with pushchairs but you will then be asked to leave them at the back of the pen.

Once you’re in the pen you’re pretty much in for the whole session so if you think your child won’t want to stay for all of it (it was maybe 20-25 mins long) you may be better off getting a good spot standing on the outside of the pen.

If you want a good seat and view, it’s worth queuing up early.

Prepare your child that they probably won’t get to ‘meet’ the characters – one child did try to go over and say hello at the end but Chase and Marshall were ushered away.

Facilities (including baby facilities)

All Festival Place facilities are available during these events including baby change/family toilets/restaurants etc.

Parking

Festival Place or other town centre car parks.

Prices

Free

Rating out of 5

4/5

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