The Basics

All you need to do is paint a stone and write “Basingstones” on it. Then hide it somewhere safe for someone to find and hopefully brighten their day!

If you find a Basingstone, please post a photo of it on our Facebook Group page so we can see how far it travels. Either keep it and replace, or just hide it again somewhere new.


The Facebook Page The magic of Basingstones is what happens off social media ie the spending time together, being creative, getting outdoors, sharing and the small acts of kindness concept.

Our facebook page allows the wonderful Basingstones community to come together online to share photos and smiles but it shouldn’t be the focus.  That said, here are a few tips on using the facebook group page:

  • Pinned Post

Please make sure you have a read of the Pinned Post – lots of important information in there!

  • Searching

There is a SEARCH bar which allows you to search out key words in posts – very helpful for when you are looking for a particular post by an individual or regarding a certain topic. Just type the person’s name for example and hit SEARCH.

  • Reporting posts

Please help us to keep the page free of sales posts, unrelated page links and spam. If you see anything inappropriate or disrespectful, please press the three dots in the right hand corner of the post, then select the option to “Report post”

  • Sharing photos

Note that this group is public and can be seen and accessed by anyone, so please be mindful when sharing details and posting pics. Do NOT post photos of other people’s children.

Did you know…?

…there are often competition basingstones for you to keep a lookout for!
Try searching “competition” to see what you could win

…there is a Basingstones Admin photo album for Basingstones news
hit Albums and select Basingstones Admin

…there is a thread to track international Basingstones so that we can see them pop up all over the world! (This can be found in the Basingstones Admin album)

…Basingstones has been on the radio, in the newspaper and even nominated for a community project award!  Check out the Basingstones Admin Album for details


Where can I get stones from?

Lots of garden centres and large DIY stores sell big bags of stones/cobbles for about £5.  Locally, you can try The Range, Wickes, Conkers, Home Bargains, B&M, Bunnings and many more.

Taking rocks from beaches is discouraged and you could actually be fined.  Whilst taking the odd stone will do no damage, we don’t want to have a negative impact on the environment.

How should I decorate basingstones?

You can paint the stone however you wish, perhaps with a pretty pattern, a fun cartoon character, an inspirational quote or an artistic design.

Please avoid sticking things to the stones though which could potentially fall off and be harmful to wildlife. We want to be friendly towards our environment and our furry friends too.

What paint is best to use?

Sharpie pens, permanent markers, nail polish, acrylic paints and clear varnish or spray (to make it weather proof) all work really well.

Why haven’t I seen a photo of the basingstone I hid?

There are thousands of group members and hundreds of posts each day. You cannot keep track of them all.  Also, some people may choose not to share their photos or finds online.

Don’t worry that not all hidden basingstones get a finder post – each one makes someone smile and each one is special!

I hope this helps.

Have fun!

Rachel x
Basingstones Admin

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Pay Once, Visit all year Attractions (plus a couple of free ones)

Thank you very much to Wendy for putting this post together on wordpress!!!!

Pay Once, Visit all year Attractions (plus a couple of free ones )

Did you know that many attractions are pay once, visit all year? This means if you keep the entrance ticket it allows you to return to the attraction for free in the following 12 months (some have additional terms and conditions such as gift aid).

A recent post on “Buy and Sell Baby/Children’s Bits in Basingstoke” by Sarah-Louise asked group members to help create a list of all the attractions that offer this. We have taken a few of these, investigated the list and added too it.

Milestones – Basingstoke

Silk Mill – Whitchurch

Living Rain Forest – Newbury

Military Museum – Aldershot

F.A.S.T – Farnborough FREE ENTRY

Jane Austens house – Chawton

Winchester Cathedral – Winchester

River & Rowing Museum – Henley on Thames

Historic Dockyard – Portsmouth

Museum of Army Flying – Stockbridge. Annual pass given free if you gift aid.

Hollycombe Steam in the Country – Liphook

Blenheim Palace – Blenheim nr Oxford. Annual pass given free if you gift aid

Oxford Universities Museum – Oxford FREE ENTRY

Natural History – London FREE ENTRY

Transport Museum – Covent Garden

Tank Museum – Bovington

Royal Collection Trust – Various palaces and royal residences. Annual pass given free if you gift aid

Additional Tip – NATIONAL TRUST MEMBERSHIP – Buy through the Scottish national trust. It’s a lot cheaper and you can still go to all the English and Welsh places

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NHM Readers Favourite places to feed Ducks in Basingstoke and North Hampshire

I recently asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook for their suggestions on where are the best places to feed ducks in Basingstoke and North Hampshire. 

Thank you very much to everyone who responded! and thank you to Gemma for putting this post together! 

Here is also a link to show you what food we should and shouldn’t feed the ducks, thank you Liane for the information:

Alresford Ducks!

NHM Readers Favourite places to feed ducks in Basingstoke and North Hampshire

Eastrop Park

Rachel said: Eastrop Park

Amy: There are ducks in Eastrop Park in town xx

Bartons Mill

Jade: Bartons Mill

Sherfield on Loddon

Saretta: Sherfield on Loddon has a lovely duck pond too 🙂

Abbie: There is a great duck pond in Sherfield-on-Loddon with loads of ducks and there is a nearby park, pub and cafe!

Basingstoke Canal

Karen: Basingstoke Canal near King John’s Castle in Odiham

Thatcham Discovery Centre

Kelly: Thatcham Discovery Centre

Amber:  Second the Thatcham Discovery Centre! Lovely walk around the lake and a good park too.

Jen: Definitely Thatcham. But get there first thing as we’ve been later in the day and the ducks weren’t hungry as so many people had fed them already!

Wendy: Thatcham sells you suitable food, tells you what the birds are called and has a brilliant playground too.

Fleet Pond

Kathryn: Fleet Pond

Winchester Silk Mill

Elaine: Whitchurch Silk Mill. We even sell duck and swan food to feed them properly!

The Vyne

Juanita: The Vyne 🙂

Dannii: The ducks are always hungry there too.

Winchester Leisure Centre

Donna:  I would also recommend Winchester Leisure Centre – we always pop down there for duck feeding and the park is perfect for toddlers.

Sherborne St John

Edie: There’s a lovely duck pond by the church in Sherborne St John with very tame (and fat!) ducks.

Ruza: Sherborne st john


Fiona: The stream in Alresford is beautiful for a little walk and you have the High Street bakery for a treat and a large play park too.

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Review 2016: Beggarwood

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

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


Review 2016: Beggarwood


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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

Baby Facilities

The majority of paths are suitable for pushchairs.


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

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



Rating out of 5

We had a lovely couple of hours exploring Beggarwood.

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New: The Discovery Ticket

Becci asked me to let you know about the new Discovery Ticket:

The Discovery Ticket

A new way to explore the South East, the Discovery ticket, officially launches in the South Downs area today, giving families the freedom and flexibility to hop on and off all buses in the National Park throughout the day, making travel in the South Downs easier than ever before.

Launching in advance of the summer holidays, the Discovery ticket allows unlimited, one-day travel across the region for £12.50 for a family and the ticket is timely as new local research shows that whilst many Hampshire residents are keen to travel by bus – 60% think it’s difficult to visit favourite places and 37% worry about the cost of getting there.

However, the research showed that top days out for Hampshire residents include Arundel Castle, Petworth House and Park and Queen Elizabeth Country Park, all of which are accessible via the new Discovery bus ticket. 

Nick Stewart, Campaigns & Identity Project Manager, South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) says “We hope the Discovery ticket will make our popular attractions and beauty spots easier to visit and better value for money by bus, giving visitors even more of a reason to leave the car at home and explore the South Downs with the kids this summer.” 

To make it even easier for families to Discover the South Downs National Park on a budget the SDNPA is working with the most popular attractions in the area to offer 2-4-1 entry to reward those who leave the car at home and arrive by bus [full list below].

Hampshire residents can share their South Downs experiences on social media with #DiscoveryTicket. For further information visit The Discovery Ticket or follow @sdnpa on Twitter for updates.

2 for 1 offers

NB: Valid on £12.50 family tickets only until 31st August 2014, for full terms and conditions, please contact the venues.

Other discounts

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Poll: Free Activities over the summer holidays

I recently put out a plea on NorthHants Mum on Facebook and Karen had this great suggestion.

[polldaddy poll=8160849]

Please feel free to add other suggestions, via comments, into the poll.

I’m also putting together a number of comprehensive posts for the summer holidays which I’m hoping to start publishing next week, so look out for these!

Related Posts

Review: Micheldever Wood

Review: Basing Wood

Review: Basing Lime Pits

Review: California Country Park, Finchampstead

Review: Farleigh Mount

Review 2014: Marwell Wildlife

I am terribly remiss for not posting this up sooner. Unfortunately life got in the way, but better late than never!

This post is in conjunction with the recent review that I did on Giraffe at Festival Place. Thank you very much to Festival Place who organised this opportunity for my family!

Marwell Wildlife

I love Marwell. I’ve been visiting the zoo/park for over 30 years (Eek!).

I vividly remember the zoo, as it was, when the Tropical World was actually a Lion sanctuary. I must have been about 9 years old because my sister was 4 years old. The reason why I remember this so vividly was because there were signs all over the place warning you that the Lions could spray you (with wee!).

My sister had a brand new clothkits coat (the fashion in those days!), and she got too close to the Lions and got sprayed on. I may have laughed. A lot. It’s funny what you remember!

Anyyyyway, I’ve seen a lot of changes at Marwell over the years. I remember we used to go there on school trips, and when there used to be fairground rides next to the entrance, near the building that used to house the cafe.

I went to Marwell for a family outing just before I went to Canada on the Bunac program in 1993. I wasn’t planning to be back for my 21st birthday, so we celebrated at Marwell, in advance.

Marwell has also been important in recent years. It’s the place we took my Mum and Mr NHM’s parents, when they first met. We had a picnic at the far end of the Zoo and that’s when Mr NHM asked my Mum for her permission to marry me!

So, I was delighted when we were given the opportunity to visit Marwell and do a review. It’s been on my list of places to review for a while, so this gave me the motivation to get it done!

Unfortunately, the day we visited, the weather was appalling, but we still had a great time, despite getting drenched.

Several of the photo’s in this review were taken on the last time we visited Marwell, when the weather was much better.

We visited on the first day of the “Rise of the Dinosaurs” and it was great fun spotting the Dinosaurs throughout the park.

If your little one’s like Dinosaurs I TOTALLY recommend bringing them to Marwell to walk the adventure trail.

It runs from now until 2nd September, so all through the school holidays.


There are LOTS of things to do at Marwell.

The park is huge and takes most of the day to walk around. There are lots and lots of animals to see.

We always start at the Penguin Cove. Miss NHM loves the penguins and it’s awesome how close you can get to them.

If you go behind Penguin Cove, there is a little cool play park. I might have a photo of Mr NHM with his head in this shark…

We then wander past the big cats. I’m quite proud of this photo of a cheetah that I took, but it’s not a patch on the ones I took when I was in Africa! lol.

We then walked up past the Rise of the Dinosaurs show stage and spent a lot of time looking at the Giraffe’s.

We then went to the African Valley house

Then we wandered up to see the Leopard

This time we didn’t eat at Cafe Graze but we’ve eaten here several times before and the food has always been good and reasonably priced.

We stopped for lunch at the Indoor Picnic area. This is my one criticism, the park was full of school children who all had packed lunches, so we couldn’t even get in the Indoor Picnic room as it’s quite small.

Given that it was chucking it down and we had Miss NHM with us, I wasn’t very impressed that we had to eat our lunch in the rain. We weren’t the only families who had to do this too.


So we ended up eating our picnic lunch trying to see the Tiger here:

After lunch we spent some time in the play park which is brilliant!

We then stopped to look at T-rex, but Miss NHM was a bit scared of him cause he kept roaring!

At the top of the park we stopped to see the Wallaby’s and Kookaburra’s



We also had a look at the playground near the Fur, Feathers and Scales area:

Then we stopped off at the Siamang Gibbons

We missed the lemurs this time, because the rain was dreadful, but I recommend checking them out as they are very cute and entertaining to watch.

We then went into the Tropical World because it was covered and warm. We had to tag team this though as pushchairs aren’t allowed in Tropical World.


Miss NHM loved looking at the bugs and we spent ages looking at the ants in their very long tunnel:

We finished our day at Marwell watching the Snow Leopards who are beautiful and I was quite proud that I managed to get a good shot of them, despite the rain:

We completely missed the road train and the rail train this time, but I’ve done the road train before and it was fab!

Unfortunately, because of the weather, we missed quite a lot of what is available at Marwell. However, we still had a brilliant time and Marwell will always have a special place in my heart!


Marwell is massive, so take your pushchair. As mentioned above, you can get the road train and the rail train but there will still be lots of walking involved.

It can get VERY busy at the weekend and during the holidays, so plan to start your day early to avoid the crowds, although the do disperse the further into the zoo you go.

Try going in the opposite direction to everyone else, going anti-clockwise around the park.

Buy your tickets online in advance and avoid the queues.

Upon entering the Park pick up one of our “lost child” stickers, add your mobile number and place it on your child’s back, where they cannot reach it with their hand.

Little ones can take scooters but the use of scooters is now limited to children under 42 inches tall.

For a much more comprehensive list of tips, check out Marwell’s top tips HERE.


There are several areas to eat throughout Marwell. Click HERE for more details.

Is a bit expensive but it’s always been good quality when I’ve eaten there. The picture below shows the cost of the Hot Dogs at Bushtucker.


Are always excellent.

Baby Facilities

There are baby facilities throughout the park.

At Cafe graze there is a microwave to heat up baby food.


Is free and there is lots of it! However, it isn’t on tarmac.


Considering that you can easily spend two days at Marwell with all that is going on, I feel that the price is very reasonable.

If you can afford annual membership, this is a total bargain as you would cover the cost in three visits.

Rating out of 5

I’ve given Marwell 4.9 out of 5. I love Marwell and really wanted to give it 5 out of 5.

However, as we had to eat our lunch in the pouring rain with a pre-schooler, this wasn’t much fun. Hence the 0.1  being taken off.

I think this is very generous considering we had to eat our lunch standing up! lol.

If you do visit Marwell  after reading this review, don’t forget to tell them (like any reviews you read on NHM) that you are visiting because you read the review.

Disclaimer: This post is a review of Marwell Wildlife in conjunction with Festival Place. Our entry 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 2014: Micheldever Wood

Today’s Secret Review is by the lovely Kaela:

I’ve been meaning to go to Micheldever Woods for years, so after I read Kaela’s initial draft, Mr NHM, Miss NHM and I went on Sunday morning. It was perfect.

The only issue was, it took 45 minutes to find!?!?!

So, Kaela has said it’s ok for me to add the directions here:

  • Head for Winchester on the A30.
  • Go past the Claas (large Farm machinery and tractors) company which is on your right and then take the second left (don’t turn into the first turning, as you can’t park here) sign posted to Northington and The Candovers.
  • Go under the motorway and the car park is up on your left.
  • Oh and it’s NO WHERE NEAR Micheldever! lol

Go now, before the bluebells disappear for the year, as they are gorgeous!

Related Posts


Related Links

10 places to see beautiful bluebells in the UK

Review 2014: The Vyne


The Vyne, National Trust

Vyne Road, Sherborne St John, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG24 9HL
We went to the Vyne last weekend and had a fabulous time. It was when the weather was gorgeous and it felt like the first day of spring.

We spent a long time in the Walled Garden, playing on the toys and talking to the chickens.


We then went to the Hobbit play area and had a brilliant time!


We finished off our morning lying on our picnic rug on the lawn in front of the house, people watching and looking out for aeroplanes!



There is LOADS to do at the Vyne. As soon as you walk in, there are the lakes which have HUGE black fish in. You then walk over the mini waterfall (at least, I think that’s what it’s called).


Keep walking up the main path, towards the house and on your left is the Walled Garden.


There are bouncing toys and mini tractors that you can play on and picnic tables which have different types of tracks laid out (don’t forget your toy cars for this!).



We also had a look in the green house and spent some time looking at the chickens.


As you come out of the walled Garden you walk towards the house through a promenade of trees. I love this bit! Lol.


As you walk towards the house, you pass the tea rooms and you can also sit outside as there is an outside booth selling ice creams, etc.

Behind the Gift Shop is the new Hobbit play area. It’s fantastic and I want one of the tunnels for our garden! Miss NHM enjoyed flinging herself down the fireman’s pole with Daddy to catch her at the bottom!





We spent a long time lying on our picnic blanket on the lawns and people watching. There is also the forest behind, Morgesten Woods, which is lovely to walk through, but not much fun without an off road pushchair. We didn’t make it here this time.


I wouldn’t take anyone under the age of 5 into the house. This is because I wouldn’t want to control an under 5 in a stately home that it isn’t practical to take pushchairs into. However, you can borrow a hip carrying infant seat, which might be a good solution for very small little ones.

Get here early, to avoid the crowds. If the weather is nice, you will get the pick of the best deckchairs which are laid out on the lawn between the house and the main lake.



Is excellent but pricey. We took a picnic with us but I have eaten here before and the Sunday lunches are very yummy.


Are excellent and all eco.

Baby Facilities

The baby changing facilities are also excellent quality.There is one near the entrance when you arrive and one behind the restaurant.


Is free and there is loads. If you can’t find a space in the main car park then park in the overflow which has loads of space


  • £7.50 for adults to enter the grounds only.
  • Children under the age of 5 are free or £4 over the age of five
  • £22 for a family ticket.If you plan to visit a lot of National Trust properties, it may be worth investing in a year pass. Check out the details from last years Season ticket post.

Rating out of 5

5 out of 5 because we had such a lovely day, although I’m sure this was helped by the lovely weather.

Other Reviews


My list of places to visit in 2014

In the interest of doing more Reviews for NHM (honest!) I’ve put together a list of places that I’ve never been to before that I plan to check out during this year.

Several of the places I will visit just with Miss NHM as Mr NHM will be working. This will hopefully keep costs down!!

I’ve indicated where the place should be free or reasonably cheap because only parking cost will need to be paid.

I plan to write Reviews about all of these places that are on this list, so look out for them during this year!

Visited in 2014

Moors Valley Country Park – Done! parking costs only

St Harold Hillier Gardens – Done! (Review still to be written up!) I visited here when Miss NHM was tiny, but it was a blur of sleep deprivation, so am looking forward to going back after more sleep

Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway – Done! See my review on Exbury HERE.

Miller’s Ark – Done! See my review on Miller’s Ark HERE.

Manydown Family Fun – Done!

The Tea Bar

Curiositea room

Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium – (Review still to be written up. Opps! Although ‘After Dark’ Review is HERE

Still to visit

Basing House

Bucklebury Farm Park – Reviewed 2015 HERE.

Danebury Iron Age Hill Fort – Parking cost only. Reviewed 2016 HERE.

Watercress Line

Dinton Pastures – Parking cost only. You can see the secret review Jo did HERE.

Manor Farm Country Park –  I haven’t been here for 8 years, so am looking forward to going back

Milestones Living History Museum – I haven’t been here since it opened, so looking forward to going to see this too!

Ice Skating

Visit a Lido

Visit a Pick Your Own Place 

Frimley Lodge Park

Longleat Safari Park

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