A Children’s Easter Extravaganza

Playdays are hosting a Free Easter Event to be held at Cornerstone Nursery on Priestly Road (near the Post Office Headoffice, just past the hospital). It’s on this Sunday (24th March) from 2pm to 4pm at the Nursery and is free entry. You will also receive a £1 entry ticket for Playdays on Easter Sunday. For more information please call on the number listed in the poster.

I’m hoping to be able to make it along on Sunday, so I might see you there!

Playdays Easter Extravaganza



Stretch n Grow

I met Kate when she came along to the NorthHantsMum Meet up last month. I can confirm that she’s lovely! I didn’t get to chat to her for as long as I would have liked but she’s very enthusiastic about Stretch n Grow and you can see that she loves children. These classes sound so much fun! See further down the post for the exclusive offer for NHM Readers.

2012 SNG logo

Why Movement Matters by

The Worlds Leading Fun Fitness & Health Programme for Children!

**Fun Classes, Birthday Parties & Holiday Clubs for Young Children are all available through Stretch-n-Grow.

In my job, it’s not hard to get out of bed in the morning. I can’t think of many jobs that involve spending the day wriggling around on the floor, jumping around the room and singing loudly with a bunch of energetic toddlers and preschoolers who just want to have FUN!


And we do have fun, buckets of it, but one of the best bits of my job is that underneath the laughter and noise, there is a very serious purpose to what we do. The biggest kick comes from knowing that not only can our work help children to develop fine motor skills, but by educating them about their body, good nutrition and the importance of keeping active, we can encourage them to develop good habits that can impact on their longer term health. Essentially we can increase their chances of a healthier life.

So that’s why I have particularly enjoyed February, the month of love! At Stretch-n-Grow, the learning worksheet module for the month was children’s heart health. In the different settings we visit we speak to the children, (even as young as 1!) about their muscles, healthy eating and what their heart does. We also got their pulses racing with fun movements using active adventure stories & routines, exciting music, age appropriate props & even some obstacle courses & parachute fun. All this is always based around an imaginative theme!

IMG_1210 - Copy

By teaching children in their formative years about the importance of healthy eating and taking the right amount of exercise, we are hoping to have some healthier hearts in years to come. 😀

So, I hope you were showered in flowers, chocolates and romantic gestures this Valentine’s Day, but let’s show some more love for our your children’s hearts by taking them for a walk up a hill, an adventure in the park, a jump in some puddles, OR even come along to a STRETCH-N-GROW class and let us help make their “Hearts Happy & Bodies Healthy”!


For families with children aged 18mths and above. (younger siblings welcome) Wednesdays in Term Time, 1.30 – 2.15pm, at Curves Studio in Brighton Hill (free parking at Asda.) This class has the option of a pay-as-you-go drop in price or offers are available for advance bookings, whichever suits you.



Stretch-n-Grow classes are Fun Fun Fun! They are designed to help the development of your child in exciting & interactive ways. It’s all about fun & imagination…our disguise for hard work & strength building. We keep it fresh & exciting every month by creating new & challenging routines to themes our “Stars” will love! 🙂 Our curriculum is endorsed by fitness & child development experts around the world and links closely to the goverment EYFS framework. Each Stretch-n-Grow coach is a certified youth fitness specialist and has only one passion – to show our Stars an Ex-ER-citing time 🙂


At Chineham Village Hall, for ages 3 -7yr olds.

Children are left with us for 2 hrs of Easter Stretch-n-Grow FUN!

 I look forward to Stretching-n-Growing with your children (& maybe even youJ)

Come and see why Children and Families Love Stretch-n-Grow!

Please contact me for more information on our Fun but Educational Programme, or why not Like us on Facebook:   ‘Stretch-n-Grow Basingstoke’ 

Kate, 07887 993207

Email: basingstoke@stretch-n-grow.co.uk. Website: www.stretch-n-grow.co.uk

NetMums: http://www.netmums.com/north-hants/local/view/preschool-classes/sports-and-action/stretch-n-grow-basingstoke


Food: Pudding/Desert Variety

Following on from the Feeding our Children and Breakfast Variety Posts, below is a list of what we have for puddings in our house. I’m finding that not only are we in a rut with breakfast but also with puddings. I try to vary the fruit my little one has, she loves Papaya and Pineapple, but we still seem to swing between yoghurt and fruit because everything else always seems so unhealthy. I’m also still trying to limit the amount of sugar in my little one’s diet as she’s enough of a live wire without it :-D.

  • Yoghurt
  • Fruit – Fresh
  • Fruit – tinned
  • Fruit – frozen
  • Carrot Cake
  • Fromage Frais
  • Sorbet
  • Crumble
  • Banana’s and custard
  • Banana Bread – I make this the same time as the rice pudding as it saves on using the oven twice
  • Rice Pudding – I found some which you just bung in the oven for a couple of hours, great if you plan to cook something else at the same time. Or you can buy the pre-prepared pots.
  • Semolina
  • Lollys – I bought the Annabel Karmel Mini ice lolly set when my little one started weaning and we still use them now. I fill them with milk and squished up fruit. Very quick and easy
  • Smoothies
  • Muffins
  • Eton Mess
  • Fruit Salad
  • Pancakes
  • Apple Pie
  • Ice cream – I love Mackie’s ice cream
  • Cheese and crackers

I read the food and drink guidelines for 1 to 5 year olds Booklet last year but I think I need to review it because I know there are a lot of great suggestions in it.

What do you give your little one’s for pudding?

Related Posts

Feeding our children

Online Food Shopping

Meal Planning

11 Places to Breakfast “out” with Children in North Hampshire

Food: Breakfast Variety

Food: Healthy Snacks

I love my Slow Cooker!!!

A Day of Freezer Cooking

Weaning Ideas

Early Bird Meals with Children

Review 2013: Kids ‘n’ Action, Soft Play Centre, Winersh Triangle nr Reading

Kids ‘n’ Action, 680 Eksdale Road, Winnersh Triangle Berkshire RG41 5TS (does anyone know if they have a website because I can’t find one?) 

We went to a new (it opened in August last year) Soft Play centre recently which is over near Reading. A friend of a friend recommended it to us so we checked it out on my little one’s birthday last week.

As you walk in, there are a lot of tables and seating, so you can grab a table and start to explore. There’s lots to do. Along one side of the main room is the soft play for smaller children and they have a small area specifically for babies. Then there is the car wash, which we really loved! Next to that is a football pitch with hoops. The husband was most annoyed that I scored more hoops than him, and it’s made me seriously think about taking up netball again! lol. Then there is the Activity centre which is HUGE. My little one loved clambering through this and it’s big enough that adults can go on too. She also really loved the slides, the big one and the small ones. The big slide is very big though!

Just off the main room is a long corridor with lots of little rooms in. There is a technology room, a dressing up room with lots of different costumes, a shop, a vets, a hospital area, a construction zone and I’m sure there is another zone I just can’t remember! My little one loved the technology room and the construction zone. I could have spent several hours in the shop room, sorting out all of the food toys! It was a bit demoralising to go into every room and see everything all over the place, but I guess it’s to be expected.  Such a brilliant idea having different rooms with different themes.

You can buy food on site. The food was ok but it’s quite expensive for what it is and there aren’t too many healthy options. I guess that they have to cater to demand though.

There was also only one baby changing room which we didn’t get to check out as it was always being used. However, the ladies had another baby changing table in. All seemed clean and tidy but it had one of those nappy dispensers and I could not work out how to get it to work! Parking can also be a challenge.

When you go in, you can request a card which allows you one free entry once you’ve been five or six times (can’t remember how many, sorry).

We were there for a good 3 hours, which included food. It was a lot busier in the morning when we were there and seemed to empty out at around 11.45am.

We had a good time, but I don’t think we will be going there regularly as it’s a good half hour drive from Basingstoke. It was a nice day trip out to go somewhere different.

We give it a 4/5. It would have had more had we not spent ages trying to find a car parking space and if the food options were healthier.

Previous Reviews

Review: The Living Rainforest, nr Newbury, Berkshire

Food: Breakfast variety

Following on from last Friday’s post, this is a list of most of the things that we have for breakfast. My little one is two now, so it’s a lot easier to give her food that we can eat as a family, so I no longer have to do two different breakfasts. When she was about 8 months old she ate mostly weetabix with banana or porridge with frozen or fresh fruit for breakfast. I used to get fed up with waiting for the porridge to cool down, so putting in the frozen fruit meant that she could eat her breakfast quicker and we had less time for breakfast melt down’s!

At the moment, I need some inspiration for breakfast as I find we often fall into a rut and have the same things each week. I want to keep as much variety in our diets, as I mentioned on Friday, but as I work, our breakfasts need to be healthy and quick to make. I would really appreciate any suggestions that you might have as to what breakfasts you have with your little one’s or if you could recommend any resources that could inspire me. Thank you in advance!

  • Asparagus and poached egg
  • Bacon and eggs
  • Banana Bread (you can freeze this, but recommend slicing in advance)
  • Banana smoothie
  • Vegetarian sausages and beans (we buy the tins from Sainsburys)
  • Cooked breakfast (including tinned tomatoes and baked beans)
  • Croissants and grapes
  • English Muffins with squished banana
  • Frozen fruit smoothies
  • Fruity toast (am currently addicted to this stuff!)
  • Pancakes with fruit and ice cream (special breakfast!)
  • Proper porridge
  • Ready Brek
  • Scotch pancakes
  • Brioche
  • French Toast or Melba Toast
  • Pitta bread with ham and honey (under one’s shouldn’t have honey as it can cause infant botulism)
  • Scrambled Eggs on toast
  • Spaghetti hoops or beans on toast (I remember a Mum telling me that Spaghetti hoops were great for your little one’s fine motor skills)
  • Spinach and scrambled eggs
  • Crepes
  • Toasted Tea cakes
  • Weetabix with banana or blueberries
  • Rice Krispies with blackberries
  • Yoghurt with fruit
  • Greek yoghurt with crushed digestive biscuits
  • Frozen mini Croissants (Anita posted up about these on FB. You can get them from Ocado. We love them!)

Related Posts

Feeding our children

Online Food Shopping

Meal Planning

11 Places to Breakfast “out” with Children in North Hampshire

Food: Healthy Snacks

Food: Pudding/Desert Variety

I love my Slow Cooker!!!

A Day of Freezer Cooking

Weaning Ideas

Early Bird Meals with Children


These classes look so much fun! I just wish I didn’t work Monday to Thursday otherwise I would totally be taking up Shelley’s offer for NHM Readers! See further down the post for the exclusive offer for NHM Readers.

My name is Shelley and I run Gym-Minis (www.gym-minis.co.uk) which holds fun balancing, climbing and agility sessions for children from crawling to 5 years all over North Hampshire and has done since 1992 (gosh that’s a long time) !

We currently run classes during school term time in Basingstoke, Hook, Crondall and Alton. There are three classes each morning to cater for children from ‘crawling’ to 5 year old, each class lasts approximately 45 minutes.


The classes begin and end with a song or rhyme and the children move around the equipment in small groups forming ‘trains’ to move from one station to the next. At each station they encounter a new challenge, learn new skills and will have the opportunity to explore balancing, climbing and agility using our colourful and safe equipment. The ‘floor equipment’ section helps with co-ordination skills and introduces them to simple games.


All of the classes encompass tasks to encourage Agility, Climbing and Balance, Co-ordination and Self-confidence

The equipment used allows your child to experience all manner of actions, such as rolling, climbing, balancing, jumping and a variety of floor exercises. The layout is altered regularly to provide new challenges.


Over the years thousands of children have enjoyed our fun filled classes helping them to develop lifeskills, agility, social skills and confidence. If you have a look at our facebook page we have got lots of lovely testimonials from our past and present Mum’s and some photos of the action at the classes! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gym-Minis/439707346074833#!/pages/Gym-Minis/439707346074833

We run classes on the following days/locations:

Mondays –  Chineham Village Hall,  Thornhill Way, Chineham, Basingstoke, Hants, RG24 8YE

Tuesdays – Hook Community Centre, Ravenscroft, Hook, Hants, RG27 9NN

Wednesdays – Four Marks Village Hall, Lymington Bottom, Four Marks, Nr. Alton, GU34 5AA

Thursdays – Crondall Village Hall, Croft Lane, Crondall, Nr Farnham, GU10 5QG

We have two classes each morning with the equipment arranged to suit the age groups:

  • Early years’ (crawling to 2 yrs) class at 9.40 am
  • 2 to 3 year class at 10.30 am

Each class is set up for specific age groups and the child’s parent is expected to work with their child until the child is three years old.

  • The ‘early years’ class which caters for children from crawling to 2 yrs allows the children to explore the equipment in an informal session and includes group rhymes and songs.
  • The 2 to 3 year class is a little more structured and the tasks a little more adventurous. The children work and play in small groups (max 6) with their parent and a trainer to help and assist.


We also offer wonderful exclusive children’s birthday parties during the school holidays or at weekends where we will come out to a location of your choice and setup the equipment for the party for your child. Please let me know if you would like any further details on these.

So why not come and give us a try…we guarantee they (and you) will enjoy it and make lots of new friends! We would like to offer all northhantsmum readers their 1st session with us completely FREE (you must be a new mum that has not been to Gym-Minis before, sorry)!


Spaces for all classes are limited and we do have waiting lists for some of them so please get in touch ASAP if you would your child to be put down (even if they are too little at the moment we can put them down for future ones).

Please feel free to email or call me with any enquiries:


01420 562461

or visit www.gym-minis.co.uk for further information on us.

I look forward to hopefully seeing some of you soon 🙂

Shelley x

Food: Feeding our children

One of the things that I try to ensure is that we have lots of variety in my families diet. I remember seeing an exhibition in the Chicago aquarium a couple of years ago about the study of a Japanese Island where many of the inhabitants are Octegenarians (bloody old!). The bit I took away from this exhibition was that on this island, the Octegenarians typically ate over 400 different types of food a WEEK! In the West we typically eat only 50 different types of food in a week.

If you are interested in reading more about this study, I found a link on the web HERE.

I desperately try to ensure my little one (and my husband!) has 5 to 7 portions of fruit and veg a day, which isn’t easy given how expensive fruit and veg can be. The UK government recommends at least 5 portions a day but many other countries, e.g. Canada,  recommend 5 to 10 portions of fruit and veg a day.

Despite trying to ensure my family has lots of variety in their diet, I do feel like we are in a bit of a rut with our food at the moment. It might be because it feels like it’s been a long winter or just because I’m getting a bit lazy in my meal planning.

So, over the next couple of weeks I’m going to do a few posts about the types of food that we eat, to try to keep variety in my families diet.  I’m really interested in your thoughts on this subject and if you have any recommendations that you think I need to know about!

Also, I’m dedicating this post and future posts in this theme to my friend Melanie, who told me recently that she religiously reads every post every day. Thank you Melanie. I really appreciate your support! 😀 (and everyone else’s obviously!)

Related Posts

Weaning Ideas

What is baby led weaning?

Lakeland has a new baby range – Oxo Tot

Online Food Shopping

Meal Planning

11 Places to Breakfast “out” with Children in North Hampshire

Food: Breakfast Variety

Food: Healthy Snacks

Food: Pudding/Desert Variety

I love my Slow Cooker!!!

A Day of Freezer Cooking

Weaning Ideas

Early Bird Meals with Children

11 Things for Mum’s to Do in Basingstoke without their children

As it’s coming up to Mother’s Day in the UK this Sunday (10th of March 2013) I thought it might be nice to put together a post with some ideas of how you might want to treat yourself by having some quality time to yourself.

1. Join the local Mum’s choir. Group on FB: “Ooh Mama! We’re a newly formed choir purely for Mummies to take some “me time”. No Audition! – singing just for fun”. Meet every Tuesday in term time. 8pm to 9.30pm at Christchurch Chineham.

2. Book a mobile Beautician to come to your house to give you a massage when your children are asleep in bed (and will hopefully stay there!) or for a manicure, or pedicure

3. Attend a “Mums on a Mission” class. Becky’s Studio has classes throughout the day and you can bring your children along too.

4. Arrange a catch up with some girlie friends for afternoon tea. The Parlour Tea rooms or check here for more Afternoon Tea’s HERE and HERE. Kill two birds with one stone and take your Mum with you instead!

5. Join a dancing class. There are lots of dance schools in North Hampshire. I’m working on a future post with a list of dance schools in the area. (HERE).

6. Have a personal shopper experience. Debenhams in Basingstoke has this service available and you can book a slot online via their website. (I used this service just before I went back to work after maternity leave, as I had no work clothes I could get into and I hate shopping for clothes. A friend came along with me and had our babies with us. The Debenhams team were really helpful and didn’t mind me breastfeeding) . Click HERE for a previous post on creating the perfect capsule wardrobe.

7. Book a blowdry at home. Click HERE for the link to a page on NHM for Mobile Hairdressers

8. Go Ice Skating at Planet Ice. So much fun and lots of exercise without even knowing it!

9. Go out for lunch with some friends. Click HERE for a previous post on reasonably priced restaurants in Basingstoke.

10. See something at the Anvil or Haymarket. There’s nothing quite like going to the theatre.

11. Attend a Burlesque class or Dirty Dancing workshop for lots of giggles.

Ideal Imaging Photography

Alistair contacted me about doing a Guest Post on NHM. He is very kindly offering a special offer to all NHM Readers, but you need to be quick to take advantage of this offer…


So, what are Lifestyle Portraits?

A big hello to all the readership of North Hants Mum and an even bigger thanks to Louise for asking me, Alistair Jones (aka Ideal Imaging Photography, http://www.idealimaging.uk.com), to write a little piece about the Lifestyle Portraits that I have been providing for babies, children and families across the region for the last few years.

So I hope you enjoy this overview and if you feel suitably inspired don’t miss the special offer I have for you at the end!

So let’s address the question – what are lifestyle portraits? Well, in short they are professional photographs of you and your loved ones captured away from the confines of a studio and either in the comfort and familiarity of your own home or out on location in stunning settings, the choice of which is only limited by our imagination.


As with any portraits session, first I’ll take the time meet my clients and find out a little bit about them and their families, the personalities involved and what they all like doing together. All this info is key for lifestyle portraits because we can then agree the location and style the shoot accordingly. For example it could be in the context of the family home and garden (particularly important for newborns), out on the bikes, with the horses, on the beach, a favourite park, a National Trust property or perhaps in the grounds of one of the luxury hotels that I work in collaboration with.

One of those hotels is Tylney Hall Hotel in Rotherwick whom I have been enjoying an on-going partnership with in providing their guests with ‘lifestyle photography breaks’ (http://www.tylneyhall.co.uk/tylneyhall.co.uk/lifestyle-photography-break) – full board overnight stays incorporating a photo shoot with me around the gorgeous grounds featuring the magnificent Italian Terrace.

Here’s a portfolio of some of the work I’ve produced there:


As with so many of the locations I shoot regularly at, Tylney Hall is perfect for lifestyle portraits all year round – carpets of daffodils and bluebells in the spring, sweeping lawns and water gardens for the summer, the vibrant reds of the maple trees in the autumn and the weathered textures and colours of the rustic stonework in the winter.


Here’s a lovely testimonial I received from a recent lifestyle portrait session at Tylney Hall:

 “We had a wonderful day with Alistair at Tylney Hall recently. My eldest daughter said “We should have more fun days like that” and my youngest daughter’s smile told a story itself! When the photos arrived, we were amazed by the beauty of what had been caught. It made it very difficult to choose as we loved all the photos. Capturing moments in time of our family was what we wanted, Alistair caught those moments and surpassed our expectations”


Whatever the venue, the lifestyle shoot is very informal, interactive, fun and relaxed. For ‘family sessions’ I allocate a good couple of hours, eliminating all concerns of time pressure. Children won’t be forced to provide the perfect smiles in the first 2 minutes but, rest assured, they sure will after some time running around, interacting with me and generally settling in. A variety of different settings will be explored and used in order to add variety to the photographs and maintain interest (particularly important for the little ones!).

The resulting images speak volumes. What I mean by that is that beyond the beautiful smiley faces there’s so much more depth and context to the portraits with the interesting background colours & textures and unique expressions which are so familiar to you now but you will want to capture forever more. These portraits reveal the true personalities of all those involved.


All in all Lifestyle portraits are all about creative and stylish, yet honest and timeless, photographic records of you and your loved ones that will hold so many more memories for you than perhaps the average portrait ‘grabbed’ in the studio. Indeed I’m very proud to say that my work was recently highlighted by VOGUE Magazine in their December 2012 ‘Tot Shots’ feature.

A very special offer to all NHM readers – claim by 18th March 2013!

If you are feeling suitably inspired and would love some lifestyle portraits then with the onset of Spring (finally!!) I have a very timely offer for you.

The offer is for a Family Lifestyle Portraits session in the grounds of  Tylney Hall Hotel plus 2 10×8” mounted prints of your choice from your session – normally worth £180 but all yours for £90, saving a massive 50%. And remember that this is a fun family 2 hour experience rather than just a photo shoot, all covered by my unique satisfaction GUARANTEE.

* feel free to choose another venue within a 5 mile radius of the RG24 postcode

But as I say, you’ll need to act fast. Follow the link below to purchase your voucher by 18th March:


But the good news is that the voucher is valid for sessions booked up to 31st May 2013, perfect for all those daffodils, bluebells, cherry blossom and other spring flowers to light up your family, children and their resulting portraits.

There’s more good news in that on top of your 2 10×8” mounted prints you can purchase further products. The products are of the same life enduring quality as any big studio but because I don’t have the same overhead I can price them a lot more competitively.


Review 2013: The Living Rainforest, nr Newbury, Berkshire

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about bringing some new ideas for post themes to NHM and I think I’m going to try to do reviews for the places that we’ve visited as a family, as the information may be useful for other NHM Readers. So, here is the first post for a review of a place that I’ve been to recently with my family.

The Living Rainforest

I saw the details of the Living Rainforest via a post from Fumblina, a long time NHM Reader. We finally got around to going on Friday. We had a really lovely day and we spent a couple of hours wandering around the rainforest. Its quite small but there is lots to see. My little one kept saying “Wow!” every time we saw something new.

There were creepy crawlies, turtles, a big fish tank with catfish and the biggest stingray, and lots of birds flying around in one of the rainforests. We found the Sloth, she was hiding up in a very big tree, but we didn’t manage to spot the crocodile. My little one loved looking at the monkeys and was even more impressed when a teal (which looks like a duck) walked past her! She kept saying “Quack Quack! lol.

A Teal
A Teal

When you buy your ticket it lasts for the year and gives you unlimited entry to the Rainforest for the following 12 months. There are free Activity packs available for 4 to 7 year olds which include activities to do in the Rainforest.

The Living Rainforest is open daily, with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. When we went there were several school groups there and it was difficult to get around with the pushchair as we kept bumping into them. However, by about 1.30pm all of the school groups had left and we practically had the place to ourselves. On this basis, I recommend going in the afternoon as I spoke to a member of staff who said they have several groups of school children visiting every day.

The prices are as follows (for a years entry, which is a bargain!):

  • Adult £9.95
  • Child (2- 14) £7.95
  • Under 2 Free
  • OAP/Student/Con. £8.95
  • Family (2A + 2C) £31.75
  • Family (1A + 3C) £30.75
  • Carer Free

My little one is just under two so she had free entry but we plan on going again, probably in October when the weather turns as this was such a great indoor activity.

However, although I remembered my little one’s welly boots, we didn’t have a change of trousers and she kept falling over in puddles, so I recommend taking a change of clothes as well as welly’s for your children. Also, it’s very warm (as rainforests tend to be!) so keep this in mind if you are taking coats without a pushchair as you’ll have to carry them around with you.

The centre is family and baby friendly, with nappy-changing and bottle warming facilities available.

We had a great day out and as a family gave it a 4/5 rating.  We would have given a higher rating if the baby changing facilities had a working lock on the door and the restraining strap wasn’t broken.

Have you been to The Living Rainforest? If so, what did you think?

The best picture of the Sloth that we could get!
The best picture of the Sloth that we could get!