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EE FR Thames Valley West

November/December 2012 Issue 62 •

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ISSUE 62 • NOV/DEC 2012

Visit us now at www.

4 6 8 10

News & Views Mosaic Crafts Education News Left Out? Helping a child who is left-handed

12 Early Years Special 12 14 15 18

19 20 24 26 28 31

Mums in Business Sensory Play Early Years Directory Library Activities

Competitions Diary Dates Pantomimes Days Out with Santa Gift Guide Xmas Survival

Editor’s Letter

The first signs of Christmas may have appeared in the shops way back in September, but here at Families we have managed considerable self-restraint. That is until now! You’ll find this issue packed with all things Christmassy - from pantos and festive days out to gift ideas and Santa spotting opportunities. There’s also a lovely mosaic craft activity featured on page 6, perfect for creating home-made presents. The Under 5s are well-catered for too. Turn to our activities directory starting on page 15 for lots of ideas to keep babies and tots busy over the coming months. You’ll also find information about local library song and story times and details of how to create a sensory treasure basket for your little one. Is your child left-handed? If so, don’t miss our article on page 10 which looks at some of the most common problems faced by left handers and some tips for helping them out. And, with Anti-Bullying Week coming up in November, we have some useful advice from an expert about how to beat the bullies. Finally, we would like to wish all our readers, advertisers and distributors A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS! Karen and Jane

To advertise: Tel: 0118 954 6893 Contact us:

Our front cover photo is courtesy of F&F at Tesco

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Designed by: Graphic Resolutions 01438 871600 Next issue: January/February – Pregnancy/Birth, Health Booking Deadline – 1 December Competitions Winners from September/October issue Odds Farm Park tickets: Jacquie Gee, Karen Higgins, Rebecca Boulton, Lainey Mitchell. Berkshire Arts Academy: Amanda Bayley. Attach-a-Tag: Heather Whitton

Free Drama Class Watch your child’s self-esteem soar with Perform’s unique drama, dance and singing classes. Our weekly workshops will do wonders for their social, linguistic and physical development as well as being the best fun they’ll have all week.

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News & Views

Lots more on our website Find Fireworks Displays at fireworks For Family Theatre visit theatre Tips for a stress-free Xmas at Stressfreechristmas

Halcyon move to Woodley Halcyon offer a wide range of beauty, relaxation and wellbeing services for men and women. Formerly based in Twyford, the business has just re-located to bigger and better premises opposite the shopping precinct at 9 Headley Road, Woodley. Their treatments range from innovative oxygen and electrical therapies to make your skin firmer and more youthful to manicures and pedicures, spray tanning, waxing, electrolysis and detox body wraps. For those seeking relaxation, there are soothing massage and relaxation treatments including aromatherapy and visualisation. Packages can be tailored for hen parties, pamper days, weddings or for pre- or post-natal pampering, the perfect Christmas gift for a new mum. Find out more by visiting or calling 0118 969 3535. • Halcyon are offering Families readers 25% off all treatments. Turn to page 19 for more details. Pamper yourself at Halcyon

To advertise call 0118 954 6893 or email

Playgroup with a difference Sunbeams Parent & Child Group is a group with a difference, offering a peaceful haven in the midst of a hectic life. The focus is on calm, imaginative play – with beautiful toys made from natural materials. The two-hour session begins with free play for the children, whilst parents can participate in a simple seasonal craft if they wish. These sewing and paper-crafts give parents a chance to learn something new. After tidy up – accomplished with a song – all

share together a wholesome organic snack of fruit and rice cakes. Each session finishes with a short circle time, ending with a ‘goodbye’ song. Sessions are just £7 (concessions available), including snacks, paid half-termly, and allow parents a chance to nurture their children naturally from the start. The groups meet weekly in Aldermaston and Newbury during term time. Contact Alder Bridge on 0118 971 4471 or uk to arrange a free taster session.

What do busy working parents need? With more parents working, trying to juggle the work/home balance can sometimes be harder than it looks. However, help is at hand. Mummy’s Maid has been set up with the busy professional in mind. Their Busy Professional Service Plus offers families a dedicated Maid who will adapt to your busy schedule and provide you with a personalised package to accommodate your needs whether you need help with childcare, homework, washing, ironing, tidying up or cooking the evening meal. Each of their contracts starts from as little as two hours, so you are not tied into lengthy contracts, and all of their employees go through a rigorous vetting process of face to face interviews, enhanced CRB checks and reference checks giving you peace of mind. Their motto “An Extra Pair of Hands That Understand” sums it up. Most of their Maids are mums themselves and therefore experienced in running a home and looking after children. If you would like further information on the services Mummy’s Maid can offer visit or call 0845 463 0075.


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News & Views Let the childcare experts work their magic KiddyKare Nannies’ expertise in providing Nannies helps them to select the right type of person to care for your little ones; they pride themselves on providing the personal touch.

Why choose KiddyKare Nannies? • They arrange a home visit to get a better

understanding of your requirements. • They interview all nannies face to face for a better judge of character. • They check references, ID and qualifications. • KiddyKare is run by childcare professionals who can help and advise you. • KiddyKare Nannies have been approved as a

‘Recommended Agency’ by the Good Nanny Agency Guide and Best Bears. They are also a member of The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC). Find out more, call 01628 675828 or email

Brain Tumour Research – Wear A Hat Day Join in Wear a Hat Day on 28 March 2013 and help fund the fight against brain tumours. Wear a Hat Day is a fun way of increasing awareness and getting people raising money for an often overlooked form of cancer. Brain tumour research receives less than 1% of national cancer research spending in the UK yet this deadly disease kills more children and adults under 40 than any other cancer. Wear a Hat Day is an annual opportunity for people to wear a hat to raise awareness and funds for vital research into brain tumours. A day when people are encouraged to make donations in order to wear a hat to school, at work, at social events or even at home. From sponsored silences to charity runs and bake sales, schools, playgroups, pre-schools and nurseries around the country are being encouraged to raise money in any way they can. Find out more at and register your interest today by emailing


A wealth of expertise on your doorstep We provide a comprehensive financial planning service and offer specialist advice in a wide range of areas including: • • • •

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Crafts Join Reading Swimming Club Central Pool, Battle Street, Reading

Club Night: Thursday from 4.30pm

Why not book a trial? Contact:

Website: Learn to Swim:

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Continue fitness program Competitions at Masters level Berkshires only senior water polo club.

Show Audition for kids! ‘the cat in the hat’ musical... If you’re aged 7—16 and love performing, come and join the fun!

Create your own mosaic Local artist Teresa Mills has devised a simple mosaic project for children, exclusively for Families. It’s a great craft to try and perfect for creating unique Xmas presents. Mosaic is an absorbing craft for all ages, but children seem particularly responsive to it. Maybe it’s the puzzle-like design process, or the perfect look of the shiny vitreous tiles. This project allows almost anyone to complete a mosaic, working out their own design and learning to position, glue and grout the tiles. Whole tiles are used, so no dangerous cutting is required.

1. Get your baseboard and tiles ready. I used a pine IKEA mirror, but you can use any off-cut of plywood or MDF.

Informal auditions on Sunday 25th November from 1.30pm Full details at

2. Work out a design on paper - draw a simple template of the tile area by drawing around the baseboard. Then play around with the tiles trying different patterns and combinations to fit the shape. Try alternating rows by size, blending colours along rows or juxtaposing opposites. Carry on until you are happy, then double check everything is symmetrical and fits.

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Materials: ruler; pencil; paper; glue (PVA is ideal); grout (from hardware or specialist tile shops); baseboards (use off-cuts from hardware stores or buy cheap wooden items you can tile); 1cm and 2cm mosaic tiles. Note: Mosaic tiles can be expensive in hobby shops - try ebay or specialist mosaic websites: does some lovely good value tile packs; does larger mixed boxes.



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Crafts 3. Using the laid out tiles as a guide, measure pencil lines on the baseboard for each row. You need a gap between the tiles to be filled with grout, so the lines should allow for a between 1-3 mm extra. (For 2 cm tiles the lines should be between 21-23 mm apart.) 4. When you have drawn up the guides begin laying tiles from the top corner (top left if right handed, right if left handed). Apply enough PVA with a brush to glue 6 or so tiles at a time. The glue does not set immediately so you can prod the tiles with the other end of the brush to get them straight with even gaps. When done allow to dry overnight.

20 minutes to begin to dry. Then, using a damp sponge, clean off the residue from the surface taking care not to disturb the grout in the gaps. If the grout is not dry enough, leave a little longer. Buff up the tiles with a dry rag, leave overnight then give a final polish with a clean cloth and some glass cleaner if you have some. The finished mosaic is really enhanced by the grout, pulling the design together and lifts the brightness of the tiles.

For your FREE FIRST ADVICE please call either Manjit in Reading (0118 951 6180) or Jeff in Henley (01491 411884) or alternatively email:

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5. The next day an adult should grout the mosaic - children should not do this as grout contains lime, which is an irritant. Wear plastic gloves and follow the instructions.

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A mid-grey grout looks great with most colours - white fragments the design. Use a tile squeegee or a stiff piece of card to spread the mixed grout, pressing it into the gaps. Scrape off the excess and leave for

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If you or your children get the mosaic bug and want to move on to more ambitious things, Teresa has written “The Mosaic Artist’s Bible”. She’s also designed Mosaic Alphabet Kits which have everything you need to create a personalised letter in a cotton gift bag: a ply baseboard, shaped to exactly fit with the tiles included, glue and complete instructions. Ideal for a wet afternoon, a kids’ party activity or as a goody bag!

For more information go to

More to make and do at

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Bullying – How to help your child cope

Affordable private education

November 19-23 is Anti-Bullying Week but sadly it is a problem that, despite greater awareness, is on the increase. Wendy Bollen has worked as a counselling psychologist in schools and has done a lot of research into the causes and effects of bullying. She realised that the usual advice given didn’t work. Pupils are often told to ignore unkind comments, but that can lead to increased attempts by bullies to upset their victim. Based on her own experiences, and those of the young people she works with, Wendy has come up with a rather different approach which empowers pupils by teaching them how to stand up to a bully. “Most children don’t want to involve a teacher, but they do want to do something. I teach kids strategies to help them stand up for themselves by using assertive body language and practicing smart replies”, explains Wendy. “If you can show a bully that you really don’t care that they’ve said something horrid and even better, say something funny back to them it takes the wind out of their sails.”

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Here are Wendy’s top five tips on how to deal with bullies:


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important as what you say. “Stand straight, look them straight in the eye, say it clearly with a smile and then quickly walk away. Don’t hang around waiting for them to say something else.” She also emphasises that there are some things to avoid saying. “Never say anything about someone’s Mum! This is likely to escalate the situation.” Wendy has written a self-help book for 10-16 yr olds on how to beat the bullies. The Little Book of Retorts is set out in sections, which include information on the reasons behind bullying, why people become victims and techniques for dealing with fear and anxiety. Importantly, Wendy emphasises that children don’t have to have experienced bullying in order to benefit from the book. “Prevention is far better than cure and if children appear confident and untroubled by insults they are unlikely to become a victim.” Costing only £1.91 it is available as an ebook from Amazon Kindle, ibookstores, Sony and Apple but can also be purchased in PDF format from the website

• Look confident-stand up straight and look them in the eye if they say something to you. If you look scared a bully is much more likely to pick on you. • Stay calm and practice slow breathing. If you feel less anxious you’ll look more confident. • Even if you feel upset, don’t show it until you are out of sight. Bullies enjoy seeing their victims upset, so by letting them see you upset you are rewarding them and they are likely to continue. • Likewise don’t let them see you’re angry - the aim is to show bullies that you’re really not bothered by what they say. • Use humour - a witty retort is unexpected and shows bullies that you are confident and don’t care what they say to you. In fact, you think it’s funny. Other An example of a smart retort might be, “I’m sorry, I’m busy right now, can I ignore you later?” Wendy stresses that how you say it is just as

Visit us now at www. 16/10/2012 09:32 am

useful websites:


Education School Noticeboard

The demise of the GCSE by Joanna Parry Education Secretary Michael Gove is to replace the existing GCSE exam system with new, tougher qualifications in a major overhaul of the exam system. The new English baccalaureate – the EBacc - will replace GCSEs with single, more

difficult examinations in the biggest change in the system for over 25 years. The new exams are likely to do away with the existing continuous assessment modules, will reintroduce the traditional 3-hour examinations and restrict the number of top grades awarded. In fact, one of the key aims is to

Waverley Preparatory School and Nursery The unique nurturing, family ethos of Waverley Preparatory School and Day Nursery is one of the key features of their outstanding success across all age groups. Babies from 3 months are cared for in the spacious Lodge by experienced, dedicated staff. The children take part in a wide range of activities, creative, musical and physical including regular trips to the library and local parks. Children in the Nursery are very much part of the Waverley community making the transition through to the Pre-Preparatory department easy and stress free. Independence and creativity are very much the goal in the Foundation Stage Studios where, inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, children are encouraged to take an active part in their own learning journey. The nurture, independent learning and high expectations of all children continue throughout the Preparatory department and lead to exceptional results at Year Six and great success in Secondary school entry. For further information please visit or to arrange an appointment contact the school office on 0118 1121. 973 1121


remove starred grades entirely and make sure that far fewer pupils win the top grades compared with the 3 in 10 pupils who currently receive As and A-stars. Teenagers will also be prevented from re-sitting individual modules and will have to retake the entire exam if they want to improve their grades. The

government insists that these changes will end “grade inflation and dumbing down” and comes after both Coalition parties have shown themselves keen to see the introduction of more rigorous teaching and exams in key subjects, however they are not scheduled for introduction until September 2018.

First Headmaster for St Joseph’s College Andrew Colpus has become the first Headmaster of St Joseph’s College, Reading. The school, which was originally St Joseph’s Convent, became co-educational two years ago and changed its name to reflect its mixed status. Whilst it is a Catholic school it welcomes boys and girls of every faith or none. Andrew was previously Second Master at Reading Blue Coat School and therefore knows the area well. His appointment comes at a time of exciting developments for St Joseph’s. This summer saw the refurbishment of the Theatre, English wing and Broad Oak House, the Grade 2 listed building at the front of the College. St Joseph’s College educates children from 3 to 18 with its main points of entry being at ages 3, 5, 11, 13 and 16. The next Open Day is being held on 20 November. More information can be found on the College’s website or by phoning the Registrar on 0118 966 1000.

Sixth Form Subject Fair: Fri 16 Nov 5.30pm Senior School at Work: Wed 21 Nov 9.15am Senior School at Work: Wed 23 Jan 9.15am

Personal tours available at your convenience, please call Nursery 0118 979 3964, Prep 0118 989 2562 or Senior 0118 974 8300 Wokingham, Berkshire RG41 5BG

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Left 1 in 10 children are left handed, but many fail to get the support they need in the early years of their education. Experts say teachers aren’t given the proper training and schools don’t have the right resources. Sarah Butters is mum to a left handed daughter. She takes a look at some of the most common problems faced by left handers and some tips for helping them out. Messy Handwriting If you have a child who is left handed, chances are they haven’t been taught to write. Most are simply allowed to use their left hand. As the right handed parent of a left handed child I admit to having that same attitude. I now know that I was completely wrong. Left handers push the pen across the page, whereas their right handed friends will pull. This can lead to smudging and untidy work which in turn leads to anxiety on the part of the child. At an early stage a left handed child should be encouraged to master the correct handwriting position and paper placement to avoid problems as the writing assignments increase. The paper should be rotated to 45 degrees with the hand and wrist below the writing. Any pen needs to be held in a strong 3 point grip. In Early Years this can be supported with a triangular bodied pencil or a moulded grip around a regular pencil. If your child can get into good habits from the start of their school life, they will avoid problems when they graduate to a fountain pen and longer writing assignments.

Hook Grip Some left handers use a hooked grip to avoid the problem of smudging, and angle the pen in the same way a right hander would. This causes more problems than it solves. The hook grip becomes more uncomfortable the more you write. It leads to an overtight grip and aching hands which in turn lead to messy handwriting. The wrist should always be below the writing line. If PAGE 10

Thames Valley West

your child is developing a hook grip, consider introducing a sloped surface to resolve the problem.

Elbow Collision At some point your child will have to share a desk and if they’re left handed this can be a problem. “I always end up banging elbows” explains my 9 year old daughter. “That makes my writing messy.” Your child should always be placed at the left hand side of a shared desk or next to another left hander. This gives them plenty of space to get their paper positioned correctly and avoid knocking elbows with a right handed neighbour.

White Boards They’re a teacher’s best friend but a left handers worst nightmare. White boards and chalk boards are a great learning tool in the modern classroom - pupils can get rid of mistakes easily without using endless pieces of paper. However, if you’re left handed you can end up erasing as you write. Good grip and placement of the board gives left handers half a chance. However if your child isn’t completing white board work quickly or neatly enough, it may not be their fault.

Mirror Writing I remember being hugely concerned when I discovered that my daughter had completed a Reception assignment using mirror writing. She had begun her words on the right hand side of the page and written from right to left. It’s common in left handed children and when you think about it, it makes sense. If they are sat next NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012



Supporting your left handed child sure whatever pen you choose has a good grip so it’s easy to hold even when hands get hot and tired. Pencil grips and left handed pens such as the Stabilo Easy Left-handed pens, illustrated below, make life a lot easier.

Lack of Understanding

to a right hander, they are simply mirroring their work. Encourage them to start on the left hand side of the page by placing a coloured star in the margin as a reminder.

Computers Most ICT rooms are set up with the computer mice on the right hand side of the keyboard. This gives left handed children an automatic disadvantage because they either need to move the mouse or attempt to use their right hand.

Don’t presume the teacher knows your child is left handed. Be sure to let all the staff involved with your child know they’re a left hander and will need a different workstation set up.

The ‘Right’ Equipment Many left handed children learn the basics with the wrong equipment. Give a left handed child some right handed scissors and they’ll find the blade is upside

down and so they can’t see the line they are cutting. It means the child has less control and think of themselves as messy. This can be a real problem in the Early Years. Check your school has left handed scissors to offer your child. Ambidextrous scissors don’t exist – trust me! As they progress to writing, shiny barreled pens are to be avoided. Make

As a right hander, I never appreciated the challenges faced by my daughter. Until she mastered left handed writing, she was labelled untidy in her written work and lost enthusiasm for putting pen to paper. It wasn’t until I began researching this piece that I realise how much of her attitude is linked to the hand she writes with. The bad news is she’s had a more challenging time than her right handed pals. The good news is she’s in good company. Barack Obama, Leonardo Da Vinci and Bill Gates are all lefties. Now that’s not a bad club to be in!

Useful Resources www.anythingleft-handed. has some great left handed guidance sheets for parents and teachers. It’s also a super source of left handed equipment. another great website with some top tips for parents looking to support their left handed child.

You Can Make a Difference Keith Milsom campaigns for better support of left handed children in our schools and offers some advice about what to expect from your child’s school. “Despite decades of campaigning and a string of promises from government ministers and teacher training authorities, there is still virtually no guidance provided to teachers on helping left-handed children and no process for identifiying left-handers in schools. Make sure you talk to your child’s teacher to ensure they know that he/she is left-handed and may need assistance and advice. Ask your child’s teacher to talk YOU through the support they’re going to give, so you can be sure they really understand. If you’re concerned, refer them to the teacher guidance sheets available from The school should have left-handed scissors available and pens that will help left-handers write in the correct style. If children are left to their own devices it is very unlikely they will find writing and cutting out easy. Apart from the practical difficulties this can mean they are working more slowly than the rest of the class and lose some of their confidence - especially if the teacher tells them off for “not doing it right”. Lefthanders can end up underperforming at school and having difficulty with written exams as a result of a lack of informed guidance at an early stage. It’s important parents keep the pressure on schools to support their left handed children.”

More education articles at

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Early Years

Mums in Business – Early Years Special

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The art of communication Reading mum Michelle Webb discovered the advantages of baby sign language when her son was born. She told us: “We took Matthew to TinyTalk baby signing when he was 5 months, within three months he’d started signing himself, it was amazing! It took all the guesswork out of trying to work out why he was crying or what he needed, he just signs what he wants.” Michelle was so Michelle with Matthew impressed with the difference signing made to communication with her baby that she wanted to share the experience with others. She decided to set up her own business as a franchise of TinyTalk UK. Previously a Compensation and Benefits Analyst, Michelle has now found a new use for her training, communication and people skills. She can choose her working hours and her business really is a family affair. Michelle’s husband and mum often help out and Matthew attends classes with her. “He is so good at signing and speaking that he is a really good advert for TinyTalk.” “There aren’t many downsides but you do have to be prepared to do the leg work in order to get your business off the ground. Good organisational skills are essential. My aim is to teach 6 baby classes a week and eventually to undertake the necessary training to teach toddlers too.” Michelle’s TinyTalk classes consist of signing, singing and play and currently run in Bracknell and central and south Reading. To find out more visit

New Turtle Tots Swim Classes starting soon in Berkshire!

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Mums-to-be and new mums and babies will soon be able to sign up to Turtle Tots classes at locations in Berkshire. Swimming teacher and mum-of-two Jodi O’Connor has taught swimming to babies throughout the region for several years, but has recently completed additional training, enabling her to run her own Turtle Tots business. Turtle Tots is a new and unique swimming programme. It begins with Turtle Tums - aqua-natal yoga classes for pregnant mums, and continues with Turtle Tots specialist baby and swimming classes. Not only does the programme focus on teaching babies and young children to swim, it also promotes pre-natal and post-natal fitness and provides an excellent toning workout for mums which can burn up to 250 calories in a single class! Of course the programme is open to dads as well, who are more than welcome to come along! Jodi commented: “I’m really excited to be launching my Turtle Tots business in West Berkshire. The pools I will be teaching at are really warm so it’s perfect for babies; and teaching babies and toddlers to swim is not only fun, but incredibly rewarding because I’m teaching them an important life skill. What’s more, a percentage of every class cost will be given to Birth Matters’ Kenyan Orphanage appeal, which I’m thrilled to be supporting.” For more information call Jodi on 01628 785 236 or 07823 885 328, email her at or visit


Early Years Work-life balance is a concept that few of us manage to get quite right. Here we talk to three local mums who seem to be doing very well juggling their family lives with running successful classes for the Under 5s. What they all share is a real passion and enthusiasm for their businesses.

Music with Mummy Michelle Yeates has found the perfect way to combine her two great passions, children and music. She has just started running Music with Mummy classes bringing music and fun to babies and tots in the Crowthorne and Sandhurst area. Michelle studied performing arts at college and went on to perform in various productions including some in the West End. After having her two children, she worked for a while in a nursery, which she loved, before striking out on her own. “I have had great feedback from the public”, she told us, “and am now extending classes to meet popular demand. Music with Mummy and Jolly Babies will take your child on a musical journey from birth until they start school. They offer a wonderful opportunity to bond with your child, to make new friends and to have FUN!” Jolly Babies, suitable for birth to 1 year, and Music with Mummy, for the Under 3s, are structured classes designed to develop listening and social skills as well as speech development. They make good use of fun songs, disco balls and bubbles! Weekly classes are held in Owlsmoor Community Centre in Sandhurst and Crowthorne Methodist Church. To find out more, or to book a free trial lesson, contact Michelle on 01344 778 582 or email

Multi-Sensory Magic Liz Smale worked in travel PR before the arrival of her children, Freddie, now 5, and Ella, 3. However, the travel industry and babies are not an easy combination and, like so many mums, she felt the need to re-invent her career. A toddler and baby yoga business that Liz started went well, but then she attended Hartbeeps, a multi-sensory music class, with her children. “From the moment I saw it, I knew it was a class unlike any other. The music was so fabulous, the props were amazing and often hilarious, and the beautiful snuggle time at the end had me (and the kids) hooked.” Liz ‘negotiated’ with her husband for a few months, and then bought a Hartbeeps franchise. She has been astounded by its success: “The sessions deliver so much on an educational front and it is touching to see how the little ones progress week by week.” Liz runs 11 classes a week when her daughter is at pre-school and has three ladies that work with her delivering sessions throughout Bracknell, Maidenhead, Slough, Windsor and Northolt. “I’m so overjoyed I took the plunge. I absolutely adore everyone that comes to the sessions, and to be able to put a smile on someone’s face (or a duck hat on a mum’s head - you’ll have to come to a class to find out!) is an amazing feeling.” Hartbeeps classes are suitable from birth to 4 years. For more details call 01628 639 727 or visit

Specialist Baby & Toddler Swimming Classes Aqua-Natal Yoga Classes Come out of your shell and learn to swim the Turtle Tots Way! For more information call Jodi on: 07823 885328 / 01628 785236 or email:

Lots more clubs and classes at

Thames Valley West


Early Years

It’s time to play Sensory play doesn’t have to be all mud pies and puddle splashing. Early Years trainer, Sue Gascoyne, takes a look.

Take your child on a musical journey, with our lively, fun classes full of singing, movement and percussion Classes in Sandhurst and Crowthorne

Tel: O1344 778582 Email:

Don’t forget to tell advertisers you heard about them in To advertise call 0118 954 6893

55x90_multiple3:Layout 2 29/9/11 or email

For classes of pure MADness, Birthday join MAD Academy Parties too!

Call Trish on 0118 977 0050 or

Earley, Woodley, Caversham, Burghfield, Purley & Arborfield

Call Gemma on 01344 305688 & 07435754712 or Wokingham, Finchampstead, Crowthorne, Sandhurst, Bracknell, Hook, Camberley & Yateley

Call Emma on 0118 979 2695 or Maidenhead, Marlow, Henley & Charvil

Movement • rhythms • songs • instruments • games Music And Dance and a whole lot of fun!


Thames Valley West

Being a parent can be one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but also one of the most demanding, with plenty of conflict between the glittering ‘ideal’ of parenthood and the reality. Take sensory and messy play - most children are hardwired to get the most from resources like mud and water, but as adults we can struggle to appreciate their appeal, as well as finding time in our busy lives and embracing the mess and dirty 14:22 Page 1 clothes. Yet according to the Sensory Play Research project, over 60% of adult’s most vivid childhood play memories involve sensory-rich play outdoors - making mud pies, building dens and climbing trees. Nowadays, adult-free experiences like these are harder to offer, but if we make time for sensory-rich play it reaps rich rewards. It’s hugely satisfying and good for children as each sensory experience creates vital connections in the brain.

Make a Treasure Basket Sensory-rich experiences don’t just have to involve playing outdoors. A Treasure Basket, quite literally a basket of household and natural objects, can happily engage young babies through to six year olds (and older). As there are no actual toys, a spoon can be a wand or microphone and a purse a dolls bed, rocket, boat or host of possibilities! Children can explore, problem solve, create and discover to their hearts contents as there are no right or wrong ways of playing.

What you will need... • A sturdy basket, ideally round, straight-sided measuring 26-36cm across and 13cm deep. • A collection of interesting objects, e.g. rubber plug, spoons, napkin ring, shell, large pebble,

etc. Pick objects for child-size hands and include a mix of wood, metal, cardboard, fabric, shapes and colours to appeal to all the senses.

How children benefit? Increases concentration and focus and helps to develop muscle strength and skills. Gives meaning to words, e.g. soft, heavy, cold, rough. Encourages problem-solving and creativity and develops connections in the brain.

What else can I do? • Offer some of the objects next to a container of sand or water to see if and how this changes play. • Add dried rice, glitter or sequins to sand to change its texture or appearance. • Add natural seedpods and clean recycled pots to give children’s imagination a free reign. • Bury some ‘treasure’ in the sand and offer brushes and spoons to dig it up. Then examine them with a magnifying glass. In our time-stretched lives the biggest boost we can give to play is giving children the time, space and ‘permission’ to discover and explore simple and natural ‘treasures’ like these. Watching sensory-rich play is magical and can be fun for us too! Sue Gascoyne (BA, MA, MRTPI), has designed and run workshops to help practitioners introduce learning through play. Play to Z provides the Playscope range of quality playful learning resources, award winning training and research. The Playscope products are designed to expand the opportunities of sensory play with children of all ages to meet as many of the EYFS areas of development and learning as possible. To find out more visit


Early Years

Fun for the Under 5s This issue we turn our attention to classes for babies and pre-schoolers. We’ve listed as many activities as we could fit but you’ll find lots more online at where you can also find details of clubs and classes for older children. Baby development classes

Gymnastics classes – suitable from 1 to 5 years at Pinewood Gymnastics Club in Wokingham. Soft play for babies, leading to more structured gymnastic activities for pre-schoolers, PAYG sessions also available 01344 773 237,

Baby College – fun, multi-sensory,

baby/child development classes from birth to 3yrs in Wokingham, Woodley, Lower Earley, Arborfield, Reading and Finchampstead (0118 979 8549) and in Bracknell (01344 885 146), Baby Sensory – award winning baby development classes for 0-13 months in Tilehurst, Sonning Common and Henleyon-Thames, (07788 652137, reading@; and Wokingham and Bracknell, (07733 982 534),

Kiddikicks – energy-burning football sessions for children aged from 18months up to 5yrs. PAYG available. Sunday mornings in Bracknell, 020 7937 7965,

Ligasoccer – football skills and minisided match play for children aged 5 to 8. Weekends in Bracknell, 020 7937 7965,

Leap Frogs – a range of gymnastics classes led by qualified coaches for 0-5yrs at Bulmershe Gymnastics Club, a purposebuilt facility in Woodley, on weekdays and Saturdays, 0118 926 3686,,

Meadowbrook Montessori School Parent and Toddler Sessions –

weekly educational programme of early learning and exploring activities for 18 mths-2½ yrs at Meadowbrook Montessori School, Warfield, 01344 890 869, TinyTalk – baby signing classes from birth-18 mths and Tiny Talk toddlers 18mths-4yrs in Ascot, Bracknell and Wokingham (07712 531 170); Calcot, Beenham, Caversham and Tilehurst (07787 147 807); Shinfield and South Bracknell (0773 427 1767); and birth-2yrs in Newbury and Ashford Hill (07855 416 019);

Little Kickers Football – fun football


weeks to crawling in the Bracknell and Ascot area. 07840 707435,

Bracknell Leisure Centre – mother and baby fitness classes on Wednesdays during term time. Suitable for babies up to 1yr, use your baby to tone up, 01344 454 203,

Baby massage and yoga

Maia House – Baby massage courses in Wokingham and surrounding areas. One to one or group sessions. Also yoga classes/ workshops for 4+yrs, Tanya 07904 087192.

Baby Sensations – a small independent Berkshire based company offering baby massage. Baby Sensations massage is a wonderful way to develop your relationship with your baby and have fun together. 0118 935 3759,

Rachel McCallum Therapies – baby massage, baby yoga and baby music & movement classes. Also pregnancy massage and pregnancy reflexology, 0118 975 8236,

Baby Yogis – Sarah provides baby yoga classes for mothers and babies aged 6

Exercise, gym and sports classes Bracknell Leisure Centre – fun soft play sessions for 6 months-4yrs with bouncy castle and trampoline; Tweenie Tumblers for 1-2yrs and Mini Tumblers for 2-3yrs with structured physical activities; Soccer Dribblers for 3-5yrs, learn basic soccer skills on Mondays or Saturdays, 01344 454 203,

Edgbarrow Sports Centre – in Crowthorne, trampolining and toddler gymnastics classes for 3-5yrs, bouncy castle/trampolining sessions for 1-5yrs and Soccer squirts for 3-5yrs. 01344 776 211, edgbarrowsportscentre

training sessions for 18 months-7 yrs in Reading Wokingham and Winnersh (07718 606765); and Henley, Marlow, Maidenhead and Stokenchurch (01628 526 584),

Meadway Sports Centre, Tilehurst – Tots Time sessions on Mondays (termtime only) for under 5’s with soft play, parent toddler swim, bouncy castle, arts and crafts, 0118 937 5060,

Playball – Multi-sport skills and fun. Giving kids a head start. Classes for ages 2-5yrs, Wokingham & surrounding area, 0779 664 5125,

Rivermead Leisure Complex, Reading – Toddlers World sessions from Tuesday–Friday with soft play equipment and bouncy castles. Parent and toddler drop-in swimming sessions and courses, 0118 901 5000,

variableNotNew classes in Sonning Common

We're having a Ball! For details and availability call: 07718 606 765 (Little Kickers Reading & Wokingham)

Fun, friendly, well researched Music and Movement classes for 0 to 3 year olds in Caversham and Sonning Common. For more details email or call 07500 220588 (Sonning Common) or 0118 9479673 (Caversham)


or email the team at Classes in Winnersh, Woodley, Reading, Tilehurst, Caversham, Wokingham & Crowthorne. Classes run throughout the week and weekends, mornings and afternoons.

01628 526 584 (Little Kickers Maidenhead) or email Ben at Classes in Maidenhead, Bourne End, Marlow & Henley-onThames. Classes run during the week and weekends, mornings and afternoons.

Approved football training for kids aged 18 months to 7 years

Find your nearest Toy Library at

Thames Valley West


Early Years Teddy Tennis – a fun way to get active and play tennis for 2½-6yrs. 50-minute sessions combine music, tennis and pictures into an interactive learning activity led by an LTA registered coach. Venues include Bracknell, 0845 643 1173, Thames Valley Gym – Playgym sessions for 1-4yrs with soft play equipment, trampoline, etc. on Tues and Thurs mornings. GymTot classes with structured circuits for 18 mths-3yrs accompanied by a parent. Gym classes for all ages, including Gymlets for pre-school children, at purpose-built gym in Sonning Common, 0118 972 4401 Tumble Tots (Bracknell Forest) – agility, balance, climbing and coordination activities with action songs. Gymbabes for 6+mths to walking and Tumble Tots for walking to school age. Classes in Bracknell, Crowthorne and Yateley, 07801 700812, Tumble Tots – agility, balance and coordination activities with action songs. Gymbabes for 6+mths to walking, Tumbletots for walking to school age, Gymbobs for school-age to 7yrs. Classes in Winnersh, Wokingham, Woodley, Reading and Finchampstead (0118 973 6711) and Henley, Maidenhead and Marlow (01494 880 063),

Swimming Many local pools also run parent and toddler swim sessions. For their contact details visit lesiurecentres Babies Go Swimming – specialised underwater swimming classes for babies from 8 weeks-14mths that include an underwater photograph and certificate. Classes in Crowthorne, Wokingham, Bracknell, Bagshot, Newbury, Reading, Burghfield Common, Woodley, Sonning Common, and Camberley areas, 0118 989 0543, Baby Splash – swimming classes for babies, toddler and children from birth to 6 yrs, based on play, word association, popular nursery rhymes and lots of fun. Classes are available in various locations throughout the week and on weekends and aim to teach your child how to love and respect the water, 0118 996 8958, • Book today quoting FAMILIES MAGAZINE and get 20% off Baby Swimming – for babies 3-14 mths in Sonning Common, Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, Farnham Royal, Slough, Oxford and Abingdon, 020 3176 5666, Bracknell Leisure Centre – swimming from 6+months upwards, various sessions, 01344 454 203, Coral Reef Waterworld – swimming lessons for all ages in Bracknell. Parent and baby/toddler classes from 6 mths3yrs and unaccompanied classes from 3yrs upwards, 01344 862 525,

JG Dance – ballet exercises, imaginative

Bracknell Leisure Centre ballet from pre-school to primary

GR Swimming Schools – children’s swimming lessons from 3yrs in Bracknell and Thatcham areas. 6 children per teacher, structured lessons, ASA award scheme, 0845 094 1575, JEMA Swim School – learn to swim and stroke improvement from 3yrs, ASA badge scheme. Parent/Toddler/Baby and Adult. At St. Mary’s School, South Ascot and Dukes Covert, Bagshot. ASA qualified teachers, 20yrs experience. Chris Shepherd 01784 455 205/ 07702 412090, Turtle Tots – specialist baby and toddler swimming classes and aqua-natal yoga classes for mums in Berkshire, 01628 785 236/07823 885 328, Water Babies – teaching babies from a few weeks old confidence and water safety in Burghfield Common, Bracknell, Reading, Wokingham, Slough, Maidenhead and Basingstoke, 01256 844926,

Music, drama and movement

Dramatix Productions run fun and innovative workshops which involve improvisation, mini plays, characterisation, confidence building, teamwork, mime and much more! They also hold 100% pass at merit and distinction for LAMDA (drama) examinations! Costs are £4/5.50 per week. Little performers aged 4-6, Junior drama 7-11, and Senior drama 11-17. Classes at Moulsford, Purley and Earley. Book a FREE trial www. or call Janine Coello on 07886 918 492. Bracknell Leisure Centre – ballet classes on Wednesdays, pre-school and pre-primary classes available, 01344 454 203,

Caterpillar Music – themed musical fun using puppets, props and instruments for 0-4yrs at Madhouse Play and Party World and Abbey Baptist Church in Reading. Free trial class, 0118 966 3314, Dancercise – Baby Ballerina classes for

All Stars Theatre Academy,

established over 45 years, is a premier dance and theatre academy in the Berkshire and Hampshire area. From beginner to experienced performer you will receive expert tuition in a variety of styles - Ballet, Tap, Modern, Jazz, Gymnastic dance, Street Dance, Drama and Singing. Classes from 2½ years in Burghfield Common, Lower Earley, Mortimer, Silchester, Tadley, Thatcham and Theale, Please contact Louise on 0118 986 8000,,

2½-4yrs in Caversham, East Reading, Sonning and High Wycombe, 0774 339 8844,,

Dance Reality – ballet, tap and street classes from 2½+yrs in Tilehurst, plus mini theatre school for 4-6yrs, 0118 942 1896,

Hartbeeps – original multi-sensory music classes using song play, lighting effects, innovative props and puppetry. Classes, suitable from birth to 4yrs, run in Henley, Bracknell, Windsor, Maidenhead and Marlow, 01628 639 727,

story dances, jazz dance movement, and beginners tap dance for 2½-4yrs in Caversham, Woodley, Tilehurst, Henley, Marlow, Bourne End and Twyford, 01491 572 000, Jo Jingles – fun and educational music, singing and movement classes for 3mths5yrs that can help develop social skills, confidence, co-ordination and language. All Jo Jingles programmes encompass the Early Years Foundation Stage goals. Also available for sessions in Nursery settings, playgroups and parties. Classes in Bracknell, Winkfield Row and Jennett’s Park (01344 484 473, ascot) and in Henley, Twyford, Cookham, Woodlands Park, Maidenhead, Windsor and Burnham (07590 434016, • See for introductory offer of 3 classes for £10 Kindermusik – fun and friendly music and movement classes from birth to 5yrs in Caversham (0118 947 9673) and Sonning Common (07500 220 588). Free taster class,, Little Dance Flavourz – fun-filled classes introducing dance to children aged 2-5yrs, including Bollywood, Latin, HipHop and Belly dancing. Classes in Maidenhead, Saturday mornings and Lane End, Tuesday afternoons, 01628 526 584, Little Quavers – informal music group for babies and pre-schoolers held at Henwick Hockey Club in Thatcham with rhymes, action songs and simple percussion instruments, 01635 200 112, MAD Academy – high-energy music, dance, movement and developmental games for children aged 3mths-4 yrs in Earley, Woodley, Burghfield, Arborfield, Purley and Caversham (0118 977 0050); Wokingham, Finchampstead, Crowthorne, Bracknell, Sandhurst, Hook, Camberley and Yateley (01344 305 688); and Maidenhead, Marlow, Henley, and Charvil (0118 979 2695). Mo’s Dance and Drama Schools – dance classes from 2yrs + in Lower Earley, Woodley, Caversham and Emmer Green, 0777 618 3689, info@mosdanceanddrama., Monkey Music – fun music classes from 3mths-4yrs with action songs and rhymes, music and movement, percussion instruments and musical games. Classes in Hungerford, Newbury, Thatcham, Bradfield, Mortimer and Henley (01635 860 959) and in Reading, Tilehurst, Caversham, Wokingham and Earley (01635 868 584),

Music with Mummy (Arborfield & Lower Earley) – fun and structured programme of music education in small friendly classes. Jolly Babies from birth to 1yr and Music with Mummy for 1-3yrs, 0118 954 0610,

Magical music & sensory play classes from birth to four years Contact us now for a FREE taster! Henley & Bracknell 01628 639727 PAGE 16

Thames Valley West


Early Years Music with Mummy – fun and

structured programme of music education in small friendly classes. Jolly Babies from birth to 1yr, Music with Mummy for 1-3yrs and Three Four Time for 3-5 yrs. Bracknell also offer Crescendo for 5-6yrs. Crowthorne and Sandhurst (01344 778 582); Wokingham and Woodley (0118 903 4808); Bracknell (01344 451 988,; Newbury and Thatcham (01488 639 374,; Must Dance – pre-school dance, ballet, street, children’s parties, adult streetfit and Zumbatomic® classes from 18mths to adult in Sonning Common, Reading and Emmer Green, 07500 933023, Perform – drama, dance and singingbased workshops for 4-8 yrs, plus lots of holiday courses. A mixture of confidencebuilding games, energetic dances and catchy songs held in Newbury, Pangbourne, Twyford, Caversham, Wokingham, Henley and Crowthorne, 0845 400 1283, Razzamataz Theatre School – run Minis classes for 4-5yrs every Saturday at Emmbrook Senior School, Wokingham and Fridays at Waingels College, Woodley, 0118 979 1814/ 07970 034 488, South Hill Park Arts Centre – Twinkle Tots Ballet for 2-4yrs, Budding Ballerina classes for 4-5yrs and Mini Street Feet for 2-4yrs in Bracknell, 01344 484 123, Stagecoach Early Stages – dance, drama and singing for 4-6yrs, designed to introduce young children to the performing arts. Main school for 6-18yrs. Bracknell North 0845 055 6382, Bracknell 01753 664 105, Newbury 0870 061 3526, Reading East 01932 348 844, Reading West 0844 800 9482, Wokingham 0845 265 7050, Reading North 020 8567 5587 and Henley, High Wycombe & Marlow 01494 533 203, StageWorks – offer dance, drama and singing classes for 4-6yrs in Henley, Caversham, Cookham and Benson, 01491 877 205, The Talent Stop – fun classes for boys and girls introducing singing, dancing and acting with exams and shows in Ballet, Tap, Modern, Street Dance, Cheerleading and Zumba for the parents. Enrolment from age 2½ to teens in Earley, Sonning Common, Tilehurst, Thatcham and Sandhurst, 07875 593 837,

Arts, crafts and stories Make & Do – a contemporary craft

workshop in Caversham runs a weekly Craft hour for parents and over 3s. Children make, stick or paint while you enjoy cake and a hot drink. £5 for adult and child, £2.50 extra child, 0118 327 6717,

The Creation Station holds

award winning Exploration and Baby Discovery Classes for 6mths–5yrs in Wokingham, Bracknell and Windsor. Our exciting and educationally based workshops are tailored to your child with no stress or mess for you to worry about. Giving you essential quality time with your child in a safe and friendly environment. Come and try the classes with our buy one get one free offer, contact Carly on 0844 854 9180 or carly@ to book.

Swimming Lessons for Babies, Toddlers and Children from Birth to 6 Years Old. Love the Water Together! Come and See Why We are Different. Book Today and Receive 20% OFF When Quoting “Families Magazine”

Tales for Tots at Reading Museum – story time for the Under 5’s using objects from Reading Museum collection, every Wednesday, 10.30-11.30am, free drop-in, 0118 937 3400,

Taylor Tug’s Under Five’s Club – creative activity sessions for parents to enjoy with their children. Led by a trained teacher, sessions include craft, stories and song! Wednesdays, term time, at the River & Rowing Museum, Henley. Cost varies per half-term block. Must be booked, 01491 415 605, Toddler Time at MERL – the Museum

of English Rural Life, in Reading, runs Friday drop-in sessions, 10-11am and 1-2pm termtime, for parents with toddlers 2-4yrs. £2 per child. Rhymes, songs and craft activities based on objects in the museum or garden, 0118 378 8660,

Outfit from Monkey + bob, page 29

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT), organises

regular social events for both members and non-members including coffee mornings, Bumps & Babes sessions and Nearly New sales. It also runs excellent ante-natal and post-natal classes. Local branches include: Reading (0844 243 6246) Henley & District (0844 243 6160) Wokingham (0844 243 6332) Bracknell (0844 243 6058) Crowthorne & Sandhurst (0844 243 6099) Newbury & District (0844 243 6215)

Jo Jingles is Here! Fun Music, Singing & Movement Classes for children aged 3 months to 5 years Develop your child’s • Social Skills • Confidence • Co-ordination • Language • Listening Skills • Imagination

Britain’s leading National Physical Play Programme Classes in Winnersh, Woodley, Wokingham, Finchampstead, Reading

FREE TRIAL sessions available Call Helen on 0118 973 6711

For details on classes in: Winkfield Row, Jennett’s Park & Bracknell Leisure Centre Call Jackie on 01344 484473

Lots more clubs and classes at

Henley-on-Thames, Twyford, Windsor, Maidenhead & Burnham Call Andreas on 07590 434016

Thames Valley West


Early Years

Songs & Stories Bracknell Libraries (

If you thought libraries were very quiet places that just lent out books think again. These days, in the children’s section at least, the sound of singing and even laughter can often be heard. There may be stories being told, bells being jangled or even a spot of cutting and sticking taking place. These regular, and usually free, story, rhyme or craft sessions are a great way to get out of the house and meet other local families. They can also help to encourage a life-long love of books and reading in our children. We’ve listed below the regular activities running for Under 5s. Some have to be booked so check with your library. Wokingham Libraries

Reading Libraries



Rhymetime - rhymes and songs for babies 0-18 months, please book. Toddletime action songs and stories for 12-36 months, please book. Storytime for under 5’s, drop in.

Rhymetime - fun sessions for babies, toddlers and their carers. Storytime and Craft Sessions for the under 5s. Sessions at Caversham and Southcote must be booked in advance by contacting library

Finchampstead Library (0118 908

8176) Storytime - Fridays 11.1511.45am. Lower Earley Library (0118 931 2150) Rhymetime - third Tuesday in month 10.30-11am & 11.30am-12noon. Dads Rhymetime - selected Saturdays 10.30-11am. Storytime - Thursdays 2.303pm. Toddletime - first Thursday in month 9.45-10.15am. Spencers Wood Library (0118 988 4771) Rhymetime third Thursday in month 2.30-3pm. Storytime - Mondays 4-4.30pm. Wargrave Library (0118 940 4656) Storytime - Mondays 4-4.30pm. Saturday Storytime - First Saturday in month 11-11.30am. Winnersh Library (0118 979 7519) Storytime - first Wednesday in month 10.15-10.45am. Rhymetime - Last Wednesday in month 10.15-10.45am. Wokingham Library (0118 978 1368) Rhymetime - first Tuesday in month 10.30-11am & 11.30am-12noon and third Wednesday in month 10am-10.30am & 11am-11.30am. Storytime - Tuesdays 2.15-2.45pm. Toddletime - second Thursday in month 10.30-11am. Woodley Library (0118 969 0304 Rhymetime - second Tuesday in month 10.30-11am. Storytime - Tuesdays 4-4.30pm.


Thames Valley West

Battle Library (0118 901 5100) Rhymetime -Tuesdays 10.30-11am and Fridays 10-10.30am & 11.15–11.45am. Storytime - Tuesdays & Thursdays 2.303pm and Saturdays 11.30am-12noon. Coffee and Crafts - Tuesdays at 9.30am, bring your knitting, crochet or sewing Caversham Library (0118 901 5103) Rhymetime - Tuesdays 10.15-10.45am & 11.15-11.45am and Wednesdays 2.15– 2.45pm, need to book. Storytime Thursdays 2.15-2.45pm. Palmer Park Library (0118 901 5106) Rhymetime Tuesdays 10-10.30am and Fridays 10.3011am. Storytime - Mondays 2.152.45pm. Stories with Crafts for under 5s - second Friday in month 2.15-3pm. Reading Central Library (0118 901 5100) Rhymetime - Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 10.30-11am. Stories with crafts - last Friday in month 2.15pm. Russian Crafts and Storytime - stories, rhymes and crafts for 3–8yrs in Russian, first Thursday in month 4pm. Southcote Library (0118 901 5109) Storytime with Rhymes Thursdays 9.30–10am. Rhymetime Fridays 10.30-11am, must book. Toy Library - open Tuesdays 9.30am-12noon,

Thursdays 2pm-5pm, Saturdays 9.30am-11am & 2-3.30pm. Tilehurst Library (0118 901 5112) Rhymetime Mondays 9.30-10am & 10.45-11.15am and Fridays 10.30-11am. Storytime Thursdays 2.30-3pm. Storytime with crafts - first Tuesday in month 9.3010.30am. Whitley Library (0118 901 5115) Rhymetime - Tuesdays 2.152.45pm and Thursdays 11.15-11.45am.

West Berkshire Libraries ( Rhymetime for 0-3 year olds and Storytime for 3-5 years olds.

Burghfield Common Library (0118 983 3632) Rhymetime - Thursdays (term time only) 2.30-3pm. Mortimer Library (0118 933 2882) Rhymetime - certain Tuesdays 2.30-2.50pm. Storytime certain Fridays 2.15-2.45pm. Ring library for dates. Newbury Library (01635 519 900) Rhymetime - first, third and fifth Tuesday in month, 11-11.20am. Storytime - Fridays, 11-11.30am. Pangbourne Library (0118 984 4117) Rhymetime - fortnightly on Thursdays (term time only), 10-10.30am. Thatcham Library (01635 866 049) Rhymetime second Tuesday in month, 11-11.30am. Storytime - Mondays, 2.15-2.45pm. Theale Library (0118 930 3207) Rhymetime - Wednesdays 11-11.30am and Thursdays 2-2.30pm. Storytime Fridays 11-11.20am. Term time only.

Ascot Heath Library (01344 884 030) Bounce and Rhyme - various dates throughout the month, contact library for details. Binfield Library (01344 306 663) Drop-in for pre-school children, parents and carers - Thursdays 9.30am, refreshments available. First Thursday of the month a small craft activity is added. Birch Hill Library (01344 456 526) Storytime - Tuesdays 11am. Bounce and Rhyme - every other Tuesday 2.15pm. Bracknell Central Library (01344 423 149) Bounce and Rhyme - third Monday in month 2pm. Storytime - Mondays 10 am. Both term time only. Crowthorne Library (01344 776 431) Bounce and Rhyme - Tuesdays 9.30am (term time only) and last Saturday in month, 9.30am. Storytime & craft - Wednesdays 9.30am. Great Hollands Library (01344 424 095) Storytime - for 3-7yrs, Fridays 3.40pm. Bounce and Rhyme - Fridays 11am. Harmans Water Library (01344 423 660) Bounce and Rhyme first Tuesday in month 10am. Stories and Craft - second Thursday in month 2pm. Sandhurst Library (01252 870 161) Tots Time - for under 5’s with story, rhymes and simple crafts, Mondays (term time only) 9.30am. Bounce and Rhyme second and fourth Friday in month 9.30am. Storytime - Thursdays 2.15pm. Whitegrove Library (01344 424 211) Story time - aimed at 18+months, Wednesdays (term time only) 10am. Bounce and Rhyme - Thursdays 9.30am & 10.15am, must book via Children’s Centre on 01344 354 450.

South Oxfordshire Libraries (

Goring Library (01491 873 028) Storytime - for under 5’s, Fridays (term time only) 2-2.30pm. Henley Library (01491 57 5278) Rhymetime - for babies & toddlers, Tuesdays 9.30-10am. Sonning Common Library (0118 972 2448) Rhymetime - for under 3’s, first & third Monday in month 10-10.30am. Storytime & colouring - for under 8’s, Saturdays 10-10.30am.

Photo courtesy of Wokingham Library

Photo courtesy of Wokingham Library

Storytime for Under 5s. Bounce and Rhyme for babies and toddlers.

Events are subject to change so please check before setting out


Great Offers from er ff O

25% Discount at Halycon

Halcyon would like to offer you a special 25% discount on all treatments for your first visit to their new salon in Headley Road, Woodley. Treat yourself from their range of treatments, including tailored Dermalogica facials and Jessica manicures and pedicures or let experienced therapists help you unwind with one of their relaxing massages. Or why not have a Universal contour wrap and Fake Bake spray tan and get set to stun at your Christmas party? To book your discounted treatment call Halcyon on 0118 969 3535 quoting FAMILIES TVW. Offer ends 31st January 2013. To find out more about Halcyon just visit

WIN a warm and snug hoodie

You can keep your little one warm and snug this winter as we have a 100% natural Edamame hoodie for one lucky winner. Ranging from 1-6yrs, the hoodies come in a variety of different colours to suit both little boys and girls alike. Made from Rose fibre and cotton, Edamame clothing is beautifully soft with special hypoallergenic properties that make them ideal for children with sensitive skin. Perfect as Christmas presents, visit to view the whole collection. To enter just visit today. Closing date December 6th.

WIN tickets to Jack and the Beanstalk

The famous story of Jack, his beans and the cow comes to life at South Hill Park from 1st December 2012 to 5th January 2013. When Jack falls on hard times and is sent to market to sell his beloved cow he comes home with nothing but a handful of beans – and that’s when the magic really begins. Win 4 tickets to take the family to see the fantastic pantotmine this festive season. If you are not the lucky winner and would like to book tickets visit or call the box office on 01344 484123. To enter just visit today. Closing date December 6th.


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WIN a festive day at the farm

Santa is coming to Odds Farm Park. For just £4 extra, every weekend in December and 24 December, children can visit Santa in his Magical Grotto and receive a Fantastic Gift! Plus, every day from 1-24 December children can also choose a free chocolate treat from the Christmas Tree in the Gift Shop. With a Giant Indoor Playbarn and special Under 5’s areas, there’s bags of fun for all ages. And adults can relax with a delicious speciality coffee from the fantastic Espresso Bar. For more information call 01628 520 188 or visit To enter just visit www.familiestvw. today. Closing date December 6th.

Thames Valley West


What’s On

Diary Dates Ongoing Events Dec 24 & 2-4 Jan – JUBILEE JETS HOLIDAY CLUB at Jubilee Day Nursery, Padworth Common, 0118 970 1600, Holiday club set in beautiful West Berkshire countryside for 4½-11yrs. Wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities. Open 8am-4pm on Christmas Eve, £23. Then re-opens from 2-4 Jan, 8am-6pm, £29 per day, £19 half day. Booking forms available on website or by calling. Ongoing – TASTER SESSIONS & COURSES at Reading Climbing Centre, Britten Rd, Reading, RG2 0AU, 0118 975 6298, Why not try a spot of climbing at this impressive centre? There are a variety of one-off sessions and progressive courses for all ages from 5+yrs. • Don’t miss the 2 for 1 offer on page 25 Every Friday during term time – TODDLER TIME at The Musuem of English Rural Life, Redlands Rd, Reading, 0118 378 8660, Rhymes, songs or craft activities based on objects in the museum collection or garden. 10-11am and 1-2pm. For families with children 2-4yrs. £2 per child, drop in. Weekends and school holidays – THE FIRE & LIGHT SHOW at The Look Out Discovery Centre, Bracknell, 01344 354 400, thelookoutdiscoverycentre Running until 6 Jan, this show includes demonstrations to fire your imagination. Find out what a candle needs to keep burning, which creatures create their own light and marvel at the tornado of fire. Suitable for 5+yrs. Costs £1.85 in addition to normal entrance fee. Shows at 11am, 12noon, 2pm & 3.15pm, subject to minimum numbers.

November For lots more firework displays visit 5 Nov – BONFIRE AND FIREWORKS DISPLAY at Camp Mohawk, Highfield Lane, Wargrave, RG10 8PU Enjoy a spectacular pyrotechnics display with proceeds supporting Camp Mohawk, a day centre for children with special needs. 6-9pm. Refreshments available. Adults and over 12s £5, under 12s £3. For further details email info@campmohawk. or visit website. 6-7 Nov – TODDLER DAYS: MY BODY at The Look Out Discovery Centre, Bracknell, 01344 354 400, thelookoutdiscoverycentre Special activities for toddlers including face or hand painting, play dough, story telling and make and take activities. Admission also includes entrance to the hands on science and nature exhibition. 10am-4pm. £6.45 per adult and toddler, £1.50 per additional toddler (max 3 per adult).

9 Nov – FIREWORK DISPLAY at Checkendon Primary School, RG8 0SR This year’s spectacle starts at 6pm when gates open for a barbeque, bar and various stalls. The fireworks will start around 7pm. Adult £3, child £2, available at the gate on the night. 10 Nov – INSPIRED ART & CRAFT FAIR at Swallowfield Parish Hall, RG7 1QX, Local designer makers of handcrafted jewellery, textiles, ceramics, woodcraft, glass art, local produce/hampers, seasonal flowers, gifts and more. Refreshments and delicious homemade cakes from their Cafe. Open from 10am-3pm. Free entrance (supporting local charity). 10 Nov – FAMILY WILDLIFE FUN DINOSCOVERY at The Nature Discovery Centre, Thatcham, RG19 3FU, 01635 874 381, Join in with fun activities for all the family and make a dinosaur craft to take home. 2-4pm. £1 per child, drop in event.

10 Nov – TRADITIONAL CRAFT FAIR at Museum of Rural Life, Redlands Rd, Reading, 0118 378 8660, Meet local craftspeople, watch them at work and even have a go yourself. Free family workshop. Delicious refreshments. 11am –4pm, drop in, £1 per adult, children free. 10 Nov – BIRDING COMPETITION at Horseshoe Lake, Sandhurst, GU47 8JW Test your bird watching skills and see how many species you can identify on your walk around the lake. Bring binoculars, identification books, suitable clothing and footwear. Teams of 2-6 people, all ages. 11am-1pm. Must book on 01344 354 441. 10 Nov – BABY & CHILDREN’S MARKET at Main Sports Hall, Bracknell Leisure Centre, Bagshot Rd, RG12 9SE, 2pm-4pm. Quality preloved and new goods for boys & girls from birth to 6 yrs. Entry £1, children free. 10-11 Nov – FAMILY TOURS at The Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Rd, Reading, RG1 5EX, 0118 378 8660, Fun interactive 30 minute tours of the museum with stories about what it was once like to live and work in the countryside. For families with children of all ages, 2.30pm, free but please book. 11 Nov – WOKINGHAM NCT NEARLY NEW SALE at St Crispin’s School,

London Rd, Wokingham, RG40 1SS Doors open at 11.45am for NCT members and 12noon for non-members. Find out

Christmas Spectacular at The Oracle, 17 Nov

more online at wokingham/events/wokingham-nearlynew-sale 14 Nov – TWILIGHT MARKET on the site of Keephatch School, Ashridge Rd, RG40 1PG Large variety of stalls selling Christmas goodies, refreshments available. 7.309.30pm. Only £1 entry and all proceeds go to the Nursery. 16-17 Nov – MAYOR’S MARKET at the Town Hall, Wokingham Local charities sell their goods to raise money. A great opportunity to purchase some Christmas presents. 10am-4pm. Free entry. 17 Nov – INSPIRED CHARITY CHRISTMAS CRAFT FAIR at The Cross

Barn, Odiham, Hook, RG29 1JX Fabulous fair packed with gorgeous handcrafted gifts from textiles, ceramics and jewellery to woodcraft, local produce & seasonal flowers. Open from 10am-3pm, £1.50 entrance (all proceeds to charity). Further information at www. 17 Nov – CHRISTMAS FAIR at Sulhamstead & Ufton Nervet Village Hall, Sulhamstead Hill (2 mins from the Sulhamstead Cricket Club off the A4) Gifts for the home & family, raffle, photographer, refreshments and free parking. In aid of Breast Cancer Campaign. 11am-4pm. 17 Nov – CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR in central Reading, www.broadstreetmall. com, From 11am Broad Street Mall will be full of fun free activities for all the family along with stage performances by this year’s semi-finalists of Has Reading Got Talent, local dance schools and choirs. Santa will be in his grotto from

Wokingham Winter Carnival, 25 Nov

11am-3pm. The Great Christmas Light Switch on takes place at 4pm by a celebrity guest. At The Oracle Riverside there will be a high-energy firework display starting at 7pm. To gain entry to the Riverside, spectators will need a wristband available from The Oracle Information Desk from 9 Nov. The evening will also see the switching on of The Oracle’s stunning Christmas decorations. 17-18 Nov – CRAFT & DESIGN FAIR at the Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell, Enjoy and explore some of the UK’s best handmade crafts and buy directly from the artists and makers. Specialist workshops and demonstrations. Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets £5, conc. £3, under 10s free, family £10. 18 Nov – CHRISTMAS FAIR at Crosfields School Sports Hall, Shinfield Rd, RG2 9BL, Organised by Crosfields School Parents’ Association. 12-4pm. Father Christmas will be in his grotto all day and the school’s pre-prep choir will be singing carols. Over 60 stalls selling giftware, jewellery, kitchenware, food stuffs, clothes, children’s toys and much more. Stalls with games and entertainment for the children incl facepainting. Adults £1 entry, children 13 & under free. 24 Nov – FAMILY NATURE DAY in Prospect Park, Leibenrood Rd, Reading, RG30 2ND, 0118 950 2764, A day of activities in Reading’s largest park including den building, nature art and drama and conservation for beginners. 10.30am-2pm. Dress up warm and bring a picnic if you want to stay all day. Meet beside the Pavillion Car Park. Organised by Nature Nurture CIC and Norcot Early Years Centre. Free but please get in touch so they know you are coming. 24 Nov – BABY & CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS GIFT FAIR at Rivermead Leisure Centre, Richfield Ave, Caversham, Reading, RG1 8EQ, 10am-4pm. Chic and unique products and services for boys and girls from birth to 10yrs. Children’s entertainment plus a visit from Santa. £1 entry, children free.

8 Nov – CHRISTMAS SHOPPING EVENING at Winkfield St Mary’s Primary

School, Winkfield Row, RG42 6NH Wide range of high quality stalls including jewellery, toys, crafts, children’s clothes, decorations, cards and gifts for all ages plus bar and raffle. 7-10pm. Tickets £4 (includes a glass of wine and a goody bag) available on the door or from Lara Gill on 07795 184 922 or email

24 Nov – CHRISTMAS FAIR at Shiplake Village Nursery, Memorial Hall, Memorial Avenue, Shiplake, RG9 3DW There will be a good range of quality gifts and lots of fun for all. Visit Santa’s grotto, try your luck at the raffle, children’s Christmas activities and face painting. 2-4pm. Photo courtesy Dale Strickland-Clark LNPS,


Thames Valley West


What’s On

We take great care in compiling these listings but always check details before setting out.

24 Nov – CHRISTMAS FAYRE at Emmer Green Primary School, Grove Rd, Emmer Green, RG4 8LN Visit Santa in his grotto and enjoy lots of stalls and fun for all ages from chocolate tombolas, toy stall and lucky dip to mulled wine, silent auction and £100 grand draw. 1.30-4pm.

1-2, 8-9, 15-16 & 22-23 Dec – DAY OUT WITH THOMAS TO VISIT FATHER CHRISTMAS at Didcot Railway Centre,

Didcot, OX11 7NJ, 01235 817 200, Ride behind the famous blue engine to visit Father Christmas in his Grotto as well as entertainment and a chance to meet Duck and The Fat Controller. Details on page 26.

24 Nov – CHRISTMAS FAIR at Kidmore End Primary School, Kidmore End, RG4 9AU Attractions include Father Christmas in his grotto, a silent auction and grand raffle with fantastic prizes. 12 noon–3pm. Admission £2, children free. 25 Nov – WOKINGHAM WINTER CARNIVAL in Wokingham town centre, The whole of Wokingham town centre will be closed to traffic and the three main streets will be lined with charity, gift and food stalls. There will also be a children’s fun fair, music and of course Santa himself. The highlight of the day is the carnival procession which winds its way through the town from 4pm. The 2012 theme is A Dickensian Christmas and it is hoped that many children will take part in the procession and dress up on the day itself. The day closes with the switching on of the Christmas tree lights and a short carol service in Market Place. 11am-5.30pm. Free entry. 25 Nov – CAR BOOT SALE at 79th Reading Scout Hall, Armour Hill, Tilehurst 11am-1pm. Sellers from 9.30am. Outside £8. Inside tables (provided) cost £9, call Kate on 07846 833 681 to book one.

30 Nov – HENLEY CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL in Henley town centre, Annual evening event to get you in the festive mood from 5.30pm. Switching on of the Christmas lights at 7pm. Father Christmas’ Grotto, fair rides, lots of outside stalls and carol singing around the Christmas tree.

December 1 Dec – BABY & CHILDREN’S MARKET at Main Sports Hall, Nuffield Fitness & Wellbeing Centre, Newbury Racecourse, RG14 7PN, 2pm-4pm. Quality preloved and new goods for boys & girls from birth to 6 yrs. Entry £1, children free. 1 Dec – BABY & CHILDREN’S MARKET at Main Sports Hall, Bulmershe Leisure Centre, Woodlands Ave, Woodley, RG5 3EU,

The Night Before Christmas at Basildon Park, 1-16 Dec 2pm-4pm. Quality preloved and new goods for boys & girls from birth to 6 yrs. Entry £1, children free. 1 Dec – CHRISTMAS FAIR at Checkendon Primary School, Checkendon Village Meet Father Christmas and his elves along with a real reindeer to stroke and feed. Christmas gift stalls, story telling, music, children’s games and Christmas food and drink. 2-5pm. Small admission charge in support of the school. 1 Dec – CHRISTMAS PRINT SALE at Reading Museum, Blagrave Street, Reading, RG1 1QH, 0118 937 3400, Looking for something extra special for Christmas? Local printmakers will be showing and selling their work surrounded by the museum’s exhibition Modern British Masters: Artists’ Prints. Original prints from £25-£2,000. 11am-3pm, free, drop in. 1-2 Dec – SANTA’S ARRIVAL & XMAS LIGHT SWITCH ON in Bracknell town centre, On 1 Dec Santa arrives in a parade to kick off the Christmas celebrations and to open his grotto in Bentalls at 11am. There will also be fun family entertainment on stage in Charles Square throughout the day. See page 26 for Santa’s grotto details. On 2 Dec the Christmas lights switch on event takes place. There will be a well-known singing celebrity switching the lights on in Princess Square at 4.30pm and then performing in Charles Square at 5pm before switching on the Charles Square lights. This will be followed by a fireworks spectacular from Star Fireworks. 1-2 Dec – CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES in Woodley shopping centre, 0118 921 6920,

On 1 Dec Woodley hosts a Carol Concert and Christmas Lights Switch On with mince pies and mulled wine available. 2 Dec sees the Woodley Winter Extravaganza with entertainment throughout the day for all the family, including Santa’s Grotto. Plus lots of charity, craft and trade stalls selling produce and gifts. See website for further details. 1-16 Dec – THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS at Basildon Park,

Lower Basildon, RG8 9NR, Experience the atmospheric setting of this magnificent Palladian mansion dressed for Christmas with flickering candlelight, presents under the tree, and sparkling decorations. For children there is a Christmas trail through the house and grounds (extra £2, includes a chocolate prize) plus drop-in festive tree decoration workshops at weekends. 10am-4pm. Normal admission charges apply. Winter Warmer teas are available on 2, 9 and 16 Dec, 1-2.30pm, £18. Book on 0844 249 1895 or via website.

2-21 Dec – CHRISTMAS COIN HUNT & CHRISTMAS CRAFTS at REME Museum of Technology, Arborfield, Reading, 0118 976 3375, Hunt for the Christmas coins and tinsel hidden in the Museum, a small prize for all entries and a big prize for the lucky winner. Also Christmas themed craft throughout the museum to make and take home. Drop in event suitable for 5-12yrs. 5 Dec – CHRISTMAS CRAFTS at Ascot Heath Library, North Ascot, 01344 884 030, www.bracknell-forest. Make a recycled Christmas decoration: glass painted tree and window decorations, or a hanging snowman and Rudolph. Tickets £2, please book. All materials provided. For ages 3+yrs with an adult. 3.30pm. 5-6 Dec – TODDLER DAYS: CHRISTMAS THEME at The Look Out Discovery Centre, Bracknell, 01344 354 400, thelookoutdiscoverycentre See 6-7 Nov for details. Santa will also be appearing in his grotto from 10.30am– 12.30pm. 5-6 Dec – CHRISTMAS FAIR at Highclere Castle, Newbury, 01635 253 210, Visit Highclere Castle (TV’s Downton Abbey) for a unique shopping experience in support of Thames Valley Air Ambulance. Pre-booked tickets only. Visit website for details and to book tickets.

1-22 Dec – RUDOLF’S TREASURE TRAIL at Winnersh Library, 0118 979 7519, Come and find all of Rudolf’s Reindeer friends. Suitable for under 11’s. 1-24 Dec – LIVING ADVENT CALENDAR around Henley town centre, Each evening leading up to Christmas a variety of local performers will appear at a different venue to bring seasonal cheer to Henley with a short live performance. Entertainment will range from music, dancing, drama, poetry, singing and more. For details of times and venues visit the website.

7 Dec – CHRISTMAS FAYRE in Twyford village centre, An evening for all the family, with lots of stalls selling everything from books to pictures and mulled wine to jewellery. With street entertainers; music and singing; and a visit by Father Christmas himself. 6-9pm. 7 Dec – WOODCOTE WINDMILL SALE at Woodcote Village Hall, Nearly new sale of toys, games, clothes and nursery equipment. 8am-1pm. For more details and to sell call 01491 681 449.

Set in fantastic countryside location

Jubilee Jets is open every school holiday from 8:00 – 18:00 for children aged 5 to 11 years. Full and half day sessions available. Supervised by a fun team of qualified staff Jubilee Jets is a great out-door adventure holiday club where the best childhood memories are made.

For further information please contact Jubilee Jets on:

0118 9701 600

Paddock View, Rectory Rd, Padworth Common, Berks, RG7 4JD

• Feeding lambs • Biking in the woods • Cooking • Circus workshops • Henna tattoos • Trampolining • Games and races • Quad bikes • Or just hangin out with friends School Holiday Fun! Ofsted registered

A wide range of Bouncy Castles, Slides, Soft Play, Go Karts and Sumo Suits for hire 364 days a year! For Indoor and Outdoor use. 01628 410736/07926 751243

Find lots more firework displays at

Thames Valley West


What’s On

Berkshire’s NEWEST & BIGGEST Indoor Play & Party Centre for kids 0-12

Laser Tag parties and 8 Themed party rooms including: Glow in The Dark - the only room in the UK! Princess – Pirates – Superhero – Under the Sea – Football – I’m Fabulous Giant softplay including 5.50m high drop slides • Imaginative role play FREE Video games room • Sports arena • Café

Open – Daily 9.30am – 6pm After school club • Sports classes • Baby & toddler activities

NOW OPEN 680 Eskdale Road, Winnersh Triangle, Berkshire, RG41 5TS Tel: 0845 838 4686


Thames Valley West


What’s On 8 Dec – FAMILY TOUR at The Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Rd, Reading, RG1 5EX, 0118 378 8660, See 10-11 Nov entry for details.

Christmas with Mr Toad & Friends, RRM 15 Dec

8 Dec – ALADDIN & THE LIBRARY GENIE at Woodley Library, 0118 969 0304, A performance by Woodley Library Storytent with crafts and refreshments. £4 charge. 4.30pm. 8 Dec - NAOMI HOUSE BAUBLE HUNT at The Vyne, Sherborne St John, Basingstoke, RG24 9HL, A magical Christmas event to raise funds for Naomi House and jacksplace hospices. Children are invited to chat with Father Christmas, and then hunt the grounds for Christmas baubles. Delicious prizes for all participants. 11am–3pm. £3 for trail and no additional admission charge to the grounds for children taking part in the trail. Booking advisable, on 01962 843 513. 8 Dec – CLEVER & CRAFTY: GIFTS FOR CHRISTMAS at The River and Rowing

Museum, Henley, 01491 415 605, Learn how to make some pretty little gift boxes out of recycled Christmas cards and a stunning golden candlestick out of clay for a festive table. Learn other 3D techniques to make special folded stars and decorations. 10.30am–12.30pm, ages 7–11, £8.50, must book.

8-9 Dec – CHRISTMAS FOOD & GIFT MARKET in Bracknell town centre, There will be wooden chalets selling food, gifts and goodies, as well as entertainment such as ice sculpture demonstrations and workshops for children supplied by Creation Station. There will also be late night shopping until 8pm every Thursday in Dec with a ‘What’s in the Box?’ promotion offering chances to win great prizes in Princess Square. 8-9 and 15 Dec – SANTA CRUISES at Hobbs of Henley, 01491 572 035, River trips aboard The New Orleans, a visit and present from Santa and family entertainment from Fred in the Shed. Book early as these cruises are very popular. For details see top of previous page. 9 Dec – CHARITY XMAS FAIR at The Nature Discovery Centre, Thatcham, RG19 3FU, 01635 874 381, Help local groups and charities raise funds whilst you shop for the perfect Christmas gift. Enjoy activities, crafts and seasonal games. Free entry but a small charge for some activities. 10.30am-4pm. 9 Dec – HENLEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CHRISTMAS CONCERT

at the Christ Church Centre, Reading Rd, Henley, A short concert at 4.30pm by the Henley Symphony Orchestra for babies and preschool children, with children up to 7yrs also welcome. Please bring a rattle or some bells so that you can join in. Plenty of space for prams inside, but limited car parking on-site. Tickets: £4, child £2, under 2’s free, available from Bagatelle Toys in Henley from mid-Nov and from orchestra members. 9 Dec – VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS TOUR at The Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Rd, Reading, RG1 5EX, 0118 If you would like details of your production or event to appear on our website www., please email us at The deadline for the January/February 2013 issue is 1 December.

378 8660, It’s Christmas 1886 and the Palmer family have invited workers from their estate to celebrate. Join Molly the milkmaid and Dave the Blacksmith for a tour, learn about Victorian Christmas traditions, make a card with Huntley & Palmer pictures and enjoy a mince pie. 2.30pm. Suitable for families with children of all ages, must book, £2 per child (accompanying adult free). 15 Dec – CRAFT FAIR at Cotswold Wildlife Park, Burford, Oxon, 01993 823 006, Held in the Brass Rubbing Room in the Manor House, there will be handmade bags, brooches, wreaths, turned wood, cards, beaded jewellery, children’s handmade gifts and toys. 15 Dec – FAMILY WORKSHOP: CANDLES & GLASS at Reading Museum, Blagrave St, Reading, RG1 1QH, 0118 937 3400, Adults and children can together create candle decorations or paint glass jars to decorate the Christmas table. A great activity if you need a break from Christmas shopping. Suitable for families with children aged 5+yrs, 1-hour sessions at 10am, 11.15am, 1pm & 2.15pm. £3 per person, pay on the day, drop in. 15 Dec – CHRISTMAS WITH MR TOAD & FRIENDS at The River and Rowing Museum, Henley, 01491 415 605, Join Mr. Toad and his friends Ratty, Mole and Badger as they celebrate Christmas with crafts, activities, songs, dance…and presents! Find out what happens to wildlife in the winter. 10.30am–4pm, most suitable for under 10s, £3 per child (plus normal admission price). 16 Dec – FESTIVAL OF LIGHT in central Newbury, Join the 2012 Festival of Light lantern procession, a river of beautifully lit lanterns winding its way up Northbrook Street and into the Market Place. Live music, a real community atmosphere and a glittering finale. The procession starts at 4.30pm at the Methodist church on Northbrook Street. Make you own willow and tissue paper lantern at one of the free workshops held at Newbury Library on 24 Nov & 1 Dec, 10.30am-5pm, and at New Greenham Arts on 8 Dec, 11am-4pm. 16 Dec – RECYCLED ARTS WORKSHOP at The Nature Discovery Centre, Thatcham, RG19 3FU, 01635 874 381, Take a step towards a guilt-free Christmas and find out how to turn the things you’d throw away into a beautiful decoration for Christmas. 11am-3pm. £1 per decoration, drop in event. 16 Dec – THE MAGIC OF HEATHLAND at Wildmoor Heath, Crowthorne Rd, Crowthorne, GU47 8PD Try your hand at harvesting birch trees to help conserve this precious site. Enjoy a bonfire and possibly take home your very own Christmas tree. Tools and refreshments provided. Please bring work gloves. Suitable for all. 10am–1pm. Must book on 01344 354 441. 18 Dec – MUSIC WITH MUMMY


at Crowthorne Methodist Church, 10 Dukes Ride, Sandhurst, 01344 778582, Enjoy a Christmas Music with Mummy session, games, bubbles, dancing, drinks and nibbles plus a Christmas gift for the children to take home. For Under 5s and their parents. Tickets £5, please book, and bring a Teddy! 10-11.30am. 19 Dec – TALES FOR TOTS at Reading Museum, Blagrave St, Reading, RG1 1QH, 0118 937 3400, Christmas themed story-time aimed at the under 5s. Free drop in for families, 10.30am–11.30am. 20 Dec – CHRISTMAS RHYMETIME at The Hexagon, Reading Tickets available form Reading Libraries from late November. 11am.

SCHOOL at The Dome, Madejski Stadium, Reading RG2 0FL, 0118 968 1460, Keep the children happy at this Reading FC Community Trust soccer school while you get some last-minute shopping done. 9am-3pm, 6-14yrs, £25 for the day. 29-30 Dec – NEW YEAR STEAMINGS at Didcot Railway Centre, 01235 817 200, Look round the centre and enjoy a steam ride. Centre open daily from 27 Dec to 1 Jan, with Steamday train rides on 29 & 30 Dec.

January 2013 2 Jan – ART WORKSHOPS at South Hill Park, Bracknell, 01344 484 123, Art Factory - use clay, collage, drawing and sculpture with lots to take home at the end and expert advice and guidance given. 4-11yrs. Play with Clay – create a design in air drying clay and paint it to take home. Have a go at throwing a wobbly pot on the wheel. 6-11yrs (under 7’s must be accompanied). Both workshops run 10am-12noon, £17.50, members £16.50. Please book. 2-4 Jan – READING FC SOCCER SCHOOL at The Goals Centre, Woodlands Ave, Woodley, RG5 3EU, 0118 968 1460, Soccer school run by Reading FC Community Trust. 10am-3pm, 6-14yrs, £16 per day, £30 for 3 days.

21 Dec – TEDDY BEARS’ CHRISTMAS PARTY at Owlsmoor Community Centre, Yeovil Rd, Sandhurst, 01344 778582, 10-11.30am. For details see 18 Dec entry. 22 Dec – CHRISTMAS RACEDAY at Ascot Racecourse, 0844 346 3000, Enjoy all the free festive fun alongside the racing and meet Father Christmas in his Winter Wonderland. More details on page 26. • Visit for a £5 discount on each ticket. 22 Dec – FESTIVE FUN at Wargrave Library, 0118 940 4656, Come and meet Father Christmas, refreshments available. 11.30am-12.30pm. £1 per child, please book. 24 Dec – DROP & SHOP SOCCER

For more Xmas shows visit

Meet Santa at Ascot Family Raceday, 22 Dec

Thames Valley West


Festive Fun

Panto Time! Magical adventures, intelligent animals, boys who are really girls and women who are really men. Rebecca James takes a look at some of the weird and wonderful traditions behind the Christmas panto.

Don’t forget to tell advertisers you heard about them in Families To advertise call 0118 954 6893 or email


l Park pre

South Hil

Sat 1 Dec 2012 – Sat 5 Jan 2013 Bundles of fun for all the family!

Wilde Theatre Box Office 01344 484123 South Hill Park Arts Centre Ringmead · Bracknell · RG12 7PA


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Where it all started: The British Christmas panto has mopped up all sorts of different influences along the way, but it can mainly be traced back to the old 16th-century Italian commedia dell’ arte tradition, a populist kind of travelling theatre performed by wandering actors. Because of language and communication problems, these shows increasingly focused on physical acting, slapstick, comedy and funny costumes. Cross-dressing: It was the famous 19th-century clown, Joseph Grimaldi, who pioneered the tradition of the Pantomime Dame, or an old woman played by a male comedian. Further cross-dressing was introduced around the 1880s, with the introduction of the ‘Principal Boy’, played by a girl. In an era when even the legs of pianos were covered in drapes for modesty’s sake, the sight of an attractive young female clad in calf-hugging tights was always guaranteed to swell boxoffice figures. Animal magic: As the 19th century progressed, the subjects of pantomime shifted to fairy tales, with interludes of juggling and acrobatics, providing wholesome entertainment for children. Performances also became associated with (and limited to) the Christmas season. The Victorian era also saw the increasing importance of animal roles in pantos. Famous panto animals include Jack’s cow, Aladdin’s camel and Dick Whittington’s cat, not to mention Priscilla the Goose and Puss in Boots.

Top of the bill: No modern Christmas panto would be complete without its ‘celebrity’ guest star, usually a soap star, comedian or TV presenter, to top the bill – a tradition which dates back to the great 19th-century impressario Augustus Harris, who would regularly hire stellar contemporary artistes for his Drury Lane panto performances. Audience participation: In no other show is the audience expected to join in quite as much as in a panto. The villian must always be booed and hissed and the hero warned of his approach with a cry of ‘He’s Behind You! There’s often a song and usually towards the end of the show some children are invited up on stage. There’s also lots of double entendre – more for the adults in the audience than the kids whose heads, in theory, it goes right over. Modern pantomime: There’s no such thing really as ‘traditional’ pantomime. It’s constantly evolved and adapted throughout its history to keep up with changing public tastes. It’s often the first – and potentially formative – experience young children have of the theatre. A rollicking Jack and the Beanstalk or Dick Whittington could have them coming back to the theatre for years to come. Which is why pantomime is still just as relevant today as it ever has been. Oh yes it is… Visit pantomimehistory to read the full version of this article. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012

Festive Fun Here are our pick of this year’s pantomimes.

show will also star seven dwarves who are sure to bring fun and mayhem as the fairytale unfolds. With glittering costumes, jokes and songs plus, of course, plenty of audience participation, Snow White is sure to add some sparkle to the festive season. Tickets: from £16.50, conc. £3 off, family tickets available.

The Corn Exchange Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD, 0845 5218 218, 30 Nov - 6 Jan 2013 - CINDERELLA Corn Exchange and Hiss & Boo present the nation’s favourite pantomime, Cinderella, a rags to riches tale full of fairy magic, cheeky chappies and two very ugly sisters. Will Cinders make it to the ball on time, and will she fall in love with her very own Prince Charming? The gruesome Ugly Sisters are sure to be a force to be reckoned with, but with a feisty Fairy Godmother on her side who knows what will happen. Prepare for mischief, mayhem and lots of panto fun. Tickets: £15-£18, conc. £13-£16, previews £10, group, school and family discounts.

The Wycombe Swan St. Mary St, High Wycombe, HP11 2XE, 01494 512 000, 7 Dec-5 Jan - SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARFS With acid-tongued Craig Revel Horwood leading this year’s panto cast as The Wicked Queen, you can be assured of a ‘strictly’ wicked show. An added bonus, joining Craig on stage, will be the former MP Ann Widdecombe in the role of Widdy in Waiting. Tickets: from £18, conc. £2 off, group discounts, family tickets from £60.

South Hill Park

The Theatre Royal Windsor

Ringmead, Bracknell RG12 7PA. Box office: 01344 484 123,

Thames St, Windsor, SL4 1PS, 01753 853 888,

1 Dec-5 Jan 2013 - JACK & THE BEANSTALK The famous story of poor Jack and his beans comes to life on the Wilde Theatre stage. Climb up the beanstalk to the castle in the clouds and help Jack defeat the evil Giant and nasty henchman Fleshcreep. A brand-new family show, packed with laugh-out-loud, slap stick comedy, hilarious puppets and more than a hint of magic. Tickets: from £17, conc. £14, family £56. • Win tickets to see Jack, turn to page 19

5 Dec-6 Jan - JACK & THE BEANSTALK Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, traditional panto packed with fun! Anita Harris and Britt Ekland star in this show, as well as Postman Pat and, of course, Jess the cat. Michael Crawford performs the voice of the giant and Windsor regulars Steven Blakeley and Kevin Cruise will be returning to play Dame Trott and Simple Simon. Lots of song and dance as well as audience participation, make sure it’s fun for all the family.

The Hexagon Queen’s Walk, Reading RG1 7UA. Box Office: 0118 960 6060,

The Camberley Theatre

8 Dec-6 Jan - BEAUTY & THE BEAST CBeebies star Justin Fletcher returns once more for this family panto alongside Vicki Michelle, better known as Yvette from ‘Allo ‘Allo, as the Enchantress. A prince is cursed and destined to spend the rest of his life hidden in his castle in the guise of a grotesque beast. Resourceful Beauty rushes to the rescue with her madcap pals. Can our heroine save the day and learn to love the beast? Tickets: £18, Opening Weekend £14, Groups £15, Schools £9.50.

Kenton Theatre New Street, Henley, RG9 2BP, 01491 575 698, 21-24 & 26-29 Dec - CINDERELLA Magical and romantic, uproarious and

Boo the baddies at Cinderella, The Corn Exchange

entertaining, this is a traditional pantomime for all the family. The unique British spirit of Christmas will be brought to life in comedy and song, with familiar jokes and sketches, some of which will be very messy!

The Anvil

The Oakwood Centre

Churchill Way, Basingstoke RG21 7QR, 01256 844 244,

Headley Rd, Woodley, Reading RG5 4JZ, 07980 217 126, berzerkproductions

13 Dec-6 Jan - SNOW WHITE & THE 7 DWARFS Taking the role of the Wicked Queen is Reading-born Lucy Benjamin (from Eastenders) with Luke Roberts (from CITV’s Hi-5) as handsome Prince Frederick. The

12-15 Dec – DISNEY’S BEAUTY & THE BEAST Berzerk Productions present an amateur

production of this much-loved classic fairy tale. A magical family theatre event perfect for ages 3+ years. Great price family tickets available.

Knoll Rd, Camberley, GU15 3SY, 01276 707600, 8 Dec-5 Jan - PETER PAN This brand new show will feature all the traditional elements of the original story as well as music, comedy and plenty of audience participation. Wendy, John and Michael Darling are visited by their hero, Peter Pan, during the night and he whisks them off to Neverland for the adventure of their lives. Cheer on Peter Pan and the Darling children as they encounter fairies, Red Indians, The Lost Boys, Captain Hook and a ticking crocodile in hot pursuit. With Jassa Ahluwalia (from Art Attack) as Peter Pan and Emmerdale star, Freya Copeland as Mrs Darling. Tickets: £17.95, conc. £15.95. Group, school and family discounts.

2 for 1 on any taster session The perfect present


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Box Office : 07980 217 126

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Oakwood Centre

Call now quoting FAM01 to claim your 2 for 1 discount* 0118 9756 298

Headley Road, Woodley

Discover more at Unit 33 Robert Cort Industrial Estate, Britten Road, Reading, Berkshire RG2 0AU * Offer valid until 01.04.13. This voucher must to be provided at the start of the session. Terms & Conditions apply. See website for details.


Lots more events at RCC_Press ad_kids_fammag.indd 1

PAGE 25 Thames Valley West08/10/2012 15:09

Xmas What’s On

A Xmas Day Out With Santa

Come and share the magic...








NEW CAFÉ OPENING SPRING 2012 Rides to feed the deer Adventure Playground Wild Walk & Nature Trail Den building “Be A Farmer” Days Large Picnic Area Feed the Farm Animals PLUS GREAT INDOOR PLAY FOR RAINY DAYS






That jolly gentleman in red certainly gets about! Here are just a few of the places you can find him giving out presents to deserving children. They include trains, boats, farm parks and country houses, as well as the more traditional grottos.

Free entr second c y for hild whe n you quo te FM


Family Ticket £26.50 Adults £7.95 Children & OAPs £6.95 Disabled with 1 helper £5.25 each Under 2s FREE

*Pay for 1 child and 2nd child gets in free only with this voucher. Offer valid until 2/11/2012. Visit our website Tel: 0118 971 4002 Bucklebury Farm Park is open daily from 10am to 6pm and is situated 31/2 miles from the A4 between Reading and Newbury.

SANTA CRUISES AT HOBBS OF HENLEY 01491 572 035, Enjoy a family day out with a river trip aboard The New Orleans from Henley combined with a visit from Santa and family entertainment from Fred in the Shed. Cruises run at various times on 8, 9 & 15 Dec. Tickets cost £17, seniors £15 and child £10 and also include a present for each child, mulled wine/fruit juice, homemade mince pies and cakes. It’s advisable to book early as these cruises are very popular.

DIDCOT RAILWAY CENTRE Didcot Parkway Station , OX11 7NJ, 01235 817 200, Thomas Santa Specials are running every weekend in Dec (until 23 Dec). Ride behind Thomas to visit Santa in his Grotto, enjoy children’s entertainment and meet Duck and The Fat Controller. Every child will receive a present. Tickets: £10, 60+yrs £9. Booking is essential at www.ticketweb. or by calling 08444 77 1000.

COTSWOLD WILDLIFE PARK Burford, Oxon, OX18 4JP, 01993 823 006, Between 15 and 24 Dec Santa will be making an appearance in his Grotto in the Gift Shop. He has very kindly loaned out Donner and Blitzen, so they can be walked

around the Park to get them fit for the big day! The Farmyard will have its own Nativity scene with real animals and there will be a special festive flavour to the Penguin talk and feed. You can also take a ride on the train (weather permitting) and travel through the Christmas tunnel.

ASCOT CHRISTMAS RACEDAY Ascot Racecourse, 0844 346 3000, Enjoy all the free festive fun alongside the racing on 22 Dec. Take a ride at the fairground, experience Christmas tales live from the cosy confines of the Bandstand and even meet Santa’s reindeer. Father Christmas will be waiting in his Winter Wonderland to give a gift to every child and there will be carol singing after the last race. Gates open 10.45am, last race 3.40pm. On the day tickets from £18, under 18s free. • Visit for a £5 discount on each ticket.

ODDS FARM PARK Wooburn Common, High Wycombe, HP10 0LX, 01628 520 188, Every weekend in Dec and on 24 Dec, visit Santa in his festive grotto and receive a special gift (£3 extra charge per child). Children can also choose a Free chocolate treat from the Christmas tree. Plus all the usual attractions of the Farm Park. • Win Odds Farm Park tickets, see page 19

Thomas & FaTheR ChRisTmas Ride behind the famous blue engine to meet Father Christmas in his grotto saturdays/sundays 1/2, 8/9, 15/16, 22/23 December 0930-1700 Book online at Entrance at Didcot Parkway rail station. Signed from M4 (junc 13) & A34

Recreating the golden age of the Great Western Railway

The meerkats get their presents at Cotswold Wildlife Park

Registered Charity No 272616


Thames Valley West




Reading, RG1 7QE, Santa will be in his grotto from 11am-3pm on 17 Nov and then on various dates between 22 Nov and Xmas Eve. For dates and times visit the website.

Sherborne St John, Basingstoke, RG24 9HL, 01256 88 3858, From 1-22 Dec this historic house will be sumptuously decorated with winter foliage gathered from the gardens and sparkling Christmas decorations. Open from 11am–3pm. Father Christmas will visit on 1, 2, 15, 16, 22 Dec to meet younger visitors who will receive a festive treat.

DOBBIES GROVELANDS GARDEN CENTRE 166 Hyde End Road, Shinfield, RG2 9ER, 0118 988 4822, Celebrate Santa’s grand arrival on 25 Nov at 11am with a day of family fun and entertainment or visit him in his traditional grotto until 24 Dec. Grotto tickets are £5, bookable from the customer service desk. Santa’s breakfasts and suppers are also available from 1 Dec with Santa ho-hohosting and joining in the Christmas party games.

Getting in the festive mood at Bucklebury Farm Park

BUCKLEBURY FARM PARK Bucklebury, RG7 6RR, 0118 971 4002, Enjoy Christmas on the farm between 1 and 23 Dec. 10am-5pm. See Father Christmas in his grotto, meet the reindeer, enjoy games and quizzes and browse for Xmas gifts. Plus tractor rides, outdoor and indoor playgrounds and lots of animals to see. Santa will also be dropping in to special Xmas lunches in cosy Woody’s Café. Also open to non-visitors, pre-book on 0118 971 2033.

CLIVEDEN Taplow, SL6 0JA, 01628 605 069, Every weekend in Dec (until 23 Dec) you can follow the special Father Christmas family fun trail leading to his grotto where children will receive a special Christmas treat. Extra £4 per child. 10am-3.30pm. No booking required. Normal admission charges apply.


THE SAVILL GARDEN Wick Lane, Englefield Green, 01784 435 544, Santa will arrive on Dec 1 by festive horse and carriage at 10.45am (please check in advance). He will be in his grotto every weekend in Dec, plus Dec 20 and 21. Booking required. Tickets: £5 per child, on sale from The Savill Building.

HYDE PARK WINTER WONDERLAND Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH, New this year is The Magical Ice Kingdom, a walk-through ice and snow sculpture experience housed inside a real ice palace. Other attractions include the UK’s largest outdoor Ice Rink, a 53m high Giant Observation Wheel, fairground rides,

Nine Mile Ride, Finchampstead, RG40 4HT Visit Santa in his natural woodland grotto between 12noon-3pm on 20 & 21 Dec and 11.30am-3pm on 22 & 23 Dec. Meet Santa and his elf and receive a small gift. £4 per child. Call the California Dreaming Café for more details on 0118 973 5519.

restaurants and Christmas markets. Santa will be opening his grotto in Santaland every day from 10am-6pm with a free present for each child but beware the queues can be very long. Free entry to the site but tickets must be bought for individual attractions and rides. Advance booking is recommended for the Ice Kingdom, Ice Rink, Zippos Circus shows and the Giant Wheel. Open from 23 Nov-6 Jan, 10am-10pm (open 5pm on 23 Nov).

PAULTON’S PARK Ower, Romsey, Hants, SO51 6AL, 02380 814 442, Santa’s Winter Wonderland will be open at the Park from 17 Nov-23 Dec. Wander through snow scenes filled with animated singing characters including Rudolph and Donner, the singing reindeers, and watch the elves working in their toy shop. At the end of the journey children meet Santa Claus and receive a present. Tickets must be pre-booked and cost from £19.25 which also includes entrance to Paultons Park (selected rides only open) and Peppa Pig World with its Christmas illuminations.

MID HANTS WATERCRESS LINE 01962 733 810, Santa Specials are running every weekend in Dec until Xmas plus 21-24 Dec. Depart from Alresford or Alton stations for a 1-hour round trip on a steam train. Santa will visit each child in their seat and give them a gift whilst adults enjoy a mince pie and glass of wine. Tickets £15, babies (under 1) £8, advance booking only.

THE LOOK OUT DISCOVERY CENTRE Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, RG12 7QW, 01344 354 400, uk/thelookoutdiscoverycentre Enjoy Christmas Weekend at The Look Out on 8-9 Dec. There will be lots of fun with a free children’s entertainer, festive art and craft activities, face painting and a Christmas quiz. Santa will be in his grotto from 10am–4pm.

CHOLSEY & WALLINGFORD RAILWAY 01491 835 067, Santa Specials run on 8-9, 15-16 & 22-23 Dec. Santa will ride on the train and each child up to the age of 8 will receive a gift. Adults receive a hot drink and mince pie at Wallingford Station. No need to book.


Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Xmas What’s On

High St, Bracknell, RG12 1DW, Santa will open his grotto in the first floor toy department on 1 Dec and will be there every day until 23 Dec, Monday-Saturdays 11am–5pm & Sundays 10am-4pm. For a minimum charity donation of £3 children can visit Santa and receive a gift.

Santa will also be appearing at many of the events featured in our Diary Dates pages starting on page 20

Send a Letter from Santa

Festive Fun At Odds Farm Alongside a Giant Playbarn join the Festive Fun at Odds Farm Park!


a trip to

LAPLAND ChildLine is a service provided by the NSPCC. Registered charity numbers 216401 and SC037717. © 2012 Illustration by Jason Chapman. 0829/12

Chris tm Lamb as s!

Every weekend in Dec plus 24 Dec, visit in his Magical Grotto with Fantastic Gifts!* Plus, from 1-24 Dec, choose a Free Chocolate Treat from the Gift Shop Christmas Tree. OPEN DAILY 10AM – 5.30PM GIFT SHOP & FREE PARKING

Make Christmas magical with a personalised Letter from Santa and help the NSPCC support children all year round. 0845 839 9304

T:01628 520188

* £4 extra charge per child towards cost of the gift (worth at least £6)


Supported by

LFS_PROMO_A5 advert_2012 NSPCC.indd 1

03/09/2012 10:52

Pantomimes and Xmas shows at OFP-AM-11-080 Xmas Ad 118x70 (FM) 4.indd 1

PAGE 27 Thames Valley West 12/10/2012 10:29


All I wan Finding the perfect present can be tough when time is short. Here are a few ideas for all ages.

Wishes you  a   very  Merry  Christmas hristmas   and  Happy  New  Year   ear

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For more  information  please  contact   01189701600  or  e-­‐mail   Paddock  View,  Rectory  Road,  Padworth  Common,     Reading,  Berkshire,  RG7  4JD  

Can’t get hold of a copy of Families? Just call to subscribe

0118 954 6893

Make a Difference this Christmas Did you know brain tumours kill more UK children than any other cancer? Yet research in this area receives less than 1% of national cancer research funding. So this Christmas why not send a message that really makes a difference? Buy your cards from the Brain Research Trust and around £2 per pack will go directly to funding much needed research and help to find a cure for this devastating disease. Order your cards online for only £3 per pack of 10 from

Edamame Edamame is one of the UK’s leading natural childrenswear brands specialising in exceptionally soft, hypoallergenic knitwear, perfect for children with sensitive skin. Well-made and with beautiful detailing, Edamame clothing also comes gift-wrapped to make it a truly unforgettable present this Christmas. Visit or call 020 8133 5622.

Precious Memories

Peach round-neck cardigan (£27.50), Gray long-sleeve top (19.99), Gray skirt (£21.99)

These Christmas Tree Charms, from The Little Print Co, are sure to bring back lovely memories every festive season for years to come. Engraved on both front and back, they come in various shapes and sizes and can be decorated with hand, foot and finger prints, or even doodles. Other gift ideas include a range of silver necklaces, bracelets and cufflinks decorated with imprints, signatures or copies of your children’s artwork. Order before 25 November for casts and 8 December for jewellery. Find out more at • Families readers can get a 10% discount on Christmas orders when quoting this article. Christmas Tree Charms, from £55

Taking prints is easy - Order online, host a print party, book an appointment or visit us at an event.


Thames Valley West



nt for Xmas… Monkey + bob Online shop Monkey + bob produce clothes that are full of character and lots of fun for tots and toddlers from 3 months up to 5 years. Made from naturally soft Sky Dungarees Set, £37.50 organic cotton, they are designed to be comfortable, practical and adorable. Their baby gift sets, containing 3 co-ordinating items, would make the perfect present for any newborn this Xmas. Outfit also pictured on page 17. Order from or call 01494 758 588.

The perfect first bike Dinky Fingerprints Children grow up so fast it’s easy to forget how tiny they once were. Capture that moment forever with one of these charming necklaces from the Dinky Fingerprint Company decorated with an imprint of your child’s fingerprint. Each Fingerprint Charm is hand engraved to give that really personal touch. Prices start at £60 for a single, small charm necklace on an 18inch sterling silver chain. A lovely present for grandma, or yourself! And for dads they do a chunky sterling silver keyring. View their full range of personalised keepsakes at or find out more on 01628 623 386.

Little Letters Little Letters Christmas Craft Packs, for children aged 3-6, are the gift that keeps giving! Buy one and the lucky recipient will get an envelope delivered to their door each week, containing everything they need to create a pre-designed craft. Packs cost £15 (or £20 with an additional gift) and include a Christmas card, craft and six further weekly crafts commencing in the New Year. Pre-order by 14 December from or on 0845 838 2499.

Award winning Kiddimoto help children develop their skills of balance and coordination and make a seamless transition to a pedal bike without the use of stabilisers. Available in a wide variety of designs, they can also be personalised. For 2-6yrs. Order from

Pastel Dotty Kurve, £59.99

Helping you look and feel great An extensive range of treatments to help busy mums look and feel great: Facials n Manicures n Pedicures n Gel nails Spray tans n Eyelash extensions Threading n Waxing n Electrolysis Anti-ageing n Anti-cellulite n Body wraps Pregnancy/new mother & bridal packages Ear piercing n Make-up n Pamper days Swedish, aromatherapy & Indian head massage Hot stone therapy n Reflexology

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01/10/2012 14:37 PAGE 29 Thames Valley West

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Wobble Deck, RRP £24.99

This exciting electronic, balance board features four games and is tipped to become the latest craze up and down the country. Test skill, memory and agility with hilarious challenges. Ages 4+yrs. Visit for stockists.

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Wobble Deck

Makedo Every parent knows that feeling, when you’ve spent a fortune on the latest high-tech toy only to find your child much more engrossed playing with the packaging. Makedo’s brilliant idea is to help those kids make better use of the box! It supplies a Safe-saw for cutting and punching through materials safely and Re-clips and Lockhinges for connecting things together. Your child’s creativity and instinct for building can then take over. Check out the website for videos of inspiring creations made by people from around the world. Winner of three of the most prestigious International Design Awards. Prices from £7.99. For stockists see

Makedo Robot

Les & Lou Mum of two, Lesley Hill, hopes that her new product will help take the headache out of travelling and eating out with young children. The Roll-Up Chalk Mat is a blackboard on one side, a wipe-clean placemat on the other and it rolls up to tuck into your bag neatly, ready to take everywhere with you. This clever new product for the UK is the design of Lesley and her friend Louise who have teamed up to form Les & Lou. Lesley is no stranger to business, having been a partner at a Big 4 firm in London before becoming a full-time Mum, but she admits that it’s completely different taking an idea from scratch and getting it off the ground. “It’s so exciting though, and the reward will be seeing other parents and their children getting enjoyment out of our product” sums up Lesley. There’s a special introductory offer of a chalk mat, plus chalk and free delivery for just £9.99 – perfect for Christmas! See

Chalk Mat, £9.99

Mummy’s Maid was created with busy individuals in mind, our main aim is to make life easier and help create more time for you. We will come and take care of all your household chores, childcare requirements and cleaning needs allowing you to concentrate on more important things. We offer flexible packages to suit both short and long term needs without being tied into lengthy contracts. Each contract is a minimum of two hours. Prices start from £13.50 per hour or call 0845 463 0075



Christmas Survival

The Dos and Don’ts of a happy family Christmas The festive season can feel like a very long, stressful marathon. Sarah Butters gives us some tips to help put things into perspective. DON’T expect it to be perfect

Aliye Mullen Photography -

Like it or not, your Christmas will not be perfect. You will over-cook the turkey, under-cook the pudding and end up sobbing into a huge glass of Sauvignon Blanc because your mother in law has criticised your gravy. It’s because you’ve put so much time and effort into hosting the perfect Christmas, that the disappointment at the odd hiccup is overwhelming. This year, start the festive period accepting you’re not Nigella and it won’t be perfect, and you’ll enjoy the parts that go well.

DO try and relax By the time Christmas Day arrives, most of us are exhausted. You’ve probably spent the weeks prior to the big day panic shopping, baking everything that Jamie suggested in his Christmas special and ferrying the family from one festive event to the next. Earmark some time for you. It’s supposed to be a holiday!

DO make your own traditions Every family has its own way of celebrating. Now you have your own children it’s time for you to make your own traditions - whether it’s a trip to the local crib service on Christmas Eve, or a special day of Christmas baking. A great idea I’ve taken from a friend is the Christmas Eve hamper. This is a basket, left by one of Santa’s helpers filled with goodies to enjoy on the night before Christmas - festive pyjamas for the children, a mug to make hot chocolate and a DVD for the family to watch. It’s the perfect kit to help kick start Christmas.

DON’T try to do everything yourself A resentful host is not a happy host so when you do your pre-Christmas shopping list, make sure

you also write a list of jobs you’ll need doing on the big day. If you know your Mother in Law has a view about your Yorkshire Puddings, set her to work making some better ones. Remember, a busy cook is often a quiet cook!

DO get out and about You are not under house arrest over the festive period. It’s not surprising that if you fill your home with relatives you rarely see and then lock the door, there will be arguments. Add some wine and the results are anything but festive. Don’t be afraid of getting wrapped up and heading out for a bracing walk. It will clear the house and let the little ones run off some steam.

DON’T expect your children to be angels They’ve broken up from school about to burst with excitement about the arrival of Santa. You’ve been using the ‘if you’re not good, Santa

won’t come’ since Easter and then the presents are opened and your little angels turn into little devils. Rules and routine are thrown out of the window so relatives can be entertained and trips can be taken. Combine that with too many treats and lots of attention from well meaning visitors and the magic of Christmas can disappear pretty quickly. Try not to let all discipline go out of the window and if you sense that there’s a tantrum on the way, remove your child from the mayhem.

DO enjoy the preparation If you’re not careful, baking the cake, decorating the house and dressing the tree can begin to feel like a chore. Don’t let it become hard work. Give yourself the time to enjoy it and accept that with a little help from your little ones you can create some lovely Christmas memories. Ok, you won’t have a cake fit for Delia. There’ll be precious few needles left on the tree and your house will resemble the aftermath of a children’s birthday party. But despite the imperfections you’ll have happy children and you won’t have spent a penny. Now that’s a happy Christmas.

DON’T stress about the presents So you haven’t been able to find the latest Spiderman or bag a Cabbage Patch doll (yes they’re back). Before you beat yourself, ask yourself this. Do you remember the presents you didn’t get when you were a child? Or do you remember the experiences you had? My Christmas memories are preparing lunch with my wonderful Nana and attempting to wake my King Charles Cavalier after he’d drunk the best part of a bottle of Blue Nun. Your kids will remember the laughter and the love and when you wake up in January, so will you. Happy Christmas!


The amazing Roll-Up Chalk Mat

Unlimited fun, unlimited creativity! The perfect Christmas present for a busy boy or girl from 3-7 years old, the Roll-Up Chalk Mat is a blackboard on one side, a wipe-clean placemat on the other and it rolls up so you can take it everywhere! Great for restaurants, trains, holidays and home! Available in pink or blue. Special offer of £9.99 includes free chalk & delivery!

Designed by two mums in England

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More seasonal tips at

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Tickets from £18 per person Fine dining available 0844 346 3000

on ti ti pe m Co


WIN a £200 Shopping Spree in time for Christmas

New clothes make any occasion extra special. The Polarn O. Pyret Christmas collection for newborn to age 12 is now at your local store in Windsor and online. The clothes are geared towards children not just looking good, but feeling comfortable too. There is so much to choose from - cosy cotton PJ’s that will last until next Christmas Eve, a new party dress that can handle spills, or an extra cute outfit for Christmas Day. For your chance to win a £200 shopping Spree with Polarn O. Pyret enter your details at by 10 December. Terms and conditions apply. Winner will be notified via email on 11 December.


Hare Hatch Sheeplands FARM SHOP - GARDEN CENTRE - COFFEE SHOP London Road, Hare Hatch, Reading , Berkshire. RG10 9HW

Our Events

Christmas Crafts

Santa Arrives & Grotto Opens 24th Nov 11am

Grotto Open 11.15 - 4pm

Sun 4th Nov 10 - 4

Christmas Food Fest Sun 11th Nov 10 - 4

Affordable Art Fair Sun 25th Nov 10 - 4

Then every Sat & Sunday until Christmas 10 - 4 with LIVING NATIVITY

Plus FREE play area FREE bouncy castle & mum’s & dad’s coffee counter.

FREE Children’s Fun at Weekends eg Magic, Music, Dance, Crafts & Circus Skills. See website for details.

More details on our website Printed by Warners Midlands Plc. Copyright Families Thames Valley West October 2012. Families Thames Valley West is part of a group, established in 1990 and headed by Families South West London. All franchised magazines in the group are independently owned and operated under licence. We take care in preparing this magazine but the publishers and distributors cannot be held responsible for the claims of the advertisers nor for the accuracy of the contents nor for any consequence.

Families Thames Valley West Issue 62 Nov-Dec 2012  

Families Thames Valley West magazine for Nov and Dec 2012

Families Thames Valley West Issue 62 Nov-Dec 2012  

Families Thames Valley West magazine for Nov and Dec 2012