NHM Readers Recommend: Inspiring Presents for Father’s Day

In June 2018 I asked the Friends of my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook “I’ve suddenly realised that it’s less than 2 weeks until Father’s Day….EEEKKK!!! It always sneaks up on me, every single year! So, I’m looking for inspiring presents for Father’s Day. Any suggestions?”

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

NHM Readers Recommend: Inspiring Presents for Father’s Day

Natalie said “Something World Cup football related??? The first England match conveniently happens to be the Monday after Father’s Day!”

Kate said “We can highly recommend Lisa and Phil’s Longdog Brewery Real Ales”

Marion said “Shabby Gourmet Curry”

Charlotte said “Got my partner matching Game of Thrones T-shirts for him and my 2year old boy off Etsy. Will be so cute!”

Tracey said “Paint a pottery gift at Pots to Doodle Do Cliddesden”

Stacey said “Lilliepads Delicious Delights 1kg Mixed sweetie boxes yummy treat. That’s what my hubby is getting with a goody bag of random other bits including men’s sliders, socks lol”

Wendy said “You give your child £5, take them to Poundland and hand them a basket, let them sort it out. Teaching life skills!”

Susie  said “https://www.my-picture.co.uk/ great quality canvas prints from photos & bargain prices too”

Ruza said “What about something for the man shed?”

Leah said Buyagift.co.uk, Notonthehighstreet.co.uk, Red letter days, Chocs, Socks, Red5.co.uk, Men-kind in town, Gadget shops lol”

Kirsty said “Racetrack tshirt The Personalisation Parlour

Mel said “The Home of Hearts Look at my Father’s Day collection for inspiration or give me the details and I will create a keepsake for you!”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Places to go that include Train Rides

I recently had a question from an NHM Reader that I asked the NHM Community to help with: “Can anyone recommend places in Hampshire or close by that include train rides?”

Many thanks for all of your replies, 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: Places to go that include Train Rides

Stefanie saidThe watercress line in Alton. There is also a miniature railway at Viables in Basingstoke.”

Amanda saidWellington country park has a miniature railway”

Becky said “There is a train at Beale Park near pangbourne which is Berkshire but not too far from the Hampshire border”

Wendy said “There’s this one in Eastleigh but most will be shut throughout Jan and Feb http://www.steamtrain.co.uk/

Jo saidRoyal Victoria country park…we went there yesterday.”

Pixie saidDidcot and Swindon but a bit further out.”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Friendly Swimming Teachers for Pre-Schoolers

I recently had a question from an NHM Reader that I asked the NHM Community to help with: “Can anyone recommend a decent and friendly swimming teacher for pre-schooler age. Looking for something a bit more than rhymes and toys, but not constant telling off! Many thanks!”

Thank you for all of your replies, 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: Friendly Swimming Teachers for Pre-Schoolers

The Little Swim Club

Debbie said “Try the little swim club in hook”

Lindsay said “The little swim club are excellent.”

Nadira said “Little swim club”

Sally said “Daniel Hawthorne at Little swim school in Hook. Took A from non swimmer to competent in all strokes in under 1 year. L also now 4 can do some front crawl and back crawl”

Basingstoke Sports Centre

Natasha said “Sports centre in town are fab. Excellent price too!”

Joanna said “I second the sports centre”

Lisa said “Agreed Sports Centre”

Kelly T said “My 3 year old has had two months of lessons at the sports centre during the day which have been really good and only two children in his class. Although he is leaving at christmas as he has joined his big brother at bluefins.”

Bluefins

Kelly T said “(Bluefins) is equally as good. Bluefins only normally take preschoolers at their weekend classes”

Sarah G said “ Bluefins at cranbourne school”

Swim Fish

Helena said “Tanya at swimfish is brilliant. She gave my two a really good start to swimming.”

Wendy W said “Tanya at Swimfish is brilliant – she adapts the lessons and works with the children to make sure they get the best out of the session. Sessions are a great size and she has a love of children and swimming which comes through in her lessons and the confidence the children develop. I definitely recommend her”

Sarah P said “Tanya and Kirsty at Swimfish are amazing. She teaches in a small pool at the Basingstoke Country Hotel, Hook. She has helped my little one hugely with confidence and ability in the water.”

Turtle Tots Surrey & North Hampshire

Emma said “Turtle Tots are fab at Hook swimming pool, there’s definitely no telling off there!

Kate M said “Thank You Emma. Hi louise at Turtle Tots we offer child led lessons which means your child learns at their own pace and comfort level. We have lessons around Surrey and North Hampshire and would be delighted to offer you a trial class to see first hand what we are about. Please email us on swim@turtletots.com for further information or to book a trial class.”

Cali Kids

Wendy D said “Alicia Reilly is returning from maternity leave in Jan and has space for pre-schoolers”

Christine said “Alicia Reilly is brilliant. Lots of fun but the kids make amazing progress”

Kate said  “Cali Kids. Alicia has taught my two boys and they’ve done so well with her. Thoroughly recommend”

Michelle said “ Cali Kids with Alicia Reilly”

Alicia said “Thanks for the recommendations everyone. I offer semi private swim lessons on a Sunday morning and during the day on a Monday for preschoolers and babies at Tadley Swimming Pool. I worked for years with Water Babies and owned my own swim school Cali Kids for years too. We have lots of fun in my lessons and learn through play but have a good success rate. Most my kids start swimming independently at 3 or 4 years old. Feel free to DM me if you’d like more info.”

Aqua Kids

Susan said “Mel Bristow is amazing my two girls go to her”

Mel said “Aqua Kids teach a Fri pm and Sat am just outside Hook. Please pm me for info!”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Best Places to See Christmas Lights

In 2017 a NHM Reader asked “Can you ask the group where best place to drive to see lots of Christmas lights as our road only has two including us”. 

Obviously these may not be the same in following years but they give you some ideas to investigate.

Thank you for all of your responses, listed below in no particular order:

NHM Readers Recommend: Best Places to See Christmas Lights

Brackley Way

Rachael said “Brackley Road does an amazing one”

Wendy said “We drive to Brackley Way”

Helen said “Brackley Way are awesome. Done to raise funds for charity and he gives out chocolate to the kids as well.”

Sandhya said “South ham, being a bit biased here… lovely one in brackley way. We went there to see it today.”

Sue said “Brackley Way. They raise money for charity every year. It’s awesome”

Collette said “…brackley way”

Gabriel Park

Wendy said “…Gabriel Park”

Sherfield Park, head towards Sherfield Park Community Centre

Joanna said “Sherfield Park is usually good”

Natasha said “I second Sherfield park!”

Wendy said “…and Sherfield park”

Michelle said “Sherfield Park definitely – they do “Light up sherfield park” so there is a competition, weekend of 16th/17th is the judging weekend”

Louise Nhm said “We went out last year during the judging competition and it was AWESOME!!! Videos of Father Christmas from one window to another, real snow spray and some amazing Christmas displays! Highly recommended!”

Homesteads

Helen said “…Otherwise Homesteads residents usually have lots of nice lights to look at.”

The Clarke Estate, near Elmwood Parade shops

Lianne said “The Clarke Estate usually has quite a lot of houses all done up”

Buckland Avenue

Collette said “Buckland avenue”

Oakley

Collette said “…Oakley!”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Daytime Carol Services

I had a question last year from an NHM Reader which may be useful this year too: “Do you know what daytime carol services are being put on in the area this year? 6:30pm seems to be normal but that’s a bit late really.”

Many thanks to the NHM Community for your responses, listed below in no particular order:

NHM Readers recommend daytime carol services

Naomi said:

I don’t know about carol services generally, but Winchester cathedral has a fab crib service on Christmas Eve, it’s usually mid-afternoon and children can go dressed up as an angel, shepherd or other nativity character. It’s lovely.”

Heidi said:

Sherborne St John church has a children’s carol service at 4pm ish one Sunday before Christmas but I’m not sure what date yet…”

Rebecca said:

“There will be a carol service at Christ Church Chineham. There will also be a crib service on Christmas Eve.

Rebecca also recommended Christingle at St Gabriel’s at 5pm

Kath said:

Brighton Hill church near Asda used to do a Christingle service mid afternoon I think, and possible Oakridge Methodist church might do an early service

Gillian said:

“The Crib Service at Christ Church on Christmas Eve is at 4.30 pm”

Caroline said:

St michaels church in town centre has a lunchtime carol service usually in the week leading up to Christmas and also a children’s nativity story service (with dress up) at 5pm on Christmas Eve.

Allison said:

St Mary’s, Eastrop usually has a Christmas Carol Extravaganza for children on Christmas Eve at around 4pm and a 10am Christingle service earlier in December. Website is updated regularly http://www.stmarys-basingstoke.org.uk/upcoming-events/

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NHM Readers Recommend: Favorite Christmas Movies

Last year, I asked the NHM Readers “What are your favorite Christmas movies for young children?” 

The responses are listed below, in no particular order:

NHM Readers Recommend: Favorite Christmas Movies

Santa Clause the Movie

Claire S said “Santa Claus the Movie in our house.”

Honor said “Santa Claus”

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Diana said “Muppets Christmas Carol”

Rebecca said “Muppets Christmas Carol!”

Sarah said “Muppets Christmas Carol, for children young and old!”

Sue said “Muppets Christmas carol”

Helen J said “Traditionally I watch A Muppets Christmas Carol every year on Xmas Eve….I will be introducing this to my 2 year old”

Arthur Christmas

Claire K said “Arthur Christmas on Netflix at the minute!”

Helen B said “My son’s is Arthur Christmas”

Vicky H said “Arthur Christmas”

Kelly said “Arthur Christmas”

Sue said “and Arthur Christmas”

Kate said “Arthur Christmas”

The Polar Express

Carolyn said “‘The Polar Express’! ….it gets played all year round in our house!”

Ruza said “Polar Express”

Honor said “or polar express”

Miracle on 34th Street

Helen B said “My daughter is miracle on 34th street”

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Jessica “Nightmare before christmas”

Elf

Vicky M said “Elf”

Jo said “Elf!!!!!”

The Snowman and the Snowdog

Wendy said “Snowman and the snowdog

Ghostbusters II

Wendy said “and my 3 year olds favourite Ghostbusters 2”

The Great Escape

Susan said “Great Escape!!!”

Saving Santa

Sian said “My 5 year olds favourite last year was Saving Santa. Looks like it’s going to be the favourite this year to”

Home Alone

Lisette said “Home alone”

Rise of the Guardians

Kate said “Rise of the guardians”

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NHM Readers Recommend their Favorite Father Christmas Visits

In 2017 I asked the Friends of my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook “which Father Christmas “visit” would you recommend that you’ve been to this year and why would you recommend it?”

Many thanks for your responses, listed below in no particular order:

NHM Readers Recommend their favorite Father Christmas visits

Marie said:

4 Kingdoms Adventure Park is good but it gets more expensive every year (you do get a lot for your money though).

Finkley Down Farm is good alternative that is a bit cheaper.

Helena said:

We’re going to 4 Kingdoms Adventure Park for the third year running. So much for the money and the 2hr Christmas experience is different every year.

Paultons Park is very good but the same every year and very expensive for a family. The whole park is open but most of the best rides are shut. They’re both by booked ticket only.

Kelly said:

Breakfast with Santa at Wyevale Garden Centre is really good! We’re going for the second year running. Would highly recommend”

Rachel said:

If they just want to see Santa Conkers Garden Centre is good

Vicky said:

We’re doing brekkie with santa next week at Sherfield on Loddon Garden Centre

Personally I’d avoid santa in Festival Place there’s no magic or mystery as he’s in full view! Saw a preschool girl open up a pressie, was a cheap looking very small book!

Leah said:

Unfortunately I’ve booked my 2 to do to Festival Place this year. The train has gone & for £4.50 each child it doesn’t seem like there’s much for them this year (a walk round the icy forest, a snowball fight with the elves (!) & a visit to Santa. I’m quite disappointed tbh & think I’ll avoid after this year.

Wendy said:

We’re off to Henry Street tomorrow to see the real one…they have the best Santa’s.

Then we do the 4 Kingdoms Adventure Park one just before Christmas, they feed their elves sugar and E numbers all year round then let them out to do the Santa experiences.

Hannah said:

We love Conkers Garden Centre, the guy always remembers my boys, and you get private space away from others to sit and chat to him. Someone did say the grotto wasn’t there this year though so maybe call ahead and check.

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NHM Readers Recommend: Where to get a Real Christmas Tree

Good Afternoon Everyone! I’ve had a great question (in 2017) from a NHM Reader: “We are looking forward to our first Christmas in Basingstoke and I wondered if you could tell me where I could get a real Christmas tree from?” TIA!

NHM Readers recommend: where to get a real Christmas tree

Stacey said:

West Green Fruits in Hartley Wintney do the best trees around in my opinion!”

Emma said:

I agree with Stacey! West Green Fruits – and it’s a nice experience too in their barn with a small selection of Decs to look at too”

Aimee said:

West green fruits!! Absolutely gorgeous trees and the Christmas barn is lovely!!”

Allyson said:

https://www.facebook.com/burcotfarmtrees/

Lisa H said:

We got ours last year from there. Def recommend.” https://www.facebook.com/burcotfarmtrees/

Lisa W said:

Elm Park Garden centre on the A340 just north of Basingstoke towards Tadley”

Skye said:

Yep this” Elm Park Garden centre

Rachel E said:

Burcot Farm has lovely trees. So many sizes to choose from and reasonably priced to.”

Rachel W said:

Elm Park Garden centre every time”

Lisa R said:

There’s a ‘pop up’, outdoor Christmas tree sales place down Roman Road each year – not sure when they start to set up from. I’ve not used them but go past them on the way to work!”

Hayley said:

The one on Roman rd as mentioned above … cheap and good quality – last well!”

Rebekah said:

Last year we decided to try Moles garden centre in Sherfield-on-Loddon. My husband bought it without seeing it out of the net. I was like why?!! But then we opened it and it was perfection! The best tree we’ve ever had.”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Top Tips when Visiting Orlando

An NHM Reader recently asked “We are off to Orlando for the last few weeks of August and I was wondering if the NHM Community had any top tips? It will be a “once in a lifetime trip” so we want to ensure we get the most out of our time there.”

Thank you for all of your responses, listed below in no particular order:

NHM Readers Recommend: Top Tips when Visiting Orlando

Rhiannon said “There are often Facebook groups that give hints and tips on certain trips, especially if youre planning on doing the parks.”

Jo said “I would say join a fb Orlando group…I did this before we went to Disneyland Paris in March and got some fab insider tips”

Kerri said “You will need to take plenty of fluids with you so buy cheap water bottles and pack. In Disney and universal there are drinking water refill stations. Food at the parks is pricey and even more so because of the exchange rate so stock up on snacks at a local store. Although you’ll read that you can’t take picnics in we did on many occasions and the staff always let us through. There’s a lot of walking. We hired a pushchair for our then 5 year old as it was too much for him in the heat. It’s pricey to hire pushchairs in the park but we bought one from Walmart for $20 which was basically a days hire. The queues can be long but they’re well prepared for it and there’s often things to see and do in the lines. You can pre book your fast track rides months in advance and it’s worth doing.”

Rachel H replied “Where did you read you can’t take picnics into Disney? Just curious. We’ve never had an issue taking food in with us and I’ve never read you can’t.”

Susan said “Look up ‘Everything free to do at Disney’ You can go behind the scenes in one of the restaurants, ride the monorails etc https://www.bestoforlando.com/…/10-free-things-you-can…/. Also http://stepstomagic.com/free-water-disney/

Vicky saidI’d highly recommend signing up to the website The Dibb. It’s a fantastic source of Disney and Orlando information. There’s a forum which has great advice and free planners you can use to maximise your time. There is a ‘busy day’ calculator so you can plan which parks will be best to visit on which days (it uses data collected from previous years) & pretty much advice on any aspect of your holiday. Have a great time (I’m not jealous in the slightest!!).”

Rachel H saidTake a picnic and/or snacks (not as important if free dining offer). Quick service locations offer free water (ice water), no need to buy bottled. Avoid the water fountains, warm and strange taste. Quick service locations, adults can order kids meals (they are big portions).

Use the my Disney experience app in the parks to book the next fast pass once the initial 3 have been used (as soon as you scan into the last ride you can book the 4th).

Hit the parks early, you’ll get lots done in the first two hours.

We love Boma for breakfast (Animal Kingdom Lodge), if doing Princess dining, we preferred Akershaus, but there is something amazing about eating in the castle.

Check opening hours, Magic Kingdom will close early some nights for the Halloween Parties.

The balloons are ridiculously expensive, if getting one, purchase at the start of the holiday.

If staying onsite without a car, allow plenty of time to get to reservations. The buses can take a while.

Sign up for a Landry card if eating in their restaurants (rainforest cafe is one).

We were impressed with Red Lobster food, quality and price.

Crazy golf is great.

It’s impossible to do everything, so don’t try to. Pick what is most important to you, not what others say has to be done.”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Where to go to Pick Pumpkins

Last year, an NHM Reader asked the following question, which I thought would be useful to post now: “Do you know anywhere (doesn’t have to be local, hour or so drive away) where you can pick pumpkins?”

Many thanks to the NHM Community for your responses, listed below in no particular order. 

Thank you also to Juliet for putting this post together!!

NHM Readers recommend where to go to pick pumpkins

Wendy said:

“Seen lots of people go here http://bournevalleypyo.co.uk/

This place still has some https://www.facebook.com/rogatepumpkinpatch/

“And this place still has loads https://www.facebook.com/HollamNurseries/

Kathryn said:

“Bourne valley pyo, went there Friday but they are going fast!”

Siobhan said:

Farm near Crofton Equestrian at Fareham”

Amy said:

“Pickwell Farm, Netley”

Amanda said:

I was on the road from Petersfield to Rogate on A272 today .. there are 2 farms along that road that are selling PYO pumpkins”

Sarah said:

There is somewhere in romsey near the swimming pool”

Yvette said:

Secretts garden centre near Godalming is a great pick your own place. You even get to go on a tractor to the field!”

Laura said:

Here might have some. We went in the summer for other crops and it was so quiet but good produce. http://www.durleighmarshfarmshop.co.uk/

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