Review 2014: Miller’s Ark, Nr Hook

Miller’s Ark

Manor Farm, Blackstocks Lane, Nately Scures, Hook, Hants RG27 9PH

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I’ve been dying to go to Miller’s Ark for ages, but it opens sporadically, so you need to keep an eye on their facebook page to see when they are open. They are essentially a petting farm and I only found out about them via NHM a year ago. They are just outside Basingstoke, on the road to Hook, just past the Hatch.

We had a lovely afternoon when we were there, despite the rain and winter gloom!

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Play

There are LOTS of farm animals to see. Miss NHM was very taken with the chickens and the donkeys but she wasn’t very keen on the sheep who wanted to be fed. 

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We started on the left hand side of the farm, where you can feed the bigger animals, like the sheep and goats.

We then moved around to the shetland ponies and the pygmy goats.

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You can get right in with the animals and up very close to them. Miss NHM was desperate to brush one of the ponies, and was very excited when she was allowed too.

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My absolute favourites were the pigs. They love having their tummy’s rubbed, and the two pigs lying on the floor in the next picture, collapsed there after I’d rubbed their tummies for a bit. They were grunting happily whilst being rubbed (that sounds so wrong! lol) but it was very cute and amusing.

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We also spent a lot of time in the petting section. You can handle rabbits and guinea pigs here and we spent a lot of time holding a lovely ginger guinea pig who purred when he was held (that means he’s happy!).

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We didn’t go on the land train, as we didn’t have enough cash, but I’d like to go on it next time!

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Tips

Take cash! As they are quite small there aren’t any card facilities on site. 

They aren’t open all the time so check the Facebook page for details of when they are open.

Ask for a loyalty card. After five visits, you get the sixth free.

It’s not recommended for Pregnant ladies to visit farms.

Wear welly boots. This is a working farm, so can get very muddy when it’s wet.

Wash your hands after petting and handling any animals.

Food

Most meals are around £4 and were all homemade. Very reasonably priced.

I was gutted that we didn’t have enough cash on us when we were here as I wanted to see what it tasted like. Definitely on my list of things to do next time we visit.

Facilities

The washing facilities were basic, but worked perfectly. I don’t think I’ve washed my hands so much and so often, in a very long time! lol.

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Baby Facilities

We completely forgot to check these out. Opps! Will do so next time we visit and will update this post then. I would imagine they have baby changing facilities as it’s aimed towards younger children.

Parking

Is free. This is a working farm though, so if it’s been raining, the car park can be quite muddy.

Prices

£7 entry free for everyone over 2 years old. Under 2’s are free.

50p per bag of food

£1 each for the land train

Rating 5 out of 5

We had a fabulous couple of hours at Miller’s Ark. The staff are all really lovely, very willing to help and offer updates on the animals. The animals all seemed very happy and it was lovely to visit somewhere that wasn’t too commercial.

It’s also very close to Basingstoke. Just up past the Hatch Pub in Old Basing, which I hadn’t realised!

Really recommended but take cash and wrap up warm and wear wellys!

Guest Post Wednesday: Busy Bee’s in Hook

This week Guest Post’s start back again, by local businesses that are relevant to Parents in the area. This weeks post is from Charlotte at Busy Bee’s:

What is Busy Bees?

Busy Bees is a local pre-school children’s craft group that is run by a committee of friendly, sociable parent volunteers – usually with their own children in tow – and which takes place in the Elizabeth Hall in Hook on Fridays during term time from 9.45am – 11.15am.  We’re all about letting the children’s creative juices run free whilst us grown ups get the chance to share a chat over a cuppa.  We pride ourselves on being a friendly welcoming group and many parents and carers come back time after time for that very reason.  A number have claimed Busy Bees as their foundation for building long standing friendships. It’s a great place to come whether new to the area or if you’re just looking for something different to do with your little ones.

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Everybody at the session has at least one child there and the committee members will know who most of the children belong to if they’re regulars. For that reason it’s a safe and very relaxed, friendly environment.  If we spot someone new then we like to ensure that at least one of us makes ourselves known and welcomes you in.  We’ve all been there; going along to a new group can be daunting when you don’t know anyone so we aim to make everyone feel welcome.

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We are a non profit organisation and all money taken covers the hire of the hall, refreshments, insurance and the purchase of all craft materials. Any money left over is ploughed back into making the group even better, something the group strives to achieve.  Busy Bees also gives back to the local community through donations to schools and groups (such as the Scouts).

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What we do

Busy Bees offers a variety of engaging activities to cater for all pre school ages.  We theme each week differently and shape two specific crafts around this theme.  These themes range from the more traditional – Mother’s Day, Easter and Christmas – to things such as Chinese New Year, St David’s Day or even International Bean Day!  The aim is to ensure the crafts are exciting and fun for the children to sit and make and for you to enjoy too.  We hear that many crafts are played with or displayed at home long after the session.

Alongside the two themed crafts are our regular tables of activities which include play dough, painting and our infamous train set.  We have plenty of cover all aprons so you can let your children loose on the paint and not worry about whether any is going on your table, chairs, kitchen cupboards etc!  We do the messy work so you don’t have to!

Whilst the session is aimed at pre school children we are fully equipped for the younger ones too.  We have lovely soft mats and an abundance of baby sensory toys which keep the little ones entertained – and some of the bigger ones too!

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After all that creative exertion we recharge the children with a drink and a snack and the grown ups get to enjoy a well earned cup of tea or coffee.  We always have breadsticks on hand to cater for any allergies.

What’s in it for you and your child?

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There are many benefits for coming along to Busy Bees.  For a start it gives an opportunity for some quality time away from home, where, let’s face it, there are always jobs to do! You can indulge in those messy activities you never quite get around to (or don’t want to do!) at home or just welcome a change from the toys at home. Spending time with your child in this way will give plenty of opportunity for positive interaction and praise which is so important in building a child’s confidence and self worth.

It’s also a fabulous way of letting your child experiment with independence. Young children will confidently move away from you to play when they are ready, safe in the knowledge that you are not leaving. There are also the added benefits in that children are given the opportunities to start to socialise, learn to share and make friendships.

We encourage parents and carers to assist and participate so that they will feel they are an essential part of the group. Their comments are valued as well as any concerns or suggestions on how the group could do things differently. The group is always looking for more volunteers and is grateful for any help with the setting and tidying up of the room or offering ideas on future craft activities or even preparing crafts.

General running order of the session

The session is open and flexible and some people come for just parts of it.  We pride ourselves on being a very relaxed and sociable group and welcome you along for however long you wish to stay.  As a general rule we run as follows:

9.45am             Open and crafts

10.30am            Tidy up followed by a snack time

11.00am            Song time

11.15am            Close

We operate a “pay as you go” system so there’s absolutely no up front commitment.  We all know things come up that sometimes mean even the best laid plans get thrown up in the air – we’re talking children here after all!

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Extra curricular activities

We aim to do our bit for charity and this year held cake sales for Children in Need, BLISS and Frimley SCBU where we encouraged parents/carers to bring in their home baking to sell at snack time for the grown ups to enjoy with their tea or coffee.

Last year saw a special visitor at one of our Christmas themed sessions where Father Christmas himself came to visit us bearing gifts for all the children.  We’re hoping this turns into a regular occurrence!  We also welcome along local trades and crafts people to show or sell at the session.  Please get in touch if this is something you’d be interested in.

So if it’s sticking, cutting, painting, play dough or singing that you think your little one will enjoy, come along and give us a try as we’d love to see you.

Our upcoming Autumn 2013 craft sessions include:

Friday 6th September: Back to School

Friday 13th September: Pirates

Friday 20th September: The Post Office

Friday 27th September: Knights & Princesses

Friday 4th October: Grandparents Day

Friday 11th October: Superhero’s

Friday 18th October: Harvest

Friday 25th October: Halloween

We will be CLOSED on Friday 1st November due to Half Term.

Cost:                For children under 18 months (who are not yet able to do the crafts) – £1.50

Children over 18 months – £3 (£1 for an extra child)

Accompanying Grown-Ups – FREE

When:               Fridays (Term time only)

Time:                9.45am – 11.15am

Where:              Elizabeth Hall, Hook

Contact email:   busybeeshook@gmail.com or follow us on Facebook: BusyBees Hook and Twitter: BusyBeesHook

Jill Lewis Reflexology

Jill sent me a sweet message asking if she could do a Guest post on NHM. Below is her lovely post! GerberaSmall

I would like to thank Louise for giving me the opportunity to let you know about Reflexology and how it can help you.

Before I explain a bit more about what Reflexology is, here are some of the reasons why my clients come and receive treatments:

stress disturbed sleep sub fertility
shoulder and neck tension pregnancy migraines
sciatica ‘me time’ irregular periods

Reflexology works on the basis that all parts of our body are represented in specific areas on the soles of our feet.  As I massage and put pressure on these areas it brings about a sense of calmness and well-being in order to help the body to heal itself.

Fertility and Maternity Reflexology

Reflexology has an excellent reputation for assisting women who are having difficulty in conceiving. There may be many reasons why a woman is having difficulty getting pregnant and it might be that you should consider conventional medical treatment too, and reflexology can work alongside this.

It is safe to receive treatments at any stage during your pregnancy and treatments may in fact help alleviate some of the symptoms you may be experiencing such as morning sickness, pelvic girdle pain, constipation etc.  Research has shown that Reflexology can reduce pain during labour, reduce the length of the first stage of labour and can improve the quality of sleep in post – natal women.

Some of the questions I get asked are:

  • Does it tickle?  Not at all.  I use a firm pressure on the feet so it is a very different sensation.  I have very ticklish feet, so if it did, I would not be able to have a treatment.
  • How can I touch feet?!  To be honest, when I started training I was not sure that I could but now I am used to it and find feet really fascinating.  Weird, I know, but true!
  • Can I treat men and children?  Reflexology is suitable for everyone of any age.
  • What is it like?  Reflexology is a very easy treatment to receive. After an initial detailed discussion you will be made comfortable in a reclining chair while I carry out your treatment.  It is not uncommon to feel yourself drift off into a deep state of relaxation and once the treatment has finished you should feel very calm and refreshed.
  • Do I enjoy it?  I absolutely love it.  Nothing can quite compare to seeing how relaxed my clients are during and after a treatment.

I work out of my treatment room in Hook and offer both daytime and evening appointments.  I also work one Saturday morning a month.

To book an appointment or discuss any aspect of reflexology with me, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

jilllewis@btinternet.com   

Mobile:            07876 243286

www.jill-lewis.co.uk

Landline:         01256 769801

www.facebook.com/JillLewisReflexology

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Gym-Mini’s

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)!

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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:

shelleykerr@btinternet.com

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

Ideas for February 2013 Half Term

It’s half term in a couple of weeks time (18th Feb to 22nd Feb) so I’ve put together a post with some ideas of Half Term events.  The events below are happening throughout Half Term week. I’ll update this post as I come across other Half Term activities.