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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NHM Readers Recommend: Getting Around with Kids without a Car

I recently had a question from a NHM Reader that I asked the NHM Community to help with: “For medical reasons I have been told I need to permanently stop driving. With 3 young children (1, 4 & 6) the thought of not being able to drive is utterly frightening and I am really struggling with it. I would really appreciate hearing from mums who don’t drive and how they find doing normal day to day things and special school holiday things without driving. I have no idea how we can continue with swimming, Beavers, football etc. I don’t have family to help and I don’t know what I am going to do!”

Thank you to the NHM Community for all of your responses, listed below in no particular order.

NHM Readers Recommend: Getting Around with Kids without a Car

Kathryn said “I don’t drive (hubby does) and was a sahm for the first 18 months of my second daughter’s life… Both of my girls love the bus. I found we were quite well connected, live in Popley, had nursery in town centre and attended various baby groups all over Basingstoke. I downloaded the network map on my phone so I could always check which buses went to somewhere before committing to going. Just had to allow time for longer journeys and the possibility that I couldn’t fit on the bus with the pushchair and having to wait for the next one… But it is doable”

Claire M said “I grew up in a family where my mum didn’t drive. I didn’t miss out at all, you will probably find your kids will become more independent as a result when they get a bit older. Trains are pretty good these days too with the 4 for 2 deals etc. As long as you live close to public transport you will be fine”

Claire D said “I have a 5, 3 and 2 year old (and an almost 18 year old). I am learning to drive but obviously currently dont. When I was with the kids Dad he drove but I still had to make my own way about when he was at work. I rely on buses, taxis and trains. I still am able to get to work and back and take the kids to school etc. I shop online, go and do small shops and also occasionally get lifts to do slightly bigger shops. I get by. It can get stressful, but the norm for me.

I also often have to navigate London with my 5 and 3 year old on foot and my 2 year old in a pushchair. When I have the pushchair, I find my route with buses and plan in advance. When I am lucky to have a babysitter for my youngest, I get the tube. Recently I had 4 London visits with the kids, to places that I didnt know, in two weeks. I survived, 2 visits were after night shifts.

Also a rail card is a great thing to have. £30 for a year and you get quite a saving on train tickets with it. They also do “buy one get one free” deals on entry tickets to places in London when travelling by train with a rail card https://www.network-railcard.co.uk/  https://www.network-railcard.co.uk/news-offers/days-out/

Ruth saidI was going to recommend this too! 🙂and google maps – if you select directions, and the little bus/train icon before putting in where you want to go, it gives you all the bus/train route info plus how long to walk at each stage! And if you can afford to invest in a Merlin card then there is lots to do in London when they are a bit older, plus sealife centre in Weymouth on the pass is a great day out on the train. I remember doing all sorts by public transport with my mum as dad was the only driver and worked pretty much the whole summer hols”

Kate said “There is a service called ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ who are happy to transport kids and support anyone with getting out and about. Driving Miss Daisy Whitchurch

Katie said “Speak to other parents at clubs and see if you can get lifts for your children from them. We share lifts to most clubs and would give lifts to non drivers as we are going anyway.”

Hannah said “I won’t lie it is tough sometimes but my boy is only 3 1/2 And used to only going to places on bus/train with me. My OH drives but tbh if he is working a Sunday he has to miss his rugby because we can’t get there. I would definitely see if there are other parents who could help out with clubs etc”

Zoe said “I don’t drive and have the same age children as you. My husband drives but is only around the weekends so we rely on public transport and walking throughout the week. Don’t think my children miss out because of me not driving. I guess it depends where you live and how far away the clubs etc are from you?”

Kelly said “I do drive but my husband doesn’t anymore due to complications with his type 1 diabetes. You may be entitled to a free bus pass as you have had to stop driving for medical reasons. Online food shopping is vital too it saves carrying bags. As for clubs maybe ask friends to help or move lessons to the weekends so youre not getting home too late with tired children on public transport.”

Sharon said “I don’t drive, and live in the town centre partly for that reason. I do spend a fair bit of time finding activities I can access as a lot of these are out in the ‘burbs. To be honest I limit bus use as I find this a pain with my youngest (2) needing a buggy for longer journeys (and all the stuff we still have to cart around!) – there often isn’t room on a bus for us so I always go one bus early to allow for a fall back plan. We do the things we can get to. My mum or husband help with one-offs if they are around. We arrange further days out when hubby or parents are around, which to be honest works nicely as these are often too expensive to do often anyway! Best of luck sorting out the clubs side of things.”

Mindy said Consider doing your sums and working out what you save on insurance, petrol etc and giving yourself a budget for taxis for some trips”

Mata said “I don’t drive and neither does my husband. We use public transport and taxis. We choose everything based on non-driving: where we live, work, what activities the kids do. Not driving is hard in Hampshire, especially in more rural areas. It is not too bad in Basingstoke. And the norm in London.”

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NHM Readers Recommend: Clubs running over the summer for 3 year olds

I recently had the following question from an NHM Reader “There seem to be lots of things going on in the summer break for 4 plus, as my little one doesn’t turn 4 till end of August is there a list of clubs etc that are running in the summer hols for 3 year olds?”

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

NHM Readers Recommend: Clubs running over the summer for 3 year olds

Louise Nhm said “This link might help: http://www.northhantsmum.co.uk/…/classes-still-running…/

Heather saidBasing beans is still on in the holidays. Tuesday 10 till 1130 at Lychpit Village Hall.”

Jo said “We are running our under 5 activities until the last 2 weeks of August, all being well. Our under 5 activities are at The Hurst Leisure Centre. Tomorrow we have Messy Play.

Cerys said “NCT Coffee & Chat is open every Friday at Brookvale Village Hall, 10.00-12.00”

Kim said‘What’s Inside The Box?’ Story Time sessions with Routine Riots are still running over the summer too at Viables…with some extra summer sessions also!”

Andy said “We are running family exercise classes for under 5’s. Check out our page for the times @Tntfamilyfitnessuk

Sarah P saidI am running 3 Hartbeeps classes in Hook. Perfect for toddlers.

HOOK 3 week mini-summer half term
Class 1: Tuesday 24th July
Class 2: Tuesday 31st July
Class 3: Tuesday 7th July

10.00-10.45 Happy House (confident walkers and their older/younger siblings – older siblings up to 8yrs welcome)
11.00-11.45 Baby Beeps (independently sitting babies to walkers)
12.00-12.45 Baby Bells (new born to independently sitting babies)

Location: Elizabeth Hall, Raven Rd, Hook, RG27 9HH
Cost: 3 wk half term = £18.00, (plus £3.00 per class for 1st sibling)

Email me to book your toadstool, sarahjp@hartbeeps.com”

Sarah C replied “Sarah is lovely and fab with kids! Mine love her!!!”

Lee-Anne saidAlphabetty Adventures is running every Friday at Oakridge hall at 10 am. Full of dancing, singing and crafts.”

Kelly T said “The hurst leisure are running lots of activities for under 5’s”

Allison saidTot Cross Buns is running classes – perfect for 3 year olds”

Kelly W said “Jiggy Wrigglers are collaborating with other baby/toddler groups to give little ones memorable summer activities Jiggy Wrigglers – Summer Events

Katie said Check out our classes here…. A few for 3 year olds to try…. https://www.kidskandance.co.uk/our-new-classes We also have dance classes for age 3 on 1st and 3rd August too. Drop me a message and I can send you all the details.”

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NHM Readers Recommend: What to do when your child is frightened of dogs

An NHM Reader recently asked for advice regarding their son’s fear of dogs “He’s 6 and loves all other animals. Nothing has ever happened to make him scared and I don’t know how this has developed. I’m not a dog fan so tend to just ignore them, but he isn’t able to do that.

Obviously have asked him why he feels like this (he doesn’t know but I think it’s their energy and speed) and have explained again and again that most dogs are out to have fun and aren’t remotely interested in him.

We don’t know anyone who has a dog, no one we know well anyway, so aren’t able to help him by spending time with a dog in that way. So I was wondering if anyone had any helpful suggestions of what we could try?

Most mornings on the walk to school we see a dog or two so it’s affecting him pretty much daily.”

Many thanks to the NHM Community for all your offers of help, listed below in no particular order are your suggestions:

NHM Readers recommend what to do when your child is frightened of dogs

Tracy said “Maybe borrow my doggy website may be helpful. If you can find someone with a very calm/older dog that he can get to know.”

Becky said “The library in town used to run dog awareness sessions for children frightened of dogs. Might be worth contacting them to see if they have any sessions running soon. This was last year’s session at the library so ignore the date but may do something similar in the future” https://www.facebook.com/events/120949278409726/

Becki said “I think Dogs trust do something about children and dogs. I’m sure I saw it on a poster once” Is your child frightened of dogs? Dogs Trust is here to help

Lisa said “I don’t have any suggestions but feel your pain, my six year old is similar. He’s got better from being around my friend’s dog who is the most placid dog in the world but dogs he doesn’t know he just gets really overwhelmed. Hope you find a solution”

Libby said “She could try her local facebook page and ask if any dog owners might like to help.”

Emily said “I would say that when he feels panicked by a dog to try to turn his back on it and fold his arms. be a tree. the dog will probably just have a sniff and move on.

Lowri said “I had this with my son and I asked about at school who had a dog. Found a family that were happy for us to join them on dog walks and go round to their house. Lots of reassurance and seeing the other children happily playing with the dog helped. I started this after my son ran off screaming when he had to walk past a lady with a dog on a lead that was smaller than a kitten…”

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