We review 101 Things For Kids To Do Outside

Local Editor:

Fed up with expensive days out? Or perhaps you just want them to stop watching Stampy Longnose for a bit – here’s the answer for less than £15.

Originally posted on Portsmouth Parents:

101What better time to review a book like 101 Things for Kids To Do Outside, than the summer holidays? Arriving a week into the break, when I was running out of ideas for less expensive entertainments, it was a very welcome arrival.

Award winning garden designer, blogger and mum of three young children Dawn Isaac has packed 101 Things For Children To Do Outside with games, projects, crafts, experiments and gardening inspiration to encourage your children to step away from their screens and get out in the fresh air. These ideas stem from Dawn’s perpetual mission to persuade her children to go outside, chronicled in her blog www.littlegreenfingers.com which features on the RHS family website. The horticultural advisor to popular tv program Mr Bloom’s Nursery, Dawn also runs family garden design courses in association with Mumsnet Academy.

The book offers quick 10 minute activities to full days of fun. From party…

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Summer Like it Hot- our best beauty buys.

Local Editor:

Some great recommendations here from Nic Miller, Local Editor for Mumsnet Suffolk & Norfolk.

Originally posted on The Millers Tale:

Young woman with her face turned to the sun

The leap from a healthy glow to a perspiring crimson mess is not so huge during summer, no matter what your skin type or colour is. Going from air con to full sun, from sun baked car to the blast of the chiller section in the supermarket plays havoc upon our equilibrium, our disposition and our complexion and trying to maintain some semblance of grooming requires the cosmetic big guns. Keeping it as simple as possible is THE mantra when it is hot and I try to maintain an inverse relationship with what is going on in my life- the busier it is, the more I scale back my hair and beauty regime. Indeed I try to streamline by using products that double or triple up and avoid the use of skin covering bases and creams which tend to melt, crease and generally look pretty ropey after a few hours.

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Money Saving Deals on Days out in Hampshire

Hawk Conservancy 1Like many families, this year we’ll be staying at home during the holidays and doing daytrips out and about in Hampshire and near where amenable relatives live. In the spirit of further keeping costs down I started looking for some cheap deals and thought I’d share what I found with you.



First place to check is the trusty Tesco Clubcard. If you’ve got one, chances are you have some points lurking, and points mean vouchers.  You can boost your clubcard vouchers to up to four times their value. Handy to know when you are looking to get into a local attraction or know that you’ll be wanting to eat out. If you’re not sure if you have any vouchers, you don’t have to search the kitchen high and low looking for crumpled versions stuck with magnets onto the fridge or pinned under receipts on the pinboard – you can simply check online and claim them from the site. Do read the terms and conditions carefully before committing to exchanging your tokens – the deals do vary from attraction to attraction.

Local attractions include the following:

Gilbert White logoGilbert White’s House and Garden & The Oates Museum, Selborne – £2.50 in vouchers gets you £10 worth of clubcard tokens to use on admission.

Hawk Conservancy Trust, Andover – £2.50 vouchers for £10 tokens

Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line, Alresford – £2.50 vouchers for £10 tokens

Milestones Museum, Basingstoke – £2.50 vouchers for £10 tokens

Staunton Country Park, Havant – £2.50 vouchers for £10 tokens

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth – £6.50 vouchers gets you a entry token

Royal Marines Museum, Portsmouth – £2.50 vouchers for £10 tokens.

Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth – £2.50 vouchers for £10 tokens


Restaurants are also included and you can choose a branch of Prezzo, Papa Johns, La Tasca and many more. You can search on site using a postcode and in many cases exchange just £2.50 in vouchers for £10 towards your meal. Bear in mind this tends to be for food only – you’ll need to pay for drinks.


You can also exchange vouchers for cinema tickets – perfect if your children are pestering you to take them to see Earth to Echo.



Groupon offers you daily emails giving you a daily local deal. But, you don’t have to sign up to the emails to take advantage of their offers, you can just buy from their website. Once again, you will need to read the terms and conditions of any offer carefully – these offers are usually dated limited and there may be other conditions which may not suit you. Yesterday I found three deals for local attractions – today – just one – Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. But search and you might be lucky. Or just sign up to the daily emails and let the offers come to you.


Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Currently offering 25% off an all attraction ticket if you purchase it online – the all attraction ticket now covers the Royal Marines Museum, Explosion – Museum of Naval Firepower, The Royal Navy Submarine Museum and the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard (encompassing HMS Warrior, HMS Victory, the Mary Rose Museum, Action Stations and the National Museum of the Royal Navy.  If you gift aid it, your ticket will be valid for a whole year.

If you find any deals – add them to the thread in local chat and share the love.








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To celebrate the return of GBBO 2014…

In the spirit of (well not quite given the work involved, or lack thereof) the new series of Great British Bake Off 2014, we’ve got a No Whisk 3 Minute Meringue recipe for you.

And here is our video of the lovely Mary Berry answering Mumsnetters’ baking questions.

So dust off the beautiful mixer you bought during the last series and open the book you had for Christmas. It’s time to get your bake on.


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Kate Humble Supports Local

This gallery contains 16 photos.

Originally posted on Over The Bridge:
As I entered the edible garden of Humble by Nature and heard the sound of excited children, chatting away and having fun, my first question was answered- “Does Humble by Nature host educational school…

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Teatonics Mind Awakening Yerba Mate and Laid Back Botanicals

I was delighted to receive a box of Teatonics teabags in the post this week,  beautifully packaged in silver foil and wrapped in tissue paper in brown box with an equally lovely floral postal label too.  Expectations were high given the presentation of the product and I am delighted to report, weren’t disappointed.

Teatonics gift boxes are sent by postTeatonics are a new company, launching in March this year. Charles Grummitt and Rosie Marteau were travelling through South America when they first tried mate (pronounced mat-ay). Inspired by the traditional Paraguayan way of taking it as a remedy in combination with other herbs and flowers, they decided to get blending on their return to Dorset with yerba mate as their starting point.

Blending our teasThe company have produced two blends of tea, designed to compliment one another and bookend your day – Mind Awakening Yerba Mate for your morning brew and Laid Back Botanicals to soothe in the evening.


Teatonics pair of blendsStarting with the teabags in order I opened the Mind Awakening Yerba Mate around 10 am after the school run. Normally at this point in the day I am already tired after the usual routine and craving builders tea and biscuits. The packet yielded the delicious fresh smell of grapefruit and mint. I followed the instructions which indicate that water at 80 degrees is best, and so I added some cold water as well as water from the kettle to steep the bag in. I left it for around 4 minutes. The smell intensified as the bag steeped and the first sip provided me with a lovely warm fruity taste, rich with grapefruit and citrus flavours. Although I could smell the peppermint, I couldn’t immediately taste it, but the tea was no worse off for that. Unlike so many herbal and fruit teas, which seem to smell lovely but taste only of the bag, this tea actually tastes every bit as good as the initial scent promises. No need for sweetener, this was refreshing, with a slight smoky grassy after flavour, and ideal for morning drinking.

Mind-Awakening Yerba Mate - ingredients

Dr Charles Grummitt, a biochemist turned tea blending entrepreneur explains the attractions of the South American ingredient:

“Yerba mate contains all the stimulation of coffee, tea and chocolate, but with none of the jitters and has a fantastic grassy, smoky flavour – reminiscent of a full-bodied green tea, but better. It’s used to boost metabolilsm and mental alertness, as well as to sooth indigestion and other ailments. We’ve complimented it with fresh, bright ingredients, like peppermint and grapefruit to give you a tea that is delicious and unlike any other tea you’ve tried.”

Interestingly, there are health benefits to the tea which include the following:

  • Better cognition and sharpened focus throughout the day, thanks to the yerba mate plant’s triple stimulation of caffeine, theobromine and theophylline.
  • Unique profile of antioxidants, vitamins and micronutrients to boost your immune system
  • Aid for weight loss, yerba mate activates your metabolism and reduces hunger

A member of the holly family and hugely popular in South America, yerba mate was analysed by the Pasteur Institute who concluded:

“it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value. It has almost all the vitamins necessary to sustain life”.

Now, I can’t tell whether my metabolism has been boosted after a few days, but I can report feeling much more alert and efficient after starting my mornings with a cup of MIND Awakening Yerba Mate as opposed to my former tipple of English Breakfast tea.

The second foil packet contains the second complimentary tea ‘Laid Back Botanicals’ which is a caffeine free blend of green rooibos, hops, elderflower, chamomile and lavender flowers. The primary smell from the packet on opening is lavender, which is a favourite scent of mine, and oft used during my pregnancies for a restful night’s sleep. Already a keen drinker of red bush tea also containing rooibos, I was looking forward to trying this blend. This tea is best using boiling water straight from the kettle and I left it to steep for around two minutes. No one flavour dominates this blend,  the chamomile, the elderflower and the rooibos all feature strongly with mere hints of the lavender and hops. Whereas I could take long draughts of the Yerba Mate, this tea demanded to be sipped slowly. A soothing blend, and one which did induce a relaxed state, quite a feat in this household of seemingly a million children (ok just two, but that’s plenty) under five. Fans of chamomile tea will certainly like this blend, which takes chamomile tea and makes it better.

The health benefits of this tea include:

  • Better digestion: green rooibos and elderflower cleanse and relieve indigestion
  • A more restful night’s sleep, care of hops, chamomile and lavender

Rosie, a Spanish translator and tea fanatic explains:

“Our blends are full of fresh, loose leaf ingredients, individually milled and gently infused – we think even coffee drinkers will be converted.”

I can’t comment on giving up coffee for these teas, I’ve never been a coffee drinker, too bitter for my taste, but I will certainly be cutting down on the English Breakfast tea in favour of the Mind Awakening Yerba Mate blend, which of the two, was my favourite.

The teas are sold in two week supplies, lending themselves beautifully to being one-off treats for yourself, or a gift for others, or in a three month course as part of a commitment free subscription. A two weeks supply costs £14 including postage and packaging, reducing to £12.50 if you take up a subscription.

You can order a beautiful box of teatonics by visiting their website http://www.teatonics.co.uk

Teatonics generously supplied the teabags for review, views are my own.


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Bursledon Brickworks, A Museum in the Making

DSC_0792I first discovered the brickworks by accident as I was researching things to do for the Easter break. A brickworks you say? Sounds dull. And yes, it could be, in the wrong hands. But this museum is run by volunteers, and they are possibly the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers you’d ever have the pleasure of meeting.  Not just for Fred Dibnah Fans, the Brickworks has made a huge effort to appeal to families and children – no easy task given that the brickworks were abandoned in 1974 and left to decay for 2o years.

Founded in 1897  the brickworks closed in 1974, being too expensive to convert them to meet modern Health and Safety Regulations, and in 1990 the Grade II listed site was sold to Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust for the token sum of £1.

They were saved because of their unique history. For some reason the Victorian brickworks were never updated and when they closed the men working there were working in just the same way as their Victorian and Edwardian forefathers. The site has been recognised nationally as one of high significance and is the only steam driven brickworks left in the country.

The Brickworks were turned into a museum in 2007 and in 2012 received a Heritage Lottery Grant of £660,000 to help create a fully functioning museum open on a regular basis.  The works are due to complete in 2015 and various works in progress can be seen around the site.

We visited on Father’s Day which happened to be the Country Fair Gala Day.  Gala days are held once a month on a Sunday and each have a different theme. The admission on a Gala Day is a £1 extra on top of the ordinary admission fee, and the museum is normally open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

On arrival we were confronted by a man dressed as a cow unicycling and playing a bugle which was highly amusing to the 5 year old and slightly alarming to the 1 year old. The site is an old industrial site, and as we had been warned to expect, the paths and flooring are uneven and you need to take care.  Crossing the narrow gauge railway line we passed the miniature railway to get to the reception and soon realised that we should have brought some cash with us. Having become accustomed to museums including all attractions within the entrance price we were caught out when we realised that we would have to pay extra for the train rides on either railway, and that there were stalls which would only take cash. The children, having already spotted the trains were determined to ride, and so a quick trip back to the car and search for a cashpoint ensued for my husband whilst we amused ourselves with a large collection of vintage penny slot machines which take old pennies.  I happened to have a little bit of change with me which allowed me to obtain five old pennies to use on the machines.

cafe_cakesMy husband returning triumphant we commenced our tour of the brickworks in the only sensible way possible with two small children, by feeding them in the café. There are tables in the café and also out in the adjoining room which contains the slot machines and outside overlooking the playground.  There isn’t a lot of room and large pushchairs will get in the way (as we discovered with our enormous 3 wheeler), but there are two highchairs and the food is reasonably priced, with a choice of sandwiches, jacket potatoes, pasties and sausage rolls. We sampled the sausage buns, and promised ourselves we would go back for tea and cake later, having salivated over the display of home made cakes.

Suitably fortified we wandered off into the brickworks. Initially, the museum reminded me of the museums I visited as a child, with large display boards and explanations but little in the way of interaction. This improved as we went around the displays, and it was possible to see where the museum is headed in terms of making the brickworks more appealing to younger visitors.

The museum tells the story of bricks and brickmaking from the early days right through to industrialisation.  The idea behind the route around the museum is to take visitors through as if they were a lump of clay being turned into a brick.

steam_engineWe were rewarded with gasps from the children when we got to the brickmaking machine and the first signs of interactive displays, as there was a box of plastic cogs for the children to play with and experiment with and it allowed me to discuss with the 5 year old how the machine worked.

My son, who is 20 months and a fan of all things moving and mechanical simply stood and stared, fascinated at the moving parts of the machine.

There were volunteers on hand giving explanations and if I had been allowed to listen (children not being particularly patient) I am sure it would have been very interesting.

Moving into the boiler room we met a volunteer who offered to let us try the model steam engine, and explained how it all worked and then told us a little about the history of the boilers. My daughter was more willing to listen here as she could touch the miniature model  – touching things being a necessary part of looking at them when you are five.

At this point we nearly missed the next section of the museum as it wasn’t obviously marked but we made our way into a room with further display boards and a video playing. I had no time to take in any of these exhibits before my daughter ran off to examine the model office complete with manual typewriter and old style telephone. She was rather taken with the typewriter but more impressed with a wooden box filled with sand with odds and ends hidden in it including bolts and cigarette cards. I couldn’t see anything explaining the contents, but quite possibly missed this as my daughter darted between displays with a typical 5 year olds attention span. Also in this room were a blackboard and an invitation to try to work out wages in todays money and a spinning wheel setting out a typical day for a worker in the brickworks.

The rooms led to the drying room and past the recently installed lift. This is the only lift in the building and is labelled as a disabled lift. There was nothing on the lift to say whether or not it could be used for pushchairs but having checked, you can indeed use the lift for pushchairs without having to notify staff you are using it.

making_bricksWe came out of the brickworks into the courtyard next to the Kiln and found stalls, country and western singing, dogs to pet, a working blacksmith and tractors for clambering upon. There were also a large selection of vintage cars on display. Having amused ourselves exploring those, I kept seeing children carrying small clay animals and bricks around and determined to try and find out where these came from as I hadn’t spotted any signs. I eventually found this in a room adjacent to the café with a door leading into the courtyard. On offer was a free clay modelling activity, and a brick making activity for which it was suggested you donate a £1.  My daughter spent quite some time making an elephant before abandoning it in favour of making a brick. Also in the room were rabbits and guinea pigs on display, being groomed by their keeper.

DSC_0778No visit would have been complete without a trip on the train which is priced at £1 for an adult and 50 pence for a child for one trip or £2 per adult and £1 for a child for three trips on either railway. The tickets can be used on either train. We tried the miniature railway first, which is of the ride on variety, which takes you on a short run around the back of the brickworks and back again.  The narrow gauge railway has carriages and takes you up to the car park the reverses back to the station, and past the carpark on the other side of the road before coming back to the station.  The volunteers explained that they would like to build a circular track eventually and that would certainly improve the experience. Both railways are short rides but very enjoyable.  All the monies charged goes towards restoring more narrow gauge locomotives.

I discovered, just as we were thinking of leaving, that there was a craft fair on upstairs and more exhibits. My son was asleep at this point in his pushchair so I took my daughter up the stairs and found lots of interactive games for children to play upstairs. I did feel it was a real shame that this wasn’t better highlighted as I had almost missed it.

The small playground is suitable for children aged 3-9 although my son had a fine time whilst supervised. The toilets are clean and there is a baby changing table in the disabled toilet.

We enjoyed our day out  and I do have a clay brick now, with my daughter’s initials stamped into the side, which will take pride of place, er, somewhere… Real effort has been made to make the Brickworks appeal to families and if Sunday was typical of  a gala day then it is a good day out.  The museum has potential to be better and undoubtedly it will be, given that works are on-going to improve it, and we will definitely go back on another Gala Day.

If you’re planning a visit, make sure the children have sensible shoes on and check the events on the website.  The next Gala Day will be on the 20th July 2014 ‘Around the World and Brick Again!’ and will be a celebration of other countries based on where the bricks were sold – and you are invited to come in fancy dress.






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