Review 2018: Riverside Bowl, Andover

Thank you very much to today’s NHM Secret Writer for today’s post and to Juliet for formatting this on wordpress!

Riverside Bowl, Andover

Riverside bowl is a bowling alley, arcade and glow in the dark golf centre.

They have 8 lanes of ten pin bowling, various arcade games and 10 crazy golf holes based around the world (London, New York, China etc).

They also have function rooms and a bar/diner.


Riverside bowl is on the high street in Andover, next to Wilko. You have to go up 3-4 flights of stairs but there is a lift if you struggle with stairs (wheelchair/pushchair etc).


There is a 90’s style diner and bar serving freshly prepared burgers/hot dogs and chips.

Food was as you’d expect in this sort of venue; not haute cuisine but edible and presented in a fun way (in baskets).

They also have an extensive milkshake menu (chocolate, butterscotch, jelly baby and caramel to name a few). I’ve given up chocolate for Lent so I went for butterscotch and it was very nice


Male/female and disabled toilets available. Clean and perfectly usable. I didn’t use them but hubby did and said they had hot and cold running water and were perfectly adequate.


There is no specific parking for Riverside. We parked in the Chantry Shopping centre as we had a meander through Andover before going to the venue as we were early.

Parking is charged Mon-Sat up to 4pm and is free on a Sunday. This is probably the next place to park for Riverside as it is a 3 minute walk from the car park.


We paid £15.50 for three of us (2 adults, one child) to play golf. We paid £25 to eat burger and chips each (child meal was £5.50 and included a drink). My milkshake was £3.20 and probably about same size as a cooler drink from Costa/Starbucks).

We also paid £17 for a game of bowling – we haven’t done this for a long time so not sure if this is average price or not.

Rating out of 5

I would give it 3.5 out of 5. It was nice enough but for what it is I thought the price was a little bit steep.

The bowling lane broke down while we were on it and we had to be moved. The golf I was a little disappointed in as the way the holes are set up, it’s pretty impossible to get a hole in one. You have to get the ball through a structure and it has quite a slope to get up.

I think the next hole we played was done in four or five shots and this was hubby who is a dab hand compared to me and LO.

We also had a family behind us in the golf who let their son start playing while we were still on the hole.

There is no staff actively monitoring this section (there are CCTV cameras).

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Swimming Pools in North Hampshire suitable for Babies and Children

I can’t believe I haven’t done a post about swimming pools in the area yet!

Let me know if I’ve missed any.

Public Swimming Pools

Private Swimming Pools

I’m putting together a list of swimming schools and classes in the area, and hope to get it published before Christmas!

Review 2013: The Hawk Conservancy

The Hawk Conservancy

Visitor Centre, Weyhill, Andover, Hampshire, SP11 8DY


Everytime I go to the Hawk Conservancy, I have a fantastic time. When you look at the site plan, it doesn’t look very much, and yet after 5 hours of being there, we still hadn’t done everything!!

We went to the Hawk Conservancy on Saturday and had two extra children with us. We were looking after a friends 14 year old son and 8 year old son. I was a bit apprehensive about finding somewhere that would be suitable for a 14 year old, 8 year old and 2 year old, but the Hawk Conservancy came up trumps!! Totally recommended and we had a brilliant day out.


When we arrived we were asked if we would like to take part in the “Sarson Falconer” session, which took place in the afternoon, as there were still spaces available. Mr NHM and the boys weren’t that keen, but I persuaded them that it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, their debut on the stage, and that I would do the boring thing and look after Miss NHM whilst their made their debut’s.

Being involved in this event ended up being the highlight of the day!! The boys and Mr NHM didn’t stop raving about their roles for the rest of the weekend. I had to bite my tongue with the “told you so’s!!!” lol.

Each of the children were also given a card, which had 10 stamps of birds that needed to be collected. It took us all day to fill the card up, but even Miss NHM was on board with shouting “Stamp!!!” when we found the last few.

We had arrived just in time for the Vulture feeding at the Vulture Restaurant. The 14 year old thought this was brilliant. It was very interesting to hear about how threatened Vultures are in the wild and what the Hawk Conservancy trust are trying to do to protect them. Plus, seeing the Vultures feeding was an experience!


We then went to the World of Birds of Prey flying demonstration which was brilliant. Madelaine the Secretary Bird was my favourite. You should see her whack that poor rubber snake! lol.

At the end of the flying demonstration there is an opportunity to hold a British bird of prey. Both boys and Miss NHM held an Owl. I have some fantastic pictures and the 8 year old was very proud of having done this. Miss NHM spent most of the day then saying “WOW said the Owl” as we have the book at home. It was great to be able to relate this experience to the book for her.

We then grabbed our picnic from the car and went up to the picnic tables next to the Valley of the Eagles. We had it to ourselves as most people stayed by the picnic tables at the main entrance.


The boys had to eat fast as they needed to prepare for the “Sarsoner Falconer” session as they were given instructions on what to do and were given outfits to wear. I had to entertain Miss NHM for an hour and when she started to get really cranky the Gypsy caravan opened for ice cream and coffee, which saved the day!

The boys and Mr NHM made their debuts as “Plough man and Plough boys”. They all looked very cute in their smocks and I managed to get some fantastic photo’s, despite having a wriggling toddler on my lap. They then got front row seats for the rest of the performance.


The birds were amazing. The Valley of the Eagles show is my favourite by far, because I’m not sure there are many other places were you can nearly get a Vulture flying into your head!!! (Note to self, don’t sit up when you feel a Vulture fly over your head, as there’s probably another one right behind it!! Boy was that a close shave, I even felt my hair move!!! lol).


Oh, and this is just a side note for the girls, but I have to say that the Falconer’s outfit in the Sarsoner’s session REALLY did it for me! :-D. Don’t knock it till you’ve seen Gary in his outfit! LOL.

I really like the presenters at all of the demonstrations as they make it all sound so fun, and take it all on the chin when things don’t exactly go to plan.I even learnt something about what a “cadge” is. I missed the last bit with the Bald Eagles flying in, but apparently it was amazing.

After the demonstration we went to find the Play area and had a lovely time playing on all of the different equipment.


We then spent the rest of the day walking around the site and getting our remaining stamps. I would have liked to have stayed for the Ferret racing but Miss NHM was getting cranky as she was well over due for her nap.

We had a brilliant day out and I was so pleased that the boys also enjoyed their day. I think the reward at the end for completing all of the stamps also helped 😉


We took a picnic with us, but we had a look in the restaurant and it looks REALLY nice. I did have some of the ice cream from the gypsy hut and it was some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted!


Were excellent.

Baby Facilities

I completely forgot to check these as we did an eu-natural nappy change when no one was around.


Is free!


We got a family ticket for the 5 of us and it was very reasonable. Under £40 which I thought was great value for money considering what was available and how much fun we had.

Rating 4.99 out of 5

The staff are great, the site is great and there’s a real friendly atmosphere. I love that it’s a family owned place and also supports vital work in other countries.

We went on a Saturday in the summer holidays and I was surprised that it wasn’t busier. Apparently Saturday’s are change over days for people on holiday, so it tends to be a quieter day. Tip for us locals 😉

My only comment is that there weren’t any recycling facilities that we could see. Otherwise, it would be a 5 out of 5!

Review 2013: Finkley Down Farm

Finkley Down Farm, Andover

I LOVE Finkley Down Farm. I’ve been visiting, on and off, for the last 30 years (OUCH!). It’s been great to see how it’s developed over that time. I remember the old gypsy caravan, when you used to actually be able to go into it and sit on the beds. Anyone else remember that? lol.


There is SO much to do at Finkley Down Farm. It’s quite small so it’s easy to walk around and there’s a lot packed in. A new “play barn” was built this winter and it’s massive! We went on a Sunday morning, and it was very quiet until 12.30pm, where it started to become very busy. I’d expected it to be very busy, but was really pleased to see how quiet it was.  We spent a lot of time in the Rabbit Barn because my Little One loves the rabbits. We then ventured over to the Mini ride on Tractor field and my Little One practically had it to herself for 30 minutes. She had to go on every single tractor! lol.



We then wandered back through the farm and went over to the Little Tikes play area. My Little One loved this area and we spent a good 40 minutes playing on the slides and on the trampolines.


I then noticed that there were five very large trampolines nearby that were deserted, so we went and had a go on every single one!! Well, I wasn’t allowed because it was for 10 year old’s and under but my Little One had a whale of a time. She just LOVES bouncing.


We then went back through the farm again. We didn’t attend any of the Handling sessions because I think my Little One is too young to handle farm animals, at 27 months old. But this is obviously a personal choice. We spent a lot of time watching the Ferrets, which were very funny and then talking to the Ducks. We also went into the Touch and Feel barn again but my Little One was a bit freaked out by the sheep that were “baa-ing” very loudly. At that point, we were both exhausted so went and had our picnic, had one last go in the Little Tikes play area and then headed home.

We had a look in the new Soft play barn when we arrived at 10am (it’s massive!) but decided we would come back later on. When we did go back, the place was heaving. Which was a little disappointing as it seemed most people were inside, even though the weather was nice. It was always an issue before if it rained at Finkley as there weren’t many sheltered areas, but now the Soft Play barn has this covered!


We took our own picnic (we remembered it this time! lol). I did have a quick look at the menu and it seemed reasonable, but without many healthy choices. I did think that £3 for a slice of cake was a bit steep.



Were never that great but they have improved radically over the past few years. However, I was a bit disappointed that I could find any recycling facilities on site, especially as they sell drink cans.

Baby Facilities

Are near the entrance. There are a few baby changing tables and a few nappy bins. All seemed in good condition.


Is free and there is lots of it. When the main parking area is full, they open up a field nearby and you can park here.


Maybe I’m getting old, but I was surprised at how expensive the day tickets are. I think I’m getting wise to this now, after my Wellington Country Park review! lol.

SAVER Ticket – 2 Adults & 2 Children £31.00
Adults £8.95
Senior Citizens, Students & Disabled Adults £8.50
Children (aged 2 – 16 years) £7.95
Children with disability and carer £7.50

They also do a reduced after school rate and Serving Military Personnel discount.

However, if you live near Andover or plan to go to Finkley more than four times in a year, the best option by far is to get the Season ticket, which is cheaper if you buy it online.

Rating 4.75/5

Finkley has a special place in my heart, because I’ve been going for such a long time. So I’m giving it a 4.75 out of 5, because it isn’t cheap and doesn’t have recycling facilities, but we always have a fabulous day out there!