Mum2Mum Markets Hampshire

Thank you for the opportunity to tell everyone about my events!  I’m Linda and I run the Mum2Mum Markets in Basingstoke, Eastleigh and Southampton.

Mum2Mum Markets are community events where parents (and grandparents and friends!) can buy and sell high quality nearly new baby and children’s toys, clothes and equipment.  Our friendly, popular markets are all held indoors and usually see between 200 and 300 shoppers at each event. Our stalls are packed with toys, games, books, clothing, shoes, walkers, buggies, play mats, bedding, travel cots, trikes, ride-on toys, sterilisers, nursery equipment – and more!  Our events are aimed at age 0-6 years and maternity. 

The Basingstoke markets are held at Hatch Warren Community Centre and Queen Mary’s College, the Eastleigh markets at Pavilion on the Park, and the Southampton events at Woodlands Community College.

Our upcoming market dates are as follows: 

To book a stall, simply visit our bookings website at and select your market.  We supply the tables, and you keep 100% of your takings on the day!  Each stallholder receives our useful Information Pack a couple of weeks before the market, which is packed with information, tips and advice on sorting, displaying and pricing their goodies.  We have a loyal group of repeat sellers at each location and stalls usually sell out well in advance of each market.

If you’re looking to shop at our events, you’ll find our stalls packed with amazing bargains!  A huge range of high quality nearly new baby and children’s toys, clothes and equipment at a fraction of the retail price.  You really can save a fortune! There’s no need to book to come and shop, just come along on the day. Adult entry is £2, children are free and there’s free entry for everyone for the last 30 minutes of each market.  You can also download a 2for1 entry voucher from our website and bring a friend for free (or pay £1 each of course!). 

We also work with local baby and child related businesses, who promote their products and services through our events.  There are a variety of ways to do this, including placing flyers in our goody bags, booking a business stall, or sponsoring our events.  We love working with other local small business, so would love to hear from anyone looking to engage with local parents. 

So whether you fancy selling or buying, we’d really love to see you at one of our markets – come and join us!  

Join our Facebook page for our latest news, event dates, market photos and preview of items for sale!

Please email me at with any questions or enquiries – I’d love to hear from you.

Linda x

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Review 2018: Giraffe, Festival Place

Thank you very much to Lottie for today’s NHM Review post!!

Lottie and Louise (NHM) were invited along to try out Giraffe’s new menu and set up. We had a BRILLIANT evening and thank you VERY much to the Giraffe team for making our evening so lovely!

Giraffe, Festival Place

Giraffe in Festival Place, Basingstoke has recently had a bit of a makeover with new decor and a new set up where you now go up to order your food and pay when you order. Recently, we were lucky enough to attend a tasting session at the new and improved Giraffe, where we got to try samples of meat and vegetarian dishes from the new menu.


There is a large range of drinks to choose from on the menu including beer, wine, soft drinks, smoothies and cocktails. We were both driving, so we opted to try the ‘Homemade Lemonade’ (which is one of the unlimited soft drinks to choose from) and a mango and ginger ‘Nix and Kix’. I really enjoyed the lemonade and would definitely order it again.


Nibbles and Appetisers

First up, we were given the ‘Roasted Harrisa Nuts’ and ‘Lovely Olives’ from the nibbles section of the menu. I don’t usually eat nuts but thought I would give them a try and was pleasantly surprised, I really liked them!

Then we tried some of Giraffe’s appetisers. We tried the ‘Salt and Pepper Squid’ (Louise: My FAVOURITE!!),

‘Edemame Beans’,

‘Karaage Chicken’

and ‘Garlic Flatbread’.

Being vegetarian, the ‘Garlic Flatbread’ was my favourite and would make a perfect sharing starter before your main course.


The mains part of the menu is broken up in to different sections:

‘Bowls for the soul’ This is range of bowls of food including curries, rice dishes, tagines and more. We got to sample the ‘Katsu Chicken Curry’,

the ‘Malaysian Laksa’ with tofu and prawns and the ‘Spiced Aubergine Tagine’, which was my favourite dish of the night! The tagine is a combination of charred aubergine, beans and lentils, and is served with cous cous, toasted flatbread and yoghurt. There is also a lamb version for those who prefer a ‘meatier’ option.

‘Big n Beautiful Burgers’
Giraffes burgers are served in a soft bun with mixed leaves and a tomato slice, and they all come with skin-on fries. We got to try the Burger Bacon Cheese Stack and the ‘Halloumi and Falafel’ burger. Both were delicious, the sauce on the Burger Bacon Cheese stack was very tasty and anything that includes halloumi is good in my eyes!
‘Seriously Special Salads’

From the salad section of the menu we got to try the vegan ‘Super Freekah’ salad. Made up of butternut squash, roasted peppers, lentils, freeka and topped with yogurt it makes a lovely healthy option.

In addition to the ‘Garlic Flatbread’ starter, Giraffe’s menu has a range of flatbreads that you can also have as a main course. We got to sample the ‘Classic Margherita’ which was very tasty.

The other flatbreads include ‘Mexican Chicken and Chorizo’ and ‘Spicy Pulled Pork’.


There are a variety of tasty sides available on the menu, including ‘Sweet Potato Fries’, ‘Creamy Slaw’ and ‘Chipotle Creamed Corn’.


When it comes to deserts, Giraffe now offer ‘Unlimited Frozen Yoghurt’. We tried vanilla flavour and it was really good. We were also lucky enough to sample the delicious ‘Churros’.

Churros are Spanish doughnuts, coated in cinnamon sugar and served with a chocolate dipping sauce.

We didn’t get to try the breakfasts that they offer but they look yummy!!!

Decor, Ambience and Facilities

With lots of wood, soft orange lighting and colourful furnishings there is a lovely warm and relaxed feeling in Giraffe. There’s music playing in the background which is loud enough for you to hear and enjoy, but not so loud that it disturbs your conversation. 
The new layout includes a counter for you to pay at and  a section in the middle for self service of the unlimited drinks and frozen yoghurt. All the facilities were very clean and well looked after.

Value for Money

With the majority of starters and deserts costing around the £5 mark and main courses roughly £10, I think Giraffe is great value for money. The Kids menu offers a huge range of meals – one of the biggest I’ve seen since having a child!
Kids Meal
You can even get a great deal of a main, desert and drink for £6.50. At weekends, they offer a free kids meal per full price adult main purchase! They also do a number of special offers, such as selected breakfasts for £5, 50% Flatbreads on Fridays and 2 for 1 on cocktails. 

Having been to Giraffe in the past, I have always noticed the warm atmosphere and great variety on the menu. I was delighted to see this was still the case following the recent revamp and the changes to how you order your food.

Thank you to Giraffe for having us, I will certainly be back soon!

Disclaimer: This post is a review of Giraffe Basingstoke in conjunction with Festival Place. Our meal was supplied free of charge for the purposes of the review. We were not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are our own.

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Finding Your style when returning to work – By Victoria Kennedy

Hi, I’m Victoria, mum to 2 crazy, lively boys, vintage frock lover, tea drinker and Personal Stylist. I am passionate about empowering women to love being themselves. My style ethos is that ‘you are best at being you’.

So embrace who you are and shout about it for the world to hear! I’m often contacted by women returning to work after having their children. The story is almost always the same, and 99% of the time it boils down to confidence, confidence in ourselves as working women. If you are considering returning to work, read on!

Going back to work after having a baby is a big move, your heart, mind and body are still adjusting to the new ‘normal’ and it can feel very overwhelming and stressful. Usually full of emotional turmoil and a bucket load of ‘mum-guilt’ at the thought of leaving your child.

Whether you took 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years of maternity leave, deciding what to wear to work after having a baby will be different but yet the same for all of us. You may still be carrying baby weight, you may still be breastfeeding and more than likely your confidence will have dipped.

For me, returning to work after the birth of my first son was so daunting. I was absolutely riddled with guilt as well as feeling totally overwhelmed about my ‘new body’ and how to dress for it. Let’s face it, I’d spent the majority of the last 12 months in my new found ‘mummy uniform’- rotating PJ’s for leggings and oversized sweaters. Marry that with a distinct lack of sleep and time to myself meant makeup and hair styling was no longer on my monthly to do list let alone part of my mornings routine!

When deciding to return to work, first and foremost, before thinking about what to wear: 

  1. Be kind to yourself

 Take some time to process the return to work decision in your own head. You may be feeling guilty about leaving your child, you may be feeling guilty about being excited to return to work. All of these feelings are normal. Do not beat yourself up about how you feel. Talk to your partner, friends, family and allow yourself those feelings.

2. Take up the offer of ‘Return to work days’

Going back into work in an informal way, for a chat & coffee can help it feel less daunting. Remember these days are for you to ‘catch up and refresh yourself’ don’t be pushed into working or being pulled into office politics!

3. Take care of yourself

Try to build a routine into the mornings and evenings on the days leading up to your return to work. This will help you ensure you get enough sleep and eat well- returning to work is tiring! Prepare yourself!

So once you’ve found good childcare, figured out logistics, battled tiredness and getting into the ‘work’ frame of mind, you can start to think about what you will wear on the ‘big day’.  This was such a huge challenge for me as I felt I had lost myself. I was ‘mummy’ and knew that role quite well- I knew the uniform! But I had no idea what ‘working Victoria’ looked like these days. Plus I had no idea what suited my new expanse of tummy!

I knew I wanted to return to work feeling confident about myself. I wanted people to see me as a professional, not as a ‘mummy’- which is strange as I have the utmost respect for mums- the jobs a tough one! But I felt, on my return to work, I would be judged by my appearance, that ‘how together’ I looked was a reflection on my ability to be a working mum.

So with that in mind I went shopping with a close friend, someone who had returned to work previously after having her children, and her advice is something I still use regularly with my clients today!

1. New Clothes

Whilst it seems obvious to say buy new clothes- after all we are all familiar with that ‘shiny new item’ feeling- much like the first day back at school adorned head to toe in new gear! But when I say buy new clothes what I really mean is take a good look at your new post baby body shape and buy new pieces that flatter this new fabulous shape.

If you’re unsure of your body shape- take a look at my facebook page for some tips and guidance! Dressing to flatter your shape can make you look slimmer, younger and feel more confident. There is no need to purchase the entire Next Directory- See my next point!

2. Buy 3 or 4 versatile items

For example, buying a black shift or wrap dress (great if breastfeeding/pumping) can be a great investment as you can wear it in different ways- with a blazer, with a scarf, with heels, with boots, with a bright necklace etc.

A great rule I impose on my clients is ‘never buy an item that doesn’t already go with 2 or 3 items you own’- that way you can wear it in many ways. So when you are choosing some new workwear think carefully about how the pieces can be worn to create multiple outfits.
Other good versatile items are;

  • ‘trophy blazers’- bright/jazzy fabric blazers that can be added to outfits to provide colour or texture.
  • Statement jewellery- another great way of adding colour and changing the look of an outfit.
  • Neutral coloured trousers or skirt- these can then be worn with a variety of tops and shoes to create different looks.

3. Bag & Shoes

You’ve probably got the hang of packing the changing bag with every possibility accounted for. You’re used to lugging around the contents of your house- just in case! But when returning to work the contents of your bag is entirely for you. So as well as having the luxury of carrying just your purse and lippy, you can do so in a lovely new bag! Treating yourself to a gorgeous-but- totally-impractical-for-mummy-duty bag can be a great way to bring your personality back into your style.

It’s a way of reminding yourself that ‘you’ are still ‘you’! This can also be the case with shoes! Although an air of practicality may well be needed, depending on your job, but it can be a great confidence boost to walk into work rocking a killer pair of heels! You’ve still got it girl!

Whatever you choose to wear to return to work, above everything else, it should make you feel most like you. Your style is a reflection of your personality as well as your lifestyle and body shape.

We are naturally going to feel most confident when we are being ourselves. Embrace who you are- an amazing women, who has carried and birthed a precious baby, a baby who loves you unconditionally for being their Mama. Return to work with this love in your heart and let your light shine- You are best at being you!

If you would like more tips and advice on finding your style join my ‘Style File’ group on Facebook-

Alternatively, book a Personal Styling session with me for an in depth analysis of your shape, colours, style and personality-

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Please help if you can: Volunteers needed to support NCT Charity in their Nearly New Sale Events

WHERE – Queen Mary’s College. Basingstoke
WHEN – Sat 28th Apr & Sat 6th Oct 2018

We are currently looking for people to take on various volunteering roles for the Basingstoke NCT Nearly New Sales. Volunteering with the NCT charity means you get a general feeling of satisfaction that you are helping people in the community; you can show transferable skills on your CV while on Maternity Leave or a stay at home Mum.

What do the roles require from a volunteer ?

Main team volunteer roles are asked to attend a pre sale meeting and then volunteer for a few hours either split between the Friday evening preparation tasks or on the Saturday. Which is split into pre sale, sale and post sale.
You can also do half your time on the Friday and half on the Saturday.

Examples of roles are – on payment tills, guiding customers, checking quality, packing bags, answering queries….

Main team volunteer benefits include –
– Early entry into the sale (when volunteering 6 hours +)
– 50% of sellers fees refunded (when volunteering 3 hours +)

We also need to fill 3 roles as part of the nearly new sale core team.
Logistics Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator and Seller Coordinator.
The core team have the extra benefits of –
– Extra early entry into the sale (before the pre-sale)
– 100% of the sellers fee refunded

The Logistics Coordinator is responsible for:
– Booking the Venue for Spring and Autumn Sales;
– Coordinator payment of invoices;
– Prepare risk assessment and insurance details for sales to take place;
– Liaise with local NCT branches for loan of equipment, such as rails;
– Arrange collection of equipment such as rails, shopping bags, aprons, and sashes;
– Liaise with Treasurer to ensure chip and pin machines and floats are ordered prior to sale;
– Attend Core Team Meetings to help with other areas of the sale, pre and post sale.

The Volunteer Coordinator is responsible for:
– Setting up the volunteer section of the Intrabiz registration page;
– Sending emails to previous volunteers and sellers about volunteering options for the next sale;
– Allocating volunteers to roles for the set up, sale and clear up to make sure we have enough people to perform the tasks required;
– Sign in and out all volunteers on the day of the sale and give volunteer briefing.

The Seller Coordinator is responsible for:
– Setting up the sale section of the Intrabiz registration page;
– Sending emails to previous volunteers and sellers about selling for the next sale;
– Having excellent excel experience to create seller spreadsheets, and keep the master spreadsheet up to date. This allows the sale to happen with a barcode scanning system and seller database;
– Email all sellers their seller spreadsheets and make sure they have been submitted for database entry before the sale;
– Greet all sellers and sign them in on the Friday evening;
– Making sure clear up on Saturday is completed correctly before sellers come to receive their unsold items.

The sale is completely run by volunteers and we can only continue running these sales if we have volunteers to look after the preparation and running of them. If you would be interested in finding out more about any of these roles please contact us by emailing
Or visit our Facebook page and ask us a question

Or, if you are happy to volunteer with the above information for the April sale, please follow this link to register:

If you would be interested in selling at our next sale, we offer a return of either half or full of your seller fees if you volunteer with us. If you would like to register to sell, please follow this link:

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Mums go free this Mother’s Day (2018)!

Looking for somewhere to go with the family on Mother’s Day? Below are a few places offering free entry to mums (when accompanied by a full paying adult or child) this Mother’s Day.

Please check individual websites for full terms and conditions.

Mums go Free:

Finkley Down Farm
Saturday 10th March – Sunday 11th. Offer available online only.

4 Kingdoms Adventure Park
Saturday 10th March – Sunday 11th, see Facebook post for details

Birdworld, Farnham
Sunday 11th March – voucher available on website

Beale Park
Sunday 11th March

Other offers and events

Hawk Conservancy
Mother’s Day Sunday Lunch – pre-booked only

Sunday 11th – voucher for free hot drink and cupcake while stocks last

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Tinytoes and Stickyfingers – Special offer for NHM Readers!!

Tinytoes and Stickyfingers, Capturing a moment in time forever…

Hi, my name is Sherilyn and I started ‘Tinytoes and Stickyfingers’ nearly 9 years ago, when my second child was born. I create beautiful keepsakes of all your little ones.

I’ve always been a ‘maker’ gaining my degree in Fine Art Sculpture (a long time ago now!) followed by a career in graphic design. When I discovered how to make fingerprint jewellery, it seemed a perfect fit for me and my family, and Tinytoes was born.

The range of products I now produce has grown every year and now includes 3d casting, raised impressions, family and nursery prints as well as the original line of fingerprint/hand and foot/doodle silver jewellery. All personalized to you and your loved ones.

Having been established for so long it is lovely to catch up with mums and dads whose own families have also grown in the last 9 years and to take prints and castings of their new additions, even the furry ones!

For the last three years Tinytoes and Stickyfingers has also been part of the very lovely ‘All Our Own Crafts’ popup shop in Festival Place Basingstoke. Where you can see just a small selection of the range I now produce.

This year the ‘Hook Home and Garden Centre’ are also showing some of the Tinytoes and Stickyfinger range, and they just happen to have some amazing cakes and a fabulous children’s area so well worth a visit.

Everything is handmade, fired and finished by me at my home studio in Basingstoke, giving me the flexibility to offer casting or printing appointments either in the comfort of your home or mine. Or if you prefer, you still have the option to simply use my website and be sent a kit with full printing instructions.

As a special offer for NHM readers I’m offering a 15% discount on all framed 3D cast bookings made by the end of March 2018. Just mention this offer when you make your appointment.

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NHM Readers: What I would buy if i was doing it all again!

I recently asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook what they would buy or not buy if they were to have another baby based on their experiences (Thank you very much to everyone who responded!)

These were the responses I received. They are in no particular order

NHM Readers: What would I buy or not buy if I was to do it all again?

Mindy said: I probably wouldn’t bother with a breastfeeding pillow as we encourage mums to lean back now and you don’t need a pillow for that. Also you may not need a breast pump, wait and see and buy if needed. Ditto with steriliser.

Jessica said: I wouldn’t bother with a breast pump, electric bottle warmer, cot duvet and bumpers, a pram that doesn’t have a car seat adapter, baby carrier/harness or millions of outfits in newborn or 0-3 months. I would buy again an electric steriliser, bottle warming flask, sleep pods/sleeping bags, pram system with car seat adapters.

Mary said: I would buy a proper sidecar cot and would buy a proper sling or find out about the sling library to see what was best.

Kathryn said: I had my 3rd baby 8 months ago, after my second we got rid of everything except the cot and car seat. Before my youngest was born we bought a new sling and got given some clothes. Nothing else was needed.

Donna said: If bottle feeding, the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep is one that I wish I had now and definitely pushchair with car seat attachments.

Shona said: I wouldn’t buy a fancy swing or rocker as he barely used it. I would stick with my Perfect Prep machine every time. I wouldn’t buy a bath seat again but I love my bath sponge that you just lay them on and they stay in one place.

Colleen said: Wouldn’t bother with car seat adaptors as barely used them, and you’re not supposed to leave baby in car seat for longer than necessary anyhow. Nappy bin is a waste of time, just use nappy bags. Change table would have been pointless as all mine moved so much it wasn’t safe to change them past floor height from about 4 months.

Jenni said: Ikea high chair is the best, easy to clean and can get an insert for little babies.

Wendy said: Best buys: Good quality stroller (worth spending money here), Morrck blanket, Ikea high chair, side crib, sling. Worst buys: New travel system (buy them second hand) and anything that takes up space in your living room (rocker chairs, rocking horses etc).

Mary said: Don’t bother with: shoes until they walk (couldn’t get the damn things on his curled up feet), faffy outfits in the first 3 months as you have to change them so often per day, stick to lots of baby gros! Gimmicky toys, they don’t take notice and you’ll be given loads as gifts anyway. Too many clothes in newborn size, in case you have a big baby and never end up using them, again you will be sent loads of clothes. Sit in walker.

Do get: Ikea or Baby Bjorn high chair that is completely wipe clean. All those ones with straps and padding get filthy and you shouldn’t need straps anyway as babies should be able to sit unaided before you wean. A good sling if you are having a second baby, they sleep for ages in them leaving you hands free. Set up a little changing station on both floors with mat/nappies/wipes so everything is to hand. We personally found nappy bins useful, don’t want to traipse out to the bin every 5 mins. If breast/mixed feeding, Medela bottles are great as baby needs to use same motion to drink helping you switch with ease. Grobags – no worrying about blankets etc. Monitor with a camera. Sock ons for no more lost socks.

Donna said: Yes to the sock ons – best buy ever!

Catherine said: Do get sling, zip up swaddle, side crib, ear thermometer, playmat/gym and video monitor.

Don’t get alarm for under mattress (unnecessary hateful thing), any body thermometer other than an earone, stupid light up egg room thermometer, highchair (there are some nice small ones that cost a bit, we got a high padded one which we never used after the first month as I replaced it with £20 one you attach to a chair) and any outfits in newborn that don’t button under nappy, they just ride up.

Jennie said: I’d buy a bath sponge seat, proper sling, cloth nappies and a baby swing. I wouldn’t bother with a side cot for the bed (it got used for storage whilst she slept in our bed), baby outfits, baby shoes, playmat or a change table. I have a bad back so getting upstairs to get to the changing table was as much of an issue as changing on my lap/floor.

Vicky said: Our best buys were the Baby Bjorn bouncer, a mothercare fabric bath support, a decent baby monitor/camera, lovely soft blanket for in and out of the pram, vests and sleepsuits. This may sound a bit strange but I bought puppy pads (cheap from TK Maxx) to put under his bum during nappy off time – they catch the urine and absorb it rather than laying on a wet towel. If you’re breast feeding I found the Lansinoh disposable nursing pads to be fantastic. I’d also buy a decent sling. Personally I wouldn’t bother with baby shoes, dribble bibs, baby outfits, fabric breast pads (just leaked straight through to clothes) and loads of cuddly toys.

Vicky said: Perfect prep is a genius if bottle feeding. Lots of muslins – I found M&S ones the softest and they wash well. Shnuggle baby bath is amazing – 2 free hands almost from birth. Aldi nappies are cheap and brilliant. Lots of babygrows, sleepsuits and vests for the first couple of months. Swaddles and then grobags – I find the Sainsbury’s ones the best.

Lisa said: Think most things I would suggest have been covered. My only addition is to not bother with special tummy time gadgets. Spent a lot of money on a Lamaze toy which was a complete waste of money! I think a good buggy is essential. I bought mine 2nd hand which was fine but chose cost over personal choice.

Gemma said: I’d get a baby sling from day one. I wish I’d got mine for baby number two earlier. I missed out the first few weeks of sling time!  
Wouldn’t bother with a Baby Bjorn as it hurt my back (let alone being bad for baby’s hips) Could manage without moses basket and pram part of a travel system. Only need one or the other, not both, especially if you get a buggy that lays flat for newborns which many do now.

Cerys said: All I needed for no 3 were nappies, a wrap sling, sleepsuits and boobs.

Melanie said: Best buys: Baby Bjorn bouncer (suitable from newborn and last years. Indestructible!) Oxo perfect pull wipes dispenser means you only need one hand to pull them out and keeps them moist. Cheeky wipes are great if your child suffers from nappy rash or you want something environmentally friendly. Monitor and webcam. Nappy bin. Ability to play music wirelessly in their bedroom (so you can put it on without going in). Jumparoo. Vtech Walker.
Don’t buys (based on things neither of my children liked): Crawl ball, door bouncer, sit in walker (but think it would be better on wooden or tiled floors)

Mata said: I would buy: Cot bed that can be used as a 3 sided bedside cot as well as a toddler bed. Nursing bras, breast pads, changing mat, wipes, nappy bin, sling, pushchair, car seat that attaches to pushchair, vest, sleepsuits, large hooded towels (still in use at age 5), sleeping bag and blanket.

Maybe: Moses basket (for daytime naps downstairs)

Wouldn’t bother: Baby bath, sponges/wash mitts, cute outfits, scratch mitts, playmat, bouncy chair/swing, standard cot, toys, lay-flat separate pram, feeding equipment, purpose-made changing bag and Bumbo seat.

Natashia said: Personally I would recommend a “try before you buy” approach where possible for example renting a sling or electric breast pump and attending sales for second hand bits where you can stock up on essentials for your baby’s next phase. For nappies sure Aldi, Lidl or own brands are cheaper but if you like the leading brands then keep a close eye on supermarket offers and shop around as it then works out to almost the same as own brands.

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Review 2018: Pots To Doodle Do

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

Review 2018: Pots To Doodle Do

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Clare Amanda Photography

Is your family your highest priority?  Mine certainly is.  First, I am a wife to a very supportive husband and a mother to a beautiful daughter.  Second, I am Clare of Clare Amanda Photography, a family lifestyle photography service who appreciates your highest priority – your family.

I specialise in capturing moments in time of your family life as it really is…the cuts and bruises, the missing milk teeth, the freckles and messy hair and the joy and laughter of play.  This is on-location photography, either in a nearby beauty spot or in your own beautiful home and garden.  I will happily travel to any RG post code area covering much of the North Hampshire and Berkshire areas.

Your session will be kept relaxed and fun, focussing on the interactions between the people in your family and your hobbies or pastimes if you wish.  For a full session, you will be my only booking of the day giving you and your family time to warm to me and be comfortable, while also allowing time for snacks and naps (both of which can also be great for capturing these memories).   Pets – well, they too are a part of your family, so of course they should be included in your photographs.

If you haven’t got the luxury of a day and would still like some beautiful family photography, I also offer a mini-session of around 30 minutes, although this isn’t suitable for very young children or pets as they take a little longer to work with.

Following your session, you will have the opportunity to purchase from a selection of high quality canvas prints or beautifully mounted and framed printed images to suit the walls of any home.  They will be products you will be proud to show off in your home.  With each printed photograph, you will receive a complimentary digital version of that image.  If you prefer, you can purchase just the digital versions of your photographs, for both printing and for sharing digitally.

Bookings can be made for any weekday or Saturday.  I prefer to keep evenings and Sundays free for my precious family time.

If you’d like to chat to discuss what I can do for you, you can find my contact details on my website,  You can also head on over there to see what I can offer you.

Remember, your children won’t stay young forever, but these photographs will make lasting memories.


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Celebrate Christmas with Festival Place

Christmas is now just around the corner and, once again, Festival Place has lots of exciting activities planned to delight and entertain the whole family.

The season officially commences on Thursday 16th November with the ever-popular Christmas Light Switch-on, hosted this year by Matt and Michelle from Heart Breakfast. The evening will feature live entertainment from The Halo Glow Show – an explosive visual stage act featuring virtuoso circus artists; the Wonderful West End cast performing songs from The Lion King, plus the stars of the Anvil’s production of Peter Pan. Santa and his elves will carry out the ceremonial pushing of the ‘on’ button to light up Festival Place and visitors will also be able to enjoy a firework display and see the shopping centre’s brand new Christmas decorations.

Santa’s Woodland Walk and Grotto will be in centre from Saturday 18th November to 24th December, where kids can not only come to meet Santa but also have fun with some augmented reality dancing penguins, an animatronic Christmas tree and Rudolph’s Naughty or Nice-o-meter! Visits cost £4.50, including a free gift, and some dates can be booked in advance here:

The famous Santa Parade will return on Sunday 3rd December at 12pm with Santa leading a whole host of Christmassy characters on a march from Porchester Square to Festival Square, sharing Christmas cheer with shoppers along the way.

With over 200 big brands and plenty of restaurants and cafés to choose from, it’s easy to make this year’s Christmas shopping a fantastic family day out.

Further activities are yet to be announced so keep an eye on the Festival Place website at or find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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