Review 2015: Sundaes Gelato Basingstoke

If you are on a diet, you need to STOP reading now! 😉

Review: Sundaes Gelato

Sundaes Gelato Basingstoke

We recently went to Sundaes Gelato which is at the top of town where Cafe Rouge used to be. (Cafe Rouge’s lease was up and they are now looking for a new location in town).

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I heard about Sundaes Gelato through some friends pictures on facebook. The ice creams looked like works of art so I knew once I told Mr NHM about it (he has quite a sweet tooth) it wouldn’t be long before we were visiting :-D.

I promised Miss NHM that we would go on the first Friday after she started school, if she had been a good girl during the first week. I’m not sure if this was a good thing as she literally RAN back to the car afterwards. You could actually see the sugar coursing through her veins and she only had a “small” pot of ice cream!

They are open till 10pm most days so this would be an excellent place to go for date night with your beloved. We went in the day though so not sure what it would be like of an evening.

Thank you very much to Michelle, Lynne and their families. We bumped into them whilst here and they let me take pictures of their ice creams and waffles! This review would have been very boring without these pictures, so thank you!

On Offer

They offer Gelato (Ice cream), coffee’s, crepes, waffles, shakes and floats, deserts and cakes and sundaes. If you have a search on the website above you can find a copy of their menu and see what is available.

The whole place is very pink and black.

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There is a variety of seating including tables, booths and comfy sofa’s near the front of the building.

These are the pictures that I managed to take of the freezer ice cream that is available.

Ice Cream 1

Ice Cream 2

Ice Cream 3

These are the other freezers which show the other ingredients that are used:

Ice Cream 4

You can choose to have a pot or a waffle for your ice cream:

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There are video screens throughout but I wasn’t quite sure how these worked.

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One warning, when we went after school on a Friday evening, the music was very loud because of the high ceilings. Or maybe it’s because I’m just too old ;-).

Tips

I thought it was quite sweet that the staff asked Mr NHM is there was anything special we were celebrating when I sent him up to order his DISGUSTINGLY massive ice cream (see picture below).

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Mr NHM’s Knickerbocker Glory

There is no waiter service. You can go in, choose where to sit and then go up to the freezers and order from there.

Take your own wet wipes. The napkins are rubbish.

Don’t dress your child in a white t shirt and let her have a small bowl of chocolate ice cream. It WILL get messy, especially when the sugar kicks in!! :-D.

Only take your children when you don’t have anything that needs to be done for the next 4 hours because it will take them that long to wind down from the sugar. Miss NHM went to bed an hour and a half later the evening after we went here, because she couldn’t settle!!!

Food

These are the pictures that I took of the ice creams and waffles…

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Miss NHM’s chocolate ice cream. It’s smaller than it looks but LOADED with sugar. Opps! 
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My coconut ice cream one scoop. 

Facilities

Are the same facilities that were available for Cafe Rouge.

Baby Facilities

There are baby changing facilities with a changing table.

There are several highchairs available.

Parking

Is in town.

Prices

Is quite expensive considering this is just ice cream but when you actually see these “works of art” I can see why it costs what it does.

This is the perfect place to come if you aren’t watching your weight and would like a nice evening out as a family.

Rating out of 5

4.8 out of 5 because of the volume of the music and the rubbish napkins.

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Review 2015: BumbleBee Holistic Therapy

Lowri is very kindly offering a special offer in October 2015 for NHM Readers – a Reflexology treatment for £30 instead of the usual price of £35!! 

Review: BumbleBee Holistic Therapy

I met Lowri when she came along to one of the NorthHantsMum Small Business lunches that I host every month. Lowri runs BumbleBee Holistic Therapy.

Bumblebee Holistic Therapy offers the following treatment:

  • Holistic body massage
  • Back, neck and shoulder massage
  • Indian Head massage
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki

Lowri also comes to your house to do the treatments, so you get the full effects without having to drive home afterwards! You don’t get to lose any of the magic!

She has a fab chair which is VERY comfortable.

Lowri in her fab chair!
Lowri in her fab chair!

So comfortable that one of my cats decided she would sit on my stomach half way through my treatment!

I’ve never had a Reflexology treatment before so when Lowri asked me if I would like to try it, I jumped at the chance! I keep hearing about how great Reflexology was but wanted to try it out to see if it was as good as everyone said.

We started off with an initial consultation and Lowri asked me a couple of questions about my general wellbeing and if I had any health issues.

Lowri then showed me the reflexology map which is fascinating. Reflexology comes initially from Egyptian times but the chinese are also very big on it.

Lowri has 10 years experience in Reflexology and has a science background, so she knows the in’s and out’s of what she does.

My treatment lasted 45 minutes and was BRILLIANT! I didn’t relax as much as I should have as I kept asking, “What does that mean?” when I could feel the odd “twinge” as I wanted to know which area that “twinge” represented on the Reflexology Map.

Lowri was very patient with me and explained each time.

Based on my “twinges” Lowri could tell that I had had worn braces as a child (!!) have had a lot of dental work and had had a C-section! No idea how she could tell but it was all through the pressure points in my feet and how I responded. This totally blew my mind and was totally fascinating!

I had my eyes closed for most of the treatment (even when the cat sat on my stomach) and at one point I saw blue waves across my eyes. It was awesome but a bit surreal! Apparently this is also Reiki Energy Therapy, which Lowri also offers as a treatment.

It was a fantastic 45 minutes of sheer relaxation and total indulgence which was even better as I got to go straight to bed after. Just a shame that Miss NHM woke up at 4am that night! I still had a lovely and relaxing sleep after.

If you would like to find out more about the treatments that Lowri offers have a look at her website and facebook page below.

She comes highly recommended by me!

https://www.facebook.com/bumblebeeholistictherapy?fref=ts

http://www.bumblebeeholistictherapy.co.uk/

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Review 2015: Pots2Paint Basingstoke

Pots2Paint

I first met Stef, who runs Pots2Paint, when Miss NHM was about 6 weeks old. It was coming up to Father’s Day and I wanted to get Mr NHM something special as it was his first Father’s Day. I chose a mug and Stef very delicately took handprints and footprints from a tiny Miss NHM. Mr NHM was overwhelmed when he got his mug and it remains in pride of place on display.
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Since that first time of visiting Pots2Paint I think we’ve been back every year since!  We’ve decorated a special 60th birthday tea pot for Gran, Christmas decorations for our close friends with Miss NHM’s handprints, more gifts for treasured friends and this time we visited to make gifts for Miss NHM’s nursery ladies. We’ve even been to a birthday party for one of Miss NHM’s peers at Pots2Paint and it was absolutely brilliant!!
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Stef and her team are always incredibly welcoming and have the BEST creative ideas that are always inspirational.

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I emailed Stef to ask to book in about a week before we wanted a slot. Stef came back to me very quickly and confirmed the time.

We turned up on the day and as we were the first ones in we could choose whichever table we wanted to sit at. You pay a studio fee for each person who is painting, to cover the costs of the paint, which is reasonable given the overhead costs of running the studio.

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The colour scheme and paints you can choose.

Miss NHM was very sure about the colours she wanted to use so Stef showed her how to paint them and helped her with her colours.

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I chose which products we were going to paint. There are literally 100’s, a lot more choice than there used to be. I have my eye on the gnome already :-D.

Pots 2 Paint 1

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Miss NHM’s creation. She was very determined about which colours she was using!

Miss NHM then decorated all of the gifts for her nursery ladies. Once she had finished Stef asked her to wash her hands and we handed over our goods. Stef then advised that the finished products would be available five days later.

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Completed orders ready to be picked up!

I’m so pleased with the final pieces and hope that Miss NHM’s nursery ladies are too!

Tips

Book early if you want to make gifts for Christmas. The studio gets very busy in the run up to Christmas so it’s best to book in sooner rather than later.
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If it’s not easy to get to the studio, I have seen via Dear Mummy, that Pots2Paint also offer a Hamper Service which you can book in advance.

Facilities

Although Pots2Paint is small unit of two rooms, it’s part of the Viables Craft centre community, so you can still use the toilets and baby changing facilities. There is a code to get into them though, so you may need to ask Stef for the code.

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Are available, but as I’ve mentioned above, you may need the code to get in.

Pots2Paint also welcome Mum’s who are breastfeeding.

Parking

Is free. It can get a bit tight in the car park but if the field is open then this means that parking is very easy.

Prices

You pay a studio fee to cover the cost of your paints and then pay for whichever items you choose to decorate.

Rating out of 5

I LOVE Pots2Paint so I’m giving them 5 out of 5.

I’ve always had brilliant service from the team and they have always been very helpful and have the best ideas when it comes to creating gifts for people.
You can also find out more about Pots 2 Paint via their facebook page.

Review 2015: The Parlour Tearoom

The Parlour Tearoom 

I LOVE the Parlour Tearoom. We’ve been visiting since Miss NHM was a couple of months old.

I’ve watched Carole and the team grow the tearoom into a hugely successful local business and it’s been great to see how they have developed over the past five years.

Last year they even won “Hampshire Life Tearoom of the year 2014”!

Plus, the food is YUMMY!!!!!!

About

The Parlour Tearoom is based in Viables Craft Centre.

They are a Traditional English Tearoom serving Homemade cakes and Lunches. They also offer a breakfast service too.

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It’s a really lovely place, very airy and the food is excellent and all home made.

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It’s open from 10am to 5pm from Tuesday to Saturday.

Food

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I chose the Viables Tea which you can see below
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The Viables tea
 The cake was as yummy as it looks!
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I completely forgot to ask for no marshmallows and Carole said she would take them out for me, but I felt that would ruin the picture so I had to drink them :-D.
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Hot Chocolate with marshmallows
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Children’s meal
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Cute water bottle

Picnic in the Paddock

The Parlour Tea room offer a “picnic in the paddock” service. As you can see in the picture below, you can choose a rug, pick what you want for your lunch and your sandwiches are made to order. There are also footballs and outdoor games like coits that you can borrow. If you know you are coming you could bring a picnic chair or your own toys. You can then take everything with you to sit in the lovely field which is right next to Viables.

It’s recommended that you call the tea rooms in advance to let them know that you would like to use the “picnic in the paddock” service so that they have the capacity to make your sandwiches when you get there.

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Tips

It’s so popular these days that you need to book a table in advance on 01256 325795.

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The chairs are a little bit wobbly for a pre-schooler. Miss NHM fell off her chair twice, despite me asking her to stop fidgeting on it. There is a lovely big leather sofa though if you want to relax.

They also sell local produce like home made jams.

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Facilities

Disabled access and toilet facilities although you may need to ask for a code to use the toilets so ask before you have to leave with a toddler or two in tow!

There is a corner with toys and books in for you to borrow whilst you are using the tea room.

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Baby Facilities

The majority of Viables is a breastfeeding friendly area.

There are baby changing facilities in the toilets.

Parking

Ample free parking, especially if the field is open for you to park in.
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Specials Board

Prices

Are very reasonable, especially as everything is home made.

You can even buy cakes to take away!!!

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Rating out of 5

I’m giving the Parlour Tea Room 5 out of 5 because we always have a fab time when visiting.

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Review 2015: Ideal Imaging, Lifestyle Bespoke Family Photography by Alistair Jones

Alistair runs Ideal Imaging and I met him a few years ago, via NorthHantsMum. I’ve been desperate to have a photography shoot with Alistair for a couple of years now but the timing has never worked.

Alistair has always been very supportive of NorthHantsMum and when I saw that he was running a special offer earlier in the year, I leapt at the chance.

I’ve been following the Ideal Imaging facebook page since I met Alistair. I’ve seen many of the pictures that Alistair has taken and thought they all look fabulous. I love that the pictures are taken at several different locations including Tylney Hall, a beautiful hotel near Basingstoke.

Pre Session briefing with Alistair

About a week before our shoot, Alistair came to our house to talk us through what to expect and to advise on how we should prepare for the shoot.

We discussed what to expect, what we should wear and the pre session also gave us a chance to introduce Miss NHM to Alistair, so that she knew who he was when we saw him a week later.

It also gave Alistair an opportunity to meet us and to understand the personalities involved and to stress that he wanted to make it into an “adventure” for Miss NHM.

We talked through what to avoid (big logos and high heels!) and what to bring with us on the day (wet wipes was a key thing to remember!) and Mr NHM and I learnt about the colour wheel and how important this can be to ensure that the colours we were wearing didn’t clash with the colours of Spring at Tylney Hall.

Mr NHM also asked questions about the weather. Alistair explained that if it’s bad then we’ll simply re-schedule but said that 95% of the time it’s fine. We learnt that you don’t really want bright sunshine on the day of your shoot as this can cause shadows, squinting and the sun can wash out colours. It’s actually much better for the photographs if the weather is overcast as the colour come out better. Not really difficult with our English weather! :-D.

At the end of our initial pre-shoot session Alistair gave us a few print out’s that reiterated what we had talked about, just to ensure that we got the best out of our experience. This was great because it meant I didn’t have to remember everything, I had a handy sheet reminding me of it all! Lol.

I really loved the Pre session briefing with Alistair. It gave Mr NHM and I a chance to ask lots of questions and helped put my mind at ease as to what to expect on the day.

Photo Shoot at Tylney Hall

On the day of our shoot the weather wasn’t great. However, we weren’t worried as Alistair had already mentioned that this wouldn’t be an issue when we saw him at our Pre-Session.

If you have ever been to the hotel before, you will know that it is a very grand location and the drive up the main road to the entrance is beautiful. We met Alistair in the car park to the side of Tylney Hall.

I took a couple of outfits with us because I’m like that (no comment!). When I asked Alistair which outfit he thought would be best, he chose the same one I wanted Miss NHM to wear so I should really have just gone with my gut instinct. So we did a quick change for Miss NHM in the car.

Alistair then pulled out his teddy bear assistant and Miss NHM chose a name for the teddy bear and we were off to start the shoot.

I’ve only ever been in the hotel for Afternoon Tea and a work do, so never spent time in the gardens at Tylney Hall. They are Stunning!! It’s the perfect backdrop for some gorgeous photos. There are lots of different areas that you can walk around so you get a lot of variety in the pictures taken.

I have to admit that Miss NHM was a bit of a rat bag during her photo shoot. She really wouldn’t do anything we wanted her to and Mr NHM and I found it very challenging. Mr NHM and I even reverted to reverse psychology which seemed to work really well. If we asked Miss to do the opposite of what we wanted her to actually do, she would then do it!

Alistair took it all in his stride. He did a great job of letting Miss NHM do her own thing whilst he captured the best of her character and natural personality. When I look at the pictures now, I’m amazed that they came out so brilliantly. It just shows how good Alistair is, at what he does.

We walked all over the grounds and the photos tell the story of our experience. The shoot lasted about an hour which was just the right amount of time for Miss NHM. We finished in the daffodil area and despite Miss NHM getting tired at this point, you can see that the pictures are still fantastic.

Reviewing the pictures

Alistair came to our house about 10 days after the shoot and we looked at all of the pictures on his laptop. It must be wonderful for Alistair to do this because literally every picture we saw we were saying things like “Wow” or “Isn’t that fab”.

I was very nervous about reviewing the pictures. I was still worried about the fact that Miss NHM had been a rat bag on the day. However, I should have trusted in Alistair’s professionalism because I’m not lying when I say that every picture was brilliant. We had over 50 pictures taken during our shoot and every single one is just perfect.

As the pictures were taken outside and not in a studio they aren’t staged, so the expressions on Miss NHM’s face are really natural. I love this! I will always be able to look at these pictures and remember her at four years old, having the time of her life running around outside! Lol.

Alistair brought a number of samples along with him, to show the pictures at their best. One thing I really like all is that all items purchased are built to stand the test of time and become family heirlooms. For example, the Wall Art is all UV protected and stain resistant.

There is no obligation to buy but when you see the pictures it’s very difficult not too want all of what’s available!

Final Thoughts

When you book a lifestyle session with Alistair you get the complete service. I really liked the idea of having the pre-session briefing and then the follow up review. I was very impressed at how Alistair goes out of his way to make you feel comfortable and relaxed. It was clearly very important to him that we got the most out of the whole experience and had some fantastic pictures to take away from the experience.

The pictures themselves are just perfect. We couldn’t have asked for any better.

You can find out more about Alistair’s Lifestyle Bespoke Family Photography at:

Website http://www.idealimaging.uk.com/family-lifestyle-portraits/

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/idealimagingphotography

AND Alistair has kindly agreed to give all NHM readers 20% off his Family Lifestyle sessions! Simply quote NHM when you book (expires 31st December 2015)

Thank you very much to Alistair for a fabulous experience and for the wonderful memories that we have of our shoot!

Disclaimer: This post is a review of Ideal Imaging. Our photography shoot was supplied free of charge for the purposes of the review. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own. 

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Review 2015: Sir Harald Hillier Gardens

Sir Harald Hillier Gardens, Romsey nr Southampton

Review 2015: Sir Harald Hillier Gardens

The first time I went to Sir Harald Hillier Gardens was when Miss NHM was 4 months old.

It was so fab but I didn’t get to really experience it because Miss NHM was too young.

However, we went back in October 2014 to meet up with friends and had a fantastic day. Miss NHM was three and a half when we visited so she loved all the different areas that we visited.

Unfortunately the weather was appalling that day, it rained for most of the time we were there, but that meant it was really quiet and we still had a brilliant time.

You are probably aware that I’ve been championing the “Save the Culture All Passport“. This was one of the places that you could visit under the scheme. I really hope they don’t lose out on families visiting because they can no longer afford to visit.

Play

The Gardens are HUGE! There are so many different areas to explore. I’m just going to post the pictures up and you can see all of the different areas to visit.

You can’t really tell from the rubbish picture, but this is a maze made out of bamboo. It even had a seat in the middle. We had much fun playing in the maze!

This is a stream that Miss NHM wanted to go paddling in. It was a cold October day. She wasn’t impressed when we said no! lol.

As you walk to the end of the garden there is a long ramp and you walk past a waterfall. Lovely part of the gardens

This is the restaurant at the other end of the gardens from the entrance. Unfortunately the restaurant is closed in winter but it’s open in summer.

As you can see, there are lots of picnic benches outside the restaurant.

My favourite tree in the gardens :-D. 074

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You can just see the tree art in the picture below. Miss NHM was fascinated with this!

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This is the children’s area. There are different sensory areas. The picture below shows the ponds which had different types of pond life in.

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Miss NHM enjoyed standing on top of these. I wasn’t sure that was what she was supposed to be doing!!!

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This is the education centre, where the indoor activities take place. It’s next to the entrance. 092

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This is a picture of the restaurant. As you can see there is also outside seating for summer days.

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The views were spectacular.

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There are lots of sculptures dotted around the gardens. We loved this one, near the entrance.

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The treehouse is by far my favourite place in the Gardens.

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Tips

Take welly’s on a rainy day as it can get very muddy. We recommend an umbrella too.

Harald Hillier Gardens has lots and lots of activities for children so we recommend checking the website out before you go, to see what activities are on.

Dogs are not allowed in the gardens.

Food

I’m just going to let the pictures do the talking 😀

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The food was excellent and really good value for money.

I was very impressed with the children’s meal which had some nice healthy options available and a free seed tray. Wow, I sound old! lol.

Facilities

There are toilets at the main entrance, the main restaurant and at the other end of the gardens.

There are covered places near the main restaurant to park pushchairs and wheelchairs.

Baby Facilities

There were baby changing facilities in each of the separate toilets.

Parking

Is free and there is lots of it.

Prices

  • Under 17s Free (must be accompanied by an adult)
  • Adult £9.30*
  • Concession £8.40* (Seniors, job seekers, full-time students and people with disabilities)
  • Groups (10+) £7.50 per person
  • Guided Tours £60 standard

*Become a Gift Aid Visitor. Admission includes a voluntary donation to enable us to conserve, develop and exhibit our world renowned Gardens and plant collection. Standard entry prices Adults £8.45, Concessions £7.60

You can also become a member of the gardens, which looks very reasonably priced if you plan to visit lots: http://www3.hants.gov.uk/hilliergardens/hilliers-membership.htm

Open

  • April–October 10am–6pm (last entry 5pm)
  • November–March 10am–5pm (last entry 4pm)
  • Open all year (except Christmas and Boxing Day)

Rating out of 5

We’ve given them 5 out of 5 as we love the gardens and if we lived closer we would be visiting all the time.

Review 2015: The Cafe Project, Brighton Hill

I’ve been meaning to go to the Dome Cafe ever since it opened.

So when a friend invited Miss NHM and I to lunch there, I jumped at the chance!

I used to be a volunteer youth leader for Gateway Award Project (GAP) in the early 2000’s and haven’t been back to the Dome in at least 10 years.

It’s changed a lot and I was REALLY impressed at how they’ve smartened the place up! lol.

Review: The Cafe Project, The Dome, Brighton Hill

The Cafe Project Website

The Cafe Project Facebook Page

Food

Was excellent.

We had tuna and sweetcorn jacket potatoes and Miss NHM had a huge plate of pasta and sauce. It was yummy and the salad had clearly been prepared upon order.

We were thinking about having cakes as they looked sooooo scrummy, but in the end we were full up!

Tips

The Cafe is open from 9am to 3pm, Tuesday to Friday and food is served until 2pm.

They have easy access and lots of space for buggies and wheelchairs.

Facilities

Are what you would expect. It’s very light and airy and warm considering the high ceiling.

There is a book case with books you can borrow to read and a small selection of toys for children.

Oh and please take note of the menu holders. My Father in law made them, and BOY did he go on and on about them! haha.

Baby Facilities

There was a baby changing table in one of the toilets and it was in good working condition.

They’re also part of the breastfeeding welcome scheme.

Parking

Is Free.

The Dome is just behind Asda in Brighton Hill. There is limited parking, about 8 spaces, but you could always park in Asda car park and walk over.

However, best to check if there is a time limit on parking in the Asda car park though. (The team at the Cafe Project have confirmed that, to their knowledge, there is no time limit for parking in the Asda car park.)

Prices

Are incredibly reasonable. Very good value.

Rating out of 5

I’m giving them 5 out of 5 because it’s such a brilliant concept and clearly is a hub of the local community, given how busy it was!

I was so impressed at the quality of the food for the price we paid.

Totally recommend this cafe for catching up with your friends and it’s a great way to support the local community!

Review 2014: Airkix in Basingstoke

Warning: These are the only photo’s that you will ever see of me on NHM :-D. 

I committed to myself at the beginning of the year, that this would be MY year. (and it REALLY has been. 2014 has been an amazing year for me!!)

As part of this I made a decision early on this year, that I would do a Sky Dive for charity in 2015. (A few people have been very critical of this as I’m a parent, but life’s too short not to take the odd risk now and then, whether you are a parent or not!!)

Next year is a “big” birthday for me (21 again!!!) and I would love it if my family and friends donated money for me to Sky Dive to raise funds for Sebastian’s Action Trust, instead of buying me a birthday present.

I wanted to try Airkix first, to see if I could *hack* a Sky Dive.

So, Mr NHM bought me an awesome birthday present, which I cashed in on Sunday.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and was a little terrified.

But…it was SOOOOOO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was so amazing that I have booked my Sky Dive, two days after Airkix! lol.

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Once you have brought your Airkix ticket you need to book your slot online. During school holidays and weekends it can get very busy, so I booked at least a month in advance and then promptly forgot about it. DON’T DO THIS! Make sure you read the paperwork that gets sent to you at least a few days in advance.

When you arrive, you will need to complete a “Statement of Risk” disclaimer on the computer terminals. You are supposed to complete this at home, in advance, but I completely missed this bit. (Sorry Airkix!!!) It takes a bit longer than you would think because the keyboard has clearly been used many times before.

If you’ve had shoulder problems, you also need to confirm that you are ok to jump.

Once everyone arrives (I was dying of embarrassment that we were late), you then get taken upstairs to a room with a video and asked to watch the 5 minute video which explains everything you need to know and remember.

I was very pleased to see that I wasn’t the oldest person in the room. However, it was a little misleading as a few parents were sitting with their children and the parents didn’t actually jump. Sneaky!!!

The video covers quite a bit and I’m sure if you are younger and not so stressed about being late, you would take in a lot more. I tried to concentrate on the hand movements that you need to watch for, as you can’t hear or talk in the wind tunnel.

Luckily, I didn’t really have any time to become nervous. Once the video has finished, you then suit up.

You are given a lovely jump suit and helmet, goggles and then you can also have ear plugs. I wore these as I’m partially deaf anyway, so really couldn’t hear anything! lol.

Then, it’s time to go. You are taken into the ar-locked area of the wind tunnel and you sit on the bench. The other side of the wind tunnel are the spectators. I think this was the worst bit! Knowing that people were watching you!?!?!?!

I was 5th in the queue. It was fab watching everyone else, but this was the point where I started to get nervous.

When it was my turn, I could literally feel all of the spectator’s eyes on me. I was by far the oldest “girl” and I think they were expecting me to freak out of flake out. (I didn’t, I loved it and am REALLY proud of that fact! lol.)

Then, before you know it, it’s your turn….

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I didn’t realise how much you needed to concentrate. I think I just expected it to “happen”. It did happen but you need to make sure you were paying attention to the hand signals. It actually takes a lot of control.

I had two jumps of two minutes each. About 1.40 seconds into the first jump I had to get out. My back was KILLING ME! It’s not used to being arched in such a direction, so the instructor did two, one minute sessions next for me, rather than two minutes in one hit. This was much better.

I managed to do a 360 degree turn in both directions, went sideways and up and down. It was amazing how little movement was needed to move around.

In my last “jump” I was taken up and down the wind tunnel by the instructor. This was AMAZING and, despite grinning like an idiot and trying not too dribble everywhere, it was a real highlight. This is the bit that secured the Sky Dive booking for me :-D.

After everyone has done their jump and the photo’s have been taken, you then take off your gear and are given your certificates. I’m very proud of my certificate and it’s displayed next to the award I won for NHM earlier in the year.

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The instructor said I was a natural, which I’m sure is what helped my enjoyment, plus not having the time to get nervous in advance.

When you have finished you check out downstairs and have the option to buy repeat jumps at a reduced price.

Guess who knows what she’s getting for Christmas :-D.

Tips

Check your paperwork BEFORE the day of your jump. DO NOT do what I did and check it the morning of your jump, only to realise that you have to be there AT LEAST an hour before your scheduled time. We left the house in 7 minutes. This was the fastest time we have EVER left the house! lol.

(Thankfully, I was only 20 minutes late and the staff were lovely about it. We were THAT family though! I think if we had been 25 mins late, I would have lost my slot.)

Breath. I didn’t realise until after my first jump that I had been holding my breath. Nearly two minutes of holding ones breath is a long time. Make sure you breath!!!!

You will dribble. Not just at the “easy on the eye” Instructors ;-).

You will also ache the following day. Three days on and my stomach muscles haven’t quite forgiven me. So worth it though!!!!!

Leave your jewellery at home. It’s not recommended to wear it in the wind tunnel.

Non-participating children cannot be left alone, so make sure you bring someone along with you to watch them.

If you have long hair, tie your hair back as you don’t want it whipping around you in the wind tunnel.

Food

n/a

Facilities

Are excellent as it’s a very new facility. To be fair though, we didn’t do much exploring. Did I mention we were late? <blush>.

Baby Facilities

Not really sure, I was too excited to check these out.

Parking

Is free in Basingstoke Leisure Park

Prices

Are actually very reasonable for what you get.

There are also a few special offers that you can book on the day, for your next Airkix flight, which I may or may not have booked on the day because I loved it so much :-D.

Rating out of 5

10 out of 5. If only to prove to yourself that you aren’t JUST a Mum. 😉

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Review 2014: Dinton Pastures Country Park, Berkshire

Thank you very much to this week’s Secret Reviewer, Jo, for her fab review of Dinton Pastures!

Dinton Pastures 

Davis Street, Hurst, RG10 0TH

Dinton Pastures Country Park covers just over 335 acres and has 7 lakes, 2 rivers, 3 public bird hides and meadows.

It offers scenic walks, wildlife watching, fishing, golf, orienteering, water sports and a large play area for children.

I have to be honest and say I have been visiting Dinton year in and year out since I was the same age as my children so it holds a special place in my heart as I have so many memories here!

 

Walks

Dinton is a lovely place to go walking and given the large number of lakes and footpaths you can make these as long or as short as you like really.

The wildlife trails are colour coded and signposted so you can follow these or wander to your hearts content if you prefer.

There is a short route marked for wheelchair and buggy access however in my experience if you have a robust pram/pushchair you should be able to follow any paths.

I have certainly had no trouble pushing my Phil & Teds Sport for miles around some lesser trodden tracks in the park although I wouldn’t attempt a longer walk with my Maclaren stroller.

 

The lakes are beautiful to walk round and I love them equally in the brilliant sunshine of spring & summer, the autumnal colours and the winter crispness.

There are plenty of benches at various points around the lakes to sit down & rest or take in the scenery and there are lots of places where the Ducks, Swans & Geese gather where you can feed them.

One word of warning, if you feed them at the main deck by the far end of the play park then it can become a bit like a scene from the birds.

The Swans & Geese are in large numbers here and are not frightened to surround you which can be very intimidating even as an adult let alone for small children!

I prefer to take our bread to a quieter point round the lake to feed the ducks there.

Play Area

In May this year the new play area was finally opened at Dinton (after delays due to the flooding earlier in the year) and boy was it well worth the wait!

The play space that has been created is nothing short of amazing! It features giant nest towers, swinging hanging logs, zip wires, funnel net trap, willow maze, a storytelling area & woodland obstacle course.

There are swings & slides and lots of sandpit areas.

At the far end closer to the lake is a woodland picnic area & den building structures plus a ‘hobbit’ tunnel and small trampoline suitable for toddlers.

There are other features such as a giants chair and dinosaur eggs to enthral your youngsters and really help their imagines run wild.

The only criticism I can make of this area is that it is so large that it can be very difficult to keep track of your little ones if you have more than one and for toddlers not all the equipment is suitable so you do need to be careful to keep tabs on them.

All in all though this is probably the best play area we have yet visited and there is no concrete in sight. I think it will keep my children entertained for many years to come.

Water Sports

The Dinton Activity Centre part way round Black Swan Lake offers a multitude of water sports including Sailing, Kayaking, Paddleboarding & Windsurfing.

For younger children they also offer pond dipping.

Advance booking is generally required for these activities.

Lots more information can be found on their website via WBC: http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/parks/countryside/dac/

If you are solely visiting for the DAC there is a separate car park which is generally a lot less busy.

Other Activities

Orienteering is available and you can pick up a pack from the café for 50p.

There is a Pay & Play 9 hole golf course (par 70 standard scratch) and clubs, trolleys & buggies are all available to hire again from the café.

For any keen bird watchers there are 3 bird hides available at various points around the park – bring your own binoculars!

Refreshments

Refreshments are available at The Dragonfly café next to the main car park. The café is lovely and has a vast amount of outdoor seating and an outside covered area plus plenty of space indoors too for when the weather isn’t so good.

They are very accommodating towards children & babies.

Prices are very reasonable and I can highly recommend the homemade cakes they serve.

Picnic Areas

There are plenty of picnic benches both inside and outside of the play area and there is also an abundance of green spaces which are perfect for a picnic blanket if the weather is good.

Toilets & Baby Changing Facilities

There are toilet facilities at the café, the rangers office in the main car park and at the Activity centre.

The facilities at the café are the nicest as you would probably expect.

You can access them without having to go through the café. Baby changing facilities are available in the disabled toilets and these are clean and adequate.

Parking

There is a decent sized car park at the main entrance which also has an overflow section if it does get busy.

Alternative parking is available at the Water sports centre or at the aviation museum.

If you use the aviation museum car park you are at the very far end of the country park about as far as you can be from the main entrance and play area and I would allow a good 30-40 minute walk to get there, though on the plus side parking is free in this car park.

Charges for the main car park & the activity centre car park are as follows:

Up to 1 hour – £1.20

1-4 hours – £2.00

Over 4 hours – £2.50

Summary

Dinton is a great place to visit with children of all ages (or even without children). Weather dependent you could spend anything from an hour to a whole day here quite happily.

Rating

5 out of 5

The new play area is worth this alone.

Review 2014: Dinosaur Crazy Golf at the Oracle

Thank you very much to this week’s secret reviewer! Great review!

The Oracle, Riverside performance area (near Pizza Hut), Reading, RG1 2AG.

Jurassic Adventure Golf

Play

At the Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading they currently have “Jurassic Golf”.  It’s Dinosaur Crazy Golf for girls and boys.

It is by no means an afternoon or day out but it’s a novelty that keep my monkey entertained with something different for around half an hour.

We went on a Friday morning and had the circuit to ourselves.  I only had to pay entry for those wishing to play so we only paid £3 which is the price for under 4’s.

We paid our fee at the Kiosk, collected our golf ball and golf club and then made our way to the Riverside.

If you don’t have a buggy you can go straight down the steps.  We had a buggy so we walked along the riverside and behind Jamie’s Italian we accessed a walkway which slopped down and around to the riverside.

The plastic dinosaurs in the enclosure are fairly well done and have signs that identify which dinosaur they are along with facts and figures.  There are 9 holes on the circuit, the monkey and I attempted a few.

Some of the holes were a bit too advanced for a 3 year old and non-golfer put together but we did have fun on the ones we did try!  For those who like competition there is a high score board.

Tips

There is a large T-Rex in the middle of the circuit which moves and roars every 15 minutes.  My monkey wasn’t a fan but nothing a Mummy cuddle didn’t resolve.

Food

After our round of golf we came across a vintage Citroen van that had been converted into a ice cream van and was selling whippy New Forest ice cream.

The van was clean, ice cream was yummy and the seating area was clean and tidy.

Jurassic Golf fast facts

  • 1 moving dinosaur that roars
  • 10 life size dinosaur models
  • 9 artificial grass golf holes

Facilities

Opens 11am week days and 10am at the weekend.
Open from now until 30th September 2014.

Baby Facilities

Toilets/nappy changing
Available inside the mall toilets.

Parking

In the Oracle

Prices

£1 off your 2nd visit, voucher is in the leaflet available at the kiosk.

Rating out of 5

Our secret reviewer gave this 5 out of 5.

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