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Posts Tagged ‘family’

  1. AFF Review: Hoburne Naish, Hampshire

    July 7, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    I’ve always said that when you have kids, a holiday is just a case of “same stuff, different place”. In fact, holidays are abolished entirely when you have a toddler. You get a break from household chores and less toys to placate your little monster with. Could Hoburne Naish Holiday Park really give me and the family some well needed time off? As it turns out – yes!

    Becton Lodge living roomWe stayed in a Becton 3 bedroom lodge, with ample room for a family including a huge living space, very comfy sofas and very well presented kitchen. While the little one rearranged all the cushions, I was pleased to see more spacious sleeping quarters – en-suite on the master bedroom, tons of storage everywhere and OH MY WORD so many buttons. Buttons for the shower, for the lights, for the slightly higher lights, for the heating, for the windows, for everything. I also had a nosy around the showhomes to see what caravan accommodation was like. Again, spacious, bright and would be a lovely place to spend a week.

    The grounds are very well kept – no litter, looks great, lots of space. (I’m big on space – can you tell?) Indoors there’s the standard ents space, bar, restaurant, arcade gallery, soft play area and indoor pool. Pools – plural! There is a standard pool plus a separate low water level fun pool for little ones with splash area and squirting octopus installations. The on site shop is great value – an inflatable ring for only £1.15, making it less painful when it was instantly shunned by the 3 year old.

    playOutdoors, families can take advantage of being right on the beach, Adventure Golf (VERY reasonable at £1/player), tennis courts, football areas and a heated outdoor pool. Plus an extensive play area for children, with a separate area for toddlers. This appeared very well kept, bright and colourful but most importantly – safe. One thing that Hoburne Naish has really nailed is keeping kids safe. Specifically, there is ONE door leading to the outside areas (only accessible via the club house), ONE entrance to the play area and ONE entrance to the gated toddler area. Our daughter was able to run around having the time of her life without us chasing her – we just knew she was safe. Kiddie wristbands are available too if your little one is prone to wandering.

    Everywhere is clean and tidy with welcoming staff on reception and the doors. The restaurant is a bit pricy – paying £11 for a branded pizza which you can buy in the supermarket for £3.50 seems cheeky – but remember that you are on holiday and are paying for the privilege of someone else doing the prep and washing up and it’s quite acceptable. Mind you, I was hugely impressed with the children’s menu. Through practice, our toddler can expertly clear a plate designed to feed a 10 year old, such is the way with child menus. However, Hoburne Naish offers a Tommy’s Tots menu for littluns alongside a Sammy Squad menu for older children. Brilliant!

    coastAs well as all the options available on site, Hoburne Naish is a great base for exploring the local attractions and there are lots to choose from, including farms, woodlands, reptile experiences and of course THAT pink pig’s world within Paulton’s Park. As we were only staying for a two nighter, the on site facilities were plenty for our little one’s needs.

    With our daughter only being three, she would generally hit The Wall around 8pm at which point we would return to our lovely lodge for the bedtime routine. Of course, a family has both children and adults, so what about some time for us? Admittedly, we did have a hot tub in our lodge, so with the little one safely in the land of nod, we did get a bit of us time too in the evenings.

    Our favourite bits: 

    • Having so much space in the lodge meant that, even on a grey rainy day indoors, no-one would tread on anyone’s toes. Very important if you’re planning a fortnight stint!
    • The Ents team were terrific fun in the evenings, getting all the kids involved and raising lots of laughs.
    • No pressure – no packed timetables to keep to, no overwhelming experiences, just the right amount of activities available for a relaxing time away.
    • Our 3 year old would have quite happily spent two days entertaining herself between the soft play and the outside play area. Can we bring those home please?
    • The hot tub. Because HOT TUB.

    What would have made it even more fab:

    • If we had taken our little Ikea step. We’ve all got one at home, haven’t we? There were no steps available on site at the time of our stay, meaning it was tricky for our toddler to be independent in the accommodation or loos. A step would have been brilliant.
    • If our accommodation had curtains instead of blinds. We had beautiful blinds (the interior décor was absolutely superb) but I was always on edge with so many cords dangling down in our little one’s sleeping quarters.
    • If we’d known more before we’d gone – website information is limited. There was a fancy dress night on the Sunday which we knew nothing about until the evening beforehand.

    We would definitely look at returning to Hoburne Naish for a longer stay – it’s not too late to book your summer break so check them out and let us know what you think!

    Hoburne Naish was reviewed as part of an assessment for Approved Family Friendly, raising standards for families when going on holiday or on a day out. See their website for information about more family friendly businesses who are going the extra mile to make your holiday even better.

  2. Life advice #13: Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

    April 20, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    13. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

    On Wednesday, I was a hero, a careless mother and a solution all in the space of half an hour.

    Little L had a tear in her eye as she cuddled her carer at the nursery when I picked her up. She’d become upset when they came in from playing in the garden. And along I came, the hero to rescue her from a world of … well, actually nursery is really lovely, so I’m not sure what had been upsetting her, but there  I was, and she ran to me for a cuddle. The hero!

    We arrived home and the tantrum began. From getting out of the car, to the door, to the living room, it was a wall of dribbly, flailing noise. For 10 minutes, it was this*:

    Banshee in training

    I tried talking to her. I asked her what was wrong. She flailed. She hit out. She would not be reasoned with. (And in fairness, you know, she is only two.) I could have put her on the Naughty Step – no point, it’d just rile her. I could have forced her to have a cuddle – no point, it’d just enrage her further and I’d get hit. So I walked away. Okay, I walked away and took a photo. The careless mother!

    But I took a deep breath. I calmed down. She took a deep breath too, a massive yawn, which doubled as obtaining a gulp of air strong enough to power a sonic boom of a scream. But this moment of calm gave me just two seconds to realise she was tired.

    So a story it was. (“Zoo Poo”, in case you’re interested). By the end, she was hu-hu-hu-huuuuuuuming away as little ones do after a tantrum. Time for a cuddle and a ‘how are you’. A solution!

    I need to take more breaths. Are you getting enough air?


    *And yes, that is a Knightmare shield and helmet in the background. What of it?

  3. We only went and did it, didn’t we?

    October 2, 2012 by Amy Hansford

    Wow, that was a long summer break, eh? A lot has happened.
    For one, Alex and I got married! It was an amazing day. I’ve not felt that chilled out for an age. The dress was gorgeous, the men were too, as was everyone else. Little L and all the kids were incredibly well behaved. Thanks to an announcement at the start of the ceremony, my father and I were able to enjoy our walk down the aisle and see everyone’s faces, not their phones. Fab. Little L was with us having cuddles for the whole thing. We did it all as a family. Not intended, not rehearsed, but just perfect.

    Our friends and family provided brilliant music during the ceremony. My incredible shoes brought both a world of wonder and a world of pain. 1400 shoes on, 1545 shoes off. Thank goodness for my leopard print pumps.
    Pinewood Studios made an amazing venue. It was wonderful for us to be able to give all our friends and family the gift of being able to have a good mooch around the beautiful gardens including secret bits here and there.

    Tons of wedding photos by the incredible Ben and Tim at Milkbottle Photography be here.

    Brlliant food, brilliant company, brilliant speeches. We had a ‘DON’T BLINK’ sign on the only statue in the garden. Mario, Peach and Toad topped our wedding cake. Everyone had a scrumptious brownie favour from The Brownie Company. We did the wedding waddle. We drank*. We sang. We laughed. We cried (but only when no-one was looking). We have a hilarious guest book thanks to brightly coloured pens and Polaroid cameras and wonderfully thoughtful friends and family. We were surrounded by our loved ones for our last dance, ‘Good Guys’ from Bugsy Malone. We waved as we skipped out, followed by our guests singing and waving along. It was like the end of our own perfect movie.

    Or rather, the beginning.


    *I only had a tiny bit of alcohol. I’m not pregnant, don’t worry. I just didn’t want to drink. And I’m so glad. I remember every detail.

  4. April update

    April 26, 2011 by Amy Hansford

    A quick round up of this month:

    It’s been a time of getting the hang of this whole parenthood lark, Little L meeting all our friends and family (still have a few of her aunts, cousins, an uncle and great aunts to cover) and us coping with the inevitable overstimulation once this has all occured.

    Momentous occasion last night – Little L slept in the big cot in her nursery for the first time. She was in the pram in our room for the first month. I don’t think she noticed. She actually slept better for not whacking her feet/hands against the side of her container, so it was good Zs all round.

    In other news, I’ve managed to find a local non-grading tap class! It’s only taken two years. Looking forward to starting that next week. I understand it’s a good idea to have something regular to get you out of the house when a babby’s born.

    Also, I’ve signed up with an online wedding forum, mainly to start stealing ideas from other brides to be. It’s fascinating for several reasons. The hatred these women have for so many people involved in their big day; some aren’t engaged yet and are already fantasising; the speed at which people flash (the practice of posting a picture on a themed thread, ie wedding venue, rings, shoes etc); the use of ‘STD’ to mean ‘Save The Date cards. So far we’ve come up with silly ideas that won’t be used, which is more fun actually.

    That’s the ho hum update for you – more interesting tales next time (one hopes…)

  5. May I present… Little L!

    April 6, 2011 by Amy Hansford

    Been a while, eh?

    Last time I blogged, our baby was pretty much due. But there was no exciting birth for a good while – after a week of contractions, I was taken into hospital for the big event, waving goodbye to the inflated (and HUGE) birthing pool in the comfort of our living room. Wednesday night on the labour ward floated by on a bed of Epiduralness, followed by one heck of a heave ho on Thursday morning. Two hours, a wealth of contraptions and a fiance’s fully squeezed hand later and Little L was born!

    Little L was born at 10.03am on Thursday 24th March 2011, weighing in at 7lb 4.5oz.

    We were allowed home on the Friday to start life as a new family; The Hansfords.

    It’s taken me this long to blog for obvious reasons – babies are incredibly tiring. They wake for feeds at 2-3 hourly intervals, and while you intend to nap when they nap you often find yourself catching up on chores instead, making you knackered. Additionally, I was pretty poorly after the event and it’s taken me until now to be able to operate as a normal, mobile human being. Alex (my partner) has been looking after Little L and I for the past fortnight – an absolute rock. He is an amazing man and – sorry ladies – he’s mine.

    At two weeks, Little L is getting used to life with her slightly silly parents. Alex’s dad jokes are coming into bloom, as are his gurning skills. I’m enjoying cuddles and building up the bond with Little L that I didn’t quite manage to forge in the early days.

    I will try not to make this blog entirely baby/child-centric. Normal people lead normal lives and have things to talk about. I’ve been encompassed by babyness and little else the past month, so that’s my subject area of knowledge. The more inane and odd topics will resume in due course, I’m sure. But until then…. awwww, ain’t she a cutie?

  6. Ring a ring of roses

    February 26, 2011 by Amy Hansford

    On Thursday night we popped down to our local lovely pub, The Olde Swan for some dinner. They always do gorgeous, gorgeous food and the staff are always great fun. After a top steak and chips followed by scrummy ice cream, I popped away from the table for a few moments.

    When I came back, Alex was twirling a very shiny diamond ring on his little finger, at which point he suggested it didn’t really fit him very well so maybe I should wear it instead.

    So all great happiness this weekend as he proposed and I said yes :o)

    I now have a fiance, and he a fiancee!

  7. When things go bump in the night

    April 14, 2010 by Amy Hansford

    The time has come (the Walrus said) to speak of spooky things. To give you a little history about me and my family, The Lodge has been the family house since about 1994. From then until about 2006, it contained my mum, me (popping home from uni for four years of it) and my dad. Since 2006, my sister has lived there with her three kids. Prior to this it was owned by an old lady about whom little is known, and before that it was part of the nun’s estate next door. Before that it was part of the land owned by the Earl of the town, and before that… goodness only knows. Either way, it’s an old house.

    When we first moved in it really looked like a bomb had hit it. It was dilapidated – children were afraid to knock there on Halloween for fear of what was inside. We had a camper van at the time so some of the residents had assumed we were squatters to begin with. My dad redid the entire place, adding a big extension on to the kitchen (was was pantry sized) and an extra room. It was proper old – we were ripping off the wallpaper and found an additional door into the kitchen, previously hidden. Nothing exciting, no portal to another world, just a door between the hallway and the kitchen, but the plaster that was coming away contained horse hair and everything. So everyone understands it’s an old house with lots of history, right? Right.

    Some more backstory now – since I remember, the house has been haunted. Yep, I’m cutting straight to the chase here – there are dozens of anecdotes I could share, and I probably will in time, but the important thing here is that when everyone’s gone out for the day, the house is not empty. When you think you’re alone, something happens to prove that you most definitely are not. Depending on who you are and what’s going on, the house will either be welcoming or looming.

    What we do know is that we have evidence of this ghostery. The form of that evidence… well, you’ll have to stay tuned for that.