NHM Readers Recommend: Best Soft Play

I recently had a question from an NHM Reader that I asked the NHM Community to help with: “What are the best soft play places in Hampshire? Or are they all pretty much the same?” 

Many thanks for all of your responses, listed below in no particular order.

Please bear in mind that listings may change in subsequent years, but hopefully they will still be a good base point for your own research.

NHM Readers Recommend: Best Soft Play

Play Days, Basingstoke

Ellie said “Definitely play days in Basingstoke, have tried them all and this was my favourite. It’s clean, the cafe is nice and the balls are in the ball pit!”

Marie said “Playdays is the best, but the parking is limited. We could do with one the other side of town (hatchwarren/ Brighton hill way).”

Michelle said “Agree playdays is great. Always clean, decent prices, can stay as long as you like and staff all friendly. Has a baby bit and a much larger bit, so good for siblings of different ages…would say probably up to 5/6 years max though”

    • Leah said “depends on the child I think, my 7.5 year old still loves going to Playdays”

Anna said “Playdays is great. My son always had so much fun here!”

Jungle Adventure Soft Play (previously Play Den), Basingstoke

Laura said “Play Gym in Festival place… cleanest place around!”

Helen H said “The play den in town is nice and clean and generally the service is good.”

Active Tots, nr Bramley

Melanie said “For little ones I would highly recommend Active Tots.”

Helen H said “Active Tots near Bramley is lovely and clean, but pricey and the customer service is awful. I’ve been 3x and every time the staff are rude and unhelpful.”

    • Melanie said “Helen I’ve always found the staff lovely and very accommodating to those with allergies.”
    • Helen said “As I say, only been 3x and each time was a horrible experience. But I can’t fault the cleanliness of the place at all. It’s a lovely facility.”
    • Catherine said “and it has windows and natural day light.. which is less depressing for me!”

The Adventure Barn, Winchester

Lisa saidMy favourite is The Adventure Barn its extremely clean (closed every Tuesday 1/2 day to be cleaned) Staff are friendly, it also has a great outdoor play area in the summer. Is suitable for tiny babies up to 9/10 year olds (depending on the child). You can see all areas of the soft play so you can keep an eye on your child and don’t ‘loose’ them. The food is lovely (proper adult food) as well as kids meals, healthy and not so healthy snack for the kids. They do toddler sessions where you get a free biscuit and squash. Its near Marwell. Can be tricky to find the first time. Overall brilliant though…”

360 Play Farnborough

Amy said “It’s really good there. Lots to do but it’s pricey and the food was terrible when I went! Too far for us to go and not have lunch but wouldn’t be in a rush to go again for that reason. That said my little boy had a great time!”

Alison said “Its great but it is expensive. It has great role play areas, carousel, bumper cars, lego building plus usual soft play. My nearly 5 year old loves it. I’ve eaten there a few times and its been fine. Parking is a bit of a pain. The parking outside is time limited so we’ve parked in the multi storey down the road so we can stay all day and make the most especially as its expensive to get in.”

Joellie said “I’m here now! It’s expensive but lots to do

Helen said “Joellie I thought the same about price, especially as on 1st visit you have to register and pay a one off £5 reg fee. But saying that there is loads to do. I agree parking close is limited to 2hrs but next time will park on multi storey as someone else suggested. Definitely will visit again.”

Other and Multiple Recommendations:

Leah said Frankies fun factory in Romsey is big, so much to do & fun! Kids2day in Eastleigh is good. Playdays in Basingstoke. Gym tots in Basingstoke sports centre. Sure there must be one in reading.”

    • Carrie saidkrazy kids is in reading and really good”
    • Leah said “ah knew there would be lol. Not been there yet…”

Leah also said  “Also, fun house in Basingstoke…There’s also one at Finkley Down Farm I think – go for a day out & enjoy. Also, 4 kingdoms play activity centre near Newbury – great outdoors stuff & big soft play centre inside. Marwell zoo has one nearby the zoo – not in the zoo but further down the road (can’t remember what it’s called though)”

    • Lisa said “The Adventure Barn (I’ve mentioned above x )”
    • Leah said “ah yes that one lol.”

Wendy said “I find soft play is very specific to age, active tots is fine for under 1s but a bit pants once they can walk. The sports centre is good for 1 – 4, play days sees them to about year 1. Flip out has a playframe that over 7s absolutely love and my kids love both the indoor and outdoor ones at 4 kingdoms.”

    • Natalie said “Wendy, can you just buy tickets for the soft play bit? Or is it you have to buy for the whole place?”
    • Wendy said “Natalie you have to get tickets for the whole place. Last year they had a ticket sale around March where you could buy discounted tickets with no use by date.”

Steph said “We love the soft play in The sports centre in festival place, it’s clean and reasonably priced. Active Tots is fab for younger children. We love kids in action too but that’s in winnersh”

Alison saidEddie Katz Newbury! (OK Berkshire.. But only just) Also for little ones Active TotsPlay Gym in Basingstoke sports centre”

Vicki said “Love The Adventure Barn near Marwell, Kids n Action in Winnersh and, it’s a bit of a drive, but Sprouts Playbarn near Abingdon is seriously the best I’ve ever been to.”

Kimberley said “Active Tots is really nice for 1-3 year olds however over the top price wise. They even charged a friend of mine over £5 for her 4 month baby which wasn’t going to be using equipment. Play den in town sports centre is also great for younger ones but no cafe anymore. Playdays has a smaller area for younger children and is always clean – not much parking though x”

    • Helen H said “Kimberley they charged us £5 per person to sit in the cafe ! When I had my son with me to use the equipment and two adults who weren’t using it or with kids but would be buying a coffee in the cafe!”
    • Kimberley said “Helen shocking really!”

Julia said “I don’t think anyone has mentioned Madhouse next to the Madejski Stadium in Reading. It’s not too far from Basingstoke, always very clean, staff always friendly when I have been. It does work out pricey if you have lots of kids and eat there too, but I find all the good ones do.”

Michelle saidRosie and Bean cafe in fleet is good for imaginative play, also has a bouncy castle, lovely staff and great food!”

Jessica said “There was a really nice one in Camberley . Magic Kingdom/Dragon or something. That was very good”

Sarah said “Kids n Action is brilliant and something for all ages”

Catherine said fun house

Ruza saidJake’s playworld, with inside and outside space. One of the cleanest I’ve been to and great for the kids. Near tri-lakes”

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Little Play Town – Making our voices heard!

Following on from my post on Monday about Little Play Town’s imminent closure, I’ve been overwhelmed with feedback on what to do to try to stop this from happening.

At this stage, I’ve been advised that the best thing to do is to email the Odiham MP and express your concerns to him. The more people who do this, the more likely he will actually take notice and hopefully do something to stop Little Play Town from closing or help with finding a different, far more suitable, location.

Ranil Jayawardena is the Odiham MP and:

If you would also like to email Maria Miller at the same time then you can:

The twitter hashtag is #DontCloseLPT and this is the twitter account for https://twitter.com/LittlePlayTown

I’ve also been advised that it might also be worth mentioning that this may affect your vote at the next local election…

You can also email the local Hart councillors because local councillors need to put this as an agenda item at the next Hart full council meeting. They will then have to give us time to ask questions, discuss and get the community’s concerns across. As the whole of the Hart districts will be represented if a new venue is needed then hopefully lots of opportunities will arise.

If you feel as passionate about this as I know lots and lots of you do, please take a couple of minutes of your time to email to make your views known.

Thank you very much to everyone who has reached out with feedback. It’s been an amazing response and I really, really, REALLY hope that the people who can influence this decision sit up and pay attention. I also had NO idea how many local solicitors, lawyers and people from Hart and Basingstoke councils followed NorthHantsMum! lol.

It’s awesome to know that a group of people who are normally defined as “just Mum’s” are actually some pretty powerful people in the area!!! 😀 😀 :-D.

Oh and Mr NHM has given me a long lecture this evening for being too political because NorthHantsMum is supposed to be impartial <facepalm>.

It is, but when it comes to something that is going to directly affect local families, especially children and Mum’s who are my target audience, and when I received so much feedback from my readers, then I need to use my influence to share what I have learnt and do what I can to help. Which is what NorthHantsMum has always been about.

So, please, please, please take a couple of minutes to email our local MP’s and if you get a chance, let me know when you’ve done it so I can let everyone know how many people have taken up the cause and we can see if we can have some influence on this debacle!!!

Thank you!!!!!

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Little Play Town is Closing

We are so sad to say that Little Play Town is being closed down by the Council. We would like to thank every adult, baby and child that came to Little Play Town. I’ve loved seeing your reaction when you come in. All the wows! And the smiles, all the fun, the learning and the experiences that the kids and adults had. Creating Little Play Town was a dream come true and I’m forever grateful for every happy moment I’ve seen and every kind word to said to me. Thank you for sharing the Little Play Town experience with me and all the staff. I’ve tried to make every person feel welcomed and included and I’ve met some wonderful people, both big and little!

Sadly, our neighbours from downstairs reported us to the Council as soon as Little Play Town opened and have been campaigning to shut us down ever since we started. It has come to light after working diligently with the Council that the building has foundational issues and although we have tried every sound proof solution currently available in the U.K., we can not fix the foundations of the building. And as we can’t fix it, the landlord is evicting us to pre-empt any problems for himself.

We would like everyone to know that we had no idea that the building would provide issues when we signed the lease and we never had any intention to make a noise and upset anyone. The Council gave us a D2 recreational lease for a nursery. We do not make any noise that you would not expect from any child, baby or adult at any nursery across the U.K. and we did not at this point receive any objections from the 2 downstairs neighbours during our application. All parties knew exactly what we were going to do. We’ve been working every day for over a year to rectify the problems that the neighbours have subsequently had, but frustratingly the Council has turned down the planning application to put steel plates and pavement slabs in the building make the foundation stronger, so that it will be able to hold the very heavy soundproof floors which weigh 100kg per square meter. It’s a beautiful old listed building – the light is stunning and the first time I walked in I could imagine how lovely it would be to have a role play facility for little ones in the area and what a special place it would be for the children to enjoy.

We were completely unaware that and when anyone walks on the floors the noise could be heard below, especially when the building had previously been used as an office. We feel we have been treated very unfairly by some of those opposed to our business; we passed two professional sound testing tests and we are within normal limits for residential and commercial building regulations using our current padding solutions we have in place at present. But due to continual campaigning the Council have decided that these professional tests are not good enough. We feel it’s unfair that we pass testing but we are still not allowed to stay open due to opposition by vociferous individuals who are prominent in the community.

There is still one solution available that can save Little Play Town, and that’s to put a suspended ceiling in the gift store below. Structural engineers have been working closely with us in the past year: this solution can be put into place in 4 days and then the noise is gone. And we will pay for it all for the sake of continuing our special Little Play Town. We needed the approval for this situation from the gift store below, as this the only way to fix the building. But the individual in charge is refusing. And although the individual in question knows that we will be closed down and lose all our savings of 85K which will have a terrible impact upon our family, she has said in every meeting to us and the council that ‘it’s not her problem.’ We always wanted an amicable, mutually supportive relationship with our neighbours, but we feel they have been set against us from the start and just want us out whatever we do.

The final straw happened this week, when we emailed the gift store, the coffee shop owners, the Council and the landlord. We wanted to say that we have a party this Saturday with kids with disabilities, and that some noise might occur. We wanted to do the right thing and tell them as we didn’t want another complaint from the owners to the Council on Monday, so we though it best to inform them. Within the hour of receiving our email, the Council received a call from the gift store to complain. I really couldn’t believe it. At Little Play Town ALL kids are welcome. And for us to be told by the Council that ‘these” people – disabled kids – should not be let in at Little Play Town if they are going to cause more noise, I am flabbergasted. Demanding that we do ‘anything’ to prevent noise, even if it means to turn kids with disabilities away, is against everything we stand for and shows how irrational and narrow minded the opposition we have faced is. I believe role play is very beneficial for any child and my door has always been open to anyone that wishes to come in.

We’ve spoken to the MP, who is across the road from us. He has been invited a few times to come and see what Little Play Town offers the families of Odiham and surrounding communities, but so far he has shown no interest. We have also spoken to the Parish Council and the Councillors of Odiham. We have applied for a grant to help us pay for the floors the council wants us to put in which cost just under £20000, but were not successful. They have put us in an impossible position. We have 10 staff members at Little Play Town and all of us stand to lose our jobs. And most of my staff live in Odiham. Little Play Town is such an asset to the community and we could do so much more but for the entrenched, short sighted, and very personal opposition to us.

In the end, my husband tells me that my health is more important than the business which I love so much; having to be rushed off in an ambulance thinking that I’m having a heart attack over all the daily stress of the pass year, and getting heart palpitations daily when I enter Odiham, being afraid of entering the car park of my own business – all of it is just not worth it. We’ve come to realise that the neighbours weren’t willing to give us a chance and work with us – the first verbal attacks happened while I was still unpacking Little Play Town and we hadn’t even opened. Since then I have been attacked by the coffee shop owner and the police had to be called. After the police spoke to them they agreed that they will not enter Little Play Town again. But this hasn’t stopped me from always having to be on guard, always wondering if I will be attacked or intimidated again.I would like to thank the mom and child who were also verbally abused by the coffee shop owner, writing a statement to the police regarding the incident, as the same happened to me minutes later.

So here we are. We are not sure if we have 1 week, 2 weeks or 1 month left. I’m sure there will be a few that will be happy that we are gone, but I’m hoping that most of you will feel it is a loss and a shame. I have written this from the heart and I’ve never been very good at writing but I’m not going to edit this. We are good kind and honest people, and we have been trying very hard to fix this problem but we can only do so much but the 2 owners from downstairs have no intention of meeting us half way or at all of that matter. My kids want heir mommy back, as all they see is me crying every day.

So if you love Little Play Town, come and visit us for one last time. As I’m not sure for how much longer we will be here for. My heart is broken. I love Little Play Town and I’m struggling to come to term with this, but it’s been taken out of our hands. I hope you remember those moments with your children at Little Play Town as fondly as I do – I will miss you all. All the smiles and laughter. All the happiness.

Thanks you for reading my story. Feel free to share it on.

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Things to do in Basingstoke with a 3 year old

Things to do in Basingstoke with a 3 year old

Visit a library

Below is a list of Libraries in the North Hampshire area:

  • Aldershot Library
  • Alresford Library
  • Alton Library
  • Andover Library
  • Basingstoke Discovery Centre – Open on Sundays!!!
  • Chineham Library
  • Farnborough Library
  • Fleet Library
  • Kingsclere Library
  • North Baddesley Community Library
  • Odiham Bridewell
  • South Ham Library
  • Tadley Library
  • Whitchurch Library

Or Try out one of the following activities featured on NHM

What would you add to this list?

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

Rating out of 5

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

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

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Soft play parties from JV Bouncy Castle Hire – great for all kids

I’ve been working with the team from “JV Bouncy Castle hire” for the last couple of years and they are absolutely brilliant!!!!

Very professional and reasonably priced.

Highly recommended by me!!

Soft play parties from JV Bouncy Castle Hire – great for all kids

high-res-pngA kids birthday party…it really is enough to strike fear into the heart of any parent. The thought of entertaining and feeding upwards of 20 small people, all of whom will have different needs, likes and dislikes. You want it to be safe, fun, entertaining – and over in a maximum of two hours!

Soft play is a perfect choice for kids parties and can be arranged to suit kids of all ages and abilities. Plus soft play can have special significance for children with sensory and autistic spectrum disorders. Best of all, you can tailor the soft play experience to suit the children attending the party – all without needing to go to a generic soft play centre.

What makes soft play so good?

We all know that active kids are tired kids at the end of the day. A win win for most parents. But research backs this up by showing that children who are active are more likely to be physically, emotionally and socially happy and they also get the chance to show off their brilliant imaginations.

But it is the safety aspect that might appeal to party organisers more. Soft play apparatus gives kids the chance to jump around, jump on and off things and jump on each other without fear of hurting themselves. The soft landing gives them confidence and allows them to stretch their limits without helicopter parents hovering at every turn.

For kids with special needs

Soft play is ideal for children with sensory and autistic spectrum disorders . The apparatus is often brightly coloured, has rounded and soft features and  even incorporates different textures to attract children to different areas and types of play. From a ball pit full of plastic balls to a bouncy platform with ride on horses, kids can have experiences that are simply beyond everyday life. Parents have reported that their special needs children come out of their shells in this environment and want to interact both with their parents and with their peers.


Tailored especially for you

A soft play centre has fixed apparatus giving you little choice when it comes to party types and themes. Arranging your own soft play party gives you so much more flexibility. You can choose your soft play theme to suit the age group then add lots of cool stuff like ball pools, inflatable tubes, shapes, ride on toys and slides.

Forget the magician and the disco – soft play really can keep kids happy for two hours or more. We are not suggesting that there won’t be tears, tantrums, spilt juice and mini arguments – but everyone will go home happy, tired and excited about the next party!

If you would like to book a soft play package for your children’s party we would be delighted to help – just give us a call on 01256 277075, pop us an email to admin@bouncycastleshire.co.uk, or simply browse and book online here: https://www.bouncycastleshire.co.uk/.

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“Breastfeeding Welcome” places in North Hampshire – Feb 2015

I’ve noticed a lot of “breastfeeding friendly” signs in the area recently.

It’s so awesome to see these signs out and about.

I’ve been meaning to try to find more details about this for ages but I only stumbled on the website below because of something that someone else mentioned on another post.

Thank you very much to Fran and Sarah for inspiring this post after our discussion on the Cafe Project post I recently published and thank you for providing the link to the website below. 

“Breastfeeding Welcome” places in North Hampshire

If you are looking for details about breastfeeding in public in Basingstoke and Deane or are a business that would like to participate, check out the following website:


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